[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 89 (Tuesday, June 7, 2016)]
[Senate]
[Pages S3525-S3534]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2017--Continued

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.


                Amendment No. 4549 to Amendment No. 4229

  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 4549 to McCain 
amendment No. 4229, and I ask unanimous consent that it be reported by 
number.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The clerk will report the amendment by number.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Rhode Island [Mr. Reed] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 4549 to amendment No. 4229.

  The amendment is as follows:

   (Purpose: To authorize parity for defense and nondefense spending 
             pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015)

       At the end, add the following:

     SEC. 1513. OTHER OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS MATTERS.

       (a) Adjustments.--Section 101(d) of the Bipartisan Budget 
     Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-74; 129 Stat. 587) is amended--
       (1) by striking paragraph (2)(B) and inserting the 
     following:
       ``(B) for fiscal year 2017, $76,798,000,000.''; and
       (2) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
       ``(3) For purposes authorized by section 1513(b) of the 
     National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, 
     $18,000,000,000.''.
       (b) Additional Purposes.--In addition to amounts already 
     authorized to be appropriated or made available under an 
     appropriation Act making appropriations for fiscal year 2017, 
     there are authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 
     2017--
       (1) $2,000,000,000 to address cybersecurity 
     vulnerabilities, which shall be allocated by the Director of 
     the Office of Management and Budget among nondefense 
     agencies;
       (2) $1,100,000,000 to address the heroin and opioid crisis, 
     including funding for law enforcement, treatment, and 
     prevention;
       (3) $1,900,000,000 for budget function 150 to implement the 
     integrated campaign plan to counter the Islamic State of Iraq 
     and the Levant, for assistance under the Food for Peace Act 
     (7 U.S.C. 1721 et seq.), for assistance for Israel, Jordan, 
     and Lebanon, and for embassy security;
       (4) $1,400,000,000 for security and law enforcement needs, 
     including funding for--
       (A) the Department of Homeland Security--
       (i) for the Transportation Security Administration to 
     reduce wait times and improve security;
       (ii) to hire 2,000 new Customs and Border Protection 
     Officers; and
       (iii) for the Coast Guard;
       (B) law enforcement at the Department of Justice, such as 
     the Federal Bureau of Investigation and hiring under the 
     Community Oriented Policing Services program; and
       (C) the Federal Emergency Management Agency for grants to 
     State and local first responders;
       (5) $3,200,000,000 to meet the infrastructure needs of the 
     United States, including--
       (A) funding for the transportation investment generating 
     economic recovery grant program carried out by the Secretary 
     of Transportation (commonly known as ``TIGER grants''); and
       (B) funding to address maintenance, construction, and 
     security-related backlogs for--
       (i) medical facilities and minor construction projects of 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs;
       (ii) the Federal Aviation Administration;
       (iii) rail and transit systems;
       (iv) the National Park System; and
       (v) the HOME Investment Partnerships Program authorized 
     under title II of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable 
     Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 12721 et seq.);
       (6) $1,900,000,000 for water infrastructure, including 
     grants and loans for rural water systems, State revolving 
     funds, and funds to mitigate lead contamination, including a 
     grant to Flint, Michigan;
       (7) $3,498,000,000 for science and technology, including--
       (A) $2,000,000,000 for the National Institutes of Health; 
     and
       (B) $1,498,000,000 for the National Science Foundation, the 
     National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department 
     of Energy research, including ARPA-E, and Department of 
     Agriculture research;
       (8) $1,900,000,000 for Zika prevention and treatment;
       (9) $202,000,000 for wildland fire suppression; and
       (10) $900,000,000 to fully implement the FDA Food Safety 
     Modernization Act (Public Law 111-353; 124 Stat. 3885) and 
     protect food safety, the Every Student Succeeds Act (Public 
     Law 114-95; 129 Stat. 1802), the Individuals with 
     Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400), the Workforce 
     Innovation and Opportunity Act (29 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.), and 
     for college affordability.

  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I look forward to a very thoughtful debate 
tomorrow. Senator McCain has introduced an amendment that would 
increase spending with respect to the Department of Defense and related 
functions. In this amendment, we are proposing an additional increase 
in nondefense programs. I look forward to tomorrow.
  I thank the chairman for his consideration through the process of 
this floor debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Rhode Island and 
look forward to vigorous debate on both the initial amendment and the 
second-degree amendment proposed by my friend from Rhode Island. I 
would like to engage in very vigorous debate on both, and hopefully, 
for the benefit of my colleagues, cloture on both will be filed by the 
majority leader and hopefully we can finish debate on it either late 
morning tomorrow or early afternoon, if necessary, so we can move on to 
other amendments.
  Let's have no doubt about how important this debate and discussion on 
this amendment will be tomorrow. We are talking about $18 billion. In 
the case of the Senator from Rhode Island, I am sure there are numerous 
billions more as well. I think it deserves every Members' attention and 
debate.
  I say to my friend from Rhode Island, I certainly understand the 
point of view and the position they have taken, and from a glance at 
this, it looks like there are some areas of funding that are related to 
national security that I think are supportable. There are others that 
are not, but we look forward to the debate tomorrow, and hopefully any 
Member who wants to be involved will come down and engage in this 
debate. We would like to wrap it up tomorrow because there are a number 
of other amendments pending.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, it was extraordinary to watch this 
bipartisan effort on TSCA.
  An hour ago, Senator Peters and I thought we were going to have floor 
time for some brief remarks. I would like to ask unanimous consent that 
Senator Peters have the chance to address the issues he thought he was 
going to address, and he is going to be brief. I will go next. I will 
be brief. I ask unanimous consent that following Senator Peters' 
remarks, I be allowed to address the Senate briefly.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Michigan.


                           Amendment No. 4138

  Mr. PETERS. Mr. President, I rise to thank Chairman McCain and 
Ranking Member Reed for their support and for their help in passing the 
Peters amendment No. 4138 to the National Defense Authorization Act. I 
also would like to thank my colleagues Senators Daines, Tillis, and 
Gillibrand for joining me in this important bipartisan amendment. I 
would also like to thank all the

[[Page S3526]]

