From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will
proceed to the consideration of the following nomination, which the
clerk will report.
The bill clerk read the nomination of Christopher A. Wray, of
Georgia, to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a
term of ten years.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There will now be 4 hours of debate equally
divided in the usual form.
The President pro tempore, the Senator from Utah, is recognized.
International Communications Privacy Act
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I represent a generation of lawmakers
brought up on the principles of bipartisanship and compromise, and I
believe these very virtues are the key to my success as a legislator.
By putting these principles in practice as chairman of the Finance
Committee, I was able to pass more than 40 bills into law during the
last Congress, and by working with my friends across the aisle over
many decades of public service, I have been able to pass more
legislation than anyone alive today.
I draw from these personal experiences to illustrate a simple point:
In an era of endless gridlock and increasing polarization, there is no
alternative to civility and healthy debate. We would do well to
remember this in light of the frustrations we have all felt over the
past several months.
The Senate is capable of so much more than it is today. I know
because I have seen the Senate at its best, and I have seen the Senate
when regular order was the norm, when legislation was debated in
committee, and when Members worked constructively with one another for
the good of the country. I have seen the Senate when it truly lived up
to its reputation as the world's greatest deliberative body.
I believe we can again see this body at its best, but restoring the
Senate to its proper function requires real change on all sides. It
begins by recognizing that all of us here, Democrats and Republicans
alike, are to some extent culpable for the current dysfunction. If we
want to break free of the current gridlock and if we want to show the
American people we are serious about legislating, then we have to be
honest with ourselves, and we have to recognize that laying all the
blame on the other side is as counterproductive as it is disingenuous.
Most importantly, we must be willing to work in good faith with
Members of the opposite party. All too often, we miss the opportunity
to effect meaningful change by hiding behind partisan differences. We
must take the opposite course by renewing our efforts to reach across
the aisle to overcome division and forge consensus. There is no better
template for effective, bipartisan legislating.
This is the model I have followed for decades for the betterment of
Utah and the Nation, and it is the model I have followed most recently
in working with my dear friend Senator Coons to introduce the
International Communications Privacy Act, or what we affectionately
refer to as ICPA.
ICPA is more than just a commonsense proposal that updates law
enforcement for the modern age; it is a symbol of what our two parties
can accomplish when we lay aside petty differences and come together
for the good of our Nation. In crafting this proposal, Senator Coons
and I took great pains to strengthen international data privacy
protections while also enhancing law enforcement's ability to access
data across borders.
This issue has long been a priority of mine. I have spoken about it
at length both here on the Senate floor and in other venues and have
introduced legislation on the subject over multiple Congresses. Most
recently, I came to the Senate floor to explain how the rise of cloud
and remote network computing has transformed the way we store data and
to describe the implications of that transformation for our data
Until relatively recently, most electronic data was housed in
personal computers or on servers located in offices or homes. This
meant that in order to access data, a person could simply go to the
relevant location and retrieve it. That is no longer the case.
Nowadays, much of our data is stored not on home or office computers
but in the cloud--a network of remote servers spread throughout the
world that allows us to access data from literally anywhere. Data
pertaining to a single individual or even to a single document may be
stored at multiple sites spread across countries or even continents.
This has profound implications for data privacy. To begin with, our
privacy laws require government officials to obtain a warrant before
they can access many types of electronic communications. Warrants,
however, traditionally have stopped at the warrant's edge. This means
that if a law enforcement agent is investigating a crime here in the
United States but a key piece of information is stored on a remote
server outside the United States, the agent may have significant
difficulty obtaining the information. Without a warrant or the ability
to get a warrant, the agent may have to use diplomatic channels to
obtain the information--a process that can be extremely slow and
Our privacy laws also prohibit disclosure to foreign entities. This
means that when a foreign government is investigating a crime within
its borders and a key piece of information is stored in the United
States, the foreign government must likewise work through diplomatic
channels to obtain the information.
The growing prevalence of cloud and remote network computing has put
law enforcement into increasing conflict with these sorts of
restrictions. Crime knows no borders. A child pornographer in Bangalore
may post photos of an American victim on a British server which can be
accessed worldwide. A U.S. official investigating the crime may need
information stored on the British server in order to track down the
culprit. If the server was in the United States, the official could
simply issue a warrant. But that tool isn't available in this scenario
because the server is overseas.
Moreover, the United Kingdom may have a statute, similar to our own
law, that prohibits British service providers from disclosing
communications to foreign entities. Diplomatic channels exist for
sharing such data, but these channels are exceptionally slow and can
take months or even years to process requests. In the meantime, crimes
go unpunished and perpetrators disappear.
This state of affairs is simply not tenable. We cannot allow outdated
laws to hamstring law enforcement efforts in this way. At the same
time, we must adequately protect Americans' privacy against unwarranted
Some have suggested that the answer is to simply extend the reach of
U.S. warrants worldwide. This, however, is not a viable solution as
foreign disclosure laws can and do conflict with U.S. laws. Extending
the reach of U.S. warrants without reasonable limits would thus place
service providers in the impossible position of having to choose which
country's laws to violate--ours or the foreign jurisdiction's.
What we need is a sensible regime with clear rules that determine
access based on factors that matter to the person whose data is being
sought. At the same time, we need to take proper account of the laws
and interests of other countries, especially our allies.
We ought to avoid, wherever possible, trampling on other nations'
sovereignty or ignoring their own citizens' legitimate claims to
privacy. Accordingly, ICPA sets clear rules for when and how U.S. law
enforcement can access electronic data based on the location and
nationality of the person whose data is being sought.
Here is what the bill says:
If a person is a U.S. national or is located in the United States,
law enforcement may compel disclosure, regardless of where the data is
stored, provided the data is accessible from a U.S. computer and law
enforcement uses proper criminal process.
If a person is not a U.S. national, however, and is not located in
the United States, then different rules apply. These rules are founded
on three principles: respect, comity, and reciprocity.
First, respect. If U.S. law enforcement wishes to access data
belonging to a non-U.S. national located outside the United States,
then U.S. law enforcement must first notify the person's country of
citizenship and provide that country an opportunity to object. This
shows respect to the other country and gives it an opportunity to
assert the privacy rights of its citizen.
Second, comity. If, after receiving notice, the other country lodges
an objection, a U.S. court undertakes a comity analysis to determine
whose interests should rightly prevail--the U.S. interests in obtaining
the data or the foreign interests in safeguarding the privacy of its
citizen. As a part of this analysis, the court considers such factors
as the location of the crime, the seriousness of the crime, the
importance of the data to the investigation, and the possibility of
accessing the data through other means.
Third, reciprocity. In order to receive notice and an opportunity to
object, the other country must provide reciprocal rights to the United
States. This ensures that the U.S. provides its own citizens an equal
or greater level of protection against foreign requests for data. It
also offers incentives to foreign governments to properly safeguard the
data of U.S. citizens within their borders.
