From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
Honoring Nebraska's Soldiers Who Lost their Lives in Combat
Mrs. FISCHER. Mr. President, I rise today to remember another of
Nebraska's fallen heroes--those young men and women who have given
their lives defending our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. They all
have different stories. Their families all have the same request:
Remember their sacrifice. By telling the stories of these heroes here
on the Senate floor, we honor the request of these Gold Star families.
Specialist William “Bill” Bailey
Today, Mr. President, I honor the life and service of William
“Bill” Bailey of Bellevue, NE. Now, the name “William” comes from
old German. It means “determined protector”. Bill Bailey lived up to
his name. His mother Margaret says he was a born protector. When Bill
was very young, he lost his father to a car accident. Margaret recalls
how Bill embraced his younger sister Jessy just after her birth. The
word came to her at once: protective.
As he grew, Bill naturally looked to protect those outside his family
too. Ron Budwig was matched with Bill through the Big Brothers Big
Ron recalled a simple but profound example of Bill looking out for
Ron's family. Ron's mother was running late to one of the program's
activities, and, meanwhile, the parking lot was filling up. Bill went
and stood in a parking space, keeping it open until Ron's mother could
come. It was a simple act, but it said a lot.
Bill attended Bellevue East, where the call to protect his country
prompted him to enlist in the Nebraska Army National Guard in 1995.
After graduating from high school in 1996, he served out his enlistment
A few years later, in December 2000, Bill met Deanna, whom everyone
calls Dee. She was a bank teller at Wells Fargo. He drove an armored
truck. They met through a service window. Now, Bill had left the
service in 2001 when his enlistment ended. After 9/11, he felt the call
to serve his country again--but first things first. Bill and Dee
married in 2004. Dee's children, Cody and Maquala, took immediately to
Bill and his children, Catlynn and Billy. Logan soon followed.
As you can expect, Bill's protective nature made him a great father.
It also made him a great firefighter. Extending his protection beyond
his family once again, he joined the Bellevue Volunteer Fire
Department. He was a natural fit. Whether there or working as a life
flight dispatcher, Bill worked to keep Bellevue safe.
That deep desire to serve his country continued to tug at him. In
2005, Bill reenlisted in the Nebraska Army National Guard. Originally
assigned to the 600th Transportation Company, he transferred to the
755th Chemical Company. Why the transfer? Because he learned the 755th
would soon deploy. In late 2006 it did. Bill Bailey went with it. The
755th Chemical Company was assigned to provide security escorts for
truck convoys operating out of the Balad Air Base in Iraq. Iraq at this
time was increasingly unstable. It was dangerous, but Bill's good
nature made it bearable.
SGT Timothy Ossowski remembers SPC Bill Bailey fondly: “When I
became his team leader, I thought I had struck the jackpot.” By 2007,
the insurgency in Iraq had erupted to new levels of violence. Increased
American forces sought to seek out and destroy the al-Qaida network.
Casualties ran high.
Despite the high operations tempo, Bill and Dee communicated almost
every day through phone calls or texts. On May 24, they were able to
talk by phone. In typical fashion, Bill mentioned he was excited to
finish his dull watchtower duty and start a new security escort mission
the next day. Bill was also excited for his upcoming leave in June,
when the Bailey family planned to celebrate Bill's birthday.
The next day, May 25, 2007, Bill took part in that security escort
mission. During it, his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
Three Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers were wounded, and Bill
Bailey was killed.
More than 1,000 people gathered in Bellevue to remember Bill. A
Patriot Guard of more than 100 flag-flying motorcycles accompanied his
funeral procession. Specialist Bailey earned several military awards,
including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal,
and the Combat Action Badge. Bill's brother-in-law, Damian Kuzeppa,
summarized Bill's life:
Bill was a wonderful husband, brother, son, father. He
dedicated quite a bit of his life to helping other people. He
was definitely a go-doer. He will definitely be missed.
William Bailey is survived by his mother Margaret, his wife Deanna,
and their children, Cody, Maquala, Catlynn, Billy, and Logan. Bill
Bailey is a true Nebraska hero. I am honored to tell his story.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I am pleased to be able to serve with the
Presiding Officer on the Committee on Homeland Security. Part of our
responsibilities on homeland security is to make sure, to the extent
that we can, that our borders are secure. We do that in a variety of
ways. We do that, in some cases, with our Border Patrol officers. We
have a lot of them. We appreciate the work they do.
We also have, in many places, particularly along the border of
Mexico--as the Presiding Officer knows--a lot of fencing that is there.
We have a lot of roads that our vehicles can travel along to have
mobility on the ground. Our President has proposed, at least earlier
this year, that we spend about $25 billion to build a wall, maybe 10-,
15-, 25-feet high along the 2,000 miles between the Pacific Ocean and
the Gulf of Mexico.
I have never been convinced that that is the best way--to put all of
our money in the basket--that that is really the best way to better
ensure the security of our border with Mexico. As it turns out, most of
the folks who are coming into the United States from that part of the
world are not Mexicans. Actually, more Mexicans are going back into
Mexico than Mexicans coming across the border into the United States.
Most of the illegal immigration--not all but most of it--is coming
from three countries: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The reason
why they come here is because their lives are miserable. They are
miserable because we buy drugs. We have this insatiable appetite for
illegal drugs. So a lot of them are trafficked through Honduras,
Guatemala, and El Salvador.
We send money down to those three countries for the drugs, and we
send guns down to that part of the world. When we catch bad guys in
this country from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, we send them
back to those three countries.
So part of the security of our southern border involves actually
trying to help those three countries figure out ways to keep their
people home, rather than wanting to come to our country. Part of it is
making sure that they have decent lives to live. Twenty years ago, as
you all may remember, a bunch of gunmen rounded up the supreme court
justices in Colombia, took them into a room, and shot and killed them--
shot them all to death.
It was a time when the government was tottering and there was a
question of whether they were going to survive in Colombia. Some very
brave people stood up in Colombia and said: No, no, we want to survive,
we want to fend off the drug cartels, and we want to fend off the
leftist guerillas. Ultimately, they were successful. It has taken 20
They worked on something called Plan Colombia to help turn around
their country. We came in, and we helped them. They did the heavy
lifting, and we helped out as well. I like to say that it is sort of
like at Home Depot: “You” can do it--using, in that case, Colombia--
and “we” being the United States.
A similar kind of thing is going on in Honduras, Guatemala, and El
Salvador. They have come up with their own Plan Colombia. You might
call it “Plan Central America.” The three countries have come up with
things they are responsible for doing to improve the quality of life
for their folks and the ability to have economic growth and opportunity
and hope. We are helping out as well. We have done
that in some appropriations bills for the last fiscal year. We are
trying to spend a little bit more. Wisely invested, it will be a
fraction of what they are actually spending on their own.
To the extent that those three countries can be more attractive to
people who live there, that actually helps a whole lot in terms of the
pressure on our own borders. Plus, it is the right thing to do. The
other thing I would mention, as to our energy policy in this country,
is that sometimes we have had an “all of the above” energy approach.
It is not just coal, it is not just wind, it is not just solar, it is
not just geothermal, it is not just nuclear, and it is not just natural
gas. It is all of the above. It is conservation as well.
We need a similar approach to continuing to protect our borders,
whether it is in the South or other places. But it should involve a
variety of things. There are some places along the 2,000 miles where it
will actually make some sense. There are a lot of places where a fence
makes more sense. There are a lot of places where it makes more sense
just to pave the roads alongside the border.
The Presiding Officer actually spent, as he said, his “misspent
youth”--but I will say his youth--earlier in his life where he and
other kayakers were in boats along the Rio Grande River. Part of border
security is boats along that stretch of the river, that stretch of the
border because it is literally hundreds of miles where the border is
defined by a river. So in some places, boats make sense. In other
places, boat ramps make sense.
Sometimes it makes sense to have drones up in the air that can
surveil up to 100 miles into Mexico for folks coming our way. Sometimes
it makes sense to put helicopters, sometimes fixed-wing aircraft. But
you can't just send them up with binoculars. You need to put the right
kind of surveillance equipment on there. We have that equipment. The
key is to put it on the aircraft.
Sometimes stationary towers going up 200, 300 feet makes sense.
Sometimes it makes sense to make those mobile. Sometimes we can put
those surveillance systems 5,000 feet up in the air to look literally
100 miles into Mexico to see what is coming our way. If we have the
right surveillance system, they could see not just during daylight,
sunny skies, but they could see at night. They can see in fog and dense
fog. So the key is all of the above--it is not any one thing--and to
find out what works. The other thing is, maybe to continue to support
and ask our Border Patrol: What do you guys and gals think? What do you
think makes sense? And listen to them.
No, I am not smart enough to figure out how much money we put exactly
in each one of those, but I think it makes sense, depending on what the
needs are and on the advice of the folks who really are the experts on
the ground, what they suggest, and we can do an “all of the above”
approach. But we also have to consider that the reason most of the
illegals are coming to our country is that they live their lives in
misery. If we don't do something to help them help themselves, we are
going to be falling short of where we want to be.
I just wanted to share that before we recognize the next Senator.
I am looking forward to the inaugural address of the new Senator from
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I am honored to be on the floor for the
maiden speech of my colleague Senator Duckworth.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
Our Shared Values
Ms. DUCKWORTH. Mr. President, I thank my friend and mentor, a great
Illinoisan, Senator Durbin for being here today. I wouldn't be here
without his guidance and friendship over the years.
It is truly an honor to stand at this desk, which was once held by
another great Illinoisan by the name of Barack Obama, delivering my
maiden speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate to the people of
Illinois, the same State that has been represented in Washington by
other impressive leaders like Paul Simon and Abraham Lincoln. And it is
an honor to address the people of the United States of America, the
greatest Nation in the world.