Members who cosponsored the amendment, including Senators Tester, 
Stabenow, Kirk, Sanders, Stabenow, Blumenthal, Boxer, and Chairman 
McCain.
  We have far too many servicemembers who are suffering from trauma-
related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic 
brain injury. Unfortunately, many of these servicemembers have received 
a less-than-honorable discharge, also known as a bad paper discharge. 
These former servicemembers can receive bad paper discharges for 
misconduct that is often linked to behavior seen from those suffering 
from PTSD, TBI, or other trauma-related conditions. The effects of 
traumatic brain injury can include cognitive problems, including 
headaches, memory issues, and attention deficits. In addition to 
combat-sustained injuries, PTSD and TBI can also be the result of 
military sexual trauma.
  Bad paper discharges make former servicemembers who are suffering 
from service-connected conditions ineligible for a number of the 
benefits they have earned and have become ineligible when they need 
them the most. These discharges put servicemembers at risk of losing 
access to VA health care and veterans homelessness prevention programs. 
This is completely unacceptable.
  I would like to share a story of a former servicemember who shared 
his experience with my office in Michigan. This individual was deployed 
in Afghanistan in 2008 as a machine gunner. For his performance 
overseas, he received a number of awards, including the Combat Action 
Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit 
Commendation, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment 
Ribbon, and the National Defense Service Medal. When he returned home, 
he began suffering from agitation, inability to sleep, blackouts, and 
difficulties with comprehension.
  He was scheduled to be evaluated for TBI. However, that evaluation 
never occurred. He began drinking to help himself sleep and received an 
other-than-honorable discharge after failing a drug test. Following his 
discharge, the VA diagnosed him with TBI, and he began treatment.
  The VA later determined he was ineligible for treatment due to the 
character of his discharge, and his treatment ceased immediately. He 
was later evaluated by a psychologist specializing in trauma management 
who determined that the behavior that led to his discharge was the 
result of his TBI and PTSD.
  He petitioned the Discharge Review Board for a discharge upgrade and 
presented the medical evidence of both TBI and PTSD. However, the 
Discharge Review Board considered his medical evidence to be irrelevant 
and his petition was denied.
  This Michigander has since experienced periods of homelessness and 
has had difficulty maintaining a job. This is an example of someone who 
is suffering as a result of service to his country, and yet the VA 
denied his request for benefits on the basis of this discharge. The 
Discharge Review Board also denied his request to upgrade his 
discharge, despite his presenting clear evidence of his condition.
  We must stop denying care to servicemembers with stories like this 
and start providing them with the benefits they deserve and earned 
through their service. We have a responsibility to treat those who 
defend our freedom with dignity, respect, and compassion.
  Last year I introduced the Fairness for Veterans Act, and the Peters-
Daines-Tillis-Gillibrand amendment that was unanimously accepted by 
this body is a modified version of that bill. The Peters amendment 
would ensure liberal consideration will be given to petitions for 
changes in characterizations of service related to PTSD or TBI before 
Discharge Review Boards.
  The Peters amendment also clarifies that PTSD and TBI claims that are 
related to military sexual trauma should also receive liberal 
considerations. I would like to thank the many veterans service 
organizations that advocated tirelessly on behalf of this amendment and 
legislation.
  I would like to recognize the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of 
America, Disabled Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of 
America, the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vietnam 
Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, United Soldiers and 
Sailors of America, and Swords to Plowshares.
  In addition to seeing strong support from these veteran services 
organizations, this has also been a bicameral effort. I would also like 
to thank Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado and Tim Walz of 
Minnesota, who introduced the companion bill in the House and are 
supportive of this amendment.
  Servicemembers who are coping with the invisible wounds inflicted 
during their service and were subject to a bad paper discharge should 
not lose access to the benefits they have rightfully earned. That is 
why we must ensure that all veterans get the fair process they deserve 
when petitioning for a change in characterization of their discharge. 
The Peters amendment No. 4138 will do just that.
  I am proud that today this body unanimously approved this important 
amendment that I authored with Senators Daines, Tillis, and Gillibrand. 
I look forward to working with my House colleagues to ensure this 
provision remains in the conference bill.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, as the Senate works on the Defense bill, it 
is important to note the shameful squandering of taxpayer money by a 
defense contractor accused of willfully exposing U.S. soldiers to toxic 
chemicals while they served in Iraq.
  In 2003, courageous American soldiers, including members of Oregon's 
National Guard, were given the task of protecting workers of Kellogg 
Brown & Root, KBR, at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in southern 
Iraq. Some of these soldiers are suing KBR on the grounds that the 
contractor knowingly exposed them to dangerous carcinogenic substances 
such as sodium dichromate and hexavalent chromium. Many of these 
soldiers have reported serious illnesses, and at least one has already 
passed away at a surprisingly young age. KBR has fought this case, as 
is their right, and normally this would not be an issue for the 
Congress, but this is not a normal case because KBR isn't paying for 
the case. The American taxpayer is picking up the bill. KBR's contract 
with the Pentagon includes an indemnification clause. This, of course, 
is legalese that means that the U.S. taxpayer is on the hook not only 
for any damages incurred as a result of the contractor's actions but 
also for legal bills and administrative costs incurred during legal 
battles. It makes no difference if the contractor is at fault or not.

  In this case KBR has run up exorbitant and wasteful legal bills in 
the course of its lengthy legal defenses against the soldiers' claims. 
The Pentagon, in essence, gave these contractors a blank check. 
Predictably, KBR has run very high legal fees, paying first-class 
airfare for lawyers, witnesses, and executives, secure in the knowledge 
that the taxpayer was picking up the tab.
  Along with attorneys billing at $750 an hour, taxpayers are on the 
hook to pay at least one expert more than $600,000 for testimony and 
consultation and apparently time spent napping. Of course, there is no 
incentive for KBR to bring the legal cases to a conclusion. The lawyers 
can run fees until the cows come home because they know they will not 
have to pay a dime no matter how the case turns out.
  Fortunately, in this indemnity case, and in others, there is a 
solution provided in the same contract. The contract empowers the 
Department of Defense to take over the litigation and look out for the 
interest of the American taxpayer who is footing the bill. For reasons 
that are hard to calculate, the Pentagon has refused to do this in the 
KBR case, despite my having urged several Secretaries of Defense to 
exercise this authority, and so the litigation continues with no end in 
sight. That is why I have filed amendment No. 4510 to the 2017 National 
Defense Authorization Act. The amendment directs the Department of 
Defense to exercise its contractual right to take over litigation for 
indemnified contractors in cases where the legal process runs more than 
2 years. In doing so, it will bring the seemingly never-ending 
litigation to a timely resolution and save taxpayers from throwing good 
money after bad as the process drags on and on year after year.

[[Page S3527]]

