[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 44 (Tuesday, March 13, 2018)]
[Pages S1656-S1684]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Mr. HELLER. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to express my 
strong support for the legislation we are debating, which will restore 
economic opportunity, create jobs, help businesses grow, and help every 
Nevadan as they work to achieve the American dream.
  As a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban 
Affairs, I can tell you that this legislation is years in the making, 
and I wish to thank the chairman of the committee, Senator Crapo, and 
my fellow colleagues who are on the committee for their efforts to get 
us where we are today.
  For years the economy had been growing slowly after the great 
recession. It was like a truck with a bad transmission. It was moving, 
but it wasn't going anywhere fast. Today everything has changed. The 
American economy has been primed, the engine has been started, and 
through the work of the Senate and President Trump, the gas pedal has 
been hit, and our economy is finally going full speed ahead.
  Just a few month ago, we passed historic tax cuts for Nevada families 
and for Nevada businesses. A typical Nevada family of four will roughly 
get a $2,200 tax cut. We lowered the individual rates across the board 
and doubled the standard deduction used by most Nevadans, allowing them 
to keep more of their paycheck. This bill also included my efforts to 
double the child tax credit, from $1,000 to $2,000, further easing the 
tax burden on working families.
  Overall, these tax cuts accomplish my three major goals of creating 
more jobs, increasing wages, and making America more competitive around 
the world. I am proud to have worked on these tax cuts, but Congress 
can do more. That is why we are here today.
  The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act 
we are debating is the next major step that we must take to shift our 
economy into another gear. This bipartisan bill tailors financial 
regulations to protect consumers and help Nevadans have more access to 
financial resources and more access to economic opportunities. It will 
give Nevadans more choices when it comes to finding a loan to buy a 
house, to buy a car to get to work, to start a business, and, for that 
matter, to grow their business. Finally, this bill helps to ensure that 
local lenders can grow their services for every community in Nevada.
  This is the oil in the economic engine. It keeps not only cities like 
Las Vegas, Henderson, and Reno running but all communities in Nevada, 
such as Mesquite, Pahrump, Carson City,

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Fallon, Elko, and Ely. This bill includes many bipartisan proposals 
that I fought for. I am pleased that the legislation I offered with 
Senator Menendez to ease workforce mobility for mortgage loan officers 
who wish to move to Nevada or to change jobs is included in the base 
  In committee I offered an amendment that was based off of legislation 
I worked on with Senator Warner that would require the regulators for 
credit unions to publish their annual budgets and to hold a public 
hearing on that budget. It would increase public transparency and 
ensure that Nevada credit union members have a voice in Washington, DC.
  Working with my friend Senator Tester, we were able to include 
language to increase congressional oversight of the Federal Reserve and 
the Treasury Department in order to ensure that our best interests are 
represented at international insurance discussions on capital 
  I was also pleased that language authored by Senators Perdue, Tester, 
Donnelly, and myself was incorporated to require consumer credit 
bureaus to provide free and timely security credit freezes to all 
consumers. It also requires credit bureaus to provide consumers a 
notice at any time of their consumer rights and for the credit bureaus 
to tell consumers on their websites that they have a right to request a 
security freeze, fraud alert, and an Active-Duty military fraud alert.
  Additionally, this bill includes the Community Lender Exam Act that I 
co-led with Senator Donnelly, which would allow more highly rated 
community lenders to be examined every 18 months instead of 12 months. 
This will help safe and sound local lenders to direct more of their 
time and capital to Nevada communities and ensure the same level of 
regulatory supervision.
  With this bill we are seeing something rare in Washington, DC--
Democrats and Republicans working together to help Americans have more 
economic opportunities. Let me say that again. This bill will help 
Americans have more economic opportunities. That is why I am here in 
the Senate--to give every Nevadan the opportunity to live the fullest 
life and to achieve their goals. I look forward to voting to support 
this legislation, and I would encourage all of my colleagues to do the 
  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.
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. HEITKAMP. Mr. President, I am here to discuss the merits of S. 
2155, a bill that I have been working on since coming to the Senate in 
2013. It is a bill that addresses the concerns of rural financial 
institutions, particularly those in our rural communities. It is a bill 
that was drafted to address access to capital concerns and the 
consolidation of small banks in areas where I live, which is in the 
State of North Dakota. It is a bill that I am incredibly proud of. I 
know that there have been a lot of statements made about this bill in 
the last week, and I am here to set a lot of those straight.
  Before I start, I wish to talk about what it is like in rural 
communities where I grew up. I find it interesting when I hear that 
this bill is about Wall Street banks and big bank bailouts. The last 
time I checked, Lincoln State Bank, which is my small community bank in 
the community where I went to high school, in Hankinson, ND, is not on 
the Fortune 500. It is not on the Fortune 100. It is a small community 
bank that has been operating and has been available to consumers in my 
community to help them achieve their family goals, achieve their 
farming goals, and achieve their needs for capital going forward.

  I don't recognize the bill that is being debated here in the U.S. 
Senate because it is not the bill that has been written, and it is not 
the bill that is hopefully going to pass the Senate. I don't think that 
it is any mistake, when you look at the five primary sponsors of this 
bill--the five of us who wrote this bill--that most of us are from 
predominantly rural States. I think we understand the needs of those 
living in our States and the needs of those living in our rural 
  When you look at an opportunity to fix regulation and to respond to 
concerns that people have, one of the constant arguments that I get 
when I go home is this: There is no longer any common sense in 
Washington, DC. They don't understand where we live. They don't 
understand who we are. They don't understand that we live in 
communities and that we support and protect each other. Instead, they 
write one regulation that is supposed to be one-size-fits-all.
  That is certainly not what this is. This is an attempt to write a 
bill that would give direction to the Federal regulators so that small 
banks could be treated as small banks and so that large banks could 
continue to be regulated and treated as the large, systemically 
significant institutions that they are.
  I will give just a few statistics that I think everybody should 
  Thirty years ago, there were approximately 14,000 banks in the United 
States. Today, there are approximately 5,000. Since the passage of 
Dodd-Frank, the United States has lost about 14 percent of its smallest 
banks. Meanwhile, the small banks' share of U.S. domestic deposits and 
banking assets has decreased, and the five largest U.S. banks, which 
don't benefit from our bill, appear to have absorbed much of this 
market share.
  What I have said consistently is that Dodd-Frank was supposed to have 
stopped too big to fail, but the net result has been too small to 
succeed. The big banks have gotten bigger since the passage of Dodd-
Frank, and the small banks have disappeared. They have retreated from 
their traditional role of relationship lending, first out of fear for 
regulation in that they might be doing something wrong and then out of 
fear of the cost of regulation if they are going to work towards 
  I will make one simple point. This bill was not written by Wall 
Street bankers, and it was not written by Wall Street lobbyists. If it 
had been, it would have been a completely different bill in that it 
would actually provide relief to Wall Street banks and Wall Street 
bankers, but it does exactly the opposite. It will give relief to those 
institutions, whether they be regional banks or small community banks, 
that can be effective competition for the largest institutions in this 
  It is absolutely essential that we set the record straight that this 
bill is to get our relationship institutions--whether they be credit 
unions or banks or our regional institutions that are not doing 
anything more sophisticated than the work that is being done in our 
small community banks--the regulatory relief that they need to 
effectively compete against the biggest banks in this country and to 
tailor our regulations, to set our regulations, in a way that reflects 
the common sense of American citizens.
  I will take a minute because I think a lot of things that have been 
said about this bill have been incredibly reckless. These inaccurate 
claims, if left unchallenged and undiscussed, will create the 
legislative history of this bill, which could, in fact, then be used by 
many of the same institutions that we believe are not affected by this 
bill to argue that they are entitled to some sort of protection. We 
can't let that happen.
  First, let me start by saying this is not a giveaway to Wall Street. 
It is not a giveaway to the largest institutions. Our bipartisan bill 
makes targeted, commonsense fixes so as to provide tangible relief to 
community banks and credit unions so that they can lend to borrowers in 
rural America and support rural communities. It leaves in place rules 
and regulations that hold Wall Street accountable. In fact, the big 
banks aren't necessarily happy with this bill because it doesn't 
benefit them much.
  When we asked the current regulators, such as Fed Reserve Chairman 
Jerome Powell--he basically said that he believes the bill gives the 
regulators the tools they need to continue to protect and prevent 
against financial collapse.
  Let me say how the bill doesn't help the largest institutions.
  It will not make any significant changes to the regulations that face 
the largest Wall Street banks. They

[[Page S1658]]

will continue to be reined in from causing havoc to the financial 
system like they did during the financial crisis. It will not make any 
structural changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It will 
be allowed to continue to protect consumers. It will do nothing to 
weaken or repeal the Volcker rule. The only institutions that will be 
given any relief from the Volcker rule will be those banks that have 
under $10 billion in assets. That is not JPMorgan; that is not 
Citibank; that is not Goldman Sachs; that is not the largest of 
institutions. Those institutions of $10 billion or less are the only 
institutions that will get relief from the Volcker rule. It also does 
not change the way the Federal Reserve regulates foreign banks.
  Second, this bill will not lead to another mortgage lending crisis.
  Let's just go back and examine what happened in 2008. We had a 
significant number of liar loans--subprime lending--which drove the 
mortgage market. That was troublesome and problematic in and of itself, 
but the real problem came when those mortgages were securitized and 
sold into the secondary market. That is where the trouble began. It was 
trouble enough that they were putting institutions in jeopardy, but 
they were passing along that risk to the public through these 
securitized products--derivatives. Guess what. When the whole thing 
collapsed, we looked behind, and we saw these risky mortgage loans. We 
saw what actually created some of the problems on the front end before 
it was securitized.

  Nothing in this bill changes qualified mortgage standards. Nothing in 
this bill removes the protections that Dodd-Frank has provided to the 
secondary market. The only thing this bill does as it relates to 
mortgages is to say to those small institutions, which are the small 
community banks that I am familiar with, that they can make mortgages 
without worrying about the qualified mortgage standards. They can go 
ahead and do that. The one thing they can't do is sell those mortgages 
into the secondary market. They have to keep those mortgages on the 
  When you have a requirement that they keep them on the books, do you 
really, honestly believe that these institutions are going to take 
unnecessary risks? The answer is no. Guess what. They didn't take 
unnecessary risks before 2008. They did not cause this problem, but 
they are incurring the bulk of the expenses to fix this problem.
  To suggest that we are, in fact, risking the financial security of 
this country--of our institutions--because we gave a small, discrete 
break on mortgages to the smallest of institutions, which have to keep 
these mortgages in portfolio, is absurd. If you don't believe me, let's 
look at what Congressman Barney Frank, one of the architects of Dodd-
Frank, said yesterday. He said, ``Nothing in this bill in any way 
weakens the prohibition about making shaky loans to people with weak 
credit and then packaging them into a security.''
  Our bill restores the balance for small community banks in the 
mortgage business without opening the door to excesses and predatory 
lending standards that led to the financial crisis. To suggest 
otherwise is disingenuous and simply not true. We have to push back 
against this idea that somehow we are rolling back the clock. In fact, 
in this same interview, Congressman Barney Frank said that about 95 
percent of Dodd-Frank, as it is written, will remain intact after this 
bill passes--95 percent. You would not believe that to listen to the 
dialogue and the diatribe we have heard on the floor.
  The third misstatement is that we will somehow scrap the rules for 
the largest Wall Street banks and allow regional banks with up to $250 
billion in assets to follow the same rules and regulations as the tiny 
community banks.
  Again, this is not true. Far from scrapping the rules, our bill 
simply provides that the Federal Reserve has the ability to tailor one 
piece of Dodd-Frank, and that is the section 165 regulations. For 
certain regional lenders, that means that if they do not pose systemic 
risk, they will not be subject to the requirements of section 165. Yet, 
if the Fed determines that they could, as in the case, as you have 
heard, of Countrywide--if there is another Countrywide out there and 
the Fed discovers another Countrywide--it can, in fact, include that 
institution in section 165.
  So let's not exaggerate the impact of this bill. Let's talk about how 
we have moved the assumption from $50 billion or $100 billion to $250 
billion in terms of what is systemically risky, knowing that the Fed 
can always go back and include smaller institutions if they, in fact, 
see the challenges.
  The other thing that we need to point out about the Dodd-Frank 
regulations and consistent regulations in moving forward is that our 
bill still requires very rigorous stress testing for these regional 
institutions. Regional institutions would have to have the ability to 
meet those stress tests.
  At his confirmation hearing, Chairman Powell called the framework of 
this bill a sensible one, and he affirmed that he would like to 
continue meaningful and frequent stress tests on banks between $100 
billion and $250 billion, as provided for in this bill, while he 
confirmed that it is not necessary to stress test the smaller banks. I 
think that this position is supported, again, by Janet Yellen, who 
said, ``I do think it's appropriate to tailor regulations to the system 
footprint of the financial organization'' and called our bipartisan 
Senate bill ``a move in a direction that we think would be good.''
  Moreover, our bill does not change the risk-based capital and 
leverage regime for these regional institutions under the Basel III 
reforms. Relatedly, our bill does not change the fact that the 
comprehensive capital analysis and review--what we call CCAR--applies 
to these regional banks. Of course, the Fed has said it will continue 
to implement enhanced prudential standards.
  In addition to stress tests that are required under this bill for 
some banks over $100 billion, we have all of these other requirements 
and the requirement that they continue to meet qualified mortgage 
standards. They can sell these mortgages into the secondary market if 
they meet those standards.
  It is critically important that we be very clear about what this bill 
does and does not do for our midsized or regional institutions.
  The fourth and probably the most hurtful of the claims that have been 
made is that those of us who care deeply about preventing and 
eliminating discrimination in lending have somehow opened the door to 
allow for discrimination in lending by changing the HMDA standards. 
That is an outrageous claim and particularly hurtful for the Members of 
this body who have spent their lives fighting discrimination. I want to 
talk about the facts.
  Our bill continues to require that all lenders, no matter the size, 
collect the traditional HMDA data, which includes information on race, 
gender, and ethnicity. Contrary to what some have said, our bill only 
relaxes the new, additional data requirements for some of the smallest 
lenders in the country--those that make less than 500 loans a year. 
This data only makes up 3.5 percent of all of the data collected under 
HMDA. Think about that. We are claiming that people are discriminating 
and allowing for discrimination because we are relaxing the standards 
for the smallest institutions, and it only amounts to 3.5 percent of 
the total data collected--3.5 percent. This is an outrageous statement, 
and it is needs to be corrected on the record.
  You might ask, why even change the 3.5? For those small institutions, 
the 44 pages of data that they are required to collect--it may, in 
fact, be that they no longer are interested in doing those kinds of 
  So it is very important that we correct the record. In fact, I asked 
Chairman Powell during a recent Banking Committee hearing to clarify 
whether he believed the change in S. 2155 would result in or lead to 
additional discrimination in lending. He said that he did not believe 
that it in any way would affect their ability to enforce the fair 
lending laws in this country.
  Fifth, some have inaccurately alleged that the change from ``may'' to 
``shall'' in the tailoring is a dangerous provision that empowers big 
banks to secure more favorable treatment from the government. I think 
that claim does not stand up to scrutiny.
  First, it is common sense that we should tailor Federal regulations 
so they are implemented in a practical and effective way. Second, in 
our bill, we retain the broad rule of construction under section 165, 
which provides

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the Federal Reserve with wide latitude to tailor prudential standards 
to any company or category of companies based on any risk the Fed deems 
appropriate--pretty broad authority on the part of the Federal 
Government. Third, in the event of a lawsuit, the Fed would be given 
strong deference by the courts to interpret what might apply to section 
  Sixth, our bill would not open up targeted reforms to the 
supplementary leverage ratio beyond the three custody banks. Under the 
plain reading of this bill, the three custody banks are the only three 
institutions that are predominantly engaged in the custody business. Of 
course, the regulators retain the discretion to make appropriate 
adjustments to SLR.
  To be clear, there is broad agreement among regulators that the 
unique business model of custody banks warrants tailored treatment of 
the SLR provision. That is why a substantially similar bill passed the 
House Financial Services Committee--no lighthearted people there on the 
minority side--by a vote of 60 to 0.
  Finally, our bill will not gut oversight of foreign megabanks 
operating in the United States such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank. 
These three institutions, all of which have over $250 billion in 
assets, will be subject to section 165 of Dodd-Frank. That means 
foreign banks will still be subject to foreign bank stress test 
requirements, liquidity stress testing, and strict Basel III capital 
  Our bill does not change the Fed's requirement that large foreign 
banks establish an intermediate holding company in the United States, 
which subjects foreign banks' U.S. operations to requirements similar 
to those imposed on U.S. banks.
  Chairman Powell at the March Senate Banking Committee hearing was 
asked about this, and he said he did not believe this bill would exempt 
foreign banks from tough oversight under Dodd-Frank. Additionally, the 
substitute amendment for this bill has affirmed that large foreign 
banks do not escape Dodd-Frank supervision.
  I think it is really important that we debate the actual merits of 
this bill and not the ``boogeyman'' merits--the statements that this 
bill will somehow lead to a catastrophic downfall of our financial 
system. As I said, even Barney Frank disagrees with that evaluation of 
this bill.
  It is important we set the record straight on what this bill does and 
does not do and that we make sure that when a court is reviewing this 
provision--if, in fact, there is ever litigation--that the court has a 
record to go to on the floor of the Senate and in the committee which 
corrects misstatements and refocuses the bill on what the actual 
intended outcome is and how the bill was actually written.
  So with that, I will yield the floor, but I will say I intend to 
submit a document for the Record in the next discussion, which, 
hopefully, will provide a written document outlining the myth versus 
the facts of this bill so we can have an actual record that the courts 
can look to that documents the intent and the purpose of this 
legislation beyond the hyperbole and overstatement that we have heard.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. WARREN. Thank you, Mr. President.
  I have come to the floor of the Senate five times over the past week 
to talk about how the bank lobbyist act puts American families in 
danger of getting punched in the gut in another financial crisis. I 
have talked about how it rolls back consumer protections and how, if it 
passes, 25 of the 40 largest banks in this country--banks that sucked 
down, collectively, almost $50 billion in bailout money during the 
crisis, and nobody went to jail--can be regulated like tiny, little 
community banks.
  I talked about how the bill will roll back the rules on the very 
biggest banks in this country--JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and the rest 
of them--banks that broke our economy in 2008, banks where no one went 
to jail, banks where taxpayers coughed up $180 billion to bail them 
out. I talked about how Washington is poised to make the same mistake 
it has made many times before deregulating giant banks while the 
economy is cruising, only to set the stage for another financial 
  Now, I am not the only one who has talked about problems with this 
bill. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the FDIC, the Congressional 
Budget Office, the NAACP, the Urban League have all talked about parts 
of this bill that cause problems and would cause problems in our 
  Today, I want to talk about another part of the bill that keeps me 
awake at night--the part that guts our ability to find and go after 
mortgage discrimination by exempting 85 percent of banks from reporting 
data about the loans they make under a law called the Home Mortgage 
Disclosure Act or HMDA.
  There is a long and shameful history in this country of 
discriminating against communities of color when they try to buy homes. 
From 1934 to 1968, the Federal Housing Administration led the charge, 
actively discriminating by refusing to insure loans to qualified buyers 
while helping White families finance their plans to achieve the 
American dream. This policy was not a secret. Nope. It was not the 
product of a handful of racist government officials. Nope. It was the 
official policy of the U.S. Government until 1968--in my lifetime and 
the lifetime of 90 Senators who serve today. The official policy of 
this government was to help White people buy homes and to deny that 
help to Black people. Because the Federal Government had set this 
standard, private lenders enthusiastically followed Washington's lead.
  Homes are the way that millions of working families built some 
economic security. They pay down a mortgage and own an asset that over 
time often appreciates. A home serves as security to fund other 
ventures--to start a small business or to send a youngster to college. 
If Grandma and Grandpa could hang on to the home and get it paid off, 
they can often pass along an asset that boosts the finances of the next 
generation and the one after that.
  That is exactly what White people have done for generations--but not 
Black people. Systematically, over many decades, government policies 
that encouraged mortgage companies to lend only to White borrowers cut 
the legs out from under minority families trying to build some family 
wealth, and the result has been exactly what you would predict. It has 
contributed to a staggering gap of wealth between White communities and 
communities of color today. One statistic from Massachusetts, according 
to the Boston Globe, states that the median net worth of White families 
living in Boston is $247,500, and the median net worth for a Black 
family is $8. That is something all Americans, regardless of race, 
should be ashamed of.
  When I was traveling around the country in the aftermath of the 
financial crisis, it became clear to me that the crash had made the 
problem worse. Subprime lenders that had peddled mortgages full of 
tricks and traps had specifically targeted minority borrowers. That 
meant that during the great recession, a huge number of minority 
borrowers lost their homes. When rising home prices helped White 
Americans regain some financial security, communities of color, with 
their lower homeownership rates and their higher foreclosure rates, 
were often left behind.
  Again, this is just one example. According to Pew, between 2010 and 
2013, the median wealth of White households grew by 2.4 percent, but 
the wealth of Hispanic households in that same time fell by 14.3 
percent, and the wealth of African-American households fell by 33.7 
  Mortgage discrimination didn't end in the 1960s when formal redlining 
policies were abolished. It didn't end with the tightening of mortgage 
rules following the financial crisis. Lending discrimination is still 
alive and well in America in 2018.
  According to a new report that just came out from the Center for 
Investigative Reporting and Reveal, in 2015 and 2016, nearly two-thirds 
of mortgage lenders denied loans for people of color

[[Page S1660]]

at higher rates than for White people. This problem affects both big 
and small lenders, and it is nationwide. Minority borrowers were more 
likely to be denied a mortgage than White borrowers with the same 
income in 61 different cities across America.
  How do we know that? Because of HMDA data. That is how we can see how 
much Black families were charged for a mortgage or how often Latino 
families were denied a chance to take out a mortgage--and we can 
compare those numbers with White borrowers who have the same income and 
same credit scores, but we can't do that if the data is missing. It is 
impossible to detect and fight mortgage discrimination without HMDA 
  The banking bill on the floor of the Senate says that 85 percent of 
the banks will no longer be required to report HMDA data, including the 
borrower's credit score and age; the loan's points, fees, and interest 
rates, and the property value. Eighty-five percent. This data is 
essential to figuring out whether the borrower got a fair deal.
  If this bill passes, there will be entire communities where there 
will not be enough data to figure out whether borrowers are getting 
ripped off, entire communities where it will be impossible to monitor 
whether people are getting cheated because of their race or gender, 
entire communities where Federal and State regulators will not be able 
to bring cases, and independent groups like Reveal will not be able to 
hold these groups accountable.
  Sure, banks will save a little money by not having to fill out the 
HMDA data, but when communities of color are once again left behind, 
there will be no way to prove it. That is why civil rights groups 
around the country have spoken up against this bill. The Leadership 
Conference on Civil and Human Rights said ``[e]xempting the 
overwhelming majority of our Nation's banks and credit unions from an 
expanded HMDA requirement that would better enable Federal regulators, 
State attorneys general, fair housing advocates, and others to identify 
and address discriminatory and predatory mortgage practices is 
  The Urban League and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition 
wrote in a newspaper column that the bill ``would be a giant step 
backwards for the public and national groups who use this data to 
ensure banks treat all borrowers equally.'' According to the NAACP, the 
bill ``would devastate our attempts to determine--and potentially 
rectify--racially discriminatory lending or loan approval patterns at 
  This is about basic fairness. HMDA data is an investment we should be 
making to make sure that all qualified Americans have the same chance 
to buy a home. Throughout our history, Washington has always fallen 
short of that goal. Gutting HMDA allows our country and our government 
to ignore discrimination, letting history repeat itself.
  Communities of color will pay the price if this Congress makes this 
same mistake again. It isn't too late. We can stop this bill from 
becoming law.

