[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 155 (Wednesday, September 9, 2020)]
[Pages S5490-S5502]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                            COVID-19 Vaccine

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Madam President, this morning, our Health, Education, 
Labor, and Pensions Committee had a hearing, and one of the members 
came up to me on the floor and said: That was the most civil hearing I 
have attended in the Senate in a while. The truth is that most of our 
hearings in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee are 
civil. We have Senators of widely different points of view.
  I thank Senator Murray, the Senator from Washington State, who is the 
ranking member of our committee and a member of the Democratic 
leadership, for the way that she and the Democratic members of the 
committee worked with the Republican members so that we can have the 
Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Adams, and Dr. Francis 
Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, who is one of 
our country's most esteemed scientists and the man who headed the human 
genome project, there for 3 hours and we can ask questions. Virtually 
every Senator participated, and we got some good answers.
  I would like to report to the other members of the Senate about that 
hearing. I began it by saying: I have been rereading the book ``Guns, 
Germs, and Steel,'' a book by Jared Diamond, written in 1997, which is 
as relevant today--maybe more relevant today--than it was when he wrote 
  Mr. Diamond, who won the Pulitzer Prize and is a professor of 
geography in California, said: There is nothing new about mass 
epidemics that causes deaths and social upheaval that we are witnessing 
today, and there is nothing new about where most of those epidemics in 
history have come from. Diseases that caused those deaths for the last 
10,000 years, he says, have come mostly from animals that transmit them 
to humans, and during most of history, there were three ways to deal 
with these epidemics.
  One was to isolate the infected, as in, for example, leper colonies 
to deal with leprosy. One was, according to Mr. Diamond, that over 
thousands of years, there have been genetic changes in the human 
population in response to the infectious diseases that have gone 
through those populations, and they have produced a resistance to the 
infectious diseases, as in the case of smallpox. Of course, that didn't 
do much to help the Native Americans in this country when European 
settlers, who had some resistance to smallpox, arrived here and gave 
blankets to the Native Americans that were infected with smallpox or 
contained smallpox and wiped out 90 percent of the tribes who received 
them because they didn't have that resistance.
  There is a third way of dealing with epidemics. Throughout most of 
history, the most common way was to let the epidemic run through the 
population until everyone had been either killed or recovered and 
developed some resistance to the disease. Diamond says that the Black 
Death killed about one-third of Europe's population between 1347 and 
1351 as it ran through the population killing people.
  Now, what is new about dealing with epidemics is modern medicine. 
Modern medicine has given us ways to diagnose these diseases and to 
create treatments to make it easier to recover from these diseases, but 
the true miracle of modern medicine is the vaccine--a vaccine that can 
prevent humans from acquiring the disease at all. The Senator from 
Tennessee and I have actually worked together on that issue 2 or 3 
years ago to encourage people, and, in her words, talk to your doctor 
if you have a concern about a vaccine. That is what we want to talk 
about today.
  Today, in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, school children 
are required to take vaccinations for a series of diseases--diphtheria, 
tetanus, whooping cough, measles, rubella, and chicken pox--before 
entering school.
  That vaccination will protect the child from getting the disease, 
which in turn prevents the child from infecting someone else--a pattern 
that eventually causes these diseases to disappear.
  Americans of my generation remember how polio terrified our parents 
in the early 1940s and into the 1950s. Many saw their children die of 
polio. When I was very young, I can remember classmates who were 
strapped into iron lungs so they could breathe and were destined to 
stay there for the rest of their lives. The lucky ones were like 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was left only with a limp after 
having polio in the 1940s.
  The disease terrified Americans until Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the 

[[Page S5491]]

vaccine in 1955. After the vaccine was developed, the United States 
undertook a large-scale vaccination campaign, and polio was declared 
eradicated from the United States by 1979.
  The purpose of the hearing we had this morning was to explore the 
remarkable progression that science is making toward a COVID-19 vaccine 
and to remind parents to have their children get their childhood 
vaccinations and to encourage as many Americans as possible to take the 
flu vaccine this fall.
  First, the progress toward the COVID-19 vaccination--Dr. Collins, the 
Director of the National Institutes of Health, talked about that. He 
talked about the vaccine research and development, including Operation 
Warp Speed, which is working to develop, manufacture, and distribute 
safe and effective vaccines as rapidly as possible.
  He told us there are six vaccines currently under development. He 
reminded us that the Federal Government, using taxpayers' money, has 
helped accelerate this by providing money to manufacture these vaccines 
before they are deemed safe and effective and that he does not 
necessarily expect all of the vaccines to work. And if they don't work 
or if they are not safe, they will be thrown in the dumpster. They will 
not be distributed to anyone to use.
  He pointed out that AstraZeneca announced today that 1 person in its 
clinical trial--which probably has 30,000 people in the UK--had 
developed an illness and they had paused the trial. In other words, 
they stopped giving shots to the volunteers in the clinical trial until 
they could see whether the illness is related to the vaccine.
  Some people believe that Operation Warp Speed means cutting corners, 
but it does not. It refers to the extraordinary investment in research, 
development, and manufacturing scale-up for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  Perhaps most significantly, the Biomedical Advanced Research and 
Development Authority--we call it BARDA--has taken the unprecedented 
step, as I mentioned earlier, to speed up manufacturing for hundreds of 
millions of doses early in the process by buying those doses in advance 
so they can be ready to distribute as soon as the vaccines are approved 
by the Food and Drug Administration.
  Several of our Senators on both sides of the aisle asked Dr. Collins 
and Dr. Adams, the Surgeon General, whether they intended to let 
politics play a role in the decision about whether a vaccine is safe 
and effective and ready for distribution. They answered absolutely no, 
that they would be no part of such a decision.
  The same has been said by Dr. Stephen Hahn, who is the Commissioner 
of the FDA charged with making that judgement. ``This is going to be a 
science, medicine, data decision,'' he said. It ``is not going to be a 
political decision.'' That means if it is not safe, it will not be 
  At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control is working on a 
plan to distribute the vaccine as soon as they are authorized or 
approved, prioritizing vaccines for healthcare workers and vulnerable 
populations. The CDC says its plan will be a fair system informed by 
nonpartisan health experts from the National Academies of Sciences, 
Engineering, and others.
  Some have suggested--of course, this is a political season; we have 
an election in 2 months--that the reason we are rushing, as a 
government, to create the vaccine is so it will help President Trump 
before the election in November, or that the reason the Centers for 
Disease Control said to the States: Get ready now to distribute the 
vaccine when it is effective and safe--that that is a political move.
  Of course, I said that if Dr. Collins and Dr. Adams had come in and 
said it would be 5 years before we had a vaccine, we would probably ask 
the President to fire them, because people are dying, and we need 
vaccines. We don't want the alternative, which is to run the disease 
through millions of Americans until everybody either dies or is 
infected and recovers, and we don't want to have happen again what 
happened before with the H1N1 virus, where the vaccine was ready, but 
the States weren't ready to distribute it. So we were pleased to see 
what the response was
  Americans are saying that they might not take the vaccine. The first 
question people ask is, Are they safe? They are safe because they are 
reviewed by the FDA, which is the gold standard for safety. Vaccines 
are routinely given to children. They are specifically recommended by 
an advisory commission that looks at it carefully, consisting of 
doctors and physicians and scientists.
  In a 2015 article for the Scientific American, a distinguished 
scientist wrote:

       By age two, most children will receive almost 30 shots 
     designed to boost a child's natural defenses against disease. 
     Yet at the same time, parents who take their children for 
     those recommended vaccinations might be inundated with Web 
     site and celebrity-espoused rumors making false claims that 
     shots are not necessary or cause autism.

  This distinguished scientist wrote:

       At best, navigating this landscape can be confusing. But 
     when weighing the risks of encountering life-threatening 
     disease against the benefits of receiving a vaccine there's 
     no contest. The vast majority of children do not experience 
     anything worse than short-lived redness or itching at the 
     spot of the injection.

  I asked Dr. Collins this question, which I think is confusing to some 
people: When you take the COVID vaccine, you don't get COVID? There was 
a time in the old days when to get a smallpox vaccine, you, in fact, 
got a little smallpox. But that is not what happens. As Dr. Collins 
explained it, he said the vaccine creates a sort of machine within your 
body and your immune system to fight the COVID. It doesn't infect you 
with the disease.
  Then there is the question about whether the vaccines are effective. 
I talked about how polio is now eradicated. The number of polio cases 
since the vaccines has fallen rapidly to less than 100 in the 1960s and 
less than 10 in the 1970s thanks to the successful vaccination program. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States has 
been polio-free since 1979. Diphtheria was a terrifying prospect for 
parents in the 1920s, but according to the scientific agencies and the 
government, there are only a few of those a year.
  Then there is the concern about whether the doctor's office is safe. 
I have heard that from people, but the studies have shown that the 
pediatricians--and we heard that testimony today--have made great 
efforts to try to make their offices the safest places that a parent 
can go with their child in order to get a vaccination.
  Finally, I started my comments this morning with comments from Jared 
Diamond, and I concluded with a warning he wrote for the Wall Street 
Journal. He said in effect that the main thing that is different about 
this disease, COVID-19, is not that it is more infectious; the main 
thing that is different is the jet plane--the plane that can carry 
people all over the world, all over our country, spreading whatever the 
infection is. He said that as a result of that, the next pandemic could 
be next year.
  That is why I have introduced in the Senate legislation that would 
help prepare for the next pandemic. It has support on all sides. 
Senator Frist from Tennessee, the former majority leader; Senator 
Daschle, the former majority leader on the Democratic side; many 
experts--all say we have a problem in this country going from panic to 
neglect to panic. While we have taken some important steps, as Senator 
Burr pointed out today, to create the authority for the government to 
build manufacturing plants, to manage stockpiles better, to be prepared 
for pandemics, as soon as the epidemic is over, we move on to something 
else. So the time to deal with the next pandemic is now.
  There is specific legislation to make sure that we sustain funding 
for onshore manufacturing so we are not relying on China, India, and 
other countries to make our vaccines for the next pandemic. There is 
money to make sure that the stockpiles are filled with protective 
equipment so we don't have the kinds of delays that some people 
experienced in this pandemic.
  Former Governor Mike Leavitt said to our committee that we have 
underfunded public health for the last 30 to 40 years, and when we 
underfund public health and the next pandemic comes, we are not as 
ready for it as we should be.
  Fortunately, thanks to an unprecedented effort by scientists around 
the world, preparation by Republican and Democratic administrations 
over the

[[Page S5492]]

last 20 years and several Congresses, we have done a lot to be well 
prepared for this pandemic, and we are moving more rapidly than we ever 
have to create new diagnostic tests, new treatments, and new vaccines. 
Some of the challenges that remain are how to distribute them, to whom 
they should go first, and how to persuade Americans they are safe to 
  But while we are in the midst of dealing with all of this, it would 
be wise to remember that any legislation that we pass in Congress this 
year dealing with this pandemic should also take steps to make sure 
that our stockpiles are filled, that our manufacturing plants can stay 
functioning, and that public health State by State is well funded, 
because, as Jared Diamond said, the reason to do that now, while our 
eye is on the ball, is because the next pandemic could be next year.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  (The remarks of Mr. Hawley pertaining to the introduction of S. 4543 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. HAWLEY. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cramer). The Democratic leader.

