[Congressional Record Volume 168, Number 195 (Thursday, December 15, 2022)]
[Pages S7226-S7237]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
resume consideration of the message to accompany H.R. 7776; that 
notwithstanding rule XXII, it be in order to make motions to concur 
with the following amendments: Sullivan, 6522; Johnson-Cruz, 6526; that 
if Senator Sullivan makes the motion to concur with amendment, there be 
up to 60 minutes of debate equally divided between the two leaders or 
their designees; that upon the use or yielding back of the time, the 
Sullivan motion and motion to refer be withdrawn; the Senate vote on 
the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur with Manchin 
amendment 6513; that upon

[[Page S7227]]

disposition of the motion to concur with the Manchin amendment, the 
Senate vote on the motion to concur with the Johnson amendment; 
further, that if none of the motions to concur with amendment are 
agreed to, the Senate immediately vote on the motion to concur; that 
there be 2 minutes for debate equally divided between the votes; and 
that with respect to the Johnson motion and the motion to concur be 
subject to a 60-affirmative vote threshold for adoption; finally, that 
if the motion to concur is agreed to, the Senate proceed to the 
immediate consideration of H. Con. Res. 121, which is at the desk; that 
the concurrent resolution be considered and agreed to, all without 
further intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SCHUMER. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.

                Motion to Concur with Amendment No. 6522

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I move to concur with a further 
amendment, No. 6522, to the message to accompany H.R. 7776, and I ask 
that it be reported by number.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Alaska [Mr. Sullivan] moves to concur in 
     the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 7776 with 
     an amendment numbered 6522.

  The amendment is as follows:

      (Purpose: To amend the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 to 
                  appropriately limit attorney's fees)

        At the appropriate place in subtitle G of title X of 
     division A, insert the following:


       (a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the 
     ``Protect Camp Lejeune Victims Ensnared by Trial-lawyer's 
     Scams Act'' or the ``Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act''.
       (b) Attorneys Fees in Federal Cause of Action Relating to 
     Water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.--The Camp Lejeune 
     Justice Act of 2022 (28 U.S.C. 2671 note prec.) is amended--
       (1) by redesignating subsections (h), (i), and (j) as 
     subsections (i), (j), and (k), respectively; and
       (2) by inserting after subsection (g) the following:
       ``(h) Attorneys Fees.--
       ``(1) Limitations.--
       ``(A) General rule.--Notwithstanding any contract, the 
     attorney of an individual, or of the legal representative of 
     an individual, may not receive, for services rendered in 
     connection with an action filed under subsection (b) or any 
     administrative action relating to such an action (as 
     described in section 2675 of title 28, United States Code) 
     (in this subsection referred to as an `administrative 
     claim'), more than the percentage specified in paragraph (2) 
     of a payment made in the action.
       ``(B) Amount of payment determined after offset.--For 
     purposes of this subsection, the amount of the payment made 
     in an action shall be the amount of the payment after any 
     offsetting reduction under subsection (e)(2) is made.
       ``(C) Prohibition on ancillary fees.--Attorneys fees paid 
     in accordance with this subsection may not include any 
     ancillary fees.
       ``(2) Applicable percentage limitations.--The percentage 
     specified in this paragraph is--
       ``(A) 2 percent for an administrative claim with respect to 
     which a party entered a contract for services on or after 
     August 10, 2022; or
       ``(B) 10 percent for--
       ``(i) an administrative claim with respect to which a party 
     entered a contract for services before August 10, 2022;
       ``(ii) a resubmission of an administrative claim after the 
     denial of an initial administrative claim, without regard to 
     the date on which the party entered the applicable contract 
     for services; or
       ``(iii) a judgment rendered or settlement entered in an 
     action filed under subsection (b).
       ``(3) Penalty.--Any attorney who violates paragraph (1) 
     shall be fined not more than $5,000.
       ``(4) Terms for payment of fees.--Any judgment rendered, 
     settlement entered, or other award made with respect to an 
     action filed under subsection (b) or an administrative claim 
     shall provide that--
       ``(A) the Government may not pay attorneys fees to an 
     attorney directly; and
       ``(B) attorneys fees shall be payable to the attorney by an 
     individual, or legal representative of an individual, after 
     the individual or legal representative receives the amounts 
     payable under the judgment, settlement, or award.
       ``(5) Disclosure.--
       ``(A) In general.--Any judgment rendered, settlement 
     entered, or other award made with respect to an action filed 
     under subsection (b) or an administrative claim shall require 
     disclosure to the Attorney General or to the court of the 
     attorneys fees charged to an individual, or the legal 
     representative of an individual.
       ``(B) Reporting.--The Attorney General shall collect the 
     disclosures under subparagraph (A) of attorneys fees charged 
     and submit to Congress an annual report detailing--
       ``(i) the total amount paid under such judgments, 
     settlements, and awards;
       ``(ii) the total amount of attorney fees paid in connection 
     with such judgments, settlements, and awards; and
       ``(iii) for each such judgment, settlement, or award--

       ``(I) the name of the attorney for the individual or legal 
     representative of the individual;
       ``(II) if applicable, the law firm of the attorney; and
       ``(III) the amount of fees paid to the attorney.''.

       (c) Update of Regulations.--The Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs shall amend section 14.636 of title 38, Code of 
     Federal Regulations, and any other relevant regulations, to 
     comply with the amendments made by subsection (b).

  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I am really working hard with my 
colleagues here--I see Senator Durbin has come to the floor--to make a 
law that we all know is the right thing to do.
  In fact, in my 8 years in the U.S. Senate, I don't think I have ever 
been involved with a matter that more desperately cries out for a just 
resolution to a simple issue. And it is this: Do we, as the U.S. 
Senate, want to help sick U.S. Marines and their families, or do we 
want to allow a legislative bill that continues to further enrich trial 
lawyers in America? That is the question. That is the law I am working 
hard with many of my colleagues to make happen.
  And I think everyone knows the answer. Everyone in this body knows 
what the right thing to do is. Every American watching knows what the 
right thing to do is, and that is to help the brave Marine Corps heroes 
and their families who have sacrificed for decades to serve our Nation.
  I have spoken to many of my colleagues, many of my Democratic 
colleagues in particular, and I know in their hearts that they also 
recognize we need to fix this problem.
  So what I am asking my colleagues to do, particularly my Democratic 
friends, is this: Help me fix it.
  Now, I want to say something. You are going to need a little courage, 
like the marines that we are helping. You have a constituency that 
really does not like my legislation: the trial bar of America. We know 
they are very powerful. We know that most of my colleagues don't ever 
want to cross them, and they certainly don't want my bill to pass.
  But, again, I ask my Democratic colleagues: Have courage. Do the 
right thing. Work with me on fixing this problem.
  So what is the problem?
  Well, I have spoken on the floor about this problem, usually in angry 
tones because it burns me up. And any American watching who understands 
this, almost immediately, it burns them up. And the marines and their 
families, it burns them up as well.
  But to be honest, this afternoon I am really down here more in terms 
of sadness and disappointment rather than anger. But I am going to 
explain it once again, and if you are watching on TV or watching back 
at home, give a call to your Senator and say ``Hey. Fix this 
injustice.'' This is a real easy, easy issue to fix. Here is the 
  We, a couple months ago, passed here the PACT Act, which was 
legislation to help military members who have been sickened by burn 
pits. This is an issue that I have been focused on my whole Senate 
career, starting with bipartisan legislation several years ago with 
Senator Manchin, Senator Klobuchar. So that was good. Important. 
Expensive, but important.
  We have got to take care of our veterans and our military. To me, 
that is the No. 1 priority we should be doing here in the Senate, which 
is why a provision of the PACT Act--to provide compensation for marines 
who were sickened by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune--was also 
considered in the PACT Act. That was important. We should do that for 
these marines and their families--marines serving in the 1970s, 1980s 
at Camp Lejeune.
  So far, so good. That is what has happened.
  But as the legislation of the PACT Act and the Camp Lejeune marines 
compensation act--it started to become clear something reared its ugly 
head, and what reared its ugly head