Though we have occasionally made choices as a society that do not
reflect our best selves, we are today the greatest Nation on Earth
because of the founding ideals that have anchored our Nation and
because of the shared values that have guided the development and
strength of our economy and our people--values like treating each other
equally, showing strength and resilience in the face of hardship, and
embracing the diversity that makes us who we are. They are shared
values that have helped us to strive toward that more perfect Union the
Constitution's Framers envisioned, a more perfect Union that offers
everyone a chance to reach his or her potential, a more perfect Union
that will not give up on its people, and a more perfect Union whose
people don't give up on themselves either.
We face a great deal of challenges and threats, threats I know well,
but we cannot allow today's hardships to change who we are as a people,
to tear down the pillars that make this Nation great. Falling victim to
fear and demagoguery will only ensure a weaker America for our
children, and that is simply not the future I want for my Abigail.
When we, as a society, think about the future we want for all of our
children, I think it is important for us to remember how we got here.
Our Nation wasn't founded as the dominant global economic and military
force that it is today. We were not founded as the leader of the free
world; our people built that. Americans understood that when we invest
in ourselves, the fabric that holds our country together only grows
stronger. A scrappy gang of patriots in the American Revolution--my own
family included--won us our liberty, which we used to push for greater
civil and human rights and to make investments in agricultural and
educational systems that sparked our economy, allowing us to strengthen
our military into the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen.
Success, however, was never guaranteed. From our founding, the United
States of America was forged through fierce debates and stark
divisions. Slavery led to bloodshed across the country, including in
the Senate Chamber, and culminated in brothers killing brothers during
our Civil War. Yet our Union made it through our greatest challenges
and emerged even stronger. We emerged a more perfect Union.
Our strength has been on display outside of our military as well:
When heroes like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman risked
everything to help bring an end to slavery; when Martin Luther King,
Jr., had a dream; when the children of the Little Rock Nine braved
harassment and abuse to bring an end to segregated schools and ensure
educational opportunity for all; and when the backbreaking work of
Asian and American laborers united our Nation from sea to shining sea
with the completion of the transcontinental railroad.
America catalyzed the industrial revolution for the globe. We helped
rescue the global community from fascism during World War II. We
promoted civil and human rights around the globe. We explored space,
launched the internet revolution, helped feed the world, built a world-
class infrastructure network, developed a gold standard education
system, and grew the strongest economy ever seen.
We were able to win World War II not because of the brave troops in
our Armed Forces alone but also because our Nation's manufacturers and
steel mills were able to produce the tanks and planes and firearms and
other tools we needed to defeat the Nazis. We were able to build those
weapons, launch the internet revolution, and send a man to the Moon
only because we had a well-educated workforce made of people from all
around the globe, all of whom had an opportunity to attend world-class
colleges and universities right here in the United States, universities
we spent generations strengthening.
Our economy was able to grow to its current strength not only because
of that well-educated workforce and those who came from distant lands
but also all who came and stayed to contribute to our society. It was
also able to grow because we had invested heavily in infrastructure and
built an interstate system and air and rail networks that enabled our
farmers, ranchers, and
other producers to get their goods to market inside and outside our
We were able to feed the world not only because of our strong
agricultural sector and infrastructure alone but also because of the
scientific advances supported by those educational institutions that
helped increase farm production and yields.
Throughout our history, we pushed to expand human and civil rights
from the abolitionists to the suffragettes, learning from people like
the Tuskegee Airmen, the Selma marchers, and the LGBTQ leaders today
that being inclusive and enabling people to reach their full potential
only strengthens the American core. We did all of these things as a
result of our shared values, and we have reaped their rewards for
We have seen our Nation's strength in our prouder moments, as when
America chose to go to the Moon--not because it was easy but, in
President Kennedy's words, because it was hard.
We have seen our strength in tragedy, reuniting under a common cause
in the rubble of the Pentagon and Ground Zero on 9/11.
We might get knocked down, but the America that I know, the America
that I fought for and love, does not give up. That is not a Democratic
principle or a Republican principle; it is simply the American way.
America's greatness has never depended on the strength of any
individual person, but on all of us working together toward a common
goal. When we have failed to stay true to our core values, when we deny
another person our Nation's promise of opportunity, our Nation's
strength suffers. When a child can't access the tools to succeed in
school, when a woman can't afford basic healthcare, when refugees
fleeing terror see the door slammed shut in their face, when we deny
civil rights on the basis of skin color or sexual orientation or
religion, and when a working family can't put food on the table, our
whole Nation suffers. At the end of the day, America's greatness
depends on each of us remaining true to the common values of our
But we have lost sight of those values. The Nation that built an
interstate highway system, that was a refuge for immigrants who became
the foundation of our economy, this Nation that pushed humanity to new
heights, first with planes and helicopters and then into space, that
same Nation seems to have forgotten how to invest in itself.
Our country that ushered in the era of aviation is now home to aging
airports that struggle to compete with their global competitors. Our
country that took on the Herculean task of reversing the flow of the
Chicago River to protect the city's drinking water can no longer muster
the resources to modernize public water systems to prevent our children
from being poisoned by lead. Our country that built the greatest
military the world has ever seen, sending a signal that we will not
cower in front of anyone, now finds itself with leaders who believe in
the misguided notion that it is simply better to hide behind walls than
to help lead with strength.
Make no mistake, America has not lost her greatness. Our Nation
remains the dominant force on the global stage. But if we don't act, if
we don't invest in ourselves, our adversaries are positioned to
Though some may try to convince us the path forward is less
engagement with the world, less acceptance of others, and less
investment in ourselves, I know the path forward for our country cannot
include--does not include--turning our backs on the shared values that
built this Nation.
Perhaps more than any other State, Illinois knows this. We represent
all the strengths of our Nation, from our dynamic cities to our strong
rural and industrial communities and everything in between. We are the
realization of the values that have created that robust American
economy, bolstered by a strong agricultural community and manufacturing
sector, both of which innovate and strengthen our Nation with the help
of wise public policy and investments.
Those investments enabled Illinois steelworkers to help us develop
our farmland, build our cities, and secure our military strength.
American manufacturing built this Nation, but too many of the steel
mills we relied on to win World War II have been idled or shuttered
After years of illegal trade practices, like dumping of cheap foreign
products and currency manipulation by our competitors, our
manufacturing base has been weakened. That hurts not only American jobs
but also our Nation's military strength as well as the resilience of
our entire economy. We simply need to do a better job of keeping
manufacturing jobs within our borders, and we need to make the
investments necessary to ensure that we have a workforce trained for
our 21st century jobs.
We can do better by Illinois' tens of thousands of farmers as well.
These farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers form the basis of our
Nation. They all wake up with a purpose, each farm feeding nearly 170
people every year while supporting an industry that is developing
cutting-edge biofuels and other technologies.
I have seen firsthand the painful price our Nation pays because of
our overreliance on oil imported from our competitors. The simple fact
is that American farmers are helping us improve our national security.
They are helping to strengthen our Armed Forces and our entire country
every day. They are already helping produce billions of gallons of
clean fuel for our cars, our factories, and our military, and every
single one of those gallons brings us closer to energy independence.
We cannot afford to leave our agricultural sector behind. We should
be working to preserve policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard that
support agricultural jobs and to open new markets, like Cuba, for their
For generations, our manufacturers and agricultural sectors have
relied on a strong infrastructure network, including roads, bridges,
waterways, railways, and air transportation, to get their goods to
market, both domestically and internationally. Illinois has often led
the way. We built the Nation's first elevated electric rail line in the
1800s. But today, far too much of that infrastructure is crumbling. It
is in dire need of the investments our society once understood the need
for. The down payments previous generations made paid dividends to us
all in the form of increased tourism, lower costs, more efficient
shipments, easier travel, and so many other benefits.
If we fail to continue the investments past generations have made, we
risk falling behind our global competitors, hurting not only our
tourism industry but also our manufacturers and our hard-working
ranchers, farmers, and producers who will find it harder and more
expensive to get their products to market.
If we choose to disregard our infrastructure much longer, we simply
will not be able to compete in the 21st century global economy.
Improving our infrastructure isn't a partisan issue. It is common
sense. It is an economic priority, a defense priority, and a national
security imperative. This is something we can all work on together.
I am proud to say that the first bill I proposed after arriving here
in the Senate passed unanimously with bipartisan support. It will cut
redtape and help streamline efforts to modernize our infrastructure and
allow our economy to continue growing for generations to come.
That is also true of supporting our schools, colleges, and
universities. We have developed global gold standards for education
that enable our manufacturers, agricultural workers, engineers, and
brilliant Americans all across every sector to push our economy
There is a reason that wealthy elites across the globe--including
world leaders from foreign lands--still send their children to be
educated on our shores, in world class institutions like the University
of Illinois and the University of Chicago. Our education system is
widely recognized as the best in the world. Our teachers and
institutions continue to produce some of the best trained and most
skilled professionals in every field imaginable--both American and
international students. That is a good thing.
But more and more Americans are no longer able to access those same
educational opportunities. We have priced too many of our own children
out of the market for those colleges and universities that we have
developed to ensure our Nation's workforce remains
more skilled than our competitors, or we have saddled them with
crippling debt. We are failing to make the necessary investments in K-
12 public institutions that, regardless of ZIP Code, should be
preparing every single one of our children to lead our country into the
Quality primary education should not be a privilege only for the
wealthy, and it should not depend on rolling the dice on receiving a
voucher. In the greatest and wealthiest Nation in the world, a quality
education should be a right for every single American child. Our
Nation's promise of opportunity should be a reality for every child in
America, not just for those whose parents can afford it. We already
have some of the world's greatest teachers, the brightest students, and
the best facilities within our own borders. All we have to do is ensure
they have the resources they need to succeed. That means our kids
should not have to worry about going to school hungry or getting the
help they need after school or being able to pay for college when they
graduate high school.