  The amendment isn't an attempt to relitigate the decision to 
indemnify contractors in the first place. What this commonsense 
amendment seeks to do is to make sure that the blank checks being 
picked up by taxpayers stop. This is critical because the government 
has an obligation to ensure that these legal bills don't cost the 
taxpayers any more than necessary, and certainly the American taxpayer 
does not need to be padding the pockets of the lawyers of the 
contractors.
  I want to be clear: The amendment does not prejudice the outcome of 
the legal case in any way. It simply ensures that when the taxpayers 
pay the bill, the government that represents the American taxpayer is 
in control instead of a contractor's lawyer. It seems to me that the 
Senate owes that to the American taxpayer.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment when it is considered 
later in the course of the day.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, when I was growing up in the Eastern 
Plains of Colorado, one of the things I was hoping to do after 
graduating from college and entering the workforce was to work in the 
space program. I desperately wanted to be an engineer--an astronaut. I 
wanted to live that dream that was played on the television when I was 
growing up and when there were movies such as ``The Right Stuff.'' When 
I was growing up in the mid-1980s, the movies they showed idealized the 
world of space exploration. I grew up idolizing the astronauts.
  I can remember as a child writing a letter to the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, and basically telling 
them that I was really interested in becoming an astronaut and how I 
could someday do that. Little did I know that my mom, all these years 
later, kept the response from NASA, and the letter had the old ``worm'' 
NASA logo on top. The response came with a picture of the most recent 
space shuttle mission, which included Sally Ride. Of course we know 
Sally Ride, the first female in the space shuttle program. I remember 
how excited I was to get that letter back.
  Years later, I looked at the actual content of the letter and noted 
that they weren't necessarily quite as kind in confirming my 
aspirations when they laid out how difficult it would be to become a 
rocket scientist--to become an aerospace engineer and to go on and 
pursue that dream. Lo and behold, they were right. I ended up pursuing 
a different direction in college and beyond, but I always had great 
admiration and respect for the men and women of our space program.
  Growing up on the Eastern Plains of Colorado was a fascinating 
experience. I learned how people ran their businesses and how today 
many of our tractors and combines rely on the very space programs that 
I was admiring. The roots of the space program that we saw in the 1970s 
and 1980s are being utilized today to steer tractors, satellite-guided 
equipment, to locate the best yield in a field through combines that 
use global positioning systems and precision farming data to better 
their operations. Of course, we have these debates today that remind me 
about those conversations. We have debates today over policy about how 
we are going to see the future of space, how we are going to see the 
future of security, how we are going to see the future of rocket 
launches in this country. It reminds me of the conversations that I had 
with those farmers in the Eastern Plains.
  My family sells farm equipment today in a little, tiny town out by 
Kansas. Oftentimes farmers would come in and talk about how they would 
be more productive this year and what kind of equipment they needed to 
be tailormade for their operation, how they could create a farming 
program with the farm equipment they would buy in order to have the 
right type of tractor, the right type of combine, or the right type of 
tillage equipment to meet the needs of their operation.
  When they would come in and talk to us about what kind of farm 
equipment best fit their needs, they would look at what price range 
they had to deal with--what was more affordable or less affordable. 
They would look at the utility of a single piece of equipment. Could 
this tractor or combine meet all of their needs? Could it harvest corn 
and sunflowers? Could it harvest soybeans? Could it pick sunflower 
seeds? Could it pick up dried beans? Those are the conversations we 
would have.
  What they didn't do was come in and say: Hey, I want to buy a piece 
of equipment that costs 35 percent more than any other piece of 
equipment and doesn't fit the needs of our operation. We sold red farm 
equipment. There may have been equipment that somebody would want to do 
that with, but the fact is this: When they came into our store, they 
wanted farm equipment that would fit their needs at the right price and 
was able to meet the demands of all of their operations so they 
wouldn't have to use a tractor for this field and a different tractor 
for that field or pay for a tractor that costs 35 percent more over 
here and a tractor that didn't fulfill all of their needs over there.
  When I look at the debates today over the National Defense 
Authorization Act and how we are handling our Nation's rocket program, 
the EELV programs--the debate that has occupied this Congress for a 
number of years--I think back to the common sense of those farmers on 
the High Plains of Colorado because what is common sense on the High 
Plains is just plain sense in Washington, DC, and that is what we are 
facing during this debate over what rockets we are going to allow this 
country to use in the future. That is the argument that we are making 
today. It is an argument about competition, it is an argument about 
costs, and it is an argument about what is actually going to fulfill 
all of our needs in space and not leave us without the capability to 
meet our national security space missions. That is the critical part of 
what we are talking about today. Just as those farmers on the Eastern 
Plains did--they talked about the best fit for their mission to make 
sure they could plant their crops, to make sure they could get the 
crops out of the field and do it in an affordable manner so they would 
still be in operation the next year despite the fact that they had 
historically low commodity prices, just as we are facing a historically 
tight budget in the U.S. Congress.
  What we are talking about is our national security. It is not about 
tractors in a field, and it is not about whether we are going to have 
the right combine. This debate is about national security space 
missions. This debate is about having the right kind of rocket to 
launch a critical mission that might include a satellite on top that is 
for missile launch detection, or perhaps it is a rocket that is going 
to put into orbit a device that will listen and provide opportunities 
for us to know what is happening across the world or across the United 
States. Maybe it is something that is related to that organization that 
I was so desperate to join, the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration, NASA. Maybe it is the Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada 
Corporation, which is attempting to build a vehicle that will be placed 
on top of one of the rockets that might be no longer available, should 
the current language of the National Defense Authorization Act move 
forward.
  We have the same kinds of debates every day in our business, whether 
you are a farmer or a car dealer, but this is about our security, this 
is about our defense, and this is about our ability to provide 
competition in space, to provide rockets that compete for business, to 
provide rockets that are cost effective for their mission, to provide 
rockets for this country to meet those critical missions that we talked 
about that are reliable and have a proven record. That is what we are 
doing today, and that is why Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and I have 
together worked on amendment No. 4509 to make sure when it comes to our 
ability to reach space, to reach the orbits that we need to, we can do 
it in a cost environment that reflects the reality of budgets today and 
do it in a way that we know can be reliable. This amendment will 
address those concerns by peeling out the language of the National 
Defense Authorization Act to ensure competition, to ensure reliability, 
to ensure affordability, and to assure that those agencies such as NASA 
or perhaps USGS and other agencies that are relying on space more and 
more have the ability and capacity to reach the orbits they are trying 
to reach.

[[Page S3528]]

  The Nelson-Gardner amendment assures competition. That is something 
we have all agreed is critically important as we look to the future of 
our space and launch programs. This addresses the certification of the 
Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, the EELV program that I mentioned 
before, to make sure that a provider can be awarded a national security 
launch for one of these critical missions by using any launch vehicle 
in its inventory.
  Why is that important? Because we need to make sure that the U.S. 
Government has the ability to receive the best value. It is the same 
conversation those farmers were having about what farm equipment they 
were going to use back home, except this is a critical national 
security space mission.
  If we prevent this language from being removed or if we don't allow 
the Nelson-Gardner amendment to move forward, then it is going to be 
very difficult for us to have that competition. For instance, you are 
looking at the possibility that a rocket we are using right now known 
as the Atlas V rocket, which has never failed, would be forced to bid 
for future rocket missions; that is, United Launch Alliance, which 
makes the Atlas V rocket right now, would be forced to bid using more 
expensive Delta forerunners. To be expensive is one thing, but to cost 
35 percent more than what we already have today is missing that common 
sense that I talked about on the High Plains of Colorado.

  This amendment will make sure that we abide by the request of the 
U.S. Air Force, which is concerned that if we allow the provision of 
the National Defense Authorization Act to move forward today, that 
would bar our ability to use certain rocket engines; that if the Atlas 
V, which relies on this rocket engine, is banned prematurely from DOD's 
use, that alternative--which means they would have to use that Delta IV 
rocket--would cost an additional $1.5 to $5 billion more versus simply 
relying on the proven and effective rocket that we have today.
  I think everybody in this Chamber agrees that we can move to a 
different rocket than the Atlas V, which relies on the engine 
prohibited under the act. Everybody agrees with that, but what they 
don't agree with is the fact that we would spend $1.5 billion more to 
achieve this goal.
  We are going to be debating very soon an amendment that will add $18 
billion and put that money into our defense because people are 
concerned that we have a dwindling capacity in our military to meet the 
needs around the globe for U.S. national security needs; that our men 
and women in uniform don't have the dollars they need to fix the 
equipment they are relying upon.
  This Chamber is going to be voting on putting more money into 
national defense. Allowing the language that is currently in the bill 
would bar our ability to use this engine in an existing rocket, and it 
would cost $1.5 billion more. The fiscally responsible thing to do is 
to allow for competition, to allow this rocket to continue to be used, 
to allow this engine to continue to be used as we transition out of 
this engine and in a few years to have a different type of engine and 
different type of rocket that they are working on right now. And in a 
few years we will have it. To say that we are going to change and 
eliminate competition today, we are going to drive up costs by 35 
percent, and we are going to turn to a rocket that can't meet all the 
orbits, can't meet all our needs, and doesn't have the track record of 
the Atlas V--that is the definition of irresponsibility.
  Adding $1.5 billion to $5 billion of cost and also eliminating 
competition is not what I think this place should stand for. The Senate 
should stand for competition. We should achieve what remarkable changes 
we have seen in the space program, as more people are entering into the 
rocket market. We have seen new entrants into rocket launchers--and 
that is what we are talking about today--to continue the competition, 
not lessen the competition by eliminating it, taking offline models of 
rockets and then spending $5 billion more.
  We have already talked about the farmer sitting in the field. If he 
has a combine that could cost 35 percent more but does the same job as 
the one that cost 35 percent less, which one is he going to choose? 
Which one would his banker want him to choose? The American people 
would want us to go with what is proven and what is reliable. Let's 
transition off of it--you bet--but not at an increased cost to our 
defense of $1.5 billion to $5 billion more.
  To support this amendment and the rocket competition that this Nation 
deserves is what is fiscally conservative. The pro-competition position 
ensures that the U.S. Air Force and National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration will have access to space. It is about meeting the needs 
of those in our Air Force, NASA, and others who have said that we need 
this critical mission.
  As General Hyten testified before this Congress, the Department of 
Defense will incur additional costs to reconfigure missions to fly on a 
different rocket--the Delta IV we have been talking about and the Delta 
IV Heavy--because the competitor to the Atlas V doesn't have a rocket 
as capable as the Atlas V and can fly to only half of the necessary 
orbits.
  In 2015 and 2016, the Air Force and the Defense Department leadership 
testified to the need for additional RD-180 engines--that is the engine 
that we have been talking about that is stripped out of the Atlas V, 
ending the Atlas V program--to compete for launches and to assure that 
the United States doesn't lose assured access to space, making sure we 
can get to where we need to go to place a satellite in the orbit it 
needs to be in to provide security for this country. We can do it with 
a reliable system at an affordable cost.
  We talked about competition. The Nelson-Gardner amendment promotes 
competition by allowing the Defense Department to contract for launch 
services with any certified launch vehicle until December 2022, 
allowing competition to 2022 and transitioning out of the RD-180 so 
that we can have more competition in the future.
  The language we have been discussing--I believe it is section 1036 or 
1037 of the National Defense Authorization Act--eliminates this 
competition. It puts an end to it by ending the use of these engines 
and basically taking out the Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V, again, is the 
United States' most cost effective and capable launch vehicle.
  According to the Congressional Research Service, the Atlas V rocket, 
which is powered by the RD-180 engine, has had 68 successful Atlas V 
launches since 2000. The Atlas V has never experienced a failure. When 
talking about competition, cost, reliability, and putting a satellite 
on top of a rocket--where many times that satellite costs more than the 
rocket itself--we can't afford a failure from a fiscal standpoint, and 
we certainly can't afford a failure from a security standpoint. That is 
why we need reliability and a proven track record.
  This debate is complicated. People for years have talked about the 
Atlas V, the Delta IV, and the Falcon 9. People ask: What does it all 
mean, which engine do we use, how do we transition, and why did we end 
up in this position in the first place?
  There are a lot of people who have come to the floor on different 
issues, saying it is not rocket science, but, indeed, today we are 
talking about rocket science and the need to have an Atlas V rocket 
that provides competition, reliability, and the opportunity for the 
United States to meet our national security needs.
  Without the Nelson-Gardner amendment, the underlying language of the 
National Defense Authorization Act legislates a monopoly. It creates a 
monopoly with the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program, or EELV, 
because only one company would be allowed to fairly compete. While we 
have all committed to competition and we all have said we are going to 
transition away from this rocket engine, we actually would be passing 
legislation that would create a legislative monopoly. That is not plain 
common sense; that is nonsense.
  It is important to note that the Department of Defense isn't the one 
that is buying these rocket engines in the first place. The Department 
of Defense buys the launch services. The Nelson-Gardner amendment would 
allow United Launch Alliance and others to compete for missions with 
the Atlas V. The ULA is competing with the Atlas V. Others could be 
competing as well. If the ULA does not win the competition, the 
Department of Defense will

