[Congressional Record Volume 165, Number 121 (Thursday, July 18, 2019)]
[Senate]
[Pages S4925-S4931]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Clifton 
L. Corker, of Tennessee, to be United States District Judge for the 
Eastern District of Tennessee.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.


                            Consumer Privacy

  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, these days, there is an online component 
to almost everything that Americans do. Were you at the beach last 
weekend? You undoubtedly posted pictures on Facebook and Instagram. You 
probably used Google Maps or Waze or another map app to find your way 
there. You undoubtedly booked a hotel stay on one of the myriad hotel 
booking sites, and you transmitted your credit card information online 
to pay for it. During your stay, you probably took advantage of the 
hotel's free Wi-Fi, whether you were uploading pictures or watching a 
show on Netflix. If you had dinner at a restaurant while you were 
there, there is a good chance you used the internet to make a 
reservation. If you booked an excursion while you were there--maybe a 
fishing trip or a boat tour--chances are good you made that reservation 
online as well.
  I could go on, but you get the idea. The internet and mobile 
internet-enabled devices like our phones and watches have resulted in 
an explosion of opportunity and innovation. Information is more 
accessible than ever before. We can communicate more swiftly and easily 
than ever before. We can shop without leaving our house, strike out 
confidently into the unknown without a map and still find our way back, 
turn on the air conditioner or heater with a simple voice command, and 
see who is knocking on our door while we are 600 miles away on 
vacation.
  With the convenience and opportunity of the internet revolution comes 
serious privacy concerns. Every time we book a hotel, navigate a new 
town, buy movie tickets, or buy groceries online, we are putting a lot 
of personal information into the hands of a lot of different companies: 
banking information, health information, information about our 
location, our preferences, our habits. All of this information is 
likely used in some form or fashion by some of the world's most 
successful internet businesses to personalize our search results on 
Google or to deliver the content that we see on Facebook or Instagram.
  As a member and former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I 
have gotten an up-close look at the issue of consumer privacy. I 
believe that developing bipartisan consumer privacy legislation needs 
to be a priority in Congress.
  Last year, as chairman of the Commerce Committee, I convened hearings 
into consumer data privacy and the accessing of millions of Facebook 
users' personal data by the political intelligence firm Cambridge 
Analytica. I also led a hearing to discuss the European Union's General 
Data Protection Regulation and California's new privacy-related law. I 
have continued to focus on consumer privacy this year as chairman of 
the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, 
and the Internet.
  A few weeks ago, I convened a hearing to look at the use of 
persuasive technology on internet platforms like Facebook and YouTube. 
Sites like YouTube and Facebook use algorithms and artificial 
intelligence driven by user-specific data to tailor just about 
everything you see on their platforms, from ads to the video that plays 
after the YouTube video you searched for. These algorithms can be 
useful. If you searched for Paul Simon's ``Diamonds on the Soles of Her 
Shoes'' on YouTube, you probably will not mind hearing ``Graceland'' 
next. If you are shopping for a new computer, you might find it useful 
to see an ad for the latest HP or Apple laptop.
  These algorithms can also be deployed in far more troubling ways. For 
example, in June, the New York Times reported that YouTube's automated 
recommendation system was found to be automatically playing a video of 
children playing in their backyard pool to users who had watched 
sexually themed content. Algorithms can also be used to limit what news 
stories and other content people are exposed to.
  As we learned from a witness at the hearing on persuasive technology, 
a former Google employee named Tristan Harris, these algorithms have 
the potential to be used to influence the thoughts and behaviors of 
literally billions of people.
  For all of these reasons, I believe that transparency needs to be an 
essential part of the conversation. Americans should be clearly 
informed about how their personal data is being used and how companies 
influence and control what Americans see online.
  Obviously, users have an obligation to exercise personal 
responsibility, but companies also need to provide greater transparency 
about how content is being filtered.
  Given the ever-increasing size of our digital footprint and the 
increased privacy dangers that come along with that, the question isn't 
whether we will have Federal privacy legislation; it is what that 
legislation will look like.
  I believe that any final bill should be bipartisan and should set a 
single national data privacy standard so that companies and consumers 
don't have to navigate 50 different sets of rules. We need to make 
consumer data privacy a priority while also preserving the ability of 
companies to innovate and deliver the cutting-edge services we rely on.
  I also believe, as I mentioned, that any bill should include 
transparency provisions that give consumers a clear understanding of 
what is being done with their data. I believe consumers have the option 
to engage on internet platforms without being manipulated by algorithms 
powered by their own personal data.
  This isn't the first time Congress has tackled new and emerging 
privacy concerns. Over the last few decades, Congress has acted to 
protect children online, protect sensitive healthcare information, and 
to modernize how institutions use consumer data.

[[Page S4926]]

  I believe we can follow in that tradition by developing a new 
consumer privacy law, and that is why I am committed to working with 
colleagues from both parties to develop legislation to meet the privacy 
challenges we are facing today. I am confident that we can arrive at a 
strong consumer privacy bill for the digital age, and I will continue 
to make Americans' privacy a priority of mine here in Congress.