  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. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Daines). Without objection, it is so 

                   Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act

  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, today I want to talk about the tragedy of 
human trafficking. I want to talk about it today because this is an 
issue that I hope the entire U.S. Senate will take up within the next 
  We have legislation on which we have worked on a bipartisan basis 
over the last couple of years, and we have an opportunity late this 
week or early next week to address this growing problem. I have spent a 
lot of time focused on this issue over the last couple of years because 
of the growth of trafficking and my sense that we can do something 
constructive about it. Others have been involved as well.
  Today, I will be at the White House for a meeting that Ivanka Trump 
is hosting with congressional colleagues, anti-trafficking advocates, 
and others who have demonstrated a commitment to addressing this issue. 
We will talk about the need to pass this legislation, get it to the 
President's desk for signature, and begin to help women and children 
across our country who are currently being exploited online.
  We will probably talk about lots of different kinds of trafficking 
this afternoon, including work trafficking and other human trafficking, 
but the one I want to focus on this afternoon is sex trafficking, and 
the reason is that we think we have a legislative solution for 
addressing the biggest problem.
  Unbelievably, right now in this country, sex trafficking is actually 
increasing. That is based on all the best data we are getting from all 
the experts around the country. They say that it is increasing 
primarily for one simple reason, and that is the internet. The great 
increase is happening online.
  As some have said, this is because of the ruthless efficiency of 
selling people online. When I am back home in Ohio, victims tell me: 
Rob, this has moved from the street corner to the smartphone. There is 
a ruthless efficiency about it.
  Anti-trafficking organizations, such as the National Center for 
Missing and Exploited Children, Shared Hope International, and others, 
have told us that the majority of the online sex trafficking they 
encounter occurs through one single website, and that is backpage.com.
  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that 
backpage is involved in about 75 percent of the online trafficking 
reports it receives from the public. Shared Hope International says it 
is more than that.
  I chair the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Learning about 
what is going on online, we decided to do an in-depth investigation to 
find out what is really happening and how we could address it. We spent 
18 months studying this, and studying online trafficking quickly led us 
to backpage.com because, again, that is where the majority of this 
commercial sex trafficking is occurring.
  What we found was really shocking. Not only was backpage--as other 
websites have in the past--selling women and children online, but this 
organization and others are actually complicit in these crimes; in 
other words, they knew much more than we had previously thought. We 
found that backpage was actually knowingly selling people online.
  We did this through a subpoena process that had to be approved here 
in the U.S. Senate because the company objected to responding to our 
subpoenas. For the first time in 21 years, we had to come to the U.S. 
Senate to get approval to actually enforce the subpoena. We then had to 
take it all the way to the Supreme Court because they appealed it all 
the way up, and we won.
  Through this, we were able to get about 1 million documents. We went 
through these documents to find out what was happening. What we learned 
was that this website actually was actively and knowingly involved in 
selling people online. When a user would post an ad that might have a 
word indicating that the girl they were selling was underage--for 
instance, it might say ``cheerleader'' or it might simply reference the 
age of the girl being 16, 17 years old or younger sometimes--instead of 
rejecting that ad, knowing that it was of course illegal, they would 
instead clean up the ad; in other words, they would edit out the words 
that indicated someone was underage. They didn't just remove the post 
because they didn't want to lose the revenue--and you can imagine this 
is a very lucrative business. They just insisted that the ad be edited.
  By the way, this also covered up the evidence of the crime, so it was 
then harder for law enforcement to find out who was involved in the 
selling of girls online--and underage girls. Of course, it also 
increased the company's profits. That is what we found in our 
  We also found that for years and years people who had been trying to 
hold these websites accountable in court had failed, and they had 
failed and been unsuccessful because of a Federal law that, in essence, 
said to these websites: You have an immunity to be able to do this. You 
couldn't do it on the street corner, but online you have an immunity to 
be able to do it.
  I recommend a powerful documentary. It is called ``I am Jane Doe.'' 

[[Page S1661]]

can find it on iamjanedoe.com. It is on Netflix. It tells the story of 
underage girls who have been exploited on backpage. It talks about the 
trauma they have experienced, and, finally, it also talks about their 
frustration with their inability to hold these websites accountable.
  What might surprise you is the reason these websites are not held 
accountable--the more we dug into it, the more it became clear--is that 
Washington basically passed a Federal law, which I believe has been 
misinterpreted by the courts, but it has been interpreted by the courts 
to say that these websites have no risk, that they are not liable, and 
that they have an immunity under Federal law. It is called the 
Communications Decency Act.
  The Communications Decency Act was enacted back in 1996, when the 
internet was in its infancy. It was intended to protect websites from 
liability based on third-party posts on that website. I understand the 
intention of Congress, but it now protects websites when they knowingly 
allow this criminal activity--the crime of sex trafficking--to occur 
through their site.
  I believe Congress meant well when enacting this law. In fact, part 
of its original intent was actually to protect children from indecent 
material on the internet by holding individuals liable for sending 
explicit material to those children.
  Now that same law is being used as a shield by websites that promote 
and engage in online sex trafficking with immunity. I don't believe 
Congress ever intended this broad liability protection for websites 
that actively and knowingly facilitate online sex trafficking, but the 
legal interpretation of the law has led to this. That is why America's 
district attorneys, 50 State attorneys general, judges all over the 
country, and so many others have called on Congress to amend this 
Communications Decency law and fix this injustice--really, this 
  Last year, a Sacramento judge threw out pimping charges against 
backpage and directly called on Congress to act. Here is what this 
judge said--again, this sort of message has been repeated by other 
courts: ``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 exploitation of others by human 
trafficking.'' That is not just a suggestion; it is an invitation--an 
invitation to this Congress to act, calling on us to do what we were 
sent here to do, which is to craft laws that promote justice.

  For too long, victims of online sex trafficking have been denied the 
justice they deserve, and now we have the opportunity here in the 
Senate--I hope within the next week--to fix that.
  Last August, I introduced legislation called the Stop Enabling Sex 
Traffickers Act, or SESTA, with a bipartisan group of 24 cosponsors, 
including my coauthor, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Senators John 
McCain, Claire McCaskill, John Cornyn, Heidi Heitkamp, and others.
  SESTA would provide justice for victims of online sex trafficking and 
hold accountable those websites that intentionally facilitate these 
crimes. We do this by making two very narrowly crafted changes to 
Federal law. First, we remove the Communications Decency Act's broad 
liability protections for a narrow set of bad-actor websites that 
knowingly facilitate sex trafficking crimes--high standard: knowingly. 
Second, the legislation allows State attorneys general to prosecute 
websites that violate existing Federal trafficking laws. SESTA simply 
says that if you are violating Federal sex trafficking laws and you are 
knowingly facilitating it, then you have to be held to account. That 
seems to make all the sense in the world, and it will make a big 
difference for these girls and women who are being exploited online.
  Our bill protects websites that are doing the right thing, by the 
way. In fact, it preserves what is called the Good Samaritan provision 
of the Communications Decency Act, which protects good actors who 
proactively block and screen their sites for offensive material, and 
thus it shields them from frivolous lawsuits. I think that is 
appropriate. We simply carve out a very limited exception in the 
Communications Decency Act's liability protections for those who 
knowingly facilitate sex trafficking.
  By the way, there are already exceptions for things in this law--
exceptions for things like copyright infringement. This isn't a new 
idea. So unless you think protecting copyrights is more important than 
protecting women and children from the trauma of trafficking, you 
should be for this. Even those who support section 230 otherwise should 
strongly support this.
  If a prosecutor can prove in court that a website has committed these 
acts, SESTA allows that website to be held liable and the victims to 
get the justice they deserve.
  By the way, 68 Senators now--more than two-thirds of this body--have 
signed on as cosponsors of this legislation, a majority of Republicans 
and a majority of Democrats. That doesn't happen very often around 
here. The House of Representatives passed SESTA as an amendment to a 
broader anti-sex trafficking bill just a couple of weeks ago by an 
overwhelming margin--more than 300 folks. The Trump administration has 
endorsed this solution and again shown a commitment to the issue. So 
SESTA has overwhelming support from the White House, from more than 300 
House Members, and from the 68 Senators who signed on to be a part of 
this solution.
  I think one reason it has gotten so much support is because of the 
logic of the legislation, the fact that we narrowly drew up the 
legislation not to affect internet freedom, to be sure we were 
listening to people who had concerns, but also, and more importantly, 
because we are all hearing about this issue back home. We are all 
hearing the stories, and they are powerful, they are compelling, and 
they are heartbreaking.
  Kubiiki Pride came to Congress, to our subcommittee, as we were 
looking into this issue and told us her story. In testimony, she said: 
My daughter ran away from home. She had gone missing. She had been 
missing for several weeks. Obviously, I was very concerned. I couldn't 
find her. Someone suggested that I look at this website called 
backpage, so I did. I found my daughter.
  She found her daughter--14 years old--but found her daughter in very 
sexually difficult photographs, horrible photographs of her beautiful 
daughter. So she called backpage.com and said: I am Kubiiki Pride, and 
that is my daughter on your website. She is 14 years old. I am so glad 
I found her. Thank you for taking down that ad. She is 14 years old.
  Do you know what the person on the other end of the phone said? They 
said: Did you post the ad?
  This is how evil these people are.
  She said: No, I didn't post the ad. That is my daughter. I have been 
trying to find her. She has been missing for several weeks.
  They said: If you didn't post the ad, if you didn't pay for it, you 
can't take it down and we won't take it down.
  That is what we are dealing with here.
  Eventually, she found her daughter, got her daughter back. She went 
through the proper process to be able to hold backpage accountable, and 
guess what. The court said: Sorry. Under section 230 of the 
Communications Decency Act--Congress wrote this bill--this website has 
immunity, even though she is 14 years old and she was being sold 
  So I think that is why 68 Senators have said: Let's step up and do 
this. This is something we can do around here that is not partisan, 
that isn't about politics. It is about people. It is about human 
dignity. It is about ensuring that more girls like Kubiiki Pride's 
daughter don't have to go through this trauma, that more women and 
children can live out their life's purpose without having to go through 
this trauma. I think that is why we have been able to find so many 
Members who want to step up and do something here and do something that 
will really make a difference.
  So let's vote on this legislation in the next week. Let's get it 
signed into law so that more children and more women are not exploited 
through this brutally efficient online process of selling people. If we 
do this, we are going to be able to provide justice to those victims 
who deserve it, and we are going to make this world a little better 
place. I urge the Senate to vote this next week.

[[Page S1662]]

  For those Members who are not yet a part of this legislation, we urge 
you to join us. Wouldn't it be great to have everybody on board to 
correct this injustice, to close this loophole, and to ensure that 
everybody has the ability to meet their God-given purpose in life?
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                  Unanimous Consent Request--H.R. 1551

  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. President, today, I rise once again to urge this body 
to address the critical issue of securing the border and protecting 
those young immigrants impacted by the uncertain future of the DACA 
Program. Last week, I offered legislation to extend DACA protection for 
3 years and provide 3 years of increased funding for border security. 
Unfortunately, some of my colleagues chose to block that measure.
  Let me first say, I understand and sympathize with my colleagues' 
concerns. I, too, believe that DACA recipients deserve a permanent 
solution, and I have repeatedly stated my strong preference for such a 
measure. We have tried to find this permanent solution through 
Republican-led bills, Democratic-led bills, and bipartisan bills. Yet 
somehow, each time, we are incapable of finding a compromise that can 
garner 60 votes. It is clear that we cannot achieve this goal right 
now, and no one is more disappointed about that fact than I am.
  I am the first to admit that this solution I propose is far from 
perfect, but it provides a temporary fix to those crucial and critical 
problems. It begins the process of improving border security, and it 
ensures that DACA recipients will not lose protections or be left to 
face potential deportation. These young immigrants, brought here 
through no fault of their own, cannot wait for these protections. 
Likewise, border communities, like those in my home State of Arizona, 
cannot wait for increased security along the southern border.
  As I have said before, we in Congress have too regularly confused 
action with results and have become entirely too comfortable ignoring 
problems when they seem too difficult to solve. That is why, if this 
measure is blocked again today, I will be returning to the Senate floor 
repeatedly until we can pass some sort of solution. To put it as 
bluntly as possible, it is simply not something we can ignore any 
  I would like to again thank Senator Heitkamp for joining me as a 
cosponsor of this bill. She has always been a valuable ally in 
bipartisan efforts to secure the border and to pass other immigration 
reform measures. We may not be able to deliver a permanent solution for 
these problems at this time, but we can't abdicate the responsibility 
of Congress to, at one point, solve them. There are many people whose 
lives and well-being depend on our ability to deliver meaningful 
  Therefore, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 300, H.R. 1551. 
I further ask that the Flake substitute amendment at the desk be 
considered and agreed to; that the bill, as amended, be considered read 
a third time and passed; and that the motion to reconsider be 
considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. PERDUE. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I, for one, 
really appreciate the Senator's attempt to solve this issue. Our hearts 
are very similar. But a temporary solution, such as the one the Senator 
from Arizona has proposed, is not a solution, as he just said. It is, 
rather, another failure of Congress to provide real border security for 
the American people. It provides only 25 percent of what we need to 
secure that border for the next 3 years. Does anybody really think that 
is acceptable?
  Something the President and the American people have in common is 
that they want border security. In addition, Members of this body and 
the administration have spent a great deal of time over the last year, 
as a matter of fact, talking about a potential DACA solution. I am 
happy to report that people on both sides want this DACA situation 
solved permanently. I think the Senator from Arizona and I have the 
same desire there.
  Further, as a result of recent decisions by Federal district courts, 
current DACA recipients are free to continue renewing their status 
unless and until the Supreme Court overturns those lower court 
decisions. It will likely be over a year before the Supreme Court would 
even hear such a case.
  It is my opinion that we should take that time right now and continue 
working on a permanent DACA solution, as well as the other legal 
immigration issues that we know are within reach, rather than settling 
for a temporary solution that does not address the problem. That 
permanent solution should also be one that ensures we are not back here 
in the future dealing with the same issue again.
  The bill the Senator from Arizona is now proposing would only take us 
further away from fulfilling our congressional responsibility, with a 
3-year delay. I will be happy to work with the Senator from Arizona and 
any of our colleagues in this body to try to address any of the 
concerns he and they have with the Secure and Succeed Act, which we 
just voted on a couple of weeks ago. That bill is exactly what the 
President said he would sign into law. Therefore, Mr. President, I 
respectfully object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. PERDUE. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Flake). Without objection, it is so 

                      Yemen War Powers Resolution

  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be 
permitted to use an oversized visual poster to be displayed during my 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senator 
Wyden be added as a cosponsor to my resolution, S.J. Res. 54.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, along with Senator Murphy and Senator 
Lee, I rise to talk about one of the most important jobs the U.S. 
Congress has, and that is to fulfill its constitutional responsibility 
about whether the United States of America engages in military action.
  We can disagree about the merits of this or that military action, but 
there should be absolutely no confusion that sending men and women of 
the U.S. military into conflict is the responsibility not of the 
President of the United States alone but of the U.S. Congress.
  Let us be very clear--and I say this especially to my conservative 
friends who talk about the Constitution all the time. Let me remind 
them as to what article I, section 8 of the Constitution reads in no 
uncertain terms: ``The Congress shall have Power . . . to declare 
War.'' The Founding Fathers gave the power to declare war to Congress--
the branch most accountable to the people. For far too long, Congress, 
under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has, in my view, 
abdicated its constitutional role in authorizing war. We are moving 
down a very slippery slope by which Congress is now becoming 
increasingly irrelevant in terms of that vitally important issue.
  In my view, the time is long overdue for Congress to reassert its 
constitutional authority. That is what Senator Lee, Senator Murphy, and 
I are doing with S.J. Res. 54. I am proud to have as cosponsors on that 
resolution Senator Durbin, Senator Booker, Senator Warren, Senator 
Leahy, Senator Markey, Senator Feinstein, and Senator Wyden.
  Many Americans are unaware that the people of Yemen--one of the 
poorest countries in the world--are suffering terribly today in a 

[[Page S1663]]

civil war with Saudi Arabia and their allies on one side and Houthi 
rebels on the other. In November of last year, the United Nations 
Emergency Relief Coordinator said that Yemen was on the brink of the 
``largest famine the world has seen for many decades.''
  So far, thousands of civilians have died. The last count that I have 
seen is about 10,000. Over 40,000 have been wounded in the war. There 
are 15 million people who lack access to clean water and sanitation in 
an infrastructure which has been devastated. More than 20 million 
people in Yemen--over two-thirds of the population--need some kind of 
humanitarian support, with nearly 10 million people in acute need of 
assistance. This is a humanitarian disaster.
  This very sad picture of a young child who faces starvation is what 
is taking place throughout this country. Sadly, this is not the only 
child in that position. Famine is a serious and growing problem in 
Yemen. Further, more than 1 million suspected cholera cases have been 
reported, potentially representing the worst cholera outbreak in world 
history. The pictures I have here today have been taken by 
photojournalists in Yemen, and they can attest to this human disaster.
  One of the problems we have is, unfortunately, foreign policy is not 
an issue we talk about enough on the floor, and it is certainly not 
talked about enough in the media. Many Americans today are not aware 
that American forces have been actively engaged in the support of the 
Saudi coalition in this war--in its providing intelligence and the 
aerial refueling of planes whose bombs have killed thousands of people 
and made this crisis far worse.
  My colleagues and I, along with all of our cosponsors, believe that 
as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force in this 
conflict, the U.S. involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and 
unauthorized and the U.S. military support of the Saudi coalition must 
end. Without congressional authorization, our engagement in this war 
should be restricted to providing desperately needed humanitarian aid 
and diplomatic efforts to resolve this terrible civil war. That is why 
Senator Lee and Senator Murphy and I have introduced this joint 
resolution pursuant to the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which calls for 
an end to U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen.
  The War Powers Resolution defines the introduction of U.S. Armed 
Forces to include the ``assignment of members of such Armed Forces to 
command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the 
regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or 
government when such military forces are engaged, or there exists an 
imminent threat that such forces will become engaged, in hostilities.'' 
Assisting with targeting intelligence and refueling warplanes as they 
bomb those targets clearly meet this definition.
  Here is the bottom line: If the U.S. Congress wants to go to war in 
Yemen, vote on that war, but I and the cosponsors of this legislation 
do not believe that the authority to go to war is now appropriate. We 
think what is going on now is unconstitutional, and unless Congress 
authorizes this war, it should be ended and ended immediately.
  I look forward to a colloquy with Senator Lee and with Senator 
Murphy. I now yield to Senator Lee, who has been very active on this 
issue from day one. I thank the Senator.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I thank Senator Sanders for his leadership on 
this issue. It is an honor to be here with my friend and colleague, the 
Senator from Vermont, to talk about our joint resolution to force a 
vote on U.S. military involvement in a civil war that is going on in 
  Whether one is present in the Senate Chamber today or whether one is 
tuning in from home, I hope you will listen closely for the next hour 
or so, so we can fill you in on the unauthorized Middle East war that 
your U.S. Government is supporting.
  This war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of innocent victims--
human beings, lest we forget--each with immeasurable, innate, God-given 
dignity. This war has created refugees, orphans, and widows. It has 
cost many millions of dollars. Believe it or not, at the end of the 
day, according to at least one U.S. Government report, it has, 
arguably, undermined our fight against terrorist threats, such as ISIS, 
rather than to advance those efforts.
  I will expand on these uncomfortable facts in a few minutes, but, for 
now, let's focus on just one thing. Our military's involvement in Yemen 
has not been authorized by the U.S. Congress as is required by the U.S. 
Constitution. Article I, section 8 of the Constitution is pretty clear 
on this point. It reads that Congress shall have the power to declare 
war--Congress, not the President, not the Pentagon--Congress.
  This is the branch of government that is most accountable to the 
people at the most regular intervals. It makes sense that this power 
would only be granted to that branch of government. Yet, in 2015, 
President Obama initiated our military involvement in Yemen without 
having permission from Congress, without having an authorization for 
the use of military force, without having a declaration of war. The 
current administration has continued Obama's war.
  Senator Sanders and I, along with Senator Murphy and our six other 
cosponsors, are giving Congress a chance to fix this error by debating 
and voting on our Nation's continued involvement in this illegal, 
unauthorized war in Yemen.
  Now, as our opponents claim, if this war is necessary, then, surely, 
they will be willing to come down to this floor within the Senate 
Chamber and defend it. Surely they will be willing to come onto the 
floor of the Senate and onto the floor of the House and seek 
authorization from Congress as the Constitution demands. Let's have an 
honest reckoning about this war today.