[[Page S3529]]

not be using the RD-180 engine. It makes sense to me.

  Promoting this open and fair competition to get the best deal for the 
taxpayers of this country--to get the best deal for national security 
needs in this country--is the fiscally responsible path forward and 
allows the DOD to achieve those priorities. It allows the Air Force to 
reach the space that they need to. It is not just the Air Force; it is 
the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the 
Secretary of the Air Force, Commander of the U.S. Space Command, the 
Air Force teaching staff, and many others who have testified before 
this Congress in support of continued use of the RD-180 rocket engine 
until a new domestic engine is certified for national security space 
engines. Compared to the Delta IV, the Atlas V can reach every national 
security space mission that we need with certified, 100-percent 
reliability from the Atlas V. We don't have that anywhere else.
  It has been made clear by the Secretary of Defense, the Director of 
National Intelligence, the Secretary of the Air Force, and the 
Commander of Space Command that ensuring America's access to space is 
an issue of national security, as well as protecting the taxpayers' 
dollars that are already so scarce in the defense budget. Why would we 
add an additional $1 billion in cost by eliminating competition when we 
ought to be doing the exact opposite?
  The Nelson-Gardner amendment promotes national security by assuring 
reliable access to space that we talked about, to make sure that we 
have a certified launch service available with a proven track record. 
The Atlas V rocket is one of the most successful rockets in American 
history. Since 2000, we have had 68 consecutive successful launches 
with zero failures, according to the Congressional Research Service. 
That is a 16-year track record.
  According to the Department of Defense--and this is important--if 
Atlas V restrictions are imposed, certain missions would sustain up to 
2\1/2\ years of delay.
  We have threats emerging around the globe. This past week I had the 
opportunity to visit South Korea. We met with General Brooks, and we 
talked about the need this country has in assuring a denuclearized 
Korean peninsula to make sure that North Korea doesn't possess the 
capability to launch a nuclear weapon that could hit the mainland of 
the United States. That is not something that can wait year after year 
because we made a decision that costs the taxpayer more and lessens our 
capacity and capability of going into space.
  In fact, what I heard from General Brooks and from others in South 
Korea is that our intelligence needs and requirements in North Korea 
are only increasing. So why would we decrease competition? Why would we 
decrease access to space? Why would we increase costs when our security 
needs are growing?
  The Nelson-Gardner amendment assures that we have this access because 
we know if there is a 2\1/2\-year delay, not only does that prevent us 
from putting important assets into space, it will also drive up costs. 
The space-based infrared system, SBIRS, warning satellites designed for 
ballistic missile detection from anywhere in the world, particularly 
countries such as North Korea, would be delayed. The Mobile User 
Objective System and Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite 
systems that are designed to deliver vital communications capabilities 
to our armed services around the world would both be delayed.
  According to a letter dated the 23rd of May from the Deputy Secretary 
of Defense, ``losing/delaying the capability to place position and 
navigation, communication, missile warning, nuclear detection, 
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance satellites in orbit 
would be significant.''
  Challenges to our freedom around the globe in the Middle East, North 
Korea, along with what is happening in Southeast Asia and the 
radicalization occurring in certain countries mean we can't afford 
delay. We can't afford cost increases. It is not just the defense bill. 
It is not just the Secretary of the Air Force. It is these agencies 
that we have also talked about tonight, like NASA.
  The Nelson-Gardner amendment supports our civil space missions by 
ensuring access and allowing Federal Government agencies to contract 
any certified launch service provider because many of those missions 
that are critical to NASA's success outside of the DOD are designed to 
fly atop an Atlas V rocket. According to the Wall Street Journal, while 
the underlying NDAA language only directly impacts the Department of 
Defense, the result ``is likely to raise the price of remaining NASA 
missions because massive overhead costs would have to be spread across 
fewer launches.''
  That goes back to the conversation about buying one piece of 
equipment, not a separate combine to harvest corn, a separate combine 
to harvest wheat, a separate combine to pick up beans. Buy one combine 
with different attachments, and you can do it all. That is what we are 
trying to do to make sure that we have the capability in the equipment 
because if there is a NASA mission and they are placing a Dream Chaser 
on top of it, or if you are placing something to do with the Orion 
mission, which is designed to be on top of the Atlas V, you are going 
to drive up the costs. You have the costs being driven up by the rocket 
because there are higher costs being spread across fewer agencies. You 
have a higher cost because you have to redesign the Orion and the Dream 
Chaser to fit the new rocket. You are going to be delayed, possibly, 
because of those changes, and it is going to result in higher costs.
  So we have a responsibility to the American people in how we 
transition away from the RD-180 engine while ensuring reliability, 
access, and maintaining competition. It is by keeping the Atlas V.
  At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on March 10, NASA 
Administrator Bolden highlighted the need for the Atlas V by stating, 
``We are counting on ULA being able to get the number of engines that 
will satisfy requirements for NASA to fly.'' That is not a 
congressional staffer making it up in the back room of the mail office; 
that is the Administrator of NASA. He went on to talk about the 
mission's impact. He talked about the Dream Chaser, which was recently 
awarded a cargo resupply services contract. This isn't pie-in-the-sky 
kind of stuff; this is a company that has already been awarded a cargo 
resupply service contract to supply the International Space Station.

