tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN September 26, 2019 10:00am-12:01pm EDT
provide temporary government funding through november 21st, current funding expires november 30th. later this afternoon, the senate will hold confirmation votes for air force general to be vice chair of the joint chiefs of staff and labor secretary nominee, eugene scalia. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer : the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal father, inspire our lawmakers to commit to accomplishing your purposes in our nation and world. as they seek your wisdom, teach them your precepts and direct their steps.
may they live lives of obedience and abundance, as they follow where you lead. lord, provide them with courage to do right as you give them the ability to follow your footsteps. help them to make glorifying you their top priority. we pray in your strong name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., september 26, 2019. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable martha mcsally, a senator from the state of arizona, who will perform the duties of the chair. signed: chuck grassley, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to consideration of h.r. 4378, the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 4378, an act making continuing appropriations for fiscal year to 20, and for other -- 2020, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 12:00 p.m. will be equally divided in the usual form.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. the senator is recognized. mr. mcconnell: exactly one year ago, the administration announced the most significant trade deal in a generation. a landmark agreement with mexico and canada to strengthen two of our nation's key trading relationships. the usmca is the most consequential updated trade policy on this continent in a quarter century. the huge opportunity to notch new pro-american policy victories and keep our north american neighbors close while we tackle other challenges such as china. but here we are months after all
three countries' leaders signed the agreement and we're still waiting on house democrats to let it move forward. mexico has already passed it, canada is waiting on our move, the senate is ready and eager to ratify it, but the senate can't go first. the clock is ticking month after month, even as house democrats have continually made vague statements that they support usmca and want to see it passed, we have yet to see any real progress. so canada, mexico, and millions of americans are waiting for speaker pelosi to remember that serving the public interest requires more than just picking fights with the president. it actually entails addressing the people's business. mexico and canada are vital partners at every level of the u.s. economy. they provide enormous growing markets for american-made products. together they buy more than
$500 billion in u.s. goods and services every single year. a half a trillion dollar export market. every state, every industry, every corner of our country is involved. for 90% of america's manufacturing sectors, mexico or canada rank as the number one or number two export destination. for american farmers and producers, our two neighbors buy almost two-thirds of all the agricultural exports we sell to all of our free trade partners combined. and we aren't just talking about big business. tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses count on their mexican or canadian customers to succeed. these realities affect americans' real lives. in the last 25 years, as trade with mexico and canada has quadrupled, 12 million u.s. jobs have come to depend on cross-border commerce. many of those jobs belong to
workers in kentucky where our biggest industries from auto manufacturing to bourbon production depend on this export economy. with so much at stake, the american people deserve to have an excellent trade deal in place, one that levels the playing field for american workers and reduces the incentives to shift american jobs to mexico, one that expands american farmers and manufacturers' access to these neighboring markets. this is exactly, mr. president, what usmca delivers. it upgrades the playing field for american workers, farmers, ranchers, and job creators. it builds on the pro-growth, pro-innovation policies that encourage their success here at home with an upgraded modern runway to markets beyond our borders. the usmca looks specifically at key sectors where outdated rules are -- or exploitive practices threaten american job security and hurt homegrown industries. it strengthens intellectual
property rights to protect american innovation. it updates our digital trade policy. and usmca wins greater market access for u.s. exporters. opportunities to sell more dairy and poultry into canada, a better playing field for auto parts and investment. enforceable labor standards so that hardworking americans aren't unfairly priced out of their jobs. so what does all this add up to? i'll tell you. according to the independent u.s. international trade commission, the usmca would generate more than $68 billion in g.d.p. growth and create 176,000 jobs right here in the united states. frankly, there is very little else we could do here in congress that would deliver this kind of boost to the american prosperity and brighten prospects for so many american families. and it's a bipartisan deal. it includes changes that democrats have themselves
clamored for, and the administration has bent over backwards to accommodate their concerns. but here we are, a year after all three countries announced the deal and the democrats' heal dragging continues. speaker pelosi keeps saying she supports the agreement in the abstract, with you the drip, drip, drip of small objections and stalling tactics keep on coming. even as speaker pelosi's moderate members publicly beg her to pass this deal, it's almost as though she is looking for reasons to duck it. well, i certainly hope not. 176,000 american jobs hang in the balance. tens of billions of dollars of new prosperity. and our relationship with two of our closest allies who have already taken difficult steps to get the yes on this agreement and whose support we need to preserve a system of free and fair trade from china's aggressive efforts to rewrite the rules on its own terms.