  At this very moment, a tragedy is unfolding in Yemen. Very sadly, it 
is a tragedy for which our Nation shares some blame. Here are just a 
few facts about this war in Yemen, which is now approaching its third 
year: Fifteen million human souls in Yemen lack clean water and 
sanitation, and 8 million are at risk of starvation. The Yemeni people 
have been visited by the worst cholera outbreak in recorded human 
history--over 1 million cases. Every 10 minutes, a child under the age 
of 5 dies of preventable causes. A total of 10,000 civilians have been 
killed in this war, and 40,000 more civilians have been wounded in this 
  I think it is important to discuss the human toll this war is 
inflicting. I think it is especially important to have discussions like 
this one at the outset so that as we go into a conflict, the stakes are 
clear. For thousands of human beings, the decision we make in this 
Chamber will make the difference between life and death. This is one of 
the many reasons it is so important to keep reminding ourselves that 
the Founding Fathers were very clear about this. They didn't leave any 
ambiguity in terms of identifying who has the power to make decisions 
like this one, who has the power to decide when we go to war. Article 
I, section 8, says that Congress shall have the power to declare war.
  From time to time, I hear it argued that declarations of war are 
somehow antiquated, that they are outdated, that they are anachronisms 
akin to ceremonial relics like powdered wigs or a key to the city, akin 
to a society whose principal mode of transportation involved a horse 
and a buggy, but that isn't true. These principles are as true today as 
they were then. Nothing about those principles has become outdated.
  If you read the Founding Fathers, it is very clear that they thought 
the power to declare war was, in fact, important. They deliberately 
considered the matter and withheld it from the President for a reason. 
They did not vest this power in the Office of the Presidency, and that 
was a conscious, deliberate, and I believe wise choice.
  To quote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 69, the Founding 
Fathers wanted their President to be ``much inferior'' in power to a 
King. Kings declare war unilaterally. They can make life-or-death 
military decisions--on a whim if they want to. They don't need to go 
and seek support from the public before doing so. In our system, 
Presidents, by contrast, have to garner support from the public and the 
legislative branch before initiating war--far from a unilateral 
decision. The decision to go to war in America is supposed to be based 
on collaboration and consensus so that our Nation will be united to the 
greatest degree possible when we go

[[Page S1664]]

through trying conflicts, at that moment when unity is what is so badly 
  So which does the modern Executive resemble more today--a President 
as the Founding Fathers understood that term or a King? The answer is 
uncomfortably clear from the string of unauthorized military excursions 
that Presidents from both political parties have initiated in recent 
  Of course, some people claim that the President has broad 
constitutional authority to make war as Commander in Chief of the Armed 
Forces. They are absolutely right. The President of the United States 
is, in fact, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but this is 
not the beginning and the end to the question. This does not mean the 
President may authorize at will military excursions around the globe 
for any reason or no reason at all without authorization from Congress. 
It does not mean that. It means nothing close to that. Only Congress 
can authorize a military campaign. Once Congress has done so, then the 
President has broad authority, vast discretion to decide how 
specifically to command the Armed Forces to victory.
  There is one important notable exception to this big principle, and 
that exception arises specifically in the event of an attack on the 
United States. The Founders were wise. They anticipated that there 
could be threats to the homeland so serious that it might be physically 
impossible for Congress to respond quickly enough, so they preserved to 
the President the power to ``repel sudden attacks,'' in the words of 
James Madison.
  Clearly, this strategy--we might describe it as a ``break glass in 
case of emergency'' kind of strategy. It is that kind of power. It is a 
``break glass in times of emergency'' kind of power. It is supposed to 
be used only under extreme, extraordinary circumstances where Congress 
cannot convene in time to save the Nation. The Founders did not intend 
for the Commander in Chief's power to be used to justify military 
intervention in civil wars 8,000 miles away. That authorization can 
come only from this body in the form of a declaration of war or in the 
form of an authorization for use of military force. To date, we have 
not considered either one of these, much less voted on them and passed 
them in the case of this civil war in Yemen.
  So I would ask my colleague, Senator Sanders from Vermont, how long 
the American people can be expected to ignore our involvement in a 
foreign war.
  Mr. SANDERS. Before I answer that very important question, I thank 
Senator Lee for his remarks. He is right on virtually everything he has 
  I want to bring Senator Murphy into this colloquy. Senator Murphy has 
been ahead of his time in focusing attention on what is going on in 
Yemen. He is one of the original sponsors of this legislation.
  If Senator Murphy would express his thoughts on this issue.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I thank Senator Sanders and Senator Lee 
for allowing me to step in and say a few words before we have a short 
colloquy about the resolution we are bringing to the floor.
  I brought this picture to the floor before, and I hesitate to keep it 
up for more than a few moments. It is very disturbing to look at, but 
this is the reality of Yemen today. This is the reality of a country in 
which thousands and thousands of civilians have been killed by a 
bombing campaign that the United States is facilitating--facilitating 
with intelligence sharing, facilitating with targeting assistance, 
facilitating with midair refueling, facilitating with the sale of 
munitions that end up being dropped on the homes of families like this.
  This, as has been stated, is perhaps the worst cholera outbreak in 
modern history. Let's talk about why that happens.
  Why are over 1 million people in Yemen today suffering from cholera, 
a disease that is entirely 100 percent preventable? The reason is that 
the water treatment facilities inside Yemen have been bombed, have been 
rendered useless such that there is no means by which they can keep the 
water that these young children drink clean. Bombs sold to the Saudi 
coalition by the United States, bombs dropped from planes refueled by 
the U.S. Air Force, bombs that are directed via targeting centers in 
which U.S. personnel are embedded hit water treatment facilities inside 
Yemen, and there is now the worst cholera outbreak in our lifetime.
  I cannot do a better job than Senator Lee did of explaining to the 
body why we believe it is so important for Congress to exercise our 
Article I responsibility to declare war. He laid it out better than I 
can. The Founding Fathers believed, as he said, that when there were 
matters of great import to the national security of this country, when 
there were decisions that the Executive was making with respect to 
hostilities with other nations that included serious consequences for 
the United States and the world, that should not be simply an Executive 
function. Very specifically, as Senator Lee said, that power of 
declaring war, of entering into hostilities against another nation, is 
housed here in the Congress. So it is relevant to talk about what is 
happening in Yemen today. What is the degree of the hostilities, and 
does it come with serious national security concerns for the United 
States of America, for the constituents we represent?
  We are absolutely engaged in hostilities today. There is no way that 
what we see in these charts could not be categorized as hostilities. 
The bombs that ruined this entire neighborhood are made in the United 
States, are dropped by planes refueled by the United States, are 
directed by a targeting center that involves U.S. personnel. This is 
clearly an act of hostility that the United States, in partnership with 
the Saudi coalition, has entered into against the Yemeni people.
  Remember, this is a civil war inside Yemen. There are not-so-good 
people on both sides of this civil war. The Houthis have been 
responsible for major, catastrophic acts in the country, just as the 
coalition has, but we are only on one side of that, so it makes sense 
for us to focus on the hostilities that have been entered into by the 
United States and the Saudi coalition. But let's for a second talk 
about the other implications for U.S. national security.
  What has happened inside Yemen as this civil war has persisted? Al-
Qaida and ISIS have grown in strength. For a period of time, AQAP--the 
arm of al-Qaida inside Yemen that has the most direct intention to hit 
the United States--had captured a major port inside Yemen and was 
drawing substantial revenue, allowing them to become stronger than ever 
before. By continuing to feed weapons into this civil war, the United 
States is helping to expand the reach and the power of the two entities 
inside Yemen that the administration argues they do have authorization 
to fight--al-Qaida and ISIS. Many of us would draw issue with the 
interpretation of an AUMF passed a decade and a half ago as it applies 
to ISIS, but no doubt the administration has the ability to pursue war 
against al-Qaida, and al-Qaida is gaining strength because of the 
continuation of this civil war.
  If you talk to Yemeni-Americans, they will tell you that inside 
Yemen, this is not seen as a Saudi bombing campaign, this is seen as a 
U.S.-Saudi bombing campaign. And what they will further tell you is 
that Yemenis are becoming radicalized against the United States because 
there is a U.S. imprint on every bomb that is dropped and every single 
death inside that country.
  While we may talk a good game about humanitarian relief and we may 
enter into occasional efforts to settle this conflict through 
negotiations, all they know is that for 3 years the United States has 
been supporting a Saudi bombing campaign that does not end. We have 
been supporting a Saudi-led coalition that has blocked humanitarian 
relief from entering this country. We may hear a lot about the money 
that the Saudis are putting into humanitarian relief, but we don't hear 
as much about the fact that at one point they completely closed the 
port through which the majority of humanitarian relief flows. Although 
now it is technically open, they are still narrowing the channel 
greatly through which relief supplies get to this country. So nobody 
should applaud the United States or the Saudis for providing relief to 
a country that they, indeed, are bombing.
  I am not setting aside the culpability of the Houthis for substantial 
atrocities in this civil war as well, but we are only on one side of 

[[Page S1665]]

  This is clearly covered by the powers vested in the U.S. Congress to 
make war. If it isn't, it unlocks a horrific Pandora's box. If the 
President can enter into hostilities against another country so long as 
all they are doing is providing vast logistical support to a coalition 
partner, then there is no end to what the President can do so long as 
he doesn't put a troop on the ground.
  Our involvement in the Saudi-led coalition has serious national 
security implications for the United States, aside from the fact that 
it has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and has set off 
the worst humanitarian catastrophe the world has seen today. As a 
member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I just want to bring these 
consequences to bear for our colleagues to think about--our colleagues 
who might not think that this rises to the powers vested in the 
Congress by the Constitution. There are very few more serious conflicts 
with respect to consequences for the United States than this one. So I 
guess I would wrap back around that question that Senator Lee posed to 
Senator Sanders.

  If the United States doesn't weigh in here, then, when? What is the 
precedent that is set by Congress's continuing to remain silent even 
when you have a humanitarian catastrophe and a set of consequences for 
U.S. national security that are this big?
  Mr. SANDERS. Well, let me thank Senator Murphy for his comments and 
Senator Lee before him. I think they touch on the most important 
issues. I wish to respond to what Senator Lee and Senator Murphy both 
said, but I wish to make a point that needs to be made again and again.
  This is not a partisan issue. We are talking about Democratic 
administrations acting militarily without congressional authorization. 
We are talking about Republican administrations doing the same. Senator 
Lee is a conservative Republican. Senator Murphy is a Democrat. I am an 
Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. So if you are talking 
about bipartisanship, you are looking at it right here.
  I should tell you that there are many organizations around the 
country--conservative and progressive--that are raising exactly the 
same issue that we are raising right here, and that is that Congress 
has to reassert its congressional authority over the issues of war.
  If you want to go to war and you think the war in Yemen makes sense, 
that is fine. Come down here on the floor and tell us why you feel that 
way. Tell the American people and tell your constituents why you think 
it is a good idea to work with Saudi Arabia to wreak utter horror on 
one of the poorest countries in the world. Fine, come on down here and 
tell us. What we have to do, from a precedent point of view, is finally 
to say to our Republican President or a Democratic President: Enough is 
enough. Listen to the Constitution.
  The Founding Fathers of this country were amazingly smart on this 
issue, and they understood that before we send our young men--and now 
women--off to war to die or to get maimed, there better well be a very 
good reason that we have to explain to the people who elected us--not 
just somebody sitting up there in the Oval Office. That is why the 
authority for going to war is vested in the representatives of the 
people, whether we are elected for 2 years or elected for 6 years.
  I would also point out that this is not the first time that the 
Congress has weighed in on the devastating war in Yemen. In November of 
last year, the House of Representatives--and I hope my Senate 
colleagues know this--voted by a vote of 366 to 30. That was not even 
close. There was overwhelming support among Democrats and Republicans. 
They passed a nonbinding resolution stating that the United States' 
involvement in the Yemen civil war is unauthorized. The Democratic 
leadership supported it, as did the Republican chairman of the Foreign 
Affairs Committee, Ed Royce.
  Here is the bottom line. The bottom line is that Congress has ducked 
its responsibilities for many years, and if we continue to duck our 
responsibility on the all-important issue of U.S. military 
intervention, this Congress and, in fact, the people of the United 
States become increasingly irrelevant on this most important matter.
  We are bringing forward a privileged motion. There will be a vote on 
this issue in one form or another. If you like the war in Yemen, then 
be prepared to defend why you think it is a great idea to work with the 
Saudis to destroy the infrastructure and to create a situation where 
famine and cholera are rampant in that incredibly poor country. Come on 
down and tell us why you think it is a good idea. If not, I hope you 
will vote with us to end this war and to allow the United States to get 
involved in bringing the warring parties together to see if we can 
bring peace and to see if we can bring humanitarian relief to these 
terribly suffering people.
  I yield to Senator Lee.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to display an 
oversized visual display.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Johnson). Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEE. I am not sure what constitutes oversized, but I have it on 
good authority that the ordinary Senate rules don't allow for a picture 
this big without unanimous consent. So, therefore, I sought it.
  The picture itself paints an image and leaves an impression that 
itself is oversized and that demonstrates the humanity of this 
conflict. You see a child standing in what appears to be a school in an 
ordinary learning environment that has been rendered unusable by the 
devastating impact of war.
  Now, war does happen. Conflicts do arise. This is one of the reasons 
why it was built into not only our system of laws but our foundational 
governing structure in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers 
understood that war would arise from time to time, but they carefully 
divided up the power, recognizing how devastating its implications 
could be, recognizing that bad things are a little bit less likely to 
happen if you don't allow too much power to be concentrated in the 
hands of a few.
  Over time, Congress and the Presidency have had a little bit of a 
tug-of-war, as I referenced earlier, about where the Commander in Chief 
power ends and the war power begins.
  In 1973 Congress reasserted its constitutional role and tried to 
clarify some of what had been described as a gray area by passing the 
War Powers Resolution. The crisis that led Congress to create this 
important law in many ways was reminiscent of the conflict that we are 
discussing today.
  The War Powers Act was passed in response to the Vietnam war. That 
war began with the insertion of just a small handful of U.S. military 
advisers in 1950, but their ranks grew and grew gradually but steadily, 
so that our commitment in Vietnam spiraled into a decades-long, 
bloodied conflict. Presidents from both parties abused their authority 
in order to wage this far-off war.
  Finally, in 1973, Congress decided it was time to bring our boys 
home. So it repealed the limited legal authority for the war it had 
granted to then-President Johnson 7 years earlier.
  In defiance of Congress, President Nixon continued the war, citing 
his authority as Commander in Chief. So Congress drafted the War Powers 
Resolution to give itself a way to remove our armed services personnel 
from unauthorized, unlawful, and unconstitutional war zones.
  The War Powers Resolution states that the President must notify 
Congress within 48 hours of committing American troops to 
``hostilities'' or ``imminent hostilities.'' The War Powers Resolution 
goes on to provide that the President must remove troops from the 
conflict if Congress does not authorize their presence within 60 days 
or a maximum of 90 days in the case of certain emergencies.
  Congress's passage of the War Powers Resolution was a bold assertion 
of its constitutional responsibility in the face of a chronically 
overreaching executive branch. In fact, Congress's desire to uphold the 
Constitution was so strong that it actually overrode President Nixon's 
veto of the War Powers Resolution.
  Members of Congress today could certainly learn a thing or two from 
their predecessors' commitment to constitutional duties and to the 
limited power possessed by each branch of government.
  Since the War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973, defenders of a 
royal executive have tried to go around it and

[[Page S1666]]

tried to circumvent it altogether by claiming that their unauthorized 
wars somehow do not qualify as ``hostilities.''
  We heard this claim by President Obama in response to Libya, and we 
heard it again in response to Yemen. It is the official position of the 
U.S. Department of Defense that we are not engaged in ``hostilities'' 
in Yemen unless our troops ``are actively engaged in exchanges of fire 
with opposing units of hostile forces.''
  To translate, the U.S. Government really claims that it is not 
engaged in hostilities unless U.S. troops are on the ground being shot 
at by the enemy.
  It stretches the imagination, and it stretches the English language 
beyond its breaking point to assert that our military is not engaged in 
hostilities in Yemen. Consider for a moment what it is that the U.S. 
military is doing as part of the Saudi-led coalition effort against the 
neighbors of Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni neighbors.
  U.S. military personnel are assigned to the joint combined planning 
cell in Saudi Arabia, where they are sharing military intelligence with 
the Saudis and helping to target enemies within Yemen for attack. Our 
forces are also refueling coalition bombers in midair on combat 
missions. If sending our military men and women to foreign lands to 
fuel a country's bombers and handpick its targets does not qualify as 
``hostilities,'' then those words have lost their meaning. What does 
the word ``hostility'' mean if it cannot be said to encompass that?
  As it happens, the War Powers Resolution was designed to stop secret 
and unauthorized military activities such as these. So Congress is well 
within its right to vote on whether these activities should continue.
  That is why this joint resolution that is authored by Senator Sanders 
and cosponsored by Senator Murphy, myself, and six others represents a 
big chance--a significant chance, a constitutional moment--for Congress 
to do the right thing, for Congress to do its job, and for Congress to 
represent the American people. After all, this is their blood and their 
treasure that are being put on the line. That is why the Constitution 
and the War Powers Resolution alike contemplate actions by Congress and 
not solely unilateral action by the executive branch.
  I ask my colleagues Senator Sanders and Senator Murphy: Isn't it 
arguable that by overreaching in this instance, we might in fact be 
making matters worse? Couldn't we be putting our country in a position 
of less security rather than more?
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I say to Senator Lee that I think that is 
an excellent question. That was just the question that I was going to 
ask of Senator Murphy, because I think we understand that in recent 
history, when there is chaos and confusion in a country, it provides an 
extraordinary opportunity for al-Qaida and their allies to move in.
  We have spent billions and billions of dollars fighting al-Qaida and 
their affiliates, and I fear very much, as you have indicated, that the 
situation we are creating in Yemen in many ways is making life easier 
for them.
  I would ask this of Senator Murphy--and maybe listeners might be 
surprised by this: What side of this battle is al-Qaida on in Yemen 
right now?
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I thank Senator Sanders for the question. 
This is incredibly important to understand.
  There was great consternation in the beginning of this civil war, 
when the United States, under the Obama administration, was beginning 
to support the Saudi-led coalition. The Saudis were only targeting the 
Houthis, and as the al-Qaida wing inside of Yemen was getting stronger 
and stronger, no matter how much we asked, no matter how much we 
pushed, the Saudi-led coalition would not drop bombs on al-Qaida and 
would not send any of their forces near them. They were only focused on 
the Houthis.
  The answer as to why that was happening is very simple. The enemy of 
your enemy tends to be your ally, and inside Yemen, the Houthis were 
drawing fire from both the Saudi-led coalition and from al-Qaida. In 
the early stages of this fight, the policy of the Saudi-led coalition 
was to have hands off of al-Qaida, and that made al-Qaida stronger and 
stronger and stronger.
  Now, admittedly, recently we have been more successful in getting the 
Emirates, not necessarily the Saudis, to take on targeted missions 
against al-Qaida, but that is only a recent phenomenon, and it is 
frankly belied by the fact that we have new information that at the 
same time that the Emirates are occasionally taking out operations--and 
sometimes dangerous operations, with risk of life to their forces 
against al-Qaida--they are also supporting other militias inside 
Yemen--Salafist militias--that are in many ways just as radical as al-
Qaida is and are recruiting the types of recruits that one day may join 
ISIS and one day may join al-Qaida, targeting against the United 
States. So this is a very chaotic space in which very purposefully, for 
a period of time, the coalition allowed for al-Qaida to grow. Even 
though that policy has changed recently, there are still signs that 
there are some people who are very dangerous to the United States who 
are being supported on the ground by members of our coalition.
  I know Senator Durbin is here, so I want to turn it over to him. I 
just want to say two more quick things on this point. One is to note 
that our resolution does continue to allow for the United States to 
target al-Qaida. We built into this resolution a carve-out for any 
military activities that are currently authorized by the 2001 AUMF, and 
the administration interprets that to be al-Qaida and affiliated 
follow-on organizations. So let's be clear that if you care about the 
United States targeting al-Qaida, that can continue here.
  Finally, to Senator Lee's point about this interpretation of 
hostilities, let's be clear about how narrow a definition that is. 
There have to be American troops on the ground exchanging fire in order 
for the War Powers Act to be triggered. That is not what Congress 
intended because, in fact, that would then allow the administration to 
perpetuate an unlimited air campaign, dropping unlimited munitions, 
devastating, ruining a country, without any input from Congress. Even 
if one would say ``Well, that does involve U.S. personnel flying 
overhead, so maybe that is potentially putting U.S. troops in the line 
of fire,'' remember, we are also entering an era of robotic warfare, in 
which U.S. personnel are going to be less instrumental to hostilities 
that will still have grave consequences for the United States.
  Clearly, the notion of war and how you fight it has changed over the 
years. The Founding Fathers never imagined air campaigns. Yet, the 
intent and the language of the War Powers Act and of the Constitution 
are clear. When war is being waged, when hostilities are being entered 
into, Congress has to have a say. Please, look at any of the pictures 
that we are putting before you and tell us that the United States is 
not engaged in hostilities if the effect in the country of Yemen is 
  I thank Senator Durbin for joining us on the floor today, and I yield 
to him.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleagues, Senator 
Sanders, Senator Murphy, and Senator Lee, for this bipartisan effort.
  Why are we here today? Why are we discussing wars so far away? We are 
here because of this book. This is the Constitution of the United 
States. The Constitution very expressly tells us what we are supposed 
to be doing here. In article I, section 8, it lays out the things that 
we, the men and women who serve in Congress, are responsible for. Among 
the things that Congress shall have the power to do is to ``declare 
  Why did the Founding Fathers make certain that it was clear that 
Congress would be involved in that decision on the declaration of war? 
When they created Congress, the idea was that the people of this 
country, far and wide, would at least have a voice in the decision, 
through the people they elected, and we would be held accountable for 
our decisions to declare war or to not declare it because we are up for 
election. So Congress has this responsibility, and over the years, many 
times, Congress has not exercised its responsibility in a responsible 
  I have a question. I bet that if I brought in every U.S. Senator and 
asked them the following question, very few would be able to answer it: 
How many countries is the United States military currently involved in

[[Page S1667]]

fighting? How many countries are we in today, fighting? Would you guess 
two? Iraq, Afghanistan--all right, for sure, there. Five? Ten? Twenty?
  Brown University's Costs of War Project recently published data 
saying that the United States fought terror through direct fighting, 
training, or military support to other forces or through drone strikes 
in 76 countries between October 2015 and 2017. Is that the right number 
today? I am not sure. None of us know.
  We are often surprised to learn we are sending our military and 
fighting in another country. When something awful occurs--Americans are 
killed, for example--sometimes Members of Congress hear it for the 
first time: Oh, we are in what country fighting?
  I take this pretty seriously, and I have over the years when it comes 
to the authorization of using force, because it isn't just a matter of 
projecting American power; it is life and death. These are decisions 
that will be made by Congress or by the President--sometimes both--and 
the net result of it, even under the best of circumstances, is that 
Americans will perish. Funerals will be held in Illinois and in Utah 
and in Vermont and in Connecticut and in Wisconsin. That is the reality 
of the decisions we reach.
  I can remember the debate right after 9/11 on the floor. It was one 
of the most important of my career. It was a question about whether we 
would authorize the President of the United States--President Bush at 
the time--to use military force to respond to 9/11. If my colleagues 
remember the debate, there were two real options on the floor. One was 
to use military force against those responsible for the attack on the 
United States and to send that force into Afghanistan. The other was to 
go after the so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were 
two parallel debates, but two debates that I saw very differently.
  I was skeptical from the start about this Iraqi invasion. Nobody ever 
connected the dots between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. We were talking 
about the threat that he was to the rest of the world. Yet we voted 
here on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2002 to authorize the use of 
military force to go into Iraq. Sadly, we are still there today. Sadly, 
Iraq is in shambles, politically and physically, and the war continues.
  I voted no. I remember that night. It was in October of 2002. I 
remember that night because the vote was taken very late, and there 
were two or three of us who stayed on the floor here, including Kent 
Conrad, as well as Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. Paul Wellstone was up 
for reelection. We wondered if that vote would affect him in any way, 
and I remember going up to him and saying: Paul, I hope your vote 
against the war in Iraq doesn't cost you the election.
  Wellstone said to me: It is all right if it does. People know where I 
stand. They expect nothing less.
  He didn't live to see the election. If my colleagues will remember, 
he died in a plane crash with his wife and staffers just a few days 
after that vote.
  But that is the gravity of this decision. That is the importance of 
this decision. And that is why I want to thank my colleagues for 
bringing us together--just a few of us but enough of us, maybe--in the 
Senate to remind people of our constitutional responsibility.
  The vote on Afghanistan was one I voted for--the invasion of 
Afghanistan. The message was clear: If you attack the United States, we 
will come right back after you, al-Qaida, and we did.
  I recently asked the Secretary of Defense--when I voted that way in 
2002, I did not imagine that 15 or 16 years later, that war would 
continue. So I asked him: How does this war ever end in Afghanistan? He 
didn't know the answer. He didn't come up with one. All he could say to 
me was that if we left, it would be worse.