[[Page S7228]]

was the legislation was more of a gift to America's trial lawyers than 
it was to sick marines.
  Now, we have all seen these ads. As a matter of fact, this morning, 
on the radio, I heard a couple of them already. You can't go anywhere, 
turning on the TV, without a lawyer asking marines to call to get them 
to help under this Camp Lejeune compensation act. Here we are. We have 
seen it. Everybody has seen it.
  We had a VA hearing about a month ago. I asked the VA, How much do 
you think trial lawyers have been spending? This is a month ago. They 
estimated well over a billion dollars a month ago. A billion dollars. A 
billion dollars.
  Do you think that $1 billion is going to go to sick marines and their 
families? It is not. It is not. Now look, I don't blame the marines who 
are dialing these 1-800 numbers. They are getting bombarded. If they 
are sick, they think this is the way they are going to get cured and 
get their money.
  That is not the case. A lot of these are scams, and we know it. A lot 
of these are scams. The problem right now is if a marine calls one of 
these numbers, there is no limitation on what the trial lawyer 
representing the marine can take out of the marine's award. No 
limitation, no cap on contingency fees, no cap on anything.
  And here is the real problem. Everybody saw this problem coming; that 
is, as opposed to the marines getting compensation for being sick, the 
trial lawyers of America would be enriched. Everybody saw it coming. 
And to their credit, the Biden administration saw it coming. So the 
Justice Department of the Biden administration had recommended in their 
technical assistance to us here in the Senate that there should be caps 
on these awards for trial lawyers. Makes sense. This is the Biden 
administration Justice Department--friends of many of these law firms, 
but they knew it was the right thing to do. They said 10 percent caps 
on contingency awards and 2 percent for filing fees. That was the Biden 
administration's recommendation.
  Now, that didn't happen. I won't go into all the bloody, gory 
details, but as we tried to amend the PACT Act, we wanted an amendment 
to do that. The Biden administration did, the veterans service 
organizations did because it was pretty simple. If there is a cap on 
fees for the lawyers, the marines are going to get more; if there 
isn't, the trial lawyers are going to get more. We worked it hard.
  Unfortunately and sadly--really sadly--my Democratic colleagues 
blocked all those amendments when we tried to pass the PACT Act.
  So what has happened? What the Biden Justice Department predicted, 
what we all predicted, it is happening. Billions of dollars of ads--see 
them every day, hear them every day and every night, and marines 
getting crumbs and trial attorneys getting rich. That is just not 
  There is not one Senator who knows that that is the right thing to 
do. This is an injustice right now in America, and already some marines 
have lost money because of these scams. Some of these firms are 
promising big paydays. Of course, they are asking for money upfront. A 
recent media story highlighted a marine in Kentucky whose face was 
actually used in an ad claiming he had received a $35,000 settlement. 
In fact, he told a reporter he got 35 cents, OK? That is not justice.
  So, of course, right now the VA, local governments, veterans groups 
are frantically trying to warn marines and their families: Hey, don't 
listen to that, and, Congress, please help us. There are reports that 
some law firms are charging 50 or 60 percent contingency fees. Are you 
kidding me?
  The veterans groups, the VA itself, the Biden administration VA, are 
crying out for help--help--no more scams.
  Here is what the American Legion said at a recent meeting in a 
resolution they had passed:

       WHEREAS, Predatory law firms charging exorbitant fees have 
     engaged in aggressive marketing campaigns [hurting veterans]. 
     . . . The American Legion urges Congress to provide the 
     necessary oversight [for] the implementation of the Camp 
     Lejeune Justice Act to ensure veterans receive fair 

  That is the American Legion.
  I am a member. The VFW has also come out in support of what we are 
trying to do. So this should be simple. This should be simple.
  So what does my bill do? What does my amendment do? I am going to 
explain it briefly here. The full name of my amendment, my bill, is the 
Protect Camp Lejeune Victims Ensnared by Trial Lawyers Scams Act, the 
VETS Act for short. And it is pretty simple. First of all, it just goes 
back to what the Biden administration had recommended in terms of a 
cap. Everybody here agrees there needs to be a cap on contingency fees.

  They had mentioned 10 percent, as I mentioned, on contingency fees 
and a 2-percent cap for filing the necessary paperwork.
  Now my good friend, the Senator from Illinois, the chairman of the 
Judiciary Committee, Senator Durbin, respectfully, I think he is going 
to speak and say: Well, wait a minute. The normal fee is 33\1/2\ 
percent, one-third contingency fees. That is actually correct.
  But this isn't a normal fee. The reason the Biden administration has 
a low contingency fee at 10 percent is that the lawyers who are going 
to receive and help marines get these benefits aren't going to go 
through big trials. They are not going to go through discovery. It is 
almost an administrative procedure process to check some boxes. The 
government doesn't even have a defense in this. So that is why 33\1/3\ 
percent, the standard fare for contingency fees, has no place in this 
legislation--no place in this legislation. This is a government 
administrative process that is going to be made easy, supposedly, in 
the bill for marines--sick marines to recover compensation and their 
  So when you hear talk about: No, no, it has got to be one-third. That 
is just not true.
  The Biden administration recommended 10 percent. So don't be fooled 
by that. Americans watching, don't be fooled by that.
  So here is another thing.
  That is the key to my legislation. The other thing we are saying is 
because the compensation will come out of other benefits that the 
veterans receive from the VA, we make sure that the contingency fee is 
based on the net award, not the total award. Again, that is to serve 
the marines and their families, not the trial lawyers.
  Let me give you one final thing my legislation does, and I don't 
think there is any Senator who disagrees with this. And I am pretty 
sure the chairman of the Judiciary Committee does not disagree with 
this. Somehow, in the VA-implemented regulations on the implementation 
of this legislation, they issued a reg that makes sure that trial 
lawyers get paid before the sick marines and their families.
  They what? Yes, right now. Now that is crazy. Everybody, including 
lawyers, knows that the client gets paid and then the client pays the 
lawyer. It shouldn't be the lawyer gets paid and then the client gets 
paid. That is crazy, especially if the client is a sick U.S. marine. 
And I even think my colleague Senator Durbin agrees with that. So that 
is the other piece of this legislation.
  We could fix that overnight by having the Secretary of the VA take a 
relook at that reg and say: Hey, that is wrong. Let's rescind that. I 
would welcome if Secretary McDonough would do that.
  Well, I am going to keep fighting for this issue. This is an urgent 
issue. Payments under the Camp Lejeune Act will start early next year. 
The ads that we saw that I showed you here are likely to intensify over 
the holidays to try to ensnare even more marines into these schemes.
  But here is what I am going to do: I am going to withdraw my 
amendment. I am not going to force a vote on this amendment this 
afternoon because I want to get to a law, and I had a feeling that 
unfortunately my amendment was not going to get passed in this Senate 
on this vote this afternoon.
  So I want to work with Senator Durbin, Senator Blumenthal, other 
Members on the other side of the aisle to do what we all know is the 
right thing--to pass a law that emphasizes what we all thought the bill 
was doing in the first place in the PACT Act, to take care of sick 
marines and their families and not enrich trial lawyers.
  Again, I urge my colleagues to work with me. Like the U.S. marines, 
have courage to stand up to powerful interest groups who are trying to 
take more money from individuals who deserve it.

[[Page S7229]]