                 Unanimous Consent Request--S. Res. 685

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I am proud to support the resolution by 
the Senator from Illinois, and we will hear from her shortly. I very 
much appreciate her work.
  Now, in his famous letter to Lydia Bixby, mother of five sons who all 
died in the Civil War, President Lincoln prayed that our Heavenly 
Father would assuage her grief, noting the ``solemn pride that must be 
yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.''
  According to a recent report in the Atlantic, President Trump 
complained about visiting a World War I military cemetery in France 
because Americans who died there were ``suckers'' and ``losers.''
  Over the past 4 years, President Trump has achieved some remarkable 
lows in the annals of Presidential conduct and character, but every so 
often we are jolted by the sheer depravity of his comments. This 
President's insults about our fallen servicemembers and the nature of 
military service in general fall into that category--the lowest of the 
  There is no greater sacrifice an American can make than to lay down 
their life for our country, no greater sorrow than the sorrow felt by 
parents who bury their children wrapped in the American flag. Everyone 
who has the privilege of working in public office knows this deep truth 
in their bones but not the current President of the United States; not 
President Trump; not this man who dodged the Vietnam war with bone 
spurs; not this man who insulted Gold Star families, who looked at our 
former colleague John McCain, a man who was tortured in a POW camp for 
5 years, and said, ``I prefer people who weren't captured''; not this 
President, who doesn't understand one iota of the word ``sacrifice'' 
and cannot even comprehend why someone might give themselves for a 
larger cause.
  According to these reports, when President Trump went to Arlington 
National Cemetery, which included a visit to the grave of General 
Kelly's son, he turned to him and said: I don't get it. What was in it 
for them?
  Everyone--everyone--ought to be appalled. What the Commander in Chief 
says about our servicemembers and our veterans matters a great deal. It 
affects the morale of our military, our standing on the world stage, 
and it reveals the character of the man who has to make life-and-death 
decisions involving our Armed Forces.
  We have heard the President and his team try to deny that the 
President ever made those comments. I mean, come on. The President is 
on video saying nearly the same thing, out loud, on several occasions--
about one of our former colleagues, no less.
  In a short time, Senator Duckworth will ask this Chamber to condemn 
the President's remarks and reaffirm our Nation's steadfast and 
unwavering commitment to the individuals serving in the U.S. armed 
services. I want to thank the Senator from Illinois for leading this 
resolution. More importantly, I want to thank her for her service, both 
to the people of Illinois and to our country, as an Army aviation 
  I hope, I pray, I plead with our Republican friends not to block this 
resolution. I am already disappointed at how few of them have spoken 
out to criticize President Trump for his remarks. Are they really so 
afraid to say anything against this President that they would give him 
a pass when he disparages our own military? Will they really block a 
resolution condemning the unequivocally disgusting comments, a 
resolution that reaffirms our support for the military?
  I certainly hope not. If you can't stand up and say the President was 
wrong to say these things, then what can you criticize this President 
or any President for? When comments like this are made about the 
sacrifices of our Armed Forces, every single elected official should 
understand instinctively that they are wrong, especially--especially--
when they come from the Commander in Chief. Let's have the entire 
Senate--Democrats and Republicans--stand together and say so with this 
  I yield to my colleague from Illinois.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Ms. DUCKWORTH. Mr. President, I come to the floor today as a Senator, 
a veteran, and apparently, according to Donald Trump, a ``sucker'' and 
a ``loser.'' Perhaps my presence here is uncomfortable for him. After 
all, according to a number of reports, he thinks nobody wants to see 
wounded warriors like me who have lost limbs fighting to keep other 
Americans safe.
  Unfortunately for him, I am here, and I am here because the ethos of 
the U.S. military is the exact opposite of the selfish, craven, ``me 
first'' mentality that Trump has shown every hour of every day of his 
  In the Army, part of our soldiers' creed was to never leave a fallen 
comrade behind, and the only reason I am speaking today, the only 
reason I am breathing today--alive today--is that, on November 12, 
2004, after Iraqi insurgents fired an RPG through the Black Hawk I was 
copiloting, my buddies embodied that creed.
  They thought I was dead, yet they risked their own safety to bring my 
body back home to my family, only realizing I was still breathing when 
they got me to the rescue aircraft. Then these heroes, wounded 
themselves, refused care until the medic attended to me first.
  If it had been Donald Trump in that dusty field with me, or in any 
other battlefield, our wounded like me would have never made it home at 
all. But he never would have been in Iraq that day because Trump 
fundamentally cannot understand the notion of sacrificing for your 
Nation. He can't comprehend the true meaning of courage, the idea of 
fighting for something greater than yourself, greater than your bank 
account or your poll numbers.
  He doesn't understand service, so he doesn't understand America's 
servicemembers, the heroes--most of them anonymous to all but those who 
love them, who have allowed him to sleep soundly in his gold-plated 
Fifth Avenue Tower throughout his privileged, gilded life. Instead, 
Trump has reportedly called those who have died or have been wounded in 
battle ``suckers'' and ``losers,'' while just today it was reported 
that he used the most demeaning of terms to refer to the military 
leaders he thinks of as his generals, echoing comments he has made 
publicly time after time when he slandered war heroes like John McCain 
and Gold Star families like the Khans, acting, yet again, as if 
bleeding to defend your Nation is something to be ashamed of rather 
than a badge of honor, too ignorant to understand that he is the one 
who should be ashamed.
  I spent this weekend reflecting on the words of another Republican 
President, who in the midst of crisis reminded those sitting before him 
at Gettysburg the duty our Nation has to those killed serving our 
country. In that address we all know so well, he declared that it is 
for us, the living, to dedicate ourselves to the unfinished work which 
they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced; that cause for 
which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
  That cause was a new birth of freedom in this Nation, the bettering 
of our democracy, bringing our Union

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closer to perfection, even though we know we can never achieve it.
  What Lincoln understood--and what Trump never will--is that to be 
contemptuous of American warriors is to be disrespectful to the whole 
of the American people. When those lucky enough to serve in Congress--
or in the White House--raise our right hands and swear to faithfully 
serve this Nation in these ornate hallowed halls, it is on us to keep 
faith with those who have raised their right hands and sworn to serve 
this Nation in the most dangerous war zones imaginable.
  There is an implicit contract between our country's leaders and our 
warriors: They and their families have entrusted us with their care, 
their training, and the decision to send them to war. That 
responsibility is a grave one. They will march to do our bidding on 
command. They will cross the line of departure and begin killing the 
enemy at our behest, with no regard for their personal safety or the 
toll on their mental health.
  If our leaders regard our heroes as ``suckers'' and ``losers,'' what 
damage will be done to America's sons and daughters who comprise the 
terrible swift sword? I can tell you right now, it endangers every 
single one of them, and it endangers our Nation's safety.
  If you care about nothing else, if you care nothing about basic 
decency or troop morale, it is bad for troop readiness as well. When a 
warrior goes into combat, they need to know that their buddies to their 
left and their right will follow that creed to never leave a fallen 
comrade behind; that no matter what, no matter how, their buddies, 
their Nation, will get them out of there, even if it is just bringing 
their body home to rest at Arlington.
  It is because our servicemembers uphold the values of the military--
in the Army, those are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, 
integrity and personal courage--that they are willing to sacrifice 
everything for this country and that we have the greatest fighting 
force on the face of the Earth.
  Donald Trump, by contrast, has shown active disdain for each of those 
values in his 4 years in office. He has shown the exact opposite of 
every one of those traits, displaying no sense of duty, a laughable 
sense of loyalty, integrity and courage--no, not to be seen. He has no 
respect for those in uniform, and selfishness is his trademark rather 
than the selflessness of our troops.
  But if Trump's toxicity starts to break down those values within the 
military, if we start to question why we care about those who have been 
wounded or killed for us, if we start leaving folks behind, then people 
will begin to think twice about signing up to serve. Families will 
reconsider supporting their loved ones' decisions to enlist.
  Those few, few Americans who were ready to take on that mission--that 
burden--will start to hesitate because they will not know if their own 
crew will risk their lives like mine did to carry their limp body back 
to safety, but this coward-in-chief in the White House today is too 
ignorant in matters of both common decency and national security to get 
that. He doesn't deserve to be Commander in Chief of this military for 
another 4 minutes, let alone another 4 years.
  So, yes, I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues will be 
objecting to passing my Senate resolution honoring our troops, 
veterans, and Gold Star families and that they will not be condemning 
Trump's disgraceful behavior that denigrates military service that has 
dishonored the office of the Presidency.
  Does any Senator actually oppose affirming the part of what makes 
America not only great but good is the service of Americans who have 
always placed the mission first, never asking what is in it for them? 
Does any Member actually object to the Senate resolving to always 
respect the sacrifices and bravery of those who became prisoners of war 
or went missing in action?
  I am confident that no one here actually opposes the Senate declaring 
that we will always care for service-disabled veterans who have borne 
the battle in defense of our Nation, recognizing that wounds of war are 
earned by patriots who put America's interests before their own.
  So what is the problem? If Senate Republicans actually agree with 
everything I just listed, why would they oppose my resolution stating 
the same? I know some may dismiss the resolution out of hand, claiming 
it is nothing more than just a partisan jab at Donald Trump. To those 
people, I would simply ask that they not rewrite recent history and 
stop pretending that outrage over Trump's disrespect of the military is 
something new or one that just originated with the Democrat Party. 
After all, some of the very first public officials to speak out against 
it were Republican Senators who continue to serve in this very Chamber 
  When then-Candidate Trump claimed the late Senator John McCain was 
not a war hero because Trump ``like[s] people who weren't captured,'' 
it was the Senator's friend from South Carolina who wrote: ``If there 
was ever any doubt that [Trump] should not be our commander in chief, 
[this] should end all doubt.'' Again, it was the senior Senator from 
Florida who said much of the same.
  I can only say that it is shameful that no one on the other side of 
the aisle has stood up to condemn this President for the comments he 
has made, for the fact that he did not make his way to that cemetery to 
honor those veterans of Belleau Wood laying at rest in that foreign 
soil, who were there not just for us but for our allies, for everyone 
that they may never even know.
  Today, I am here to ask, as if in legislative session, unanimous 
consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 
Res. 685, which was submitted earlier today. I further ask unanimous 
consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, 
and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the 
table with no intervening action or debate.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mrs. LOEFFLER. Reserving the right to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mrs. LOEFFLER. Thank you, Senator Duckworth, for your service and 
your sacrifice. We share the goal of supporting our military and our 
veterans. However, the left's latest outrage against President Trump 
is, as usual, baseless. Here is the truth: The Atlantic article is just 
one in a long line of lies and political attacks against President 
Trump by unaccountable, fake news outlets and the so-called anonymous 
  Here is another truth, one that will not be covered by the fake news: 
No one has done more to support our men and women in uniform, including 
our veterans, and more to restore peace and prosperity for all 
Americans than President Donald J. Trump.
  Let me share the facts with some of my colleagues and the media, 
which they refuse to acknowledge. This President has championed a 
historic investment of $2.2 trillion into our military, a 3 percent pay 
raise for troops--the largest in a decade. He has personally thanked 
our troops on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, and 
Germany. He has spent countless hours honoring our wounded warriors at 
Walter Reed Medical Center and honoring our fallen servicemembers 
killed in action at Dover Air Force Base.
  He confirmed plans to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, 
honoring his commitment to end endless wars. Finally, today, he was 
nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in facilitating 
the Israel-UAE peace deal, a historic step toward a safer world for 
all. I am proud to defend President Trump against another desperate 
political attack. I proudly stand with him in support of our military 
and our veterans.
  This Atlantic hit piece is the antithesis of honest journalism. More 
than two dozen former and current administration officials have 
rebutted these false claims on the record. In fact, the liberal 
activist author, who has a history of using sources that are shaky at 
best, admitted that his reliance on anonymous sources was not good 
enough. What is not good enough is the media's treatment of this 
President and his clear track record of support of our military and 
their families.
  Last week, I was at Fort Gordon and Fort Stewart in Georgia, visiting 
our Active-Duty members. I saw firsthand the opportunities our military 