That is why I focus on commonsense solutions to increase access to
educational opportunity, whether by helping to lead the charge to make
college more affordable or doing well to ensure the education we are
providing people actually helps them find good-paying jobs when they
In that vein, I am also disheartened by the recent erosion of civil
rights protections in our Nation. The calls for bigger walls and closed
doors are not only bad, costly policies, they run counter to our
society's shared value for inclusion over exclusion. Too many of us
seem to forget the immigrant roots within our own families. If we lose
sight of our Nation's founding principles, as some in Washington would
like us to do, we will lose out on the innovations we have seen from
immigrants and immigrant families.
If we had rejected immigrants years ago, Apple Computers might never
have been founded by the son of a Syrian man. I worry that at a time
when we still have so much work to do to make our Union more perfect
and to provide truly equal rights for all, under the current
administration we are at risk of backtracking on hard-fought progress
made by civil rights leaders who bled and even died for the rights of
all Americans, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual
orientation, income or ZIP Code to have the right to vote, to have
equal protection under the law, to have basic worker protections, and
for the everyday rights and privileges so many of us take for granted.
We still have so much progress left to make if we want the American
dream to be accessible to all Americans--equal pay for equal work, a
criminal justice system that truly provides justice for all, nationwide
leave policies that enable anyone to take time to care for a sick
family member or to start a family, a society that is accessible for
all disabled Americans and truly equal for all LGBTQ Americans.
I worry that we are at risk of going backward instead of forward.
Failing to continue our Nation's inclusive nature weakens our global
standing as well as the rest of the world begins to look elsewhere for
moral leadership. That would be a failure for us and a weakening of our
Nation that I will fight to prevent.
Of course, I also know how much our military has contributed to our
Nation's greatness throughout our history. We must do a better job of
recognizing these contributions, not just by purchasing equipment and
technology, though what our skilled workforce has done is the envy of
the world, but also by ensuring that we recognize and respect the
sacrifices made by our troops, our military families, and our veterans.
Servicemembers embody our values of shared sacrifice and perseverance,
of loyalty and selfless service, and they each make great sacrifices to
They deserve from their leaders in Washington a clear sense of
mission and strategy, and they deserve to know we fully support them.
So, yes, when the drums of war are beating in the White House or in
Congress, you can bet I am going to be right here on the floor of the
Senate, asking tough questions and making sure our leaders in
Washington, especially those who have never worn the uniform, truly
consider the true costs of war--not just in dollars and cents but in
human lives--in the commitments we are making on behalf of the Nation.
I will also be here to remind my colleagues that we are all dishonored
when any veteran is forced to lay their head down to sleep on the same
streets they defended. We must end veterans homelessness. When our
troops come home, I will be working to see that the veterans receive
the care and support they earned for the sacrifices they have made.
Each of these components of our society contribute to what has made
our country great--our military, our values, our infrastructure, our
agriculture, our manufacturers, and our world-class educational system.
If we fall prey to our fears, to our worst demons, and allow any of
these pillars to fall, we will lose our opportunity to remain the
leader of the world. We can rebuild the foundation of our Nation's
strength and revamp it for the 21st century, but we can't simply rest
on our past successes and act like our greatness is guaranteed forever.
It isn't. It will take work.
This is deeply personal for me. I wouldn't be here today without the
public education that enabled me to serve in our military for more than
two decades and allowed me to give back to my Nation, both in and out
Our Nation would not be as strong as it is today without the millions
of individuals who sacrificed to build it. Our Nation's strength--what
truly makes America great--is rooted firmly in our shared sense of
sacrifice. It comes from our single parents working multiple jobs just
to make sure our kids don't go to school hungry; it comes from the
farmer in Illinois waking long before dawn and working long after dusk
to help power and feed our Nation; it comes from an immigrant family
willing to put everything on the line to give their kids a chance at a
better life than their own; it comes from the hard work and compassion,
the sacrifice that Americans serving in our country in and out of the
military demonstrate every single day.
We can all do a better job of remembering the shared values that have
helped to build this Nation, but I want to make one thing clear:
America is already great. We shouldn't let anyone tell us otherwise.
We know we still have a lot of work to do as a country, but let us
not lose sight of the core values that make our improbable Union
possible. We are still the greatest Nation on the face of the Earth,
and if anyone has the capacity to overcome the challenges of today, it
is this Nation. It is the American people.
I thank my colleagues for joining me today for my maiden speech.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
Congratulating Senator Duckworth
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I rise to thank my colleague for her first
speech. The first speech given on the floor of the Senate is a
memorable occasion for not only my colleague but for the staff,
friends, and family who have followed this amazing story of Tammy
Duckworth, a U.S. Senator from Illinois. She didn't disappoint with
this first speech.
If there was ever an inspirational speech speaking to who we are as a
nation and what we can be, she encapsulated it in her comments on the
floor of the U.S. Senate. It was an aspirational speech, too--a
challenge to all of us to do a better job for this Nation, to make it
stronger and to represent more effectively the people who have sent us
here to serve them.
She brings a special quality to the service that very few have been
able to bring to the U.S. Senate. I first met MAJ Tammy Duckworth 12
years ago when she was my guest at the State of the Union Address just
weeks after her helicopter had been shot down over Iraq. I was amazed
by her tenacity, her courage, her good humor. I thought to myself, this
woman has really made history. I think she can even make more history,
and she has, being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as well
as the U.S. Senate, an opportunity that fewer than 2,000 Americans have
had in our Nation's history.
I think back on what she brings to the Senate, and it is something
that is special and extraordinary. To come to this Senate after her
service in the military is to follow in the path of Senator Bob Dole, a
disabled veteran from
World War II, who led the Republican side of the aisle; Senator Daniel
Inouye, a personal friend to both Senator Duckworth and me, who served
in World War II; Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, who served as well;
Strom Thurmond, from South Carolina, a Republican; and more recently,
Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran; Bob Kerrey, John Kerry--the list goes
on and on, the great people who have served our Nation in the military
and then came to serve in the Senate.
One of the points she made in that speech was one of the reasons I
supported her so wholeheartedly. When we face the most difficult,
trying, and challenging votes in a Senate career, the vote to go to
war, having the voice of Tammy Duckworth on the floor is a reminder of
the real cost of war and how we should avoid it at any cost, if we can,
and what we are asking our men and women in America to do if we send
them off to war. She will have more credibility, will have more
confidence in her judgment, than virtually any colleague on the floor
of the U.S. Senate. So she is going to play a special role.
Finally, let me say, in a short period of time serving as a U.S.
Senator from the State of Illinois, she has shown that she is not going
to be taking it easy. She has covered our State from one end to the
other, most recently during the Easter recess, with town meetings and
meetings with all sorts of people across our State, leaving a positive
impression of her commitment to public service.
When I saw her and her mom and her little daughter Abigail get on the
plane just the other day, yesterday, to come out here, I realized it is
a family commitment which includes all of her family and her husband
Bryan. They are committed to this country, they are committed to our
great State, and we are fortunate to have her service.
Mr. President, I congratulate my colleague.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Without objection, it is so
Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, it is no surprise that the economy
continues to be one of the top issues on the minds of Americans. The 8
years of the Obama administration were characterized by weak economic
growth, a dearth of jobs and opportunities, and almost nonexistent wage
growth. The Obama administration ushered in long-term economic
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the economy will grow
at a rate of just 1.9 percent over the next 30 years--a full percentage
point lower than the average growth rate over the past 50 years. We
cannot resign ourselves to that. Resigning ourselves to long-term
growth of 1.9 percent would mean resigning ourselves to decades of
fewer jobs and opportunities, low wage growth, and a reduced standard
of living. Fortunately, there are a lot of things we can do to get our
economy thriving again and to spur economic growth.
A recent report from the Economic Innovation Group identified one
important problem with our economy today, and that is a lack of what
the EIG calls economic dynamism. Economic dynamism, as the Economic
Innovation Group defines it, refers to the rate at which new businesses
are born and die.
In a dynamic economy, the rate of new business creation is high and
significantly outstrips the rate of business death, but that has not
been the case in the United States lately. New business creation has
significantly dropped over the past several years. Between 2009 and
2011, business death outstripped business birth, and while the numbers
have since improved slightly, the recovery has been poor and far from
The Economic Innovation Group notes that in 2012--which, by the way,
was the economy's best year for business creation since the recession--
it still “fell far short of its worst year prior to 2008.” This is
deeply concerning because new businesses have historically been
responsible for a substantial part of the job creation in this country,
not to mention a key source of innovation. When new businesses are not
being created at a strong rate, workers face a whole host of problems.
“A less dynamic economy,” the Economic Innovation Group notes, “is
one likely to feature fewer jobs, lower labor force participation,
slack wage growth, and rising inequality--exactly what we see today.”
Restoring economic dynamism would go a long way toward boosting
economic growth and providing new jobs and opportunities for American
workers. One big thing we can do to achieve this is to relieve the
burden of excessive government regulations. Obviously, some government
regulations are important and necessary, but too many others are
unnecessary and do nothing but load businesses with compliance costs
and paperwork hours. The more resources businesses spend on complying
with regulations, the less they have available for growth and
innovation. Excessive regulations also prevent many new businesses from
ever getting off the ground. Small startups simply do not have the
resources to hire individuals--let alone consultants and lawyers--to do
the costly work of complying with scores of government regulations.