  Work with me on this. It is the holiday season. Let's give the 
marines and their families the gift that they deserve and have earned 
through courage and sacrifice, not the lump of coal and breadcrumbs, 
which is the result of this bill that dramatically focuses on enriching 
trial lawyers at the expense of the U.S. marines. I am committed to 
work all weekend, all next week, but we need to get this done before we 
finish this Congress at the end of the year.
  Every American knows it. Every U.S. Senator knows it. It is the right 
thing to do, and I certainly hope my colleagues are going to work with 
me to make it happen.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, at the outset, let me thank my colleague 
from Alaska for his service to the United States of America and the 
Marine Corps, and let me thank all the women and men who serve in the 
Marine Corps and all our branches of military service. We owe them a 
great debt of gratitude, and we certainly owe them justice.
  What is at issue here is the discovery that the water that they were 
drinking while they were training at Camp Lejeune was poisoned, and it 
was endangering the health of the marines and their families. For 
years, they sought compensation and protection and failed. And just 
this last year, we passed the PACT Act. Under that provision of law, it 
finally gave a cause of action to these marines and their families to 
recover for the damages they had suffered because of this poisonous 
water at this U.S. Government facility training camp at Camp Lejeune. I 
voted for that, proudly. It was a strong bipartisan rollcall, as it 
should have been. But let me make sure you understand and everyone 
listening understands what these marines who believe that they have 
been damaged by this poisoned water--this contaminated water--have to 
go through now to recover even the first dollar.
  The first instance is, they don't receive it automatically. The 
Senator from Alaska continues to refer to the Biden administration's 
standards of 2 percent and 10 percent and so forth. He is quoting from 
a hypothetical that dealt with the Compensation Fund, not what we 
passed here in the U.S. Senate.
  The Compensation Fund is like for 9/11 victims. We understand those 
cases. It wasn't a question of the victims going in and proving that 9/
11 actually occurred or that their loved one was killed. It was almost 
an automatic thing that you qualify for. So the low contingency fees 
which he quoted was for a hypothetical approach which is not the law.
  What is the law today?
  What if my father or someone in my family--my son--had gone through 
training at Camp Lejeune in the period of time that is affected by 
this? How do they recover? There are two avenues to recovery. One of 
them is file a claim with the U.S. Navy, and the Navy can decide that 
the claim is meritorious and pay it.
  But if the Navy does not pay it, the administrative hearing does not 
result in a payment to the plaintiff, to the claimant, to the marine, 
the next step is a serious one. It goes to the Federal court, not just 
any Federal court but the one we designated, the Eastern District of 
North Carolina.
  What happens at that court? That marine now is walking into a Federal 
courtroom and has to establish a case and prove the liability of the 
government for his losses.
  What does he have to prove? Well, he has to prove causation, 
liability, and damages.
  Have you ever been in a Federal courtroom or walked in there by 
yourself and seen what happens? I am telling you that it is a humbling 
experience even for a trained lawyer.
  I have been through it, and I will tell you this: I wouldn't want to 
go through it with something as serious as recovering damages for 
healthcare costs or injuries to someone dear to me and my family 
without having adequate legal representation.
  What does it cost to get this representation?
  Well, there is no requirement that the marines hire a lawyer at all, 
but if they do, the ordinary course of business says that they are 
going to pay a contingency fee, which means you don't pay the lawyer 
upfront. The lawyer basically represents you, and if they recover, then 
you recover, but if they don't recover anything for your claim, they 
are emptyhanded as you are emptyhanded. That is the nature of a 
contingency fee.
  The Senator from Alaska came to the floor about 2 weeks ago and 
raised this issue, and I said: Let's work on this together. I want to 
say our staffs have worked on it together. I am sorry that we haven't 
reached an agreement, but here was the proposal that I put on the table 
and the reason for it.
  First, on the contingency fee, if you are just going to go to the 
Navy and file your administrative claim, we put a cap on the 
contingency fee, which the lawyer is paid, of 20 percent--20 percent. 
Where did we get that? From the Federal Tort Claims Act. That is the 
percentage that is used now under the law. Then we said, if you have to 
go to a trial in a Federal court, the maximum--maximum--attorney's fee 
is one-third if you recover. If you don't recover, you don't pay. It is 
a contingency fee.
  Now, the Senator from Alaska has said: Well, let's do 2 percent and 
10 percent instead of 20 percent and 33 percent.
  So what can you buy for a 2-percent contingency fee or a 10-percent 
contingency fee? Well, you can probably buy a lawyer who has never 
tried a case in court. You could buy an attorney whose office is in the 
trunk of his car. You could buy an attorney who will put the veteran's 
file at the bottom of the stack because there is so little money 
involved in it--or you could buy an attorney who will say: My paralegal 
in Singapore will get back to you later.
  That is what you get if you try to get by with 2 percent and 10 
percent when, in the ordinary course of business, it is 33\1/3\ 
percent. You are doing the veterans no favor by saying that they can't 
pay any more than a 2-percent contingency fee if they can't find a good 
lawyer, and I am sorry to say you won't find a lot of good lawyers at a 
2-percent contingency fee. That is just the reality.
  We went to the Senator from Alaska and said: We will cap the 
contingency fees: 20 percent for an administrative case and no more 
than a 33\1/3\-percent contingency fee if the case goes to trial.
  Then we went further. He raised a point that I think is a valid 
point: How does a marine know he is going to get paid? We think the 
lawyer will be paid, but will the marine be paid if there is a verdict 
or a settlement? We put in language that said, definitely, the marine 
has to be the first paid. We offered that to the Senator from Alaska.
  We went further. There is a bill pending before the U.S. Senate--a 
bipartisan bill. Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Boozman 
of Arkansas, a Republican, have come up with a bill that says: Those 
people who are ripping off veterans--unaccredited groups that are 
ripping off veterans--by making them pay fees to collect the benefits 
they are owed by law ought to be criminally liable. There is a criminal 
fine in that bill.
  So those are the three things we offered to the Senator from Alaska. 
It was not that he would go away emptyhanded but that he would get a 
result and get that result in a timely way. We made that offer over the 
last 2 weeks. He did not accept it. I wish he had.
  I am still going to work with him to reach that goal so that we can 
make sure that all men and women who are affected by the Camp Lejeune 
contaminated water get compensated with competent attorneys who can 
represent them in court effectively and recover for them. We are doing 
them no favor if we limit the contingency fee and they can't hire a 
competent attorney. That is the maximum amount, 20 and 33, but it is 
certainly within the realm of ordinary practice.
  So I would say to the Senator from Alaska that the offer I made 2 
weeks ago I make to you again now. Let's fix this problem. Let's not 
trade speeches on the floor of the Senate. We both feel intensely about 
our points of view, but we share one common value that, I think, we 
ought to make very clear here: We want these marines to be compensated. 
That is why we passed the PACT Act. We want to do it in a way that they 
are not exploited. I

[[Page S7230]]

abhor those attorneys or even those who are not attorneys who are 
trying to exploit these individuals.
  Let's work together to put an end to that once and for all, and let's 
do it in a timely way. By the time we get back here to consider 
legislation, it will be almost February--another 6 weeks or longer--and 
time will have been wasted.
  I would just say to the Veterans Health Administration and to all of 
the veterans' services organizations: Warn all of those who would be 
plaintiffs in these lawsuits not to be taken in by anyone who is going 
to cheat them. Make sure that they are treated fairly. We can do our 
part too. Let's pledge together to get that done in the new year.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I want to thank my colleague from 
  He has my full commitment to try to get this done before we leave, 
and I am willing to compromise on some of these issues. He makes a good 
point in that, with the Senate's schedule, we are not going to be back 
here until almost the end of January, and by then, some of these 
payments will have started to be awarded.
  We do not want--and I think the Senator from Illinois agrees with 
me--situations wherein payments are going by 50, 60 percent to 
contingency fees. Nobody wants that. We shouldn't want that. That is 
just unfair. This regulation at the VA is also ridiculously unfair in 
favoring trial lawyers over sick marines.
  So the Senator from Illinois has my commitment. I will work day and 
night on this issue to try and get it done before we leave--before we 
leave. Otherwise, you are going to have a lot of marines--sick 
marines--and their families who are going to get ripped off. We know 
that that is going to happen, and we shouldn't allow it.
  I will work with the Senator from Illinois, as he has got a lot of 
power as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, on this important 
issue that, I think, we should all care about. So I appreciate his 
comments, and I will redouble my efforts on this topic.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I want to close by thanking the Senator 
from Alaska--a Republican, a Democrat but committed to the same 
values--for making sure that these marines and their families are 
treated fairly.
  We currently have 14,000 pending. These marines had 2 years from when 
we passed the law back in, I believe, June or July to file their 
claims. There is going to be a mountain of claims involved here, and we 
have got to make sure that we do it in a thoughtful way and in a timely 
way that is fair to the marines every step of the way. I will be part 
of that effort with you, Senator.

                           Order of Business

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that if the motion to invoke 
cloture on the motion to concur with respect to amendment No. 6513 is 
not agreed, the motion to concur with amendment be withdrawn; and that 
if cloture is invoked, by the use or yielding back of time, the second-
degree amendment be withdrawn.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DURBIN. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.