[[Page S5494]]

now have to grow our safety and security on all fronts, from combating 
terrorism to making sure our cyber domain is safer. There was a renewed 
sense of optimism that should bring all Americans comfort. This is a 
direct result of the President's work that he is doing every single day 
for our men and women in uniform. They are fighting every single day to 
protect us, and he is fighting every single day to have their back.
  Here is the truth: President Trump has delivered on his promises to 
rebuild our military, to respect our veterans, and to keep our country 
safe. It is time to stop playing politics with our national security 
and those who provide it.
  For these reasons, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The Senator from Illinois has the floor.
  Ms. DUCKWORTH. Mr. President, all I can do is to implore my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle to reassert their 
independence, actually put principle before party and support this 
resolution, which simply recognizes a basic reality. Trump's 
denigration of military service is even more disgraceful today than it 
was 5 years ago, as he is now at least supposed to be our troops' 
Commander in Chief.
  Former chief of staff of the Army General Weyand once wrote that the 
American Army really is the people's Army in the sense that it belongs 
to the American people. When the Army is committed, the American people 
are committed.
  The Army is not so much an arm of the executive branch as it is an 
arm of the American people. He may have been talking about the Army, 
but the sentiment holds true for every military branch, every one of 
which belongs to the American people. It is made up of their sons and 
daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, all of whom have 
dedicated their lives to serve in the Nation they love on behalf of the 
people they love. When Donald Trump mocks our troops, he is mocking 
every American in every part of this country. When he derides wounded 
warriors, he is just providing further proof that to him the word 
``sacrifice'' is so foreign it might as well be in another language.
  When he makes fun of those who have fallen in battle, he reveals not 
only his ignorance of national security but his own personal cowardice 
and insecurities as well. To him, service will never mean anything 
other than someone else serving him.
  Trump may not want to see me here today. He may not like to see 
visible proof of my war wounds, but he will keep seeing me here because 
it is my duty to honor the heroes who saved me by using my second 
chance, using every extra minute, every extra moment that I have to 
look out for our troops and veterans from here in the Capitol.
  I will take advantage of every extra breath I get to breathe because, 
unlike Donald Trump, our men and women in uniform know what courage, 
sacrifice, and service truly mean.
  With that, I note how grateful I am for my Democratic colleagues who 
are here with me today to show support for our troops, veterans, and 
Gold Star families.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mrs. LOEFFLER. Mr. President, instead of passing a resolution meant 
to politicize our military, I am offering my own resolution to honor 
the service and the sacrifice of the members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 
veterans, prisoners of war, and Gold Star families.
  My resolution also recognizes President Trump's strong record of 
supporting our troops, taking care of our veterans, defending the 
American people from foreign threats. President Trump and I have and 
always will honor the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women 
in uniform.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that, as if in legislative 
session, the Senate proceed to the consideration of my resolution at 
the desk. I further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble 
be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and 
laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Ms. DUCKWORTH. I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Ms. DUCKWORTH. I cannot support the incomplete Senate Republican 
resolution for a simple reason: We are not honoring the service and 
sacrifice of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, and Gold Star 
families in this Republican resolution. We cannot do that if we stay 
silent and meek when confronted with President Trump's disgraceful 
denigration of military service, prisoners of war, and military 
families continue.
  We can't control the offensive comments and actions of the President, 
but the Senate can make a clear statement that our Chamber rejects such 
disgraceful sentiments.
  Republicans' refusal to criticize President Trump speaks volumes when 
you remember that the outrage over Donald Trump's disrespect of our 
military is not a new concern. It actually originates with Republican 
Senators who were among the very first public officials to speak out 
against his denigration of military service and prisoners of war. I 
remind you that the senior Senator from Florida spared no outrage when, 
in responding to Candidate Trump's claim that Senator McCain was not a 
war hero, he stated: ``It's not just absurd, it's offensive. It's 
ridiculous. And I do think it's a disqualifier as Commander in Chief.''
  The Republican resolution is incomplete if it does not condemn this 
President's comments denigrating our troops. That is why I am 
disappointed that Republicans won't join me in passing my resolution 
that recognizes the sad truth that Donald Trump never changed and his 
denigration of military service and sacrifice is as disqualifying today 
as it was years ago.
  I yield to the senior Senator from Illinois.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, let me say at the outset how proud I am to 
serve with my colleague, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Her 
sacrifice for America is nothing short of amazing. Her life's story, 
her commitment to the men and women in uniform whom she served with and 
to the veterans and others, is now well established, not just in my 
State but across this Nation.
  Only a small minority of Americans have had the privilege and honor 
of serving in the military. Many, like myself, count themselves as 
those who respect the military and understand that they deserve that 
respect for their willingness to volunteer to serve and even to die for 
this Nation. What Senator Duckworth has done with her life is a clear 
indication of the spirit of the fighting women and men who keep this 
Nation democratic and safe.
  I am really disappointed. What a great moment it would have been in 
the history of the Senate if we had Republican support, as well as 
Democratic support, for the Duckworth resolution. I am sorry the 
Senator from Georgia objected. She took exception to The Atlantic 
magazine article, the one that said the President called those who died 
in war ``losers'' and ``suckers,'' but even that article has been 
accepted by FOX News as being a valid comment made by the President and 
  Even if you take The Atlantic magazine and set it aside, there is 
ample evidence of this President's attitude toward our military. We all 
heard Donald Trump say publicly, when he was running for President in 
2015, about our friend and colleague, the late John McCain: ``He's not 
a war hero. . . . I like people who weren't captured.'' John McCain 
spent more than 5 years in a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam, and this 
President, Donald Trump, dismisses him as no war hero. John McCain 
suffered for his Nation. He deserves the respect of everyone, let alone 
the President.
  We also saw Donald Trump publicly attack a Gold Star family in 2016, 
the parents of the late Humayun Khan, an Army captain killed in Iraq in 
  We have heard President Trump dismiss traumatic brain injury faced by 
servicemembers and veterans as just ``headaches.''
  We have seen his silence in the face of reports that Russia offered 
bounties to kill American servicemembers in Afghanistan.

