[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 4 (Monday, January 8, 2018)]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the
Senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the
following nomination, which the clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read the nomination of William L. Campbell,
Jr., of Tennessee, to be United States District Judge for the Middle
District of Tennessee.
Mr. McCONNELL. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
Children's Health Insurance Program
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I come to the floor this afternoon to mark
a milestone no Senator can be proud of and a milestone every Senator
should regret. That milestone is, it has now been 100 days since the
Congress failed to extend full funding for the Children's Health
Insurance Program. The Congress has always looked at this in a
bipartisan way. This is for the millions of families, for kids who walk
an economic tightrope with their families, the families who balance the
rent bill against the fuel bill and the fuel bill against the grocery
I have to say, there was plenty of time in the last Congress to carry
out the priorities of the multinational corporations. The people who
are well connected, the people who are powerful received permanent,
substantial, really massive new tax breaks, and yet the 9 million kids,
including 80,000 in my home State who count on CHIP to stay healthy--
what they received was a patch. They received something temporary. They
received something that didn't resemble the permanent, you-can-count-
on-it tax relief the multinational corporations were celebrating at the
end of the year. It is a sad statement about the priorities of the
Congress at the end of last year and one I hope we will move now in the
bipartisan tradition of this program to pass on a permanent basis.
The CHIP program was created in 1997 through a simple idea: No child,
regardless of their income, family's status, or geography should go
without quality, affordable healthcare. It serves families who make too
much to qualify for Medicaid but also don't have access to affordable
healthcare through their employer. A lot of these families go back and
forth between CHIP and Medicaid, depending on whether a spouse is out
CHIP covers all kinds of essential healthcare for kids from
preventive services to dental checkups, to treatment for serious
illnesses. For families across the country, that is peace of mind, that
is the chance to go to bed at night knowing you aren't going to get
crushed by big medical bills in the morning. It means you don't have to
have those heartbreaking, right-before-bed conversations about what you
are going to do for your sick child, and it doesn't mean you have to
just plan on the unexpected emergencies with nowhere to turn. All of
that is at risk because of the “negligence” of this Congress, and I
use that word specifically.
I talked about the skewed priorities at the end of the year, but
right now States are stretching their Children's Health Insurance
Program dollars to the breaking point. They are trying to make sure
kids stay covered, and what we are faced with is termination notices
going out. We have to prevent those termination notices for these
families. As I said, Congress put a patch on all this, contrasting this
to the permanent relief of the multinationals, and the Congress sent a
small amount of money to the States to keep them afloat, but make no
mistake about it, it is not going to be long before bedlam sets in,
once again, and there are real consequences for children and families.
Now, I also want to note that I have been working closely with
Chairman Hatch for months now to get CHIP across the finish line.
Chairman Hatch knows what it takes. He created this program with our
friend Senator Rockefeller and the late, great Senator Kennedy. They
demonstrated that kids' health was an issue that transcends ideological
lines, and our country is the better for it today.
Chairman Hatch and I made an agreement in September that extends full
funding for 5 years, affirms key protections for kids and their
families, and gives States certainty they can
count on to plan their budgets. I note that the leader, Senator
Schumer, is here. He has been very supportive of this bill. He sat next
to me and Senator Rockefeller for years and is supportive of the
children's health program.
The Hatch-Wyden bill passed with a strong bipartisan vote in the
Finance Committee. Again, I am highlighting the priorities where there
was time for the multinational corporations to get that permanent
relief, but there wasn't any time to put the CHIP bill--one that had
only one vote in opposition in the Finance Committee--on the Senate
floor. In the House of Representatives, they weren't pursuing it like
we did in the Finance Committee. They never could get past a purely
partisan approach, out of line with CHIP's long, bipartisan history.
Now, obviously after months of delay, it is time to act, and I want
to wrap up with a quick comment about what is going to happen if you
don't move and move quickly. Just last week, the Congressional Budget
Office announced that the cost of CHIP has plummeted from $8.2 billion
to $800 million. That is because premiums in the individual market are
set to skyrocket after the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's coverage
requirement in the Republican tax bill. Many of the families who
currently count on CHIP will have to get their kids' healthcare on the
private market at a higher cost. As if Congress needed more reasons to
act, the budget office has demonstrated what is now at stake for kids
and their families who are counting on quick action for affordable
There is a long history, as I have noted, of the Senate working on
the Children's Health Insurance Program in a bipartisan way. We started
building on that tradition in the Finance Committee with virtual
unanimity. Somehow at the end of the last Congress--and your priorities
can always be illustrated with what you find time to do--there was time
at the end of the year for the agenda of the multinational
corporations, but there wasn't time for the youngsters and their
families who walk an economic tightrope and depend every night, when
they turn the lights out, on making sure there is a way to pay for
healthcare if there is an emergency in the morning.
I want it understood that we are working day in and day out now to
quickly make sure kids and their families get the certainty and
predictability they deserve. They deserve the kind of certainty the
powerful got with the tax bill at the end of the year.
So we are going to be on this floor until this critical legislation
is passed. It needs to be passed quickly.
I yield the floor.
Recognition of the Minority Leader
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The minority leader is recognized.
Funding the Government
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, my dear friend and I got to Congress in
1980, and I thank him very much for his leadership on the CHIP issue,
as on so many other issues that pass through the Finance Committee,
where he has done a terrific job. His caring for kids is unmatched, and
he is a great asset to his State of Oregon, to this body, and to our
We have 2 weeks until funding for the government runs out. Alongside
our talks about extending government funding, we have also been engaged
in serious bipartisan negotiations on a number of issues that should
coincide with that deadline. We have to lift spending cuts, pass
disaster aid, a healthcare package, reach an agreement to enshrine DACA
protections alongside additional border security, and of course there
is the issue of 702 as well.
Those negotiations, though difficult, have been proceeding quite
well. In fact, the four congressional leaders met with representatives
from the White House last Thursday and had an encouraging meeting.
Unfortunately, following that meeting, the White House issued a series
of unreasonable demands entirely outside the scope of our ongoing
negotiations about DACA and border security. It is part of a pattern of
behavior on the part of this White House during sensitive bipartisan
Over the past year, the White House has much more frequently been a
disruptive force rather than a unifying force. To throw down a list
from the hard-line wing of the White House at the last minute is not a
very fortuitous or smart thing to do.
I hope we can keep on the track that we were on because the issues we
are facing are mounting, and a major deal requires dedicated,
bipartisan effort. Democrats are going to keep working toward a global
agreement with our Republican colleagues, one that lifts the spending
caps for defense and urgent domestic priorities in tandem, that sends
our men and women in uniform the support they need, and that puts a
downpayment on tackling the pressing issues here at home, such as
combating the opioid epidemic, improving veterans' healthcare, and
shoring up pension plans. These are every bit as important as helping
Our troops are extremely important, but we are a great country, and
we don't have to say: To help the troops, we can't help the victims of
opioid addiction. To help the troops, we can't help the veterans who
once were troops themselves. To help the troops, we can't help working
Americans keep the pensions they paid into year after year. All these
folks want is to retire to a life of some degree of dignity.
When the majority leader said this morning that he is not for parity,
he is saying we can't do both. He is telling victims of opioid
addiction, many of whom are soldiers who have PTSD, and he is telling
pensioners--some miners in his own State--and he is telling veterans
who have to wait in line for healthcare that this country can't do
both, that we can't protect our military, give them the funds they
need, and deal with our domestic needs.
When Donald Trump ran, he said that we have to pay more attention to
America. What the majority leader is saying is that is not the case. So
let no one be fooled. When the majority leader says he is not for
parity, he is not for helping opioid folks to the extent they need, he
is not for helping veterans to the extent they need, and he is not for
helping pensioners to the extent they need. We Democrats are there for
both--helping the military and helping these folks here.
Over the weekend, I was in White Plains, which is a suburb of New
York City. I stood with a mother who lost her son to an opioid
overdose. A mother should never have to bury her son, especially
Stephanie Keegan, whose son Daniel was a veteran who served our country
bravely in Afghanistan. He did very well in school but had a duty to
country. He was in the intelligence unit for a while, he was so
brilliant. But he came home, as some do, nerves shattered by war,
struggling with a severe case of PTSD. Stephanie told me that her
beautiful, brilliant son Daniel--I saw his picture; an all-American
boy, if ever there were one--her son Daniel waited 16 months for
treatment by the VA and died 2 weeks before his first appointment.
“There are so many things that can be done to change this
situation,” Mrs. Keegan said. She is right. We can make a real
investment in combating the scourge of opioid addiction, putting real
resources into treatment and recovery, as well as interdiction. We can
make a real investment in improving healthcare at our veterans
hospitals so kids like Daniel don't have to wait almost a year and a
half before they get the treatment they desperately need.
And what about hard-working Americans who need pensions? Retirement
is one of the things Americans worry about most these days. For years,
Teamsters and miners and carpenters paid into pension plans week after
week, month after month, year after year. They took a little less
salary in their negotiations because they wanted to know that when it
was time to retire, they could retire with some degree of dignity. No
one is going to get rich on these pensions, but at least they are there
and provide a little bit of a nest egg for people in their golden
years. As they put the money in week after week, month after month,
year after year, they were told: You may not become rich when you
retire, you may not be able to buy luxuries, but at least you will have
a life of dignity.
Now those pensions may be stolen from millions in America, in this
country. These folks contributed to and earned every penny of their
pensions. Are we going to shrug our shoulders and say: We can't do
that. Most Americans want us to do that; they don't want it to be an
Our colleagues would say: Well, that might increase the deficit.
Don't come talking to us about the deficit anymore when you put
together a $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit, the majority of which
went to big tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and the biggest,
fattest corporations in America. No more deficit talk from my
When we Democrats ask for parity in budget agreements, this is what
we mean: We mean opioids. We mean veterans' healthcare. We mean
We need to defend and support the middle class here at home just as
we must protect America from her adversaries abroad, which our military
does so proudly and bravely. We agree that we need to support our
military wholeheartedly, but we don't think that is a reason to leave
the middle class behind. So let's do both. Let's lift the spending caps
equally for defense and these urgent domestic priorities.
Our two parties can reach a deal like that, just as we can reach a
deal to pass a disaster aid package that treats all States and
territories fairly; just as we can have an agreement on a healthcare
package that acknowledges the new realities of the healthcare markets,
which were disrupted by Republicans when they repealed the mandate in
the tax bill last year; and just as we can reach a deal on DACA--
protecting young people who were brought here as kids through no fault
of their own--while at the same time making reasonable, appropriate,
and smart investments in border security--something that in the past
both Democrats and Republicans have supported.
In conclusion, an agreement can be reached on all these issues.
Nobody wants a shutdown. Nobody wants sequestration to come into effect
for either the military or the domestic side of the budget. So let's
continue to work together. Let's commit to work together in good faith
to make progress on these issues and get it done before January 19.