                           Amendment No. 6513

  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I am here today to speak about a very 
important piece of legislation we have coming before us, and we have an 
amendment to that legislation. The legislation, of course, is the 
National Defense Authorization Act.
  This piece of legislation is something that we do annually in order 
to basically protect our country and be able to defend ourselves and be 
able to maintain the superpower status that we are. Part of that is 
what they call energy security, energy independence. You cannot be a 
superpower in the world if you do not have energy independence, and you 
can't be secure if you don't have energy independence.
  Now, what has happened to us since this horrible war that Putin has 
bestowed upon the citizens of Ukraine is that he has weaponized energy. 
We have seen it coming. He has basically doubled down, so he has put 
Europe in a tremendous bind.
  On top of that, we have seen the necessity that we have and the 
reality of the world we live in. We use fossil fuels, but can we use 
them cleaner and better? Absolutely. We do it better than anyplace in 
the world, and we can use it and do more to it.
  We have a piece of legislation--a couple of them. We have the 
bipartisan infrastructure bill that we worked on across the aisle, and 
now we have the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA. Those two pieces of 
legislation are unbelievably unprecedented in our country.
  What the IRA does is this, simply: It guarantees energy security. For 
10 years, we are going to be able to basically produce fossil energy in 
the United States of America--more of it, better and cleaner, than at 
any time in the world--while we are also going to invest record amounts 
of money into new, clean technology for the future. You can't eliminate 
  People say: Well, my definition on energy and on climate is 
elimination. I want to eliminate--no coal, no oil, no gas.
  Well, you are not living in the real world, and you have just seen 
that happen.
  Our Nation, when we got pinched a little bit by these high prices 
that people are paying at the pump, we started thinking about removing 
sanctions from Iran--the most prolific terrorist supporters in the 
world--and giving them money to continue to do what they do, which is 
to wreak havoc on the world.
  We are also talking about lifting the sanctions on Venezuela, which 
basically has very little oversight as far as environmental controls, 
because we needed it. We wanted someone else to do what we wouldn't do, 
and that is just wrong. It is not who we are as a country.
  We can do it. We can lead the world. We are the superpower, and that 
means we have to produce everything that we have, an all-in energy 
policy, better than anyplace else in the world.
  Now, in order to do that, we passed a piece of legislation that puts 
us on two paths. You can walk and chew gum. You have to have fossil. 
Now, if you are doing fossil, which is cleaner--that means carbon 
capture and sequestration--we put billions of dollars in there for 
that. On top of that, we put billions of dollars for methane, plugging 
old wells, abandoned mine lands--we are cleaning up everything. 
  If you are using the fossil that we use in the United States--cleaner 
and helping our allies around the world--we have been able to help the 
climate more than it can ever be helped by anything else. As we develop 
the new technologies of the world--hydrogen--we can make that all day 
  We are on the verge of doing something unbelievable, but let me tell 
you, most of it will be for naught because without permitting reform--
the United States of America is more litigious than any nation on Earth 
that has been developed, anyone. It takes longer to do anything here. 
We have people talking about how they have been trying to get permits 
for 16 years. Canada, average of 3 years; our friends in Australia, 
Down Under, 2 to 3 years; us, 5, 7, 10, and more.
  This is a 10-year path we have. We have appropriated money in this 
piece of legislation for a 10-year path.
  A lot of the programs we want to do, whether it is building 
pipelines, whether it is building new transmission lines to carry the 
energy that we need, whether it is developing new, cleaner 
technologies, whether it is carrying pipelines that are carrying 
hydrogen and CO2, we have all of this that we need, and it 
is not going to happen, and I just can't believe it.
  Here is the thing I can't believe: All of my Republican friends--and 
I have worked with them, and I know they are upset when politics plays 
into this, but they are upset about the IRA. We did it through 
reconciliation. Well, it is the only vehicle we had--the only vehicle 
we had--to do something that was monumental. And we did that by working 
with my colleagues on the other side for the last 5 years.
  My colleagues on the other side, my Republican friends, have always 
said: Joe, we have to have more energy. Well, guess what, the IRA is 
going to put more energy in. The Inflation Reduction Act is going to 
produce more

[[Page S7231]]

oil, more gas, cleaner than anywhere in the world, and we are going to 
have more energy.
  Why did you call it inflation reduction? Because if you have more 
product, you can reduce the price. It is pretty simple--supply and 
demand. So we are on that.
  They said: Well, we have to pay down debt.
  Well, guess what the IRA did. It paid down over $250 billion of 
debt--the first time in history. For 30 years, we haven't paid down on 
debt. We did. So we have done so many things, but that seems to be a 
pretty good thing that is kind of stuck in their craw, and I am ashamed 
of that. I am afraid of that. And I am basically afraid for our 
country, that we are going down a path where it is all about the 
politics and all about the policy.
  The policy is, the permitting bill that we have in front of us has 
been worked. We have worked it, and we have been sitting down and 
talking for 2 or 3 months. We have talked with our Senators on this 
side, we have talked with our Senators on the Republican side, and we 
looked at different things.
  We are not basically eliminating any of the review process. We are 
basically expediting how we do it, and that is all we are asking for. 
We are asking the courts to expedite when they take this under 
consideration because of the environment. The environment is near and 
dear to all of us, and we all have a responsibility.
  What we haven't taken into consideration is, if we don't do this, we 
will not be able to maintain independence, energy independence, which 
means energy security, which means national security. That is what we 
are not taking into consideration.
  Who are we going to ask to do what we won't do for ourselves? Who is 
going to come to our rescue? We didn't see the Saudis coming. We didn't 
say--that didn't work too well. Nothing else is coming on board.
  So I had a thing in this bill, and they said: Oh, it is a dirty deal 
with Joe, the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Oh yeah.
  So 283 miles are completed of that pipeline, out of 303. Ninety-three 
percent is completed. We have a pipeline there that comes out of West 
Virginia that is a gathering with Southwestern Pennsylvania. It is also 
Southeast Ohio, the Marcellus Shale. It will put 2 billion cubic feet 
of gas per day into the market. You need more product in the market. It 
will backfill in the South and the Southwest. It will also help at 
Coves Point. You have LNG for all of our allies who are in desperate 
need of it.

  So much is being done, and it has been so politicized. So if you want 
to know why people are upset, you want to know why they are mad, watch 
this place operate for a while.
  I had a person one time said: Joe, I just can't believe what I see on 
  I said: Oh, you are upset, and you are mad, and you can't believe 
what you see on television when you are sitting in your nice, 
comfortable home? Try it from my seat. Try it from this seat, when you 
have got to play politics day in and day out to do what is right for 
our country.
  If we don't have energy, we are not the country--my little State has 
given its all. We have produced the coal for the last hundred years 
that built the ships, built the guns, and built basically everything 
that we have had, the guns and ships and built America. We are probably 
one of the most patriotic States in the Nation. We have more people, 
lost more blood, given more life for the cause of freedom than most any 
  We are willing to do whatever it takes. We do the heavy lifting and 
don't complain--never have. But yet we try to do something now to 
produce more energy because the country needs it--oh, you can't put a 
dirty pipeline in. It is not; it is gas. It is transitional fuel. We 
need it. You are going to have it for quite a while, so why don't you 
use it from where you have it? The best supply in the world is right 
here next door. Yet the politics is being played.
  They are afraid that maybe--I am up in cycle in 2024, that this might 
give me a leverage to get reelected. I have been on the ballot for 40 
years. I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know what tomorrow 
is going to bring. I know what we have before us today. You have an 
unbelievable opportunity that is not going to happen in our lifetime 
  If we don't pass permitting reform right now--my Republican friends 
are saying: Oh, don't worry, when we have control of the House, we will 
be able to have a better deal.
  My friends, let me say this: You had from 2016 to 2020. You had a 
President who was a Republican. The House was Republican. The Senate 
was Republican. You only had one vote for permitting reform, and that 
was mine as a Democrat--nobody else. Now we are going to have a 
supermajority of Democrats who are willing to move forward and maybe 
not be all comfortable about it, but it is the right thing to do, and 
now, because of politics, my friends aren't going to step to the plate? 
That is what they don't like. That is what people don't like. That is 
the politics that basically is destroying our country. You can't have 
  So I come before you to ask for your support on a piece of 
legislation. There is so much good that we can do. We can fix the 
mistakes that we have made. But you can't do it if you don't have the 
energy to provide the citizens of your country to have the 
opportunities to defend themselves and be able to help our allies 
around the world. We will not maintain superpower status, I can assure 
you, if that can't be done.
  This piece of legislation, without the permitting--we have been able 
to do so much in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Inflation 
Reduction Act, and now having this--to be able to put it into operation 
is something that is desperately needed.
  So, with that, I can only say that I pray to the Good Lord that we 
can put our politics aside and look at what is needed and go back home 
and tell the people this was absolutely--it is a win for everybody. It 
truly is a win for everybody.
  This is something that I don't know how we can explain it if we vote 
against it. I don't know how we wouldn't vote for it. It is something 
we have all wanted.
  Let me make one more point. All 50 of my Republican colleagues have 
signed on to a piece of legislation which is permitting--with my 
colleague from West Virginia--which is permitting reform, all 50. They 
know it needs to be done.
  Now, if you are going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, 
you are going to say: Well, it is just not good enough. Is it 50 
percent, is it 70 percent better than what we have ever had? Is it 
moving in the right direction? Does it build a foundation? Does it give 
you something to work off of? I believe it does because you have had 
tremendous amount of input.
  That is all I am asking for. I am asking for a fair evaluation of a 
piece of legislation that will not pass through these Halls again.
  So with that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. MARSHALL. Mr. President, certainly the chairman of the Energy and 
Natural Resources Committee and I agree on so many goals when it comes 
to American energy. We both believe in American energy independence. We 
believe in affordable clean energy. We agree that we want to leave this 
world cleaner, healthier, and safer than we found it. But unfortunately 
I oppose his amendment and ask my colleagues to oppose it as well.
  I am afraid this amendment will do more harm than good. It will give 
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission--FERC, as it is known--the 
power to socialize the cost of new high-voltage transmission lines. 
That is right--a huge shift of power will go from the States to the 
Federal Government.
  Unelected bureaucrats would have the authority to make electric 
customers in mostly red States pay to deliver expensive and 
intermittent energy that fits the green energy dreams of blue States 
and in many cases causes rural America to pay for urban America's 
electricity. It would even give Federal regulators the authority to 
make residents of inland States pay for transmission lines that connect 
offshore wind farms to coastal States, such as California, New Jersey, 
and New York. It would allow these same regulators to make our 
residents pay for these transmission lines even if power on those lines 
would not serve them.
  While this transportation of wind and solar electricity fits their 
social agenda, let me remind everyone that the