Up to this point, I have been focusing on requests by U.S. law
enforcement for data stored outside the United States, but there is
another side to the problem, and that is what happens when foreign law
enforcement requests data stored inside the United States.
As I have mentioned, our privacy laws prohibit disclosure to foreign
entities. Suppose a British subject committed a crime in Britain but
data relevant to the investigation is stored in the United States. Even
if British law provides for extraterritorial process, a UK official
investigating the crime will be unable to obtain the data because U.S.
law prevents disclosure to foreign officials. As with U.S. requests for
data in other countries, diplomatic channels exist for sharing such
data, but these channels are slow and extremely cumbersome.
Accordingly, for the past several months, I have been working with
Senator Graham and others to find a solution for this second part of
the problem. Senator Graham, together with Senator Whitehouse, convened
a hearing in May of this year that I believe highlighted the need for
action. I have also met with Ambassadors and other high-ranking foreign
officials who have impressed upon me the challenges they are facing
under existing U.S. law.
I think we need to address this second side of the problem--foreign
requests for data in the United States--as well. We need to address it
in conjunction with the first side--U.S. requests for data in other
It will not do to give foreign authorities readier access to data
stored in the United States without likewise clarifying U.S. law
enforcement's ability to obtain data stored abroad. Similarly, it is
inconceivable to me that we would open our doors to foreign law
enforcement requests while telling U.S. law enforcement that data in
other countries is off-limits. Surely, we should not prefer foreign
criminal investigations over domestic ones.
I believe these two issues--ICPA and the bilateral United States-
United Kingdom agreement--are inextricably linked. I have worked in
good faith with Senator Graham and with Senator Whitehouse to find a
path forward on these issues. It is my firm belief that we need to move
these two issues together. Everyone has a vested interest in privacy,
and everyone has a vested interest in bringing criminals to justice. We
are going to work together on this.
In closing, I would emphasize one additional point. The question of
whether, when, and under what circumstances the United States should
authorize law enforcement access to data stored abroad is a question
for Congress. There have been suggestions in some corridors that this
is a question for the courts to decide. I emphatically reject that
question. This is a policy question for Congress.
We should not defer to the courts' interpretation of a statute that
was passed 30 years ago with no thought or comprehension of the
situation we face today. Subject to constitutional constraints, it is
Congress's job to set the bounds of government's investigatory powers.
We decide what government officials can and cannot do. We should not
pass the buck to the judiciary merely because this is a complicated
issue. We shouldn't do that.
The International Communications Privacy Act provides critical
guidance to law enforcement while respecting the laws and interests of
our allies. It brings a set of simple, straightforward rules to a
chaotic area of the law and creates an example for other countries to
follow. It is a balanced approach and a smart approach, and it deserves
this body's full-throated support.
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. THUNE. 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. THUNE. Mr. President, when polls ask Americans what issues are
most important to them, one topic seems to score high every time: jobs
and the economy. It is not surprising. The American people have had a
rough time over the past few years.
The Obama years were characterized by long-term economic stagnation.
Jobs and opportunities were few and far between. Wage growth was almost
nonexistent, and yearly economic growth alternated between weak and
During the last year of the Obama administration--years, I might add,
after the recession ended--economic growth averaged a dismal 1.5
percent. That is barely half of the growth needed for a healthy
There have been some encouraging signs over the past few months.
Economic growth for the second quarter of 2017 was stronger. We still
have a way to go to get to where we need to be. Things still need to
get better and better faster.
Another thing is, we want things to get better for the long term.
During the Obama administration, there were periods of reasonable
economic growth, but they were quickly followed by weak periods. That
is not good enough. We need to put our economy on a strong, healthy
footing for the long term.
How do we do this? How do we get back on the path to long-term
economic health? One important thing we can do is reform our outdated,
inefficient, and growth-stifling Tax Code.
The Tax Code might not be the first thing people think of when they
think of economic growth, but it actually plays a huge rule in every
aspect of our economy. It helps determine how much money you have left
over to save or invest or whether you can afford a car or a house. When
it comes to businesses, it can be the key to determining whether a
young business gets off the ground or an existing business has the
money to grow and to hire new workers.
Unfortunately, our current Tax Code is not helping our economy. Too
often, American families find their opportunities limited by the size
of the tax bill they owe to Uncle Sam. Large and small businesses alike
find themselves struggling under heavy tax burdens that compromise
their ability to grow and compete.
What does tax reform need to look like? On the individual side, of
course, we need to lower income tax rates to put more money in
Americans' pockets. American families should be the ones deciding how
to spend their earnings and not Washington bureaucrats.
On the business side, there are two important things we can do that
will have long-term benefits for economic growth: first, lower tax
rates for all types of businesses--sole proprietorships, S
corporations, limited liability companies, and corporations; and,
second, accelerate the rate at which businesses can recover their
investment costs to free up money for them to reinvest in their
businesses, create new jobs, and increase wages.
When it comes to lowering business tax rates, there are several
things we need to do. For starters, we need to lower our Nation's
corporate tax rate. The United States has the highest corporate tax
rate in the developed world. That puts American businesses at a
competitive disadvantage in the global economy.
When American businesses are taxed at a far higher rate than their
foreign competitors, it is likely to be the foreign, rather than the
American, companies that expand and thrive.
It is not just our high corporate tax rate that puts American
businesses at a competitive disadvantage. It is also our outdated
worldwide tax system. If we want American businesses to stay
competitive in the global economy, we need to move from a worldwide tax
system to a territorial tax system.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch,
delivered a speech the other day explaining exactly why we need to move
to a territorial system. I highly recommend reading his full speech,
but I am going to take just a moment to highlight some of the points he
made in that speech.
What does it mean to have a worldwide tax system? Under a worldwide
tax system, American companies pay U.S. taxes on the profit they make
here at home, as well as any profit they make abroad, once they bring
that money back here home to the United States.
The problem with this is twofold. First, these companies are already
paying taxes to foreign governments on the money they make abroad.
While the current Tax Code gives them some credit for those foreign tax
payments, they can still end up paying some U.S. taxes when they bring
that money home, meaning they are being taxed twice on those profits.
This discourages companies from bringing their profits home to invest
in their domestic operations in the United States. If the tax burden
for bringing that money home is too great, they have a strong incentive
to leave that money abroad and invest it in foreign workers and foreign
The other problem is, most other major world economies have shifted
from a worldwide tax system to a territorial tax system. In a
territorial tax system, you pay taxes on the money you earn where you
make it and only there. You aren't taxed again when you bring money
back to your home country.
Most of American companies' foreign competitors have been operating
under a territorial tax system for years so they are paying a lot less
in taxes than American companies are. That leaves American companies at
a competitive disadvantage.