  Well, you can say that about a lot of other countries in the world. 
But what we are talking about today is what we are going to do in terms 
of this horrid situation in Yemen. I was in my office looking down on 
this debate via C-SPAN, and I saw the photos that have been displayed 
here--the utter human and physical devastation that is taking place.
  Senator Sanders is asking a simple but deeply important question here 
today, and Senator Lee and Senator Murphy join him. Here is the 
question: Who authorized the U.S. military action to help Saudi Arabia 
fight the Houthis in Yemen? I didn't. I don't remember that there was 
ever a vote. So how are we doing this? By what authority is our 
government doing this?
  This is not about the merits of the fight or in any way a vindication 
of the Houthis' troubling role in the horrific Yemeni civil war; it is 
about whether Congress follows its constitutional responsibilities. It 
is about whether the American people have a voice in this decision--the 
same people who will send their sons and daughters to bravely serve in 
our military.
  I am happy to be a cosponsor of this resolution that halts any such 
U.S. support without any congressional authorization. I call on this 
Congress to deal with revisiting the 2001 and 2002 authorizations of 
force that I believe have been stretched by multiple administrations 
beyond any credible limit.
  There are real threats to the safety and security of America out 
there--al-Qaida and its successors and others. But we in Congress have 
the responsibility to authorize those conflicts and regularly update 
them as necessary.
  Congress and the Senate have been absent without leave when it comes 
to article I, section 8, and our authority and responsibility to 
declare war. We have other looming threats, including North Korea and 
Iran, but any U.S. war against those countries or others, short of 
protecting against an imminent attack as allowed for in the War Powers 
Resolution, requires the vote of Congress, regardless of who the 
President may be.
  When it comes to the declaration of war, we simply cannot see this as 
an annoyance. We must do our part. We must follow the Constitution, 
even when it is difficult.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Illinois very 
much for his perceptive remarks and for reminding us that the time is 
long overdue for the U.S. Congress to accept its constitutional 
  I wanted to ask Senator Lee if he--we are running out of time here--
has some closing remarks.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Vermont. I 
appreciate his remarks and his leadership on this, and I appreciate the 
remarks that Senator Durbin and Senator Murphy have added to this 
  I want to close by pointing out that in addition to being unlawful 
and in addition to being unconstitutional, our involvement in Yemen is 
unproductive in the fight against terrorism. The Houthis we are 
fighting are a regional force--one that doesn't harbor ambitions of 
attacking the U.S. homeland. While the Houthis are certainly no friend 
of ours, neither are they a serious threat to our country. Yet we are 
diverting considerable resources to fighting the Houthis, resources 
that would be better spent fighting more substantial threats--threats 
that harbor, rather openly, ambitions of bringing down the United 
States, of attacking the United States. These are threats like al-Qaida 
or ISIS. On that point, the best evidence we have suggests that their 
involvement in Yemen has arguably undermined our fight against ISIS.
  The State Department's most recent study, its most recent ``Country 
Reports on Terrorism''--which, by the way, happens to be the authority 
on that subject for Congress and the American people--says that we have 
inadvertently strengthened ISIS by killing off its antagonists, the 
Houthis. This just reinforces the farcical character that our military 
excursions in the Middle East have the potential to undertake. We bomb 
with one hand; we give humanitarian aid with the other hand. We whack a 
terrorist from one group, and another springs up in its place.
  Defenders of our efforts in this war in Yemen often claim that the 
real reason we are fighting the Houthis is that they are a proxy for 
Iran, which is the true threat to our Nation and to the world. This 
would be perhaps a reasonable rationale, but there are conflicting 
reports about the Houthis and their ties to Iran. Iran has expansionist 
views; the Houthis do not. Hezbollah is an officially listed as a 
foreign terrorist organization; the Houthis are not. The Houthis may be 
a rogue non-

[[Page S1668]]

State actor, destabilizing their own country, but they are not a threat 
to America--at least not yet. By helping the Saudis bomb them, we only 
give the Houthis reasons to start to hate us. Our involvement in Yemen 
detracts from our ability to be a diplomatic resource and the 
peacemaker in the region.
  In closing, the substance of the resolution offered by Senator 
Sanders and cosponsored by Senator Murphy, me, and others is simple. It 
puts our war against the Houthi rebels to a vote. It concerns the 
Houthis and only the Houthis. If Members are convinced that our fight 
against the Houthis is worthwhile, then so be it. Congress will have 
done its part and the fight will go on, but if Members are not willing 
to pay the heavy pricetag for this war, calculated in dollars and in 
innocent human lives, then our resolution will bring U.S. operations to 
a close.

  This resolution is an opportunity for Members of Congress to stand up 
and be counted on a matter of life and death. It is an opportunity to 
end the Executive's unconstitutional dominance over matters of war and 
peace and restore in its place a collaborative process whereby Congress 
declares war and Presidents wage war.
  I thank Senator Sanders.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, let me conclude by thanking Senator Lee, 
Senator Murphy, Senator Durbin this afternoon, thanking Senator Booker, 
Senator Warren, Senator Leahy, Senator Markey, Senator Feinstein, and 
Senator Wyden for their cosponsorship of S.J. Res. 54.
  Let me summarize it very briefly in this way: Congress cannot 
continue to abdicate its responsibility on the all-important issue of 
how and when the United States becomes involved in military 
intervention. We cannot continue to run away from that issue.
  If you think the war in Yemen and siding with the Saudis on this war 
makes sense, then come down to the floor of the Senate, make your 
position clear, tell your constituents what you believe, and then vote 
for the war but have the courage, at least, to accept your 
responsibility as a Member of the U.S. Congress and not abdicate it to 
the President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.

                             Climate Change

  Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, we have a series of Senators who are going 
to be speaking about what is happening as a result of climate change 
and sea level rise, which is having its effects in my State of Florida, 
  Few States are as vulnerable to climate change than what we find 
particularly in South Florida, Miami Beach being Ground Zero. What is 
happening as the sea level is rising--and these are not projections, 
they are not forecasts; these are actually measurements, measurements 
by NASA and NOAA over the last 40 years that the sea has risen in South 
Florida 5 to 8 inches.
  We see the effects of that at the seasonal high tides--now, more 
increasingly, along with the cycles of the Moon each month. Water, 
typically, is sloshing around in streets and sloshing over the curves. 
As a result, the city of Miami Beach has had to spend tens of millions 
of dollars on huge, expensive pumps and has also had to raise the level 
of the roadbeds.
  NOAA's most recent worst-case scenario projections predict a 2-foot 
sea level rise by 2060 and, if we take it all the way to the end of the 
century, 6 feet by 2100. Needless to say, in a peninsula that sits in 
the middle of what we know as Hurricane Highway, 6 feet would inundate 
so much of the coastal areas. By the way, the population of Florida is 
21 million people, and 75 percent is along the coastal regions. That 
puts all of the entire Nation's low-lying coastal cities at risk of 
major flooding, not to mention our military installations along the 
  The seas are not just rising; they are also warming, and they are 
rising because they are warming. Of course, I have explained this 
several times on the floor of the Senate: As the Sun's rays come in and 
hit the Earth, some of the heat is absorbed, but some of it is 
reflected off the Earth's surface and is radiated out into space.
  When you put up an extra abundance of greenhouse gases--mainly carbon 
dioxide and methane--and they move into the upper atmosphere, they 
serve like a glass ceiling of a greenhouse; thus, the term, the 
``greenhouse'' effect. Then, as that heat is reflected off the Earth 
that would normally radiate out into space, it is trapped and, thus, 
the entire Earth starts to heat.
  Two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by oceans, and 90 
percent of that heat is absorbed into the oceans. What happens to water 
when it is heated? It expands. So we see the reasons that warmer water 
means the sea levels rise.
  Do you know what else it produces? More frequent and more ferocious 
hurricanes. After the back-to-back punch of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, 
and Maria, imagine how much we would have to spend in Federal disaster 
aid if we had a hurricane season like last year every year. That is why 
it is so critical to continue funding climate and weather research and 
to keep improving NOAA's hurricane models.
  This information can make the difference in a life-or-death 
situation. We saw what havoc the hurricanes visited upon Texas and then 
Florida after it had already crossed Puerto Rico, but then along comes 
Maria, and it hits the island directly. As of today, 5, going on 6, 
months after the hurricane, the poor island of Puerto Rico--our fellow 
American citizens--17 percent today do not still have electricity. So, 
indeed, there has been a lot more loss of life as a result of 
  Our coastline in Florida is blessed, as a hurricane is approaching, 
with a natural breakwater. It is called the Florida Reef Tract. It is 
along the southeastern coast. Of all the major barrier reefs in the 
entire world, Florida has the third largest. It starts south of Key 
West and continues all the way up the Keys, north, up to Fort Pierce, 
  This Florida reef is the only barrier reef in the continental United 
States. Healthy reefs are able to reduce storm damage by taking a lot 
of the impact, but climate change, ocean acidification, and an 
unprecedented coral disease outbreak are hurting Florida's reefs and 
diminishing their ability to act as a shoreline buffer. I am not even 
talking about all the other things that reefs do--which is the natural 
place for all the fish and critters of the sea to gather, swimming in 
and around and among all of the coral reefs.
  That is why, last week, I wrote a letter to the Secretaries of 
Commerce, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services calling for an 
interagency strike team to be formed to finally diagnose the coral 
disease in an attempt to save the remaining reefs.
  I want to show an example of the difference between a healthy reef 
and a diseased reef. Look at the difference. Here is the healthy coral. 
Look how the diseased reef has actually been bleached out. So time is 
running out on this third largest barrier reef on the planet. We have 
to respond to the causes and effects of climate change now. The longer 
we put it off, the harder and more expensive it is going to be to 
  I thank Senator Whitehouse and my fellow colleagues who are speaking 
out on this critical mission.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, first, let me thank my good friend from 
Florida. His State may be more affected by climate change than just 
about any other. We hear about water lapping up on the shores of 
Southern Florida already and the constant flooding. We have seen these 
amazing pictures that equal 1,000 words about the coral reefs--and he 
even talked about a word we rarely use in Brooklyn, ``critters.'' We 
want to save the critters too.
  So he has been eloquent--not just today but constantly--on the issue 
of climate and does it in such a practical perspective that just about 
every American of every ideology, part of the country, and thought 
process can understand. So I thank him.
  Of course, I thank our great leader on this issue, the Senator from 
Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse. He is passionate, and his passion 
carries over into effective action. There has been no voice more 
clarion, more constant, more effective in remembering that we cannot 
ignore this issue, constantly reminding us how important it is. I thank 
Senator Whitehouse not only for pulling us all together tonight but for 
his great strength and constancy on this issue.

[[Page S1669]]

  I join my colleagues to shed light on the subject of climate change, 
which has received scant attention, unfortunately, from President Trump 
and this Republican Senate. Despite decades of incontrovertible 
evidence that climate change is harming our planet, President Trump and 
the Republicans have done nothing about it. In fact, worse than doing 
nothing, they have actively weakened our environmental laws, decrying 
the very science that has helped us progress, has helped men and women 
progress through the centuries.

  Republicans in Congress have undone the environmental protections 
that held corporations accountable for polluting our streams. They have 
undone the rule that increased transparency in the management of public 
lands. Through an unrelated tax bill, congressional Republicans opened 
up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
  In the executive branch, EPA Administrator Pruitt has implemented an 
extreme deregulatory agenda, unwinding the rules that keep our air 
clear, our water clean, and limit carbon emissions that poison our 
atmosphere and our planet.
  Worst of all, President Trump announced that he will pull the United 
States out of the Paris climate accord, which would make America the 
only country in the world that isn't a part of the agreement. While the 
world comes together to negotiate sensible climate change policies, 
while other nations and other foreign businesses grab the mantle of 
leadership on green energy, the United States, which used to be such a 
leader on so many issues, can only sit and watch from the sidelines--
all because President Trump decided to pull out of the Paris accord. 
What a remarkable mistake. It will go down in history as one of the 
worst days in American history, as the world gets hotter and climate 
change takes its toll on our country and the world.
  Climate change is real, human activity is driving it, and it is 
happening right now. These are facts. This is not speculation. This is 
not someone spinning a tale. These are facts not in dispute. Scientists 
know it. Businesses know it. The world knows it. The American people 
know it too.
  We in New York learned about the devastating impact of Hurricane 
Sandy. It took so long to rebuild our coastal communities. All of Long 
Island understood that climate change is real and devastating when you 
do nothing about it.
  The storms are getting more powerful--storms like Sandy--more 
frequent, and there is no doubt that climate change is playing a role. 
We watched three recordbreaking hurricanes buffet our cities and our 
coastlines, devastating parts of Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and 
the U.S. Virgin Islands. Stronger wildfires have ripped through our 
Western States. According to NOAA, 2017 was the most expensive year on 
record for disasters in the United States, costing hundreds of billions 
of dollars. We are running out of time to do something about this 
  Together with my colleagues this evening, led by Senator Whitehouse, 
who will be giving his 200th ``Time to Wake Up'' speech--what a great 
accomplishment; I admire it--I urge all Americans--particularly younger 
Americans, who understand that this planet will decline if we don't do 
something, and it is their planet--I urge everyone--younger Americans, 
older Americans, everybody--to contact Republican Senators and 
Congressmen and tell them to wake up on climate change.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The assistant Democratic leader.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, for the past 6 years, Senator Sheldon 
Whitehouse of Rhode Island has delivered weekly addresses to the Senate 
Chamber on climate change, telling us that it is time to wake up. That 
is the sign he posts on the floor each time he comes to discuss the 
disastrous effects of global warming. Today will mark his 200th speech 
on the Senate floor on this topic.
  The urgency of the topic is real. Climate change threatens our 
national security and our local communities. Climate change drives 
global conflict and has far-reaching national security implications.
  A report by Oxfam states that there is growing evidence that climate 
change is making droughts more frequent and more severe.
  Drought has contributed to the crisis in Syria, migration from West 
Africa, and rapid urbanization in Somalia. Just last week, ``PBS 
NewsHour'' reported that in the last year alone, more than 1 million 
Somalis have been forced from their homes because of drought.
  Herders and farmers used to live among one another, but increasingly 
severe drought has led to a scarcity of land and water. Some animal 
herders now carry weapons and fight over fertile land. Farmers who have 
fled to the city claim herders burned down their homes and turned their 
farmland into grassland. The fighting and scarcity of land has pushed 
both farmers and herders to the cities, and most of them end up in 
ramshackle camps, burdened by poverty--a tinderbox.
  Last March, 110 people died from starvation and drought-related 
illness in 48 hours, prompting President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to 
declare the drought a national disaster. Still, 1.2 million children 
under the age of 5 are projected to be malnourished in 2018.
  Somalia is not the only country where the effects of climate change 
have created and exacerbated regional conflicts. In a few days, Syria 
will mark the seventh year of civil war. Research published by the 
National Academy of Sciences reports that climate change has 
contributed to the crisis in Syria. Extreme drought in Syria between 
2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that drought 
was a factor in the uprisings in 2011, when more than 1 million 
displaced farmers joined pro-democracy protests.
  Just last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Tom 
Friedman wrote about massive migration out of parts of West Africa, 
through the Sahara Desert, to Libya, where people were hoping to 
eventually cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. The migration is 
driven in part by drought made more extreme by climate change, which 
has created widespread humanitarian crises.
  As climate instability drives more extreme and frequent droughts and 
the scarcity of fertile land, water, and food, it will trigger major 
conflicts over resources, as we have seen in Yemen and Syria. As one of 
the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States 
has a moral responsibility to act on this growing crisis.
  Here in our country, my constituents in Illinois are already 
experiencing the adverse effects of climate change. Climate models 
suggest that if current global warming trends continue, Illinois will 
have a climate similar to that of the Texas gulf coast by the year 
2100. You can't grow a lot of corn in that climate. For Illinois 
farmers, these changes to the environment have a direct effect on their 
livelihood--and for all of us, a direct effect on our food supply.
  Wetter springs and more frequent flooding will leave farmers 
struggling to plant their corn and soybeans. Increasingly hot summers 
and more frequent droughts will stunt the growth and hurt crop yields. 
This means prices will increase, making it harder for families to put 
food on the table.
  In recent years, Illinois has seen historic storms, floods, and 
droughts that have caused millions of dollars in damage.
  Last week, scientists at the Illinois State Water Survey reported 
that this February was the wettest on record, beating the previous 
record precipitation by over half an inch. An average of 5 inches of 
rain fell statewide. Streator, IL, had over 11 inches of rain, and 
Aurora had the largest snowfall, with a recorded 26 inches of snow. In 
the last week of February, rainstorms and melted snow caused flooding 
across Illinois, with more than 20 counties throughout the State placed 
under a flood warning. As the water level of rivers continued to rise, 
several communities had to evacuate for their safety. Multiple 
communities were evacuated, and in some areas, residents had to be 
rescued by boat. Flooded roadways claimed the life of an Illinois 
resident after her car rolled into a rain-filled ditch.
  Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and severity of 
flooding in Illinois, as well, and my constituents are concerned about 
their ability to recover from repeated flood events.

[[Page S1670]]

  How much is flood damage costing us in Illinois? Last July, 3,200 
residences were impacted by flooding, including 244 with major damage. 
This damage costs millions but often doesn't rise to the level where 
anyone qualifies for Federal aid. From 2007 to 2014, flooding in urban 
areas has caused $2.3 billion in damages.
  Moving forward, repeated flood events will have a high price tag. In 
the last decade, extreme weather events and fire have cost the Federal 
Government over $350 billion, according to OMB. These costs will rise 
as the climate changes.
  The evidence is clear. We need to get serious about addressing the 
cause and effect of climate change. Ignoring them threatens our 
national security and our safety. I believe our generation has a moral 
obligation to leave the world in better shape than we found it. Let's 
not run away from our responsibility to our children and grandchildren. 
Let's work toward solving the challenges of climate change.
  This is a hard issue to explain from a political point of view. The 
only major political party in the world today that denies climate 
change is the Republican Party of the United States of America.
  It is hard to imagine that a great party that once was actively 
engaged in a positive way in this debate is now absent without leave.
  It is hard to explain that the party of Richard Nixon, who created 
the Environmental Protection Agency, now is in complete denial when it 
comes to climate change and global warming.
  It is hard to understand that they are missing the obvious indicators 
of evidence from every corner of the world about the impact of global 
  It is almost impossible to understand how they can ignore the impact 
this will have on the lives of our children and grandchildren. Is it 
too much to ask our generation to make a little sacrifice to spare them 
the devastation that will come from climate change? Is it too much to 
ask us to be a little more sensitive in our use of energy so that our 
kids and grandkids can enjoy a good life in their years on Earth? That 
usually is a responsibility most generations accept, but we are being 
told that it is just too much to ask--to ask current Americans to come 
forward and do something that is thoughtful, meaningful, to reduce 
energy consumption and reduce emission and pollution. I think that is a 
horrible situation. I think it is one we shouldn't be proud of at all.
  I thank my friend Sheldon Whitehouse for coming to the floor 
regularly and reminding us of what is happening in this world today and 
how we each have a responsibility to future generations to alleviate 
the suffering, the pain, and the damage that has been caused by this 
global warming.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I come to the floor this evening inspired 
by the determined efforts of my colleague Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode 
  My colleague has made clear, by delivering his 200th floor speech on 
climate change, that he is committed to raising awareness about and 
urging action on this very real threat to our environment.
  Let me speak briefly as someone trained in science as a chemist. I am 
troubled that time and again I am called to this Chamber to defend and 
advocate for science. We live in a time of unprecedented scientific 
advances. Throughout our history, we have turned to science to help us 
solve both domestic and international crises. Science was there, for 
example, to do battle against the Ebola outbreak, threats from 
hurricanes and other natural disasters, and the dangers of cigarette 
smoke and lead exposure. It was scientists who helped find a cure, 
provide early warning, who educated us, and who influenced politics to 
lead to policies that led to stronger industry and consumer safety 
standards in facing all of these threats. The scientific method has 
saved lives and ensured our survival, so why don't we more widely 
embrace the science of prediction, mitigation, and adaptation to the 
effects of climate change?
  Climate change is real. We know climate change is already happening, 
although it is slow, gradual, and often hard to perceive. Its effects 
will impact human health, agricultural production, national security--
an unbelievable range of concerns that should motivate us together. Yet 
I have colleagues who either aren't convinced or don't understand that 
climate change is a real and pressing threat.
  Let me briefly cite one meta-study of scientific opinion. It surveyed 
13,950 peer-reviewed articles and studies on climate change and found 
that only 24 of them rejected global warming--less than 0.2 percent. 
Although there is not unanimous opinion, when there is 99.8 percent 
agreement in the scientific community, we should agree that this degree 
of certainty is enough to take action.
  ``An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'' is an aphorism 
that dates back to the early 1700s. Why are we waiting? Let's change 
our ways. Let's work together to lower greenhouse gases, combat 
pollution, and slow the impact of climate change.
  As someone who represents the State of Delaware, I am passionate 
about this because we are the lowest mean elevation State in America. I 
have heard from folks up and down the First State--from my colleague 
Senator Carper, from our Governor, from our community leaders, and from 
concerned citizens from Wilmington, to Rehoboth, to Middletown--that 
they are concerned about sea level rise and its likely impact on our 
State. We need to do more because, in my small State, sea level rise is 
happening at twice the national rate. In about 100 years, everyone in 
Delaware will finally have a beach house--just not the way they want 

  Let me conclude by saying we need to look forward, not backward, when 
addressing climate change and sea level rise. We need action, not 
reaction. We need policy, not politics. We should act today, not 
  Again, I thank Senator Whitehouse. It was my pleasure to have him 
visit my home State of Delaware and see what we are doing to plan for 
and to combat sea level rise as a result of climate change. It was my 
honor to join him this evening and lend my support to him, to our 
environment, and to the fight against climate change.
  I yield to my senior colleague from our shared home State of 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The Senator from Delaware.
  Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I am Tom Carper, and I approved this 
  I have had the privilege of serving on the Environment and Public 
Works Committee for--oh, my gosh--17 years and now serve as the senior 
Democrat on the committee. I have had the opportunity of serving with 
Sheldon Whitehouse for more than half of those years. He is a senior 
member of our committee, a good friend, and, I think, someone who is 
respected by Democrats and Republicans and Independents alike here in 
the Senate. He is the junior Senator from Rhode Island, but he casts a 
long shadow on a lot of issues, none less than the issue we are 
discussing here today.
  I join my friend Senator Coons in thanking Sheldon sincerely for his 
passion and for his persistence in highlighting what the vast majority 
of the world recognizes as the greatest environmental challenge of our 
time, and that is climate change.
  Our friend from Rhode Island is a well-known climate champion, but 
what some may not know is that Sheldon has spent over 500 hours here on 
the Senate floor in reminding all of us that it is long past time to 
wake up, that it is time to wake up and get serious about addressing 
this ever-growing threat. I learned early on in the Senate that if we 
want to get anything done, we have to be persistent, and we have to 
stay on message. He has been staying on that message through 200 floor 
speeches, and the theme has always been ``time to wake up.'' For nearly 
6 years now, Sheldon Whitehouse has reiterated what his constituents in 
the Ocean State and what constituents in our State, the First State, 
see every day--climate change is real, human beings are making it 
worse, and it is threatening our economy and our way of life. Those of 
us living in coastal States also know all too well that we can no 
longer ignore the issue or wait to take real action.
  While our friend from Rhode Island is--what they like to say in Rhode 
Island--wicked smart, you don't have to