  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. SCHUMER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader is recognized.


                       Senate Legislative Agenda

  Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, last night, we saw the President of the 
United States, who has spent years maligning America, continue to 
malign Americans. The President once again whipped up a toxic brew of 
racism, xenophobia, and nativism, with his crowd chanting ``send her 
back'' about a duly elected Member of Congress and a U.S. citizen--one 
of the oldest and ugliest racist attacks against Americans of color.
  The way the President appeals to the worst instincts of people and 
what was shouted and chanted at the rally last night without the 
President's upbraiding them was despicable and eerily familiar to what 
happens in dictatorships.
  We all know that the only way President Trump will stop this is for 
Republicans--his own party--to demand it. The only way President Trump 
will stop is when Republicans on the other side have the honor, the 
decency, and the courage to tell him to stop. All we hear is silence 
and diversions from Leader McConnell.
  So, America, if you don't like what the President says, if it gets 
you upset and makes your hairs stand on end, say: This is not the 
America I know and love. Whatever your political views, call your 
Senators and tell them to tell President Trump to stop this.
  Argue the merits, argue the issues, but stop this appeal to the worst 
instincts--the worst instincts. And our Republican friends are silent.
  History will show this. This is a moment. There is no John McCain 
anymore. When this kind of bitter racism emerged in his townhall 
meeting, he rejected it publicly when somebody used it against then-
Candidate Obama. It went down in history as one of his finest moments. 
Where are the fine moments of my colleagues? There are 53 of them on 
the Republican side, and not one has spoken out strongly enough--not 
one.
  They are quiet on everything else, too--things that matter to average 
Americans to help make their lives better. Where are our Republican 
friends on the substantive issues that can help Americans of all colors 
and creeds--all colors and creeds--help Americans whether their 
families have been in this country for 11 generations, as some of my 
friends have been, or are new immigrants, as some of my friends are? In 
New York, we have everybody.
  Here are some of the things our Republican friends can do. The House 
has passed legislation to improve our healthcare system and intervene 
in the lawsuit against eliminating protections for Americans with 
preexisting conditions, but Leader McConnell--once again silent--sent 
the bill to his legislative graveyard. The House has passed legislation 
to close loopholes in our gun background check system. This is no 
longer controversial. Ninety percent of Americans are for it--90 
percent. Leader McConnell has sent that bill, too, to the legislative 
graveyard. Climate change, voting rights, paycheck fairness for women--
all are in the legislative graveyard.
  Where are my Republican friends on those issues? Why aren't they 
standing up and saying that we should at least debate them here in the 
Senate? Democrats have had to petition for weeks to even be allowed 
amendment votes on issues of importance to the American people.
  It is a sorry state of affairs here in the Senate. I believe it has 
frustrated many of my Republican friends--I hear it from them 
privately--as well as us Democrats, because while we may not always 
agree on legislative solutions to a problem--we are not all supposed to 
agree; this is not a dictatorship--we want to debate the issues. We 
want to make forward progress.
  My Republican colleagues know that they didn't come here just to 
rubberstamp an assembly line of the President's nominees, judicial and 
executive, and neither did we, but under Leader McConnell, legislative 
progress is the lowest and often last priority.


                               H.R. 1327

  Madam President, for example, yesterday, my colleague Senator 
Gillibrand asked unanimous consent to reauthorize the Victim 
Compensation Fund for the brave first responders who got sick after 
working on the pile after 9/11. It is as unobjectionable a piece of 
legislation as you can imagine. These are the people who rushed to the 
towers after 9/11. They got all kinds of gunk in their lungs and in 
their gastrointestinal systems and later developed cancer. Many of them 
are now gone, some of them are people I became friends with, like Ray 
Pfeifer and Detective Alvarez. And all we want to do is what we do with 
our soldiers when they are on the battlefield and get illnesses and 
wounds. We want to help them. That is all. Nothing more. Yet, over the 
course of the last several years, again, our Republican friends, aided 
and abetted by Leader McConnell, have either blocked this legislation 
or diluted it. But now it seems there is a breakthrough.
  In the House, this bill passed with I think only 12 Republicans 
objecting. Conservative Members like Mark Meadows, who is head of the 
Freedom Caucus, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Scalise all voted for it. Why 
can't we just bring it to the floor and vote on it here? We should.
  My colleague from Kentucky, Rand Paul, objected. Bring it to the 
floor. Bring it to the floor. Give him an amendment, but let's not just 
have this one lay in the legislative graveyard as well. I am hopeful it 
will not because as soon as it passes the Senate--and we don't want to 
amend it because that will send it back to the House, and who knows 
what will happen in the back-and-forth--if we just pass the bill as is 
and defeat an amendment that is not intended to help or improve it, it 
will go to the President's desk, and he will sign it. Even if he 
doesn't, there are veto-proof majorities in both Chambers to overcome 
it.
  Senator Gillibrand, my friend and colleague who has done so much on 
this issue, will try again today to get this Chamber's consent to pass 
the bill. If the junior Senator from Kentucky again blocks the bill, I 
strongly urge the senior Senator from Kentucky, Leader McConnell, to 
put the bill on the floor. It is unacceptable that once again we are 
dealing with delays on legislation to help our brave 9/11 first 
responders, some of whom are gone, many of whom are ill, and many more 
of whom will get ill in the future from the diseases they acquired 
because of their bravery and selflessness on 9/11.