Unfortunately, over the past 8 years, the Obama administration spent
a lot of time on imposing burdensome and unnecessary regulations on
American businesses. According to the American Action Forum, the Obama
administration was responsible for implementing more than 675 major
regulations that cost the economy more than $800 billion. Given those
numbers, it is no surprise that the Obama economy left businesses with
few resources to dedicate to growing and creating jobs or that new
business creation seriously dropped off during the Obama
Since the new Congress began in January, Republicans in Congress and
the President have been focused on repealing burdensome Obama-era
regulations. So far, we have saved individuals and businesses
approximately $67 billion and freed them from 56 million hours of
paperwork. Eliminating burdensome regulations will continue to be a
priority for both Republicans in Congress and for the White House.
In addition to removing burdensome regulations, we need to focus on
reforming our Tax Code. Our current Tax Code is strangling businesses,
both large and small. Some corporations escape with paying very little
in taxes, but others end up paying the highest corporate tax rate in
the developed world. Meanwhile, small businesses and family farms face
high tax rates, at times exceeding those paid by large corporations.
Tax reform needs to address these obstacles to growth. We need to
trim our excessive corporate tax rate to make U.S. businesses
competitive in the global economy, and we need to reduce taxes for
small businesses so that we do not choke off these sources of growth
and innovation. Measures like allowing new businesses to deduct their
startup costs and expense more of their investments in machinery and
equipment would spur new business creation and help small businesses
Our goal is to take up tax reform this year, and I am looking forward
to that debate. Reforming our Tax Code will go a long way toward
restoring dynamism to our economy and encouraging growth, job creation,
and better wages.
There are other growth-boosting measures we can take as well, like
removing unnecessary barriers that restrict access to capital. Both new
and existing businesses rely on capital to help them innovate and
The last 8 years were discouraging years for American workers, but
the stagnation of the Obama years does not have to be the new normal.
American workers and job creators are as dynamic and creative as ever;
we just need to clear the obstacles from their paths. I look forward to
working with my colleagues this year as we make putting our economy on
the path to long-term health and vitality a top priority for the U.S.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Tribute to Brian McGuire
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, this is one of those days I never look
forward to. In my time in the Senate, I have had a lot of outstanding
chiefs of staff. It is a pretty impressive group of men and women who
have been in that position with me over the years--none more impressive
than the person who, unfortunately, I have to say goodbye to today.
I am here today to pay tribute to Brian McGuire, the chief of staff
in my personal office, who is going to be leaving after well over 10
years of service in several different capacities but over the last few
years as my personal office chief of staff. He is really a uniquely
gifted person. He is one of the most skilled writers I have ever
encountered and, in fact, in my career, the most skilled writer I ever
encountered. But in addition to that, he is good at a whole lot of
other things, too, as I will subsequently describe in my remarks.
As I think back about the chiefs of staff I have fortunately been
lucky enough to have, none has been better at so many different things
than Brian McGuire. I always hate to see these talented people go, but
we know the best way for each of us to operate is to do what is in our
own best interests. Of course, he has reached the point where he has a
big family. There are more lucrative alternatives out there--maybe not
as much fun and not as meaningful as daily life around here but
important to making sure our families are taken care of.
It is hard to know really where to begin with Brian. He came to my
office in 2007. It was a critical time. I had just been elected Senate
Republican leader. We were not in the majority, but I had just been
elected to this position. There was a lot of pressure to get things
Obviously, I was setting up a new staff in the leadership office. I
wanted the best I could find. When we set out to hire a speechwriter, I
certainly wasn't envisioning an upstate New Yorker with a master's in
philosophy and a resume that included stints at HUD and the Schenectady
Daily Gazette. From HUD to the Schenectady Daily Gazette and a guy from
Albany, NY--not exactly what I had envisioned, but that was Brian
McGuire, and he quickly proved himself in that role. That wouldn't
surprise anyone who knows Brian. He is, as I said earlier, a skilled
writer. He is bright. He is talented. He is guided by faith and his
family. He is also the consummate professional, going above and beyond
each and every time, no matter what the challenge, and we have plenty
of them. As the years went by, there would be many different
challenging situations--communications challenges, policy challenges,
political challenges--but whatever the issue, Brian always rose to the
After the 2014 election, when I became majority leader, I asked Brian
to leave speechwriting behind and become the chief of staff in my
personal office. He agreed, fortunately. He took to his new opportunity
to serve the people of Kentucky with similar skill and always good
These days, you would be forgiven for thinking Brian had spent his
formative years in Albany, KY, rather than Albany, NY. He is an
adaptable guy. He led my office in pressing the Commonwealth's
priorities on issues as diverse as industrial hemp, clean coal
technology, and the fight against heroin and opioid abuse. So we can
see the versatility, from a skilled writer from New York, of all
places, to an effective advocate for Kentucky and Kentucky's interests.
Brian will be ably succeeded by another impressive individual, Phil
Maxson, a Kentucky native who I know will continue Brian's legacy of
service to Kentucky and who will serve with similar distinction.
Brian McGuire probably never imagined he would find himself here.
Like me, he grew up dreaming of a career in the Major Leagues. As he
put it, though, you can either hit the fastball or you can't. And since
neither of us could, we ended up here. But Brian is more than just
another power hitter; he, like his idol growing up, the Mets' Keith
Hernandez, is an all-star. Brian is an indispensable utility player who
can play every position, and I am not sure what I would have done
without him. He is also one of the most interesting guys you will meet.
Brian has a great sense of humor and a rather infamous reputation for
spot-on impressions. He is probably the only one around here who holds
Keith Hernandez and Aristotle in similar reverence and can reference
each with similar ease.
At his core, though, Brian is incredibly grounded. He is all about
the things that really matter--his Catholic faith, his two beautiful
children, Stella and Max, and his wonderful wife Ashley. Ashley, I am
happy to say, is due with their third child next month--just in time
for Mother's Day. So Brian has a lot to look forward to as he climbs
the next mountain. I hope he takes some time to look back and reflect
on all he has accomplished here in his time with us.
Let me say again that Brian McGuire, on so many different occasions,
has made me look so much better than I am. I could never thank him
enough for the enormous contribution he made not only to my career but
to Kentucky and to the Nation. So it won't surprise my colleagues to
know I am going to miss Brian McGuire a lot.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the nomination
of Rod J. Rosenstein to be the Deputy Attorney General of the United
States at the Justice Department. Rod has served the people of Maryland
extraordinarily well since 2005 as the U.S. attorney for the District
of Maryland. I am pleased to support his nomination, and I hope the
Senate will confirm him in very short order.
I might point out that he received a favorable recommendation from
the Judiciary Committee by a lopsided vote of 19-to-1.
Rod Rosenstein is the total package. He has committed his life to
public service. Rod graduated from the Wharton School of the University
of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in economics, summa cum laude, in 1986. He
earned his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1989, where he was
the editor of the Harvard Law Review. He then served as a law clerk to
Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District
of Columbia Circuit. After finishing his clerkship in 1990, he became a
trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division
of the Department of Justice. He has remained at the Justice Department
for his entire career.
Mr. Rosenstein has devoted his life to public service. In Maryland,
Rod was appointed in 2005 by President Bush and then held over by
President Obama, with the strong support of his two home State
Senators, which include myself and the senior Senator at that time,
Senator Barbara Mikulski. Rod has now become the longest serving U.S.
attorney in the country today.
I really want to underscore that point. I know my colleagues know the
prerogatives we have when we come into office and there is an opening
at the U.S. attorney's office because of an election of a President
from your own party where the previous U.S. attorney was appointed by
the other party. In this case, it was a Republican who appointed Mr.
Rosenstein. President Obama came into office, and the senior Senator
and junior Senator had the opportunity to replace that U.S. attorney,
which has been the tradition in the Senate. Senator Mikulski and I had
no hesitation when asking Mr. Rosenstein to remain on as the U.S.
attorney in Maryland. We did that because we knew how valuable he was
for law enforcement in our State.
As U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, Rod has garnered broad
bipartisan support from the State and local law enforcement officials
across our great State as he has tackled problems of crime, terrorism,
drug trafficking, gun and gang violence, civil rights enforcement,
environmental crimes, intellectual property fraud, and corruption. I
just mentioned a couple of those.
I sat down with the U.S. attorney to talk about gang violence in our
State because I had been to Central America and I saw the exporting of
gang violence from Central America to Maryland. The U.S. attorney, Mr.
Rosenstein, and I had a chance to talk about
the strategies we would use in Maryland to combat that. But he didn't
just work by himself at the U.S. attorney level; he worked with local
law enforcement to make sure we had a team approach.
In terms of his pro bono work, Rod wrote in his Judiciary Committee
My entire legal career has been devoted to public service,
and much of my work directly benefits disadvantaged persons.
In addition to my official duties and public speaking, I have
taught without compensation at area law schools, served as a
judge at law school moot court and mock trial competitions,
and counseled other lawyers who have devoted some or all of
their career to public service.
He has truly been a model for many others in public service, a real
Let me share a few examples with my colleagues of how State and local
officials in Maryland have viewed Rod's work over the past decade. Let
me begin with the city of Baltimore, which has just entered into a
consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to reform its police
practices after the death of Freddie Gray in custody 2 years ago.
Baltimore police commissioner Kevin Davis wrote:
Mr. Rosenstein and the Baltimore Police Department have
collaborated on numerous large-scale investigations and
resulting indictments of violent criminal organizations
operating in Baltimore City. Under Mr. Rosenstein's
leadership, the U.S. Attorney's Office and its prosecutors
operate with the highest sense of justice and integrity in
the course of these investigations and trials.
Commissioner Davis continues:
It is undeniable that Baltimore City is a safer place as a
result of Mr. Rosenstein's tenure as U.S. Attorney. Through
our professional collaborations, I have come to know Mr.