These foreign companies can underbid American companies for new
business simply because they don't have to add as much in taxes into
the price of their products or services. By moving to a territorial tax
system in the United States--a move that is supported, by the way, by
Members of both parties--we can put American companies on an even
footing with their global competitors.
With a territorial tax system and a lower corporate tax rate, we can
provide a strong reason for companies to keep their operations in the
United States and to bring their profits back home, instead of
incentivizing companies to send their operations overseas the way they
Improving the competitiveness of American companies and giving them a
reason to invest their profits back home will have huge economic
benefits, not only for American companies who are competing in the
global marketplace but also for all the small- and medium-sized
companies that form the supply chain here in the United States.
For every American company that operates in countries around the
world, there are countless companies here at home that supply the raw
material for the products that are sold abroad--businesses that handle
the packaging and the shipping of those products and enterprises that
supply support services like accounting and legal and payroll services.
The list goes on. America's global companies rely on a web of
supporting businesses that spans the entire United States. As a result,
when American companies are successful, so is the American economy.
Obviously, lowering corporate tax rates and moving to a territorial
tax system will have the most impact on American companies with an
international footprint. Tax reform also has to focus on that other
engine of economic growth; that is, the American small business.
Like bigger businesses, small businesses currently face high tax
rates, at times even exceeding those paid by large corporations.
Lowering tax rates for small businesses has to be a part of any tax
A dollar saved in lower tax rates is a dollar a small business owner
can put back into the business to expand, to add another worker, or to
give employees a raise. The other thing we can do for small businesses
is to allow them to recover their investments in inventory, machinery,
and the like faster.
Under current law, small- and medium-sized corporations are often
required to use a method of accounting known as accrual accounting.
Basically, what that means is, a business has to pay tax on income
before it receives the cash and cannot deduct all of its expenses when
it pays the invoice.
For investments in equipment and facilities, the delay in recovering
the cost of the investment can be even longer. For instance, right now,
the cost of a computer is recovered over 5 years; tractors, over 7
years; and commercial buildings, over 39 years.
For many businesses, this means it can be many years before that
substantial investment can be fully deducted. That can leave a business
cash poor. Cash-poor businesses don't expand, they don't hire new
workers, and they don't increase wages.
Boosting small businesses' available cash by allowing them to recover
their investments faster is one of the most important things we can do
to help small businesses thrive.
I have actually introduced legislation that would do just that. My
bill, which is called the INVEST Act, focuses on allowing new
businesses to recover their startup costs more quickly and allowing
existing small- and medium-sized businesses and farms and ranches to
recover their investments faster, and in some cases deducting the
acquisition costs immediately.
All of the tax reform priorities I have discussed today, and more,
will be part of the final tax reform package that we develop in the
Members of the tax-writing committees, in both the Senate and the
House, have spent years working out the best approach to tax reform.
Both committees have redoubled their efforts this year, even as the
Senate and the House took up a variety of different priorities.
Last week, leaders from the Senate, the House, and the administration
announced that the Senate Finance Committee, of which I am a member,
and the House Ways and Means Committee would begin putting together a
final version of a tax reform package. Our goal is for the Senate and
House to take up and pass the legislation sometime this fall.
I am looking forward to working with Chairman Hatch and all of my
colleagues in the Senate Finance Committee to put together that final
bill, because American families and businesses are counting on us to
enact a tax system that works for them and not against them. That is
what we intend to give them.
I yield the floor.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that quorum calls during
consideration of the Wray nomination be charged equally to both sides.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, 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.
Ms. KLOBUCHAR. 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
Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the 10th
anniversary of the collapse of the I-35W bridge and to pay tribute to
those who lost their lives on that tragic summer day, as well as all
the first responders, healthcare workers, and ordinary citizens who did
extraordinary things on this day 10 years ago.
First, I want to acknowledge one other topic; that is, this evening
we will be voting on the nomination of Christopher Wray to serve as the
FBI Director. I was proud to join all of my colleagues on the Judiciary
Committee--now, it is not an ordinary thing to have happen on its own
that we all agree on something--from both sides of the aisle to support
Mr. Wray's nomination in committee on July 20 with a unanimous vote of
In his hearing, Mr. Wray showed that he has integrity, that he will
follow the law, and that he believes in the importance of an
independent FBI. Senators on both sides of the aisle asked him strong
and tough questions. Given this important time in our Nation's history
for law enforcement and for the FBI, I don't think you would expect
Mr. Wray handled the questions well. He was knowledgeable, but most
importantly for me, he showed respect for the agents, and he showed
respect for his predecessors, both Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey. He showed
respect for the law, and he understood the somber time in which he
comes in to take this job.
In particular, Mr. Wray said that if he were asked to do something
illegal or unethical, he would urge the President not to proceed with
such a course of action, and he would resign if necessary. Mr. Wray
also responded to Senator Graham that he did not consider Special
Counsel Mueller to be on a witch hunt, and he agreed that anyone
running for elected office should notify the FBI if a foreign
government offers assistance on a political campaign.
Mr. Wray also agreed with the concerns I raised that are posed by
organized criminals, including those from foreign governments or who
work for foreign governments, hiding their money in shell companies. He
said that we had to “follow the money.” With news reports that the
eighth person in the meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and
a lawyer connected to the Russian Government was a Russian who has been
linked to money laundering, this issue is as important as ever.
In addition, Mr. Wray pledged to continue the FBI's efforts to work
with the Election Assistance Commission and to address cyber security
threats to our election infrastructure, so it is not just investigating
things backward. A lot of what fighting crime is about--and I certainly
knew this in my time as county attorney in Hennepin County--is making
sure you protect people going forward. The FBI has enormous
responsibilities going forward with cyber security, not only for our
elections but for our government and also for business and for
Importantly, Mr. Wray promised to be responsive to requests from the
Judiciary Committee as it carries out its oversight responsibilities.
Those were questions posed to him by the committee's chairman, Senator
This is a tough time to take this tough job. The previous FBI
Director, as we know, was fired because of the Russia investigation.
The former Acting Attorney General was fired, and we have had a slew of
other firings throughout the government over the last few months.
Well, I believe Christopher Wray is someone who will come in there
with the integrity that is needed to do the job for those brave agents
who go to work every day, not wearing a political button. They just go
to do their work to protect us. I also believe he is the right choice
at this time for our country.
I am very proud of the work the FBI in Minnesota has done, especially
in the past year, with the stabbing we had at the shopping mall. The
police chief there often talks about how there was so much going on at
that moment, and the FBI was able to come in and help with that
investigation in a significant way, so the police chief could not only
work on the investigation with his officers but also calm the
community, work with them, and do the other work that had to be done in
the aftermath of that tragic stabbing.