[[Page S1671]]

take his word for it that climate change is a growing threat, for 
leading scientists in our country and around the world have been saying 
this not just for a couple of years but for decades. Scientists and 
medical professionals have also linked climate change to increased air 
pollution, deadly high temperatures, and more pests in our food and 
water--all of which negatively impact our health and disproportionately 
affect the most vulnerable among us.
  These days, you don't need a degree in science or medicine to see the 
disastrous effect of climate change on the world in which we live. 
Rising sea levels and extreme weather events from climate change are 
the new norm. In 2017 alone, we had multiple category 5 hurricanes--I 
think maybe for the first time in history. We had the second hottest 
year on record, catastrophic fires in the West, and severe flooding in 
the East. These events place extreme burdens on the American people, on 
our economy, and on our budget, having cost our Federal Government 
literally hundreds of billions of dollars not over the last 10 years 
but last year--in 1 year.
  The effects of rising sea levels are even more harmful in low-lying, 
coastal States, like Delaware. Senator Coons explained that Delaware is 
the lowest lying State in America, where the highest piece of land in 
our State is a bridge. There is a combination of things going on in 
coastal States like ours. In our State, the land is sinking, and the 
sea is rising. That is not a good combination for Delaware or any other 
place, and our friends from Rhode Island know of what I speak.
  I am delighted that Senator Whitehouse is a member of the Environment 
and Public Works Committee with many of us because, whether we are 
discussing environmental policy or infrastructure investments, the 
Senator from Rhode Island never fails to remind our colleagues of the 
unique and significant challenges that coastal States face as a result 
of climate change.
  Many people may not know this, but as I said before, you can go to 
Delaware, the lowest lying State. You can come with me and drive south 
on State Highway 1, past Dover Air Force Base, make a left turn on 
Prime Hook Road, drive to the edge of Delaware Bay, and look across 
toward New Jersey. There is a concrete bunker--I don't know--maybe 500 
feet out in the water, poking up out of the water. What used to be 
there at the water's edge was a parking lot, where people used to park 
their trucks and launch their boats and go out and fish or whatever. 
That concrete bunker out in the ocean, out in Delaware Bay, used to sit 
500 feet west of the dune line. It is now out in the ocean and is 
largely covered when we have high tide.
  I invite my colleagues who deny climate change to visit our State. 
Come to Delaware and see firsthand what I just described at Prime Hook 
Beach. Come with us to a place called Southbridge, which is just at the 
southern edge of Wilmington, DE, or to the roads that are washing out 
in Odessa, which is about 30 miles south of Wilmington, where the 
strongest storms have ravaged our beaches and the sea level has risen, 
as I mentioned earlier, at Prime Hook Beach.
  One colleague who has been to Delaware more than a few times is 
Sheldon Whitehouse. I like to call him affectionately ``the 
Whitehouse.'' A few years back, Senator Whitehouse came to the First 
State to see a spectacular natural event that Delaware is lucky to host 
every year--the arrival of the red knots. They fly for literally 
thousands and thousands of miles, from south to north and north to 
south. They stop for lunch in Delaware. They eat the eggs of our 
horseshoe crabs, and they refuel for their journey. Imagine it. They 
are not this big. They are maybe half the size of the birds that are 
right here, but they can fly literally thousands of miles--almost 
10,000--before stopping to refuel.
  Each year, Delaware Bay hosts tens of thousands of tiny but tough 
birds--the red knots. The red knot regularly migrates some 19,000 
miles, it turns out, each year from the southern tip of South America 
all the way up to the Arctic Circle. It stops in Delaware to feed on 
horseshoe crab eggs and refuel for the rest of its journey. It is an 
incredible journey for such a small shorebird. Its arrival on our 
shores is a must-see event, as our friend from Rhode Island can attest.

  You might think that a bird as hearty as the red knot, which flies 
across the globe every year, might be able to escape the effects of 
climate change, but warming temperatures, ocean acidification, and sea 
level rise are threatening their food supply and their nesting grounds 
all along their journey. If nothing else, we should be working together 
to ensure that our children and our grandchildren will be able to 
experience natural phenomena like the arrival of the red knots for 
years, for decades, for centuries to come. We should also recognize 
that we share a home with these creatures. It is not just our planet; 
it is their planet too. If we allow climate change to determine their 
fate, it will undoubtedly determine ours eventually.
  I will close with this. I know that fighting climate change is a 
personal matter for me. I also know that the same is true for our 
friend from Rhode Island. We are fighting for our constituents' way of 
life, and our Senator from Rhode Island and I will continue to speak 
truth to power.
  To the climate science deniers who are still out there, I borrow the 
fitting words of our Ocean State colleague: It is really time to wake 
up. Climate change is no longer in the distant future; it is here, it 
is now, and we need to meet that challenge head-on.
  I yield to the Senator from Hawaii.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, the news about climate change certainly 
feels daunting. In the United States, we have historic wildfires, 
hurricanes, storms, and floods. Severe weather has upended people's 
lives, destroyed businesses and homes, and is now costing the economy 
tens of billions of dollars every year. Around the world, it can 
sometimes seem even bleaker. Cities are running out of water, and 
drought has distressed entire regions and pushed people out of their 
homes and fueled conflict.
  Meanwhile, here in Washington, DC, the Trump administration is 
actively undermining our ability to address climate change. At the EPA 
in particular, Scott Pruitt is allowing polluters to violate the Clean 
Air Act and the Clean Water Act. He plans to eliminate limits on 
methane emissions and protections that keep toxic chemicals from 
polluting our waterways. He is rolling back the Clean Power Plan and 
fuel efficiency standards that keep too much carbon from polluting the 
air. He has cut the number of fines for polluters by more than half, 
and he has reduced the EPA's staff so that it is down to the same level 
that it was in 1984. There are 700 EPA employees, including 200 
scientists, who have left since the beginning of the Trump 
administration. In other words, this administration is not just 
ignoring climate change and its impacts, it is actually throwing fuel 
on the fire.
  So is there any reason for hope? Let me give you three reasons to 
actually be hopeful.
  First, the rest of the world is going to move forward with or without 
leadership. Every single nation in the world is working to lower its 
emissions and meet its commitments as part of the Paris Agreement. 
Experts said that even without the United States, the Paris Agreement 
can succeed if nations follow through, and there are some promising 
signs that this is happening.
  In China, experts predicted that coal consumption would peak between 
the years 2020 and 2040, but Brookings reported earlier this year that 
the country's consumption of coal has already peaked. One-third of 
global investments in renewable energy today come from China. In 2018, 
they will likely make up half of the entire global market for new solar 
  China is not the only one making progress here. The world is in a 
race for clean energy. A coalition of 22 countries and the EU is 
investing more than $30 billion a year in clean energy research and 
  That brings us to the second reason to have hope on climate change, 
and that is economics. Here in the United States, financial incentives 
remain the law regardless of what Scott Pruitt wants the law to be. We 
still have the investment tax credit and the production tax credit for 
solar and wind, and they are pushing us toward clean energy. Last year, 
more than half of the

[[Page S1672]]

new energy generation that came online in the United States was that of 
wind and solar--more than coal and natural gas combined.
  The fact is that clean energy is now cheaper than dirty energy. In 
2009, coal cost $111 per megawatt hour, natural gas $83, wind $135. 
Utility-scale solar cost a whopping $359--about 3\1/2\ times the cost 
of coal. By 2017--listen to these numbers--it was $102 for coal, $60 
for natural gas, $45 for wind, and $50 for utility-scale solar. Now 
wind and solar are 20 percent cheaper, on average, and coal is twice as 
expensive as clean energy.
  Even the fossil fuel industry understands that we are moving toward a 
low-carbon economy. That is why their investors are demanding 
accountability. Last year, a majority of shareholders forced ExxonMobil 
to start reporting on how the fight against climate change will impact 
the oil company, which is the largest oil company in the world. 
TransCanada canceled its plans to build an oil pipeline that would have 
carried 1.1 million barrels of oil a day because of the changing 
economic and political calculations.
  Third and finally, the United States may not have the President's 
leadership on climate change, but when it comes to the Paris Agreement, 
corporations, States, and cities have stood up and declared: We are 
still in. Thousands of mayors, Governors, CEOs, Tribal leaders, and 
average Americans are working to meet our commitment to the Paris 
Agreement. Here is one example at the State level. More than half of 
the States have clean energy policies in place, and many have capped 
emissions. In Hawaii, we will transition to 100 percent clean energy by 
the year 2045, and analysts are optimistic that we may reach our goal 
sooner than that. These efforts are making a difference. Researchers at 
Carnegie Mellon found that the United States can meet our original 
commitment to the Paris Agreement regardless of what Rex Tillerson, 
Donald Trump, and Scott Pruitt want. Even if the EPA undermines our 
effort, we are still on track.

  George Washington once said that ``perseverance and spirit have done 
wonders in all ages.'' He also said that ``it is infinitely better to 
have a few good men than many indifferent ones.'' By these two 
measures, there is even hope in Congress. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse 
will be remembered in history as the epitome of perseverance and spirit 
when it comes to climate change. He understands the moral urgency of 
this moment. When we look at the Senators joining him on the floor this 
evening, it is clear that we have more than a few good men and women 
working on this issue.
  We will continue to shine a light on the many ways that this 
administration is failing the American people by ignoring climate 
change. We will also continue to hope because the absence of leadership 
from this President has not stopped the rest of the country or the rest 
of the world from acting on climate, and it will not stop us from 
moving forward.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
  Ms. WARREN. Mr. President, I rise today to join the citizens of 
Massachusetts who are making their voices heard and sending a clear 
message to President Trump: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts stands 
strong in opposition to his reckless proposal to expand offshore 
drilling. We stand strong in opposition to yet another handout to Big 
Oil executives who are willing to put corporate profits ahead of the 
health of our coastal families. We stand strong in opposition to this 
administration's willful ignorance of climate change and the world's 
ongoing clean energy revolution.
  President Trump may say that his drilling plan is about growing jobs, 
but the truth is that this offshore drilling proposal is a slap in the 
face to every hard-working coastal family. President Trump is willing 
to put corporate profits for his Big Oil buddies ahead of shipping 
crews in Boston, ahead of the fishermen from Gloucester to New Bedford, 
ahead of the mom-and-pop diners all along the Cape, ahead of every 
tourism industry worker, and ahead of the families of all of these 
workers. President Trump is willing to gamble with the livelihoods of 
over 600,000 North Atlantic coastal and ocean workers. The people of 
Massachusetts and the people who depend on a clean coast are not 
willing to take that gamble.
  Our coastal communities remember when the BP Deepwater Horizon 
oilspill happened in 2010. One offshore oil well blew and caused 
Deepwater Horizon's drilling rig to explode. It killed 11 workers, 
injured 17 others, and unleashed one of the worst environmental 
disasters in human history. Nearly 5 million barrels of oil gushed into 
the ocean, contaminating more than 1,300 miles of coastline and nearly 
70,000 square miles of surface water. Millions of birds and marine 
animals died, suffocated by thick coatings of oil and poisoned by other 
toxic chemicals. The gulf fishing industry lost thousands of jobs and 
hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The spill devastated the 
gulf's coastal tourism economy. The environmental and economic 
devastation hit working families and small businesses across the 
  But the Trump administration insists on padding the pockets of Big 
Oil while small coastal towns bear all the risks that something will go 
wrong. The local towns bear the risk of a devastating oilspill. The 
local towns bear the risk of climate change impact, including increased 
coastal habitat destruction, fisheries threatened by ocean 
acidification, and rising sea levels. President Trump and this 
Republican Congress want to bury their heads in the sand or bury their 
heads in the big pile of Big Oil money, but the reality is this: 
Climate change has happened, and the evidence is all around us. The 
consequences are worsening with every single day of inaction.
  Make no mistake. We are in the most critical fight of our generation 
and we are running out of time. We are in a fight to save our coastal 
towns, a fight to save our farmers, a fight to save our fishermen, a 
fight to save good-paying clean energy jobs, and a fight for our 
children's future.
  Will winning the fight against climate change be tough? You bet it 
will. We will need to retool to install offshore wind turbines instead 
of offshore drilling rigs. We will need to invest in faster clean 
energy deployment, modernize the electric grid, build sea walls to 
protect our coastal towns, and much, much more. It is a big job ahead, 
but there is no country and no workforce in the world that is more 
willing and more able to tackle the challenges of climate change head-
on than the United States of America. Yes, it is hard, but it is what 
we do. It is who we are.
  We are a nation of unrelenting workers who clawed our way out of the 
Great Depression, who fought two world wars, who put a man on the moon, 
and who electrified the Nation with 20th century fuels. With a level 
playing field, we are a nation of workers who can electrify the world 
all over again with the 21st century fuels of wind, solar, and other 
clean energy sources.
  The American people deserve leadership that understands just how 
innovative and persistent we are--leadership that knows the fearless 
strength of the American people; leadership that believes in the 
innovative, get-it-done attitude of the American worker; leadership 
that will stand up to Big Oil executives hell-bent on protecting their 
profits at our expense; and leadership that knows that our best days 
are ahead of us. But we have to fight for them. They deserve leadership 
that will not ignore the challenges of climate change; leadership that 
will not chain our economy to the fossil fuels of yesterday and, 
instead, will support the good-paying, clean energy jobs of tomorrow; 
and leadership that refuses to put our coastal families at risk of 
another devastating oil spill.
  The American people deserve leadership that doesn't work for Big Oil. 
The American people deserve leadership that works for them.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I first wish to thank Senator Whitehouse, 
one of my best friends in the Senate.

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We came to the Senate on the same day. He will go down in history as 
the best advocate in this body or perhaps the greatest moralist of our 
time combatting climate change. He has educated Members of the Senate--
some more resistant than others.
  He has taken to the floor over and over. He has continued to make 
sure that people listen to something important, and we all appreciate 
that leadership.
  Climate change affects Ohio jobs that rely on Lake Erie. The Great 
Lakes are vital to our industrial heartland, as the Rockies are to the 
West, as the Atlantic coastline is to New England, as the Gulf of 
Mexico is to the Presiding Officer's own State of Florida. In fact, 84 
percent of America's freshwater is in the five Great Lakes. Only polar 
icecaps contain more freshwater than do the Great Lakes.
  Lake Erie is one of the biggest lakes in the world. It is also the 
shallowest of the lakes. This is an amazing statistic. Lake Erie is the 
shallowest and among the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area. 
Lake Erie contains 2 percent of all the water in the Great Lakes, yet 
it contains 50 percent of the fish in the Great Lakes because it is 
warmer and shallower and conducive to aquatic life and fish life.
  Its shallowness makes it particularly vulnerable to storm water 
runoff and the algae blooms that it causes. The Maumee River runs 
through Toledo. The Maumee River Basin is the largest drainage basin of 
any of the Great Lakes, and the largest river that empties into the 
Great Lakes is the Maumee.
  Climate change makes these algae blooms off the coast of Toledo in 
the western base of Lake Erie. Climate change makes those blooms worse. 
It contaminates our lakes, and it threatens the Ohio businesses and 
communities that rely on Lake Erie. Three summers ago, we had to get 
bottled drinking water to the citizens of Toledo and the surrounding 
areas of Northwest Ohio because the water was not potable at that time.
  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we 
know that one effect of climate change in the Great Lakes region has 
been a 37-percent increase in the gully washers--the heavy rain events 
that contribute to algae blooms.
  I talked to farmers who have been farming in the Western Lake Erie 
Basin for decades. Just a few weeks ago I did a roundtable in that part 
of the State. My staff member Jonathan McCracken has done a number of 
roundtables before. Since talking to these farmers, they tell us they 
are experiencing heavier rain events more often and with greater 
intensity compared to even 15 years ago, let alone in the lifespan of 
many of these farmers.
  Hotter summers and shorter winters make this worse. The effects of 
algae blooms have a profound effect on the ecosystem. That is why this 
matters. Protecting our lakes is one of the biggest environmental 
challenges facing the entire Midwest. It is the biggest challenge 
facing Ohio.
  We have made some progress over the last 8 years, thanks in large 
part to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI is working. 
Everybody knows it does. Nobody claims it doesn't.
  I remember how polluted Lake Erie was when I was growing up. I grew 
up an hour or hour and a half from there. My family, a week or two in 
the summer, would drive north to Gem Beach. I remember the dead fish. I 
remember the smell of the lake. I remember that this lake was in big, 
big trouble.
  We have made progress cleaning up its tributaries. We increased 
access to the lake. We approved habitats for fish and wildlife. It has 
been a bipartisan success story, and it took the Federal Government to 
do it. The city of Cleveland couldn't do it, nor the city of Lorraine, 
the city of Sandusky, the city of Port Clinton, the city of Ashtabula. 
They couldn't clean up the lake. The State of Ohio didn't have the 
ability and the resources to clean this lake up. It took the Federal 
Government and the U.S. EPA to have the strength and the dollars and 
the mission to clean up this lake. That is why it has been a bipartisan 
success story all over our country.

  We need to make sure that GLRI has the funding it needs to keep up 
its work and not eliminate it, as the President again proposed in his 
budget. Taking a hatchet to GLRI would cost Ohio jobs, and it would 
jeopardize public health by putting our drinking water at risk.
  If you are over 50 years old, you remember what that lake looked 
like. You remember what that lake smelled like. You remember how people 
didn't swim there, how people's drinking water was threatened. You 
remember that before EPA, before there was this bipartisan commitment 
to clean up one of the greatest of the Great Lakes. You remember that.
  Obviously, this President doesn't know this. This President won his 
election based on winning these Great Lakes States, and he has 
abandoned these States by drastically cutting funding for the Great 
Lakes Restoration Initiative.
  Those of us along the Great Lakes didn't stand for a budget that 
eliminated GLRI last year. Nothing has changed this year. Ohioans on 
both sides of the aisle will go to the mat for our lake.
  I am working with Senator Portman--I am a Democrat; he is a 
Republican--and my Ohio colleagues from both parties to protect it. 
Budget cuts are terrible for this; climate change will only make it 
  When I was young, people wrote off Lake Erie as a polluted, dying 
lake. As I said, I remember seeing it. I remember smelling it. I 
remember hearing people talk about it. Many, many people thought that 
there wasn't much future for this Great Lake, that it would be 
impossible to clean up.
  People in the past have had a habit of not just writing off Lake Erie 
but also writing off my State. We have proved them wrong time and 
again. We proved them wrong back then, we proved them wrong today, and 
we will prove them wrong in the future.
  Our lake is improving. It is supporting an entire industry. It 
supports the jobs it creates. It is providing drinking water and 
recreation and so much more to communities across our State, and we 
can't allow climate change to ruin that progress. We cannot write off 
Lake Erie. We cannot write off the millions of Ohioans and people from 
Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, and 
Minnesota who depend on these five Great Lakes.
  I see it up close. I live only 5 or 6 miles from the lake. I know 
what it means for my community. I know how important this is for the 
future--the environmental future--of our country, the economic future 
of my State. It is important for all of us to come together on a 
bipartisan basis.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I join my colleagues today to discuss 
climate change. I want to thank Senator Whitehouse for being a vocal 
advocate for addressing this issue.
  Climate change is real. It is happening all around us, and we can't 
afford to ignore this fact any longer.
  This past year, global temperatures were up 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit 
over the historical average. Millions of Americans came face-to-face 
with extreme weather events like deadly wildfires and powerful 
hurricanes, and these extreme weather events are only expected to get 
  If no action is taken to significantly reduce greenhouse gas 
emissions, the world will warm 7 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. 
Rising temperatures will bring increasingly more severe droughts, 
destructive floods, deadly wildfires, and strong coastal storms. Rising 
temperatures are also warming our oceans, threatening to melt both 
polar icecaps.
  Last summer, the world watched as an iceberg the size of Delaware 
broke free from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf. Scientists are now 
studying how the entire shelf may collapse and projecting what that 
would mean for the even larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet as oceans 
continue to warm. That sheet--twice the size of Texas--contains enough 
ice to raise sea levels by more than 10 feet.
  That much sea rise would submerge more than 25,000 square miles of 
the United States that is home to more than 12 million Americans.
  Rising seas and the loss of coastal land aren't the only threats we 
are facing due to climate change. The effects it is having on our water 
supply is deeply troubling.
  California is home to the largest agriculture sector in the United 