                                FaceApp

  Madam President, on another matter, over the past couple of days, 
millions of Americans have been downloading FaceApp--a viral tool that 
applies a little AI technology to a selfie to make your face look 
younger or older or add a beard. That seems like a benign new social 
media fad, but it actually may not be benign at all.
  Who is the parent company of this app? Wireless Labs. It is based in, 
of all places, St. Petersburg, Russia. It also came to light that the 
app not only takes your picture but retains the right to access all 
your photos, your search history, and gives ``perpetual, irrevocable, 
and worldwide'' license to use your photo, your name, and your 
likeness. This is a breathtaking level of access--all too common in 
murky apps like these--that raises very substantial privacy concerns.
  After everything we learned about Russia's unrepentant cyber 
aggression in 2016, the nexus of facial recognition, digital privacy, 
and a shadowy Russian company based in St. Petersburg, where so much of 
the Russian interference in our elections and interference with the 
internet emerged from, what happened with this app from Wireless Labs 
called FaceApp should set off alarm bells for all Americans.

[[Page S4927]]

  At the very least, we need to know more about what the heck is going 
on here. I have called for the FTC and the FBI to investigate FaceApp 
to see if private information of millions of Americans could wind up in 
the wrong hands and used for very bad purposes. We need more than the 
assurances; we need the facts. The potential for our facial data and 
the data from all of our friends and families contained in our photos 
to fall into the hands of something like Russian intelligence or the 
Russian military is really troubling. I strongly urge the FTC and the 
FBI to get to the bottom of FaceApp.


                            Border Security

  Madam President, on one more issue, over the last few months, 
Americans have seen for themselves the awful conditions that migrant 
children are enduring at the Southern border. Faultless kids--many 
traveling alone, many very young--are subject to inhumane conditions, 
without the proper healthcare, nutrition, hygiene, or space. People 
have different views on immigration--we know that--but no one should 
want to see these kids treated so inhumanely. All they are doing is 
fleeing for a better life.
  This weekend, I am leading a visit to the border with a number of my 
Democratic colleagues to investigate, inspect, and evaluate the latest 
conditions at these facilities. We hope--desperately hope--that the 
conditions have improved over the last several weeks. We will certainly 
report to the American people and to the Senate on what we find.
  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. KAINE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                            Border Security

  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I rise today to talk about an experience 
that I had on Sunday. Sunday was the day, July 14, that President Trump 
had preannounced that massive deportation and immigration raids were 
about to begin. It looks like those raids maybe didn't start on Sunday, 
but the communities of immigrants in Virginia and elsewhere, who have 
been experiencing tremendous fear, had that fear dramatically 
accelerated by the announcement.
  On Sunday, my wife and I, who live in Richmond, went to a town called 
Kilmarnock, about an hour and 10 minutes away from us, where my wife's 
parents are in a nursing home. They are 95 and 93 years old. We went 
down to spend the day with my in-laws and to take my mother-in-law to 
church at the local Episcopal church where she has long been a member.
  I was struck by the readings. It was a day of fear for many immigrant 
communities, and the readings that occurred in the Episcopal church, 
which are readings that are delivered in Catholic and Presbyterian and 
other churches on a set schedule, struck me as I was thinking about the 
fear in these communities.
  For the Old Testament reading, normally, in most churches around the 
globe, Catholics and Episcopals read from Deuteronomy, but for some 
reason, the pastor of this church--it was his goodbye ceremony, and he 
was leaving after serving for an interim--had switched the Old 
Testament reading and instead put in a reading from the Old Testament 
Book of Amos, Chapter 7, verses 7 through 9.

       This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall 
     that had been built true to plumb, with a plumbline in his 
     hand. And the Lord asked me, ``What do you see, Amos?''
       ``A plumbline,'' I replied.
       Then the Lord said, ``Look, I am setting a plumbline among 
     my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.''

