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Congressional Record2017/07/13Senate | House | Extensions

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[Pages S3968-S3971]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the Hagerty nomination, which the clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read the nomination of William Francis Hagerty IV, of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona. Unanimous Consent Requests--Executive Calendar

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, let me begin by reviewing the threats the United States is facing around the world today. The campaign against ISIS is far from over. We must build on the success of retaking Mosul and ensure an enduring defeat of terrorist threats in Iraq and Syria and throughout the region.

Every day we learn more about Russia's asymmetric capabilities--from cyber attacks to disinformation campaigns--even as they modernize their military, occupy Crimea, destabilize Ukraine, and threaten our NATO allies. China continues to militarize the South China Sea and modernize its own military at an alarming rate. North Korea gets ever closer to developing the capability to strike the U.S. homeland with a nuclear- armed missile.

I could spend a lot of time going through all of the threats we face. We are at war. We are at war. There are brave young men and women serving in Afghanistan, as I speak. Some of them have been wounded and killed. We must always ask ourselves: Are we really doing all we can to support them?

Our military is facing a crisis. Years of budget cuts from this Congress have failed our men and women in uniform. In order to rebuild the military, the Pentagon needs to ramp up readiness programs and embark on an ambitious plan for modernization to make sure our servicemembers are given the training, resources, and capabilities they need. To do that, the Department of Defense must have senior leadership.

The position of Deputy Secretary of State is one of the most critical positions in our government. It is essentially the chief operating officer of the largest, most complex organization in the world--the Department that is entrusted with ensuring our national security.

Patrick Shanahan is a well-qualified nominee who passed out of the Armed Services Committee on a voice vote. This body voted overwhelmingly, 98 to 1, to confirm General Mattis as Secretary of Defense. He had our overwhelming support to lead the Department during challenging times. Yet we have not given Secretary Mattis the senior leadership he needs to help him do his job.

Tomorrow, I say to my colleagues, the current Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work, will leave his office. There simply is no more time to delay moving the nomination of Patrick Shanahan. You can choose to vote no, you can choose to vote yes, but let's just vote. The obstruction has gone on long enough, and it has to stop.

I wish to say, I understand the frustration my colleagues on the other side of the aisle feel with the process we have been through, particularly on the issue of healthcare. The issue of healthcare should have gone through [[Page S3969]] the relevant committees. It should have had amendments, it should have had debate, it should have had discussion, and maybe we could have passed something going through the regular order, and we didn't. I understand the frustration my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are feeling. I felt the same thing in 2009 when we did ObamaCare, basically on the same basis. Yet amnesia seems to have set in here or new Members are not remembering or care.

What is going on in this body, unfortunately, these days is plagued by partisanship and politics. This is a time to put aside all of that for the sake of our national security and come together as Republicans and Democrats to move this nomination. Our men and women in uniform deserve no less.

Let me say again to my friend from New York, whom I have enjoyed doing battle with for many years, he is a man of honesty and integrity and a man of his word. I understand his frustration, and I understand the frustration on the other side of the aisle because we felt the same thing.

I would again ask the indulgence of the leader of the Democrat Party on the other side to at least consider this unanimous consent request.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Executive Calendar No. 157, the nomination of Patrick Shanahan to be Deputy Secretary of Defense; that the nomination be confirmed; that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, first, there is no one I have more respect for on either side of the aisle than the Senator from Arizona. He said some nice words about me, and I extend them back to him five times over. He is a fine man. He has great integrity, great courage, great service to our country, and no one has helped defend America more--both when he was in the Armed Forces and here on the Senate floor--than the gentleman. I respect that.

I respect that you always try to put yourself in the other person's moccasins. That was one of the great Indian proverbs.

I know he is doing that, as he mentioned in his remarks.

I would like to make a couple of quick points.

First, our Republican leader has chosen this week to proceed with three nominees under regular order. He could have advanced this nominee and a few others from the DOD but instead chose a district court judge in Idaho, a nominee to OMB, Ambassador to Japan. So I say to my good friend from Arizona, given the frustration he remarked on that our side has on healthcare, which is so important to so many--as is keeping a strong and fully staffed Defense Department--I would say to the gentleman that we would be happy to consider the nominee in the regular order. And maybe once things change a little bit on healthcare, with the consent of my colleagues on this side of the aisle, we can move a lot of things quickly. But at this point, despite my great respect for my dear friend, I must object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

Mr. McCAIN. Before the Democratic leader leaves, may I ask one more?