the united states of america needs this deal. american workers and small businesses need this deal. the time for executives is over. usmca needs to move this fall, and that can't happen until house democrats stop blocking an enormous win for our country. now, mr. president, on a totally different matter, as majority leader, i'm especially grateful for opportunities to offer the senate's thanks to the remarkable men and women who work tirelessly to preserve and protect this great institution. on monday, we'll be saying a bittersweet goodbye to a particularly irreplaceable member of the senate family who has worked alongside us for 22 years. ileana garcia was born in cuba and raised in puerto rico. she started working for the secretary of the senate in
september, 1997, as a project accountant. since then, she has built a remarkable success story here in this institution, rising through the ranks of financial management and becoming financial clerk of the senate in 2014. but with ileana, it's not just about the impressive milestones. it's about the outsized impact she's had on this place and so many people. from the heavy lifting of getting a new financial system online in the late 1990's to helping officers navigate health care transitions and government shutdowns to the everyday challenges that come with a big complicated payroll like the u.s. senate's, she did it all with professionalism and attention to detail. at times my own staff observed that she was so attentive and quick to respond to their questions that they wondered if she was detailed exclusively to handle our office.
of course she wasn't. that's just the job she does. but professionalism and excellence aren't the only things ileana brought into the office every day. everyone observed that she also brought a very big heart, patience, discretion, compassion, and an unflagging smile have been her calling cards. that was the case when she arrived 22 years ago. it remains the case today as she prepares to depart as one of the senate's senior most administrative staffers. so we're really sorry to lose somebody of ileana's caliber but we know she's excited to spend more time on planet garcia, which i understand is what she and her beloved husband ariel of 30 years call their clan, including their three sons. and i understand there might be some more time for competitive domino tournaments, not that she apparently needs any more practice. so i know my colleagues will
mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, mr. president, after speaker pelosi decided to open a formal impeachment inquiry on
tuesday evening, there have been several developments. yesterday the president released a memorandum of conversation of his july 25 call with president zelensky of ukraine. in plain text, plain text, no ifs,ands,or buts, the president pressured the leader of ukraine to investigate one of his leading political rivals
confirming public reports. yesterday as well the house and senate intelligence committees received the official whistle-blower complaint that precipitated this series of events. i read the complaint yesterday afternoon and came away more concerned, even more concerned than when i had read the memorandum of the president's conversation. this morning the house intelligence committee made public the declassified portion of the complaint and the intelligence community's inspector general's cover letter. that was the correct decision. the american people have a right to read the whistle-blower's complaint for themselves, and i hope that they will. the whistle-blower's complaint begins, quote, in the course of my official duties, i have received information from multiple u.s. government officials that the president of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 u.s.
election. this interference includes among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president's main domestic political rivals, end of quote. those are his words. the complaint goes on to describe specific deliberate maneuvers by white house lawyers and officials to lock down records of the presidential communications in question, including and especially, quote, the official word-for-word transcript of the president's phone call with president zelensky, the whistle-blower complaint contains allegations of underlying crimes, campaign of soliciting the interference of a foreign government in an american election, using the power of an official government position for personal and political gain, as well as many allegations of attempted cover-up. if this was all so innocent, why did so many officials in the
white house, in the justice department and elsewhere make such large efforts to prevent it from being made public? both sets of allegations are said to have multiple witnesses and multiple cocollaborators. if confirmed, the allegations contained in the whistle-blower complaint are nothing short of explosive. the complaint unquestionably validated speaker pelosi's decision to open an formal impeachment inquiry into these matters. mr. president, we're living in an incredibly delicate time for our democracy. we have a responsibility now to corroborate the facts in the whistle-blower's complaint, solicit testimony from those involved, and pursue the relevant avenues of inquiry that arise. we have a responsibility to consider the facts that emerge squarely and with the best interest of our country, not our party, in our hearts.