I yield the floor.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Ohio.
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, January is National Slavery and Human
Trafficking Prevention Month. In a recent proclamation, President Trump
continued what President Obama had begun in making this the ninth
annual year where we designate our first month of the year to awareness
and prevention of trafficking, awareness and prevention of this crime
President Trump issued a call to action. The proclamation said, in
Human trafficking is a modern form of the oldest and most
barbaric type of exploitation. It has no place in our world.
This month, we do not simply reflect on this appalling
reality. We also pledge to do all in our power to end the
horrific practice of human trafficking that plagues innocent
victims around the world.
Amen. I commend the President for his strong stance, and I commend
the U.S. Senate for the work we have done over the past several years,
in a bipartisan way, to help combat trafficking. We made some progress.
About 6 years ago, Senator Blumenthal--who will speak about this
topic later on the floor--and I cofounded the Senate Caucus to End
Human Trafficking and legislation since that time to increase penalties
on people buying sex from children; stop international trafficking by
U.S. Government contractors overseas; find missing children more
quickly--the most vulnerable among us--by ensuring that their
photographs and other identifiers are available; improve data on
trafficking to find out what the problem is, where it is going; and, of
course, change the paradigm--treat children who are exploited as
victims rather than, as they have been treated over the years, as
We have made some progress in these areas, but I have to tell you,
despite these efforts and despite the increasing awareness of the fact
that trafficking occurs right here in this country, in all of our
States, we now know that one form, at least, of sex trafficking is
actually increasing in our country. Think about that. It is increasing
in this country, in this century. What experts say when you ask them
about it is that is primarily because of one reason; that is, the fact
that the internet is being used to sell sex.
By the way, doing it on the internet, it turns out, occurs with
ruthless efficiency. Victims I have visited across Ohio tell me,
including one this past Friday in Ohio: Rob, it has moved from the
street corner to the iPhone, from the street corner to the cell phone,
from the street corner to the internet.
There was discussion earlier from my colleague from New York about
the role opioids play in causing harm in our society. Of course, the
internet combined with opioids is deadly. The young woman I met with on
Friday was one of those who had become addicted to opioids--in her
case, fentanyl, which is an incredibly powerful, dangerous drug--and
depended on her trafficker to be able to provide that. That is one form
of dependency you see in sex trafficking. And again, online is where
people are increasingly being bought and sold.
This increase in sex trafficking is a stain on our national
character. It is only Congress that has the power to stop it.
There is one website--backpage.com--that is the leader in online sex
trafficking. They have knowingly sold underage girls online. I say that
because we have done an investigation, and we determined that. We now
know from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that
backpage.com is involved in nearly 75 percent of all child trafficking
reports the organization receives from the public.
The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, along
with then-ranking member Claire McCaskill and now-ranking member Tom
Carper, has conducted an extensive, 18-month investigation into online
sex trafficking and specifically backpage.com. We found that
backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of
vulnerable women and young children. It coached the traffickers on how
to edit adult classified ads to post so-called clean ads for illegal
transactions, and then it covered up evidence of these crimes in order
to increase its profits. All this was done at the cost of human
suffering--and sometimes human life--with the sole purpose of
increasing the company's profits.
In the fall, I testified on this issue in front of the Senate
Commerce Committee--about our legislation. With me at the witness table
was Yvonne Ambrose, a mother whose 16-year-old daughter, Desiree, was
found murdered on Christmas Eve 2016 after being sold for sex on
Desiree's death should never have happened--and neither should online
sex trafficking of minors happen at all--but this tragic trend is
compounded by the fact that backpage has evaded justice for its role in
these tragic crimes. Courts across the country have consistently ruled
that a Federal law--and this is why Congress has such a key role to
play here--called the Communications Decency Act actually protects
backpage and others from the liability they should have in sex
The Communications Decency Act is a well-intentioned law originally
enacted back in 1996, when the internet was in its infancy, and it was
meant to protect third-party websites from being held liable for crimes
that users might commit on those websites. Ironically, part of the
original intention of the Communications Decency Act was to protect
children from indecent material on the internet by holding liable users
who send explicit material to children. Now this same law is being used
as a shield by cynical sex traffickers who promote and engage in online
underage sex trafficking with immunity, thanks to this Federal law.
Congress didn't intend for this broad immunity in the law--I am
convinced of that--but numerous courts across the country have made it
clear that their hands are tied because of the legal precedent that has
been formed. As the lawmaking branch of the Federal Government, it is
up to Congress to fix this injustice. No one else can do it.
In the most blatant call for congressional action I have seen yet, in
August of last year, a Sacramento judge cited the broad immunity
provided by the Communications Decency Act in dismissing pimping
charges against backpage.com. The court opinion stated:
If and until Congress sees fit to amend the immunity law,
the broad reach of Section 230
of the Communications Decency Act even applies to those
alleged to support the exploitations of others by human
That is an invitation to Congress to act. It is clearly up to
Congress to act. It is past time we update this 21-year-old law for the
21st century and allow victims who have had their most basic human
rights violated to get justice against those who facilitate these
We have an opportunity this month during National Human Trafficking
Prevention Month to fix this. We can and we must.
The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or SESTA, is a bill I
introduced with my bipartisan colleagues--Senator Blumenthal, who will
speak later this afternoon, and Senators John McCain, Claire McCaskill,
John Cornyn, Heidi Heitkamp, Amy Klobuchar, and 18 other colleagues. As
of this morning, that legislation has 64 cosponsors. It is totally
bipartisan, supported by both sides of the aisle. It is popular: 64 out
of 100 have already cosponsored it because it will fix this injustice
with two very narrowly crafted changes to the Communications Decency
First, it will allow victims to get the justice they deserve by
removing the Communications Decency Act's broad liability protections
the judge discussed, specifically for websites that knowingly
facilitate sex trafficking crimes.
Second, it will allow State attorneys general to prosecute these
websites that violate Federal sex trafficking laws. These changes will
hold bad actors like backpage accountable while doing nothing to impair
the free internet. In fact, they will protect websites that do not
actively and knowingly engage in online sex trafficking.
The “knowing” standard is a high bar to meet. The California
attorney general, Xavier Becerra, testified at the Senate Commerce
Committee about that this fall. He said:
We have to prove criminal intent. We can't win a
prosecution unless we can show the individuals we're
prosecuting, like Backpage, had the intent--the knowledge--to
do what they're doing. The legislation we have before you is
very narrowly tailored. It goes only after sex trafficking.
The Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act passed the Senate Commerce
Committee by a vote that was unanimous. It was bipartisan. It was
unanimous, and the legislation has the support of an extraordinary
coalition of law enforcement organizations, anti-trafficking advocates,
trafficking victims, survivors, faith-based groups, and even some major
tech players, although some in the tech community continue to be
concerned. This includes the Internet Association, which now represents
companies such as Facebook, reddit, Amazon, and others. It was endorsed
by businesses, including Oracle, 21st Century Fox, Hewlett-Packard
Enterprise, and the Walt Disney Company. Other companies such as IBM
and others have stepped up to support it.
Last year, 50 attorneys general across this country wrote a letter
calling on Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act in the
exact way we are proposing in this bill--50.
Again, in the Senate, a bipartisan group of 64 Senators has now
cosponsored the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. Those 60-plus
cosponsors are significant because 60 is how many votes we need in the
U.S. Senate if there are objections to the legislation to be able to
get it passed. We already have that many Senators who have now put
their names down. They said they want to be part of the solution to
this tragic problem. They want to stop this increase in sex trafficking
that unconscionably is happening in this country in this century.
So we shouldn't wait any longer to pass this bill in the Senate.
Every day we do, those who sell women and children will be allowed to
continue that, continue to profit, and victims will continue to be
It is not an issue of politics or partisanship. It is about
preventing exploitation and providing justice. I am hoping we can have
a vote on this bill in the Senate this month, during National Slavery
and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This Thursday is National Human
Trafficking Awareness Day. I urge the leadership to have the bill on
the floor as soon as possible. We have every reason to act and no
reason not to.
These victims deserve justice, and Congress should help provide it.
Passing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act is an opportunity.
I yield back my time.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Iowa.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I don't know whether it is four, five,
or six, but some Senators would like to have colloquy on the issue of
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and I ask unanimous consent
that we have that privilege.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I rise with my colleagues to offer
remarks about the current status of the negotiations on the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA Program, as it is known in the
Unfortunately, this body still isn't closer to a legitimate and fair
deal that accomplishes two goals: First of all, to promote and protect
the interests of the American people in a lawful immigration system
and, two, provide a fair and equitable solution on DACA.
Back in December, I introduced a bill, along with Senators Cornyn,
Tillis, Lankford, Perdue, and Cotton. The bill, with the acronym SECURE
Act of 2017, was a product of months of discussion between this
Senator, these other Senators I just named, and the White House. Our
plan, simply put, has five pillars.
First, based on the hard work and leadership of Senator Cornyn, our
bill provided real, robust border security by mandating the
construction of tactical and technological infrastructure at the
Second, our bill took meaningful steps to end the lawlessness of
dangerous criminal aliens by cracking down on sanctuary cities, ending
the misguided catch-and-release policies of the previous
administration, and, finally, taking steps to address intentional visa
Third, our bill took steps to eliminate many of the “pull” factors
that encourage people to immigrate illegally by permanently authorizing
the E-Verify Program and by taking meaningful steps to reduce
immigration court and asylum adjudication backlogs.
Fourth, thanks to the leadership and advocacy of Senators Graham,
Perdue, and Cotton, our bill eliminated the phenomenon known as chain
migration and made a major downpayment toward transitioning to a merit-
based immigration system.
Fifth, and finally, our bill provided a bipartisan solution to
protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as
children by adopting Senator Durbin's Bar Removal of Individuals who
Dream and Grow our Economy--that has the acronym BRIDGE Act.
Our plan was fair, serious, and bipartisan. Most importantly, it was
and is pro-American. As I have continually said since the bill's
introduction, this group of Senators is ready and willing to negotiate
with our counterparts in good faith and to find an equitable solution
to the DACA situation that incorporates our bill's five pillars of
I said negotiate. I had at least one Democratic Senator infer that I
could not negotiate in good faith because I did not vote for the Gang
of 8 immigration bill in 2013. So, sadly, our good-faith offers have
consistently been rejected by Democratic leadership. Instead, they
decide to engage in a game of brinksmanship.
So I ask several questions: Why doesn't Democratic leadership
negotiate with us? Because we refuse to simply pass what is referred to
as the Dream Act, as is, with no proportional border security and
interior enforcement majors. As the Democrats see it, it is take it or
leave it, their way or the highway. This isn't good faith, this isn't
negotiating, and that approach is doomed to failure.