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 17, the Senate proceed to executive session for consideration of Executive Calendar No. 157. I further ask that there be 30 minutes of debate on the nomination equally divided in the usual form and that following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate vote on confirmation of the nomination with no intervening action or debate, and that, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

Before I ask for a ruling on that, may I just say that the Senator from New York has a legitimate comment. Why in the world we would be wasting time on the Ambassador to Japan when we have the Department of Defense nominees in line is something I can neither account for, nor can I condone. So I understand the frustration of the Senator from New York.

Maybe sometime after our 2 weeks in August, perhaps some of us ought to sit down and talk and work out an agenda. We have a train wreck coming, as the Senator from New York knows. We have the debt limit. We have appropriations bills to pass. We have all these things piling up, we have about 30 days to do it in, and so far, I have seen no plan to address these challenges.

The only way we are going to address some of these challenges, I say to my colleagues, with their partisanship and anger and dislike of anybody who lives over there, the fact is that we need to work together to work these things out, and we can do it without betraying principle, but we can also do it by understanding the priorities and the dedication and patriotism of those on the other side of the aisle.

So I understand the Senator from New York. I don't agree with the Senator from New York, but I understand his frustration. So I renew my consent request.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. SCHUMER. Reluctantly, again, I must object. But I would say to my colleague from Arizona, I would like very much to sit down and work out these other problems. I think that if he and I sat in a room together, we could figure these things out ourselves pretty well, and it would be our job to persuade our colleagues to try to do the same. I understand. I used the same words--“train wreck”--earlier this morning. If we don't come to a good agreement, for instance, on appropriations and the budget, the defense forces that he so dearly holds and so many of the issues on our side would be hurt dramatically--the country would. So I promise him, I will endeavor to work with him in the most good-faith way.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

Mr. McCAIN. May I ask one more question of the Democratic leader? When would Mr. Shanahan's nomination be in order?

Mr. SCHUMER. I think if it is filed--it will be up to the Republican leader. If it is filed tonight, the cloture motion would be voted on Monday night, and then maybe we could talk about--with the permission of my colleagues from the other side--speeding it up after that.

Mr. McCAIN. I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts. Healthcare Legislation

Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I am speaking today because proponents of TrumpCare have their heads stuck in the sand. Many of the Republicans in this Chamber are clearly in denial that we live in a country where 91 Americans die each and every day from an opioid overdose; where 1.3 million Americans went to the hospital for an opioid-related issue in 2014; where 2,000 Massachusetts residents died from an opioid overdose just last year, and 69 percent of those cases had the illicit opioid fentanyl in their bodies. If people across the country were dying from overdoses at the same rate as in Massachusetts, that would be 100,000 people per year--two Vietnam wars' worth of deaths every single year. Over 10 years, that would be 1 million people who die if they were dying at the same rate as they are in Massachusetts--1 million people over 10 years dying from opioid overdoses in our country.

If these Republicans took their heads out of the sand, they would hear the near-unanimous calls from the experts and the pleas of mothers and fathers to stop this machete to Medicaid which they have brought with their new healthcare reform bill. They would hear the alarm bells Americans across the country are ringing against this cruel and heartless and immoral legislation.

These desperate voices should be enough to get Republicans to abandon their efforts to rip away insurance coverage for treatment and recovery services for Americans struggling with substance use disorders, but instead of accepting the truth and listening to their constituents, they have decided to take a cynical path and replace these lifesaving services with a paltry opioid fund of $45 billion over 10 years.

There has been a lot of talk from the Republicans about so-called fixes that they can work on with Democrats, but this opioid fund isn't a fix, it is a falsehood. It is a false promise to the people suffering from opioid addiction. It is a [[Page S3970]] false future that won't include critical Medicaid funding for treatment and recovery services. It is a false bargain that Republicans will make at the expense of families desperate for opioid addiction treatment.

This opioid fund is a politically craven effort to buy votes from Republicans whose States are being ravaged by the prescription drug, heroin, and fentanyl crisis, but the American people will not be fooled. This opioid funding is nothing more than a public health pittance, a wholly inadequate response to our Nation's preeminent healthcare crisis. In fact, the amount included in this latest version of TrumpCare is not even half of the amount that the Affordable Care Act would have spent on covering opioid use disorder treatment if we just left that law alone to work as intended.

Here are the numbers. The Center for American Progress has estimated that the Affordable Care Act would spend $91 billion for opioid coverage alone over the next decade, compared to the $45 billion the Republicans are putting into their bill which they announced today.

We already know that access to treatment is a challenge. Only 1 in 10 Americans with substance addiction receives treatment. There are estimated to be 2 million people with an opioid use disorder who are not receiving any treatment for this disorder.

It should not be a surprise to anyone that the epidemic of opioid abuse will only get worse as long as we have a system that makes it easier to abuse drugs than to get help for addiction disorders. And the paltry GOP fund that provides less than half of the funding of the Affordable Care Act is only going to accelerate the death sentence for the millions of people with substance use disorders.