  A plumbline is a device used when you are constructing something. It 
is just a weight on a string, nonmagnetized, and it will show up and 
down so that you can build something that is square and that has a 
solid foundation.
  It is a reading about principles and values and what is a solid 
foundation.
  The Gospel reading that we heard in our tiny church in Kilmarnock and 
around the world was the Good Samaritan story. Jesus is being pestered 
by a lawyer: What do I do to inherit eternal life?
  And Jesus said: You know the answer. Tell me the answer.
  And the lawyer does. He is smart.
  Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
  Jesus says: Fine. You know the answer. Just live that way.
  But the lawyer, either to trap Jesus or because he was confused or he 
was trying to figure it out, says: But who is my neighbor?
  And then Jesus tells the story of a person beaten on the road to 
Jericho and lying at the side of the road. Some passed by pretending 
not to notice, though they do notice. Some noticed and sort of half go 
over to help but don't do anything. But one person, a Samaritan--and in 
the Bible, Samaritans were despised minorities because they didn't 
worship like other people did--actually is the one who actually goes 
and helps.
  As everyone knows, in the story he takes care of the person who is 
beaten. He takes him to an inn and pays the innkeeper and says: I will 
even pay you more. I will settle up. Make sure that you nurse him back 
to health.
  This Samaritan was the one who was the neighbor. When Jesus then goes 
back to the lawyer and says: Which was the one who was the neighbor to 
the person who was beaten, the lawyer was so infected by the prejudice 
of his day that he can't even say ``the Samaritan.'' Again, Samaritans 
were despised people, much like refugees or migrants or migrant kids 
seem today to be despised people. The lawyer couldn't even make his 
lips say the word ``Samaritan.'' Who is the neighbor to the person who 
was beaten? He can't even answer the question--the Samaritan. But he 
does know the answer, and instead he says: The one who showed him 
mercy.
  Those were the readings that we heard--that the Lord will set a 
plumbline to try to determine whether the nation--in that instance, 
Israel--was behaving properly or not, and in terms of what the 
plumbline is, what is the moral standard. The Lord is encouraging us to 
be neighbors, and not just to the people like us, not just to the 
people who are our next-door neighbors but even to people who are down 
on their luck, beaten, despised, and hurting.
  Sunday was also another day. It was Woody Guthrie's birthday. Woody 
Guthrie was a great American songwriter known for ``This Land is Your 
Land'' and so many other songs that are part of who we are as a people.
  Woody Guthrie wrote a song in 1948 called ``Plane Wreck at Los 
Gatos,'' and the song is more commonly known by the name ``Deportee.'' 
We lived this history before.
  In 1948 in California, there was an effort to deport so many people. 
There are times when we desperately want immigrants here to do the 
work, and then there are phases where they get deported.
  Woody Guthrie was listening to the radio. This is a man born on July 
14, the day that the President announced that the deportation raids 
would start. Woody Guthrie was listening to the radio in January of 
1948, and he heard a story about a plane that was taking deportees back 
to Mexico. The plane crashed in Los Gatos Canyon, near L.A., and the 
pilot and some others were killed, and 32 deportees were killed.
  Woody Guthrie was struck that when the story was told on the radio, 
they mentioned the names of the pilot and the copilot and the others 
who were working on the plane, but as for the 32 deportees who were 
killed, their names weren't mentioned. They were ``just deportees.''
  Here are the lyrics to the Woody Guthrie song written based on an 
incident in January 1948, but our history repeats itself.

     The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
     The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
     They're flying `em back to the Mexican border
     To pay all their money to wade back again
     Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
     Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
     You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
     All they will call you will be ``deportees''
     My father's own father, he waded that river,
     They took all the money he made in his life;
     My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
     And they rode the truck till they took down and died.
     Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,

[[Page S4928]]

     Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
     Six hundred miles to that Mexican border.
     They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.
     We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
     We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
     We died `neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
     Both sides of the river, we died just the same.
     The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
     A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
     Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves,
     The radio says, ``They are just deportees.''
     Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
     Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
     To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
     And be called by no name except ``deportees''?