[[Page S7232]]

cost of transporting this electricity is approximately 10 times more 
than transporting enough clean natural gas to produce an equivalent 
amount of electricity. We need not only clean energy, we need 
affordable energy.
  This is why Republican attorneys general from across the Nation and 
the nonpartisan National Association of Regulatory Utility 
Commissioners strongly oppose this amendment. These expert public 
officials pleaded with us not to go down this road in September. They 
remain opposed to Senator Manchin's latest draft.
  In a December 12, 2022, letter, the attorneys general state that they 
``write to again express strong opposition to the renewed attempt to 
make sweeping changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's 
authority.'' They go on to say that the Manchin amendment ``guts 
states' traditional authority over energy and land use policies.''
  Let me say that again. They go on to say that the Manchin amendment 
``guts states' traditional authority over energy and land use 
  They tell us that the amendment does little, if anything, to address 
the concerns they raised in September. In their December letter, the 
public utility commissioners say Senator Manchin's legislation 
``eliminates the last vestiges of states' electric transmission sitting 
jurisdiction.'' This is simply bad policy.
  Another issue is the damage the amendment would do to the efforts to 
develop hydrogen as an energy source. It would choke hydrogen pipelines 
under a mountain of regulation.
  The final text of this amendment only saw the light of day just a 
week ago. The amendment has not been the subject of any debate in 
committee. We have had no hearings, no witnesses, and no markups. 
Changing the complex Federal Power Act and Natural Gas Act during a 
lameduck session without any opportunity for meaningful public input is 
a recipe for disaster. This is no way to make changes to complex laws.
  Finally, Senator Manchin's amendment does nothing to address the 
problem of never-ending environmental litigation. We both represent 
proud energy States: West Virginia, a great coal State; Kansas, oil, 
gas, wind, solar. But it seems like there is never an end to the 
environmental litigation challenges we have. Nuisance lawsuits block 
energy projects from moving forward, driving up the cost to consumers. 
This is an issue that needs to be addressed.
  I look forward to working with my colleague and with the chairman 
this next Congress through regular order to enact changes to laws that 
will actually speed energy projects of all kinds.
  We must enable Federal permits for energy projects to be more 
durable. We must ensure that Federal permitting is evenhanded. We must 
rein in the endless and often federally funded litigation that is 
killing projects. Senator Manchin's amendment addresses none of these 
  The Senate should reject this amendment. We should work together 
under regular order. We should enact real and effective permitting 
reform in the next Congress.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I need to respond to that. I wasn't 
intending to do so, but I want to clarify that, and I would hope my 
good friend would listen to my clarification because it is in the bill.
  And either someone maybe had not informed you, sir, but, basically, 
that can't be done, what you said. I can't charge you in Kansas if the 
line passes through Kansas and you don't benefit from it. If there is 
no improved reliability, if it didn't reduce congestion, if it didn't 
reduce or lower power losses, if it wasn't greater carrying capacity, 
if it didn't reduce operating reserve--all of these that you have to 
have benefit to have any cost. We made that in the bill. We were very, 
very correct.
  You know who brought that to me? Senator Cramer, our good friend from 
North Dakota, my Republican friend from North Dakota. He said: Joe, you 
can't do that.
  Now, the other thing is, you were saying that, basically, the States 
lose all their rights. Again, Senator Cramer said: Joe, you have got to 
at least have 1 year. I said: It makes sense to me.
  Now, let me tell you what happens. If there is new energy coming into 
the market, wherever it is coming from, new transmission lines coming 
in, if that line is going to come into a State and the State thinks it 
is invading its territory--because most of all of the utilities have 
monopolies on their grid system, correct? They all have monopolies. 
They don't want anyone infringing on that.
  Well, guess what? They all have great relationships with the public 
service commissions. If the public service commission is saying: OK. 
Who wants to come in here?--and they are coming--and they say: Let's 
sit down and talk.
  Now, if the person who is already there--let's say you have your own 
power company and you have the utility lines or the grid system, and 
you say: I am not going to expand. I am not bringing any more power 
because I am not going to develop over here. It is not profitable for 
  Then they have got to make a decision, your PSC. Now, if you all 
can't agree in 1 year and it is something of national interest, then it 
can move.
  But think what would happen if Dwight Eisenhower, building the 
interstate highway system--from, I think, your part of the world--the 
great general, the great President, OK. This would have never happened. 
He would have never built the interstate system. How about the 
interstate pipeline system? We would have never had the energy we have 
  All we are asking for is the opportunity to bring energy to the 
market where it is needed. That is all.
  And then when you said: Well, it is going to be a litigious 
nightmare--that is what we tried to work through, and we did that. You 
know why? We basically put deadlines. We set firm deadlines for 
permitting decisions: 2 years for environmental impact statements, 1 
year for environmental assessments. That is a tremendous improvement 
from where we have been. Then we basically put enforcement. We have 
stronger enforcement than any other permitting reform law passed ever 
in the United States of America.
  It lets project developers seek a court order. So if you are trying 
to get something and you are being held up, then you have, basically, 
the expedited right to go to the court and to have expedition. You 
don't have that now.
  To me--I have heard people say: Just that right there allows me to 
make a decision whether I stay with the program or get out of it, if I 
am going to do a project or not, without losing my rear end and going 
  We have answered every question that we possibly could. It is the 
most advanced, bipartisan bill we could ever get and still have the 
support we need. All we need is your support, sir.
  I call for the vote, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back.
  Under the previous order, the Sullivan motion is withdrawn, and the 
motion to refer with instructions is also withdrawn.
  There are now 2 minutes equally divided before a vote on the motion 
to invoke cloture on the Manchin motion to concur with amendment.
  Mr. SCHATZ. I yield back.
  Mr. MANCHIN. I yield back.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. That time is yielded back.

                             Cloture Motion

  Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before the Senate the pending 
cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 
     7776, to provide for improvements to the rivers and harbors 
     of the United States, to provide for the conservation and 
     development of water and related resources, and for other 
     purposes with amendment No. 6513.
         Charles E. Schumer, Joe Manchin III, Jon Tester, Martin 
           Heinrich, Thomas R. Carper, Brian Schatz, Amy 
           Klobuchar, Kyrsten Sinema, Tammy Baldwin, Richard J. 
           Durbin, Christopher A. Coons, Sheldon Whitehouse, Angus 
           S. King, Jr., Sherrod Brown, Michael F. Bennet, 
           Christopher Murphy.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 
7776, a bill to provide for improvements to the rivers and harbors of 
the United States, to

[[Page S7233]]

provide for the conservation and development of water and related 
resources, and for other purposes, with an amendment, shall be brought 
to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Wyoming (Mr. Barrasso), the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), the 
Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Burr), the Senator from Texas (Mr. 
Cruz), the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Hagerty), and the Senator from 
North Carolina (Mr. Tillis).
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 47, nays 47, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 394 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)

                             NOT VOTING--6

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Kaine). On this vote, the yeas are 47, the 
nays are 47.
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted 
in the affirmative, the motion is rejected.
  Under the previous order, the motion to concur with Manchin amendment 
No. 6513 is withdrawn.
  The Senator from Wisconsin.

                Motion to Concur with Amendment No. 6526

  Mr. JOHNSON. I move to concur in the House amendment to the Senate 
amendment to H.R. 7776 with an amendment numbered 6526.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Wisconsin [Mr. Johnson], for himself and 
     others, moves to concur in the House amendment to the Senate 
     amendment to H.R. 7776 with an amendment numbered 6526.

  The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To provide remedies to members of the Armed Forces discharged 
      or subject to punishment under the COVID-19 vaccine mandate)

       Insert after section 525 the following:

                   COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE.