  The Dream Chaser was designed to fly atop the Atlas V rocket. The 
language in the NDAA would strip this ability to use that rocket. Our 
amendment, the Nelson-Gardner amendment, would allow us to use the 
commonsense approach, to use that plain sense that I talked about.
  Michael Griffen, former NASA Administrator, weighed in on the issue, 
stating:

       A carefully chosen committee led by Howard Mitchell, United 
     States Air Force, Retired, made two key recommendations in 
     the present matter: 1. Proceed with all deliberate speed to 
     develop an American replacement for the Russian RD-180 engine 
     [and we agree], and while that development is being carried 
     out, buy all the RD-180s we can to ensure that there is no 
     gap in U.S. access to space for national security payloads. I 
     see no reason to alter those recommendations.

  We are talking about a hard stop of 2022 so that we can replace the 
rocket with our own. But in the meantime, let's use some common sense. 
Let's make sure we are saving the taxpayer dollars. Let's make sure we 
are not putting an additional cost--pulling $1.5 billion out of our 
defense budget to cover something that we can already do, when their 
resources are already far too scare. Let's make sure we have a reliable 
platform to reach all of the orbits we need to, a platform that has had 
68 consecutive launches to achieve the mission needs. This is high-risk 
stuff. I mentioned as a kid growing up in the Eastern Plains of 
Colorado how fascinated I was with this rocket science.
  I believe this body has a responsibility to adopt the Nelson-Gardner 
amendment to assure that we can protect our people fiscally and from a 
defense standpoint. So later this week, as we debate and offer 
amendment 4509, I hope and encourage everyone to do what is fiscally 
responsible, to promote competition, to promote access and reliability 
from the DOD to NASA by adopting the Nelson-Gardner amendment.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

[[Page S3530]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rounds). The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about amendment No. 
4083, submitted by a dear friend and respected colleague of mine from 
New Hampshire whom I must in good faith disagree with. This amendment 
increases already existing mandatory minimum sentences on offenses 
related to fentanyl and would not make our communities safer. It would 
redirect funds away from the kinds of investments we need to truly end 
the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic.
  Today we face a deadly reality, a community-shattering reality--an 
opioid epidemic in America. I know what this epidemic is doing to our 
communities.
  In my home State of New Jersey, the heroin death rate is more than 
three times the national average. The heroin overdose rate in New 
Jersey now eclipses that of homicides, suicides, car accidents, and 
AIDS as a leading cause of death. Over the past 10 years, we have lost 
over 1,500 people under the age of 30 to heroin overdoses in New Jersey 
alone.
  I know that nationally death rates from prescription opioid overdoses 
have tripled in the last 20 years. I know that the opioid epidemic 
knows no bounds. It crosses geographic lines, economic lines, and 
racial lines. This is an epidemic that is tearing apart families, 
individuals, and communities.
  This is an American epidemic, but this amendment is not part of the 
solution.
  First of all, mandatory minimums themselves have proven to be 
ineffective in making us a safer Nation and stopping the drug war.
  Secondly, this amendment and ones like it will divert critical 
resources that could be, that should be, that must be invested in real 
solutions, in supporting preventive and education efforts, in 
supporting law enforcement, in supporting treatment programs.
  We have seen a rush like this toward mandatory minimums before. In 
the 1980s and 1990s, we piled on mandatory minimum sentences and 
``three strikes and you're out'' laws in response to the growing drug 
problem in the United States, but these laws did not prevent this 
epidemic. It didn't work then, and there is no reason to expect it to 
work now.
  What did the war on drugs do? Well, it increased our Federal prison 
population by 800 percent since 1980 alone.
  The laws ended up increasing the costs in our Federal prison system 
from $970 million annually in 1980 to $6.7 billion in 2013, a close to 
600-percent increase in the use of taxpayer dollars.
  According to Pew, the Federal prison system uses $1 in $4 spent by 
the Department of Justice. This is unacceptable.
  In fact, in my first meeting with then-Attorney General Eric Holder 
in his office after I was elected Senator, he shared with me how the 
Bureau of Prisons budget had become so bloated that he had limited 
resources to put toward other Department of Justice programs--
initiatives such as hiring FBI officers and support for programs that 
we actually know will make our communities safer.
  What is more, these laws did not work. They didn't target those whom 
they were supposed to target. Mandatory minimum sentences weren't 
responsible for reducing crime. The work of law enforcement and the 
utilization of data-driven policies are what have done that. A report 
from the Brennan Center found that ``increased incarceration has been 
declining in its effectiveness as a crime control tactic for 30 years. 
Its effect on crime rates since 1990 has been limited, and has been 
non-existent since 2000.''
  Experts have found that mandatory minimum sentences have no 
demonstrable marginal effect on deterring crime, and it is also the 
reason why police leadership across the country are speaking out 
against increasing these mandatory minimums. Former New York Police 
Commissioner Bernie Kerik spoke out earlier this year to say: ``The 
reality is that the federal mandatory minimum sentences established in 
the early 1980's has had little, if anything, to do with the various 
state and city violent crime and murder statistics in America.''
  I know this. I ran a police department as a mayor and oversaw the 
functioning of an incredible group of professionals. Had we had more 
resources from the Federal Government--instead of going to mandatory 
minimums--to actually hire more police officers, to put more of them in 
the streets, had we had more resources for drug treatment, had we had 
more resources for doing things such as reentry programs, we could have 
better fought crime, rather than wasting more money on ineffective 
mandatory minimum sentences.
  Since 1990, as the onslaught of these mandatory minimums have come, 
illegal drug use in the U.S. has actually increased.
  To pay for the overincarceration explosion, Congress has increased 
spending on Federal prisons by 45 percent since 1998. But over that 
same period, Congress has cut spending on State and local law 
enforcement by 76 percent. In fiscal year 2015, the Federal Government 
spent over $2.3 billion warehousing people who received lengthened 
mandatory minimums, and that is money that could be invested elsewhere.
  Mandatory minimums, if we remember our history, were created to go 
after drug kingpins. However, the U.S. Sentencing Commission has found 
that they too often apply to every function within a drug organization, 
from mules and couriers to low-level street offenders. By the way, when 
low-level offenders are arrested and given these mandatory minimum 
sentences, they are simply replaced by other low-level dealers. The 
strategy does not work in making us safer, but it is costing us so much 
money.
  This is contrary to the original vision of mandatory minimums. They 
were created to go after serious drug traffickers and kingpins. The 
U.S. Sentencing Commission found that mandatory minimums are often 
applied too broadly, set too high, and--what is worse--that they are 
unevenly applied. In other words, people who can afford lawyers, people 
who have resources and means, can fight against those laws, and people 
who cannot afford the best defense often are the ones who get mandatory 
minimums.
  Who is going to get mandatory minimums? People on college campuses, 
such as the one I attended, or people in the city I now call home.
  Understand this: The amendment that is being proposed reflects the 
old strategies that haven't won the war on drugs but, in many cases, 
have actually made things worse, especially by diverting so much money 
into our prison system and away from strategies in our communities, 
such as treatment and law enforcement, which we know work.
  What have these laws done? They have caused an 800-percent increase 
in our Federal prison population over the last 30 years. What have 
these laws done? They have imprisoned too many nonviolent Americans for 
decades for nonviolent, low-level drug crimes.
  What have these laws done? They have imprisoned people such as 
Sherman Chester, who with two prior nonviolent drug arrests was 
convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a third nonviolent drug 
crime. At his sentencing, Mr. Chester's judge said: ``This man doesn't 
deserve a life sentence, and there is no way that I can legally keep 
from giving it to him.''
  What have these laws done? They have imprisoned mothers such as Alice 
Johnson, who, after losing her job and filing for bankruptcy, began to 
associate with people involved in drug dealing. She was arrested for 
her participation in transporting drugs as a go-between. When 10 of her 
coconspirators testified against her for reduced charges, she was 
sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years for that 
nonviolent drug crime.
  What have these laws done? They have imprisoned people like Dicky 
Jackson, a father who was so desperate to save his 2-year-old child who 
needed a bone marrow transplant that, after exhausting his options--
including community fundraisers--he began transporting meth in his 
truck. A year into his work, he was arrested for selling a half pound 
of meth to an undercover officer. He was found guilty of possession