Rosenstein on a personal basis as well. Mr. Rosenstein is a
man of utmost character and intellect.
Former State's attorney for Baltimore City, Gregg Bernstein, a
Simply stated, Rod was a terrific partner. Even a cursory
review of his body of work as the United States Attorney for
the District of Maryland makes readily apparent that Rod was
committed to reducing the level of violent crime in
Baltimore. His commitment and effort trickled down to other
law enforcement agencies as well, including the Baltimore
City State's Attorney's Office.
In Rod, we saw a person who was not interested in personal
credit or accolade, but instead, one who created an
atmosphere of collaboration that had not been seen in
Baltimore for some time. It was much more important to him
that everyone was working as hard as they could to fight
crime in the City and the rest of Maryland.
Mr. Bernstein continues:
As a result of his tireless efforts, Rod helped to reduce
the homicide rate in Baltimore to historically low levels not
seen in decades. He also was responsible for supervising a
United States Attorney's Office that was able to dismantle
many of the gangs in Baltimore that were responsible for much
of the illegal drug trade and violence that have plagued the
City. He has earned the universal respect and admiration of
not only his colleagues in the United States Attorney's
Office, but other law enforcement agencies, and a debt of
gratitude from the public that has greatly appreciated his
work to make Baltimore a safer place to live and work.
State and local elected prosecutors of both political parties in
Maryland have also weighed in in support of Mr. Rosenstein's
nomination. Scott Shellenberger, the Baltimore County State's attorney,
wrote on behalf of the Maryland State's Attorneys' Association:
Rod has been an outstanding partner with every local
prosecutor in the State of Maryland. Whether it is partnering
with prosecutors in the City of Baltimore to stem gun
violence, to the prosecution of prison gang corruption both
in the city and in rural counties . . . Rod has always been
there for law enforcement. When prosecutors in this State ask
Rod for assistance, he does not care if you are a “D” or an
“R,” he has only cared about making this State a safer
place. Rod makes his decisions based on the law, the
evidence, logic and reasons, never allowing emotion or
passion to move him from his core mission.
I have full confidence that Rod will call it like he sees it without
regard to partisan or political considerations and that he will
continue to uphold his oath to support and defend the Constitution and
laws of the United States.
I must tell you that I have heard from State and local officials
directly who have worked with Rod on political corruption cases and
thanked Rod for the manner in which he collaboratively worked to root
out corruption and misconduct by State and local officials in Maryland.
As you can imagine, State and local officials do not always welcome
Federal investigations or prosecutions into their domain, so this
really speaks volumes about Rod as a prosecutor and a person and his
ability to get along and accomplish results.
Former Maryland attorney general Doug Gansler wrote:
I have always found [Rod] to be totally by-the-book and
completely apolitical. Rod understands the importance of
staying out of the political limelight. The fact that I am a
Democrat who served in elected office for 16 years and that
Rod was appointed by a Republican President never was
mentioned. He makes decisions for the right reasons and
articulates those reasons with aplomb. . . . Rod is and
always has been extremely ethical and conscientious,
qualities which have earned him the respect of his peers and
As Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein would basically serve as
the chief operating officer at the Justice Department and manage the
daily operations of the Nation's largest firm. The Department of
Justice is a sprawling Cabinet Department with more than 100,000
employees and a $28 billion budget. That is a pretty big undertaking.
It is good to know that a person of his reputation has shown that he
will not yield to partisan pressure but do what is right. It is good to
know that we have that type of person whom we can confirm as the Deputy
Attorney General. That is why it is so important that we have an
effective manager and leader.
Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh, a Democrat, wrote:
I have found [Rod] to be intelligent, principled, and fair.
As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Rosenstein has been an exemplary
leader. He inherited an office that was in turmoil. With a
steady hand and superb management, he has built it into an
institution that is universally respected in our state. He
has been able to recruit and retain extremely talented
attorneys, investigators and staff, and the office has been
effective and successful in carrying out its mission.
I expect Rod to exercise the same management style as the Deputy
Attorney General overseeing the dozens of divisions, offices, and
agencies at the Department of Justice. He will use that same commitment
that he used as the U.S. attorney for the State of Maryland.
Lastly, let me quote from former Deputy Attorney General James Cole,
who served in President Obama's administration under Attorney General
Holder. I know Mr. Cole well. He was the special counsel during the
House ethics investigation of former Speaker Newt Gingrich, which
committee I was on. Mr. Cole supports Mr. Rosenstein's nomination. Mr.
Rod brings with him the knowledge, skill, experience, and
wisdom that is required for this job. He also brings an
understanding of, and respect for, the important role the
Department of Justice occupies in our government--the need
for it to not only enforce the laws, but to also maintain a
level of independence that enables it to have credibility in
the eyes of our citizens. Rod will make an excellent Deputy
Attorney General. . . . Even at an earlier age, he exhibited
the sound judgment and careful thought that was necessary to
handle the very sensitive public corruption cases that were
prosecuted by the [Public Integrity Section of the Criminal
That is Mr. Cole. Mr. Cole was a former Deputy Attorney General, and
he understands this role very well and understands Mr. Rosenstein is
uniquely qualified to hold this position.
I want to conclude by urging my colleagues to support Mr.
I especially thank Rod's family for their contribution to public
service as well. As we know, we can't do this without a supportive
family, and this service comes at a steep price in terms of time spent
doing public service and sacrifices made by his family. I thank his
wife Lisa and his daughters, Julie and Allison, for being willing to
share their husband and father with our country.
I urge the Senate to confirm Mr. Rosenstein's nomination to be the
next Deputy Attorney General of the United States at the Justice
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, Rod Rosenstein's nomination to be Deputy
Attorney General comes at a unique moment in history and critical
juncture for the Department of Justice, as well as for this country. It
has been 44 years since the Senate considered a Justice Department
nominee who will be in charge of an active criminal investigation into
a sitting President's
campaign and administration. Since the Judiciary Committee reported Mr.
Rosenstein's nomination to the Senate earlier this month, further press
reports underscore how important it is that we have an independent and
impartial investigation into Russian interference in our elections and
connections with the Trump campaign and administration.
In just the past 3 weeks, we learned that a notable Trump campaign
adviser was reportedly the subject of a FISA warrant. CNN reported that
this adviser was among those who “Russian operatives tried to use . .
. to infiltrate the Trump campaign.” The AP reported that Paul
Manafort, who worked for free as the Trump campaign chairman,
previously received at least $1.2 million for consulting work on behalf
of a Ukrainian ally of Russian President Putin. That is in addition to
reports that Mr. Manafort earned $10 million per year for secret work
on behalf of Vladimir Putin. We learned that President Trump's first
National Security Advisor “failed to list payments from Russia-linked
entities” on his financial disclosure forms. We also learned that the
President's son-in-law and top adviser failed to disclose meetings with
the Russian Ambassador and other officials on his application to obtain
top secret security clearance--just like when the Attorney General
provided false testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in
response to questions from me and Senator Franken about his own Russian
If confirmed, Mr. Rosenstein will assume leadership of the sprawling
investigation into Russia's multifaceted attempts to interfere with our
elections, an investigation that embroils not only individuals in the
Trump campaign, but also those who are now in the President's Cabinet
and senior officials in the White House. Attorney General Sessions was
forced to recuse himself from this investigation after the press
revealed that he had misled the Judiciary Committee and the American
people about his connections to Russian officials and agents. There is
no question that the Attorney General's recusal was required--and
should have happened on day 1 after assuming office. Justice Department
regulations required him to recuse himself because of the integral role
that then-Senator Sessions played in the Trump campaign and his
continuing contacts with those directly under investigation. These
Department of Justice regulations protect the impartiality of all
Justice Department investigations.
The Justice Department's regulations regarding appointment of a
special counsel are equally significant. These regulations direct
appointment of a special counsel when there is “a conflict of interest
for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances” and “it
would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel
to assume responsibility for the matter.” The current situation
unquestionably meets that standard. Mr. Rosenstein acknowledged at his
confirmation hearing that it would be an unusual challenge to lead an
investigation that potentially includes the Attorney General, his
direct supervisor. This investigation now not only includes Mr.
Rosenstein's potential boss, but also several others inside the White
House. Americans deserve an investigation that is independent and
inspires public confidence, and that requires appointment of a special
counsel who is free from political influence. This issue is too
important for us to skew for partisan motivations. Country must come
before party, and I hope and trust Mr. Rosenstein will understand that
if he is confirmed.
We know that this administration and this President have already
interfered with the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into
Russian activity and connections to the Trump campaign. Devin Nunes,
the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, recused himself from
his own committee's investigation after what Ryan Lizza of the New
Yorker called a “coordinated effort between the Trump Administration
and [Chairman] Nunes . . . to manufacture a fake scandal” in order to
distract from, as well as obstruct, any real investigation. Earlier
this month, President Trump even said that “it's not too late” to
fire FBI Director Comey. This administration cannot be trusted to
respect the independence of any investigation, which is why we need an
outside special counsel. Whoever assumes the role of Deputy Attorney
General in this administration will face extraordinary tests of
integrity. Mr. Rosenstein has a reputation for integrity that is
unusual for this administration's nominees, and I hope he is up to the
We already know from the intelligence community's public report that
Russian President Putin waged a multifaceted influence campaign to
delegitimize Secretary Clinton and help Donald Trump win the
Presidency. Worse, he intended to undermine public faith in our
democratic process. This interference did not end on November 8th. It
is ongoing and, according to the intelligence community, President
Putin will continue using cyberattacks and propaganda campaigns to
undermine our future elections--but there is still much we do not know.