  Along with several other colleagues earlier this week, I filed a bill 
called the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act. It is a bill that has 
40-plus cosponsors. It would do a number of things. It would set 
safety, health, and nutrition standards in these facilities whose 
pictures we are seeing--pictures that set an embarrassing example of a 
nation that should want to set a good example.
  It would set minimum standards for food, nutrition, and healthcare. 
It would guarantee that children in these facilities would receive 
three meals a day and that the meals would be of adequate nutritional 
value. It would end the practice of family separation, unless ordered 
by a court, so the presumption would be that families could not be 
separated. It would provide additional resources for lawyers so that 
people can follow the rule of law and present evidence and present a 
case for asylum or refugee status, if there is a case to be presented. 
It would allow the restart of programs like the Family Case Management 
Program, which was a successful program that enabled people to be 
placed in community settings, not cages or jails or institutions, and 
have management to make sure that they then come to court dates on 
time.
  The bill has a number of provisions that I think are worthy, but the 
thing that is the most important about the bill to me and why I agreed 
to cosponsor it is that I just think it puts our country in a position 
where we are setting the right example, not the wrong example. It puts 
our country in a position where if the plumbline of right and wrong is 
applied to us, we are on the right side of that judgment. It puts us in 
a position where as we are being directed to be good neighbors--
including to people who are hurting, including to people who are 
suffering--we would be able to look ourselves in the mirror and look 
the world in the eye and say: The United States believes that we are 
good neighbors, and we are behaving in a neighborly way toward people.
  These issues are of massive importance to the individuals involved. 
There was a story earlier this week about a border agent inquiring of a 
young girl: You are going to be separated. Your parents are going to be 
separated, and you have to decide whether you go with your mother or 
your father.
  Why make a child of tender years make that choice? The young girl's 
name was Sofia. Many of us know the Virginia author, William Styron, 
and his book ``Sophie's Choice.'' Sophie is forced to make an 
existential choice between her children in a concentration camp in 
Poland during World War II. That is the choice. That is the existential 
choice in the heart of that novel.
  When tiny Sofia is being told: We are separating your mother and 
father, and you have to choose between them, should a child have to do 
that? None of us would tolerate that for our own family members. None 
of us would tolerate that for a member of our community. So is it fair 
to do that to a child of tender years because she happens to be 
somebody who has come from Central America?
  These issues are of immense importance to those involved, to the 
Sophies, to the father and daughter who tried to get across a river a 
few weeks ago and drowned as they were trying to do it. They had come 
thousands of miles, and they were so close. All they wanted to do was 
apply for asylum legally: Can you accept my application? We are not 
trying to sneak across. We want to apply legally and have the laws of 
your country apply to us if we can justify that we should come. Please 
do that.
  When they reached the border, we are taking so few applications now 
that they waited and they waited and they waited, and they eventually 
tried to cross a river and were drowned in the process--that 
heartbreaking picture of them having come so far and being so close 
that they could touch the bank. They almost got to touch the bank of 
this Nation they had dreamed might offer them a better life.
  Their case, had they been able to apply, may or may not have been 
accepted. There is no guarantee they would have met the standards, but 
all they wanted was the opportunity to apply to enter this greatest 
Nation on Earth.
  So I will just conclude and say I hope, in the days ahead--and I know 
there are discussions going on between Members of this body and between 
Members of this body and the White House about what we might do. I just 
want us to do something we can look in the mirror and be proud of. I 
want us to do something that we can use as an example for ourselves and 
for others. I want the plumbline that separates good and bad behavior 
and foundations that are morally strong versus those that are shaky and 
weak to judge us fairly. I want us to be neighborly. I want us to be 
neighborly in the best traditions of whom we have always been.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LANKFORD. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                              Debt Ceiling

  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, according to the Treasury, since 1960, 
Congress has acted 78 times to raise the debt ceiling. Let me run that 
past you again. Since 1960, we have had 78 debt ceiling increases, 
under Republican Presidents, Democratic Presidents, Republican 
Congresses, and Democratic Congresses. There has been a steady increase 
over and over again with the debt ceiling.
  The debt ceiling was originally designed to provide a moment of 
fiscal restraint for Congress, a moment for Congress to look at the 
debt and determine whether to increase debt again or to determine how 
to restrain ourselves.
  Going back to post-World War II, we had an enormous debt left over 
after World War II. That was the triggering mechanism for them. 
Throughout the Korean war, for instance, they didn't raise the debt 
ceiling. They found ways to find fiscal restraint because they had so 
much debt.
  That doesn't even seem to be the conversation anymore. Now debt 
ceiling conversations are about what bill will we get it into to make 
sure it passes so we can just keep going. That moment of determining 
how we can deal with fiscal restraint seems to be gone.
  Let me state just how severe this has become. Right now, our current 
debt to GDP--that is, gross national product--our debt compared to our 
gross national product is at 78 percent. That is an enormous number. 
That means, if you take all of the American economy, every single 
person in the entire country, group it all together, what they receive 
in pay, what they make, and put it all together, it would take 78 
percent of every single person in the country to pay off our debt for 
an entire year.
  If we were to maintain that debt-to-GDP ratio at 78 percent, just not 
get worse than where we are at $22 trillion right now, we asked the 
Congressional Budget Office how much we would either have to raise in 
taxes or cut in spending each year to not make it worse. The answer 
that came back from the Congressional Budget Office was $400 billion, 
but the hard part about that--not that $400 billion is not bad enough--
we would have to cut or raise in taxes $400 billion every single year 
for 30 years in a row. That is not the original $400 billion but a new 
$400 billion every year for 30 years in a row just to keep us at a 
debt-to-GDP ratio of 78 percent.
  That is not going to happen. There is not the will in this Congress 
to reduce

[[Page S4929]]