[[Page S3531]]

with intent to distribute and was given three life sentences without 
parole.
  The Federal prosecutor assigned to Mr. Jackson's case remarked: ``I 
saw no indication that Mr. Jackson was violent, that he was any sort of 
large-scale narcotics trafficker, or that he committed his crimes for 
any reason other than to get money to care for his gravely ill child.''
  What these laws have done is make sure that these nonviolent 
offenders and too many more like them will die in prison for their 
crimes--taking money from our communities and imprisoning people into 
their fifties, sixties, and seventies for nonviolent crimes. They are 
redirecting taxpayer dollars from strategies in our neighborhoods, in 
our cities, and in communities that we know work and will actually get 
to the problem of drug abuse. Our system hasn't empowered people. It 
hasn't empowered them to deal with addictions. It hasn't empowered them 
to deal with mental health challenges. Our system, as it stands, hasn't 
empowered us to do the things we know make us safer.
  This has been punishment without proportionality, retribution without 
reason, and a gross taxpayer expense that takes away money that could 
be invested in public safety and our community well-being.
  If the failed war on drugs, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, and the 
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1984 have taught us 
anything, it is that locking more people up for longer and longer 
sentences for low-level drug crimes at the expense of billions and 
billions of taxpayer dollars does not curb drug use and abuse. These 
laws didn't work then. Why are we proposing new ones now?
  There is a different way. More mandatory minimum sentences won't 
impact the fentanyl opioid problem. The mandatory minimums being 
proposed for low-level drug offense are not going to accomplish what 
the amendment supporters hope it will. It is a facade that makes people 
feel like they are doing something about the problem, but they are not 
making a difference.
  What they will do is throw more taxpayer dollars at our Bureau of 
Prisons, expanding that bureaucracy and draining money--taxpayers' 
money--from solutions that we know will work.
  What is stunning to me, what is actually deeply frustrating to me is 
that we have two pieces of bipartisan legislation, one that has passed 
without enough funding and one that has yet to be brought up for a vote 
that would address this epidemic and the broken criminal justice 
system.
  Instead of turning to bipartisan legislation that is going through 
regular order and investing in strategies that this body, in a 
bipartisan fashion, has agreed with near unanimity would work, we are 
now considering an amendment that would spend more money on imprisoning 
low-level offenders for longer and longer sentences.
  Earlier this year, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and 
Recovery Act of 2015, also known as CARA. It is a bipartisan bill that 
would allow the Attorney General to award grants to address the opioid 
epidemic and expand prevention and education efforts.
  I was pleased to cosponsor that bill, but unfortunately the amendment 
that would have provided funding for the programs and grants in this 
bill failed to pass. The bill that went forward had the right 
intentions, but an unwillingness in this body to provide robust funding 
means that it simply won't address the epidemic adequately. That is 
what is frustrating to me. The Members of this body who refused to 
increase funding for preventive and treatment measures through CARA now 
want to divert taxpayer resources towards putting people in jail for 
longer and longer sentences for low-level, nonviolent crimes. That 
makes no sense--to spend millions of more dollars to lock up low-level 
offenders and starve the programs that local leaders all over this 
country are asking for, such as treatment, education, and local law 
enforcement.
  If properly funded, CARA would expand prevention initiatives, would 
expand education efforts, and would curb abuse and addiction, hitting 
our Nation's problem at its heart--at its demand--and helping addicts 
with what they need--treatment, not more jail. It would expand the 
availability of naloxone to law enforcement. It would increase 
resources to identify and treat incarcerated Americans suffering from 
drug addiction. It would increase disposal sites for unwanted 
prescription medications and would promote best practices for evidence-
based opioid and heroin treatment and prevention all over our country.
  This bipartisan bill had wisdom in it. It was sensible, commonsense, 
and based on evidence-based strategies.
  But now, here we are, not talking about investing in what we know 
will work but suggesting that we do things that have proven over the 
last two decades not only not to work but to drain taxpayer dollars and 
to do more harm. We are considering an amendment that would use 
taxpayer resources not to do the things I just listed that are 
underfunded right now but would spend money on incarcerating low-level 
drug offenders because of unwise increases of mandatory minimum 
sentences.
  The fact is the opioid epidemic is not a problem we can jail our way 
out of. We already have mandatory minimum sentences in place for heroin 
and fentanyl offenses, and they haven't done what they were created to 
do--to prevent an epidemic such as this from occurring. What this 
amendment does is to double down on that failing strategy.
  In fact, for over a year, Senate Judiciary Committee members on both 
sides of the aisle have worked on crafting a bill, the Sentencing 
Reform and Corrections Act, which would take meaningful steps toward 
undoing so much of the damage these failed policies have caused over 
the past decades. That bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, 
which worked through regular order and would reduce mandatory minimum 
penalties and give judges more discretion at sentencing, has been 
pending on the Senate floor for over 7 months now without Senate 
action.
  The bill followed regular order. It moved through a hearing and a 
markup. It took in testimony from dozens of experts and organizations. 
It was adjusted and amended with input from law enforcement officers, 
attorneys general, prosecutors, civil rights leaders, and local elected 
leaders. It passed out of the committee. It was then, because of input 
from other Republican Senators, changed again and modified. Now, this 
baked bill is fully ready for a vote on the floor. If given that vote, 
it would most likely get a super majority in this body.
  But today, instead of moving forward on that bipartisan, compromise 
piece of legislation--which would start to fix the failed drug policies 
of the 1980s and 1990s, which would save us money, which would help us 
right past wrongs, which would create resources through its savings 
that could be used for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act--we 
are now considering an amendment that would actually build on the 
mistakes of the past and divert money from the solutions we know work 
today.
  So again I say that I am frustrated, I am angry, and I am beginning 
to grow disheartened by the current state of affairs. The amendment 
being proposed and its potential consequences are what a growing 
consensus in the Senate from both sides of the aisle and especially 
thoughtful leaders around the country from all sides of the political 
spectrum--this is exactly what we have been fighting against. My 
frustration is that instead of looking to take a step forward with the 
current bipartisan legislation, we are looking to take a step back into 
the mistakes of the 1980s and 1990s. Instead of learning from the 
mistakes of the past, we are damning ourselves to make them again.
  Since arriving in the Senate 2\1/2\ years ago, I have been encouraged 
by the momentum building around this comprehensive criminal justice 
reform legislation. I felt encouraged that hope has been dawning. It 
has been one of my more affirming experiences as a public leader. 
During the 2\1/2\ years I have been in the Senate, many of my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been negotiating over this 
issue in good faith, and actually for a time even before I was here 
they were working hard on criminal justice reform.
  This comprehensive criminal justice reform bill would address so many 
of the issues that have been agreed to on both sides of the aisle. It 
would address a system that does not make our communities safer but 
instead wastes the