I have to ask: Why do my colleagues in the Democratic leadership
refuse to even consider measures that would beef up border security and
interior enforcement? Do they want people to continue to immigrate to
this country illegally? Do they want sex offenders and human
traffickers to continue to manipulate
our porous border and enter our country unchecked? Do they want
criminal illegal immigrants--people like Jose Zarate, who murdered Kate
Steinle, or Eswin Mejia, who killed Sarah Root, to roam free in our
country? Are they comfortable allowing criminal alien gangs like MS-13,
whose motto happens to be “kill, rape, and control,” to continue to
terrorize immigrant communities?
I am assuming--in fact, I am hoping--the answer to all of these
questions is a resounding no. If that is correct, then why does
Democratic leadership refuse to discuss the border security and
interior enforcement provisions in the SECURE Act?
Despite the hysteria and the hyperbole you may hear from pro-amnesty,
open-border immigrant advocates, the SECURE Act does not contain
draconian enforcement measures. If anything, our bill contains the
commonsense security and enforcement measures this body has been
debating, discussing, and considering for years.
Our bill adds new Border Patrol agents, U.S. attorneys, and judges to
make it easier to apprehend, prosecute, and deport illegal entrants and
criminal aliens. We authorize money for critically necessary port of
entry and exit improvements so we can know who is here, how long they
are here, and when they left--if they left.
Our bill increases criminal penalties for human smugglers, these
offenses that are committed by repeat offenders, often resulting in
death, resulting in human trafficking, and including even sexual
assault. We also increase penalties for criminal aliens who commit a
crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime.
Our bill makes clear that individuals who engage in acts of
terrorism, criminal gang members, aggravated felons, and drunk drivers
are not admissible to our country, and makes it clear that they can be
put into expedited removal if they somehow make it into our country.
Finally, our bill permanently authorizes the voluntary E-Verify
Program, and it also provides incentives for employers to participate
in that voluntary program. It doesn't make E-Verify mandatory. It just
provides employers certainty by making the program permanent.
I hope, as I described these things, they are seen as commonsense
measures. Why would my colleagues on the other side ever want to oppose
those provisions? It wasn't that long ago that many Democrats supported
border security and interior enforcement. I would like to list some
quotes from recent Democratic Presidents who supported some of these
In his 1996 State of the Union Address, then-President Clinton
championed his actions to crack down on illegal immigration. He proudly
noted his administration was “increasing border patrol by 50 percent .
. . [and] increasing inspections to prevent the hiring of illegal
In 2006, then-Senator, later President Obama spoke in favor of
enhanced border security and enforcement measures. He acknowledged,
even then, that “we need tougher border security, stronger enforcement
measures . . . [we] need more resources for Customs and Border Agents,
and more detention beds.”
When speaking in favor of the Secure Fence Act, Mr. Obama said: It
would “certainly do some good” and would go a long way in
“stem[ming] . . . the tide of illegal immigration in this country.”
Do my colleagues no longer agree with former Presidents Clinton and
Obama? Do they no longer believe we need to stem the tide of illegal
My colleagues on the other side consistently talk about how DACA kids
shouldn't be used as bargaining chips for any potential deal. What
about the innocent American citizens they are using as bargaining
chips? What about the thousands of victims every year of crimes
committed by dangerous criminal aliens? Do the lives of these people
not matter as well? Does the safety of these people, the happiness of
these people, the well-being of these people deserve to be bargained
This group of Senators whom I have named who are going to participate
in this colloquy remain ready and willing to negotiate in good faith
and to make tough sacrifices in order to find common ground on this
issue. Our counterparts need to be willing to do the same. I am asking
them, pleading with them, in all sincerity, to sit down and have an
Let's strike a deal that is fair to all, including to law-abiding
Americans. Any deal cooked up by this poor man's version of a Gang of 8
that doesn't have real border security, doesn't have real interior
enforcement measures, and doesn't have the other pillars of reform in
the SECURE Act--well, it is pretty simple: That is no deal at all, and
I will not support that.
I yield the floor.
I call on my colleague, the Senator from North Carolina, Mr. Tillis.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Ernst). The Senator from North Carolina.
Mr. TILLIS. Madam President, before the chairman leaves the Chamber,
I wish to thank him for his leadership as chairman of the Judiciary
Committee. He has done an extraordinary job of bringing people together
to really come up with a solution to this problem.
This is a problem that has existed for years--almost two decades. The
first DREAM Act was filed in 2001, I believe. It has been some 16
years, and they have failed to produce a result. Now, think that
through. That was through President Bush, and it was through President
Obama. It was actually at a time when, in 2009, not a single Republican
vote would have been necessary to pass the DREAM Act. Yet my colleagues
on the other side of the aisle could not produce a result. So we know
we need to do something different.
There are things in the Dream Act that we need to file and put into a
bill. In fact, it was instructed into a bill that I and Senator
Lankford and Senator Hatch filed called the SUCCEED Act. It is a way to
provide certainty for the DACA population, but it also needs to be
paired up with reasonable border security provisions so that we get the
broad base of support we need for enduring policy here.
There are some people who are talking about withdrawing from
negotiations and trying to threaten a government shutdown to get
something slammed into a year-end spending bill. But if you really care
about the long-term certainty that we want to provide these young
people who qualified under the DACA Program, the last thing you should
do is to play politics and get something half baked into a provision
that will always be a target of the next year-end spending bill. Why
don't we do something crazy and actually sit down, check our Members on
the Republican side and the Democratic side who have extreme views on
this issue at the door, and solve the problem.
I have taken a lot of criticism after filing the SUCCEED Act because
I had a lot of people who said that I was soft on immigration. Well, I
respectfully disagree with some of my friends who are themselves
Republicans and conservatives, because I don't think they have it
right. I think that the young men and women who qualify under the DACA
Program, who were brought to this country through the actions of their
parents, through no fault of their own, deserve a respectful,
compassionate, physically sustainable solution, and certainty. I have
been working on it, and I have been taking the criticism ever since I
filed the bill. I even had a congressional district in North Carolina
censure me, saying, “shame on you,” for actually coming up with
something that made sense.
One thing that I said, though, when we filed that bill, is that what
we did in the SUCCEED Act had to be paired with reasonable, sustainable
border security measures and interior enforcement measures--things that
are important if we want to make sure that a decade from now, 15 years
from now we are not back here again worried about a new DACA population
that has come across the borders.
I have had some people insisting that having a secure border is not
compassionate, that it is unfair, but I would actually submit to my
colleagues that not having a secure border is irresponsible. Talking
about not being compassionate, allowing things to occur with an
unsecured border--to me, having a secure border is a hallmark of
compassion. That is a little bit of what I want to talk about. So let's
stipulate to that.
Working with Senator Durbin--and, incidentally, Senator Durbin and I
have been talking about this issue for about a year and a half--I knew
that we were going to be here with the DACA Program and that we needed
to work on it. So I reached out to Senator Durbin and said that I am
willing to try to come up with something that makes sense, but we have
to be willing to accept something different from all of the random
ideas and come with a compromise. We made progress in terms of how to
deal with the DACA population, but some of my colleagues on the other
side of the aisle are unwilling to talk about the reality that we
should also put into place, and pair with what we do for the DACA
population, border security and interior enforcement that makes sense.
Back in February I spent about a week down along the southern border.
I was on patrol boats on the Rio Grande. I was riding horseback in
certain areas of the border. I was out in the interior area where
enforcement actions are taking place every night. I spent a lot of time
down there. One thing that struck me was some of the briefings that we
received from border security. I am going to get to what I consider to
be the most heartbreaking last.
We want to talk about what is going on. We have people come to this
floor--my colleagues on the other side of the aisle--and say: We must
do something to address the opioid epidemic in this country. I agree.
That is why I voted for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. I
spoke on the floor several times as a first step toward trying to get a
handle on something that is poisoning almost 60,000 people a year--
killing them. They are dying from overdoses in this Nation. The reality
is that the vast majority--and we will get to a slide in a minute--of
those illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl and the other kinds
of drugs that are extracted from opium and are killing people, are
coming across the southern border. We simply don't have the resources
at our land ports and in the areas where drug smugglers cross illegally
to stop them. The consequence of that in a State like North Carolina is
that more people are dying from drug overdoses today than are dying
from automobile accidents--about 1,400 a year. It is even worse in a
number of other States.
We were at a land port in Laredo, and they were saying that on any
given day, millions of doses are probably getting through because they
are concealed. They are hidden in trucks. They don't have the capacity
to inspect every vehicle. So they are coming across this border
ostensibly legally--obviously, through the legal process of entry--but
carrying illicit drugs, and we are only capturing a fraction of them. A
part of what we are proposing in this bill is additional resources to
interdict more of those drugs, to make it less likely that somebody
could come across the border by use of a pickup truck or by using
backpacks full of poison that will ultimately get into the blood
streams of people who will ultimately die--many of them, tens of
thousands a year. That is a case--a compassionate case--for border
This is the number that I was talking about earlier: 15,469 deaths in
2016 alone related to heroin. A lot of these are coming across the
border. But only about 1.5 percent of all of the drugs that are
estimated to come across the border are being seized today. How do you
actually increase this seizure rate? You put the resources and
authorities in place so that the Border Patrol and Customs and
immigration resources down on the border can actually find them, and
arrest, charge, convict, and incarcerate the people who are poisoning
the men and women and boys and girls in this country.
There is also another thing, and this is something that when I was
down on the Texas border just stuck with me. I was on a 7,500-acre
ranch, which is really, really small in Texas terms. I was talking with
the ranch owner, who said that over the last 10 years, they had
actually recovered 100 bodies on this ranch alone. If you do the math,
that means they are finding a person who has died trying to come to
this country illegally about every six weeks on this small ranch. Over
the past 20 years, we have had about 10,000 people die crossing the
border, and about 1,000 of them are children.
If we had a secure border, at least we would have the knowledge and
the situational awareness to know where these people are so that they
don't languish somewhere in the middle of nowhere after they cross the
border or after they have paid somebody $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000, in
some cases, to carry them across the border. Then, they leave them.
They take them across the border and then tell them that Houston is
just a few miles away. Well, Houston is an hour-and-a-half plane ride
away from where they cross the border.
So we need border security for the protection of people who are
making the poor decision to come across. If we have a secure border, it
is much less likely that any of them will ever attempt to do it, except
for the legal ones. Then there is the other thing that is happening on
the other side of the border. The 10,000 people who have died over 20
years are those whom we have identified--I am sure there are many more
who we didn't--who were found on U.S. soil after crossing the border.
One other thing I learned when I was down in Texas is about the
criminal actions and the criminal gangs, basically--they call them
plazas and cartels--that basically run every mile of the border. If you
pass through one of those plazas and you don't pay the toll, you are
likely going to die. In one case, there were 72 people who were
murdered because the human smuggler failed to pay the plaza bosses the
so-called toll when he was supposed to get them across the border. So
they ordered the execution of men, women, and children just to send a
message. This is one of the many examples that we have.