[[Page S5495]]

  We have witnessed his use of military officials for photo ops or as 
his own personal security forces.
  Recall the scene in ``A Very Stable Genius'' by Washington Post 
reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig in which Trump called the 
service chiefs ``a bunch of dopes and babies'' and barked: ``You're all 
losers. You don't know how to win anymore.'' President Trump repeated 
those claims again in a news conference just this week.
  These are just a few examples of not fake news but real news about 
this President's attitude toward the American fighting men and women. 
It is no surprise that he would say vile things privately if he would 
say these things publicly.
  Instead of respecting our troops, President Trump ridicules them. 
Instead of bowing his head in humility, he barks insults and 
obscenities. No President in our history--none that I can even 
imagine--has been so juvenile, so abusive, and so cynical in speaking 
of our fallen heroes. What do we hear from Republican officeholders 
about these sickening comments? Very little, if anything, in objection. 
Their silence is deafening.
  I want to close by thanking my colleague, Senator Duckworth, for 
bringing this matter to the floor of the Senate. Every Member of the 
Senate--man, woman, Democrat, Republican--we all carry the flag and 
proudly march in parades and give those inspirational speeches on 
Memorial Day about the men and women who have served our Nation, but 
where are the voices in the Senate today to speak out against the 
outrages of this President?
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I am honored to join Senator Duckworth 
in supporting this proposal. It gives me great pride to serve in the 
Senate with her. She is the living embodiment of the kind of sacrifice 
that our President does not understand.
  There are two things here, though, that are very wrong. One is a 
President who thinks that the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines 
who have laid down their lives for this country are ``suckers'' and 
``losers'' and that it is OK to say that about them. It is beyond 
disrespectful. It is beneath contempt, and it is totally in character 
for this man. Those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines can't 
answer; they can't speak for themselves any longer. So when something 
like that is said, it is very important that people in the highest 
offices of the country stand up and push back.
  In graves in France and Belgium and Manila and around the world lie 
the mortal remains of men, boys, women who gave their lives and who 
cannot speak for themselves. It is heartbreaking for me to see that we 
cannot come together to agree on that in this body.
  I can promise you that if President Obama or President Clinton had 
said anything like this, the other side of this Chamber would have been 
in pandemonium. It would have been a scene of hysteria. Senators would 
have been lining up through the doors to come and condemn this foul and 
hateful speech. We would have been hearing a lot about the last full 
measure of devotion. Instead, we are seeing the last measure of 
devolution of a great party into what now resembles, as much as 
anything, a cult.
  I will be interested to see what my colleagues have in mind as they 
go through next year's Veterans Day and Memorial Day having been unable 
to say one word against this calumny of our troops today. It is, 
frankly, heartbreaking.
  I traveled a lot with John McCain, and one of our trips took us to 
the Philippines. I got up very early in the morning to go and have 
basically a dawn visit to the Manila American Cemetery. The particular 
reason I went there is to see a name on the wall of the memorial: 
George Bruen Whitehouse. George was 21 when he was killed. He was 
flying fighter planes as a Navy pilot off an aircraft carrier called 
the USS Cowpens. His body was never recovered. His plane was shot down 
and crashed into the wilderness, and that was the end of it, but his 
name is still there, carved high up in the marble as a last memorial of 
his sacrifice. A President who doesn't get that is a disgrace.
  I yield the floor.
  Particularly, I yield the floor to a colleague who is an American 
combat veteran from the Vietnam war, to which my father dedicated 5 
years of his life. It is a remarkable honor for me to be able to speak 
in between Senator Duckworth and Senator Carper. I am cognizant of that 
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. CARPER. It is an honor to follow my friend Senator Whitehouse.
  You could only turn out well, my friend, with the bloodlines you 
  Mr. President, I rise today really for one reason: I rise today to 
make crystal clear that we are profoundly grateful to every American 
who has answered our Nation's call to serve in uniform, to risk their 
lives, and in too many instances to lay down their lives so that we 
might remain a free people.
  We are profoundly grateful to their families who have sacrificed so 
much while their loved ones were away fighting to protect the rest of 
us and making this a better and more just world.
  We are especially indebted to those families whose loved ones left 
for war and never came home. It is a sacrifice that many Americans can 
barely imagine but one that has been all too real for millions of 
families since the founding of our Nation.
  One of those families was my mother's family. I never got to meet my 
mom's younger brother. His name was Bob Kidd Patton. My mom was a 
Patton. Bob was the youngest of five children, born near the coal-
mining town of Beckley, WV, to my grandparents, Ray and Effie Mae 
Patton, a Gold Star mother. Bobby was killed in action on October 26, 
1944, during a kamikaze attack in the Western Pacific on his aircraft 
carrier, the USS Suwannee. Among the bodies of the ship's crew who were 
never recovered was that of my Uncle Bob. On the day of that attack, he 
was--get this--19 years, 6 months, 23 days old. My grandparents were 
never able to see their son again or say goodbye. My sister and I, 
along with our cousins, would never meet him.
  Neither Bob Patton nor his Suwannee shipmates who also perished that 
day were ``suckers'' or ``losers,'' as President Trump has 
characterized others who answered our Nation's call to uniform; they 
were and remain heroes.
  I was fortunate enough to make it home after serving three tours in 
Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war, but 58,000 of my brothers and 
sisters never did. Their names are inscribed in a black granite wall 
not far from here so Americans will remember their sacrifice. Let me 
add that those 58,000 Americans were not ``suckers'' or ``losers'' 
either, as President Trump has described John McCain; they were 
patriots. Unlike Donald Trump, they answered the call of duty.
  My squadron and I were deployed to Southeast Asia as part of the 
Seventh Fleet for several of the years that John McCain was held as 
prisoner of war in the ``Hanoi Hilton,'' along with hundreds of other 
POWs. His plane had been shot down in 1967 over Hanoi. Both his arms 
and one of his legs were broken during the ensuing crash, and he was 
taken prisoner of war. For 5\1/2\ years, John McCain was held captive, 
beaten, and tortured. Despite this, he refused the early release that 
was offered to him by his captors. Far from being the loser that 
President Trump refers to him as, John McCain was the embodiment of 
courage, and my colleagues know it. He proved that again and again in 
uniform and right here in this Chamber, standing right over there.

  A number of us in this body have been blessed to serve alongside 
other true patriots both during our time in Congress and in uniform.
  The late Dan Inouye lost an arm and earned the Medal of Honor while 
serving in the 442nd--the most decorated American Army unit of World 
War II. They were all Japanese Americans who were despised by many 
Americans. They were heroes too.
  There is former Senator Bob Dole--another highly decorated World War 
II hero who was nearly paralyzed and lost the use of one arm after he 
had been hit by enemy fire while he helped to save the life of a fellow 
  Then there is, of course, our amazing friend and our amazing 
colleague, Tammy Duckworth. God love her.
  Tammy, thank you for bringing us to the floor today.

[[Page S5496]]

  For any American to disparage heroes like them who gave their lives 
or limbs for a country would be despicable, but to hear that contempt 
from the man who is now our Commander in Chief and who chose not to 
serve in the Vietnam war because of, allegedly, bone spurs in his foot 
is worse than despicable--it is abhorrent.
  What is most surprising and really disappointing to me, though, is 
not that Donald Trump would use words like ``loser'' and ``sucker'' to 
describe heroes like John McCain and others. What is most surprising 
and disappointing is that there are only Democrats on this floor today 
who are condemning the utter contempt that Donald Trump has shown for 
our servicemembers over too many years. There should be 100 Senators on 
this floor today--100--saying, in no uncertain terms, that we have 
nothing but respect and admiration for those who have served and that 
we will not allow them to be mocked or ridiculed by anyone, including 
by the President of the United States.
  Honoring those who have served this country and risked their lives 
for this country is among the most sacred of obligations any of us has. 
If we can't stand up and defend those men and women, then we have no 
business being here.
  Let me close with this.
  To the millions of soldiers, sailors, air men and women, marines, and 
Coast Guard members who are risking their lives right now around the 
world and who have done so for generations, listen to this: We salute 
you. We thank you. We thank your families from the bottom of our 
hearts. God bless you. Stay safe. Come home.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Ms. CORTEZ MASTO. Mr. President, as I listen to my colleagues, I am 
honored every day to serve with them in the U.S. Senate.
  In 2018, in Minden, NV, I had the honor of commemorating the opening 
of the Moving Wall, which is a replica of the Vietnam war memorial that 
travels the country so the public can pay its respects to Vietnam 
veterans. I will always remember the stories that veterans and their 
families shared with me that day--stories of coming home from a 
divisive war to an equally divided public. The pain of that reception 
was still fresh for many of them decades later.
  America's servicemembers make an implicit pact with our country. They 
agree to put their lives on the line, and in exchange, they deserve our 
support, our care for them and their families, and our respect.
  Last week, The Atlantic magazine published a story in which anonymous 
sources claimed that Donald Trump doesn't demonstrate that respect. The 
article described a Commander in Chief who calls his own country's 
fallen soldiers ``losers'' and ``suckers.'' The story has fit a pattern 
from other anonymous sources over the years, some having described the 
President as lashing out at generals and calling them ``dopes'' and 
  Now, granted, these are from anonymous sources, so let's set them 
aside for just a moment. As the saying goes, journalism is the rough 
draft of history, and sometimes that rough draft gets things wrong.
  What do we know?
  What we do know from the President's public statements is that Donald 
Trump does not understand the sacrifice and heroism that America's 
Armed Forces demonstrate on a daily basis, and that makes him unfit to 
lead them. How can a Commander in Chief make life and death decisions 
for our troops when he doesn't understand the very nature of the 
sacrifice he is asking?
  I am not making up Donald Trump's refusal to understand military 
sacrifice. You just have to look at the record, and you have heard some 
of it today. That record is part of the public record that, in 1968, 
showed that Donald Trump avoided military service through a medical 
deferment. Although Donald Trump did not serve in the military, he has 
felt free to criticize others who have and their families.
  In 2015, we heard then-Candidate Donald Trump say that John McCain 
was ``not a war hero. . . . I like people who weren't captured.'' He 
was talking about a man who endured torture during the 5 years he spent 
as a prisoner, a man who upheld the highest standards of our military 
by turning down the release that his captors offered him in order to 
stay with his fellow POWs, a man who refused to denounce his country 
even when his captors informed him it could earn him his freedom.
  Clearly, this President has no conception of that integrity and that 
sacrifice. A President who refuses to honor men and women who were 
captured doesn't understand what heroism is.

  In 2016, as the Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump 
attacked the family of CPT Humayan Khan, who was killed in Iraq while 
trying to stop a suicide bomber. For his brave and self-sacrificing 
actions that day, Captain Khan received a Bronze Star and a Purple 
  Accompanied by his wife at the Democratic National Convention, Mr. 
Khan spoke about his son's sacrifice. In response, after seeing Mr. 
Khan and his wife, Donald Trump said:

       If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had 
     nothing to say. She probably--maybe she wasn't allowed to 
     have anything to say.