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Our growers need access to plenty of water to help feed the whole 
Nation. As temperatures rise, we are seeing fewer and fewer days below 
freezing, greatly reducing mountain snowpack which is a critical source 
of water in the West. Extreme heat is also making it harder for 
agriculture workers to safely work outside. In the Central Valley, 
average temperatures are projected to rise 6 degrees by the end of this 
century. It is not just people who work outdoors who are feeling the 
health effects of climate change. Warmer temperatures are expanding the 
range of disease-carrying pests such as ticks and mosquitos. Lyme 
disease cases have tripled in the last two decades, and tropical 
diseases are now appearing as far north as the Gulf Coast.
  Californians know all too well the effects of climate change. We are 
still recovering from an historic drought and the most destructive 
wildfire season on record. But we may be in another drought by next 
year if we don't get more rain soon.
  In the absence of leadership from the Federal Government, California 
is stepping up and taking action. California is still honoring the 
Paris Agreement even though the President pulled the United States out.
  By 2030, California will reach 50 percent renewable electricity, 
double energy efficiency, and reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 
levels. California has also grown to become the sixth largest economy 
in the world, showing you can still grow your economy while making 
smart investments in clean energy.
  President Trump and his allies in Congress need to wake up. We can't 
afford to ignore an issue as important as climate change any longer.
  The American people demand action.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise today to commemorate the 200th 
speech the Senator from Rhode Island, Mr. Whitehouse, will make here on 
the floor of the U.S. Senate on the need to act on climate change.
  When global challenges arise, countries throughout the world look to 
the United States for leadership. Climate change is an issue that 
affects billions of people worldwide, and the United States can and 
should be a leading voice in combating it.
  Despite making significant progress under President Obama, President 
Trump has decided to reverse course and take a backseat while the rest 
of the world tackles this issue head-on. Over the last year, the United 
States has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, weakened air and water 
protections here at home, moved away from renewable energy, and 
implemented drastic funding and staffing cuts at the Environmental 
Protection Agency, EPA.
  President Trump's decision to retreat from our commitment to 
combating climate change comes at a critical time for the state of our 
environment. His abdication of responsibility is calamitous. The vast 
majority of scientists have concluded that climate change is real and 
caused by human activity, and Americans are already feeling the 
  Last year, for instance, our Nation experienced one of the most 
destructive hurricane seasons on record and a series of deadly 
wildfires. On top of this, sea levels continue to rise at record pace, 
posing an existential threat to coastal communities throughout the 
country. This is especially dangerous for the State I represent, as 
many Marylanders live in areas that are acutely susceptible to rising 
tides and flood damage. As such, much of our essential communication, 
transportation, energy, and wastewater management infrastructure is at 
  This begs the question: What kind of environmental legacy do we want 
to leave for our children and grandchildren? I believe that it is our 
responsibility to leave our beaches, farms, towns, and wetlands 
healthier than we found them.
  The most recent research suggests that our actions over the next 5 
years will shape the course of sea level rise for generations. 
Therefore, the time is now to take decisive action on climate change. 
If we fail to do so, we will be left to explain to the next generation 
why we failed to act in the face of so much incontrovertible evidence.
  Some of my colleagues argue that tackling climate change is too 
costly an undertaking. They claim that any action we take to protect 
human health and the environment will inevitably cost jobs and hurt the 
economy. The reality is that nothing poses a bigger long-term threat to 
our economic and national security than climate change.
  As sea levels and temperatures climb higher, so do the costs of doing 
business. Changing weather patterns increase risk for homeowners. Our 
attempts to cool a heating planet will strain our energy supply. These 
are just a few of the economic consequences that we will face if we 
fail to take action.
  The progress we have seen in Maryland demonstrates that we can 
preserve our environment while maintaining a robust economy. 
Marylanders have taken decisive action on a range of environmental 
issues, and the State is currently on track to meet the guidelines 
established in the Paris Agreement. Thanks, in part, to the 
partnerships within the Chesapeake Bay Program, the health of the Bay 
has been steadily increasing for years.
  At the same time, Maryland's farming industry, which employs over 
350,000 Marylanders, has remained vibrant. Our success in Maryland is a 
testament to what we can do as a nation on climate change.
  The key to our success will depend on the degree to which we are 
willing to cooperate with each other. This includes interstate 
partnerships such as the Chesapeake Bay Program, as well as 
international partnerships like the Paris Agreement. We should not let 
President Trump's decision to remove the United States from the Paris 
Agreement discourage us from working together to achieve our goals. In 
the spirit of collaboration, we should continue to partner with the 
States, localities, universities, and business that have decided to 
honor the global commitment we made under President Obama.
  I am especially proud to see the city of Baltimore, Hyattsville, 
Takoma Park, the University of Maryland School System, and all the 
other localities and organizations lead this effort in Maryland by 
joining the America's Pledge project.
  America's Pledge is a new initiative co-led by California Governor 
Edmund G. ``Jerry'' Brown, Jr., and the U.N. Secretary-General's 
Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael R. Bloomberg, which 
aims to assess the scope and scale of climate actions being taken by 
U.S. States, cities, businesses, and other non-Federal actors. I am 
proud the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of 
Maryland is among the institutions providing the project their research 
  I encourage my colleagues to put our planet, our environment, and the 
future of humanity over partisan politics and President Trump's 
stubborn insistence on retrograde policies. We must do what is best not 
just for ourselves, but for future generations, too. The United States 
of America has been a world leader on so many issues, which redounds to 
our own benefit. Now is not the time to abdicate that role. The world 
and our children are watching.
  We are fortunate to have climate change leaders like Senator 
Whitehouse. With a dogged persistence, he has come to this Chamber 
month after month to educate, to cajole, and to inspire us to take 
  Most of all, he has warned us of the grave danger climate change 
presents. Will we be like the Trojans of ancient Greek mythology, who 
ignored the prophecies of Cassandra about the imminent destruction of 
their city? We do so, like the Trojans, at our own peril. Cassandra's 
prophecies came true. If we listen to Senator Whitehouse and learn from 
him and take action now, we can change our fate for the better.
  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I thank my friend Senator Sheldon 
Whitehouse, and congratulations on his long history of action on 
climate change.
  Six years ago, Senator Whitehouse began a campaign to speak every 
week about climate change. One need only look at the past 6 years of 
climate impacts to understand just how important the Senator's pledge 
  The planet has been warming for years, but in the last few years, the 
disturbing trends have accelerated. The last 4 years have been the 
hottest on record.
  The effects of climate change are already obvious, from the eroding 

[[Page S1675]]

off Cape Cod to storm surge in Boston Harbor. January's bomb cyclone in 
Massachusetts broke the flood record in Boston set by the Blizzard of 
  Sadly, this is our new normal. Thirteen of the top 20 biggest flood 
events in Boston have occurred since 2000. While Massachusetts gets 
overrun by the impacts of climate change, President Trump has plans to 
expand offshore drilling off the New England coast. This is the very 
definition of insanity.
  Our communities and our oceans are feeling the pressure of the 
changing climate. But what has the Trump administration decided to do 
about it? Worse than nothing. It has started to withdraw us from the 
Paris Climate Accord. It has repealed the Clean Power Plan. It has 
rolled back historic fuel economy standards, loosened standards for 
hazardous pollutants, and declared all-out war on climate science.
  Throughout the administration, there has been an alarming attack on 
public information about climate change. On the Environmental 
Protection Agency's website, more than 5,000 pages of information on 
climate change have disappeared, either relegated to an unsearchable 
maze far from public view or simply deleted. Fact sheets on public 
health and climate change are gone. Resources for States and cities 
have disappeared. Guides for students and teachers are no more. This 
isn't transparency; it is a transparent attack on climate science.
  It is also an attack on our scientists. More than 200 scientists have 
left the EPA under the Trump administration. Those 200 scientists have 
been replaced with only seven new hires. Our top climate scientists are 
telling us that fear is rampant at EPA and across Federal agencies. The 
EPA's job is to instill fear into the hearts of corporate polluters, 
not its own scientists.
  We need to encourage more science, not less. We need science to 
inform the policies we need to provide the solutions that could save 
our planet. That is what Senator Whitehouse has championed for these 
past 6 years on the floor and throughout his career in public service.
  I thank Senator Whitehouse for asking me to stand with him today and 
for being an environmental Paul Revere, sounding the alarm on climate 
change. We cannot be silenced, and we will continue to work together to 
sound that alarm--because that is what is happening, the Earth's alarm 
clock has gone off and it is telling us all to wake up. There is no one 
who is more woke to what is happening to our planet's climate than he.
  Thank you.
  Mr. BROWN. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. KING. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. KING. Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleague from Rhode 
Island to talk about climate change, but I first want to make a comment 
about my good friend and an important Member of this body, Senator 
Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and what he has done.
  In the 1930s, a lonely voice stood on the floor of the Houses of 
Parliament, warning of the impending catastrophe of the rearmament of 
Germany in the advent of World War II. People didn't listen. Often, he 
spoke to a lonely House, but his voice was clear, his voice was 
prescient, and what he said was important. Of course, I refer to 
Winston Churchill.
  Today and over the past many years, Senator Whitehouse has performed 
that same function of warning us, of trying to wake us up to a 
challenge that is impending, that is catastrophic, that is significant, 
and that is also at least somewhat preventable.
  Senator Whitehouse has talked about climate change in terms of ocean 
acidification, temperature changes, sea level rise, drought, famine, 
and the effects throughout the world. Often this Chamber is empty, but 
his warnings are important and should be heeded nonetheless.
  The first thing I want to do is thank him and compliment him for the 
work that he has done over these many years and continues to do. I can 
see his sign--as I see it on C-SPAN and here on the floor--that says 
``Wake Up,'' and wake up is what we need to do.
  People often talk about climate change as if it were some abstract 
thing that is going on, and it is in scientific journals, and it is a 
kind of environmental movement that doesn't really affect real life 
that much; it is just sort of something that goes on out there and one 
of the many issues we have to deal with. But it is real. I will tell 
you how I know. The fishermen in Maine have told me so.
  Just this past Saturday, I spent the evening with a man who has been 
a fisherman for 40 years in the Gulf of Maine. He said that he has 
never seen the kinds of changes we have seen in the last 10 years. They 
are catching fish that have never been seen before in the Gulf of 
Maine. A lobsterman told me of pulling up a seahorse in his lobster 
trap. Seahorses aren't supposed to live in the cold water of Maine.
  This isn't an abstract question for us. Lobstering is a $1.7-billion-
a-year industry for Maine. Lobstering used to be a major industry in 
Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and now it is largely gone.
  There are multiple explanations, but one of them is that the water is 
warming, and our species, whether they are lobsters or trees or bears, 
are sensitive to small environmental changes.
  We have had record lobster harvests in Maine in the last 5 to 10 
years--although I have to say that in the last 2 years, they have been 
down. We don't know whether the declines are a blip or a trend. We 
deeply hope that it doesn't represent a trend, but we can't ignore what 
happened to the lobster population to our south.
  The water is getting warmer in the Gulf of Maine. The water in the 
Gulf of Maine is warming at the fastest rate of any body of water on 
Earth, except for the Arctic Ocean, and it has already wrought changes 
in the nature of our natural resource-based economy.
  Maine is a natural resource State, dependent largely upon fisheries, 
lobster, agriculture, farming, and forestry. That is who we are. Of 
course, another part of our economy is the millions of tourists who 
come to Maine each summer to visit our incredible coastline. Climate 
change isn't an abstract for us; it is a very real phenomenon.
  I want to emphasize not only what my friend the fisherman told me 
this weekend, but also that I have heard from fishermen all over Maine 
for the last 4 or 5 years about the changes they are seeing. This guy 
isn't a scientist, but he is out on the water, and he knows what he is 
catching. He knows he is catching fish he has never caught before. He 
has never seen the tropical, warm water fish now being caught in the 
Gulf of Maine.
  I think the other factor we need to talk about is a dollars-and-cents 
question that relates to sea level rise. We are talking about millions 
of dollars on the part of the U.S. Government to preserve the coastal 
infrastructure that we have in connection with our Armed Forces.
  The city of Norfolk is already experiencing what are called sunny day 
floods. The city of Miami--the Presiding Officer's hometown--is 
experiencing sunny day floods. These are floods that aren't caused by 
great storms, by great perturbations in the atmosphere; they are caused 
just by a high tide. The cost of dealing with this in Miami, New 
Orleans, New York, or Maine is going to be enormous.
  We tend to think of the ocean as a fixed commodity, as something that 
has always been the way it is now. It turns out that we have been 
fooled. We have been lulled into a sense of confidence about the level 
of the sea because for the past 8,000 years, it has been the same. But 
this is a chart that shows the depth of the Atlantic Ocean over the 
past 24,000 years.
  It turns out that 24,000 years ago, which was the height of the 
glacial period, the waters off the coast of Maine were 390 feet 
shallower than they are today--390 feet shallower. What you see here is 
the melting of the glaciers and the refilling of the oceans.
  From our historic point of view, the problem is that it got to a 
plateau about 10,000 years ago, and that is all we know. That is human 
history, right here. We don't remember this very much because it 
appeared before recorded human history.

  Now, there is an interesting moment in this chart, and it is right in 
this period about 15,000 years ago, and it is

[[Page S1676]]

called the meltwater pulse 1A. That is what scientists call it. We see 
a very steep rise in the ocean level during this period. Interestingly, 
this rise is about 1 foot per decade. That is what happened during that 
time about 15,000 years ago.
  Well, a year and a half ago I went to Greenland with two climate 
scientists, one of whom focuses almost exclusively on sea level rise. 
The estimates vary quite a bit, I will concede, but their estimate was 
that what we are facing now is 1 foot of sea level rise per decade for 
the rest of this century. Has it ever happened before? Yes. Is that an 
outrageous estimate? No, because it has happened before. It can happen 
again. Why? Because the last remnants of the glaciers are in Antarctica 
and Greenland, and between the ice sheets on those two areas is 260 
feet of additional sea level rise. Greenland is melting at an 
unprecedented rate, and there is a huge ice shelf in Antarctica that is 
poised to fall into the ocean. If that happens, it will cause sea level 
rise, just as dropping an ice cube in a glass of water does.
  The indications are overwhelming of what this issue means for the 
future of this country. This is not an academic question.
  Here is another example of what is happening in a relatively short 
period of time. The volume of ice in the Arctic Ocean has fallen by 
two-thirds since 1979--a 40-year period. The Arctic Ocean is more clear 
today than it has ever been in human history. Anybody who says nothing 
is happening or it is just routine or the weather changes all the time 
isn't paying attention to the facts. Again, my concern about this is 
practical: the cost of seawalls, the cost of shoring up our 
infrastructure, just the cost to the government of protecting the naval 
facilities in Norfolk. Of course, one of the problems in the State of 
the Presiding Officer is, the rock is porous limestone so it is very 
difficult to build a seawall because the water will simply come under 
it. So we are talking about a very serious practical issue that is 
going to cost our society billions, if not trillions, of dollars.
  Can we stop it? Probably not. Can we slow it? Yes, but it is going to 
take action today, and every day we wait, it makes the action harder 
and more expensive. If we wait until the waves are lapping up over the 
seawall in New York City or over the dikes in New Orleans or over the 
streets of Miami or along the coast of Maine at our marshes and low 
points, it will be too late. Then all we can do is defend and not 
  I believe we can make changes now that are not totally disruptive to 
our economy but will be protective of our economy and will be much 
cheaper now than they will be 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years from now. 
What we are doing is leaving the problem to our kids, just like we are 
leaving the deficit to our kids, just like we are leaving broken 
infrastructure to our kids.
  Tom Brokaw wrote a book after World War II called ``The Greatest 
Generation.'' That was the generation that sacrificed in World War II, 
and then they built the Interstate Highway System, paid for it, and 
paid down the debt that was accumulated during World War II. We are 
just the opposite. We are increasing our debt on all levels at a time 
of relative prosperity. The economy is at low unemployment. Yet we are 
passing trillion-dollar tax cuts that add to the deficit that these 
young people are going to have to pay off.
  We are not attending to the problem of climate change. Who is going 
to have to pay to build those seawalls? Not us; our children and our 
grandchildren. I believe this is a moral and an ethical issue as well 
as a practical issue.
  So I will return to where I began: to compliment my colleague from 
Rhode Island for raising the alarm, for pointing out what we can do, 
how we can do it, the consensus of scientific opinion, and the reality 
of what we are facing. We can do better. We don't have to avoid and 
ignore and waste the resources and the time we have now.
  The most precious resource we have now to confront this problem is 
time, and every day that goes by is a day of irresponsibility. It is a 
day where our children and grandchildren are going to say: Where were 
you when this was happening? Why didn't you listen to that guy from 
Rhode Island who told you what was going to happen, who told you how we 
could do something about it? Why didn't we listen? I don't want to be a 
person who says I didn't listen because I was too busy or because it 
was inconvenient or because I was afraid it might change a little bit 
about how we powered our automobiles or got electricity.
  I think it is a question we can face. This body can solve big 
problems. It has done it in the past, but recently our pattern has 
been, instead of solving problems, avoiding problems--putting them off 
until next year, next month, or decades from now when this problem is 
no longer a problem but a catastrophe.
  So I salute and thank my colleague from Rhode Island for keeping the 
focus on this issue. I look forward to continuing to work with him, as 
we will continue to urge and plead with our colleagues to join us in 
reasonable steps that can be taken to ameliorate what is coming at us. 
This is a moment in time when we have it within our power to do 
something important for the future of our country and for the future of 
our children. I hope we can seize that moment and serve not only the 
American people today but the American people who will come after us 
and will judge us by the extent to which we confronted a problem and 
saved them from having to solve it themselves.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Daines). The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I come to the floor to amplify the 
efforts of my colleague Senator Whitehouse as he gives his 200th 
climate speech on the Senate floor. He really has become a modern-day 
Paul Revere on one of the most critical issues of our time that very 
well dictates the future of our planet and our way of life as we know 
it. I believe history will record that Senator Whitehouse riveted the 
attention of the Senate--or attempted, certainly, to do so--and the 
Nation on the real threat that is climate change. Climate change may be 
an inconvenient truth to some, but it is a threat to New Jersey, to the 
United States, and to the security and stability of our world. It is a 
challenge we cannot afford to ignore.
  I agree with my distinguished colleague from Rhode Island that it is 
well past time for this Congress to wake up and demand climate action 
from this administration.
  We often hear the Trump administration officials, and even some of 
our colleagues in Congress, suggest that ``we don't know enough'' about 
climate change to take action, when the truth is, we know too much not 
to take action.
  We know about the greenhouse effect and how gases like carbon dioxide 
trap heat in our atmosphere. We know that since 2010, we have 
experienced the five warmest years on record and that momentary cold 
snaps in our weather do not detract from the indisputable reality that 
around the world, temperatures are steadily rising. We know that 97 
percent of scientists agree that manmade climate change is real and 
that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities have led to 
unprecedented levels--unprecedented levels--of carbon dioxide in our 
atmosphere and in our oceans.
  We know experts at NOAA have concluded that since the Industrial 
Revolution, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic--the greatest 
increase in 300 million years.
  Likewise, we know the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest 
of the world and that as icecaps melt, our sea levels rise, endangering 
the coastal communities that drive so much of America's economy.
  In New Jersey, we know the real threat posed by climate change, and 
we know that threat is real. My constituents bore the brunt of 
Superstorm Sandy when it devastated the Jersey shore. We know rising 
sea levels and the powerful storms that accompany them jeopardize our 
coastal communities. From tourism to commercial fishing, to coastal 
property values totaling nearly $800 billion, millions of families 
across New Jersey depend upon a healthy coast and a safe climate. While 
I may be partial to the Jersey shore, the reality is, nearly 40 percent 
of the American people live along a coast. That is 40 percent of our 
country threatened by rising sea levels, stronger storm surges, and 
more extreme flooding.

[[Page S1677]]

  Of course, climate change is far from just a coastal problem. From 
life-threatening heat waves to crop-destroying droughts, to record-
breaking wildfires, the perils of a warming planet are not up for 
debate. The fact is, climate change will impact every human being and 
every living thing on this planet if--if--we fail to take action, and 
the American people know it.
  In October of 2017, the Associated Press found that over 61 percent 
of Americans want us to respond to this historic challenge--61 percent. 
Even President Trump's Department of Defense gets it. Earlier this 
year, the Pentagon reported that about 50 percent of all Department of 
Defense sites already--already--face risks from climate change and 
extreme weather events. As the ranking member of the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, I am particularly concerned that we have done 
little to address climate change's role as a threat multiplier.
  Whether it is disruptions to the food supply or forced migration from 
sea level rise or destruction wreaked by more powerful storms, climate 
change will likely exacerbate conflict and humanitarian crises around 
the world. President Trump's willful ignorance of these threats risks 
leaving the United States unprepared for the 21st century.
  There is no question that this willful ignorance is born out of this 
administration's cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry. From 
the Department of Energy to the Environmental Protection Agency, to the 
Department of the Interior, President Trump has stacked his Cabinet 
with individuals who seem more concerned about Big Oil profits than the 
safety of our people and the future of our planet.
  Nearly a year ago, the President announced his plan to withdraw the 
United States from the Paris climate accord, leaving us isolated on the 
global stage.
  Now is not the time to hand our precious waters and protected public 
lands over to special interests. Now is the time for Congress to 
incentivize the investments that will modernize our energy 
infrastructure, create new high-paying jobs, and grow our clean energy 
  That is why I have introduced the COAST Anti-Drilling Act to 
permanently ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic and protect the 
coastal communities so vital to New Jersey and other States. That is 
why I introduced legislation with 22 of my colleagues to level the 
playing field and eliminate taxpayer-funded subsidies for the five 
biggest oil companies. That is why I have worked on the Senate Finance 
Committee to extend incentives for wind and solar and other clean 
energy technologies. That is why I have backed legislation that would 
help harness the potential for limitless clean wind power off our 
  These initiatives represent modest, commonsense steps toward a 
thriving clean energy economy, but, ultimately, it is not enough. We 
need to think bigger and act boldly. That is why I am here on the floor 
today with Senator Whitehouse calling for action on climate change. It 
is time we take action to reduce carbon pollution, create new, high-
paying jobs, and accelerate the adoption of innovative clean energy 
technologies. It is time this administration wake up and put the long-
term economic, environmental, and security interests of the United 
States ahead of fossil fuel profits. It is time the United States 
reclaims its rightful place as the global leader on climate change.

  The American people demand it, and the future of our planet depends 
on it. That future, to a large degree, is going to be, hopefully, 
achieved because of individuals willing to stand up for a cause, being 
principled about it, and willing to fight for it and continue like a 
laser beam on focusing the attention of the Senate, the Congress, and 
the American people. Senator Whitehouse is that person, and I salute 
him as he gives his 200th speech today.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. UDALL. I thank the Presiding Officer for recognizing me.
  Mr. President, I know the Presiding Officer hasn't been here the 
whole time, but many Senators have been speaking about climate change. 
We see in the Presiding Officer's State, in Glacier National Park--
which I think kind of tells it all--a national park created around 
glaciers, and they are disappearing rapidly.
  I come to the floor, first of all, to thank Sheldon Whitehouse for 
his remarkable leadership on the issue of climate change. His weekly 
wake-up call speeches have inspired a lot of us. Articles have covered 
his effort on this. This one is titled, ``A Climate `Wake Up' for the 
200th Time.'' He has been down here religiously taking on this issue.
  In this article, a major leader in the environmental movement said 
about Sheldon's speeches, ``[His] speeches have been critically 
important in drawing attention to the need for climate action.'' She 
also said, ``Demand for climate action is only growing, and certainly 
we give him credit for his leadership in that effort.'' Very true.
  I remember traveling with Sheldon Whitehouse to Paris, when all of us 
were very much enthused to see the world come together and sign the 
Paris climate agreement. We were all very excited. This effort had been 
going on for 40 years, and here the countries in the world were finally 
getting together. I watched Sheldon making those arguments over there. 
He argued his case persuasively, and he wins converts easily. So we all 
are here to thank him for his leadership.
  In particular, I would also like to talk about climate change, its 
impact on the Southwest, and where we are headed in my home State of 
New Mexico and the Greater Southwest. Climate change is here and now. I 
want to talk about that impact in the Southwest, which is severe. My 
home State of New Mexico is right in the bull's-eye.
  Our Nation and our Earth cannot afford for us to sit back and do 
nothing for the next 3 years, but this is precisely what is happening 
under this administration and this Congress. Our executive and 
legislative branches are not only sitting on their hands in the face of 
climate change disruption and devastation; they are aggressively 
halting all progress we are making.
  I was so discouraged when I saw the Administrator of the 
Environmental Protection Agency take down a climate change website that 
had gone from a Republican administration to a Democratic 
administration. I think it had been going on for almost 10 years. This 
was covered in the Washington Post. Administrator Pruitt, on taking 
office, took it down and said: We are going to update it. Here we are, 
more than a year, and if you try to look at that website, it just says: 
We are in the process of updating it. I don't think we are ever going 
to see it again, would be my guess.
  Let's look at some of the reasons and how the progress is being 
halted here. There are a number of reasons for this, but I think the 
biggest and most insidious is money--billions of dollars in campaign 
  The President and congressional majority are delaying, suspending, 
and stopping policies and programs that combat climate change because 
of the dark money in politics. Oil and gas, coal, power companies, and 
other special interests feed their campaign and PAC coffers while the 
clear public interest is ignored. We must reform our campaign finance 
system or our climate and the American people will pay a greater and 
greater price.
  Sheldon Whitehouse has made a contribution there with his book, 
``Captured,'' where he talks about this dark money indepth. That is 
another piece of scholarship that really adds to what is happening on 
this campaign finance front.
  While the President, his EPA Administrator, and his Interior 
Secretary are openly hostile to climate change science, career 
government scientists and professionals are still hard at work doing 
their jobs evaluating climate impacts.
  Last November, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, consisting of 
13 Federal agencies, issued volume I of the ``Fourth National Climate 
Assessment.'' It is the most authoritative Federal Government resource 
on climate change.

  It concludes, ``This period is now the warmest in the history of 
modern civilization'' with ``record-breaking, climate-related weather 
extremes,'' and human activities--especially greenhouse gas emissions--
are the ``extremely likely'' ``dominant cause.'' A pretty strong 
statement from the scientists.