So there is no question in my mind that of the 10,000 people who have
died over the last 20 years on American soil, there were probably
thousands or tens of thousands or more who have died in the hopes that
they could get across the border.
If we have a secure border and if we work on our immigration systems,
we can get for those parents and people who want to come to this
country legally an opportunity to get here without harming themselves
or harming their children. If that is not a compassionate case for a
secure border, I don't know what is.
Now we are in the final stages of trying to negotiate a deal, and
Chairman Grassley did a wonderful job of summarizing what we have
proposed as a starting position for negotiation with our colleagues on
the other side of the aisle. I hope they will be willing to come to the
table and negotiate in good faith and recognize that their approach
over the last 16 years has failed. They promised the Dreamers a
solution, and they failed to deliver. They have failed to deliver under
a Republican administration. They have failed to deliver under
President Obama, when they had supermajorities. We are not going to let
them fail this time.
Giving the DACA population certainty, coming up with a solution that
makes sense, getting a border that is secure, making sure that the
poison that is coming across the border and killing tens of thousands
of people a year is reduced, is, in my opinion, the scope that we need
to negotiate to get to an agreement. If we have Senator Durbin, Senator
Bennet, and others who have negotiated portions of the immigration
issue open their eyes to the broader opportunity to come up with a
balanced policy that addresses the concerns on both sides of the aisle,
we can be the Congress and President Trump can be the President who
actually solve this problem and, along the way, make it far less likely
that it will be another problem for another Congress to solve 10 or 15
years from now and that, then, may take 10 or 15 years to solve.
This will have an enduring impact. This will have a compassionate
impact. This will provide certainty to the DACA population. This will
allow me to go home and say: I did something meaningful to secure the
border and protect our Nation. But we have to have people come together
and negotiate in good faith. It needs to start this week, and we need
to continue it until we come to terms.
People need to be willing to compromise and accept something less
than perfect, because everybody's perfect conceptions of what we should
do here have all one thing in common: They have all been resounding
failures. They have been unkept promises.
Along the way, our homeland is not as secure as it can be, and people
are dying in the process. Hard-working people who are eligible for the
DACA Program are uncertain about their future.
So, again, I want to thank Chairman Grassley for his hard work and
his leadership and willingness to engage. I want to thank the
President. I was with the President for an hour and a half last week,
along with Chairman Grassley and others. We are going to be meeting
again in the White House tomorrow. Hopefully, we will be joined by our
Democratic colleagues who have been invited to the meeting, and we will
negotiate something that makes sense.
Now is the time for us to deliver. The empty promises of the past are
insufficient. We need to provide an enduring solution, and an enduring
solution is a fair solution for the DACA population and a responsible
solution for border security. If we do that, I think we will look at
this as something meaningful--something the Presiding Officer and I did
when we came in here in 2015.
We got tax reform. That is meaningful.
We have been promising immigration reform forever. This is not all of
it. We have more work to do. But this is a big first step, and it
requires bipartisanship, compromise, and a genuine commitment to
I hope my Democratic colleagues will take the invitation seriously,
come to the table, negotiate an agreement we can all be proud of, and
we can give the certainty that we should give to the DACA population.
I thank the chairman for the opportunity to speak on this and for his
continued leadership on this issue.
Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, the Senator has been a leader on this
with his separate piece of legislation for a long time.
The next speaker is Senator Cotton; after that is Senator Lankford.
In the meantime, I yield the floor to my colleagues as I have a
meeting to go to.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
Mr. COTTON. Madam President, I thank Chairman Grassley for his
leadership on this issue and for offering the SECURE Act, which I and
some of the other Senators have supported.
I wish to continue this debate where Senator Tillis left off. We have
heard a lot today about the so-called DACA Program, Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals, and the negotiations in which we are currently
engaged. Hopefully, those negotiations will reach a solution that will
satisfy all the parties and give certain legal protections to the DACA
We have heard a lot today about border security and the wall. I want
to focus on one other element of a needed, negotiated solution, and
that is chain migration--putting an end, once and for all, to chain
migration. When you give legal status to an illegal immigrant, that is
a permanent change in law; it will never be reversed. Therefore, you
can't simply accept some window dressing at the border--1 year of
funding for demonstration or pilot projects. You have to have a
permanent change in return for a permanent change, and an end to chain
migration will be one of the most important permanent changes to U.S.
immigration law in 52 years.
What is chain migration? Under the current law, which dates back to
1965, if you are a citizen, you can bring any one of your relatives to
this country, not just your spouse and your unmarried minor kids--your
nuclear family--but also your adult kids and their spouses and their
children and your adult brother and your adult sister and your parents
and then their siblings and so on and so forth. That is why it is
called chain migration. Each person is a potential link in a never-
ending chain. The vast majority of people who immigrate to our country
legally every single year do so for the sole reason that they just
happen to be related to someone who is already here.
We have heard a lot of talk about the American dream in recent days--
that we are a nation of immigrants; it is part of our core, and that is
absolutely right. We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation where
blood ties are not supposed to dictate the path of your life, where you
can fulfill your dreams. But we have an immigration system that does
the exact opposite--an immigration system that favors the ties of
blood, the ties of kinship, the ties of clan, and the ties of tribe.
What could be less American than that?
As a result, we have also had a massive wave of low-skilled and
unskilled immigrants, over the last 52 years. Today, of the million-
plus immigrants who come here every year, only 1 in 15 comes here
because of education, job skills, or a job offer. That means we have
thousands and thousands of workers, with absolutely no consideration
for what it means for the workers who are already here--the workers who
are American citizens, who are earning a wage. In many cases, the most
recent immigrants are going to face competition from the next wave of
unskilled immigrants, so we are putting downward pressure on their
wages--the wages of people who work with their hands and work on their
feet, who hold the kinds of jobs that require you to take a shower
after you get off work, not before you go to work.
Blue-collar workers have begun to see an increase in their wages over
the last year for the first time in decades, and that is in no small
part because of the administration's efforts to get immigration under
control. But it is not enough to stop there.
The real question is, who should our immigration system work for? It
should work for the American people, the American worker. It should be
crafted for their benefit, not for the benefit of foreigners. We should
have an immigration system that fulfills the needs of our economy, that
focuses on jobs and wages for American citizens here, whether your
parents came over on the Mayflower or whether you just took the oath of
citizenship last week. This is not some radical position. Liberal
Democrats used to believe in that.
I understand that in this debate most of the attention is focused on
the population of about 690,000 illegal immigrants who came here,
through no fault of their own, as young children 15, 20, 30 years ago.
I think the concern for them is very understandable. President Trump
has shown it. My colleagues have shown it today. I share it as well.
President Obama did them a real disservice by unilaterally and
unconstitutionally--therefore unsustainably--giving them legal status
in this country to work. President Trump did the right thing by
recognizing that President Obama lacked that authority and shouldn't
have put them in that position. But nobody in the Senate--I think I can
speak for my other 99 colleagues. Nobody is eager to see these people
face deportation. Yet, at the same time, if we are going to give them
legal status, we have to recognize that inevitably, as an operation of
logic, there are two negative consequences that flow from that. You can
say that you don't mind them, but you can't say that they don't exist.
First, as you have heard from so many others, you are going to
encourage parents from around the world who live in poverty,
oppression, strife, and war to illegally immigrate to this country with
their small children in hopes of giving their children American
citizenship sometime in the future. That is dangerous, and, in my
opinion, it is immoral to offer those kind of inducements.
Second, as I have explained, you will create a whole new category of
American citizens who can now get legal status for their extended
families--to include the very parents who brought them here in
violation of law in the first place. As part of this debate, we have
often heard the old line that children ought not to pay for the crimes
of the parents. Well, if that is the case, can't we at least agree that
parents can pay for the crimes of the parents? They are the ones who
created the situation in the first place.
President Trump has said, as I have noted, that he wants to protect
the DACA population. But at the same time, he has said repeatedly: We
must build a wall and secure our border and end chain migration. I
agree that we have to build a wall on our border.
I have to say, it is a little amusing to see how our Democratic
colleagues have changed their tune on this point. First, they were
complaining for weeks that the President hadn't written a border
security plan yet. They kept asking for a punch list. A punch list is
what your contractor provides you when he is done building your home
but not quite done with every single technical spec. The administration
provided that to them just last week.
Now they are complaining that it is too expensive: It is outrageous,
in the words from the Senator from Illinois. I want to point out that
although the President's proposal would cost $18 billion--it is over 10
years, so $1.8 billion a year--the Senator from Illinois has proposed a
naked amnesty bill that would cost $26 billion over 10 years. That is
right; $18 billion is too much to secure our southern border to build a
wall and provide more agents and buy more technology, but $26 billion
to provide more welfare for illegal immigrants after they get amnesty
I would also point out that a lot of Democrats supported the Secure
Fence Act just over a decade ago--building over 700 miles the physical
barrier on our southern border. Maybe I can propose new grounds for
starting negotiations. How about we simply agree as a baseline that we
will fully fund the hundreds of miles of physical barriers that the
Senate minority leader voted for just 12 years ago?
They also supported the so-called Gang of 8 bill 5 years ago, which
also would have built hundreds of miles of physical barrier on our
southern border. What has changed since then?
All that being said, building a wall will help stop illegal
immigration, but it will not fix all the problems to the law itself.
That is why I have said, as the President has said, we also have to
deal with that second consequence--ending chain migration.
One trial balloon I have heard floated in recent days is that a
negotiated piece of legislation could eliminate the immigration
preference for the adult, unmarried kids of legal permanent residents,
green card holders. That is perfectly fine. We should do that, for
sure. But to act as if that alone would end chain migration is
preposterous. It will delay a very small part of chain migration--only
delay, only delay a very small part--about 26,000 of the more than
300,000 people who come here a year through family preferences. It
doesn't even touch the preference for the adult, unmarried children of
citizens or parents or siblings of citizens and green card holders
In other words, once these young people in the DACA population become
citizens, then they will be able to get legal status for their
relatives, which means, far from stopping chain migration, it will
actually accelerate the naturalization process and the chain we are
trying to stop in the first place.
The time has come to end this foolish, unwise, and, indeed, dangerous
policy, as we saw just a few weeks ago in the most recent attempted
terror attack in New York, which had at its initiating point someone
who had come into this country because of chain migration. Not a single
advanced, industrialized nation has such a lax immigration policy as we
do when it comes to immigrant families--not Canada, not the United
Kingdom, not France, not Germany, not New Zealand, not Japan.
If we are actually going to fix this problem--if we are going to do
right by the American worker, if we are going to promote the American
dream and American ideals, then it is time for these mindless family
preferences and chain migration to come to an end.
I yield the floor, and I yield to my colleague from Oklahoma.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
Mr. LANKFORD. Madam President, it is an interesting conversation we
can finally have about immigration. This has been that topic which has
been discussed for a while but not settled.