$400 billion this year much less do it every single year for 30 years 
in a row.
  So my simple push is this. We have to get to a real conversation 
about what we are going to do about our debt and how we are going to 
respond to this.
  I have committed, around any kind of debt ceiling conversation, that 
the conversation should not be about just raising it and going on; it 
should be about how we are going to address our debt. I cannot support 
a debt ceiling that just raises the debt ceiling without any 
consideration about what we are going to do to actually pay off that 
debt or how we are going to get on top of it.
  We have a broken process. We are not dealing with debt when we talk 
about debt ceilings anymore, and we are facing a September 30 deadline. 
There is already an ongoing rumor and conversation around the hallways 
about could we have another government shutdown.
  In the last 40 years, we have had 21 government shutdowns--21--under 
Republican and Democratic Presidents and under Republican and 
Democratic Congresses--21 government shutdowns. The one that happened 
earlier this year was the longest one in history, but that doesn't mean 
it is the longest one that will ever happen. There may be a longer one 
coming. The challenge is, how do we solve this issue about debt? How do 
we deal with some of the simple processes like government shutdowns and 
how do we stop those?
  Government shutdowns actually cause more spending to happen because 
it costs so much to prepare for it. When it happens, there is a greater 
cost, and when restarting it, there is greater cost again. All of that 
is lost money. It is just a waste.
  So Senator Maggie Hassan, the Democratic Senator from New Hampshire, 
and I have worked together to put a simple proposal together to stop 
government shutdowns. This is not rocket science. Most Americans can't 
leave their work and walk away, especially if they are small business 
owners. They can't walk away from their jobs unless the job is done. 
That is just the nature of it. So our simple idea is this. If we get to 
October 1--and the end of the fiscal year ends on September 30--and the 
work is not done on all the appropriations bills, we would have what is 
called a continuing resolution kick in. The funding would continue to 
go the same as it did the year before. It basically is putting 
everybody on hold but is still moving. That would protect Federal 
workers and make sure Federal workers and their families are not 
affected by the government shutdown. It would protect the taxpayers, 
making sure they are not having to deal with ``I can't get a permit'' 
and ``I can't get an answer on the phone from a government agency 
because there is a Federal shutdown.'' So the Federal workers and 
American people would be held harmless, but Members of Congress, our 
staffs, and the staff of the White House Office of Management and 
Budget, in both the House and the Senate, would all be here in 
Washington, DC, with no travel.
  Now that may not seem like a big issue. You may say: So what. It 
would mean we are in session every weekday, every weekend, and cannot 
leave to go back and see our families. We cannot do our work that has 
to be done in the States, and we have work to do in our States as well. 
We cannot go on any kind of codel travel. We cannot take any other 
travel of any sort, and every day we have what is called a mandatory 
quorum call in the Senate and in the House. We are in session weekdays 
and weekends continually until the budget work is done.
  I had folks say: Well, that doesn't seem like that big of an 
incentive.
  I can assure you, the most precious commodity to Members of the House 
and Senate, our staff, and to members of the Office of Management and 
Budget is the same precious commodity every American has. It is time--
time.
  If we lose the time so we can't do all of the other things we need to 
do until we get the budget work done, we will get the budget work done 
because there are a lot of things on our schedule, but our first 
priority should be the budget work that needs to be done.
  This puts us in a position to basically do what my mom did to my 
brother and me. When my brother and I had an argument, my mom would 
lock the two of us in a room and say: You guys work this out. When you 
are done, you can come out of the room, but you guys keep talking until 
you settle it. Quite frankly, my mom would be a pretty good role model 
for this Congress. Lock us in the room, keep us debating until we solve 
it.
  We had the longest shutdown in American history this past time, and 
it started right before Christmas. What did the Members of Congress do? 
They left. They left. They went home for Christmas. They went away. 
While Federal workers did not have their paychecks coming in, Members 
of Congress left town.
  It is as simple and straightforward as this: Federal workers should 
be held harmless, and Members of Congress should be kept to stay and 
work it out.
  Senator Hassan and I continue to work through this. We gained wide 
bipartisan support. It went through the first of two committees--10 to 
2 as it passed the committee. Now it has a second committee to go 
through before it comes here. We want to build bipartisan support to 
say: We will have disagreements on budget. We will have disagreements 
on spending. But we should keep debating until we solve it. But do not 
loop the Federal workers and their families into this, and certainly 
don't harm the taxpayers in the process.
  We look forward to trying to get some things resolved in this place 
and to keeping the debate going until we do.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.


                               Healthcare

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to ask my 
colleagues a simple question. There is a lawsuit that is proceeding 
through the court system right now that has succeeded the district 
court level, that has had a hearing at the appellate court level, and 
may be speeding toward the Supreme Court. It is a lawsuit that was 
brought by 20 Republican attorneys general. It is a lawsuit that is 
being supported by the Trump administration. It is a lawsuit that many 
of my colleagues have gone on record saying they support. It is a 
lawsuit to undo the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, to throw out 
insurance for 20 million Americans and to end protections for people 
with preexisting conditions. It is an attempt to do through the court 
system what this Congress refused to do, which is to obliterate the 
Affordable Care Act and all the insurance it provides for people 
without any plan for what comes next.
  I have served in both the House and the Senate, and I listened for a 
long time to my Republican colleagues say that while they don't like 
the Affordable Care Act, they certainly understand that there has to be 
something else, and that something else should be just as good as the 
Affordable Care Act. In fact, the President himself said that whatever 
plan he supported in substitute of the Affordable Care Act would have 
better insurance, cheaper insurance, and would insure more people.
  Republicans never came up with that plan. In fact, the replacement 
they jammed through the House of Representatives in 2017 was much worse 
than the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office said that 
24 million people would lose insurance because of that piece of 
legislation and rates would potentially skyrocket for people with 
preexisting conditions.
  There has never been a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. The 
only plan from the beginning has been to repeal it. Now that Congress 
has said it won't repeal the Affordable Care Act--why? because 
Americans do not want the Affordable Care Act repealed with nothing to 
replace it--now that Congress won't do it because the American people 
don't support the repeal of the protections for sick people in the 
Affordable Care Act, Republicans are trying to get the courts to do it.
  We are perhaps 60 days away from the Sixth Circuit invalidating the 
entirety of the Affordable Care Act. Likely, if that is the case, the 
judgment will ultimately be rendered by the Supreme Court. But that 
could come as soon as the beginning of next year. We could still be 
months away from a humanitarian catastrophe in this country in which 
the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is invalidated and what to do 
about it is put back before Congress.