[[Page S1678]]

  With climate change, the Southwest is expected to get hotter and much 
drier, especially in the southern half of the region. In the last 18 
years, New Mexico has seen one reprieve from drought, and the trend is 
unmistakable. We are seeing less snowpack, earlier melting, and less 
runoff. Even when we do get snow, new research shows we are getting 
less runoff from it. Our scarce water resources are even more strained.
  Here is a drought map of New Mexico from just last week, March 6. 
Virtually the entire State faces drier conditions. We can see it here, 
talking about the northern part of the State with extreme drought, most 
of the middle and northern part of the State in severe drought, and 
then the southern part of the State in moderate drought. Virtually, the 
entire State of New Mexico is in a very serious drought situation.
  Some experts are saying we need to stop thinking about this 
phenomenon as a drought but instead as a dry region becoming 
permanently drier. This is a direct threat to our way of life in New 
Mexico and the Southwest.
  Elephant Butte Reservoir is our biggest reservoir in New Mexico. It 
was built close to 100 years ago for flood control and irrigation. Its 
supply comes from the Rio Grande, our largest river in New Mexico and, 
as we know, a 1,900-mile river that flows through several States. It is 
a border for close to 1,000 miles or more, and it flows into the Gulf 
of Mexico, but for the decade ending 2010, on the Rio Grande, flows in 
the Rio Grande decreased 23 percent--almost one-quarter--from the 20th 
century average.
  Here are photos of Elephant Butte Reservoir from 1994 and 2013. These 
photos were taken from a satellite. This top photo is from 1994, and we 
can see a remarkable reservoir and how deep and extended that reservoir 
is. Now we jump forward about 20 years, and here is Elephant Butte 
Reservoir in 2013. The picture says a thousand words: The reservoir is 
rapidly, rapidly disappearing. We can see the dramatic decrease in 
supply over that short time. Our farmers and ranchers depend on this 
supply, and they are struggling. This year, the snowpack in the Upper 
Rio Grande is half of what it should be, and that will force the 
reservoir even lower.
  Across the Southwest, the average annual temperature has increased 
about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The last decade, from 2001 to 2010, was 
the warmest in over a century. Now, New Mexico is really feeling the 
heat. We are the sixth fastest warming State in the Nation. Since 1970, 
our average annual temperature increased about 0.6 degrees per decade--
or about 2.7 degrees over 45 years--and it is not over. Average annual 
temperatures are projected to rise 3.5 to 8.5 degrees by 2100.
  Difficult-to-control wildfires have multiplied because of dry 
conditions killing trees and other vegetation, threatening lives, 
destroying homes, and costing billions of dollars. New Mexico 
experienced its largest wildfire in 2012--the Whitewater-Baldy Complex 
fire--that burned almost 290,000 acres. The fire burned in the 
southwestern part of the State but caused air pollution hundreds of 
miles away in Las Cruces to the east and Santa Fe to the northeast.
  Agriculture is a mainstay for the Southwest's economy. We produce 
more than half of the Nation's high-value specialty crops, and crop 
development is threatened by warming and extreme weather events.
  Likewise, another key economic sector--tourism and recreation--is 
threatened by reduced streamflow and a shorter snow season. Ski Santa 
Fe used to always open Thanksgiving weekend. That hardly ever happens 
anymore. Reduced snow and higher temperatures have been an economic 
disaster for the slopes all over New Mexico.
  The Southwest's 182 federally recognized Tribes are particularly 
vulnerable to climate changes such as high temperatures, drought, and 
severe storms. Tribes may lose traditional foods, medicines, and water 
  Similarly, our border communities are in greater jeopardy because 
they don't have the financial resources to protect against climate 
change impacts. They are vulnerable to health and safety risks like air 
pollution, erosion, and flooding.
  The President and his administration have taken aim at Federal 
programs that would address all these impacts to my State and the 
Southwest. The President unilaterally withdrew from the Paris 
Agreement. EPA put the Clean Power Plan on hold. Secretary Zinke has 
done all he can to halt BLM's methane waste prevention rule. Public 
lands are open for coal and oil and gas drilling. The President's 
budget slashed climate science funding. The list goes on and on. This 
is not what the American people want. They believe science, they 
understand that human activity is causing climate change, and they want 
robust policies in response.
  Climate change presents the greatest threat our Nation and world now 
confront. It is the moral test of our age. We will be judged by future 
generations by how we respond now. We owe it to our children, our 
grandchildren, and beyond to meet this challenge head-on. I call upon 
my colleagues across the aisle to listen to the science and the 
American people and to work with us to take action.

  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  I believe Senator Whitehouse's colleague, the senior Senator from 
Rhode Island, is here to speak next.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, let me thank Senator Udall for his kind 
remarks and his great leadership.
  I rise today to add my voice to his voice and to that of so many of 
my colleagues in calling attention to the growing threat of climate 
change, and to encourage the Senate to take meaningful action. First, 
let me join all of my colleagues in recognizing and thanking my 
colleague, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island. His tireless 
work to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of climate change 
has truly made a remarkable difference in our country and around the 
  Senator Whitehouse comes to the Senate floor every week to tell us 
why it is ``time to wake up,'' and I am pleased to be able to join him 
as he gives his 200th such speech. These 200 speeches provide at least 
200 reasons why we should be acting quickly and decisively to address 
climate change. Just one of those reasons, which I would like to 
highlight, is the impact of climate change on our national security. 
Climate change acts as a threat multiplier, exacerbating other problems 
in unstable areas around the world. It is already creating conflict 
related to a lack of resources, whether it is access to food, water, or 
  I was just traveling through Djibouti and Somalia--adjacent to 
Yemen--and one of the great crises in Yemen is not just the conflict on 
the ground, but it is a water crisis that is causing massive drought. 
Then I moved on up to Jordan, and there spoke with our representatives. 
There is a water crisis in Jordan also and another threatened drought.
  These national security problems are climate problems, and these 
climate problems are national security problems. When it comes to our 
national security, decisions are made through a careful evaluation of 
risks, and we must be sure to include risks caused by climate change. 
It is particularly troubling to me to see that the current 
Administration is instead choosing to ignore the reality of scientific 
consensus by removing all references to climate change from documents 
like the ``National Security Strategy'' and the ``National Defense 
  The Department of Defense must be able to execute its missions 
effectively and efficiently. So it is disconcerting that climate-
related events have already cost the Pentagon significant resources--
measured in both monetary costs as well as in negative impacts on 
military readiness.
  In fact, Secretary Mattis, who understands these issues very well, 
and despite the official publication of the Department of Defense 
speaks very candidly and directly, has declared the following before 
the Senate Armed Services Committee:

       Where climate change contributes to regional instability, 
     the Department of Defense must be aware of any potential 
     adverse impacts. . . . climate change is impacting stability 
     in areas of the world where our troops are operating today. . 
     . . and the Department should be prepared to mitigate any 
     consequences of a changing climate, including ensuring that 
     our shipyards and installations will continue to function as 

[[Page S1679]]

  Across the globe, we see our forces in conflict. They are in the Horn 
of Africa. They are there facing not just radical fighters, but drought 
and environmental issues. Here at home, we have shipyards and naval 
bases on the coast that are seeing rising waters that are going to cost 
us hundreds of millions of dollars to remediate so they can continue to 
function. If we don't respond, if we put our heads in the sand on the 
issues of climate change, our national security will be in endangered.
  I was very pleased as the Ranking Member of the Armed Services 
Committee to support my colleagues when they included in the fiscal 
year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act a direction that the 
Department of Defense conduct a threat assessment and deliver a master 
plan for climate change adaptation. That was a bipartisan bill led by 
Chairman McCain and supported by vast numbers on both sides of the 
aisle who understand that climate change must be addressed. It also 
codified several findings related to climate change and expressed the 
sense of Congress that climate change is a threat to our national 
security. We are on record as a Congress saying that national security 
is jeopardized by climate change. That has to be embraced by the whole 
of government, not just the Senate or the House acting together.
  I must commend our colleague--Sheldon's and my colleague--Congressman 
Jim Langevin of Rhode Island because he pushed for the same measure in 
the House of Representatives, and he was successful.
  Just like other threats to our national security, it is critical that 
we recognize, plan for, and take steps to address climate change. 
Combating climate change may not seem as urgent as other threats we are 
facing today, but I would argue otherwise. If we don't begin to take 
aggressive action to protect ourselves from the effects of climate 
change, we will face ever increasing and severe consequences. Because 
of his clarion call to pay attention to climate change, Senator 
Whitehouse is advancing our national security interests in an important 
way, and I stand here to commend him and thank him.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Ms. BALDWIN. Mr. President, I rise to join and thank Senator 
Whitehouse for his ongoing commitment to give a voice to the issue of 
climate change and the threat it poses to our country and, frankly, our 
world. Senator Whitehouse has provided real, moral leadership on this 
issue, and I wish to express my gratitude for his unrelenting focus.
  Let there be no doubt that climate change is real. The question is 
not whether it is happening but how we will address it. Are we going to 
do all that we can to leave the next generation a safer and healthier 
  As my friend from Rhode Island has impressed upon us with due urgency 
week in and week out, climate change will be tremendously costly to our 
economy and to our very way of life. The longer we wait to act, the 
more costly these impacts will be.
  The State of Wisconsin has been a proud home to environmental leaders 
who have worked to pass on a stronger environment to future 
generations. I think of Aldo Leopold. I think of John Muir. I think of 
Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day.
  As a Senator for our great State, it is one of my top priorities to 
follow in this legacy and to preserve our natural resources and quality 
of life for future generations. It is not hard to see why Wisconsinites 
deeply value environmental protection. From looking out at the crystal 
clear waters of Lake Superior from its South Shore to standing atop Rib 
Mountain and gazing at the forests and farmlands of Central Wisconsin, 
to casting your fishing rod in the world-class trout streams of the 
Driftless region in the southwest of our State, there is no question 
that we are blessed. We are blessed with natural beauty in the State of 
  The impact of climate change can already be seen on these very 
landscapes and the economies they support. We see it in agriculture. 
Growing seasons are shifting, and extreme weather events are harming 
our crops. We have increasing concerns about drought and groundwater. 
In fact, NASA recently warned that droughts will not only become more 
severe, but our ecosystems will be increasingly slower to recover from 
those droughts. Decreased soil moisture will put stress on farmers and 
their livestock, on private wells, and on our municipal drinking water 
  These prolonged droughts, combined with the increased intensity of 
storms and changing temperature patterns, will force farmers to change 
how and what they grow. It is extremely troubling as agriculture is an 
$88 billion industry in the State of Wisconsin.
  We also see the negative effects of climate change on our Great 
Lakes. In Lake Michigan, for example, we see changes in precipitation 
and evaporation patterns due to climate change that may cause more 
dramatic fluctuations in lake levels than we have already seen. Data 
from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that average surface 
water temperatures have increased in all five Great Lakes since 1995. 
Warmer surface water temperatures disrupt the food chain and facilitate 
the spread of invasive species, threatening our native fish with 
disease. Changing water levels create challenges for property owners 
and communities along the Great Lakes. Each of these changes will 
strain our local economies.
  Tourism is also a major part of Wisconsin's economy. The Northwoods 
is a beloved place to fish, camp, hunt, and snowmobile. But last year, 
for only the second time in its 45-year history, Wisconsin's famous 
Birkebeiner cross-country ski race was canceled because of warm 
temperatures and a lack of snow.
  The impacts on tourism, recreation, and the landscapes that we hold 
near to our hearts are already here. They will only become more 
drastic. The threats may be daunting, but we cannot allow the 
challenges to overwhelm us into inaction.
  Wisconsin's motto is just one word--``forward.'' The people of 
Wisconsin have never been afraid of the challenges we face. We have a 
strong progressive tradition of confronting our challenges and working 
together to shape our future for the next generation. Many of 
Wisconsin's most successful companies are leaders in energy efficiency, 
renewable energy, and clean technology.
  In 2014, one of Wisconsin's major healthcare systems became the first 
in the Nation to use entirely renewable energy. Wisconsin companies are 
strong innovators and provide opportunities for workers of today and 
tomorrow as they lead the way.
  I believe in smart investments by governments at all levels, by 
companies and institutions, and by citizens. This will help us confront 
the challenge of climate change while positioning Wisconsin for 
economic and ecological resiliency. This opportunity is great, and we 
must meet the challenge head-on--going forward, the Wisconsin way.
  I would like, once again, to thank Senator Whitehouse for his laser 
focus on this issue that is so critical to our home States, as well as 
the Nation and the world, that we will pass on to the next generation.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, let me thank the Senator from 
  Like Wisconsin, Rhode Island has a one-word motto as well. Hers is 
``Forward.'' Ours is ``Hope.'' Together, they point in the right 
  Americans are dissatisfied. Opinion surveys tell us that only 35 
percent of Americans believe our country is headed in the right 
direction. Why this alarming dissatisfaction? We don't have to guess. 
Popular opinion tells us quite plainly. In a survey taken after the 
2016 election, 85 percent of voters agreed that the wealthy and big 
corporations were the ones really running the country. That includes 80 
percent of voters who supported Trump. It is not just opinion. Academic 
studies have looked at Congress and confirmed that the views of the 
general public have statistically near zero influence here--that we 
listen to big, corporate special interests and their various front 
  Even our Supreme Court is not immune. In a 2014 poll, more 
respondents believed, by 9 to 1, that our Supreme

[[Page S1680]]

Court favors corporations over individuals rather than vice versa. Even 
among self-identified conservative Republicans, it was still a 4-to-1 
  So hold that thought: The wealthy and powerful corporations control 
Congress, and people know it.
  As I give my 200th ``Time to Wake Up'' speech, the most obvious fact 
standing plainly before me is not the measured sea level rise at Naval 
Station Newport; it is not the 400 parts per million carbon dioxide 
barrier we have broken through in the atmosphere; it is not the new 
flooding maps that coastal communities like Rhode Island's must face; 
it is not the West aflame; it is not even the uniform consensus about 
climate change across universities, National Laboratories, scientific 
societies, and even across our military and intelligence services, 
which warn us, as Senator Reed indicated, that climate change is 
fueling economic and social disruption around the world.
  No. The fact that stands out for me, here at No. 200, is the 
persistent failure of Congress to even take up the issue of climate 
change. One party will not even talk about it. One party in the 
executive branch is even gagging America's scientists and civil 
servants and striking the term ``climate change'' off of government 
websites. In the real world, in actual reality, we are long past any 
question as to the reality of climate change. The fact of that forces 
us to confront the questions: What stymies Congress from legislating or 
from even having hearings about climate change? What impels certain 
executive agencies to forbid even the words?
  Mr. INHOFE. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. No. I intend to give my remarks, but I appreciate the 
Senator's intervention.
  Before the Citizens United decision was delivered up by the five 
Republican appointees on the Supreme Court--a decision, by the way, 
that deserves a place on the trash heap of judicial history--we were 
actually doing quite a lot about climate change in the Senate. There 
were bipartisan hearings. There were bipartisan bills. There were 
bipartisan negotiations. Senator McCain campaigned for President under 
the Republican banner on a strong climate platform.
  What happened? Here is what I saw happen: The fossil fuel industry 
went over and importuned the Supreme Court for the Citizens United 
decision; the five Republican-appointed judges on the Court delivered 
the Citizens United decision; and the fossil fuel industry was ready 
and set at the mark when that decision came down.
  Since the moment of that decision, not one Republican in this body 
has joined one serious piece of legislation to reduce carbon dioxide 
emissions. Our Senate heartbeat of bipartisan activity was killed dead 
by the political weaponry unleashed for big special interests by those 
five judges.
  The fossil fuel industry then made a clever play. It determined to 
control one party on this question. It determined to silence or punish 
or remove any dissent in one political party. This created for the 
fossil fuel industry two advantages.
  First, it got to use that party as its tool to stop climate 
legislation, and it has. Remember the movie ``Men in Black''? I would 
make the analogy that today's Republican Party bears the same relation 
to the fossil fuel industry as to climate change that the unfortunate 
farmer in ``Men in Black'' bore to the alien who killed him and 
occupied his skin for the rest of the movie--complete occupation with 
nothing left but the skin.
  The second advantage for the fossil fuel industry is that it could 
camouflage its own special interest special pleading as partisanship 
and not just the muscle and greed of one very big industry that wanted 
to have its way.
  That is why we are where we are. That is why one's talking to 
Republicans about climate change resembles one's talking to prisoners 
about escape. They may want out, but they can't have their fossil fuel 
wardens find out.
  Climate change is a prime example of how our institutions are failing 
in plain view of the American people. It is a small wonder the public 
holds Congress in low esteem and thinks we don't listen to them. 
Frankly, it is amazing that there is any shred of esteem remaining 
given our behavior.
  Congress remains a democratic body on the surface with all the 
procedural veneer and trappings of democracy as we hold votes and as 
there are caucuses and hearings. Yet, on issues like climate change, 
which most concern the biggest special interests, Congress no longer 
provides America a truly functioning democracy.
  Underneath the illusory democratic surface runs subterranean rivers 
of dark money. Massive infrastructures have been erected to hide that 
dark money flow from the sunlight of public scrutiny to carve 
out subterranean caverns through which the dark money flows.

  If you want to understand why we do nothing on climate, you have to 
look down into those subterranean chambers, understand the dark money, 
and not be fooled by the surface spectacle. Of course, it is not just 
the spending of dark money that is the problem. When you let unlimited 
money loose in politics, particularly once you let unlimited dark money 
loose in politics, you empower something even more sinister than 
massive anonymous political expenditures; you empower the threat of 
massive anonymous political expenditures--the sinister whispered 
threat. Once you let a special interest spend unlimited dark money, you 
necessarily let it threaten or promise to spend that money.
  Those sinister threats and promises will be harder to detect even 
than the most obscured dark money expenditures. You may not know who is 
behind a big dark money expenditure, but at least you will see it. You 
will see the smear ads. You may not know what is up, but you will know 
something is up. But a threat? A couple of people, a back room, and a 
silent handshake are enough. If you give a thug a big enough club, he 
doesn't even have to use it to get his way. This is the great, 
insidious evil of Citizens United, and this, I believe, is why we are 
where we are.
  In the Gilded Age, the Senate was described as having Senators who 
didn't actually represent States but ``principalities and powers in 
business.'' One Senator represents the Union Pacific Railway system, 
another the New York Central, still another the insurance interests of 
New York and New Jersey. We cannot pretend it is impossible for the 
United States to be disabled and corrupted by special interests. Our 
history refutes that thought. So, as Americans, we need to keep our 
guard up against corrupting forces, and this unlimited dark flow of 
money into our politics is a corrupting force.
  Congress's embarrassing and culpable failure to act on climate change 
is one face of a coin. Turn it over, and the obverse of that coin is 
corruption exactly as the Founding Fathers knew it--the public good 
ignored for special interests' wielding power. In this case, it is the 
power of money--climate failure, dark money; dark money, climate 
failure. They are two sides of the same evil coin. If that thought is 
not cheerful enough, wait. There is more.
  There is the phony science operation that gives rhetorical cover to 
the dark money political muscle operation. This phony science operation 
is a big effort, with dozens of well-funded front groups that 
participate that are supported by bogus think tanks, well described as 
the ``think tank as the disguised political weapon.''
  Today's phony science operation has a history. It grew out of the 
early phony science operation run by the tobacco industry, which was 
set up to create doubt among the public that cigarettes were bad for 
you. How did that work out? I will tell you how. That effort was so 
false and so evil that it was determined in court to be fraud--a 
massive corporate-led fraud.
  After the tobacco fraud apparatus was exposed, it didn't disappear. 
It morphed into an even more complex apparatus to create false doubt 
about climate science. The goal, exactly like the tobacco companies' 
fraud, is to create something that looks enough like science to confuse 
the public but which has the perverse purpose of defeating and 
neutralizing real science. It is a science denial apparatus. By the 
way, this fossil fuel-funded science denial apparatus has some big 
advantages over real science.
  First, the science denial apparatus has unlimited money behind it. 
The IMF has put the subsidy of the fossil fuel industry at $700 billion 
per year in the United States alone. To defend a $700 billion annual 
subsidy, you can spend enormous amounts of money, so money is no 