For 20 years, this body has talked about solving some of our
immigration issues. National security immigration hasn't been a
partisan issue until of late. Suddenly, when President Trump brings it
up, we have a bunch of folks who used to be for border security but are
now against border security because President Trump wants border
security--with some of the exact same ideas that have been in the Gang
of 8 bill or were in previous versions or were even talked about with a
secure wall or fence before. Almost every Democrat in this body voted
for the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
It is interesting to me the number of people who contact us saying:
We do not want to build a wall. I have said: What about the 650 miles
of wall that already exists and was put in place after 2006, which, by
the way, President Obama, when he was Senator Obama, wholeheartedly
supported and voted for?
This is suddenly a partisan issue. I am trying to help our entire
body take a step back and say: Immigration should be a humanity issue
and a legal issue, not a political issue.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine this weekend. We have
known each other for years. He is a pastor. We started talking about
the immigration issue. In that dialogue, he said to me: In the church,
we look at every individual as an individual created in the image of
God, and the church has a ministry to be able to reach out, regardless
of legal status.
Then he said, right behind it: But, in government, we understand
there is a different responsibility. The church engages with every
person equally, but the government has the responsibility of looking at
laws--what is legal and what is not legal--and helping abide by those
laws and enforcing those laws.
He is correct. There is an issue of humanity in this. These are
people caught in a system, and oftentimes those children in the DACA
Program are caught in a gap in which literally they have no home
country. They were brought as infants or as young children with a
parent who violated the law but did so with a child who came in and has
now lived in the country, in some cases 20 years, and they know only
this country. They are literally caught in the middle. While we have
great compassion, we are walking this interesting balance between
compassion for people, which we as a nation have, and also consistency
with the law. The law applies to every person. Whether you are the
President of the United States or an undocumented individual who has
come in, the law applies to everyone.
What do we do with this? The first thing I think we need to do is
take a deep breath and pull the politics out of this and to say border
security--in fact, security as a whole is not a controversial issue. I
will tell you, as a U.S. Senator, I have the privilege occasionally of
going to do interviews. Let me give you an example. CNN has a great
studio in Washington, DC. When you go to the studio in Washington, DC,
you go through the front door of a big building. There is a security
person there, and they will check your ID before you go any farther.
Not only will they check your ID, they make sure you are already
preregistered to be there to visit with CNN because you can't just walk
in. You have to notify them ahead of time you are coming, even if you
are the person being interviewed. Then, there is a physical barrier
between you and the elevators. Once the security guard clears you, you
go through the physical barriers, but you can't go up the elevator
because the security guard has to clear you to actually go up that
elevator and punch in a certain code to go up to the floor. When you
arrive at that floor, you are literally in nowhere land because
everywhere around you are locked doors until someone comes in and
clears you. You go to another security guard, and you sign in with that
security guard, again check ID, and then you have an escort who takes
you into the studio. That escort stays with you because as soon as your
interview is done, they will smile at you and say: Your time is up. We
are going to escort you out.
It is a shame CNN has to do that, but they do because not everybody
who walks through their doors means to do them no harm. There are some
people who mean to do them harm, and it is right for them to keep that
level of security.
For that level of security that we talked about for CNN, all of us
see that as rational--unfortunate but rational. I would say to us as a
nation, why is that rational at CNN headquarters, and it is irrational
for us to be able to do the same thing with our own borders? Not
everyone who crosses our border is there to help us. We can all admit,
there are some individuals--a few thankfully--who do mean to cross our
borders and do us harm. We should be aware of that. We have half a
million people a day who legally cross our border, our southern border,
alone--half a million people a day who cross back and forth, who
legally go through the system. They are doing commerce. They are
visiting family. There are all
kinds of individuals who move back and forth through our gates legally
every single day. We should ask the question: Why are half a million
people moving through legally but yet there are thousands and thousands
who are moving through illegally? What is the difference, and should we
ask questions of some of those people? Should there be a physical
barrier in some spots?
We have seen some places like in Yuma, AZ, when there wasn't a
physical barrier and there is a large city right on the border and
someone would cross the border quickly, commit a crime, and move right
back across the border. When a physical barrier was put in place a
decade ago in Yuma, AZ, the crime rate dropped dramatically in that
area. The physical barrier helped and did reduce crime.
I have had people say, if you build a 30-foot wall, there will be a
31-foot ladder leaning against it. That is true, but it slows them down
and gives enough time in remote areas or in heavily urbanized areas for
people to be able to respond and be able to interdict those
individuals. Walls don't stop people. They slow people down so you can
actually do interdiction and ask: Why are you going over the wall
rather than through the gates like half a million other people are
Why is that happening? That is not unreasonable, but it has become
heavily politicized. We need to step back and remove this from a
conversation about Presidents and about political parties and move it
back to some basic, commonsense things--things this Congress used to do
with wide, bipartisan support--things like a physical barrier. There
should be a wall in certain areas of the southern border that don't
have a wall right now. There should be areas of technology in other
areas. There should be an area to have watch towers with cameras that
are there. We should add some additional personnel. We are talking
about 3,000-plus miles on our northern border, 2,000 miles on our
southern border. That is a lot of territory to be able to cover. Some
of those areas don't even have broadband access to it, so just getting
information to the agents who work there takes a very long time or is
unreliable. We do need to have some technology improvements in some of
those areas. Should every part of our border have a wall? No, I don't
think so. It shouldn't all have a wall, but in heavily populated areas,
it probably should because that provides greater security, quite
frankly, on both sides of the border.
Some of it is even more simple than that. There are areas where there
are large amounts of cane that is growing up in the Rio Grande River,
and the Border Patrol agents can't see on both sides of the river who
is moving through because people can hide in the cane. Just eradicating
the cane that is all through that area on the border, in the river
area, would provide tremendous visibility. That would allow people to
be able to see farther and, quite frankly, stop some of the drug
movement and allow for more interdiction in those areas. It shouldn't
be that controversial. That should be common sense--adding technology,
adding sensors, adding greater visibility, adding a wall in areas where
a wall is needed, and in other areas that don't need a wall, we don't.
That is not just the issue. Some of the issue is fixing loopholes in
the law that get exploited. There are some individuals who cross the
border, and they know the rules. The coyotes in Central America who are
actually humans smuggling them all the way through Mexico and getting
them to the border have told them exactly what to say. When they
encounter a Border Patrol agent, they say: Say these words, and you
will get access to asylum, whether they are true or not.
The way it typically starts is, they say those words the coyotes have
told them to say, and they actually get a quick hearing and what is
called a notice to appear for another hearing, which is usually 2 or
2\1/2\ years later. They disappear somewhere into the American system,
and we have no idea where they are. They are somewhere among 300-plus
million Americans in some town, and we don't know where they are. The
vast majority of them never show up for the court hearings, but they
have a piece of paper that says “notice to appear,” which also means
they are given legal protections until that court date, and they can
move around the country.
That is a loophole in our system. It should be fixed. Nowhere else
would they do that. Why do we do that? We allow ourselves to be
exploited. There are some words and phrases that we need to be able to
clean up in the law and some things that need to be done. Again, that
shouldn't be controversial. It should be security related. There should
be some basic questions about how we are going to handle immigration.
We allow 1 million people a year to become citizens of the United
States legally--1 million people a year. Yet the American system is
also ignoring hundreds of thousands of others who are coming into the
system illegally and pretending it is not happening. It is. For 20
years, this Congress has not paid attention to it.
Say what you would like to about President Trump, but he is pushing
this Congress to do something it has not done in two decades--deal with
the issue of border security. This body will have to come to agreement
on that. The House of Representatives will have to come to agreement on
that, and the President will have to be able to sign it or it will be
just another Executive action that will not last very long. If we are
going to have lasting, real change in border security, it has to go
through the legislative process.
The President is pushing us to get that done before the first week of
March. We had 6 months of time. Four months of that has already run
out. It is time to get that document finished, to deal with the basic
things the President has asked for--border security, a legal status for
those individuals who are in the DACA Program whom the previous
President just put into deferred action status--that we will not arrest
them, but they are in some sort of legal limbo in between. President
Trump wants to have a permanent answer for all of those families.
Dealing with things on border security, not just the wall but the other
exceptions to it. The President wants to deal with the visa lottery,
which is a system where the names of 50,000 people somewhere in the
world are just randomly drawn out of a hat to be able to become
Many of us said for a long time, that is a foolish way to do your
immigration system. Our immigration system should be based on what we
need in America--what jobs, what locations--rather than randomly
pulling names of people around the world out of a hat. I understand
there are millions and millions of people around the world who would
love to be Americans, but in America, we want to be able to target
those individuals who want to not just be Americans but want to be a
part of us, not just culturally but economically, to be part of the
fabric of whom we are, to make decisions for ourselves as a nation, and
to do it not just in our own policy but also our own immigration
policy. It is not too much to ask.
There are basic things that should be done. Dealing with the DACA
students who are literally caught in a place where they have no home is
a compassionate thing to do, but along with our compassion, we also
need to uphold the law. Those kids should not be held to account for
what their parents did, but their parents should not have the same
access to the American system of being naturalized as the kids do--only
because the parents did intentionally violate the law. They chose to
break the law and bring their child with them when they did it. The
child didn't make that decision. Now they are growing up in a place
where they have no country. They should have a shot at being in our
Nation. I do not believe the parents of those kids--who broke the law--
should have that same access to our system. That may seem heartless,
but I will tell you, that is the balance we have to have between
compassion for people and upholding the law; that the law does apply to
all people. Maybe there is a way to do some other work permits or some
other things that could be there, but access to citizenship should be
reserved for those individuals who are upholding the law, not violating
There are some DACA kids who have done some remarkable stuff, some
DACA kids who are pretty amazing individuals. I ask folks in Oklahoma
when I am home, if I could identify for you 700,000 people somewhere
around the world who speak English, who are excellent students, who
have stood up
every day in their school and pledged allegiance to the United States
of America, who are in our military already, who are already working in
our economy right now, are those the individuals you want to reach out
to and be part of that 1 million people a year who become citizens? I
have yet to have someone tell me: No, that is not whom we are looking
for. Everyone says: That is exactly whom we are looking for.
I get to smile at them and say: They are already here. They just
happen to have grown up in this country already, but they have no home
and would love to call this one their home.
I would like to give them the opportunity to earn the ability to be
naturalized--not automatic, to earn it--and go through the process, to
get in line like every other person around the world, to get in line
but not have to return to their home country because they don't know a
home country, but get in line here to do it.
There is a way to be able to do this. The President has been the
first advocate for that. There is a way to be able to actually answer
the problems we have dealt with for 20 years on border security so we
don't continue to have another DACA Program in 5 years, in 10 years,
and over and over again as we are right now. Let's solve it.