[[Page S4930]]

  It would stand to reason that if your plan is to try to get the 
entire Affordable Care Act thrown out in Congress, you would maybe 
start thinking about what would replace it. As far as I can tell, 
Republicans have no plan for what happens if the Affordable Care Act is 
overturned. As far as I can tell, my Republican colleagues have spent 
no time thinking about what would happen if they actually end up 
catching the car they have been chasing.
  What happens if the lawsuit succeeds? What happens if the Affordable 
Care Act is struck down? What comes next? We can't accept--and I don't 
think my Republican colleagues would want to accept--millions of people 
losing coverage overnight or insurance companies being able to 
discriminate against you because your child has a history of cancer or 
an insurance company being able to go back to capping the amount of 
insurance you get on an annual or lifetime basis.
  It is mere fantasy to think that we can reproduce the protections in 
the Affordable Care Act if we are not talking about it ahead of time.
  I am coming back on the floor today, as I have several times in the 
last few months, to ask my Republican colleagues to either withdraw 
your support for this lawsuit, stop the administration from being able 
to pursue it in court, or start a serious discussion about how you are 
going to protect care for everyone who has it today--not a handful of 
people who have it today but all the people who have it today--while 
this lawsuit is moving through the system.
  My Republican colleagues have been queried as to whether they support 
this lawsuit. The answers are all over the map, which tells you once 
again that nobody on the Republican side has really thought this one 
through.
  One Republican Senator says: I actually don't think the courts are 
eventually ever going to strike it down.
  Another says: I am ready for the lawsuit to succeed. I would love to 
go back in and actually deal with healthcare again.
  Another one says: Do I hope the lawsuit succeeds? I do.
  Another says: I can't say I hope it succeeds. I think the strategy 
from here on that I have adopted in my own mind is repair.
  Another says: My hope and belief is we won't strike the law down.
  The answers are all over the map. That is fine. The Republicans can 
have a varied set of opinions on whether the lawsuit should succeed, 
but none of those individuals who are quoted giving various opinions as 
to whether they would like the lawsuit to succeed have a concrete plan 
for what comes next.
  Let's just be honest. It is mere fantasy to think that a divided 
Congress is going to be able to, in an emergency, come up with a plan 
to keep 20 million people insured and keep preexisting conditions 
protections for the 133 million Americans who depend on them. We can't 
pass a budget through Congress. We have trouble passing a Higher 
Education Act reauthorization or the Violence Against Women Act. How on 
Earth are we going to pass a reordering of the American healthcare 
system when it is blown to bits by a Supreme Court decision that no one 
is ready for?
  That is why I am down on the floor today. I am going to keep on 
bringing this up because I just can't accept this world in which we 
live today in which half of this Chamber is just sort of boxing their 
ears and closing their eyes to this legal strategy. If it succeeds, as 
many Republicans hope it does, all we are going to be talking about 
here is healthcare. Overnight, we will be consumed by this topic, and 
we will not be able to come up with a solution that involves the same 
amount of protections that exist today.
  Why repeal it? Why not continue to work on making the system better 
without holding hostage all of the Americans who rely on it today? That 
is a much better path of action. Keep the Affordable Care Act in place. 
Work together on ways that we can fix the existing healthcare system. 
Don't create a chaotic situation with the wholesale repeal of the 
entire act, putting lives in jeopardy.
  There is no plan on behalf of the Republicans as to what to do if the 
ACA is overturned. I feel that we need to remind the country of that 
over and over again.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.