That is just one example of our FBI in Minnesota, but I think every
Member in this Chamber has examples in their own communities, and that
is why it is important to have someone of the caliber of Christopher
Wray take charge. I look forward to voting for his confirmation this
I-35W Bridge Collapse Anniversary
Mr. President, I am here today to talk about the I-35W bridge, and,
as I said earlier, this was a tragedy that captivated not only my State
but the country and the world. It was 10 years ago to the day that the
I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River, taking the lives of
13 people and injuring over 100. I will never forget the shock and
horror of that day. Everyone in my State remembers where they were when
they heard that the bridge had collapsed.
As I said that day, a bridge just shouldn't fall down in the middle
of America--not an eight-lane highway, not a bridge just a few blocks
from my house that I drive over every single day with my family. But it
happened, and when something like that happens, a lot of it has to do
with, yes, what caused it--you want to know that--but also you want to
know how the community responded, and that gets to the part that I
really wanted to focus on today.
In the minutes and the hours following the disaster, the response of
Minnesota's firefighters, police, hospital personnel, emergency
personnel, and ordinary citizens was nothing short of heroic. People
did not run away from that disaster. They ran toward it.
Everyone remembers the video of the off-duty firefighter diving in,
over and over again, looking for survivors, or they remember that
school bus precariously hanging on the edge of that broken-down bridge,
where ordinary people had come to help on this broken
bridge as the school bus rested on the side, ready to fall. To get the
kids off the bridge--they were just going to a summer camp and coming
home for the day--the driver was helping them out one by one by one,
not leaving that bus until every single kid got off the bus. During the
first 2 hours after the bridge fell down, the Minneapolis Emergency
Communications Center received and processed over 500 calls, 51 of
which came directly from the scene of the disaster.
The eyes of the Nation were on our State, and what they saw that day
was the very best of Minnesota. That tremendous spirit of community is
what carried us through the dark days after the bridge collapsed. I
remember going there with then-Senator Coleman the next morning with
the Transportation Secretary. There were already, literally, billboards
the morning after, directing people where to go because this involved a
major highway and telling them what buses would be working and which
way they should go. That is a community responding.
Senator Coleman and I pledged that day that we would work with
Congressman Oberstar, who was a major force--who sadly is no longer
with us--on the House Transportation Committee and then, of course,
with Congressman Ellison, who is the Congressman for that district.
Senator Coleman and I pledged to get the money, and we secured $250
million in emergency bridge reconstruction funding in just the first
few days. It was a bipartisan effort, and I was proud to have the
support of so many people in this Chamber. As a result of that--and
maybe this is a lesson in light of what we heard in Senator McCain's
beautiful speech and in light of what we know we still need to be doing
with infrastructure in this country--with President Bush's help and
with bipartisan support, we rebuilt that huge bridge in Minnesota in a
little over a year. Literally 13 months later, I was driving over that
bridge to my house.
It is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we put
politics aside to get big things done. I believe the I-35W bridge can
and should be a model, not just of a tragic disaster and of our
declining infrastructure, which it certainly is, but also a model of
how we can fix things--a Republican Senator working with a Democratic
Senator, and we got it done.
We have made some progress in this Chamber when it comes to
infrastructure. In 2015, Democrats and Republicans worked together to
pass the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or FAST Act, led
by Senator McConnell, the leader, with Senator Boxer. They don't agree
on much, but they worked hard to get that bill done. I have always
loved that it was called the FAST Act. It is kind of a scary thing to
name a bill in Congress these days, but they named it that, and it got
done. It was a long-term reauthorization bill that increased
transportation funding from existing revenue streams and helped provide
certainty for local governments planning critical projects.
Under the FAST Act, Minnesota is scheduled to receive more than $4
billion in funding over 5 years, which will help to ensure that our
infrastructure is safe and efficient, and by the last year, it will be
an increase of about $100 million just for our State over what we were
getting the year before we passed the FAST Act. But we still need to do
This year, the American Society of Civil Engineers, which every so
often comes out with grades of the Nation's infrastructure, gave
America's infrastructure a grade of D-plus. While other countries are
running ahead with infrastructure investments, we are still standing
still. Even with the FAST Act, it doesn't propel us into the future,
where we want to be. As we know--and as the Presiding Officer knows
from his own State of North Dakota--we are an export State; we are an
export country. We have to bring goods to market, and we have to bring
goods into the United States. We also have to bring people to their
jobs, and we can't do that if we have infrastructure--roads, bridges,
rails, locks, and dams--that was set up for the last century. Standing
still means falling behind in this global economy. In Minnesota, we
know the cost of neglecting our roads and bridges. Our country needs to
build roads, bridges, airports, locks, dams, and rails that work.
While safety should always be our first priority, it shouldn't be our
only expectation. Our infrastructure should help farmers from the
Presiding Officer's home State of North Dakota and my State of
Minnesota to get crops to market quickly. Small businesses have to
grow, and workers have to get to their jobs.
Let's not forget about updating our energy grid, repairing and
replacing our water infrastructure and sewers, and making sure all
Americans have access to broadband--not just low-speed broadband but
high-speed broadband. I don't want to hear about another farmer going
to the McDonald's parking lot to do his business or a doctor in
northern Minnesota going to look at his x rays. If he couldn't use the
hospital, he couldn't look at x rays at home or anywhere except another
coffee store parking lot. That makes no sense.
If our deteriorating infrastructure goes unaddressed, it will cost
our economy nearly $4 trillion by 2025, leading to a loss of over 2
million jobs. If we address it, we can create millions of jobs.
Here are some ideas. Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Roy Blunt
of Missouri have a bipartisan bill that I am part of that would
establish an infrastructure financing authority to complement existing
funding and expand overall infrastructure investments by providing new
incentives to increase private sector spending. Another idea is to
reform our Tax Code--and we have to do a lot of work on that--to
simplify it and to create incentives for businesses to invest right
here in America. We can also provide incentives to bring back trillions
of dollars of foreign earnings. But if we do that, we have to make sure
a chunk of it goes into infrastructure.
Of course, these tools should supplement and not replace direct
Federal funding because, especially when it comes to rural America, we
are not going to see the same kind of public-private partnership that
you might in other, more populated areas of the country. So it has to
be a combination of funding sources to make this work for every State,
especially for rural America.
I am committed to moving forward in a bipartisan way to address our
infrastructure needs and to prevent another tragedy like the collapse
of the I-35W bridge. It is time to work together to make this happen. I
actually believe the Senate is a place where we can make this happen.
We showed the ability to get through a major infrastructure bill just 2
years ago, and we can do it again.
Today, on this 10th anniversary, we honor the victims, and their
families, of that I-35W bridge collapse. We recognize the bravery of
the first responders, who were incredible, and the 911 operators, who
did their duty and answered those calls and got the help where they
were supposed to go, and the doctors, nurses, ER people, ambulance
workers, and everyone else.