Interestingly enough, in 2012, when President Obama announced the
DACA Program, he made some pretty blunt, clear statements during that
time period. One of them was, for individuals--this was in June of
2012--who are already here, he set a date. He said: For those
individuals, our Nation wants to provide an opportunity to not be
arrested, and we will work on your status, but for any future
individuals who cross our border, you will not have access to this
That is President Obama who made that statement in 2012. While I have
heard individuals say we should abide by the words of our Presidents,
when President Obama made those statements to those kids in 2012, I
would remind us as a nation, we should honor all of those statements,
if we do any of those statements, including President Obama's
statements saying that this will end, and people who are crossing our
border will be returned to their home country.
As he announced publicly, there is a right way to be able to do
immigration. Let's do it the right way. We already receive 1 million a
year. Let's do it the right way, and you will find a very welcoming
United States of America.
That is where I think we can go, and I hope in the days ahead we can
finish out a negotiation and be able to resolve some basic things--not
everything in immigration but at least the core issues of immigration
and border security so we can resolve the issue not only for the kids
in DACA but continue to be able to work on how we are securing our
Nation for the future.
With that, I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. HATCH. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. HATCH. Madam President, before I turn to the main portion of my
remarks, I wish to speak briefly on the situation in the Middle East.
The protests across cities in Iran reflect the failed leadership of a
corrupt regime. The Ayatollah's negligence in denying the basic rights
of his own people is inexcusable. Instead of allocating resources to
care for families in need, the regime has chosen to use what economic
gains it has accrued through the Iran deal to fund terrorism and
sectarian violence in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the
region. I stand with the Iranian people in their demand for prosperity
and freedom, and I call upon my colleagues in Congress to do the same.
Remembering Thomas S. Monson
Madam President, I wish to devote the remainder of my remarks to
honoring the memory of a dear friend, President Thomas S. Monson, a
beloved leader whose love for God and his fellow man defined a lifetime
of selfless service. President Monson passed away quietly last week,
with friends and family gathered by his bedside.
Today, I join millions across the globe in mourning the loss of an
extraordinary man whom, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, we have long looked upon as a prophet, seer, and
revelator. I also wish to extend my deepest sympathies to President
Monson's family, especially his children--Thomas, Ann, and Clark.
Although we are saddened by President Monson's passing, we take comfort
in knowing that he has been reunited with his wife Frances, his
lifelong friend and eternal companion.
President Monson was born in Salt Lake City in 1927 to G. Spencer
Monson and Gladys Condie Monson. Growing up during the Great
Depression, young Tom was greatly influenced by his parents, who taught
him the importance of taking care of others. From an early age, Tom
displayed a remarkable concern for the most vulnerable among us, and
throughout his life, he showed that concern and worked on solving
problems for them.
When Tom was just a boy, he had two beloved pet rabbits, to which he
tended every day, but when he heard of a destitute family in his
neighborhood, a family so down on their luck that they had nothing to
eat for Christmas dinner, Tom did what few little boys would ever do:
He gave his two pet rabbits to his neighbors so they could have a nice
Christmas meal. Yet, when little Tommy returned home to see his empty
rabbit hutch, tears filled his eyes, but these were tears of gratitude
for the joy he had felt in helping others. Selflessness, service, and
sacrifice--these would soon become the virtues by which Thomas Monson
lived his life, and everybody who knew him knows that.
Following graduation from West High School, President Monson attended
the University of Utah, where he met Frances Johnson during his
freshman year. Around the same time, he joined the U.S. Navy and served
in the waning days of World War II. After the war, he graduated cum
laude from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in business
management. Shortly thereafter, he married Frances in the Salt Lake
Following graduation, President Monson was hired by the Deseret News
to work in the paper's advertising department. He worked in various
positions for the newspaper and eventually became the general manager
of the Deseret Press.
As he was just beginning his professional career, President Monson
was called at the exceptionally young age of 22 to be a bishop of a
Mormon congregation. That hardly ever happens in the LDS Church. In
this position, he was charged with leading a congregation of more than
1,000 members. Then, at the age of 31, Tom was again called to a
leadership position typically reserved for older men when he was asked
to serve as president of the LDS mission in Canada and preside over a
whole raft of young missionaries. When he was only 36, Tom was called
as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, among the most
influential positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. In 2008, he was sustained as president of the church,
overseeing the day-to-day operations of a faith with millions of
followers. The church witnessed record growth during his tenure as
president, with more than 2 million men and women joining the ranks of
converts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Whether as a prophet, as an apostle, as a mission president, or as a
friend, President Monson simply took care of people. One particular
story stands out among the rest. When he was a young bishop, there were
84 widows in his congregation. During the Christmas holiday, he would
visit each and every one of them, ensuring that they were all provided
with a good holiday meal. Even after President Monson was released as
bishop, he continued to stay in contact with each one of these widows--
writing letters, making phone calls, and frequently visiting them in
their homes. In fact, President Monson remained so close with each of
these 84 widows that he eventually spoke at all of their funerals. That
is a real record.
President Monson's example of intimate, individual ministry
underscored what was most remarkable about his leadership. Although he
presided over a church of millions, his focus was always on the one.
Although tasked with
making administrative decisions affecting thousands of people the world
over, his lifelong commitment was to serving individuals in need.
Although an expert manager, he was first and foremost a disciple of
Jesus Christ, a man of remarkable kindness, unwavering love, and
President Monson was a servant first and a leader second. Endless are
the stories in which he would drop everything, sometimes even leaving
church meetings early over which he was presiding, to visit a grieving
widow, bless a sickly child, or minister to a family in need. Both on
macro and micro levels, President Monson was intimately involved in
building up the Kingdom of God, and he was perhaps the greatest living
example of Christ's admonition to find the one lost sheep who has gone
astray and take him back to the fold.
Of President Monson's boundless charity, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Tom has given everything to [those in need], including the
shirt off his back. I mean it! I've seen him give away his
suits and his shirts and his shoes.
President Monson was among the greatest men I have ever known.
Service was his motto and humility his hallmark. Countless were the
lives he touched as a prophet, father, and friend. He emulated Jesus
Christ in every particular, helping all of us draw closer to God by
drawing all of us closer to each other.
I am so grateful for the life of my dear friend and for the example
he left for everyone to follow. He was a friend of mine. He showed me
great friendship and at times stood up for me. I will never forget one
time he leaned over to me and said: “I vote for you.” That meant so
much to me. All I can say is that having his vote was very important to
me. The man was one of the greatest men I have ever met on this Earth--
a man of humility, a man of effort, a man of distinction, a man of love
and compassion, a man who really knew how to work with other people, a
man who loved his fellow men and women, a man who worked in a
consecrated manner all the days of his life for Jesus Christ and his
ministry. I am going to personally miss him. I believe that his imprint
on not just the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--commonly
nicknamed the Mormon Church--but around the world is going to be very
difficult to ever forget.
God bless the remaining family. I hope everything will go well with
them. I intend to attend the funeral if I can and hopefully lend
whatever I can to honoring one of the greatest men I have ever met in
my life, and I have met a lot of really great men and women.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Moran). Without objection, it is so
Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before the Senate the pending
cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the
provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate,
do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination
of William L. Campbell, Jr., of Tennessee, to be United
States District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Mitch McConnell, Deb Fischer, John Barrasso, John Thune,
Roger F. Wicker, James M. Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Mike
Crapo, Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Thom Tillis, Mike
Rounds, Michael B. Enzi, James Lankford, Lindsey
Graham, Pat Roberts, Todd Young.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum
call has been waived.
The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the
nomination of William L. Campbell, Jr., of Tennessee, to be United
States District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, shall be
brought to a close?
The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk called the roll.
Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the
Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander), the Senator from Tennessee (Mr.
Corker), the Senator from Texas (Mr. Cruz), the Senator from Georgia
(Mr. Isakson), the Senator from Arizona (Mr. McCain), the Senator from
Georgia (Mr. Perdue), the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Roberts), and the
Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Toomey).
Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr.
Alexander) would have voted “yea.”
Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Indiana (Mr. Donnelly)
and the Senator from Montana (Mr. Tester) are necessarily absent.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Lankford). Are there any other Senators in
the Chamber desiring to vote?
The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 89, nays 1, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 2 Ex.]
The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 89, the nays are 1.
The motion is agreed to.
The Senator from Texas.
Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, this last weekend I had the honor of going
to Camp David with Members of both the House and the Senate to meet
with the President and Vice President and members of his Cabinet to
talk about the prospects for 2018. After a very successful 2017, we are
now looking forward to what sort of legislation we can do on a
bipartisan basis that will help us build on those successes of 2017.
Many of these are domestic priorities, but, of course, others are
national security in nature.
Our internal strength, of course, affects our diplomacy and military
effectiveness abroad, and where we were located, at Camp David,
actually demonstrates that. It was, after all, the site for secret
talks to negotiate the Camp David Accords, historic peace agreements
signed by Israel and Egypt in 1978. What happened on American soil
ultimately changed the global landscape, and it wasn't the only time.
Over the years, Camp David has come to represent peace. It is a place
where leaders put aside their differences to look to avoid conflict.
Nonetheless, today we have to admit, given the global environment,
that peace is imperiled. We have recently seen that in Iran, where the
largest wave of protests in more than a decade have revealed widespread
discontent not only with Iran's economy but also as a result of the
actions taken by its military, which has supported Hezbollah and other
terrorist organizations around the world. As a matter of fact, Iran is
the No. 1 state-sponsor of international terrorism, which is one reason
why many of us blanched at the idea of releasing money to Iran as part
of the joint agreement on Iran's nuclear program--money that they could
then plow back into their support for organizations like Hezbollah and
their aggressive support for terrorist organizations generally.
Last week the Trump administration imposed sanctions on five entities
tied to Iran's ballistic missile program. Apparently, Tehran continues
to care more about funding its terrorist proxies across the Middle East
than supporting its own citizens, and frustrated
Iranians rightfully have said: Enough already; we are not going to take
As Secretary Mnuchin said last week, here in the United States we
shouldn't “hesitate to call out the [Iranian] regime's economic
mismanagement, and diversion of significant resources to fund
threatening missile systems at the expense of its citizenry.” The
Secretary is exactly right.
Meanwhile, the situation in North Korea remains precarious. That
country--and I say this unequivocally--must denuclearize. That is why I
recently introduced a resolution with many of my colleagues here in the
The purpose of the resolution is to expressly declare that Congress
is unified in its condemnation of the increasingly hostile and
intransigent behavior of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Since Kim Jong Un took power 6 years ago, he has ordered at least
four nuclear tests, including the September detonation of what his
regime--and outside experts generally agree--said was a hydrogen bomb.
Despite great efforts made by the United States, including a recent
Executive order by the President, North Korea's history as a bad-faith
negotiator continues unabated on the world stage. It obstinately
violates diplomatic norms and human rights at will and was recently
redesignated, itself, as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The resolution I referred to a moment ago asserts that the United
States, as well as the United Nations Security Council and our regional
allies, should continue to implement the absolute strictest of sanction
regimes in an effort to get the regime's attention and hopefully bring
them to the table as part of this path forward toward denuclearization.