We need a thorough, independent investigation. President Putin's goal
last year was to undermine our democratic institutions--to corrode
Americans' trust and faith in our government. If we do not get to the
bottom of Russian interference, he will have been successful, and he
will no doubt do it again. I hope that Mr. Rosenstein will do the right
thing and appoint a special counsel to lead a truly independent
investigation--one in which all Americans can have confidence.
If confirmed, Mr. Rosenstein will face other critical tests as well,
including whether he will continue to support the Justice Department's
Smart on Crime initiative, focusing the most serious criminal penalties
on the most serious offenders. With his 27 years of experience in the
Justice Department, I hope that Mr. Rosenstein will be an independent
check on the excesses of this administration, which has already sought
to undermine the principle of judicial review. He has served as U.S.
Attorney under both Democratic and Republican administrations, so I
hope that, as Deputy Attorney General and as Acting Attorney General in
matters relating to the Trump campaign, he will remember that he is not
the President's attorney, but the people's attorney.
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
The President's Budget
Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I rise today to address President Trump's
proposed budget for fiscal year 2018. My predecessor in this seat, my
friend, former Vice President Joe Biden, once said to me years ago:
Show me your budget and I will show you your values.
One of my concerns about the proposal we have received--the initial
slimmed-down overview proposal we have received--is that it suggests
values that I think are quite out of line with what my home State of
Delaware would look for me to be doing in this body, what I think
addresses the real needs and priorities of the American people.
Last month President Trump released an overview of his budget--what
is called a skinny budget--and we haven't yet received a full and
detailed budget proposal. Even though what we have received is just an
overview, it indicates that the cuts President Trump is proposing will
significantly weaken vital domestic programs, often with the goal of
completely eliminating existing and valued initiatives.
This chart gives a rough summary of all the different Federal
agencies that would take double-digit hits in order to be able to pay
for the significant $54 billion increase to defense spending. Targeting
only nondefense programs that millions of Americans and Delawareans
rely on ignores commitments made over the last couple of budget cycles
and years, as Republicans and Democrats have worked together to ensure
placing equal priority on defense and nondefense spending.
Under sequestration, under the Budget Control Act, we have already
made significant cuts to important domestic programs. After the
difficult budgets of the last few years, in my view, we have already
made too many cuts to some of the programs that helped build our
To be clear, I am as passionate as anyone in this body about
supporting our Armed Forces, particularly when they are in harm's way
and particularly as we continue to conduct operations against ISIS in
Iraq and Syria.
But Democrats will not stand for cutting domestic programs simply to
pay for a $54 billion military expansion that hasn't been explained or
justified through a thorough review of what are the appropriate
investments in defense that will respond to the challenges and threats
we face in this world.
To pay for that $54 billion increase in defense by cutting
investments in education, housing, job training, and more here at home
strikes me as the wrong set of priorities and the wrong direction. If
anything like these proposed Trump budget cuts are enacted, I know my
home State of Delaware would lose millions and millions of dollars for
valuable and effective Federal programs that help my constituents each
and every day. Trump's budget proposal would cut research and health
programs. It would cut job-creating infrastructure programs. It would
cut grants for higher education. It would cut housing and so much more.
I wish to take a few minutes to focus on a few of many proposed
budget cuts to give a sense of the impact it might have on our
livelihood, our security, and our prosperity at home. Let me start with
some cuts that would directly affect our national security, our safety.
In my view, the deep cuts made in the proposed Trump budget would
simply make us less safe. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard, which has
a station in Delaware, would be cut by more than $1.3 billion. The
Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, has just as high a cut.
Ironically, even though these are the very agencies that protect our
ports and other points of entry, Trump proposes cutting their funding
so that a southern border wall can be built for an estimate well above
$25 billion. This simply makes no sense. If you listen to the words of
the Coast Guard Commandant, ADM Paul Zukunft, he warned that simply
focusing all those resources on building a wall along the border with
Mexico would make our ports and waterways even more appealing to
smugglers and those who seek to bring illicit drugs or to bring people
into the United States through unlawful entry.
That is not all. The Trump budget would make us less safe by
depleting Federal protection from natural disasters, starting with a
proposed $600 million cut to FEMA State and local grants. The budget
also proposes restructuring fees for the National Flood Insurance
Program, which would lead to raising rates for homeowners who get flood
My home State of Delaware is the lowest mean elevation State in
America--literally the lowest lying State and ground zero for sea level
rise. These cuts would have a significant impact on homeowners up and
down my State, those at our seashore and those in my home community of
Wilmington who face steadily rising flood insurance premiums.
It is not just our safety, though, that would be impacted by the
President's budget; it also threatens job growth and economic security.
As a President who ran a campaign on a middle-class jobs agenda, I am
struck that his proposed budget would endanger Americans across the
country financially by also undermining support for development in both
rural areas and urban areas. Take the Department of Agriculture, which
provides critical support through the Rural Development Program. In
Delaware, at least, Rural Development, or RDA, has played a critical
role in supporting housing, businesses, and communities in the rural
parts of Delmarva--Delaware and Maryland.
The Trump budget would also eliminate the Rural Business-Cooperative
Service, or RBS, which promotes economic development in distressed
rural areas. That is a program which has supported things like Del Tech
automotive technician training and architectural services for the
Seaford Historical Society, among many other things.
Something I am much more familiar with and more passionate about is
the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Across the State of Delaware,
the MEP, as it is known, has helped small and medium manufacturing
companies to be better at taking advantage of cutting-edge technology,
understanding how to manage their inventory, how to invest more wisely
in new capital equipment, and how to grow and compete around the world.
Since 2000, Delaware's Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program
has used Federal support to help Delaware manufacturers increase sales
by more than $120 million, helping create more than 1,600 good-paying
jobs and finding over $100 million in cost savings in Delaware's small
and medium manufacturers. These are great impacts for a fairly small
program. Why that program specifically targeted at helping small and
medium manufacturing companies would be a priority for elimination is
Cuts to other areas that impact research and energy in our economy
also strike me as unwise and ill-considered. It is not just our economy
and national security; Trump's budget would also threaten our
infrastructure, our transportation, and our housing.
As a Delawarean and someone who rides Amtrak between Wilmington and
Washington almost every day we are in session, I know how important our
passenger rail system is for the Northeast, as well as for connecting
the rest of our country. Amtrak's long-distance routes are critically
important to the Nation's economy and to sustaining passenger rail as a
nationwide Federal service. Yet, as our competitors around the world
are investing billions of dollars in high-speed rail and in efficient
rail networks that connect whole countries, President Trump's proposal
would eliminate all Federal funding for Amtrak's long-distance routes.
Another effective Federal program that has made a difference in my
home State in infrastructure is the so-called TIGER Program, which
invests in a whole range of infrastructure options--highway, transit,
rail and port--by leveraging private capital and supporting
competitive, innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges. The
TIGER Program has supported projects like a new regional rail
transportation center at the University of Delaware, taking advantage
of the former Chrysler rail yard, and the significant new growth we are
seeing at the University of Delaware's STAR campus. This is an
investment that will have several multiples that will leverage private
sector benefits by promoting economic development, accessible housing,
and multimobile transportation choices in the area.
Many of my colleagues have similar experiences in their States about
the impact of the TIGER Grant Program. In the last year, it had a
demand nearly 20 times the available funding. Yet the Trump budget
would again eliminate all Federal funding to this vital transportation
infrastructure program that creates jobs and helps to leverage private
There are so many other programs on the chopping block, it is hard to
even begin to touch on them: Community Development Block Grants, which
I relied on in my previous job as county executive to provide support
for low-income and disabled individuals to have access to high quality
housing; the funds that support things like Meals on Wheels, that allow
our low-income seniors to age in place rather than having to be moved
to institutions; and many other programs through the Federal Department
of Housing that have a positive impact in communities up and down my
State, from Newark and Wilmington to Dover and Seaford.
If you take the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural water and
wastewater loan and grant programs, these would be eliminated entirely.
These programs are critical to ensuring that rural communities can
access funds to support safe drinking water and sewer systems. Many
communities in Southern Delaware rely on rural water funds to ensure
safe drinking water supplies for the families that live there. As I
have suggested, the list of potential cuts to programs goes on and on.
Let me move to some impacts on the environment, briefly. The
Chesapeake Bay is one of the world's largest estuary systems, and
Delaware is a State that borders on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Economists insist that there is nearly $1 trillion worth of economic
value to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, yet the Trump budget cuts nearly
half of the funding for the EPA to allow States to get grants that will
help improve air quality, clean up contaminated waste sites, and remove
lead from drinking water. Delaware alone would lose $3 million in these
There are millions of Americans who rely on many more programs listed
here--AmeriCorps, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program,
Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the African Development
Foundation, and many more--all eliminated in this budget in order to
prioritize a focus on our military and defense.
I don't think the President understands that we cannot maintain our
status as a global leader with defense and military alone. We need to
ensure that a complementary strength exists in our development and
diplomacy programs, which are less than one-tenth of our spending on
I recently had the opportunity to see the impact that USAID and our
programs to assist the hungry and needy around the world can make in
stabilizing fragile states and preventing them from becoming failed
states. We spent less than one percent of the Federal budget on these
sorts of programs. They provide a critical connection to parts of the
world where a positive understanding of America and our values would be
a good thing.
The international affairs budget, which includes needed funding for
USAID, the State Department, and other related programs, would be cut
by one-third under the Trump budget--a 29 percent cut to the State
If history is any indicator, the last 70 years show these investments
in diplomacy and development are critical. Foreign assistance is not
charity. It serves a humanitarian purpose, but it also makes us
stronger by promoting American values around the world, building
coalitions that isolate our adversaries, and helping make tens of
millions less susceptible to terrorism and to extremism around the
This is a false choice between significantly increasing our defense
spending and the need to sustain our investments in diplomacy and
development. I hope my colleagues and constituents will take time to
think about the many different Federal programs that I have briefly
discussed in these remarks about the proposed budget and all the
different ways that these Federal programs have invested in our quality
of life, in our national security, and our economic prosperity. Many of
them are scheduled for elimination under this budget.