Today, we also--and I can't think of a better time, when we are going
through a difficult period, as we are in our country--remember the
actions of ordinary citizens who could have just said: Oh, this looks
scary; I am going home. They didn't do that. They didn't run away from
the disaster; they ran toward it. Ordinary citizens did extraordinary
things. Why? Because they cared about their fellow citizens. Because
they knew that while maybe they had crossed over that bridge 5 minutes
before it collapsed and could see it in their rearview mirror, or maybe
they were approaching the bridge and actually saw it collapse--if it
weren't for a 5-minute or 1-minute or 30-second difference, it would
have been them on that bridge, and they knew that, and that is why they
That is what America is really all about. It is not just a lottery
where only certain people win and certain people lose. You have to put
yourselves in the shoes of other people and think, we are all on one
team. That is what this democracy is about, and that is what we saw on
this day 10 years ago, August 1, in Minnesota.
Thank you, Mr. President.
I yield the floor.
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I will support the nomination of
Christopher Wray to be the next Director of the Federal Bureau of
I met with Mr. Wray prior to his hearing, and I have carefully
reviewed his record and listened to his hearing testimony. I believe he
is well qualified and that he is sensitive to the fact that the FBI
Director needs to be independent from this President and this
We are at a perilous moment in our history. Director Comey was fired
by President Trump after he refused to pledge his loyalty to President
Trump and after he publicly acknowledged that the FBI was investigating
links between the Trump campaign and Russia. In the 109-year history of
the FBI, only one FBI Director had ever been fired before. That
director, William Sessions, was dismissed for serious ethical
violations--not because the FBI was investigating the administration.
Not since Watergate and the Saturday Night Massacre of October 20,
1973, has a President dismissed the head of an ongoing investigation
into his administration.
From his own statements to NBC News and to Russian officials in the
Oval Office, we know that President Trump wanted FBI Director Comey
gone because of the Russia investigation. Let's be clear--Russia
attacked our democracy last year. Almost every day, there is a new
revelation about Russian contacts with the Trump campaign and
administration. We owe it to the American people to get to the bottom
of what happened.
Fortunately, we now have a special counsel, Bob Mueller, who is
investigating whether any crimes were committed. We also need to make
sure no foreign adversary can interfere with our elections again. It is
imperative that the next FBI Director allow Special Counsel Mueller to
conduct his investigation without interference and that the FBI provide
Mueller with access to the information and resources he needs.
It is also imperative that we have an FBI Director who will carry out
the functions of the office with independence, integrity, and a firm
commitment to the rule of law.
I appreciate that Mr. Wray shares my view that the FBI Director
should avoid meeting with President Trump one-on-one and that the FBI
Director would be well-advised to make contemporaneous written records
of any substantive conversations with President Trump.
Mr. Wray also told me he has no reason to doubt the intelligence
community's conclusion that Russia interfered in our election. I look
forward to hearing more from Mr. Wray on this subject after he is
confirmed and has reviewed the classified intelligence.
He also committed to work with me to address the scourge of illicit
gun trafficking coming into the city of Chicago and to work with me on
efforts to reduce youth exposure to violent trauma.
I asked Mr. Wray about the criminal division's involvement in a 2004
memo by the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel on torture. He said he was not
involved in reviewing or approving this memo or any CIA interrogation
techniques and that he agrees with former FBI Director Mueller that
interrogation techniques such as painful stress positions and
waterboarding are “abusive under all circumstances.” I appreciate his
commitment to ensuring that FBI personnel never use or participate in
abusive interrogation techniques. Mr. Wray also committed to me that,
if confirmed, he would review the Senate Intelligence Committee's
torture report, and I look forward to hearing his reflections on it.
Mr. Wray told me that he agrees with former Director Comey that
Federal courts and Federa1 prosecutors are effective in prosecuting
terrorists and obtaining valuable intelligence, which is clear when you
compare our courts' record in convicting more than 500 terrorists since
9/11. In contrast, military commissions have only produced eight
convictions, four of which have been overturned.
I appreciate Mr. Wray's commitment to “seek to maintain and build
trust with all Americans, including Muslim Americans.”
The next FBI Director will be under incredible scrutiny. We need an
FBI Director who will face that pressure with integrity, independence,
and a firm commitment to the rule of law. He may also have to stand up
to this President if the interests of justice call for it. I believe
Mr. Wray can do that, so I will support his nomination, and I hope I
will be joined by my colleagues in closely monitoring the FBI to ensure
Mr. Wray is effectively serving the American people and the rule of
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I supported Christopher Wray's nomination
in the Judiciary Committee to be the next Director of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. I did so because I believe he is qualified
and--critically--I believe he will stand up for the independence of the
FBI. Such independence has never been more at risk. We need a new FBI
Director now because the President fired the last one, Director James
Comey. The President's reason for doing so was disturbing: to take
pressure off of the FBI's investigation into-Russian interference in
our democracy and connections between the Kremlin and the President's
campaign and administration. This came after the President first sought
Director Comey's loyalty, then pressured him to terminate the ongoing
investigation into Michael Flynn, and then misled the Nation as to the
reason for Director Comey's firing.
Time and again, this White House has shown it does not respect
boundaries between politics and law enforcement or understand that an
official's loyalty is to the Constitution, not the President. The
President routinely attacks the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney
General, special counsel, Acting FBI Director, former FBI Director, and
countless others. Each attack seems more outrageous than the last.
Attorney General Sessions was required by Justice Department
regulations to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. It was not
discretionary. The President launched a weeklong Twitter tirade against
him anyway, stating he would have never hired the Attorney General had
he known he would recuse himself. In other words, the President would
not have hired our Nation's top law enforcement official had the
President known he would actually follow the law.
Make no mistake, whether he asks for it or not, the President will
demand loyalty from Mr. Wray. He has shown there are consequences for
those who dare to maintain independence and follow the rules. Through
Twitter attacks and firing top officials, the President is attempting
to intimidate and improperly influence the behavior of our Nation's top
law enforcement officials.
This is not normal. We should not treat it as such, nor should these
officials be solely responsible for protecting the independence of our
law enforcement institutions. All of us, Republican and Democrat, must
stand up to a President who seems to only stand for himself and whose
relentless attacks on the rule of law harm the entire Nation.
The next FBI Director will face many tests of integrity. He will be
forced to make decisions, as Director Comey was, that will test his
commitment to the rule of law. I believed Mr. Wray when he testified in
response to my question that he would sooner resign than follow an
unlawful or unethical order from the White House. While he served as
the head of the Justice Department's criminal division in 2004, the
White House attempted to authorize a warrantless surveillance program
over the Attorney General's objections. Mr. Wray offered to resign in
solidarity with then-FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Deputy
Attorney General Comey. He takes his integrity and the integrity of our
Nation's law enforcement agencies seriously.