we have a responsibility not to rush to final judgment or overstate the case, not to let ourselves be ruled by passion, but by reason. for if the house at the end of its inquiry sees fit to accuse the president of impeachable offenses, we in the senate will act as jury. and our role as the solemn jurors of democracy demands that we place fidelity to the constitution above else. now on the appropriations committee. the business of the american people and the responsibilities of congress do not pause while the house perhaps to formally begin an impeachment inquiry. today, for example, the senate must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government open through the end of november and give appropriators time to complete the 12 appropriation bills. i expect the continuing
resolution will pass this morning and head to the president's desk. that's the easy part. the hard part is getting the bipartisan appropriations process back on track here in the senate. senate republicans unilaterally departed from our bipartisan negotiations earlier this month by proposing to divert as much as $12 billion from military construction and health programs to the president's border wall. obviously that was a nonstarter with democrats and the republican leader and the leaders of the appropriations committee on the republican side had to know that. and, as yesterday's vote for the national emergency declaration showed, it's a nonstarter with a double-digit number of republicans as well. now the -- that republican leaders have shown the president they tried to get his wall again, now that the senate has taken two proxy votes on the wall again this work period, neither of which came close to passing, it's time for leader
mcconnell, chairman shelby, and our republican colleagues on the appropriations committee to sit down with democrats and get a bipartisan process moving again. finally, on the slee nomination -- scalia nomination. today the senate will consider the nomination of eugene scalia. mr. scalia's nomination is a slap to the face of labor because mr. scalia's life work has been utterly opposed to the mission of the agency to which he's nominated. he has sided repeatedly with the large corporate interest against the working people. if any working person doubts that president trump does not have their interest at heart, look at who he's nominated. this guy shouldn't even make if for secretary of commerce let alone secretary of labor, which is supposed to defend and protect the working people of
america. president trump could have chosen a card-carrying union member for the job. he could have chosen someone who understands the needs of workers and unions, the history of the labor movement and the established right of workers to collectively bargain for better wages and safer conditions. instead, president trump nominated mr. scalia, a corporate lawyer who has spent his entire career protecting the interest of c.e.o.'s, big corporations and the wealthy elite. not workers, not labor. worse, he proactively fought to weaken worker protections. he opposed minimum wage increases, even opposed protections in the americans with disabilities act. it's a disgrace. my guess is if every working person knew mr. scalia's record and that president trump
nominated him, mr. trump would hardly get the vote of a worker. this shows who president trump is. this shows who our republican colleagues are. they talk about the rights of workers but vote for somebody, hope they won't, but in all likelihood will vote for somebody who is anti-worker up and down in the very bones of his body. mr. scalia's part of a larger pattern. president trump has claimed to be a champion for working americans, but he has filled our government with millionaires and c.e.o.'s and folks like scalia who work for them with proven records of putting corporate interest before worker interest. anyone who thinks that president trump is -- is a friend of a working person should look at scalia's nomination. the republican majority, rather than using its advise and consent powers to check the president when he does the wrong thing rolls over and approves these nominees. do all these republicans here
oppose the americans for disability act? do all these republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage? well, if you're against those kinds of thing, vote for him. but we've gotten a lot of double talk. people who say they are for those things and then vote for nominees who oppose them and rip them apart. we should not confirm mr. scalia
as secretary of labor, and i urge my colleagues to oppose this nomination. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, we are a proud nation of immigrants, and have benefited from the diversity of ideas and cultures that have come from around the world to experience the freedom that's we enjoy in the united states of america.