       (a) Limitation on Imposition of New Mandate.--The Secretary 
     of Defense may not issue any COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a 
     replacement for the rescinded mandates under this Act absent 
     a further act of Congress expressly authorizing a replacement 
       (b) Remedies.--Section 736 of the National Defense 
     Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (Public Law 117-81; 10 
     U.S.C. 1161 note prec.) is amended--
       (1) in the section heading, by striking ``to obey lawful 
     order to receive'' and inserting ``to receive'';
       (2) in subsection (a)--
       (A) by striking ``a lawful order'' and inserting ``an 
     order''; and
       (B) by striking ``shall be'' and all that follows through 
     the period at the end and inserting ``shall be an honorable 
       (3) by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection (e); and
       (4) by inserting after subsection (a) the following new 
       ``(b) Prohibition on Adverse Action.--The Secretary of 
     Defense may not take any adverse action against a covered 
     member based solely on the refusal of such member to receive 
     a vaccine for COVID-19.
       ``(c) Remedies Available for a Covered Member Discharged or 
     Punished Based on COVID-19 Status.--At the election of a 
     covered member and upon application through a process 
     established by the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary 
       ``(1) adjust to `honorable discharge' the status of the 
     member if--
       ``(A) the member was separated from the Armed Forces based 
     solely on the failure of the member to obey an order to 
     receive a vaccine for COVID-19; and
       ``(B) the discharge status of the member would have been an 
     `honorable discharge' but for the refusal to obtain such 
       ``(2) reinstate the member to service at the highest grade 
     held by the member immediately prior to the involuntary 
     separation, allowing, however, for any demotion that was not 
     related to the member's COVID-19 vaccination status, with an 
     effective date of reinstatement as of the date of involuntary 
       ``(3) for any member who was subject to any punishment 
     other than involuntary separation based solely on the 
     member's COVID-19 vaccination status--
       ``(A) restore the member to the highest grade held prior to 
     such punishment, allowing, however, for any demotion that was 
     not related to the member's COVID-19 vaccination status, with 
     an effective date of reinstatement as of the date of 
     involuntary separation; and
       ``(B) compensate such member for any pay and benefits lost 
     as a result of such punishment;
       ``(4) expunge from the service record of the member any 
     reference to any adverse action based solely on COVID-19 
     status, including involuntary separation; and
       ``(5) include the time of involuntary separation of the 
     member reinstated under paragraph (2) in the computation of 
     the retired or retainer pay of the member.
       ``(d) Attempt To Avoid Discharge.--The Secretary of Defense 
     shall make every effort to retain members of the Armed Forces 
     who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.''.
       (c) Immediate Rescission of Mandate.--Notwithstanding the 
     deadline provided for in section 525, the rescission of the 
     COVID-19 mandate shall take effect immediately.

  Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for up to 6 
minutes of debate equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. JOHNSON. I rise to offer an amendment on behalf of myself and 
Senator Cruz. I want to say I appreciate Senate leadership for allowing 
this amendment. I appreciate, as does Senator Cruz, the conferees' 
willingness to consider or repeal the vaccine mandate, which they 
didn't include. We truly appreciate that.
  This amendment reflects the fact that we don't think the vaccine 
mandate went far enough. So our amendment is pretty simple, it 
immediately ends the vaccine mandate, whereas what is in the bill 
allows it to continue for 30 days.
  It prohibits DOD from imposing a future COVID-19 vaccine mandate 
without the express authorization of Congress. It prohibits DOD from 
taking any adverse action against a servicemember solely for refusing 
to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  It allows the servicemember to be reinstated with backpay if kicked 
out of the military solely for refusing the vaccine. And it redresses 
any other types of adverse actions the DOD took against a servicemember 
for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
  People serving in our military are the finest among us. Over 8,000 
were terminated because they refused to get this experimental vaccine, 
and so I am urging all of my colleagues to support the Senators and my 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I stand in opposition to the proposed 
  On August 24, 2021, the Secretary of Defense issued a legal order 
directive that all personnel in the U.S. forces should be vaccinated 
against COVID-19. At that point, it was an approved FDA pharmaceutical. 
It is a legally binding order.
  We need a healthy and ready force to defend the United States, and I 
think we've forgotten where we were before the vaccine. For example, 
the USS Theodore Roosevelt, one of the most important aircraft carriers 
in our fleet, and particularly in the Pacific, was effectively put out 
of commission when 27 percent of her crew were infected with COVID. 
Hundreds were hospitalized. The carrier had to dock in Guam for 2 
months. For 2 months, we did not have the striking power of an American 
aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
  Since Secretary Austin's mandate, we have had no repeat incidents 
where a naval vessel had to be, essentially, taken out of service, nor 
in the other services have we seen anything like that.
  Mandatory vaccination is not a new issue for military personnel. 
Servicemembers are commonly required to get

[[Page S7234]]

17 different vaccinations when they enter the military or when they 
deploy to serve overseas areas, including measles, mumps, diphtheria, 
hepatitis, smallpox, and flu.
  In fact, the first mandatory vaccination was ordered by General 
George Washington for the smallpox during the American Revolution.
  The Department of Defense issued the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. It was 
a lawful order. The department made its expectations very clear, a 
personnel could take the vaccine or they could request an exemption, 
but if their exemption was denied and they still refused the shot, they 
would be discharged.
  In the U.S. military, a lawful order is not a suggestion; it is a 
command. And for those of us who have the privilege of commanding 
American military personnel, that is the essence of order and 
discipline in the U.S. military, which distinguishes us from many other 
services throughout the world.
  Ninety percent of our troops are vaccinated because they are putting 
their Nation, their fellow soldiers, and their families ahead of their 
personal opinions or personal desires. That is the function of the 
military, this unswerving dedication to Nation and to following and to 
protecting their fellow personnel.
  What message do we send if we pass this bill? It is a very dangerous 
one. What we are telling soldiers is: If you disagree, don't follow the 
order. And then just lobby Congress. And they will come along, and they 
will restore your rank. They will restore your benefits. They will 
restore everything. So orders are just sort of a suggestion. They are 
  Let me conclude by this: This is a critical line in the U.S. oath of 

       I will obey the orders of the President of the United 
     States and the orders of the officers appointed over me.

  That is what we are talking about tonight. We must reject this 
amendment to reaffirm that oath, that commitment, that pillar of 
American military discipline and order.
  Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, how much time do I have left?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. A minute and a half.
  Mr. JOHNSON. I would argue that it is not a lawful order because the 
executive order required that the vaccine be fully FDA-approved. In 
August of 2021, the FDA did something very strange: They extended the 
emergency use authorization for the vaccine available in the U.S. and 
granted approval on Comirnaty. But that, to my knowledge--and I have 
asked repeatedly--none of that has been made available to our members 
of the service. So it is not a fully FDA-approved product. And the FDA 
is completely ignoring its own safety surveillance systems on VAERS. 
There have been over 32,500 deaths reported worldwide. Twenty-six 
percent of those deaths are occurring on a zero, 1 or 2 following 
vaccination. There are all kinds of different, scary safety signals 
that are being ignored. It was not unreasonable for people to refuse 
this experimental gene therapy.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Senator yield the remainder of your 
  Mr. JOHNSON. Yes.

                             Vote on Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on the motion to concur in the 
House amendment to the Senate amendment with amendment No. 6526.
  Mr. JOHNSON. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Wyoming (Mr. Barrasso), the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), the 
Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Burr), the Senator from Texas (Mr. 
Cruz), the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Hagerty), and the Senator from 
North Carolina (Mr. Tillis).
  The result was announced--yeas 40, nays 54, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 395 Leg.]


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--6

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote the yeas are 40, the nays are 54.
  The affirmative 60-vote threshold having not been achieved, the 
motion to concur is not agreed to.
  The motion was rejected.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

                           Order of Procedure

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that upon the 
disposition of H. Con. Res. 121, the Senate resume consideration of the 
message with respect to H.R. 1437; that it be in order to make motions 
to concur with the following amendments: Scott of Florida amendment No. 
6540; Lee amendment No. 6541, as modified with the changes at the desk; 
that there be 2 minutes for debate between each vote, equally divided 
between the two leaders or their designees, and the Senate vote in 
relation to the Scott and Lee motions; that if neither of the motions 
to concur with amendment are agreed to, the Schumer motion to refer and 
motion to concur with amendment be withdrawn and the Senate immediately 
vote on the motion to concur; that the Scott motion and motion to 
concur votes be subject to a 60-affirmative vote threshold for 
adoption; finally, that if the motion to concur is agreed to, the 
Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of H. Con. Res. 123, 
which is at the desk; that the concurrent resolution be considered and 
agreed to, all without further intervening action or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, two quick points. First, I know that our 
great Senator from Rhode Island who handled this bill so well will 
speak, but I do want to wish my congratulations to Senator Inhofe, who 
has been in this body for such a long time and led the Armed Services 
Committee in both the majority and minority with such fervor and 
concern for our soldiers and troops. So thank you.
  Mr. INHOFE. Thank you.
  Mr. SCHUMER. OK. Now, in an effort to move along this evening, I 
would ask Members to please remain on or near the floor during votes 
  I ask unanimous consent that the remaining votes this evening be 10-
minute votes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  There are now 2 minutes equally divided prior to voting on the motion 
to concur.
  The Senator from Rhode Island
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I have a much longer statement, but I want 
to briefly rise to express my support for the Fiscal Year 2023 National 
Defense Authorization Act. I am pleased that we are about to pass it.
  First, let me acknowledge Ranking Member Inhofe, whose leadership on 
the Armed Services Committee and in this Chamber has been monumental.
  For more than 20 years I have had the privilege of serving with him 
on the committee. In turn, we have been chairman and ranking member. 
And I am honored that this year's bill will be named the James M. 
Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act.
  (Applause, Senators rising.)
  Mr. President, I would also like to add my congratulations and thanks 
to the House Armed Services Chairman,

[[Page S7235]]