I expect Mr. Wray will tenaciously guard the independence of the FBI,
and I will vote to confirm his nomination today.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I know that later this afternoon, we
are going to vote on the nomination of Christopher Wray. I am proud to
support him, as I was during the Judiciary Committee, voting for him,
as did every other member of the Judiciary Committee. The reason is
quite simply that he is a professional, as nonpolitically associated as
anyone can be going into this position.
Like the FBI itself, he is known for his independence and integrity.
There are two qualities needed today for the FBI and its Director, and
those are independence and integrity. The FBI is
one of the most important law enforcement agencies and certainly one of
the most important in the country.
The FBI Director doesn't serve the President. He serves the
Constitution and the people of the United States. He must be
independent of political interference, and his or her integrity must be
unquestioned. The FBI deserves a leader with the integrity and strength
necessary for that solemn mission, and Mr. Wray has shown himself to be
that kind of leader. Those qualities are especially important because
never before have the rule of law and our law enforcement been so
threatened by political interference, and it begins at the very top.
The reason Christopher Wray has been nominated to serve as FBI
Director is that the vacancy was created by the firing of Jim Comey for
reasons that have led to an aspect of the ongoing investigation by the
The reason that position is vacant is because 3 months ago Jim Comey
was fired by the President because of “the Russia thing.” The Russia
thing was very much on the President's mind, more so than any of the
reasons given in the memos done by Attorney General Sessions and Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to the President himself.
“The Russia thing” is the FBI and special counsel investigation
into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian Government to
influence our election.
There is no question that there was a campaign of interference and
meddling through cyber attacks, disinformation, propaganda, and other
means, and there is no question that the Russians will do it again
unless they are made to pay a price. Others may well collude or
conspire with them--Americans--unless they are compelled to pay a
We have only to look at the morning headlines to see how far-reaching
and significant this investigation may be. The news that the President
himself wrote a statement to be issued in the name of his son about a
meeting with the Russian who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and
directly misled about that meeting shows what is at stake.
The misleading words put into the President's son's mouth by Donald
Trump himself are potential pieces of evidence relating to criminal
intent fitting the mosaic that the special counsel has assembled. They
add weight and color to that mosaic; they are not alone proof.
The report today is proof that certainly describes a pattern of
conduct--pieces of a pattern that fit together into a mosaic providing
evidence of intent concerning potential obstruction of justice.
So the likelihood of a threat is increasing--the threat of political
interference, the threat of firing Bob Mueller, the threat that
Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be used as a vehicle to lead to Bob
Even before Jim Comey's dismissal, I called for an independent
special prosecutor at the Department of Justice. In fact, I was the
only member of the Judiciary Committee to vote against Rod Rosenstein's
nomination as Deputy Attorney General because he failed to commit to
appoint a special prosecutor, and I believed a special prosecutor was
necessary not only to determine the full extent of Russia's meddling in
our democracy but also to protect that investigation from the
President's efforts to shut it down. This belief was brought into stark
relief by Jim Comey's firing, and it precipitated the appointment of
The firing of Special Counsel Mueller would precipitate a firestorm
on both sides of the aisle. It would put the President over a precipice
that likely could lead to the most drastic action possible in this
democracy. That precipice can be avoided, and Congress must play a role
in avoiding it. We are in talks across the aisle about action that can
be taken to provide a check and a firewall against that kind of
firing--drastic action that would put the President over that precipice
politically and morally and legally. Also, my hope is that the new
Chief of Staff, General Kelly, will add a voice of reason and wisdom,
perhaps, to check some of the more rash and impulsive action that might
otherwise be taken by the President.
The special counsel was given a clear mandate to follow the evidence
wherever it may lead. I believe that Special Counsel Mueller has the
guts and backbone, as well as the expertise, to uncover the truth, to
follow that evidence, and to bring charges if they are appropriate and
necessary, if he is assured the resources and independence to do the
That is why Christopher Wray's nomination is so critically important.
He will be a key decision maker in providing those resources and
investigative agents necessary to do the legwork and the review of
documents and other hard work--challenging work--that is necessary so
that the special counsel may have the facts and the evidence. The FBI
Director is also going to be important in assuring the independence of
that special counsel. As an ally and a source of support, the FBI
Director will be critical.
The most important priority, in fact, for Christopher Wray will be to
protect the independence and integrity of that special counsel
investigation just as he must protect the FBI's, because they are
intertwined and identified at the core. They involve the rule of law--
the essence of our democracy--and the belief and trust that wrongdoing
will be investigated and prosecuted no matter how powerful the target
and no matter how wealthy or powerful the wrongdoer. That investigation
has expanded appropriately to include financial dealings on the part of
the President of the United States. Any attempt by the President to set
limits on that investigation is inappropriate and potentially illegal
and further evidence of criminal intent.
In short, the mandate for both Director Wray and Special Counsel
Mueller must be unconditional. There must be no limits set by political
interference. The nominee whom we vote to confirm today must sustain
and secure that ongoing independent investigation from any interference
no matter how powerful the source, including the President of the
United States. No one can set limits, because no one is above the law,
and the special counsel must have the freedom to decide where the
investigation will lead because he will follow the facts where they
The FBI Director has a broad and inclusive mandate. In addition to
protecting the United States against corruption and wrongdoing
involving misuse and abuse of power, he must also protect the United
States against terrorism and foreign intelligence threats. He is
charged with providing leadership services to State, Federal, and
municipal agencies and partners, and he is responsible for protecting
On Friday, July 28, 2017, President Trump gave a speech in Selden,
NY, in effect encouraging law enforcement to use or misuse excessive
force. More specifically, he directed law enforcement not to be “too
nice,” and he described, graphically, how officers should potentially
allow arrestees to be banged on the head or otherwise mistreated. With
his comments, President Trump did a disservice to countless law
enforcement officers who work hard to keep our neighborhoods safe while
maintaining good relationships with the communities they serve.
I will be joining with colleagues and working with the very
distinguished senior Senator of California, who has joined us on the
floor, in asking that our law enforcement leadership take action to
express its disapproval of that kind of misconduct, and my hope is
that, specifically, the Department of Justice will express its
disapproval of such misconduct.