september 15 through october 15 is hispanic heritage month and a time to especially celebrate the traditions and contributions of tens of millions of hispanic and latino americans across our country. texas is home to more than 11 million hispanic americans, some who lived here for generations and others who contributed to the recent rapid growth of the lone star state. we have benefited from people like dr. hector garcia, a surgeon, decorated world war ii veteran and sieve rights activist. he ensured that veterans receive equal benefits and care regardless of their race or ethnicity. he was an ardent advocate for equal educational opportunities. his motto was, education is our freedom and freedom should be
everybody's business. dr. garcia became the first mexican american to serve as ambassador to the united nations, representing our country on the world stage. president ronald reagan later bestowed on him the presidential medal of freedom. his legacy is a reminder of what a single person can accomplish in the face of adversity, if only they have the courage to fight for what's right. today texas is proud to have incredible hispanic-american leaders across the state, including ruth hughes who last month was sworn in as our secretary of state. and people like the first hispanic woman to serve on the texas supreme court. they are incredible organizations like the hispanic chamber of commerce who advocate for hispanic small businesses that are vital to our economy. there's also the league of latin american citizens that fights to
improve opportunities for hispanic americans, particularly when it comes to education. hispanic leaders can be found in city halls, boardrooms and communities throughout our state and are improving our state in big ways and small ones as well. i had the honor of representing 28 million texans and it's growing by about 1,000 people a day. but nearly 40% of them identify as hispanic. when texans come to washington, they have the opportunity to visit museums that hold some of the most important stories and artifact from our nation's history. in recent years we made two very important additions to the smithsonian institute with the national museum of the american indian and the national museum of african american history. but, mr. president, it's time for another addition. earlier this year i introduced the national museum of the american latino act, which would
authorize the smithsonian institute to create a museum honoring america's latinos. this has been a work in progress since 2003 when a bill was introduced. the process stepped forward when a commission was established to study the viability and when the commission detailed the feasibility of the project. this legislation will take the work that has been up to this point and finally put into motion the process of establishing a latino museum. as of this week we have 200 cosponsors in the house -- on the house companion legislation and nearly 20 bipartisan cosponsors here in the senate. bicameral, bipartisan support demonstrates that time. has come to turn the dream of this museum into a reality. hispanic americans made ee
newseumable contributions to our country and these stories deserve a brick and mortar home here in washington, d.c., and our nation's capitol. our state and our nation are stronger, smarter and more inclusive because of the contributions of generations of hispanic americans. so i'm glad to spend this month reflecting on the work they've done and celebrate the heritage that is uniquely woven into the fabric of the united states of america. mr. president, i yield the floor, and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. thune: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, the past two weeks have provided a kind of microcosm of the democrat party since the 2016 election. a combination of unhinged partisanship and a radical shift to the far left. for the past two weeks we've seen democrats call for not one but two impeachments, justice kavanaugh's and the president's, and introduced another socialist inspired government approach to health care, this time on the issue of prescription drugs.
first, there were the calls to impeach justice kavanaugh based on yet another vague rumor. it quickly became glaringly obvious there was no substance to the rumor. the alleged victim apparently has zero memory of the alleged behavior, but that didn't give democrats any pause. it was right on to the next rushed impeachment proposal. on tuesday the speaker of the house announced that she was opening an impeachment procedure to the president, never mind that the president said he would make the phone call in question transcript. after all, as the leader pointed out, democrats have been looking to impeach the president since the moment he was elected. for democrats impeachment is not something to be gravely considered as an answer to serious crimes, it's a political weapon that they hope to use to fix the fact that they didn't get their way in the last presidential election.
democrats calls for impeachment have come so thick an fast over the past couple of years, it would be difficult to trust them to conduct an impeachment investigation if there ever were a serious reason to consider one. they made it absolutely clear that they have no objectivity at all. in addition to a poison partisanship, the other thing that characterized the democrat party since the 2016 election is a rapid stream to the -- extreme left. sploir announced a socialist agenda. a prescription drug bill that aboonsd the free market and competition that has enabled the united states to lead the way in lifesaving cures for americans. now, there's no question that many americans face high prescription drug costs, and there's no question that we can and should implement measures to drive down these costs. for months the senate finance
committee, the senate health and human services and the senate judiciary committee have been working on this issue. and the same is true in the house. there are multiple bipartisan ideas both houses of congress could act on. but speaker pelosi's bill is not the answer to high drug costs. the speaker's bill would force drug companies to either accept government price controls or face up to a 95% tax on the sale of their drugs. that's right, mr. president, 95%. this is not a good-faith effortdom to the table to talk -- ef -- good-faith effort to come to the table to talk about drug prices. right now america is a leader in the development of new treatments. the speaker's bill would threaten that. under his bill research into new treatments and cures would