[[Page S3532]]

potential of millions of Americans and drains billions, trillions of 
taxpayer resources over time.
  What we have in the Senate is amazing. It has been incredible to see. 
We have Senators as different from each other on the political pole as 
Senator Leahy and Senator Grassley, with other Democrats and 
Republicans, from the most liberal to the most conservative in this 
body, coming together to craft a measured bill that would begin to fix 
our deeply broken criminal justice system. This result, the Sentencing 
Reform and Corrections Act, would enable prosecutors and judges to 
maintain critical tools for prosecuting violent offenders and high-
level drug traffickers while reducing mandatory minimums and life-
without-parole sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
  In addition, the bill actually includes a provision related to 
fentanyl--not one that I necessarily believe in or believe is most 
effective, but it was included in the bill as a compromise measure.
  This critical piece of legislation has the support of dozens of civil 
rights groups and faith groups, Christian evangelicals and law 
enforcement and prosecutor groups, including well-respected 
organizations such as the Major County Sheriffs' Association, the 
International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National 
District Attorneys Association. From law enforcement to faith-based 
leaders, civil rights activists, and fiscal conservative organizations, 
so many have come together and are being led in many cases by law 
enforcement officials because they know this bill is actually smart 
public safety policy. This bill has the support of law enforcement 
leaders, including former President George Bush's U.S. Attorney 
General, Michael Mukasey; former FBI Director Louie Freeh; and the U.S. 
Department of Justice.
  In a letter to Senate leadership, former U.S. Attorney Michael 
Mukasey, with former Director Bill Sessions and dozens of former 
Federal judges and U.S. attorneys, shared what they believe the 
Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act can do. They said it ``is good 
for Federal law enforcement and public safety. It will more effectively 
ensure that justice shall be done.''
  Groups like Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and 
Incarceration, which represent more than 160 current and former police 
chiefs, U.S. attorneys, and district attorneys, have spoken out in 
support of this bill, arguing:

       This is a unique moment of rare bipartisan consensus on the 
     urgent need for criminal justice reform. As law enforcement 
     leaders, we want to make it clear where we stand: Not only is 
     passing Federal mandatory minimum reform necessary to reduce 
     incarceration, it is also necessary to help law enforcement 
     continue to keep crime at historic lows across the country. 
     We urge Congress to pass the Sentencing Reform and 
     Corrections Act.

  Contrary to what the few opponents argue, this act would preserve 
certain mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. It would also 
more effectively target these mandatory minimums toward high-level drug 
traffickers and violent criminals. Federal drug laws were meant to go 
after these kingpins, and this legislation leaves important tools in 
place that allow prosecutors to go after them.
  Also, contrary to what the few opponents of this bill argue, the bill 
would not open the floodgates and permit violent offenders to be let 
out of prison early; rather, each case must go in front of a Federal 
judge, where the prosecutor will be present, for that independent 
judicial review.
  Experts from the National Academy of Sciences to the National 
Research Council have found that lengthy prison sentences have a 
minimal impact on crime prevention.
  The profound thing about this bill is that it is not breaking new 
ground. This is now becoming common knowledge around the States. In 
fact, it is being followed and led by many red States in our Nation. In 
fact, States have shown that we can reduce the prison population, save 
taxpayers millions and billions of dollars, and also reduce crime. 
Texas, for instance, between 2007 and 2012, reduced its incarceration 
rate by 9 percent and saw its total crime drop by 16 percent. If 
Texas--a State known for law and order and being tough on crime--can 
enact sweeping measures to reform its criminal justice system, so can 
we at the Federal level. That is why I am proud that one of the 
sponsors of the bill is the Republican Whip from Texas, Senator Cornyn.
  But there are other States--California, Connecticut, Delaware, 
Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Massachusetts, North Carolina, 
South Carolina, Utah, and New Jersey. All these States have lowered 
their prison populations through commonsense reforms and--surprise, 
surprise--have seen crime drop. These States have enacted reforms 
because it is good for public safety and it saves needed taxpayer 
dollars that can be reinvested in public safety strategies that 
actually make us safer. Remember, these are Republican-led States and 
Democratic-led States, Governors from the right and the left.
  There is a great conservative organization called Right on Crime. 
This is what they had to say about public safety and criminal justice 
reform:

       Taxpayers know that public safety is the core function of 
     government, and they are willing to pay what it takes to keep 
     communities safe. In return for their tax dollars, citizens 
     are entitled to a system that works. When governments spend 
     money inefficiently and do not obtain crime reductions 
     commensurate with the amount of money being spent, they do 
     taxpayers a grave disservice.

  It is worth repeating that line: ``Citizens are entitled to a system 
that works.''
  You see, this is not a partisan issue; it is an American issue. There 
is a chorus calling for reform across the political spectrum. Everyone 
from Republican candidates for President to conservative groups, such 
as Koch Industries and Americans for Tax Reform, have come out in 
support of criminal justice reform and this bill. That is why some 
Republicans like Grover Norquist and George Martin have written:

       Some Republicans who have not focused on our successes in 
     the states think we are still living back in the 1980s and 
     also believe that ``lock them up'' is a smart political war 
     cry. . . . Wasting money is not a way to demonstrate how much 
     you care about an issue.

  That is why people like Marc Levin, the founder of Right on Crime, 
have shared that ``the recent successes of many states in reducing 
crime, imprisonment, and costs through reforms grounded in research and 
conservative principles provide a blueprint for reform--at the Federal 
level.''
  Former Governor Mike Huckabee said:

       I believe in law and order. I also believe in using facts, 
     rather than fear, when creating policy. And, I believe in 
     fiscal responsibility. Right now, our criminal justice system 
     is failing us in all three camps.

  Republicans and Democrats from across the political spectrum have 
come together because they realize our failures to fix this system have 
simply cost us too much already. Everyone knows that the first rule of 
holes is that when you find yourself in one, stop digging. That is why 
this amendment is so frustrating--because it seeks to dig us deeper 
into a hole. Look at the financial costs we are already paying. In 
2012, the average American taxpayer was contributing hundreds of 
dollars a year to corrections expenditures, including the incarceration 
and monitoring and rehabilitation of prisoners.
  A report from the Center of Economic Policy Research concluded that 
in 2008 alone, formerly incarcerated people's employment losses--
keeping people in for decades and decades--cost our economy the 
equivalent of 1.5 to 1.7 million workers or $57 billion to $65 billion 
annually. And it is estimated that the U.S. poverty rate between 1980 
and 2004 would have been 20 percent lower if it had not been for all 
this mass incarceration. This is a lot of money we are spending keeping 
people behind bars--nonviolent offenders--and it is taking a 
significant financial toll in our country. We could be investing this 
money better.
  By passing this bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, the 
CBO told us that this one bill alone that takes modest steps toward 
criminal justice reform will save an estimated $318 million in reduced 
prison costs over the next 5 years and $722 million over the next 10 
years. Doing the right thing creates savings that we can then invest in 
strategies to make ourselves safer or give back to the taxpayers.

[[Page S3533]]

  Please understand that we have paid dearly for our mistakes. For 
example, from 1990 to 2005, a new prison opened every 10 days in the 
United States, making us the global leader in this infrastructure 
investment. A new prison opened every 10 days in the United States to 
keep up with the massive explosion in incarcerations. Imagine the roads 
and bridges and railways we could have been investing in during that 
time. As our infrastructure has been crumbling over the last three 
decades, the one area of infrastructure that has been ballooning was 
gleaming new prisons to actually incarcerate overwhelmingly nonviolent 
offenders. Imagine the investments we could have made in lifesaving 
research, innovative technologies, science and math funding. Instead, 
we extended mandatory minimums again and again and again for low-level 
drug offenders.
  The United States must be the leader around the globe for liberty and 
justice. Unfortunately, the United States now leads the world in a 
vastly more dubious distinction: the number of people we incarcerate. 
We only have 5 percent of the world population--only 5 percent--but one 
out of four imprisoned people on planet Earth is here in the United 
States. Again, the majority of those people are nonviolent offenders. 
The U.S. incarceration rate is 5 to 10 times that of many of our peer 
countries.
  The financial cost, the dollars wasted, are only part of the story, 
though. We are actually paying for our system's failures in innumerable 
ways. The hidden financial costs of our broken prison system mirror the 
hidden social costs that befall families of those incarcerated, with 1 
in 28 American children--or 3.6 percent of American kids--growing up 
with a parent behind bars. Just 25 years ago, it was 1 in 125 American 
children. I recently saw that ``Sesame Street'' has started programming 
specifically aimed at helping kids with parents in prison because there 
are now so many of them. Over half of imprisoned parents were the 
primary earners for their children prior to their incarceration. What 
is more, a child with an incarcerated father is more likely to be 
suspended from school than a peer without an incarcerated father--23 
percent compared to 4 percent.