The FBI has a special obligation to condemn such violations of
standards and laws, and I hope that the new Director, Mr. Wray, will
join dozens of law enforcement leaders across the country in making
clear that the President's remarks have no place at the FBI. I believe
that Christopher Wray has the experience and credibility and the
expertise to lead the FBI in that effort, as well as in protecting the
Based on his career and his testimony before the Judiciary Committee,
I believe that he will bring that leadership to the FBI. I regret that
he will be the FBI Director only because it is the result of an abusive
and improper firing of James Comey. The special counsel's investigation
of that firing as a potential obstruction of justice is well warranted,
and I know that Mr. Wray will do everything possible to enable it to be
fair and effective, comprehensive
and thorough, and to do justice. He will help the special counsel to do
justice just as he will help prosecutors and law enforcement agencies
across the country to do justice. The future of the FBI and our Nation
are truly at stake.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I thank the distinguished Senator from
Connecticut for his remarks, and I would like to make a few remarks
with respect to my position as ranking member on the Judiciary
As has been well described, shortly, we will vote on the nomination
of Christopher Wray to be the next Director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. The Judiciary Committee has reviewed his record and held
a full and complete hearing. His nomination was sent to the floor for
consideration by a vote of 20 to 0--a very good vote. I am very
satisfied that Mr. Wray has the qualifications and independence
necessary to lead the FBI, so I will support Mr. Wray's nomination to
be FBI Director.
I wish to begin by saying just a few words about what I think, after
24 years in this place, is necessary in going forward.
First, it is really important that we have a strong FBI Director.
There can be no manipulation.
Second, Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to proceed
with his investigation undisturbed.
Third, the FBI Director must manage and speak for the FBI on the
basis of the Constitution and the laws of the United States, not at the
dictates or requests or statements of any politically elected person in
Fourth, the FBI Director must be independent from the White House and
any political figure.
This is what the FBI and the American people need now.
As you and I know, the FBI is a critically important law enforcement
agency. It must be able to move forward with its work and with its
senior leadership in place. As I noted at Mr. Wray's hearing and just
noted again, the FBI must be an independent law enforcement
organization that is free from political influence.
During his hearing and in his written responses to followup
questions, Mr. Wray stated that the FBI Director must maintain “strict
independence,” and he committed to doing the job “by the book” and
“without regard to any partisan political influence.” He also
testified that his loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law,
not to any ideology or any individual, including the President. He was
believable to all of us in those statements.
Mr. Wray also testified that he would resist any efforts to interfere
with FBI investigations and that he would not “pull any punches.”
When asked what he would do if the President asked him to do something
unlawful or unethical, Mr. Wray replied that he would first try to talk
him out of it and that, if that failed, he would resign.
These commitments are important. Especially at this moment in
history, we need an FBI Director who has the strength and fortitude to
stand up and do what is right by the law when tested.
Mr. Wray has received bipartisan support from more than 100 former
U.S. attorneys, who enthusiastically endorsed his nomination and stated
their belief that Mr. Wray “is a strong and effective leader with
unassailable integrity, judgment and courage.” According to this
group, which included former Bush administration Justice Department
officials like Larry Thompson and Ken Wainstein, as well as Eric Holder
and Sally Yates, Mr. Wray will discharge the duties of FBI Director
“with honor, independence, and a tireless commitment to the rule of
Earlier this year, when we considered other nominees for the Justice
Department, I pointed out that we need leaders with steel spines, not
weak knees. I believe that Mr. Wray will be such a leader.
The issue of torture is very important to me. On this issue, I was
encouraged by Mr. Wray's acknowledgment that torture is wrong,
unacceptable, illegal, and ineffective. He testified under oath that he
did not participate in the drafting of the so-called torture memos that
were issued by the Office of Legal Counsel some time ago. Mr. Wray has
further testified that interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding,
painful stress positions, threatening detainees with dogs, forced
nudity, and mock execution, are “abusive under all circumstances.”
Importantly, for me, he has committed that the FBI, under his
leadership, will never engage in such techniques or other forms of
torture and that it will adhere to the policy of using the Informed
Interrogation Approach as outlined in the Army Field Manual, which,
thanks to John McCain, was added as a new law to last year's military
authorization bill. Mr. Wray also committed to me that he will read the
Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and
interrogation program under a former administration.
On the issue of torture, as well as his independence and integrity, I
take Mr. Wray at his word. As we discussed when Mr. Wray and I met in
my office, I believe the next FBI Director's independence, integrity,
and commitment to the rule of law, sadly, will likely be tested by this
One early test may come in relation to the investigations being
conducted by Special Counsel Mueller, this committee, and other
committees in Congress. Mr. Wray has committed to supporting and
protecting the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel
Mueller, and I trust Mr. Wray will keep the Judiciary Committee of our
House informed of any attempts to interfere with that investigation.
Now, he has a tough job ahead of him. The FBI is our premier law
enforcement agency. It faces new criminal terrorism threats every day.
I remember FBI Director Comey telling us the FBI had a counterterrorism
investigation going on in virtually every State in the Union. That was
last year, but I assume many are still going on. On top of that, his
predecessor was, as we all know, suddenly fired by the President for
reasons that are questionable, and that is the subject of ongoing
investigations. Lately, we have seen the President attempt to bully his
own Attorney General, but even in the light of these challenging
circumstances, I believe Mr. Wray is up to the task.
Based on his testimony and the commitments he has made to me and
other members of our Judiciary Committee, I believe we on the committee
will all vote to support his nomination, and, if he is confirmed, I
commit to working with him to support the FBI, its mission, and the
some 30-plus thousand FBI agents and employees who work every day to
help protect our Nation.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from California for
her fine remarks on Mr. Wray. I am here for the same reason she is, and
I thank her for also facilitating getting this through the committee in
a very quick way.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Thank you.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am pleased to support the nomination
of Christopher Wray to be Director of the FBI. Mr. Wray possesses the
skill, the character, and the unwavering commitment to impartial
enforcement of the law we need in an FBI Director. Based on the
unanimous vote Mr. Wray received from the Judiciary Committee, I am
confident my colleagues believe this as well.
Mr. Wray has an accomplished record as a lawyer. He was a Federal
prosecutor for a number of years and went on to serve in various senior
roles at the Department of Justice, including leading the criminal
division at the Department.
Mr. Wray earned the Department's highest award for public service and
leadership. His prior record of service demonstrates his competence in
leading within the Federal Government and demonstrates he will be able
to lead effectively at the FBI. He has shown he has the expertise
needed to address the wide range of policy issues currently facing the
Of course, my colleagues and I asked Mr. Wray about his positions on
many such issues during his hearing. He answered those questions very
well, but the most important thing we wanted to learn from him had to
do with his view of the job and where his loyalties lie.
As all of us in this body know, when we take the oath of office, we
affirm that we will support and defend the Constitution of the United
States. We don't pledge support to any member of the government or even
to a political party. We pledge our loyalty to the Constitution and to
the rule of law.
Many Members asked Mr. Wray very pointed questions about loyalty
during his hearing. I was impressed with his plainspoken, candid
answers, and I take him at his word when he says that his “loyalty is
to the Constitution and the rule of law” and when he says that he will
“never allow the FBI's work to be driven by anything other than the
facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period--full
Now, if he is confirmed, Mr. Wray will step into this role at a
crucial moment, not only in the history of the FBI but in the history
of this Nation. As we know, multiple investigations are underway,
including by this body, to clearly lay out Russia's activities that
attempted to influence the 2016 election. These are important and
sensitive investigations, and they cannot be inappropriately influenced
by people in powerful positions in any way whatsoever. This applies to
the FBI Director.