We must continue to exhaust every reasonable diplomatic option
necessary to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible
dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile
Our resolution also recognizes that the President has the
constitutional responsibility to protect the United States and our
allies, but it emphasizes that congressional authorization is necessary
prior to committing U.S. forces to a sustained military operation on
the Korean Peninsula. In other words, under the Constitution, the
President has his responsibilities and duties, and Congress has its
responsibilities and duties, and this resolution recognizes both. We
look forward to working together closely with the President in a
unified front this year to confront North Korea, as well as rogue
President Trump, we know, does not take our national security threats
lightly. He has a world-class national security team, with General
Mattis, Secretary Tillerson, and Director Pompeo, just to name three.
In an important speech last month, the President outlined the four
pillars of his administration's national security strategy.
He said the first pillar is to protect our homeland. We can't secure
our Nation if we can't secure our own borders, and we can't secure our
borders unless we confront, both at home and abroad, the threat of
terrorism and ideologies bent on doing us great harm.
Second, the President said that we need to promote American
prosperity because the only way we are going to be strong militarily
and at the homeland is if we have the resources and economy to pay for
it. Economic growth at home is critical for our influence around the
globe as well. We, of course, took a big step in this direction by
passing tax reform last month, but a lot more needs to be done to
continue to grow our economy and to return America to its historic
prosperity--like updating and not scrapping the North American Free
Trade Agreement and other trade agreements, for example, and rebuilding
our national infrastructure, which was also on the agenda at Camp David
The President's third pillar of the national security strategy is to
preserve peace through strength. We usually attribute that concept to
Ronald Reagan, but of course he is not the first or the last to
recognize the joinder of peace and strength. President Trump said in
his speech that “weakness is the surest path to conflict, and
unrivaled power is the most certain means of defense.”
I think he is exactly right--which means we have to end the defense
sequester that started with the Budget Control Act of 2011. I supported
our efforts to rein in discretionary spending, but the fact is, only
about 30 percent of the money that the Federal Government spends is
actually appropriated, and a little more than half of that is defense
spending. I simply cannot in good conscience agree to continue those
budget caps for defense spending without considering the increase in
risks to our men and women in uniform and our country's national
security generally. We have to continue to modernize our military,
which we started last year by reauthorizing the Defense Authorization
Fourth, the President's strategy asserts that we have to advance
American influence in the world through strong alliances and by
championing our core values without apology. As the President said:
A nation that does not protect prosperity at home cannot
protect its interests abroad. A nation that is not prepared
to win a war is a nation not capable of preventing a war. A
nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident
in its future. And a nation that is not certain of its values
cannot summon the will to defend them.
I couldn't have said it any better myself.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
CHIP and Community Health Centers
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, today marks a sad and, frankly, shocking
day for too many of America's children and hard-working families
because it has now been 100 days since funding for the Children's
Health Insurance Program and community health centers expired.
History has shown us that there is a whole lot that can get done in
100 days. It took Thomas Jefferson only 17 days to write the
Declaration of Independence; the brave allied forces who landed on D-
day advanced through France and liberated Paris in only 80 days; and
Congress managed to pass 15 major pieces of legislation during
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first 100 days in office. Yet,
here we are, 100 days past the deadline of September 30, and Congress
still hasn't managed to pass long-term legislation to reauthorize what
we call CHIP--the Children's Health Insurance Program--and to fund our
community health centers.
We have a strong bipartisan bill funding CHIP, which was passed out
of committee. I give our chairman and ranking member kudos for working
together. I was proud to work with them. It came out of committee with
only one “no” vote and has waited and waited and waited on the floor
of the Senate. Senator Blunt and I have a bipartisan bill to continue
funding community health centers, and 70 Members of the Senate have
signed a letter supporting long-term funding for community health
centers, which expired September 30--100 days ago.
Right now, we are in a situation where 9 million children and their
parents don't know what is going to happen long term. As soon as this
month, 100,000 children and their families in Michigan have begun to
get letters saying that their children will lose coverage, and they are
trying to figure out what is going on.
Imagine being a parent who is working hard. A lot of folks I know are
working two jobs, trying to hold it together. You don't have health
insurance; you earn too much for your children to be able to get
Medicaid health insurance, so the Children's Health Insurance Program
is your lifeline. It is your lifeline. It gives you peace of mind to
know that if your daughter falls and breaks her arm or your son gets a
cough that won't go away, you can take them to the doctor.
What if those children have something worse than a broken arm or a
cough? What if they are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or asthma or
cancer? Just imagine being that parent and getting a letter which says
that your child may no longer have health insurance. It is not
necessary. This is not necessary.
We could do this tomorrow. If we thought it was important enough to
bring it to the floor, we could get a vote--and I believe it would be
overwhelmingly bipartisan--tomorrow if
there were a sense of urgency, an understanding, about how these
parents feel and how these children feel.
So what would you do if you got that letter? Would you tell your
kids? You don't want them to worry about it. What would you do? I
believe hard-working families--and we are talking about working
families, people with jobs, working--deserve better.
Then we have community health centers that serve 25 million people
across the country, including 300,000 veterans and 7.5 million
children. Our health centers are doing a phenomenal job. At more than
260 sites across Michigan, our health centers are serving 681,000
people, including about 13,000 Michigan veterans.
This month, health centers that were supposed to receive a new 12-
month grant are only getting a small amount of funding to get them
through the next few weeks, not knowing what is going to happen again.
By June, Michigan's community health centers will lose over $80 million
in funding, and over 99,000 patients will lose care.
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit two of our great Michigan
community health centers, each of their networks operating more than
one site--Hamilton Community Health Network in Flint and Western Wayne
Family Health Centers in Inkster. Like clinics across Michigan, these
centers are serving literally thousands of Michigan families every
day--people of Michigan who don't have medical care for one reason or
another. Now those thousands of people are at risk of having no place
to go if they get sick or if they need preventative care so that they
don't get sick.
Hamilton Community Health Network will run out of funding in April,
and Western Wayne Family Health Centers will not get their full funding
this month. They were asking me: Should they lay people off? How should
they be planning for their centers? What should they be doing?
That means 15,500 people are wondering what will happen to them if
they or their children get sick or slip on the ice--which there is a
lot of in Michigan--and sprain an ankle.
Felicia knows what it is like to live under that cloud of fear. She
wrote me a letter indicating that in 2011 she was an AmeriCorps
volunteer serving in Lansing and didn't have health insurance. When she
started feeling tired all the time and losing weight, she went to the
Center for Family Health in Jackson, MI, another great center. The
Center for Family Health, which served 29,000 patients in 2016, will
run out of funding in March if we don't act.
Felicia was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma--pretty scary
stuff. The Center for Family Health helped her get her health coverage
through Medicaid and care from the University of Michigan, including
chemotherapy and later a stem cell transplant.
Felicia wrote me:
Now I am feeling awesome, I am cancer-free, and I am
working part time while I am finishing up college. I feel
that I owe my life to the Center for Family Health.
Felicia knows the importance of community health centers; one in
Michigan saved her life. People like Felicia and children who are
covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program, which we call
MIChild in Michigan, shouldn't have to wait a day longer. They are
counting on us to get this done. It has been 100 days of uncertainty
that did not have to happen.
Let me say that again. We have a bipartisan bill reported out of the
Finance Committee. The House has reported their version. There is no
reason we can't immediately put a 5-year extension on the floor of the
Senator Blunt and I and our cosponsors of our bill have always
assumed that once CHIP came to the floor, we would be adding in
community health centers, for which there is strong support, and we
would be able to get this done. People would know that their
neighborhood health center is there. Their children can go to the
doctor instead of sitting for hours in the emergency room. They would
be able to see their doctor if they got sick. It has been 100 days
since funding has expired for community health centers and children's
health insurance. That is 100 days too many.
I have been coming to the floor every week to say: Let's do it today.
Let's do it tomorrow. We don't have to wait and hold them as bargaining
chips in some bigger appropriations negotiation. These are families.
These are kids. These are people who want to have confidence in us that
we will do our jobs. This one can get done. It could have gotten done
before the holidays. What a great Christmas present that would have
been. It can get done now.
On behalf of the 25 million people who use those community health
centers, the 9 million children and their parents who use the
Children's Health Insurance Program, I call on all of us to have the
sense of urgency and the leadership--the leader--to bring this up. We
can get it done in a day. We would all feel good about it because it
would be something we would be doing together instead of having these
families wait and wait.
Mr. President, before yielding, I want to acknowledge our newest
Senator, Mr. Jones, who is here, and thank him. Even as he was in his
happiness, and rightly so, on the evening he found out he was going to
be the next Senator, he mentioned CHIP. In listening to that acceptance
speech, it did my heart good to know that children's health insurance
was at the top of our newest Senator's mind at that important time, and
it is a pleasure to see him on the floor this evening.
I believe the Senator from Arizona is here.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, over the past couple of months, we have
seen a lot of effort with regard to immigration reform and in
particular to address the situation of the so-called DACA kids, the
Dreamers who were brought here through no fault of their own and are
now protected--many of them--through the DACA Program. But those
protections will run out on March 5. In fact, some have lost their
protections already. So there is a great impetus and urgency to deal
with this program.
I have said from the beginning that in order to establish a long-term
resolution and to provide regulatory certainty, a true DACA fix must be
a bipartisan solution. Over the past year, the two big items this
Chamber and the Congress have dealt with--healthcare reform and tax
policy--have been done under rules of reconciliation, meaning that if
we could get a bare majority of Republican votes, that would be enough,
if we could keep all the Republicans together. That is no longer the
case with our approach to DACA. We are not under rules of
reconciliation. It will require 60 votes, meaning that only a
bipartisan solution will do. That is why I have been working on such a
measure with my Republican and Democratic colleagues in Congress, as
well as the White House.
As I have said repeatedly, on this issue, I believe that the
President's instincts are better than some of the advice that he gets.
I truly believe that he does want a solution for these young
immigrants. I hope we can get there. We will have a meeting tomorrow at
the White House--a bipartisan meeting--to try to get a little farther
down the road.
Let me stress that a lot of words that are highly charged are thrown
around this immigration debate. No word is perhaps more highly charged
than the word “amnesty.” That has been thrown around by a number of
my colleagues. I would suggest that is not the case here with the DACA
kids. Amnesty, by definition, is an unconditional pardon for a breach
of law. I don't think a child who was brought across the border by the
parents has committed a violation of the law--not the child; certainly
the parents but not the child. To provide relief for those kids and to
allow them to stay in the only country they know I don't think should
be called amnesty. Yet that highly charged word is often used. To
suggest that anyone pursuing a bipartisan solution is proposing amnesty
I think is misleading, and it sets back the cause of trying to fix the
A proposal that we are drafting--this bipartisan group--offers a
pathway to citizenship for only a specific group of young immigrants--
as I mentioned, those who were brought here through no fault of their
own. These are immigrants who are serving in the military, who are
seeking education, who are holding good jobs. They will be required to
continue to do so before they
can have a chance to earn citizenship. As for the parents of these
young immigrants, nobody can deny the fact that they did break the law,
and any bipartisan proposal on DACA cannot and will not reward them for
I agree with the President when he said that dealing with DACA is a
very difficult subject but that we must do so with heart. I believe
that has been the case for those in this Chamber who have tried for 16
years to get a solution for these kids.