  Our rush to incarcerate as a response to many of our societal 
problems has now created a stunning distinction. According to a new 
report from the Center for American Progress, close to half of all 
children in America are growing up with a parent with a criminal 
record.
  Our system often entraps the most vulnerable Americans. We are 
entrapping people who often are in need of incarceration but treatment 
and medical help, putting those vulnerable populations in jail for 
longer and longer periods. In fact, now many of our prisons serve as 
warehouses for the mentally ill. Serious mental illness affects an 
estimated 14.5 percent of men and 31 percent of all the women in our 
jails. Between 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will be 
jailed or incarcerated at some point in their lives, and 65 percent of 
all American inmates meet the medical criteria for the disease of 
addiction, many of them not getting the treatment they need but just 
getting more incarceration.
  Today we live in a country where in many ways the words of Bryan 
Stevenson are also true. This idea of equal justice under the law is 
challenged by the facts of our criminal justice system. As Bryan 
Stevenson said, we live in a nation where you get treated better if you 
are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent. Over 80 percent 
of Americans who are charged with felonies are poor and deemed indigent 
by our court system.
  Our criminal justice system doesn't disproportionately affect just 
the mentally ill, the addicted, and the poor; it also 
disproportionately impacts people of color. We know that there is no 
deeper proclivity to commit drug crimes among people of color, but 
there is a much deeper reality that the drug laws affect people of 
color in a different way. For example, Blacks and Whites have no 
difference in using or selling drugs. There is no statistical 
difference. In fact, right now in America, some studies are showing 
that young White men have a slightly higher rate of dealing drugs than 
young Black men. But Blacks are 3.6 times more likely to get arrested 
for selling drugs. Latinos are 28 percent more likely than Whites to 
receive a mandatory minimum penalty for Federal offenses punished by 
such penalties. A 2011 report found that more than any other group, 
Latinos in America were convicted at a higher rate of offenses that 
carried a mandatory minimum sentence. And Blacks are also 21 percent 
more likely to receive a mandatory minimum sentence than Whites facing 
similar charges. Black men are given sentences about 20 percent longer 
than White men for similar crimes. And Native Americans are grossly 
overrepresented in our criminal justice system, with an incarceration 
rate 38 percent higher than the national average.
  Because minorities are more likely to be arrested for drug crimes 
even though the rates are not different in usage of drugs or selling of 
drugs, they are more--disproportionately--likely, therefore, to lose 
their voting rights, thus resulting in stunning statistics. Today, 1 in 
13 Black Americans is prevented from voting because of felony 
disenfranchisement. Black citizens are four times more likely to have 
their voting rights revoked than someone who is White.
  Those are statistics befitting a different era in American history, 
but unfortunately they reflect our current circumstances.
  So here we find ourselves. I have been talking about this issue for 
my entire time in the Senate. Many of my colleagues have been working 
on this issue longer. I have been so encouraged that literally my first 
policy conversation on the Senate floor right after being sworn in 
right there by the Vice President of the United States--I walked back 
toward the back of the room and was met by colleagues who talked to me 
about this issue. I am so glad there is this growing consensus, but I 
am frustrated that an amendment is potentially coming to the floor that 
takes us backward while so much work has gone on to move this body 
ahead.
  I have come to believe in this body. I worked hard to become a Member 
of the Senate because I believe in the Senate and the power of this 
institution to do great things. In fact, it is the result of the great 
good of this body and the labor and struggles of so many Americans that 
I am even here in the first place, so many Americans fighting for 
issues that this body helped to change. From equal housing rights, to 
voting rights, to civil rights, this body has made us a fairer and more 
just Nation. This body has made our country the shining light on planet 
Earth for liberty and justice. This body, with so many committed 
Americans through so many generations, has so much to be proud of.
  I am so encouraged by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, that 
despite the partisanship and cynicism this body often generates, we 
have found common ground to advance the common good around our criminal 
justice system. We have a crisis in that system, but I am proud there 
is movement to address that.
  I urge my colleagues to consider the profound potential we have to 
advance our Nation, to deal with the opioid crisis, the drug crisis, 
and the crime crisis with smart and effective policies that have proven 
to work already at the State level.
  I urge my colleagues to resist the seductive temptation to claim to 
be tough on crime when in reality we are just wasting taxpayer dollars 
on a failed fiction that obscures the true urgency of the day.
  Finally, I urge the leadership of this body to not let this amendment 
reflecting failed policy of the past to the floor and instead move to 
bring forward a bipartisan, widely supported bill that will address the 
current crisis. We can no longer hesitate or equivocate, and we can 
definitely not afford to retreat. Wasting more time is not the answer. 
The time is now, and, I confess, I am losing patience.
  While I am encouraged by leaders like the chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee and the ranking member of that committee, while I am 
encouraged by the fact that the majority whip and the Democratic Whip 
are on this bill, while I am encouraged by the fact that likely a 
supermajority of support exists for this bill, I am growing impatient 
that it has not come to a vote yet. There is nothing as painful as a

[[Page S3534]]

blockage at the heart of justice, blocking the flow of reason, of 
commonsense, fairness, and urgently needed progress.
  But the pain and frustration I might feel is minimal compared to 
those who are suffering under the brunt of a broken system. We cannot 
be deaf to the cries for justice of families and children, those 
suffering addictions, those suffering from mental illness, and those 
whose families have been torn apart by such misfortunes. We cannot be 
mute or silent in the face of injustice, those of us who are elected to 
serve all Americans.
  At the beginning of each day, we swear an oath in this body. We 
pledge allegiance to those ideals of liberty and justice. Let us now 
act so we do not betray the moral standing of our Nation.
  I urge the Senate leadership to bring the Sentencing Reform and 
Corrections Act for a vote. The time is right now to do what is right 
now.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.


                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send a cloture motion to the desk for 
the Reed amendment No. 4549.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       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 Reed 
     amendment No. 4549 to the McCain amendment No. 4229 to S. 
     2943, the National Defense Authorization Act.
         Harry Reid, Jack Reed, Richard J. Durbin, Michael F. 
           Bennet, Charles E. Schumer, Patty Murray, Richard 
           Blumenthal, Jeff Merkley, Jeanne Shaheen, Al Franken, 
           Gary C. Peters, Bill Nelson, Barbara Boxer, Robert 
           Menendez, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Barbara A. 
           Mikulski.


                             Cloture Motion

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send a cloture motion to the desk for 
the McCain amendment No. 4229.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under 
rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       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 McCain 
     amendment No. 4229 to S. 2943, an act to authorize 
     appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for military activities 
     of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and 
     for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to 
     prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, 
     and for other purposes.
         John McCain, John Cornyn, Marco Rubio, Roger F. Wicker, 
           Richard Burr, James M. Inhofe, Pat Roberts, Tom Cotton, 
           Thom Tillis, Roy Blunt, Shelley Moore Capito, Dan 
           Sullivan, Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, David Vitter, 
           Mitch McConnell.

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
mandatory quorum calls with respect to the cloture motions be waived.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                          ____________________