Mr. Wray was asked very directly what he would do if presented with
the opportunity to influence these investigations in any way. He told
the committee that he will not condone tampering with investigations
and that he would resign rather than be unduly influenced in any
Mr. Wray's record of service and his reputation give us no reason to
doubt him. He was forthright when he was asked specific questions about
the events leading up to his being offered the job of FBI Director by
President Trump. He made no loyalty pledges then, and I expect him
never to make such a pledge moving forward.
Mr. Wray will also face the challenge of running the FBI, motivating
its staff, and ensuring that the FBI operates effectively and
efficiently. My colleagues know I haven't been pleased with how the FBI
has--or has not--replied to the Judiciary Committee's inquiries and
requests for information, and this doesn't apply just to this Senator
but all the Senators on the committee, and it doesn't matter whether
Republican or Democratic. They are entitled to ask questions, and they
ought to get answers. That is the constitutional responsibility of
oversight that all 535 Members of Congress have.
Not being satisfied with the FBI in the past, I asked Mr. Wray
directly about the FBI's responsiveness to Members of this body. He
promised me, and in turn other Members of this body, that he will
prioritize responsiveness and transparency to this body. This will
allow us to do our vitally important job of oversight over the Nation's
top law enforcement agency. I am glad Mr. Wray is ready to work in
partnership with the Senate to help us perform our role very
I expect to see improved responsiveness from Mr. Wray to our letters
and to see enhanced protection for whistleblowers within the FBI who
come forward--and they do that at great risk to themselves--to let this
body know where abuses of power are going unnoticed. We owe it to these
brave people we call whistleblowers, but they are patriotic people, to
give them the protection they deserve. The culture for giving this
protection starts at the top with the new FBI Director, Mr. Wray.
As I mentioned before, Mr. Wray was voted out of our committee
unanimously. The fact that all of my colleagues--Democratic and
Republican--trusted Mr. Wray with their “yea” vote says what we need
to know about Mr. Wray's ability to perform the important role of FBI
Director and to do it with integrity, with competence, with
professionalism, and the utmost respect for the Constitution and the
rule of law. We can't ask for Mr. Wray to do anything more than that.
I urge my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm Christopher Wray
as the next Director of the FBI.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). The Senator from Georgia.
Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I have a rare privilege and honor right
now. A lot of times, the Presiding Officer and I come to the well to
make speeches that we have to, that we ought to, or that somebody
wanted us to. Rarely do we have the opportunity to come to the well of
the Senate and speak about an individual from our own State whom we
know personally who is impeccable in their reputation, has served
America in many ways, and has now been appointed to a job that is
essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the American people. I
speak of Christopher Wray of Georgia.
Christopher Wray is my friend. Christopher Wray worked for the law
firm of King & Spalding, the same one Griffin Bell, Larry Thompson, and
Sam Nunn worked for--a great law firm with a tie to our government and
At a time for an appointment to be the great one, this is the time.
We know there have been issues from time to time with the FBI. We all
know we are looking for somebody who can do the job and do it well, in
a fair and impartial way, without any question of impropriety.
Christopher Wray is exactly that type of person.
He is the person who helped convict Zacarias Moussaoui and
coordinated with local law enforcement in the prosecution of the
Washington, DC, snipers who terrorized our city for so long. He is a
dedicated and committed prosecutor.
He has been selected many times to work for the Department of
Justice. He went to the Department of Justice under Larry Thompson as
an assistant. He worked there at the same time as Griffin Bell. He also
worked during many of the investigations into the terrorists who
attacked America. He is the right man at the right time in the right
So if ever there were a time----
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, will my colleague yield for a brief
Mr. ISAKSON. I am happy to yield to the minority leader.
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I will have a statement in support of Mr.
Wray after the Senator from Georgia finishes speaking.
Mr. ISAKSON. Put an exclamation point after that.
Mr. SCHUMER. I am in full support of Mr. Wray, and I thank my
colleague for the courtesy.
I yield the floor.
Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I know when it is a good time for me to
shut up. When the minority leader has come to the floor to endorse the
guy I am talking about, the last thing I want to do is wear it out.
Let me end my remarks by saying that Christopher Wray is the type of
person Chuck Schumer wants, the type of person I want, and the type of
person we are looking for as the chief law enforcement officer of our
country. He will make himself proud, he will make our State proud, and
he will do the right thing at the right time in all places for the
people of the United States of America.
I urge every Member of the Senate to heartily vote in support of
Christopher Wray to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
for the United States of America.
I yield back.
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, shortly we will take a vote on the
nomination of Christopher Wray to be the next FBI Director.
The job of FBI Director has always been a crucial one. The
responsibility is great and so are the expectations, and the demands
facing our next FBI Director are perhaps greater than any time in our
This a serious time for the FBI, and for the Nation. The firing of
Director Comey, the shifting explanations from the White House as to
why Mr. Comey was fired, and the disdain this White House has shown for
the rule of law mean that now, more than ever, the Senate has an
obligation to critically evaluate any potential FBI Director.
Now more than ever, we need an FBI Director who is independent,
impartial, fearless, and has the strength of will to occupy a job that
has been put under enormous political strain by the White House.
No doubt, Christopher Wray has been put up for a tough job. In
considering his nomination, it was important to me to take the measure
of the man and determine whether he was up to the challenge. I met with
him privately for an hour, and I closely studied his record and his
performance in his hearings.
Based on his career in public service and the commitments he made to
me in our meeting and to the Judiciary Committee in his confirmation
hearing, I believe that Christopher Wray deserves the approval of the
He committed to informing the Judiciary Committee of any attempts to
interfere with Special Counsel Mueller's Russia probe and said he would
consider any attempted interference to be unacceptable and
He committed to impartiality and independence, pledging that the FBI
will follow the facts, the laws, and the Constitution, without regard
to partisan political influence.
After a sterling career at the Justice Department, and based on the
recommendation of hundreds of U.S. Attorneys who have validated his
integrity, there is no reason not to believe that Mr. Wray will live up
to these commitments as Director of the FBI.
I will vote yes on his nomination, and I urge my colleagues to do the
Mr. ISAKSON. 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. ISAKSON. 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. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I yield back all time on our side and
their side as well.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back.
The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Wray
Mr. ISAKSON. 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 Senators are necessarily absent: the
Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Burr) and the Senator from Arizona
Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Franken)
is necessarily absent.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber
desiring to vote?
The result was announced--yeas 92, nays 5, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 181 Ex.]
The nomination was confirmed.