We have to prioritize border security measures, obviously, to
determine which ones are sensible to include in a DACA measure. We will
go beyond simply dealing with these DACA kids with some border security
measures, but we have to find out which ones are sensible and make
sense to include in this limited measure and table those that should be
considered for the future.
I have been part of comprehensive immigration reform efforts in the
past. I look forward to being part of comprehensive immigration reform
efforts later this year, but this is not that. We have a very specific
purpose to achieve before the 5th of March. The commitment we got was
to have a bipartisan bill on the Senate floor by January 31. I believe
we need to have that in order to have enough runway to get this done by
The White House, after much urging on our part, finally sent a list
over as to what should be considered part of the border security plan.
As I mentioned, many of these items need to be addressed. Maybe all of
the items need to be addressed, but they need to be addressed as part
of a larger, more comprehensive effort, not the limited fix we are
going to do before March 5. I am all in when it comes to comprehensive
immigration reform. I look forward to that debate. But we have to
understand that we can't do it all before March 5 if we are going to
protect these kids.
Some will say: Well, we get to March 5, if we can't do it, then we
just kick the can down the road again with some other protection.
I think the courts have made it clear that what was done prior to
this--the DACA Program itself--was not constitutional, and should we
simply say we are going to extend that program now, it would be found
unconstitutional by the courts. This is a real deadline, and we have to
meet it. We have to focus specifically on protecting these DACA
recipients. I think Republicans, Democrats, and the President all want
this. The question is, Are we going to, just over the next couple of
weeks, talk about bigger, broader issues that need to be dealt with but
have no chance of being part of legislation?
In 2013, I participated in what was called the Gang of 8. We
negotiated for 7 straight months nearly every night. We were in
Washington. We as Members negotiated--and our staffs did as well--much
longer hours and into the weekends. Then we brought that piece of
legislation to the Judiciary Committee, where we debated it for a
couple of weeks. I think we amended it more than 100 times. Then we
brought it to the House floor for another couple of weeks and amended
it several more times before passing it by a vote of 68 to 32. That was
a long process--hard-fought compromises in that legislation. To suggest
that we can go through a similar effort in the next couple of weeks--it
simply isn't going to happen. The list the White House brought forward
is simply something that we ought to consider for comprehensive reform
but not for this specific fix.
With regard to the border itself, we all know that we need additional
infrastructure on the border. I represent Arizona. We have some 375
miles of border. Some of the border has good barriers in terms of
fences. The closest thing we have approximating a wall is these old
landing strips from World War II that we put on their end and cemented
in. They are opaque. You can't really see through them. We have them in
a number of the communities along the border. We have been taking them
out because they are not very effective and putting fences in place of
them because we need to have visibility to the other side of the
Most of what the President is talking about along the southern border
is a fence. We do need more fences. In the Gang of 8 bill, I think we
authorized 700 miles of additional and improved fencing. Nobody is
suggesting we don't need additional infrastructure or barriers on the
border. The question is, How much do we provide for it in this
The President has made a request in the budget for about $1.6 billion
for the coming year. I think that will result in about 74 miles of
fence between Texas and California. I think that is a good place to
start. How much we authorize going forward will be very much in debate.
I know that during the campaign, the President talked long and hard
about building a wall, but every time he mentioned building a wall, he
talked about Mexico paying for it. We all know--and many of us knew at
the time--Mexico was not going to pay for that wall. They are not. That
is why the President is asking for $18 billion of U.S. taxpayer money
to fund that wall. To suggest that the President hasn't changed his
position and that we are dealing with a proposal that we have known was
coming from the White House simply isn't true. It has changed. The
President initially said that Mexico would pay for it. That is not the
case. The U.S. taxpayers are going to pay for any infrastructure on the
border. That is as it should be. If we are putting up the border fence,
we ought to pay for it. To suggest that nobody has changed their
position is simply not true.
Deals like this where you need 60 votes necessarily involve
compromise. No party, no individual is going to get everything they
want. The White House will not get everything they want. The Democrats
in Congress will not, and neither will the Republicans. This will be a
I am simply suggesting tonight--let's get real about the time
involved between now and when we have to fix this and not think that we
can simply kick the can down the road and put in some temporary fix,
some kind of bridge later that will protect these kids. Those
protections will run out on March 5 and may be done at that point.
Let's get serious. Let's all get serious, Republicans and Democrats,
and not come to the table with unrealistic expectations about what can
be done and what can be part of this legislation. Let's have something
that we can put on the Senate floor by the end of the month to leave
sufficient time to get this fixed by March 5. I hope we can all work
together on this, Republicans and Democrats.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak as in
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Children's Health Insurance Program
Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I rise to talk about another matter that
will be before us in the days ahead. It should not be before us as it
should have been done many months ago. In fact, if you want to count it
by days, it should have been done about 100 days ago, as we have heard.
That is the Children's Health Insurance Program, known by the acronym
Most Americans know what the CHIP program is. It is a program that
became Federal law a little more than 20 years ago in order to provide
an opportunity for healthcare for those families whose incomes were a
little bit too high, maybe, to have their children enrolled in Medicaid
but those families did not have their children's healthcare paid for by
their employers. You had a lot of families--a lot of middle-income
families or families near middle income--who were caught in between and
didn't have opportunities for healthcare. So CHIP was passed. For the
most part, it was bipartisan. All of these years now--decades later--it
remains bipartisan, but it is not reauthorized. Probably, the only two
numbers I will get into tonight are 9 and 180. What do I mean by that?
I will start with Pennsylvania.
So “180” means 180,000. That is the number of children, roughly,
who were enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program as of
December of 2017. If you look at it over the course of a year--of
children becoming eligible and then maybe moving off of CHIP to some
other insurance or having other changes--in Pennsylvania, roughly, in
the last year, 340,000 children benefited, at one time or another, but
the monthly number was 180,000 children just in
Pennsylvania, and “9” was representative of the 9 million children
across the country who were enrolled in CHIP. When we have all of these
debates about what has to get done in the next couple of days and
between now and the middle part of January, I hope that 9 million
number will be uppermost in people's minds. Included within that are
180,000 children in Pennsylvania.
This is really not about a number or a program. It is about real
people, real people's lives. Every Member of the Senate has a
constituent he could tell a story about or hundreds, if not thousands,
of stories. I will just tell one tonight about a mom whom I met not too
long ago, just about a week ago, Jennie Sheeks. Jennie is from Upper
Makefield, PA. That is Bucks County, Southeastern Pennsylvania, just
north of the city of Philadelphia.
Jennie told us about her son Kam-au. Kam-au is 8 years old, and he is
enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program. His brother and
his sister have special needs and are Medicaid beneficiaries. So, in
one family, you have an example of one child, thankfully, benefiting
from the CHIP program and then two other members of that same family
benefiting either from CHIP or the Medicaid Program. Thank goodness
those programs are in place. Without CHIP and Medicaid, Jennie said her
children would be uninsured because, even though both Jennie and her
husband work full time, covering the whole family on her plan is too
This is another example of working families who depend upon these
programs for their children. They need these programs. These programs
aren't theoretical. They aren't some far-off Washington debate about
timing and leverage and negotiations and back-and-forth. This is about
their real lives right now. As I said, the CHIP program should have
been reauthorized 100 days ago, and it is inexcusable that it is not
being done now.
We all left here right after the tax vote. Everybody went back to his
home State and, I am sure, had a great holiday season. Unfortunately,
even though there was a little bit of a patch--a tiny, little patch
made for this program--a lot of people left here with no worries at all
and went back to their States and communities and neighborhoods, where
there were a lot of other people worrying about whether they were going
to get the kind of coverage for their children they should have a right
Back to Jennie and her son. What are they going to do without the
Children's Health Insurance Program? I cannot imagine--and few Senators
or House Members can imagine--how Jennie and her son will get from here
to there without having the Children's Health Insurance Program. I
cannot imagine what it must be like for Jennie to worry about how she
will pay for her son's care if he loses CHIP coverage. No parent should
have that kind of stress in his life when there is an existing program
that covers 9 million kids that should be reauthorized.
When he was a public official, my father used to talk about people
who had led lives of real struggle. We have all known them in our
lives--people who have to work every day just to make ends meet in
order to provide for their families and get through another day,
another week, another month, another pay period. He used to refer to
those Americans as leading “quietly triumphant lives.” My father's
words for those who struggle--“quietly triumphant lives.”
There are a lot of families out there who lead very difficult lives,
and they depend sometimes on the Children's Health Insurance Program or
Medicaid or some other program just to get through another week, and I
think about Jennie and parents like her who have to overcome so much to
help their children--to love them, to care for them, to protect them,
and to educate them. Even the most loving, caring, hard-working, and
dedicated parent cannot provide the protections and the care health
insurance coverage and quality healthcare can provide, the kind of
quality healthcare from professionals that comes to that child because
he or she has the protection of health insurance. Those parents--no
matter how much they work, no matter how good they are to their
children--sometimes cannot provide something as basic, obviously, as
healthcare and, of course, the insurance coverage that makes it
We have legislation ready today, the KIDS Act, that is bipartisan. It
has already moved through the Finance Committee unanimously. I don't
think there was a single vote against it. If there was, it was not that
loud a vote. I hope we can make these children a priority in the coming
days, finally, at long last.
There were a lot of deals made in the tax bill, a lot of numbers
moved around to get the tax bill done. I understand that is part of any
legislation, but if a tax bill can get done in the U.S. Senate, we can
certainly have a vote to get the Children's Health Insurance Program
reauthorized now that it is 100 days old.
I see the distinguished majority leader is here so I will wrap up
tonight with the words of Jennie's son Kam-au:
I was happy when I got health insurance because I knew I
could go to the doctor if I got hurt or sick. When I didn't
have health insurance, I was a little worried . . . I think
we should keep CHIP going so we can stay healthy.
No better words were uttered or spoken about the Children's Health
Insurance Program than Kam-au's, an 8-year-old, who said CHIP should
stay in place so we can stay healthy.
I agree. The American people agree. Let's get CHIP done.
I yield the floor.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at 2:15
p.m. tomorrow, all postcloture time on the Campbell nomination be
considered expired and the Senate vote on confirmation of the Campbell
nomination with no intervening action or debate; finally, 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
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.