  Can you imagine criticizing a mother for not being able to articulate 
the pain of losing her son? A President who mocks a military family's 
pain doesn't understand what selflessness is.
  Just this Monday, we heard Donald Trump say that the top people in 
the Pentagon want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those 
wonderful companies that make the bombs stay happy.
  A President who attacks America's generals as valuing profits over 
the men and women they command doesn't understand what leadership is, 
and because, even after 3 years as Commander in Chief Donald Trump 
can't understand or appreciate the commitment and sacrifice of 
America's servicemembers, he cannot effectively lead them.
  At the end of the day, Donald Trump does not understand the very 
purpose of our military. He seems to believe that the military is his 
personal police force. He doesn't get that the allegiance to which our 
Armed Forces swear is to the American Nation, its people, and its 
  We saw this when, in June, President Trump threatened to use the 
Insurrection Act to send Active-Duty troops to police the streets of 
this country. I was in Washington on the day this administration 
ordered police on horseback, armed with tear gas and concussion 
grenades, to disperse protesters who were peacefully protesting against 
police violence--all so that Donald Trump could stage a photo 
opportunity in front of a church while he held a Bible. On that same 
night, I could hear the noise overhead from the National Guard Black 
Hawk helicopters that engaged in a show-of-force display on the streets 
of Washington.
  I come from a family of servicemembers. My father was stationed in 
Korea after the war. My grandfathers both served in the U.S. Army, and 
I had a great uncle who was on the beach at Normandy. My father-in-law 
piloted LCM-3s in Korea for the Army, and I keep on the shelf in my 
Senate office a photo that he took of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, 
here in Washington, in winter. That stark image of troops in the snow, 
moving cautiously through danger, is a reminder to me of the humanity 
and sacrifice of our servicemembers, including of my father and father-
  Each year, when I celebrate the induction of new Nevadans to the 
service academies, I see the next generation devoting its idealism and 
its courage to our country, and I consider the weighty sacrifice of 
people who are so very young.
  After reading the stories in the news and reflecting on the history 
of comments from our current Commander in Chief, I just want to say one 
simple thing to veterans, servicemembers, and their families in Nevada 
and throughout this country: Thank you. I will always stand with 
American troops who put their lives and bodies on the line to protect 
our country, and the American people deserve a Commander in Chief who 
will do the same.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I am proud to follow my colleagues who

[[Page S5497]]

have spoken on the floor, particularly Senators Carper and Duckworth, 
and to join them today, for they are in the great tradition of this 
body--Bob Dole, Daniel Inouye, Tammy Duckworth, Tom Carper, and John 
McCain. We have known our share of heroes, and I am here to say thank 
you to them and to the others among us who have served.
  I am proud to be here as a dad of two veterans--one a combat infantry 
officer in the Marine Corps, another a special operator in the Navy. 
Both are deployed. I myself served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. I 
am here to say to the other moms and dads and loved ones that Donald 
Trump does not speak for me; that Donald Trump does not speak for us; 
and that Donald Trump does not speak for America.
  When he called those brave heroes who laid down their lives 
``suckers'' or ``losers,'' my first reaction was disbelief. Then, in an 
instant, it was totally to believe that he had said it because it was 
so much in character for Donald Trump. For him, it is all about Donald 
Trump. If somebody else can serve and take his place without there 
being sacrifice on his part, so much the better. Donald Trump does not 
speak for the America I know and love or for those who have given of 
themselves or risked their lives, like my colleagues who have spoken 
  When Donald Trump talked about the heroes of Belleau Wood, he could 
have used a history lesson because, clearly, the marines at Belleau 
Wood were not suckers. In fact, the relentless tenacity of their 
fighting earned them a nickname from the German soldiers who were their 
adversaries. The Germans called them ``Teufelshunde,'' meaning ``devil 
dog.'' This proud moniker has stuck with them all of these years, and 
they use it when addressing each other--``devil dog.'' That is what 
they were.
  One of their commanding officers, Maj. Thomas Holcomb, wrote a letter 
to his wife 2 days into battle, which reads:

       The regiment has carried itself with undying glory, but the 
     price was heavy. . . . There never was such self-sacrifice, 
     courage, and spirit shown.

  In the 3 weeks of fighting, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade 
suffered a 55-percent casualty rate--55 percent. His battalion alone 
suffered 764 casualties out of 900 men. He became the 17th Commandant 
of the Marine Corps and Belleau Wood became part of Marine Corps 
history. That battle was one of hundreds, even thousands of battles, 
where soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines distinguished themselves 
with uncommon valor. For every Belleau Wood, there are other battles 
for each of those services. None of them fought like suckers or losers.

  The cost of war is unspeakably high, and we know that from our own 
work on the Armed Services Committee and on the Veterans' Affairs 
Committee. I had just come from a hearing of the Veterans' Affairs 
Committee where we were discussing the problem of veteran suicide. 
Twenty of our heroes take their own lives every day. Yet we in this 
body have failed to provide effective solutions to those invisible 
wounds that caused those deaths. That is a national disgrace.
  So, to the loved ones of those who have risked and given their lives, 
we are here to make a point. This resolution makes that point 
eloquently and powerfully. Donald Trump speaks for no one in this body, 
as far as I know, and it is a shame that our Republican colleagues are 
literally absent. They are absent without leave. They are AWOL from 
this moment in history that calls upon them to stand up and be heard in 
the name of our Nation's heroes. Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to express my 
support for the resolution introduced by my colleagues, Senators 
Duckworth and Reed. I thank both of them, not only for acting swiftly 
to defend the honor of our servicemen and servicewomen but for their 
distinguished service to our country, both of them veterans themselves.
  By now, we are used to Donald Trump saying a lot of dishonorable, 
distasteful, and downright disgusting things, but there truly is no 
bottom when it come to this President, as is evident in the despicable 
comments he made about our fallen soldiers as reported last week by The 
Atlantic, comments that have since been confirmed by additional 
reporting from FOX News, which is normally very supportive of the 
President, and the Associated Press. He called these heroes, these 
fallen soldiers, ``suckers'' and ``losers''--``suckers'' and 
  The Atlantic reports that, while traveling in Europe to commemorate 
the end of World War I back in November of 2018, President Trump 
canceled a scheduled visit to honor those buried at Aisne-Marne 
American Cemetery. He didn't understand why he should bother visiting 
such a cemetery in the first place. ``It's filled with losers,'' he 
said. Can you imagine? Can you imagine?
  It was on that same trip that President Trump referred to our marines 
who died in battle at Belleau Wood as ``suckers'' for getting killed--
``suckers'' for getting killed--``losers'' and ``suckers.''
  Those words are hurtful words. They are damaging words. They are 
words that should never be spoken by a Commander in Chief. It is 
unthinkable, it is unforgivable, and I think it is un-American.
  The same story also recounts the President's visit to Arlington 
Cemetery with then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, himself a 
Gold Star father, who lost his son Robert in 2010 in Afghanistan. 
Standing over 1st Lt. Robert Kelly's grave, the President of the United 
States turned to his father and said, ``I don't get it. What was in it 
for them?''
  ``What was in it for them?'' This question captures the very essence 
of what is so deeply wrong with this President. In other words, why 
would any American give their life in service to our country? Why would 
anyone do anything if not for fame or fortune?
  You see, Donald Trump cannot fathom the idea of serving a cause 
greater than yourself because Donald Trump only serves himself. He 
cannot understand why anyone would choose to live a life of service; 
why anyone would risk it all to carry our flag on the battlefield; why 
anyone would put their own life on the line to defend our country, our 
people, and all that we as Americans stand for.
  Since these despicable comments came to light, the White House has 
bent over backwards to deny them. Once again, too many of our 
Republican colleagues have stood silent, instead of forcefully and 
unequivocally condemning the President's words. They would rather cower 
to the cruelty of Donald Trump than stand up to those who have worn the 
uniform of the United States.
  The sad truth is that none of us have to stretch our imaginations to 
picture President Trump calling our fallen soldiers ``suckers'' and 
``losers'' because he has repeatedly denigrated our men and women in 
uniform and the entire concept of military service.
  This is a man who, according to a New York Times investigation, had 
his wealthy father reportedly pay off a doctor in order to get a 
medical deferment from serving in Vietnam; a man who spoke out against 
disabled veterans selling goods on ritzy Fifth Avenue in New York City; 
a man who said that our late colleague, Senator John McCain, whom I was 
privileged to work with on so many national security issues, was no war 
hero--he is not someone who should be praised because he was caught, a 
prisoner of war--and resisted lowering U.S. flags in his honor; a man 
who has publicly attacked Gold Star families and failed to grasp the 
weight of their sacrifice; a man who, when asked about America's 
soldiers injured in the Iranian missile attack last January on Al Asad 
Airbase in Iraq, shrugged off traumatic brain injuries as nothing more 
than a mere headache; and, most recently, a man who, as Commander in 
Chief, has done nothing--absolutely nothing--in response to revelations 
that the Kremlin was awarding bounties to Taliban terrorists for 
killing U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan--the Kremlin, Russia, giving 
Taliban soldiers a bounty--a premium, a prize, a bonus--for killing 
U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
  What message does it send to the children of fallen soldiers when 
they read that the President called their parents ``losers'' and 
``suckers''? What message does it send to the young people I will speak 
with this weekend,

[[Page S5498]]

whom I host an academy weekend with, who are considering applying to 
some of our Nation's most prestigious military academies?
  What message does it send to adversaries like Vladimir Putin to learn 
that the President of the United States thinks that our service men and 
women on the ground in Afghanistan are suckers for being assassinated 
by Taliban terrorists?
  Article II of the Constitution does not give much instruction when it 
says that the President shall serve as Commander in Chief; yet somehow, 
every President, until now, has carried out their responsibilities with 
a reverence for the men and women who serve our country and a sense of 
gratitude for those who give their lives in defense of our freedoms.
  Let me close with the words of a Gold Star mother from southern New 
Jersey. Camden County Freeholder Melinda Kane's son, Marine LCpl Jeremy 
Kane, died in Afghanistan more than a decade ago. She wrote:

       I am nauseated to think that the commander in chief of our 
     military would even think to disparage individuals, like my 
     son, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to every 
     American. . . . For the parents raising children whose 
     fathers and mothers have given everything to this country, 
     how do they explain President Trump's words? These brave 
     Americans served with honor, integrity and heroism doing the 
     things that civilians could not and would not do. That said, 
     here we are today, in a place we never thought we would be--
     ensuring the world knows that those that serve our country 
     are heroes.