Sadly, we know that my Republican colleagues who are attempting to jam this immoral and callous TrumpCare bill through this body actually are aware of the crisis facing their States. They speak to the same constituents. They read the same newspapers. They see the same obituaries of Americans who lost their lives to the opioid overdose epidemic. And that is why we have been able to make some bipartisan progress. Last year, we passed the CARA bill. We passed legislation to fund $1 billion for treatment. But support for the TrumpCare bill and this opioid fund is a betrayal of all of that hard-fought progress we were making.

Republicans are turning their backs on their vow to combat the opioid epidemic, and President Trump is breaking his promise from the campaign trail to “expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.” Instead, they are moving forward with a proposal that would rip insurance away from 22 million people and threaten insurance coverage for 2.8 million Americans with a substance use disorder.

This bill would eviscerate Medicaid--the leading payer of behavioral health services, including substance use treatment--by nearly $800 billion, and all of this to give billions in tax breaks to billionaires and big corporations.

One analysis has found that under the Senate's previous version of TrumpCare, Republicans provided a nearly $33 billion tax break to the top 400 earners, the top 400 billionaires in America, which is the equivalent of ending Medicaid expansion for too many people in our country.

Let's look at what they are planning. They are planning to cut from $91 billion down to $45 billion the amount of money we spend on opioid treatment in the United States. At the same time, they have $33 billion that they are going to give in a tax break to the wealthiest 400 billionaires in America. Where is that money going to be better spent in our country over the next 10 years--$33 billion for the 400 wealthiest people or adding that money back in so that we can have treatment for people who have opioid addiction problems in their families? What is going to be better for America?

Well, the Republicans say: We need all that money that would go for treatment to give it to the wealthiest people in our country.

They can afford their treatment. Their families will have all the healthcare coverage they need if they have problems in their families. But the Republicans don't care. If you kicked this bill in the heart, you would break your toe. That is how bad it is.

So, for me, this is without question, at the heart, a simple explanation of what is fundamentally wrong with this Republican bill. There are many other things wrong with it--preexisting conditions, go all the way down the line--but how can you, when we have this plague hitting our country, take all that money away and give it away to billionaires? It is just wrong. There are too many families, too many letters, too many conversations that we have all had with these families. There are too many tears that we have seen. So, for me, there can be nothing that is worse than doing that to families--taking away their hope.

This is going to be a battle of monumental proportions. All I can tell you is that for the 2,000 families who had someone who died in Massachusetts last year, we are going to make sure this is a battle that everyone knows because if the American people understood that they are doing this to all of those families who have an opioid problem right now, there would be a revolt that would rise up across this country. Over this next week, the American people are going to learn about what is in the soul of this bill.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.

Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I am here with Senator Corker today to address the Senate and encourage this body to vote in support of Bill Hagerty as our Ambassador to Japan.

In 2013, when Bill Hagerty was the commissioner of economic and community development for Tennessee, he gave a speech entirely in Japanese at the American Embassy in Tokyo.

I have looked it up. There have been 16 U.S. Ambassadors to Tokyo, a very distinguished group since World War II: a five-star general, two former Senate majority leaders, a former Vice President of the United States, a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the daughter of a former President of the United States. So far as I know, none of them were able to do what Bill Hagerty did in 2013 when he made a speech entirely in Japanese at the American Embassy in Tokyo.

That is just one reason I think Bill Hagerty is one of President Trump's best appointees.

He was born in Tennessee, graduated from Vanderbilt University, was associate editor of the law review, worked as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. During his final 3 years, he lived in Tokyo, and he served as senior managing executive for their clients around Asia.

He was selected by President George H.W. Bush to be on his staff, and there he worked on trade, commerce, defense and telecommunications issues. He was a White House fellow. He was founder and chairman of a company in private life that became the third largest medical research company in the United States. He founded his own private equity and investment firm.

From 2011 to 2015, he was the commissioner of economic and community development for Tennessee. In that role, working with Governor Haslam, he was enormously successful. They secured $15 billion in investments and 90,000 jobs for our State. For 2 of those years, Tennessee was the No. 1 State for economic development and the No. 1 State in job creation through foreign direct investment.

Bill Hagerty is a distinguished Eagle Scout. He was head of a capital campaign for the Scouts. He served on the board for the Far East Council of the Scouts, encouraging the growth of Boy Scouts throughout Asia. One way he intends to continue that mission is that his two sons will join their respective troops in Japan following his confirmation. His wife, Chrissy, would want me to quickly add that there are two aspiring Girl Scouts in their family who will have time to do the same.