                   Remembering Corporal Benjamin Kopp

  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, 10 years ago today, CPL Benjamin Kopp's 
spirit departed from this world, but he remains with us in far more 
than memory.
  Ben was raised in Minnesota, where his mother described him as a 
boy's boy. He played in the dirt with toy trucks and revered his great-
grandfather, a decorated veteran from World War II.
  Then came 9/11, which changed Ben's life forever, just as it changed 
the lives of so many Americans. Ben was only 13--little more than a 
boy--but on that day of tragedy, he felt the call of duty to his 
country. Moreover, he sensed a rendezvous with destiny. Remembering his 
great-grandfather, the heroic veteran, Ben enlisted in the U.S. Army at 
the age of 18, shipping off for basic training at Fort Benning not long 
after his high school graduation. There, he grew into a man and an Army 
Ranger. He was assigned to fight with the Army's famed 75th Ranger 
Regiment.
  He served two deployments in Iraq and then went to Afghanistan in 
2009. There, Ben and his buddies were exposed to heavy combat, as 
Rangers usually are. On June 10, 2009, they were engaged in an hours-
long, intense firefight with Taliban insurgents in Helmand Province. 
Ben was leading a machine gun crew, providing suppressive fire for a 
group of Rangers amid enemy onslaught. Ben exposed himself and was shot 
behind the knee right in an artery. He was evacuated from the 
battlefield and placed in an induced coma.
  Despite the surgeon's best efforts, Ben never recovered from the loss 
of blood and cardiac arrest he had suffered. Eight days later, on July 
18, 2009, at the age of only 21, at Walter Reed Medical Center, Ben 
Kopp returned home to the Lord. Yet Ben is with us still. The heart of 
this Ranger beats on even today. Let me explain.
  Before deploying, Ben did a lot of paperwork, as all soldiers do. On 
one form, he checked the box to be an organ donor. Where it asked which 
organs he wished to donate, he simply wrote ``any that are needed.'' In 
death, as in life, Ben lived up to the Ranger creed. He shouldered more 
than his share of the task, ``one-hundred-percent and then some.'' So 
just 2 days after Ben's heart stopped beating, it beat anew in the 
chest of Judy Meikle, an Illinois woman who waited 7 months just to get 
on the organ donation list. ``How can you have a better heart,'' Judy 
said as she recovered. ``I have the heart of a 21-year-old Army Ranger 
war hero beating in me.''
  Ultimately, scores of people came to benefit from the sacrifice of 
this young soldier in Minnesota from his very blood and bones. Four 
lives were saved, all told, because Ben gave his all, his very body, 
for their sake. Ben departed 10 years ago, but his legacy lives on in 
the patients whose lives he touched and through the brave work of his 
mother, Jill, who has devoted her life to veterans' causes. This year, 
she organized the second annual Freedom Walk to the Wall and challenged 
America to walk 1 million miles in honor of our fallen heroes.

  The tragedy of Ben's loss has touched Jill in unexpected ways as 
well. She has remained close with the Army Rangers who served alongside 
Ben and even with those who had never met him. Just recently, two 
freshly minted Rangers from Minnesota reached out to speak with Jill. 
You could say that she lost her son but gained a family of Rangers.
  In Genesis, it is written that the Lord God created Eve in the rib of 
Adam, the first man. When God brought her to Adam, He said, ``This is 
now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.'' That mysterious passage 
takes on new meaning when we reflect on stories like Ben's.
  Thanks to his willing sacrifice, Ben connected with scores of his 
countrymen in one of the most intimate ways imaginable. For all time, 
they will remain bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. Rangers lead 
the way. That is what new Rangers learn at Fort Benning. In life and in 
death, CPL Ben Kopp led the way, and his story will inspire us for many 
years to come, for, indeed, he is with us still.
  I yield the floor.

[[Page S4931]]

  



                       Vote on Corker Nomination

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the question is, 
Will the Senate advise and consent to the Corker nomination?
  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Georgia (Mr.  Isakson).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Booker), 
the Senator from Nevada (Ms. Cortez Masto), the Senator from California 
(Ms. Harris), the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders), and the Senator 
from Michigan (Ms. Stabenow) are necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 55, nays 39, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 216 Ex.]

                                YEAS--55

     Alexander
     Barrasso
     Blackburn
     Blunt
     Boozman
     Braun
     Burr
     Capito
     Cassidy
     Collins
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Cramer
     Crapo
     Cruz
     Daines
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Fischer
     Gardner
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hawley
     Hoeven
     Hyde-Smith
     Inhofe
     Johnson
     Jones
     Kennedy
     Lankford
     Lee
     Manchin
     McConnell
     McSally
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Paul
     Perdue
     Portman
     Risch
     Roberts
     Romney
     Rounds
     Rubio
     Sasse
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Shelby
     Sinema
     Sullivan
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Wicker
     Young

                                NAYS--39

     Baldwin
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Brown
     Cantwell
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Coons
     Duckworth
     Durbin
     Feinstein
     Gillibrand
     Hassan
     Heinrich
     Hirono
     Kaine
     King
     Klobuchar
     Leahy
     Markey
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Murphy
     Murray
     Peters
     Reed
     Rosen
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Shaheen
     Smith
     Tester
     Udall
     Van Hollen
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--6

     Booker
     Cortez Masto
     Harris
     Isakson
     Sanders
     Stabenow
  The nomination was confirmed.

                          ____________________