Adam Smith, and Ranking Member   Mike Rogers. Their partnership was 
absolutely invaluable to make this moment possible.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise today to note that, during the 
117th Congress, several major legislative efforts to further U.S. 
foreign policy are becoming law, and I would like to highlight several 
here today. I feel strongly that these accomplishments merit special 
recognition, as they represent major advances in foreign policy that 
will improve our country's international engagement for years to come. 
I am proud to have led these efforts and would like to outline a few of 
the major components of these monumental bills.
  As chair, of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the State 
Department and U.S. Agency for International Development Management, 
International Operations, and Bilateral International Development, I 
take great pride to note that we successfully passed the State 
Department Authorization Act this year. To put this in context, this 
marks only the second time within the span of the past 16 years that a 
State Department Authorization Act has been enacted.
  The State Department Authorization Act addresses much-needed reform 
that will help to strengthen our diplomatic corps and efforts on an 
institutional level and represents months of painstaking coordination. 
Modern diplomatic challenges require modern solutions, and it is my 
belief that provisions of this bill empower the State Department to 
make necessary changes in key areas that will help to revitalize and 
redefine our diplomatic engagement.
  I will note that key to these efforts is my colleague Senator Bill 
Hagerty, whose team worked closely with my own, members of the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee, and the State Department on defining and 
addressing modern diplomatic challenges. This act also represents a 
victory of collaboration across parties and agencies, especially the 
Department of State, to reach this successful consensus.
  First and foremost, Senator Hagerty and I led the efforts to 
establish a Commission on Reform and Modernization at the Department of 
State. This 16-member commission will seek to identify areas for 
improvement and modernization in the organizational structure, 
personnel, facilities, and policy of the State Department and make 
recommendations to the President and Congress.
  This effort is crucial; in the ever-shifting atmosphere of modern 
diplomacy, this commission will provide a body of oversight that keeps 
a big-picture view of State Department operations and establishes a 
critical line of communication between Congress, the President, and the 
Department of State.
  Secondly, the State Department Authorization Act establishes new 
requirements to extend the ``cooling off'' period for post-employment 
restrictions for certain Senate-confirmed officials. U.S. foreign 
policy is not for sale, nor should anyone have reason to think it is. 
By extending the cooling off period from 1 to 3 years, these high-
ranking individuals are barred from representing foreign governments 
before the U.S. Government for a longer period. In doing so, we lessen 
the risk of perception that Ambassadors and other high-ranking 
officials will lose sight of U.S. interests in favor of their own near-
term financial gain. Again, this important congressional oversight is 
yet another important step to safeguard the integrity of our foreign 
  Third, I would like to highlight key advancements we have called for 
in lifelong professional development at the Foreign Service Institute. 
We have established a new body, the Board of Visitors, that will serve 
to offer recommendations to improve and modernize the Foreign Service 
Institute. The Board of Visitors, along with a new Provost position at 
the Foreign Service Institute, will work to inject new outside academic 
and adult learning expertise to better its operations, including the 
development of an evaluation system to determine how to improve the 
quality of training and focus it on the areas most useful to better 
prepare diplomats for the challenges they will encounter in 21st 
century diplomacy.
  Additionally, we identified other professional development areas that 
will help to improve the State Department's operations on an 
institutional level. We authorized the State Department to expand the 
scope and number of external fellowships offered across Departments and 
  These external fellowships, such as the Congressional Pearson 
Fellowship, which allows Foreign Service Officers the opportunity to 
work on the Hill for a Member or committee of Congress, expand 
relationships and knowledge across U.S. agencies and branches, academic 
institutions, and civil society organizations.
  We further sought to expand professional development and trainings to 
address 21st century diplomacy, expanding virtual opportunities for 
training and extending out training to partner organizations that can 
offer specialized expertise for modern diplomatic challenges. In 
addition, we authorized the State Department to pursue curriculum to 
better enable Foreign Service Officers to understand the issues of 
press freedom and tools that are available to help protect journalists, 
as well as incorporate special training for officers assigned to 
countries significantly affected by climate change receive specific 
instruction on U.S. policy with respect to climate resiliency and 
  Lastly, we have authorized the State Department to purse a foreign 
language incentive pay program that will enable our diplomatic corps to 
maintain our diplomats' critical language skills so that they can 
better serve our U.S. interests. Senselessly, in the past, there had 
been no mechanism to keep our highly trained diplomats up to skill in 
critical languages such as Chinese, Russian, Dari, and Arabic. Our 
current system simply trains diplomats in these languages and 
incentivizes their use while posted abroad, but these incentives 
disappear when diplomats move on to other positions--and with no 
incentive in place to maintain their critical languages, these language 
skills are usually largely lost.
  While we have spent significant USG resources enabling our diplomats 
to engage and further our interests with foreign audiences by teaching 
them foreign languages, up until now, we have provided no mechanism to 
enable our diplomatic corps to keep these critical foreign languages 
skills active.
  This new program will strengthen the ability of our diplomats to keep 
these key languages fresh, which ultimately will save the U.S. 
Government money by eliminating the need to retrain diplomats in the 
same language for a second or even third time. It will also provide for 
a better-prepared diplomatic corps that can be called upon when there 
is a pressing need for diplomats with specific language skills, such as 
the urgent call for Dari and Pashto speakers that the Department of 
State issued during the 2021 fall of Afghanistan. We will now have 
these diplomats ready when they are needed to best serve U.S. 
  Finally, I am also proud of our work in this body to hold accountable 
authoritarian government regimes across the world. For too long, we 
have seen democratic backsliding, rising corruption, and human rights 
abuses committed at a global scale. There is perhaps no better example 
than in Burma, where the military initiated an illegal and 
unjustifiable coup d'etat in February 2021.
  During and following the coup, the Burmese military has engaged in 
despicable human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, 
torture, and wrongful imprisonment. The military-led government has 
imprisoned over 11,000 civilians and killed over 1,400, including 
children. This amounts to crimes against humanity.
  We cannot look the other way in the face of these grave injustices. 
That is why I was proud to introduce, alongside my House colleagues 
Representatives Meeks and Chabot, the Burma Unified through Rigorous 
Military Accountability Act, better known as the BURMA Act. This 
important bill will authorize the Department of State and the U.S. 
Agency for International Development to support democracy activists, 
provide humanitarian assistance, and undertake reconciliation efforts 
in Burma. This will include support for organizations aiding political 
prisoners in Burma and assistance to entities investigating crimes 
against humanity.

[[Page S7236]]

  The BURMA Act also requires the President to impose strict sanctions 
on Burmese military or government officials, as well as actors that 
have knowingly operated in Burma's defense sector or have undermined 
the nation's democratic processes. The United States must continue to 
stand with the people of Burma and for a civilian-led government based 
on the recognition of human rights and democratic principles.
  To conclude, I am proud of the work we have accomplished in this 
Chamber during the 117th Congress. By modernizing State Department 
operations and pursuing an anti-corruption, human rights-focused 
foreign policy agenda, the United States continues to be at the 
forefront of global diplomacy.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. INHOFE. First of all, I want to thank the chairman for all the 
hard work. People don't realize that this is, in my opinion, the most 
significant vote of the year. It has been one we have been through for 
a long period of time, and it is necessary, and I like the way it 
turned out. It is really good.
  I am pleased that the Senate is voting today for the fiscal year 2023 
National Defense Authorization Act. I have said it before, and I am not 
the only one saying it: The world is more dangerous than I have ever 
seen it before in my lifetime. Typically, there is bipartisan agreement 
on this fact, and that is why this bill has gotten done for 61 years in 
a row. It is almost always bipartisan, and for this year's bill, that 
is definitely the case. We have worked together for a long period of 
time. I have worked closely with my friend Chairman Jack Reed, and both 
of us made sure that that would be the case.
  The Armed Services Committee agreed, almost unanimously, to boost 
President Biden's inadequate defense budget by $45 billion. This 
additional funding will address record-high inflation rates and ensure 
that we are able to implement the little blue book that we talk about 
all the time. It has worked very successfully in the past. It will be 
working successfully long after I am gone too. So additional funding 
will address record high inflation rates, and we are ensured that we 
will be able implement the little blue book the way we have done it in 
the past.
  We need to prioritize defense. It is as simple as that. The NDAA 
addresses the National Defense Strategy in concrete ways. We need to 
get this done. We are going to get it done, and we will get it done 
this evening.
  I encourage all of my colleagues to support this year's National 
defense authorization bill. Let's extend our track record of getting 
this bill done, and let's show our troops that we love them and that we 
support them.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I yield back all time.

                        Vote on Motion to Concur

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion to 
  The yeas and nays were previously ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Wyoming (Mr. Barrasso), the Senator from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), the 
Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Burr), the Senator from Texas (Mr. 
Cruz), the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Hagerty), and the Senator from 
North Carolina (Mr. Tillis).
  The result was announced--yeas 83, nays 11, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 396 Leg.]


     Cortez Masto
     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)
     Van Hollen



                             NOT VOTING--6

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Ossoff). On this vote, the yeas are 83, 
the nays are 11.
  The 60-vote threshold having been achieved, the motion to concur in 
James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 
is agreed to.
  The motion was agreed to.