  Today, I want to say to our service men and women--from the young 
recruit who just enlisted, to the soldier patrolling distant lands, to 
those who wore the uniform, to the loved ones of those who lost a loved 
one at war--you deserve an apology from our Commander in Chief. Because 
you are not likely to get one, I think it is important to say it here 
on the floor of the U.S. Senate: You are not suckers. You are not 
losers. You are heroes. Your families deserve our admiration and 
support for their sacrifices. The American people will always value you 
for bravely bearing our country's cause, even when the President of the 
United States will not.
  I yield the floor
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, today I join my colleagues to honor the 
service and sacrifice of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, 
and Gold Star families, and to commemorate the men and women in uniform 
who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our Nation.
  Since the earliest days of this country, we have been blessed by 
selfless men and women who have run toward, not away from, mortal 
danger. Driven by a profound sense of patriotism, they laid down their 
own lives to defend the freedoms that define our Nation.
  That level of courage is difficult to comprehend and impossible to 
repay. Therefore, we show our gratitude by remembering these heroes--
their bravery, their strength, and their hope--and also the sacrifices 
of the loved ones who have lost family members in uniform.
  One such hero is SFC John David Randolph Hilty from Bowie, MD. 
Sergeant Hilty was serving in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent 
Resolve, helping to defeat ISIL, when he died this past March 30, 2020. 
This was after completing three previous tours to Afghanistan and 
earning several awards for his valiant service, including the Bronze 
Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Joint Service Achievement 
  Those who knew Sergeant Hilty remember him as a devoted son, husband, 
father, a tremendous leader, and a dear friend. I am thankful for 
Sergeant Hilty's service to our country and so sorry for the loss of 
such a wonderful member of our community.
  We are forever indebted to the brave men and women like Sergeant 
Hilty who gave their lives to keep the rest of us safe. As President 
John F. Kennedy once said, ``We must never forget that the highest 
appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.'' All 
Americans should be reflecting on the values that these men and women 
defended, and we must redouble our efforts to uphold them.
  Values like the freedoms to speak, worship, think, and dissent, 
values like equality, justice, and tolerance, values like truth and 
fairness, these are the pillars of the democracy that so many have died 
to protect. We honor their sacrifices by working together to build and 
preserve the America they fought to defend and support.
  Our citizen soldiers never need to ask what is in it for them. They 
know they answer life's highest and most honorable calling. We should 
all remember the sacrifices that so many servicemen and service women 
have made defending our freedoms. My thoughts and prayers are with all 
the families in Maryland and across the United States who have lost 
loved ones protecting our Nation.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. KAINE. Mr. President, in 2015, when I heard then-candidate Donald 
Trump denigrate the service of my friend, the late Senator John McCain, 
suggesting that he was a loser and that his status as a POW was somehow 
cause for shame or embarrassment, I was rock-solid certain that the 
America I knew and loved would never allow such a man to occupy the 
office of the President. I was wrong.
  The McCain attack began a slow reveal of the unsurprising moral 
bankruptcy of a man and the surprising willingness of Republican 
leadership to tolerate that moral void. The reveal reached a new level 
last week with Jeffrey Goldberg's reporting--significantly verified by 
other reporters--that President Trump as Commander in Chief still 
denigrates the service of military members, calling them ``suckers'' 
and ``losers.''
  The Trump campaign protested loudly against the charge, but in the 
same instant put out a social media message ridiculing Joe Biden as he 
visited the grave of his son Beau, an Iraq war veteran, after church 
last Sunday.
  As a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the father of 
a U.S. marine, I find President Trump's attack on our military 
infuriating. In an era when his countrymen were risking their lives in 
Southeast Asia, the President dodged service with a timely and 
miraculously short-lived diagnosis of bone spurs. He bragged that his 
own personal Vietnam was trying to avoid sexually transmitted diseases 
at home while others were trying to avoid bullets, landmines, and 
torture in Vietnam. The selfish young man who avoided service and then 
equated the ultimate sacrifices of others with his sex life has now 
ascended into the world's most powerful office holding on to those same 
immature views.
  It is not just about the President's words and attitude. Solid 
intelligence suggests that Russia has paid bounties for the killing of 
U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The President and his team have spent time 
trying to deny the news to the American public with ridiculous efforts 
to pretend that the President was never even briefed about the matter. 
The President still refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the threat or 
hold Russia to account, but, of course, he has described Vladimir Putin 
as ``a better leader than Obama'' and as a ``friend.'' He must think: 
Why risk that friendship for suckers?
  After watching this President for years, I conclude that the attack 
on the military is part of a broader hostility to the notion of serving 
others. The President stiffs charities, disrespects Federal employees, 
denigrates teachers, and undercuts programs like public service loan 
forgiveness. He treats the office as a personal piggy bank, filling 
staff positions with family members and cronies, steering business 
toward his resorts, making his main domestic priority a tax bill that 
dramatically benefited his own pocketbook. The death, economic 
depression, deficits and social division that he has caused through his 
chaos hardly trouble his conscience because he has the satisfaction of 
knowing that he has used the office to enrich himself.
  Is this the exemplar that we want for our country? President Trump 
may be unique among American Presidents in that no one holds him up as 
an example for America's children. No parent or teacher or minister or 
youth mentor who I know tells children to act like him or talk like him 
or treat people like he does. Even his supporters, professing support 
for his nominees and tax plan, have an instinctive understanding that 
he is not an example we would want our young people to emulate.

[[Page S5499]]

  Of all the critical issues on the ballot for America in November, the 
most important is the most elemental. Is America a place where the 
commitment to serving others matters? Are we our brother's keeper? Do 
we want our young to join the military or enter the Peace Corps or 
teach in our public schools? Is service just for suckers or is it the 
essence of American patriotism?
  Growing up, I was certain that I knew the answer to that question. I 
am less certain today, but I am infinitely more determined.
  Mr. CARPER. Would the Senator yield?
  Mr. KAINE. I yield.
  Mr. CARPER. I spoke earlier of my Uncle Bob. I forgot that we had his 
photo, but this is what he looked like at the age of 19 years 6 months, 
and this picture was framed and could be seen in the dining room of my 
grandparents' house until they died. Alongside it was my picture. Thank 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. May I ask the Senator from Delaware a question?
  Did that young man lose his life in battle?
  Mr. CARPER. He was one of a number of sailors on the USS Suwannee who 
was killed in a kamikaze attack, and none of the bodies were ever 
  Mr. TESTER. I want to thank the Senator from Delaware
  You know, this isn't the first time--this isn't the first time the 
President has denigrated our military. It is not the first time and 
will not be the last time because there is a total lack of appreciation 
by this President of the people who serve our country in our military.
  I don't have to talk about the bone spurs that gave him how many 
deferments? Five deferments? He found a way to not fight in Vietnam. 
Thank God his daddy had enough money to allow him to do that.
  Then we think back to John McCain, the decorated war hero. Oh, no, 
no, no, not in President Trump's mind. It didn't matter that he was a 
prisoner of war. He was no war hero, the President said.
  I am going to tell you, everybody in this body knew John McCain. 
Everybody in this body probably had a scrap with John McCain and 
everybody in this body had the highest amount of respect for John 
McCain. He truly was a war hero.
  Then there are the veterans who served in Vietnam, which Agent Orange 
got the best of them. They are now in their seventies, and they are 
dying because of their exposure to Agent Orange. Let me tell you, the 
President denied them their benefits--denied them the benefits. If it 
wasn't for this body and the House, they still wouldn't have those 
  Then there is the time that Vladimir Putin put a contract out on our 
military. Did the President speak up? No, not to his good buddy 
Vladimir. No, he wouldn't do it.
  Then there was the privatization of the VA. It cost Secretary Shokin 
his job because he said no, and in a bipartisan way we said no. Well, 
it is time to say no again in a bipartisan way. This President has 
crossed the line. ``Suckers'' and ``losers'' in our military do not 
belong in the same sentence, especially when you are talking about the 
``greatest generation'' in Europe who gave their lives for this 
  It is time. It is time not for resolutions that are political games, 
but it is time to tell this President that he has screwed up in a big, 
big way. If we don't, it will affect this country's future long after 
he steps down from the Presidency.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. JONES. Mr. President, I rise in support of my distinguished 
colleague Senator Duckworth and her resolution to honor our veterans, 
military servicemembers, and their families.
  Senator Duckworth knows more than anyone in this Chamber about what 
it means to serve and to sacrifice, and I am honored to serve alongside 
someone who has given so much to our country--and I might add, she got 
her training in Alabama, down in Fort Rucker, where we have the 
training for all Army helicopter pilots. So thank you for that, and I 
hope you enjoyed your time, and we are going to get you back. Senator 
Duckworth is but just one representative here with her many brothers 
and sisters in uniform who have worn the uniform throughout.
  Many in this body have served, and we heard a lot today about Senator 
McCain. I think few stand out as a military veteran more than our late 
colleague John McCain, the Vietnam veteran war hero, someone whom I 
served with but never, unfortunately, had the chance to meet. He was 
still a Member of the Senate by the time I got back here in January of 
2018. His illness prevented him from coming to the floor. It will 
always be one of my great regrets that I could not have had at least 1 
day on the floor of the U.S. Senate with John McCain.
  He was a Vietnam veteran and a war hero, but he dared to speak out 
against a President. And this President, to this day, almost 2 years 
after John McCain's death, John McCain is the target of the President's 
wrath. Two years later, and he still has comments about a war hero.
  I will tell you, to stand on the same floor at a moment like this, 
the same Senate floor where a hero like Senator McCain of Arizona spoke 
so passionately on behalf of our military and on which Senator 
Duckworth speaks so passionately about our military and our veterans, 
it is truly an honor.
  Today, the loss of John McCain's voice in this Chamber is magnified 
by the silence of too many who will not say what needs to be said. Our 
military families and veterans deserve our full support. They don't 
deserve insults. They deserve our support every day, not just when it 
is politically convenient. It is the duty of this body and every Member 
of this body to defend those who have sacrificed so much to defend and 
protect our Nation. It is the obligation of all patriots in this 
country to do the same. In fact, true patriots would never think to do 
otherwise. It would never cross our minds as true patriots--it would 
never cross their mind to launch an insult to our military and our 
veterans, much less those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is what I 
do today and every day, as a Senator from Alabama, to honor our 
military--to honor them because I come from a State of heroes: Alabama.