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  Second, the science denial apparatus doesn't waste time with peer 
review--the touchstone of real science. Slap a lab coat on a hack, and 
send him to the talk shows. That is enough. The science denial 
apparatus is public relations dressed up as science so it behaves like 
public relations and goes straight to its market--an inexpert public--
to work its mischief.
  Third, it has the advantage of Madison Avenue tacticians to shape its 
phony message into appealing sound bites for the public. Have you read 
a scientific journal lately? The Madison Avenue message gets through a 
lot more sharply.
  Fourth, the science denial apparatus doesn't need to stop lying when 
it is caught. As long as it is getting its propaganda out, the truth 
doesn't matter. This is not a contest for truth; it is a contest for 
public opinion. So debunked, zombie arguments constantly rise from the 
Earth and walk again.
  Finally, it doesn't have to win the argument. It just has to create 
the illusion, the false illusion, that there is a legitimate argument. 
Then the political muscle those five Justices gave this industry can go 
to work.
  I suggest, 200 speeches in, that it is time we stopped listening to 
the industry that comes to us bearing one of the most flagrant 
conflicts of interest in history. It is time we stopped listening to 
their fraudulent science denial operation. It is time we put the light 
of day on this creepy dark money operation and stopped listening to its 
threats and promises.
  If we are going to stop listening to all of that, whom should we 
listen to? How about Pope Francis, who called climate change ``one of 
the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.'' How about the 
scientists--we pay hundreds of them across our government--whose 
salaries our appropriators are funding right now and who, under 
President Trump, released this report? This report reads that there is 
``no convincing alternative explanation'' for what it calls ``global, 
long-term, and unambiguous warming'' and ``record-breaking, climate-
related weather extremes.'' It is our human activity.
  How about listening to our intelligence services, whose ``Worldwide 
Threat Assessment,'' issued under President Trump and signed by our 
former colleague, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, 
actually has a chapter titled ``Environment and Climate Change.'' Here 
are the identified consequences in that report: ``humanitarian 
disasters, conflict, water and food shortages, population migration, 
labor shortfalls, price shocks, and power outages,'' and most 
dangerously, the prospect of--and I quote the ``Worldwide Threat 
Assessment'' here--``tipping points in climate-linked earth systems'' 
that can create ``abrupt climate change.''
  Or how about listening to Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka 
Trump, Eric Trump, and the Trump organization in 2009, when they took 
out this full-page ad in the New York Times saying that the science of 
climate change was ``irrefutable,'' and its consequences would be 
``catastrophic and irreversible.'' Donald J. Trump, chairman and 
president--where did that guy go?
  How about listening to our own home State universities. Every one of 
us can go home to Old Miss or Ohio State, to the University of Alaska 
or LSU, to Utah State or West Virginia University or Texas A&M. We can 
each go home to our home State's State university. They don't just 
accept climate change; they teach it. They teach it.
  If you can listen quietly, you can listen to the oceans. They speak 
to us, the oceans do. They speak to us through thermometers, and they 
say: We are warming. They speak to us through tide gauges, and they 
say: We are rising along your shores. They speak to us through the howl 
of hurricanes powered up by their warmer sea surfaces. They speak to us 
through the quiet flight of fish species from their traditional grounds 
as the seawater warms beyond their tolerance.
  If we know how to listen, through simple pH tests, the oceans will 
tell us that they are acidifying. The oceans will tell us that they are 
beginning to kill their own corals and oysters and pteropods. We can go 
out and check and see the corals and the oysters and the pteropods 
corrode and die before our eyes. It is happening.
  The fishermen who plow the oceans' surface can speak for the oceans. 
As one Rhode Islander said to me: ``Sheldon, it's getting weird out 
  ``This is not my grandfather's ocean,'' said another. He had grown up 
trawling with his granddad on those oceans.
  It is not just oceans. I went on Lake Erie with seasoned, 
professional fishermen who told me that everything they had learned in 
a lifetime on the lake was useless because the lake was changing on 
them so unknowably fast.
  We choose here in Congress to whom we are going to listen, and it is 
time we started to listen to the honest voices and the true voices. If 
you don't like environmentalists or scientists, listen to your ski 
industry. Listen to your fishermen and lumbermen. Listen to your 
gardeners and birders and hunters. Listen to those who know the Earth 
and the oceans and who can speak for the Earth and the oceans.
  It is an evil mess we are in, and if there is any justice in this 
world, there will one day be a terrible price to pay if we keep 
listening to evil voices.
  The climate change problems we are causing by failing to act are a 
sin, as Pope Francis has flatly declared, but that is not the only sin. 
To jam Congress up, fossil fuel interests are interfering with and 
corrupting American democracy, and to corrupt American democracy is a 
second and a grave sin.
  The science denial apparatus--to mount a fraudulent challenge to the 
very enterprise of science, that is a third grave sin.
  Perhaps worst of all is that the world is watching. It is watching us 
as the fossil fuel industry, its creepy billionaires, its front groups, 
its bogus think tanks all gang up and debauch our democracy.
  From John Winthrop to Ronald Reagan, we have held America up as a 
city on a hill, with the eyes of the world upon us. From  Daniel 
Webster to Bill Clinton, we have spoken of the power of our American 
example as greater in the world than any example of our power. Lady 
Liberty in New York Harbor holds her lamp up to the world, representing 
our American beacon of truth, justice, and democracy.
  I have a distinct memory, traveling with our friend John McCain to 
Manila and waking up early in the morning to go visit our American 
military cemetery, the Sun coming up over the rows of white gravestones 
standing over our dead, the massive, gleaming marble arcade of names, 
carved on walls stretching high over my head, of the Americans whose 
bodies were never recovered--over 17,000 in all, remembered in that 
  After their sacrifice, after the accomplishments of the ``greatest 
generation,'' can we not do better than to sell our democracy to the 
fossil fuel industry? What do you suppose a monument to that would look 
like? I wonder.
  America deserves better, and the world is watching us; we, this city 
on a hill.
  With gratitude to the many colleagues who have joined me today, I 
yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. President, when we discuss climate change, we often 
speak about the future--a future in which rising temperatures and seas 
displace millions from their homes around the globe, devastate 
agriculture, and damage critical infrastructure. This future is not far 
  Climate change will impact every State in our country and every 
country in the world. In island and coastal communities like Hawaii, 
the impact will be particularly severe.
  Climate scientists across the world agree that without decisive 
action, seas will likely rise by at least 3.2 feet by the end of the 
century. To put this in context, a child born today will likely 
experience these effects in their lifetime.
  I will focus my remarks today on the foreseeable impact on Hawaii.
  The State of Hawaii investigated and issued a chilling report about 
what a 3.2-foot sea level rise would mean for our State. The report 
concluded that 3.2 feet of sea level rise would inundate more than 
25,000 acres of land across Hawaii. Over 6,500 hotels, malls, small 
businesses, apartments, and homes would be compromised or destroyed, 
and 20,000 residents would be displaced in the process.

[[Page S1682]]

  The economic cost of this damage--$19 billion. If anything, this is a 
conservative estimate of the total economic cost of climate change in 
Hawaii. The State report, for example, doesn't estimate the total cost 
of damage to Hawaii's critical infrastructure.
  Climate change and sea level rise would damage sewer lines in urban 
Honolulu and other low-lying areas across the State. These phenomena 
would also lead to chronic flooding across 38 miles of major roads, 
such as the Kuhio Highway on Kauai, Kamehameha Highway on Oahu, and 
Honoapiilani Highway on Maui.
  The State's report certainly outlines the serious challenges that 
climate change will pose for the future, but we are already living with 
its effects.
  Each summer and winter, the specific placement of the sun and moon 
combined with the rotation of the Earth produce extraordinarily high 
tides. We call them king tides. Most years, scientists can predict when 
these tides will happen and how bad they will be. Last year's king 
tides, however, were the worst on record. Scientists believe that these 
historic king tides provide a glimpse of the increasing severity and 
frequency of the coastal flooding driven by climate change. Hawaii also 
experienced an exceptionally rare king tide on New Year's Day, and a 
larger than normal north swell caused major coastal erosion on Oahu's 
north shore.
  Coastal erosion is a critical issue for Hawaii, where our beaches 
draw millions of visitors from around the world every year. According 
to research from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, 70 
percent of the beaches in Hawaii are eroding, and 13 miles of public 
beach have eroded completely. In other words, they are gone.
  During last year's king tides, Sea Grant mobilized citizen scientists 
to document their impact on the State. From Sea Grant's research we 
learned that record-high water levels caused localized flooding and 
erosion across every island in the State. Waikiki Beach was 
particularly impacted last year when the king tides overwashed the 
shoreline during peak tourist season. Climate change will make events 
like this more frequent and severe, adversely impacting our environment 
and our economy.
  Waikiki Beach on Oahu alone generates $2.2 billion for Hawaii's 
economy every year, and it could be completely submerged by the end of 
the century. There is a clear urgency to act, and we need our President 
and the Federal Government to acknowledge the threat and to lead.
  We need more funding for programs like Sea Grant that help State and 
local governments develop plans and policies to help our beaches, our 
coasts, and our economy adapt to climate change. But at a time when we 
should be increasing funding for Sea Grant colleges, the Trump 
administration is zeroing out this funding. We were able to protect 
funding for Sea Grant last year, and I will continue to fight during 
this year's budget and appropriations cycle to make sure it receives 
the money it needs to do its important work.
  We also need our Federal agencies to invest in research that will 
help us better understand climate change's long-term impact on our 
States and communities. But Donald Trump has appointed--and his 
Republican allies in the Senate have confirmed--regressive, dangerous, 
and extreme nominees who are undermining critical climate change 
  Last May, the Department of Interior under the leadership of Ryan 
Zinke, put out a news release about a report on climate change-related 
sea level rise, coauthored by two Hawaii scientists without ever 
mentioning in their release the words ``climate change.''
  Earlier today, I asked Secretary Zinke at a hearing to comment on 
this incident and to clarify whether it is the Department's policy to 
censor announcements about climate change research produced by his 
Department. Secretary Zinke acknowledged that the content of the press 
release is his prerogative but that he would not censor the contents of 
documents and reports themselves. However, by not referencing the term 
``climate change'' in a press release on a report about how climate 
change drives sea level rise, he is toeing the President's line that 
climate change is a hoax. The problem is that press releases from 
agencies like the Interior Department serve as indicators of the 
Federal Government's priorities. By eliminating references to climate 
change in these releases, the Department is sending a clear signal that 
climate change is not a priority.

  In the absence of Federal action, States like Hawaii are stepping up 
and taking the lead. Hawaii was the first State in the country to enact 
legislation to implement the Paris climate agreement after President 
Trump announced that he would withdraw the United States from this 
agreement without much reason.
  Standing up to the challenge of climate change also means developing 
our renewable resources of energy and moving away from dependence on 
fossil fuels. Hawaii has set the forward-thinking goal of generating 
100-percent renewable electricity by 2045. Through decisive action, 
Hawaii is already generating 27-percent renewable electricity while 
cutting oil imports by 41 percent since 2006. As the most oil-dependent 
State in the country, this is significant progress.
  Over 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the climate is 
changing due to human activity, and the vast majority of the American 
public also acknowledges this. Our Nation's military recognizes the 
threat that climate change poses to our national security and the 
urgent need to confront it.
  Mr. President, I agree with my colleague from Rhode Island that it is 
time to wake up.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise today to join my friend and 
colleague Senator Whitehouse on the day of his 200th weekly climate 
change floor speech. We came in the same class. So I have been a 
witness to this. For years he has come to the floor every week that the 
Senate is in session, often to an empty Chamber, to speak on this 
critical issue. He has been a leader and an unwavering voice on climate 
change, calling for action week after week and, I think, that is why so 
many of us are here tonight. Two hundred speeches is truly a milestone, 
and you can just look at the wear and tear of his ``Time to Wake Up'' 
floor sign to know that this actually happened.
  Not only does Senator Whitehouse come to the floor to talk about this 
issue and to share new data and information with all of us on the need 
to act now, but I have also seen him take on climate change deniers as 
a member when I was on both the Environment and Public Works Committee 
and also on the Judiciary Committee. I have experienced his dedication 
to moving the needle on this issue as a member of the Senate Climate 
Action Task Force that he has led for several years.
  I have been part of the meetings where he has pulled together 
Senators and advocacy group leaders to strategize on how to move 
forward on legislation and meetings where he has brought together 
Senators and private sector leaders, such as Greg Page, the former CEO 
of Cargill, to talk about how we change the private dialogue about 
sustainability in supply chains. He is truly committed to finding 
solutions, and I am pleased to join him tonight for his 200th speech.
  People talk about climate in many places in my State--from hunters 
and snowmobilers in Northern Minnesota to business leaders in the Twin 
Cities, to students at the University of Minnesota.
  When President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw 
from the climate change agreement this summer--the worldwide, 
international climate change agreement--I heard an outpouring of 
concern. Now, 195 countries made a pledge to come together to combat 
climate change. In withdrawing, the United States was one of only three 
countries that wouldn't be in the agreement. The other two were Syria 
and Nicaragua. Then, Syria and Nicaragua signed the accord. So now the 
United States is the only country not to sign the accord. It is a big 
step backward. It is the wrong decision for our economy, and it is the 
wrong decision for the environment.
  As military and security experts have reminded us, climate change is 
a threat to our national security, increasing the risks of conflict, 
humanitarian crisis--as we have already seen because of droughts, with 

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farmers in Africa coming up as refugees--and damage to crucial and 
critical infrastructure.
  I am a former prosecutor, and I believe in evidence. Every week seems 
to bring fresh evidence of the damage climate change is already 
causing. Minnesota may be miles away from rising oceans, but the 
impacts are not less of a real threat in the Midwest--more severe 
weather, heat waves that could release our water supply, extreme 
rainfall that could damage critical infrastructure, and a decrease in 
agricultural productivity. It goes on and on. It has an impact on the 
Great Lakes and people respond.
  We are going to keep talking about the importance of making a global 
commitment and an American commitment to address climate change. We 
should not be the last one in. We should be the first one. This is a 
great nation with a history of Democrats and Republicans coming 
together to conserve our land and care about our environment. We are 
going to keep pushing climate change deniers on their facts, and we are 
going to keep working on policies that encourage energy efficiency, 
renewable energy, and a decrease in greenhouse gasses.
  Many of the businesses in Minnesota, such as Cargill, which I already 
mentioned in the lead, have taken on this cause. They know that when 
they have business all over the world, it matters. They know that it 
matters to their shareholders, it matters to their employees, and it 
matters to their customers.
  They also know that we deal with the rest of the world, and when 
businesses go to meetings in other countries, they don't want to hear: 
Well, I guess your country is not in the climate change agreement and 
China is; so maybe we will buy our stuff from China. That is what 
people are hearing at business meetings.
  We need to be a part of the Paris climate change agreement, and we 
need to lead the way in the United States. In the last administration, 
we had some commonsense policies put forth to reduce greenhouse gasses, 
but this administration has pulled back on them. I disagree. I think we 
could have made that work.
  Even though we are not seeing the action we would like out of this 
administration, we are seeing it in cities, in States, in businesses, 
and universities. They have said: If this administration doesn't do it, 
we will.
  So I wish to thank Senator Whitehouse for his leadership and let all 
of those listening to this series of speeches and tributes to doing 
something about climate change in his 200th speech tonight know that 
there are those in this Chamber who stand with you and believe in 
science and believe that we need to do something about climate change.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Minnesota for 
laying out the case so clearly on the challenge, as I like to call it, 
of taking on climate chaos.
  My wife Mary comes from Minnesota. I know they value the Land of 
10,000 Lakes. Every time I have said that before, I always say the 
``Land of a Thousand Lakes,'' and Senator Klobuchar corrects me. I just 
can't quite envision 10,000 lakes.
  Minnesota is a land with incredible wildlife, a land that certainly 
has seen the impacts of climate chaos, as has my home State. So thank 
you so much for your remarks and for being here to help celebrate our 
colleague and our friend, the Senator from Rhode Island, Mr. 
Whitehouse, who spoke tonight just a few minutes ago for his 200th 
time, to say: Wake up. Wake up, America.
  We have a significant challenge, the sort of challenge that you may 
not notice from one day to the next. We may wake up tomorrow and not 
realize that the damage being done to our planet is greater than the 
day before or we may not be able to wake up a week from now and realize 
that the damage is more. Nonetheless, it is, if looked at over any 
significant span of time, a huge, huge force wreaking havoc on our 
planet, and it will just get worse with time if we do not take on this 
pollution of the atmosphere by carbon dioxide.
  Back in 1959, an eminent scientist was asked to speak at the 100th 
anniversary of the petroleum industry. That scientist was Edward 
Teller. Edward Teller gave his speech at this 100th anniversary in 
1959, but he said to the gathering of the fossil fuel industry: You do 
realize that you will eventually have to look for a different form of 
energy to invest in, first, because the amount of fossil fuels in the 
Earth's crust is limited and it will run out. He said: Second of all, 
there are some interesting facts that many of you might not be aware 
of--that when you burn fossil fuels, it creates carbon dioxide, and 
carbon dioxide might not at first seem like a pollutant because it is 
invisible and it is odorless, but it has this quality where visible 
light passes through it, but heat energy is trapped. As a result of 
trapping heat energy and changing the makeup of our atmosphere, we will 
start to do major damage to the planet. He talked about how it would 
affect the melting of ice on the poles, the rising of sea levels, and 
that humankind lived by the oceans and, therefore, this carbon dioxide 
would do enormous damage and it would be important to transition off of 
burning carbon fuels, off of burning fossil fuels. That was in 1959, 
which is a long time ago that we have had the information about the 
damage wreaking havoc by this pollutant, carbon dioxide.
  Henry David Thoreau, the philosopher, challenged us and said: What is 
the use of a house if you don't have a tolerable planet to put it on?
  Yet everywhere we see our planet crying out for us to pay attention--
never as much, however, as in this last year. Here in America, there 
were fierce forest fires from Montana, across Idaho, into Washington, 
down to Oregon, and into California clear into December. Smoke covered 
much of my State for month after month this last summer, having an 
impact on people's health and certainly having an impact on our 
  We could look at the storms of last year--the hurricanes of Harvey, 
Irma, and Maria assaulting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin 
Islands. Those storms were unusually damaging, and part of the reason 
for that is because the energy of those storms is taken from the 
temperature of the ocean, and the ocean has been collecting 90 percent 
of the increased heat on the planet from carbon dioxide pollution and, 
therefore, producing more powerful hurricanes.
  So we saw it in the fires, and we saw it in the hurricanes, but you 
really can start to see it almost everywhere. You can see that the pine 
beetles are doing much better because the winters aren't cold enough to 
kill them, and the trees are doing much worse. You can see that the 
ticks in New England and Maine and on through Minnesota are doing much 
better because the winters are not cold enough to kill them. Therefore, 
they are killing the moose. You can see the impact of the rising ocean 
temperature on coral reefs around the world, which are a small part of 
the ocean but have a significant role in the fisheries on our planet.
  In my home State in Oregon, the warmer temperatures and the acidity 
in the ocean caused a billion baby oysters to die in 2008. Well, that 
is quite an impact on our seafood industry. I can tell you that 
scientists were mystified because they couldn't imagine, at first, that 
it had to do with the water quality. They thought it must be a virus or 
it must be some form of bacteria, but it just turned out that the 
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only results in the warming of the 
ocean, but it is absorbed in the ocean and becomes carbonic acid. That 
greater acidity of the ocean damages the ability of baby oysters to 
form shells. So now we have to artificially buffer the ocean water.
  We see it in spreading diseases, like malaria, as they follow the 
mosquitoes, and Zika, as it follows the mosquitoes into greater 
territory, or leishmaniasis, which is a real diabolical disease that 
now has come to the United States with sand flies.
  My point is that everywhere you look, if you open your eyes, climate 
chaos is having a big impact and hurting us.
  The answer is simple. We have to stop burning fossil fuels. This is 
where the 100-percent notion comes from, from my bill of last year--100 
percent by 50, 100 by 50, or, if you prefer, mission 100. It just means 
we have to transition from the energy that we gain

[[Page S1684]]

from fossil fuels to substituting energy from clean and renewable 
sources--100 percent. Stop burning fossil fuels.
  A few years ago, folks said: Well, that will cause great damage to 
our economy because renewable energy is so much more expensive than 
cheap fossil fuels. But we have been blessed. We have been blessed in 
taking on this challenge because it is no longer true that renewable 
energy is more expensive than fossil fuel energy.
  We have had an incredible drop in the price of solar energy over a 
short period--from 35 cents per kilowatt hour down to 5 cents per 
kilowatt hour. Then Xcel Energy in Colorado put out a proposal this 
year. The proposal came back at 2 cents per kilowatt hour. In other 
words, it is cheaper to have new and clean renewable energy than to 
burn coal in an already depreciated fossil fuel coal electric plant. 
Wind has gone from 13 cents or so per kilowatt hour to 5 cents per 
kilowatt hour. Xcel Energy in Colorado brought in a bid at 3 cents per 
kilowatt hour.
  As we have seen these prices drop dramatically on solar and wind, we 
have seen the installations of solar and wind surge. On the solar side, 
in 2017 we installed about 12 gigawatts of capacity--12 gigawatts, or 
12,000 megawatts. That is a lot of energy. To put it differently, one-
fourth of the total installed capacity of the United States of America 
went in just in 2017. That is a dramatic upsurge in installation. Think 
of a world where we can have every flat business roof and every 
manufacturing plant with solar rays on its surface or canopies over its 
parking lot because this energy is so cheap to collect, and we can 
collect it in places where the grid already exists. For wind, in 2016, 
8 gigawatts of new capacity went in. Again, there is a tremendous 
upsurge in the amount of wind installed.
  Now we are seeing roughly half of our utilities scale new capacity 
with renewable energy rather than with fossil fuel energy. The 
transition is underway, but we need to accelerate it. We need to move 
it much more quickly, and then we need to move our consumption of 
energy over to the electric grid. What does that mean? For example, it 
means heating your house with a heat pump, which uses electricity, 
rather than a gas furnace. It means changing the way you heat water 
from a gas hot water heater to an electric hot water heater. It means 
getting a plug-in vehicle, an electric vehicle.
  Let's stop and talk a little bit about electric vehicles. While we 
have been seeing the production of carbon dioxide from making 
electricity come down in America, we are seeing the carbon dioxide from 
driving vehicles go up, so it is a major area we have to take on.
  Five years ago, I bought a Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid. It has a 
range of about 35 miles of electricity, and it also has a gas backup. 
That car really worked exceedingly well. We drove 3 out of 4 miles on 
electricity, even though we used gasoline to drive all the way to South 
Dakota and back. What we found was that the cost per mile on 
electricity was only about 3 cents a mile, and the cost of running it 
on gasoline--with oil, maintenance, and so forth--was closer to 10 
cents a mile. So it is three times cheaper to drive it on electricity. 
So there is a big incentive.
  Unfortunately, my son had an auto accident, and we had to replace 
that car. Because the range has increased over 5 years, we were able to 
get a fully electric car, a Nissan LEAF. The range had gone up in 2016 
from roughly 80 miles to about 107. That extra 27 miles is enough that 
my wife could do her work in home hospice, potentially being assigned 
to a house way on the west side of the Monona County area and then way 
on the east side and back and forth several times a day and still make 
it completely on a single-charged battery.
  With the proliferation of driving stations, now we are starting to 
see the ability to operate much more closely to the way we behaved, if 
you will, previously with gasoline vehicles--being able to drive 
hundreds of miles and then recharge. We have seen that with the Volt 
that just came out to replace the Bolt, which now goes over 200 miles 
on just its battery alone and more if you drive cautiously.
  Buses are another big piece of this. I went down to Eugene, OR, a 
couple of weekends ago and rode on their first electric bus, the first 
one in the State of Oregon. That bus looked just like the old diesel 
buses that we have had serving our metro systems across America, but it 
cost a lot more. It cost $200,000 more than a diesel bus.
  You might say ``Well, that is way too much,'' but here is the 
interesting thing: It saves about $40,000 to $45,000 a year on fuel. It 
doesn't take a math genius to then realize that after 5 years of 
service, you have paid off that cost, and after that, you are saving 
money. We are going to see a huge transition simply on the economics.
  This is the challenge before us, that we have been given the gift of 
affordable solar that is cheaper than fossil fuel energy, affordable 
wind that is cheaper than fossil fuel energy, a greatly declining cost 
of battery power to help supply meet demand, but at the Federal level, 
we are paralyzed.
  Unfortunately, the Koch brothers are really the puppet masters of 
this body, this Chamber I am in. This wonderful Senate is supposed to 
be the place where we deliberate to have government of, by, and for the 
people, but right now we have deliberations here that are of, by, and 
for the Koch brothers; of, by, and for the wealthy and the well-
connected. That is not the vision of America. We have to reclaim the 
vision of America. The people of America understand that we have this 
enormous challenge that we must undertake to save our beautiful, 
blue and green planet.

  Since the Federal Government isn't operating, we see companies and 
cities and places of worship jumping in to fill the gap, adopting 100 
percent resolutions--resolutions to transition to 100 percent cleaner 
renewable energy, to stop burning the fossil fuels that are damaging 
our planet.
  Burlington, VT, is now using a mixture of biomass and hydro wind and 
solar so that 100 percent of electricity comes from renewable 
generation. Fifty-eight other cities across America have committed to 
making that 100 percent transition, and they are handing out an action 
plan--this year we can do this, and this year we can do that. Families 
can do the same, places of worship can do the same, and companies are 
doing the same all across our Nation. We see many of our Fortune 500 
companies stepping forward to be real leaders in this. They want to 
attract employees who know that they care about our planet. They care 
about stopping this pollution that Edward Teller, an eminent scientist, 
pointed out in 1959.
  When Henry David Thoreau said ``What is the use of a house if you 
haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?'' he asked a question we 
should always ask ourselves in terms of the different threats to this 
beautiful orb that we call home. So let's fight to save this beautiful 
planet. It is the only one we have. We have no other. It is under 
serious threat, and we in this Chamber need to tell the Koch brothers 
to go and sit on their fossil fuel fortune, invest it as they want 
somewhere else, but to join us in the most important work they could 
possibly be part of in the years that they have remaining to live here 
in America, and that is this fight to take on climate chaos and win.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.