As I have heard both Republicans and Democrats say in press
interviews and on this floor: No President's budget is adopted without
change. It is my hope that this budget will be set aside and that the
folks who represent our States here will begin anew the process of
building an appropriations path forward that actually protects our
country, protects our livelihood, and invests significantly in
sustaining and saving the very best of these programs that have
benefited my home State and my constituents for so very long.
With that, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Louisiana.
Reforming Finance for Local Economies Act
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss my bill, the
Reforming Finance for Local Economies Act, which I introduced earlier
this week. This bill is very simple and straightforward. It would
exempt community banks and credit unions with assets of less than $10
billion from complying with the loan-killing, anti-jobs disaster that
we commonly refer to as Dodd-Frank. Every reasonable person with a
passing knowledge of our banking system knows the destabilizing effect
that Dodd-Frank has had on local economies, community banks, and the
Nation's credit unions.
Just last week, President Trump turned to the problems wrought by
Dodd-Frank by signing two Presidential memorandums to take a look at
the Orderly Liquidation Authority and the systemic risk designation
process at the Financial Stability Oversight Council. I applaud the
President's efforts in that regard. I believe they are desperately
needed. Reforming this flawed law is crucial to the future success of
the American economy.
Some of my colleagues were here when Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010.
As we all know, it was intended to prevent another 2008-like banking
crisis by strengthening Federal Government regulation of financial
services. But in the process, as so often happens, Congress actually
crippled America's small community banks and credit unions that played
absolutely no role--none, zero, nada--in instigating the 2008 meltdown.
And that is not just my opinion. Our Federal Reserve Chair, Dr. Janet
Yellen, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee earlier this
year--actually, February 14. When it was my turn to ask her questions,
I asked her the following simple question: “What did community banks
do wrong in 2008?”
This was the Chairwoman's answer: “Well, community banks were not
the reason for the financial crisis. It was larger institutions that
took risks and risks that developed outside the banking system.”
Let me read that first sentence again. Chair Yellen: “Well,
community banks were not the reason for the financial crisis.”
I believe she is right. The fact is that our smaller banks and our
credit unions are smothering under the weight of Dodd-Frank. I will
give you an example of what I am talking about. The Truth in Lending
Act passed by Congress is actually 22 pages long. The Federal Reserve
Act, setting up our Federal Reserve System, is 32 pages long. Glass-
Steagall, about which we heard a great deal, was 37 pages long. Dodd-
Frank is a breathtaking 2,300 pages with 22,000 pages of regulations.
You can stand on the thing and paint the ceiling.
That is why so many community banks no longer exist. Those that have
managed to survive have seen their costs go up, their profits go down,
and their ability to make small business and consumer loans curtailed--
all as a result of the unnecessary, heavy hand of government. In fact,
since Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010, this country has lost 1,700 small
institutions. The reason is very simple. Dodd-Frank has forced
community banks and credit unions to merge, consolidate, or to go out
of business because of the heavy hand of regulation and because they
can't make the loans that they normally would be able to make.
Nationwide, we have been losing an average of one community bank or
credit union a day--every single day--since Dodd-Frank was passed
because of its costs, which have driven our banks to sell or merge with
larger banks. It is so ironic that this forced consolidation--forcing
our smaller banks and credit unions to either merge with or be bought
out by larger institutions--has caused even greater concentration of
assets on the books of even larger and, in some cases, too-big-to-fail
banks that Dodd-Frank was supposed to do something about.
My legislation will help 5,785 American credit unions. It will help
5,461 community banks in our country survive. Specifically, financial
institutions with assets of less than $10 billion--if you are a
financial institution and you have less than $10 billion in assets, you
will be exempt completely from Dodd-Frank, its 2,300 pages and its
22,000 pages of regulations. We are talking about a lot of banks.
Banks with less than $10 billion in assets make up 92 percent of our
Nation's banks, according to the FDIC. Banks with less than $10 billion
in assets provide 48 percent of all small business loans, 16 percent of
residential mortgages, 44 percent of lending to purchase farmland, 43
percent of lending for farm operations, and 35 percent of commercial
real estate loans. If my bill passes, these institutions will no longer
have to reduce their products and service offerings in order to divert
resources to compliance, to interpretation, and to execution.
The expertise of our smaller banks and credit unions in America in
evaluating risk will no longer be reduced to some algorithm--some
mathematical exercise. Instead, our institutions will be able to
deliver the desperately needed capital to the customers they know so
well because that is what community banks and credit unions do. They
take in local deposits, and they make loans to local borrowers whom
they know and whose creditworthiness they can closely monitor because
community bankers, as we all know, are relationship bankers. They don't
participate in widespread subprime lending. They don't use derivatives
to speculate, and they never did. Most of them have fewer than 100
The type of regulation they need--and I am not suggesting they don't
need regulation. What I am suggesting is the type of regulation they
need--because of the risks our small institutions take--is much
different than the
regulation needed by a $700 billion or a trillion-dollar bank.
I am certain that the proponents of Dodd-Frank were well-intentioned
when they wrote and passed it. But 150 years ago, doctors used to bleed
their patients with the best of intentions. They stopped doing that
because their patients died. That is why I suggest today that we
eliminate Dodd-Frank for our smaller institutions. Making Dodd-Frank
applicable to community banks and credit unions is a lot like using a
sledgehammer to go after a gnat. It is way over the top.
Now, certainly our smaller institutions need regulation. Certainly,
they need regulation to ensure that they are stable and secure. Our
small institutions know that. They know they need it. They want it.
They welcome it. But even after my bill becomes law, community banks
are still going to be subject to a strict regulatory scheme established
by dozens of applicable Federal statutes. I am talking about the
Banking Secrecy Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the Truth in
Lending Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and I could go on
All of these statutes will still apply to our smaller banks and
credit unions. Our smaller banks and credit unions--now exempt, if my
bill passes, from Dodd-Frank--will still be under the supervision of
the Federal Reserve. They will still be under the supervision of the
Comptroller of the Currency. They will still be regulated by the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union
Administration, and even the Department of Justice.
America's smaller lending institutions need some relief. What they
need is relief from the destabilizing consequences of Dodd-Frank. The
Reforming Finance for Local Economies Act, in my estimation, is a step
in that direction. I would also like to say, in closing, that I am
pleased that both President Trump and Senate Republicans are committed,
as we are, to paving the way for new businesses and the jobs they
create through regulatory reform as our actions have already proven
However, I would also like to stress that helping our community banks
and credit unions is a bipartisan issue and one that I hope will garner
support from many of my colleagues, not only just on the Republican
side of my aisle but by friends on the Democratic side of the aisle.
I welcome their support. I look forward to working with my fellow
Senators on the Banking Committee to find some commonsense solutions
that will help grow our local economies.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Strange). The Senator from Louisiana.
Congratulating Senator Kennedy
Mr. CASSIDY. Mr. President, I would like to acknowledge my
experienced and talented friend from Louisiana in his maiden speech,
speaking about something that reflects his experience. Briefly, his
experience, aside from being an outstanding citizen, was as a secretary
of revenue in Louisiana, a State treasurer in Louisiana, and an
attorney and a law school professor.
So now there are his committee appointments, which include the
Banking, Appropriations, and Judiciary Committees, which are tailor-
made for what he does. As a product of a small town and as someone who
as treasurer in our State has been so aware of the economic development
issues, no one would know better than he what a critical role small
banks play in generating the capital and delivering the capital to a
small business that grows to be a bigger and a bigger and a big
business, while along the way employing more folks.
So, as we as a nation grapple with how to create better-paying jobs,
it is fitting that Senator Kennedy would begin by speaking directly to
how to create better-paying jobs. I welcome him as a colleague. I look
forward to working with him for things that would benefit our State,
our Nation, and the people who live here.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, in less than an hour, we will consider
the nomination of Rod Rosenstein to be Deputy Attorney General of the
We consider his nomination under highly unusual, if not unique,
circumstances. Only today, there were revelations from the House
Oversight Committee at a bipartisan conference indicating that General
Flynn, formerly the National Security Advisor, may have broken criminal
laws by his concealing payments from Russia--specifically, from Russia
Today--in connection with his speaking fees and travel expenses in
2015. He concealed these payments in security clearance forms submitted
in 2016, SF86 forms. False statements on such forms are a violation of
our criminal laws. His potential criminal liability is a serious and
important allegation that needs to be investigated further.
What we know for sure is that the investigation of this allegation
and others--this very colorful violation of Federal criminal law--can
be done reliably, impartially, and credibly only by a special
prosecutor. That is why I have asked Mr. Rosenstein to commit that he
will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate this allegation as
well as others involving the President's staff, campaign associates,
and staff in connection with Russia's interference with our election.
There is no question that the Russians sought to interfere and that
they did so. That is the conclusion of the investigation that was
already done by our intelligence community, and it is a conclusion that
is virtually universally accepted. The only question now is this: What
was the involvement and potential collusion and aiding and abetting of
Americans in that Russian cyber attack on this country? In my view, it
was an act of war. We can debate that question.
What is undebatable is the need for a thorough, impartial, vigorous,
and aggressive investigation that will give that information to the
American people. It must be an investigation that can pursue criminal
wrongdoing, if it is proved, and that can prosecute it and ultimately
make that investigation transparent to the American people so they know
what actually happened.