  I worked for one of those heroes. He was a military hero who later 
became a distinguished Member of this body from 1979 to 1997. Howell 
Heflin distinguished himself as a Marine officer in the brutal fighting 
of the Pacific theater of World War II, where he was wounded twice, 
awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for Valor, and retired at 
the rank of major. I am so honored to be in his seat today where I 
worked for him as a young staffer so many years ago.
  He, too, would rise in this Chamber in support and defense of our 
military. I know. I was here. I watched him. I saw him over the years. 
I was with him in every campaign. He was a tireless proponent of a 
strong military and understood Alabama's tremendous contributions to 
our Nation's defense, something I try to carry on in his stead.
  As Alabama's Senator, Howell Heflin may have been called many things 
in the heat of politics, but none would have ever called him a sucker 
or a loser. None would have ever questioned his patriotism. Even though 
Alabama has a strong private sector supporting our Nation's military, 
no one would have ever accused him of simply promoting the business of 
defense contractors with his strong and unwavering support of defense 
spending to make America safe and secure.
  You know, they are the less than 1 percent of Americans who have 
volunteered to risk their lives, to be away from their families, their 
loved ones, for weeks and months at a time, to uproot their families 
every few years and move, to put themselves in dangerous training, in 
physical and mental strain, and put themselves in harm's way when they 
are deployed in combat. Yet they ask for so little in return. That, 
folks, is the definition of selflessness.
  While at one time I worked directly for a military hero in this body, 
today, as a U.S. Senator, I work for thousands of them--tens of 
thousands across America but, importantly, in the State of Alabama. I 
say Alabama is a State of heroes because it is true. Our sons and our 
daughters enlist and serve our Nation in numbers that far exceed our 
State's population, and I am so proud of that.
  In Alabama alone, there are 27,000 men and women who serve either on

[[Page S5500]]

Active Duty or in the Guard or Reserve. Alabama is home to 377,000 
veterans. That is a lot of folks in a State of my size. Not quite 10 
percent of the population are veterans.
  The point here is that families in Alabama know what it means to see 
a loved one raise their hand and stand ready to make the ultimate 
sacrifice for their country. I have stood witness and nominated our 
best and our brightest to military academies in the 2 years that I have 
been here. We have been able to get over 40 of Alabama's best and 
brightest high school students into our military academies--40. And I 
watched with pride in how they became members of the military and how 
their families were so proud of them, not ever dreaming that one day, 
if they lost their life, the Commander in Chief of the United States 
might refer to them as a loser. I can assure every American that among 
the folks I know of, there are no suckers, and there are no losers. 
What every volunteer from Alabama, enlisted or officer, has in common 
is a deep and abiding love for our country.
  As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have had the honor to 
meet some of these folks overseas. I have traveled with my friend and 
colleague Senator Reed. I have met with folks from Alabama. I have felt 
their pride in the job that they were doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
They feel it deep down because that is the core of a patriot; that is 
the core of American values.
  We owe each of them not just our gratitude but our commitment to 
serve them as they are serving or have served us. We have a duty to 
uphold our promises to care for them and their families, to provide 
good healthcare, to help them get an education and transition to good 
jobs after service. We have a duty to honor them with action and with 
humble appreciation. We should have the decency and sense of patriotism 
not to denigrate their service, especially if you have avoided making 
such a sacrifice yourself.
  Over the past 2 years, I was fortunate to know a little bit better 
what it really means to serve and to sacrifice while I was working on 
the elimination of the military widow's tax. I got to know people like 
Cathy Milford from Mobile, AL, and so many others whose late spouses 
had served honorably. I was shocked to learn that for decades they had 
been denied full survivor benefits that their spouses had earned 
because the Federal Government wanted to save a few extra bucks. That 
our country could allow such an injustice to occur for nearly four 
decades is unconscionable, and we set out to change it.
  Cathy used to talk about how she came up here every year, and she 
would say that every time she would argue for the elimination of the 
tax, it was like digging up her husband from the grave.
  Sadie McCormack's husband passed away in a training accident in South 
Korea some 3 years ago. She has two kids at Auburn University, 
including a daughter who is the recent Miss Peanut for the Dothan area, 
where Fort Rucker is located. Sadie is a Gold Star wife who became a 
strong advocate of the military widow's tax issue. She had to go back 
to work teaching school to pay the bills because of that widow's tax.
  Lois Thompson of Dothan is the widow of Army CW4 Richard Thompson, 
who retired after 35 years and 1 day of service. He retired in 1991 and 
died on March 18, 2013, having suffered from ALS for more than 6 years. 
He served two tours of duty where he waded into streams contaminated 
with Agent Orange. Senator Tester spoke about the denial of benefits to 
those who have suffered because of their contamination with Agent 
  Mrs. Thompson is 85 years old, and she was his caretaker during his 
extended illness. She said: My husband served two tours in Vietnam, 
wading in streams of Agent Orange. The war was so unpopular he couldn't 
wear his uniform home and was spit on upon arrival back to the States. 
Our soldiers were often not treated right, even these days.

  I agree with Mrs. Thompson, and that is coming down from the 
Commander in Chief. So, let me make this clear. The sacrifice made by 
these women and men and their families is incalculable, and for far too 
many years we have failed to do our duty and keep our promise to those 
heroes. So I am so glad that with a bipartisan effort in this body and 
in the House--bipartisan, bicameral--we were able to correct that in 
last year's defense budget.
  Unfortunately, I cannot say that I am surprised by reports that the 
President called Americans who died in the war losers and suckers. It 
seems to be just the latest in a series of comments he has made that 
demonstrate a lack of respect for those who serve. That respect goes 
far beyond simply putting money into our defense and our military. It 
goes to your patriotism. It goes to your heart. It is easy to put money 
into something. It is easy to do those kinds of things, especially when 
you have an Armed Services like we have here in the Senate that works 
in such a bipartisan fashion. It is a whole different thing to really 
talk in the privacy of only a few people about what you really believe.
  I can't say I am surprised that combat-wounded veterans make him so 
uncomfortable that he would ban them from military events and parades. 
They are reminders of his own failure to serve when called upon. I am 
not surprised, but I am deeply disappointed--deeply disappointed. Our 
troops deserve a Commander in Chief who understands or, at the very 
least, appreciates their service.
  As of yesterday, 52,143 Americans have been wounded in Operation 
Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and 6,784 Americans have 
given their lives for those two missions. Many more have been deployed, 
often repeatedly, bringing home experiences and memories that are going 
to impact them for the rest of their lives. Their dedicated families 
have served alongside them through every step of the way. Few among 
us--few among us--can truly understand this kind of sacrifice for a 
cause greater than ourselves. But what we should all be able to 
understand is that they deserve our respect, our gratitude, and our 
unwavering efforts to uphold our promises to them and their families.
  So, as I conclude, I stand here today and think about those 
sacrifices, the pain that John McCain lived with, the pain that Tammy 
Duckworth lived with, the honor with which he and she and Howell Heflin 
served and all of those who have served and sacrificed over the years--
all those families and all those who serve today--and it is stunning to 
me that the only sacrifice that we in this Chamber may suffer for our 
vote today is to suffer the wrath of a President because we stood in 
support of them and not him. After all they have done--say what needs 
to be said--we have to support them and not fear a baseless tweet from 
the President. A baseless tweet is simply not too high a price to pay 
for doing what is right by our military and our military families.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise to express my strong support for the 
Senate resolution sponsored by Senator Duckworth, which condemns the 
denigration by President Trump of our Nation's Armed Forces and 
veterans. I also want to commend Senator Duckworth for her 
extraordinary and heroic service as an Army aviator. She inspired all 
of us with her courage and her sacrifice.
  In a September 3 article in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg catalogued 
a list of disparaging comments President Trump has made about members 
of the U.S. military and wounded warriors. Such remarks are not unusual 
for this President, and most are public knowledge. However, we should 
not become numb to such behavior, so some of the comments bear 
  The Atlantic article states that the President refused to visit the 
Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France, the final resting place of 
2,289 Americans who died in battle, ensuring our freedom and the 
freedom of our allies against the march of totalitarianism, 
authoritarianism, fascism, and communism over the past century. He 
refused to visit because he said the cemetery was filled with ``suckers 
and losers.''
  Several years ago, in planning a military parade to honor himself, he 
refused to include wounded war veterans, stating ``no one wants to see 
that.'' When he visited the grave of Gen. John Kelly's son who died in 
Afghanistan at

[[Page S5501]]

the age of 29 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, he wondered 
to General Kelly why his son joined the Marines: ``What was in it for 
  When impressed by a presentation by Gen. Joe Dunford, then the 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he asked his staff why such a 
talented person would join the military.
  Donald Trump is a man who cannot conceive of service to others before 
oneself. His view of the world is transactional. The only thing of 
value to him is money--not ideals or principles or the lives of our 
fellow Americans. He simply doesn't understand the words of one of his 
predecessors, President George Herbert Walker Bush, who said:

       On this day, we must tell the stories of those who fought 
     and died in freedom's cause. We must tell their stories 
     because those who've lost loved ones need to know that a 
     grateful Nation will always remember. We must tell their 
     stories so that our children and grandchildren will 
     understand what our lives might have been like had it not 
     been for their sacrifice.