                   National Defense Authorization Act

  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise to express my support for the fiscal 
year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. I am pleased that we have 
just voted on a wide, bipartisan basis to approve this bill.
  First, I would like to acknowledge Ranking Member Inhofe, whose 
leadership on the Armed Services Committee and in this Chamber has been 
monumental. For more than 20 years, I have had the privilege to serve 
with him on the Armed Services Committee, in turn each of us serving as 
chairman and ranking member. In honor of his well-earned retirement, I 
am pleased that the committee voted to name this year's bill the James 
M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act.
  I would also thank my colleagues from the House Armed Services 
Committee, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Rogers. Their partnership 
made this bill possible.
  As we enact the NDAA, we must keep in mind that the United States is 
engaged in a long-term strategic competition with China. Beijing poses 
a serious potential threat to our national security, as the only 
country in the world capable of mounting a sustained challenge to our 
  In addition, Russia has demonstrated its willingness to inflict 
violence and undermine the global order while states like Iran and 
North Korea continue to push the boundaries of military brinkmanship. 
Threats like terrorism, climate change, and pandemics remain 
  The interconnected nature of these problems must drive how we 
transform our tools of national power. The passage of the FY23 NDAA 
will be a critical step toward meeting these complex challenges.
  Turning to the specifics of this year's defense bill. The NDAA 
authorizes $817 billion for the Department of Defense and $29 billion 
for national security programs within the Department of Energy. This 
includes a $45 billion boost to address inflation, accelerate the 
production of certain munitions, and increase procurement of aircraft, 
ships, submarines, armored vehicles, long-range artillery, and other 
resources needed by the services and combatant commands.
  The bill contains a number of important provisions that I would like 
to briefly highlight.
  To begin, we have to ensure the United States can out-compete, deter, 
and prevail against our near-peer rivals. This NDAA confronts China and 
Russia by increasing our investments in the Pacific Deterrence 
Initiative, the European Deterrence Initiative, and the Ukraine 
Security Assistance Initiative. It also authorizes the Taiwan Enhanced 
Resilience Act of 2022, which is designed to increase our security 
cooperation with Taiwan.
  Importantly, this year's NDAA provides a 4.6-percent pay raise for 
both military servicemembers and the Department of Defense civilian 
workforce. It also authorizes funding to ease the impacts of inflation 
on the force and increases the resources available to support military 
  The bill includes new support for our industrial base to produce the 
munitions needed to backfill our stocks, while also keeping supplies 
flowing to Ukraine and other European allies. Moreover, the bill 
authorizes $1 billion for the National Defense Stockpile to acquire 
rare earths and critical minerals needed to help meet the defense, 
industrial, and civilian needs of the United States.

[[Page S7237]]

  America's capacity for technological innovation has long given us the 
strongest economy and military on earth, but this advantage is not a 
given; it must be nurtured and maintained. To that end, this year's 
NDAA authorizes significant funding increases for cutting-edge 
technologies like microelectronics, hypersonic weapons, and low-cost 
unmanned aircraft. Similarly, it increases funding to support U.S. 
Cyber Command's Hunt Forward Operations and artificial intelligence 
  And, as we navigate threats of nuclear escalation from Russia and 
increasing capabilities from China, the NDAA enhances our deterrence 
strategy by helping to modernize the U.S. nuclear triad. It makes 
progress toward ensuring the security of our nuclear stockpile, 
delivery systems, and infrastructure; increasing capacity in missile 
defense; and strengthening nonproliferation programs.
  This bill was originally crafted by the Armed Services Committee 
after a series of thoughtful hearings, discussions, and debates on both 
sides of the aisle. Through the committee markup process, we considered 
more than 443 amendments and ultimately adopted 233 of them. Senator 
Inhofe and I introduced this bill to the full Senate with the intent of 
adding more amendments on the floor. Although we were not able to come 
to hold debate on the floor, we were ultimately able to adopt 
amendments from Senators on both sides of the aisle in the final 
legislation, including several major authorization bills from other 
  Over the past several weeks, the Senate and House Armed Services 
Committees have worked around the clock to come to an agreement on this 
final version. I am proud of the improvements we made throughout this 
process, and I was pleased to see the House vote last week in an 
overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, 350-80, to pass the bill. We have 
produced a strong NDAA that both parties, both Chambers, and the 
President will be able to sign.
  I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the phenomenal 
staff who made this bill possible. There are dozens of staff across the 
committees and floor who worked tirelessly to bring us to this point, 
and we are all immensely grateful for their dedication. I will submit 
each of their names for the record. I want to specifically recognize 
the director for the Armed Services Democratic staff, Elizabeth King, 
and the director for the Republican staff, John Wason. They have led 
their staffs admirably and collaborated with bipartisanship, diligence, 
and skill.
  I would also like to thank members of the Armed Services Committee 
staff: Jody Bennett, Carolyn Chuhta, Jon Clark, Jenny Davis, Jonathan 
Epstein, Jorie Feldman, Kevin Gates, Creighton Greene, Gary Leeling, 
Kirk McConnell, Maggie McNamara Cooper, Bill Monahan, Mike Noblet, John 
Quirk, Andy Scott, Cole Stevens, Brittany Amador, Patrick Shilo, Alison 
Warner, Leah Brewer, Megan Lustig, Joe Gallo, Chad Johnson, Jessica 
Lewis, Griffin Cannon, Brandon Kasprick, Sofia Kamali, Vannary Kong, 
and, once again, staff director Elizabeth King.
  Let me conclude by once again thanking Ranking Member Inhofe, 
Chairman Smith, and Ranking Member Rogers for working thoughtfully and 
on a bipartisan basis to develop this important piece of legislation.
  Finally, I thank my colleagues for voting in favor of this excellent 
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, after months of deliberating, just like 
that, the most important bill we work on every year has passed the 
  There is an old document that no one reads anymore called the 
Constitution. It tells us what we are supposed to be doing here: 
providing for our national defense. That is why Congress has passed a 
Defense authorization bill for 61 years in a row. This year will be No. 
62. I am proud to have been involved in quite a few of those.
  Just like prior years, Republicans and Democrats came together and 
made compromises on the many provisions in this bill. And it is a good 
thing we did because we face threats like I have never seen before in 
my life. We have got a bill that addresses many of these threats and 
helps provide our military with all the tools needed to do their jobs.
  This bill includes a significant topline increase and provides a 
blueprint for where we need to invest to deter China. It fully supports 
our nuclear modernization program. It also takes the first step to 
restoring America as the Arsenal of Democracy by expanding munitions 
production. It includes multiple provisions that strengthen America's 
frontline partners, including Ukraine and Taiwan. We continue to take 
care of servicemembers, including by repealing the COVID vaccine 
mandate and strengthening parents' rights at DOD schools. It is also 
important to note that we kept poison pills out of the final text that 
could have jeopardized passage of this critical bill. This is a good 
bill. It is not the bill I would have written on my own, but I am proud 
to vote for it today.
  Lastly, I would like to thank a few people who put in a ton of work 
on the NDAA. That starts with Chairman Reed, who has been a great 
partner and friend. I would like to thank the Armed Services Committee 
staff, who have worked tirelessly to make this bill a reality, 
including the majority staff director, Liz King.
  On my staff, there are many who have had a hand in crafting this 
bill. They worked the late nights and early mornings to make sure we 
had a bill to vote on today. First on that list is my Republican staff 
director, John Wason. John has been serving this country his entire 
life, first in the U.S. Army, then at the House Armed Services 
Committee, and now here in the Senate. None of this would be possible 
without his leadership.
  On the minority staff for the committee, I want to thank:

       Rick Berger
       Scott Richardson
       Greg Lilly
       Jennie Wright
       Adam Barker
       Kristina Belcourt
       Allen Edwards
       Katie Magnus
       Sean O'Keefe
       Brad Patout
       Jason Potter
       Brian Slattery
       Katie Sutton
       Eric Trager
       Adam Trull, and
       T.C. Williams

  On my personal staff, I want to thank:

       Dan Hillenbrand
       Wendi Price
       Kim Cutter
       Sarah Klotz
       Sofia Rafiq
       Mark Powers
       Ellen Brown
       Jake Hinch
       Jake Johnson
       Alexandra Slocum
       Bennett Crow
       Davis Bunn
       Laurie Fitch
       Lauren Pickett
       Whitney Sterling
       Isabelle Colleti
       Laura Hill, and
       Richard Balzano

  And the hard-working floor staff:

       Robert Duncan
       Chris Tuck
       Tony Hanagan
       Katherine Foster
       Brian Canfield
       Max Boyd
       Maddie Sanborn
       Charlotte Ueland, and
       Noelle Ringel

  I am very grateful for all of their service.
  As I finish my time here in the Senate, I can leave knowing that we 
have done all we can to support our troops for another year and we have