This is not only one of the best appointments but one of the most important of this President. There is a reason we have had such a distinguished list of Ambassadors since World War II, including our former majority leader, Senator Howard Baker from Tennessee.

Mike Mansfield, another former majority leader of this body, was also Ambassador. He used to say in every speech he made that the Japanese- American alliance is the most important two-country relationship in the world, bar none. Ambassador Mansfield said that so often that Americans in [[Page S3971]] Tokyo used to call our Embassy there the “Bar None Ranch.”

If you will permit a little parochialism, Mr. Hagerty comes from a state, Tennessee, which has the most important relationship with Japan of any State, bar none.

That began about 40 years ago. I remember President Carter saying to me as a new Governor and to other Governors: “Go to Japan. Persuade them to make in the United States what they sell in the United States.”

Off we all went. During my first 24 months as Governor, I spent 3 weeks in Japan and 8 weeks on Japanese-American relations. I explained to Tennesseans that I thought I could do more good for our State in Japan than I could in Washington, DC. It turned out to be true. Nissan, Bridgestone, Komatsu, and other companies came, and so did the jobs.

By the mid-eighties, Tennessee had 10 percent of all the Japanese capital investment in the United States, and this has continued. Nissan and Bridgestone have North America's largest auto plants and tire plants in Tennessee. With Mr. Hagerty's help, Bridgestone, as well as Nissan, have decided to locate their North American headquarters in our State.

Bill Hagerty, if approved by the Senate, would go to Japan not only able to speak the language but, having lived and worked there, understanding how close ties between Japan and the United States can create bigger paychecks for Americans, as well as for the Japanese.

I join my colleague, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Corker, in enthusiastically saying it is my hope that the Senate will approve today his nomination and that he will soon be on the job, and his children will be in their respective Scout troops in Japan.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.

Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I thank my friend, the senior Senator from Tennessee, Mr. Alexander, for his eloquent comments about this great nomination. I also thank him again, as I have many times, for the outstanding relationship he developed with Japan that has borne so much fruit for the citizens in our State and so many States across the Southeast. I thank him very much for that.

I rise today also to offer my strong support for the nomination of Bill Hagerty to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Bill is one of the most outstanding appointments that President Trump has made, and his confirmation is long overdue.

The relationship between the United States and Japan speaks for itself, and hosting Prime Minister Abe as one of the first visitors speaks to how the Trump administration and our country feel about Japan.

As a fellow Tennessean, I have had the privilege of knowing Bill Hagerty and his family on a personal level. I have seen him in business and the outstanding things he has done there. I have seen him represent our State as commissioner of economic development, and he caused it to be one of the most heralded States in the country relative to job creation. Much of that had to do with his ability to deal with other governments around the world and cause them to be attracted to our State.

I also know that he and his wife Chrissy actually met in Japan, so this is an exciting time and sort of a homecoming for their family.

There is no one more well-suited to fill this important role, and I know our Nation will benefit from Bill's leadership and experience as he carries on the tremendous legacy of U.S. Ambassadors to Japan, including the late Howard Baker, another fellow Tennessean.

I am really, really proud of this nomination and know that Bill will represent the very best of our country during his service in Japan.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this confirmation. This is long overdue, and I know he will be going to Japan at a time when we truly need an ambassador with his capacity.

I yield the floor.

Mr. President, 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. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired.

The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Hagerty nomination?

Mr. ALEXANDER. 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 bill clerk called the roll.

Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran).

Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran) would have voted “yea.”

Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Missouri (Mrs. McCaskill) is necessarily absent.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Perdue). Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote?

The result was announced--yeas 86, nays 12, as follows: [Rollcall Vote No. 160 Ex.] YEAS--86 Alexander Baldwin Barrasso Bennet Blumenthal Blunt Boozman Burr Cantwell Capito Cardin Carper Casey Cassidy Cochran Collins Coons Corker Cornyn Cortez Masto Cotton Crapo Cruz Daines Donnelly Duckworth Durbin Enzi Ernst Feinstein Fischer Flake Franken Gardner Graham Grassley Hassan Hatch Heitkamp Heller Hoeven Inhofe Isakson Johnson Kaine Kennedy King Klobuchar Lankford Leahy Lee Manchin Markey McCain McConnell Menendez Murkowski Murphy Murray Nelson Paul Perdue Portman Reed Risch Roberts Rounds Rubio Sasse Schatz Schumer Scott Shaheen Shelby Strange Sullivan Tester Thune Tillis Toomey Van Hollen Warner Whitehouse Wicker Wyden Young NAYS--12 Booker Brown Gillibrand Harris Heinrich Hirono Merkley Peters Sanders Stabenow Udall Warren NOT VOTING--2 McCaskill Moran

The nomination was confirmed.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that with respect to the Hagerty nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. ____________________



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