  Donald Trump does not think deeply about what it means to be in the 
military; to be deployed in a battle zone, wondering if every day would 
be your last day; to be a family member waiting anxiously at home; to 
be a young, healthy person suddenly disabled or a Gold Star family who 
wakes every day, mourning their lost son or daughter but understanding 
the great cause they died for. Donald Trump only cares about the next 
``win'' for himself, his fortune, or his popularity.
  Donald Trump deferred service in Vietnam five times, including one 
deferment for a diagnosis of ``bone spurs,'' which is remarkable, given 
the propensity he has to play golf, given such a debilitating injury. 
He has said that those who served in Vietnam were ``suckers'' for not 
finding a way out, never able to acknowledge that his privilege of 
birth and race were largely responsible for being able to avoid service 
in that war.
  Furthermore, President Trump, true to his character, has doubled down 
and denigrated the military service of past Presidents and military 
officers, including, as has been referred to repeatedly, Senator John 
McCain, my close colleague on the Armed Services Committee and my 
  He referred to Senator McCain as a ``loser'' when he died and 
wondered why the Nation should honor him with flags lowered to half-
staff. He said he prefers those who were never captured in war. He 
would prefer those who never served to a man like Senator McCain, who 
survived over 5 years in a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp, who refused 
to leave his comrades behind when given the chance, and who endured 
well-chronicled torture and humiliation that made him an inspiration to 
so many. In fact, one of the most moving moments in my life was to be 
in the Hanoi Hilton with John McCain and to have Senator McCain talk 
about the torture, the humiliation, and the degradation that he endured 
each day but maintained his courage and his commitment to this Nation.
  The President also does not understand the good order and discipline 
that are the hallmark of a military in a democracy, ensuring that our 
military men and women remain firmly tethered to our Nation's moral and 
ethical principles in the most demanding wartime environments. That is 
why he saw nothing wrong with intervening in the legal process to 
pardon a servicemember accused of war crimes. That is why he was able 
to stand on the steps of the White House and make comments intended to 
drive a wedge between the men and women in uniform--the junior officers 
who enlisted and their senior leaders--impugning the motives of senior 
military officers who have dedicated their lives to the service of the 
country and who have bled, in some cases, for this country.
  Never in this Nation's history has a President held the military and 
those who served in such disdain and disregard--never. His support for 
the military is hollow. He touts pay raises that were scheduled to 
happen anyway and congressional increases in defense spending for 
readiness which he then diverts to build an ill-advised and wasteful 
wall on the southern border. He falls short in caring for our men and 
women in uniform and their well-being and lives--and thinks instead of 
how they might be useful to him to further his own interests and image.
  Donald Trump cannot relate to those who serve in the Armed Forces or 
understand what would motivate them to choose the harder road of a life 
of service, of discomfort, and the arduous experience to defend this 
  While I know that every American, especially those in uniform, 
listens to the words of the President, it is my fervent hope that our 
uniformed personnel do not take the President's words on this issue to 
heart. As a person who has had the privilege to have led paratroopers, 
I can tell you there is no greater honor to be among those who serve 
and protect our Nation, who sacrifice every day so that Americans can 
live in freedom and peace.
  As President Theodore Roosevelt famously said:

       The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, 
     whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows 
     the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends 
     himself in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the 
     thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails 
     daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those 
     cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

  I guess President Trump would say ``the losers.''
  Our men and women in uniform, who fight, die, and are wounded for our 
Nation and its ideals, are in the arena, not President Trump. As all 
other public servants who are trying to make our country a better 
place, they--particularly those in uniform--deserve all the credit. A 
President who is proud that he has always stood on the sidelines and 
denigrates them does not deserve much credit.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise today to honor our veterans and 
  I thank Senator Reed for his beautiful remarks and his service, as 
well as Senator Carper. I also thank Senator Duckworth, who is leading 
our efforts today, as she has led for so long.
  As I listened to my colleagues, I know that many of them were 
couching their remarks in the history of people. I literally could 
imagine John McCain right now walking up and down that aisle, crossing 
the aisle, coming over, working with people, slapping people on the 
back. That is how much he loved this place and how much he loved our 
  I remember the silent, courageous fortitude of Danny Inouye, and I 
remember so many of those whom I crossed paths with, like Senator Dole.
  I think the reason we talk about that history is because we know that 
this argument and this cause is based in history. Our democracy is 
based in history. The idea that people serve is based in history. They 
don't serve for themselves. They serve, in the words of Senator McCain, 
for a cause larger than themselves. That is why I picture those who 
served before us, just like our soldiers do when they sign up to serve.
  The brave men and women who have served in our Armed Forces represent 
the best among us. Whether you served decades ago or you still wear a 
uniform today, we owe you a debt of gratitude for your service and 
sacrifice on behalf of our great Nation.
  All servicemembers and veterans have something in common. Wherever 
they are politically, they have something in common. Regardless of when 
and where they served, they have something in common--a deep love of 
our country and a very real understanding of what it means to serve and 
sacrifice. They deserve a Commander-in-Chief who loves our country in 
the same way and for the same reasons and has that same deep 
understanding of why those soldiers signed up to serve.
  Unfortunately, as my colleagues have pointed out, the person 
currently entrusted to be the Commander in Chief of our brave service 
men and women, according to many, many recent reports, including things 
he has actually said on TV, has made repeated comments denigrating 
their service, questioning their judgment, and belittling those who 
were prisoners of war or who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to 
our country.
  Yes, I will never forget what he said about Senator McCain when he 
died, as Senator McCain's friend, Jack Reed, just recalled. I, too, 
stood in front of that cell in Vietnam with John McCain, where he had 
been held. When you stand there and you think about

[[Page S5502]]

the fact that he made the decision to allow others to be released 
before him--that is courage.
  What does it say to our servicemembers when a Commander in Chief 
cancels a visit to an American cemetery in France because, according to 
one report, he feared his hair would be ruined by the rain? What does 
it say, as reported in The Atlantic, when he questions the value of 
paying his respects to fallen Americans by claiming servicemembers 
killed in the service of this country are ``losers'' and ``suckers''? 
What does it say when he expressed his contempt for not just John 
McCain, who spent more than 5 years as a prisoner of war, but also 
accuses former President George H. W. Bush of being a ``loser'' for 
being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II? 
Finally, what does it say to our troops when the President refuses to 
publicly condemn, warn, or even criticize Vladimir Putin following news 
reports that Russia offered bounties for the killing of members of our 
Armed Forces and our coalition partners?
  Our servicemembers are always there for us, and we must be there for 
them. Even when our Nation is divided, we must still collectively 
reject any attempt to diminish their service.
  We learned that in a big way after Vietnam. I remember standing at 
one of our Serving Our Troops events in Minnesota a few years ago. That 
is when our restaurants and the community come together--sometimes 
thousands of people--to serve the families of the troops who are 
serving overseas a steak dinner, all donated, and at the same time, the 
troops are somehow getting the same dinner. It is an extraordinary 
event. Many of us volunteer to work on the lines. One day when I was 
there, there was a Vietnam vet, and he was serving up mashed potatoes. 
He had a Vietnam hat on, and I said: Thank you for your service.
  He said: When I came home, I was greeted with tomatoes. I don't want 
this to ever happen to another soldier again. That is why I come here 
every year to volunteer.
  We learned back then that you can have major disagreements about war 
and war policy, but you do not take it out on the warriors on the 
  Sadly, right now, we have a Commander in Chief who takes out 
everything on everyone, including personal vendettas against people 
like Senator McCain. Rather than being silent as, sadly, too many have 
been in reaction to his comments, I think we must stand up. I think the 
way that we honor their service and sacrifice is being very clear that 
we condemn the remarks that the President has made.
  I will end with this. The last time I saw Senator McCain I was at the 
ranch. He was in his last months of life. My husband and I went there 
and sat with Cindy and with John. At the very end, he was getting 
tired, and he wasn't talking much anymore. He was having trouble 
talking anyway. He pointed at one of his books. I picked it up, and 
that is when he pointed, without saying the words, to that sentence: 
``There is nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause 
larger than yourself.'' That is what unites our troops when they sign 
up to serve. That is what should unite us in this Chamber right now.
  I urge my colleagues to join in this effort so that our men and women 
in uniform, across the United States and around the world, know that we 
will not remain silent.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. HASSAN. Mr. President, I want to start by thanking the Senator 
from Minnesota for her remarks just now.
  I rise with her and to join Senator Duckworth and our colleagues in 
responding to the shameful comments that President Trump reportedly 
made about our servicemembers.
  I want to begin by thanking Senator Duckworth for leading us in this 
effort and for her service to our country, as I thank all of the 
Members of the U.S. Senate and all of the staff of the U.S. Senate who 
have served their country and all of their families.
  One of our Nation's greatest strengths is the countless Americans 
who, throughout our history, have been willing to sacrifice everything 
to keep us safe and preserve our freedom.
  In New Hampshire, we are proud to be home to a high percentage of 
servicemembers, veterans, and their families. In my experience, people 
in my State--and all across the country--revere the bravery and 
sacrifices of those who serve and those who have served.
  We may disagree about policy matters, including those that impact 
when and where servicemembers are deployed, but the respect that we 
have for servicemembers, veterans, and their families must be 
  It is the President's duty to honor the sacrifices of our troops, to 
care for them, to support them and their fallen comrades. The role of 
the President of the United States of America is not just limited to 
being the Commander in Chief. Presidents should also lead by example 
and represent the values of the American people.
  Unfortunately, President Trump has, yet again, expressed his disdain 
and lack of understanding of why people sacrifice for our freedom and 
democracy. This is a failure of leadership, and it is a failure of 
basic citizenship that is out of step with most Americans.
  Last year, I joined a bipartisan group of Senators to travel to 
burial grounds in both France and Belgium, as we paid our respects to 
our World War II fallen servicemembers. It was the honor of a lifetime. 
It was also deeply personal, as my dad served in the Battle of the 
  Standing on those hallowed grounds was a powerful reminder of the 
loss of war, of those heroes who gave everything to fight against 
fascism and to protect freedom.
  We owe these heroes our profound gratitude and our deepest respect. 
Yet, when speaking of servicemembers who were killed or captured, the 
President referred to these heroes as ``suckers'' and ``losers.'' For 
such words to come from the President of the United States is an 
affront to all that we stand for, and it is beneath the office that he 
holds. Unfortunately, these comments were not surprising given the 
President's long line of denigrating comments against those who have 
served, including the late Senator John McCain, Gold Star families, and 
other American heroes.
  The resolution that we are introducing today recognizes the 
unmeasurable debt that we owe to those who have valiantly served our 
country, as well as their families. This resolution condemns the 
repeated disrespect that this President has bestowed upon them. My 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle have seen the hurtful comments 
President Trump has made about members of our military. Every single 
one of us should condemn them.
  I will close with this: My father didn't talk about his service in 
World War II very often, but he did talk about his unit, a group of men 
who came from as diverse backgrounds as our country is large. They had 
their disagreements. They didn't agree on politics. But they came 
together every day to win that war.
  Of course, they knew that their lives depended on their unity, their 
cohesion, but they knew something else too, and this is what my dad 
always reminded us of. Sometimes, at the breakfast table, he would look 
up at us and say: ``What are you doing for freedom today?'' It was a 
question he had the right to ask because he was remembering his unit of 
men from all over the country, from all different life experiences, who 
knew that freedom, their country--our country--the United States of 
America, is worth fighting for.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.