I have asked Rod Rosenstein to follow the precedent that was
established by Elliot Richardson under circumstances that were not
unlike the ones we encountered here.
The saying is that history almost never repeats, but it rhymes. What
we have here is a situation that rhymes with the one that Elliot
Richardson encountered when he was Attorney General-designee. He was
requested to appoint a special prosecutor as a condition of his
confirmation. He agreed to do so in 1973. He appointed Archibald Cox.
That, in turn, led to the Watergate investigation and, ultimately, it
vindicated the judgment on the part of our Senate Judiciary Committee
that an independent special prosecutor was necessary under those
My colleague who is presiding, as a former State attorney general,
knows well the importance of independence and credibility in any
judicial role of this kind. This Nation now faces a looming
constitutional crisis--again, not unlike Watergate, which ultimately
resulted in United States v. Nixon before the U.S. Supreme Court, a
subpoena that had to be enforced by that special prosecutor against the
President of the United States.
Only Rod Rosenstein can vindicate that important public interest.
Only the Deputy Attorney General of the United States can appoint a
special prosecutor because the Attorney General rightly has recused
himself. Jeff Sessions has recused himself because of his own
conversations with Russian officials, which he failed to disclose
during testimony to the Judiciary Committee.
Only the Deputy Attorney General can perform that vital function, and
only a special prosecutor can do what is necessary to vindicate the
public interest through a vigorous investigation into any criminal
wrongdoing and to prosecute lawbreakers.
I have confidence that our Intelligence Committee in the Senate will
impartially and objectively do whatever it can to uncover the truth.
But even if it succeeds--and there are obstacles and challenges to its
success--it cannot pursue a criminal investigation,
and it cannot bring criminal charges and pursue a conviction. It
probably cannot make fully transparent or disclose all of the facts
that it uncovers. Its custom is to issue a report and, when it does so,
redacting information that can be considered classified or sensitive.
It may well lead, in an abundance of caution, toward redacting rather
That is why I have asked Rod Rosenstein, as a condition of his
becoming Deputy Attorney General, to commit that he will appoint a
special independent prosecutor. Call that office whatever you wish--
special counsel, independent counsel, special prosecutor. The role is
what is significant. It is someone who will uncover the wrongdoing and
follow the evidence and the facts wherever they lead.
Neither Mr. Rosenstein nor Mr. Sessions can do so. Neither Rosenstein
nor Sessions will ever convince the public that they are really
pursuing their boss, the President of the United States, if there is
evidence that leads to his culpability. They report to him. Rod
Rosenstein reports to Jeff Sessions, and he, in turn, reports to the
President of the United States. That is why the appearance and the
reality of independence is so critically important, and that is why
only a special prosecutor can pursue that interest.
If we were in normal times, Rod Rosenstein would be an eminently
acceptable nominee, and I would welcome his nomination without
attaching any kind of request or condition. He is certainly an
honorable public servant. He is a career prosecutor. I admire his
dedication and commitment to public service. As U.S. attorney for
Maryland, he certainly has an admirable record. He is, in some senses,
what we value in the Department of Justice--someone who is committed to
the rule of law. That is why I have been surprised and disappointed
that he has failed to heed my request.
Whatever happens today, I want to ensure my colleagues and, most
especially, him and the loyal and dedicated members of the Department
of Justice that I will support his work in his capacity as Deputy
Attorney General, if he is confirmed today, because the professionalism
of the Department of Justice is of preeminent interest for me
personally, having served as a U.S. attorney and also as attorney
general of my State, but it is also vitally important to the American
We must consider his nomination in the light of the looming
constitutional crisis that our Nation confronts. It is a crisis partly
of the administration's making by its attacks on the judiciary, calling
a member of the bench a “so-called judge,” saying to the American
people that a circuit court of appeals will be responsible for any
violence that may occur as a result of its ruling on the
constitutionality of Executive orders related to immigration, demeaning
and disparaging a judge because of his ethnic heritage--a judge born,
in fact, in Indiana.
These kinds of attacks on the judiciary undermine respect and trust
in a branch of government that is the bulwark of our democracy and
that, in my view, when the history of this era is written, will be
regarded as having been one of its finest hours. We will be relying on
it to protect our Nation's fundamental rights and liberties. The
independence of the judiciary is a sacred pillar of our democracy, and
it must be free of political interference.
The other hero of this era, in my view, will be the press, which has
uncovered many of the facts leading to my conclusion, joined by so many
of my colleagues, that there must be a special prosecutor. That
conclusion is not mine alone. It has been joined by many of my
colleagues, 10 of them having cosigned a letter I wrote in mid-February
asking for a special prosecutor.
The independence of our judiciary and of our prosecutors is so
critically important for the trust and credibility of the American
people that the rule of law will prevail and that no official will put
himself above the rule of law. That is the threat and the
constitutional crisis that we potentially face.
Two high-ranking administration officials have been caught
misrepresenting their ties with Russia. One of them is, in fact, the
Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who did so before the Judiciary
Committee, under oath.
Mr. Rosenstein has said that he wants to be approved by the Senate
before he decides whether to appoint a special prosecutor, but that
delay will mean that a man who was hired and can be fired by President
Trump will decide whether the Trump administration will face a thorough
and complete investigation. This body has a duty to insist on it before
his confirmation. We must seize this opportunity to assure
accountability to the American people and make sure also about their
confidence in our electoral system. While Mr. Rosenstein has claimed he
needs to be in office to familiarize himself with the facts of an
investigation into the Trump administration before he can commit to
appointing a special prosecutor, the row of facts are all a matter of
public record now.
We know Russia interfered in the 2016 election. We know the FBI is
investigating Trump administration lawbreaking associated with that
interference. That investigation has been confirmed by the Director of
the FBI himself. We know Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with
officials of Russia's Government, and yet he said under oath that he
did not meet with those Russians. That is more than ample information
to justify appointing a special prosecutor, but there is much more,
including actions by Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone. These
kinds of abundant facts are known now and warrant this action and also
more than justify this body insisting that he commit to appointing that
That public information concerning known associates of the President
and their Russian contacts includes General Flynn's actions disclosed
today. On December 10, 2015, General Flynn was paid to attend an event
in Moscow celebrating the 10th anniversary of Russia Today, a
propaganda arm of the Russian Government. He concealed the amount
Russia Today paid him for speaking fees and travel expenses in those
security clearance forms he submitted in 2016, the SF86. He dined with
Vladimir Putin just 18 months after leaving his position leading the
Defense Intelligence Agency. As a retired general, he is prohibited
from receipt of consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honorary or
any other kind of salary from a foreign government without
congressional consent. That action also is a potentially prosecutable
After the election, General Flynn spoke repeatedly to Russian
Ambassador Kislyak regarding lifting sanctions on Putin, an amazing act
of disloyalty. Misleading Vice President Pence and the American public
on the nature of these secret discussions, he demonstrated a lack of
candor and credibility inconsistent with the role of National Security
Advisor, and therefore he was compelled to resign.
The President also selected Carter Page to serve during the campaign
on his foreign policy advisory committee. He is the same individual we
have learned who was under investigation for his contacts with Russian
The President's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, worked for years on
a disinformation campaign to benefit the Putin government and was paid
millions of dollars to do so. The President's son-in-law Jared Kushner
held an undisclosed meeting with both the Russian Ambassador and also
executives from a Russian bank, EDB, a bank built by Putin's cronies.
The President himself has sold real estate to Russian investors seeking
to profit from their corrupt activities in Russia or, as his son,
Donald Trump, put it, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
The administration's supposed attempts to investigate itself have
produced mixed signals and clear conflicts of interest such as House
Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes's ill-fated trip to the White House to
discuss his committee findings.
The robust congressional oversight hearings that we all hope will
happen are certainly essential, but only the Department of Justice can
analyze these facts and information which are only the tip of the
iceberg--analyze it, digest it, determine its relevance to a criminal
investigation and to a prosecution, pursuit of a violation of law and
charges. The FBI can investigate, but it cannot bring charges. Only a
lawyer from the Department of Justice can do so, and only a special
prosecutor can make that judgment independently and impartially without
worry about what his boss thinks or what his boss's boss thinks.
So I have reached the conclusion reluctantly--because Rod Rosenstein
has a very admirable record of public service--that I must vote against
his nomination in just a short time because of his failure to commit to
a special prosecutor. I have no illusions about convincing my
colleagues about joining me to vote on cloture with a degree of realism
about the views of this body on his nomination, but I hope he will heed
the example of Mr. Richardson in 1973 and also of Jim Comey, who at one
point also resorted to a special prosecutor to investigate a
controversial matter that arose during President George Bush's
There is clear, unmistakable, bipartisan precedent for a special
prosecutor under these circumstances. There is not only precedent,
there is historical imperative. At the root of this constitutional
crisis is a concern for the rule of law, for preserving the public's
faith and trust and respect for our justice system. It is at the
foundation of what we do when we vote. When we make laws, we presume
they will be rigorously and fairly enforced without fear or favor, and
that no official, not even the President of the United States, will be
placed above the law. That is the lesson of Watergate, but it is also
the lesson established throughout our history, going back to the
Founders and the preeminent role played by our U.S. Supreme Court.
I will support Mr. Rosenstein in his efforts to pursue the truth and
pursue justice, as I believe he must do, and I hope he will do because
the credibility the of the Department of Justice and our justice system
is so much at stake.
I urge my colleagues to vote against his nomination, as I will do,
but I also pledge my support for him and the loyal, dedicated,
hardworking members of the Department of Justice if he is confirmed.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). Without objection, it is so
Under the previous order, all time is expired.
The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Rosenstein
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
The result was announced--yeas 94, nays 6, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 114 Ex.]
The nomination was confirmed.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the President will
be immediately notified of the Senate's action.