decrease. we need to address high drug prices but discouraging the innovation that lass improved -- that has improved the lives of so many americans is not the way to go about it. the speaker's proposal would do exactly what democrats larger socialist health care fantasy would do. and that is to hurt americans' health care. it would add limited health care innovation to the many negatives that americans would experience under so-called medicare for all, negatives like reduced access to care, limited treatment options, long wait times, and big tax bills for ordinary americans. of course, democrats like to talk about forcing the wealthy to pay for medicare for all and their other pie in the sky proposals. the junior senator from vermont recently introduced a wealth tax that he wants to use to pay for some of his socialist programs. his proposal would ostensibly
raise $4.35 trillion over ten years. here's the problem, mr. president. let's suppose he put all that money toward paying for his government-run takeover of health care, medicare for all. at a conservative estimate, medicare for all would cost $32 trillion over ten years. $32 trillion. the senator from vermont's wealth tax wouldn't even cover 15% of that cost. so who's going to pay the other 85%? and that's supposing his health tax actually raises the money that he says it would. european countries have repealed their wealth taxes right and left because they were ineffective. while i'm sure the senator from vermont and others would be happy to levy additional taxes on the wealthy, the truth is there simply aren't enough wealthy people in the united states to pay for all of the democrats' socialist proposals. ultimately, the burden for paying for these proposals would
fall heavily on the middle class. mr. president, there's no question that divided government can make things challenging, but it can also be the occasion for real bipartisan action. senate republicans would love to work with democrats on solutions to problems like the cost of health care, but unfortunately democrats have chosen to spend most of their time on partisan messaging and on proposing socialist fantasies that would hurt the very people that they're supposed to help. i don't have a lot of confidence that they will change any time soon, but i hope they will. there's a lot that we could still get done if democrats are willing to come to the table and to work with republicans on solutions that will meet the challenges faced by the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: i ask to vitiate the quorum. mr. president, i rise today to commemorate a terrible tragedy. today is a solemn day and a chance to reflect. two years ago in my hometown of las vegas, thousands of people gathered on a warm evening at the route 91 music festival. ms. cortez masto: they came to be listen to country music and relax and celebrate. two years ago on that evening, they heard the pop of what sounded like fireworks. after seconds, for some, minutes for others, they understood what
was happening, an attack that would become the worst mass shooting in modern american history. in a space of 11 minutes, las vegas was transformed in the narrow window of time, 58 people were mortally wounded and hundreds of others were injured, many of them grievously. i still think about the stories of those who ran into the crowd to help others, those who made a commitment to protect others from farm. police, firefighters, and other first responders who ran toward the festival grounds to rescue others. they made that commitment that october evening. the people who piled the wounded into their wars, vans, and pickups, they, too, offered a hand to help strangers. so did the doctors and nurses who rushed to the hospitals and hundreds of las vegas and reno residents who stood in line to
donate blood. they all felt the desire to help those who were suffering in whatever way they could. and we made a commitment to all those caught up in the devastating attack at the route 91 festival, a promise that i honor today. i vowed to do all i could to help my community heal, to remember those who died, and to support those who bear scars of the body or of the spirit. during that dark time two years ago, my city came together to help us sustain the wounded and the families. i have never been prouder of las vegas. so many different groups worked in tandem that evening. there were the brave actions of the las vegas metropolitan police department, clark county school district police department, the las vegas fire department, and the clark county fire department who unhesitatingly risked their lives to stop the attack and
rescue survivors. health institutions across the state joined the effort like american medical response, medic west ambulance, community ambulance, the university medical center, sunrise hospital and medical center, the valley health system, dignity health. and so many doctors and nurses, including nellis air force base medical professionals worked then and in the weeks and months that followed to restore people to health. there were the red cross and the department of veterans' affairs who supported the hospitals with their mobile units. there was the staff at united blood services who worked doggedly to process donations from thousands of people in las vegas and reno and elsewhere in nevada. and there were many people and organizations here in nevada nationwide that provided food, blankets, reduced airline tickets, and other ways to support the victims and their
families. the f.b.i. and the nevada victims of crime program helps families struggling with funeral and travel expenses. airlines like allegiant and southwest also helped to cover costs. donations poured in from las vegas and around the world. and the donations are still coming in to support the children of the 58 fund which nisha tonk's family set up in remembrance of her to provide scholarships to children of victims. and donations are coming in to the kern county foundation day of remembrance fund which also provides scholarships to victims and survivors. all of these people put aside their own needs, sometimes for moments and sometimes for months, to help others. they made a commitment to the victims. but part of that commitment simply has to be working to prevent other families in america from going through what families went through on that
october 1 night as they waited in the family reunification center, crying out for information about their loved ones but terrified at what they would hear. because here's the frightening part. the part that keeps me and so many of us across this nation up at night. the shootings haven't stopped since october 1, 2017. unimaginatively, people who survived the route 91 shooting have found themselves terrorized by gun violence again since that tragic night. some of them were at the borderline bar and grill in thousand oaks, california, just over a year after october 1 when a gunman opened fire and killed or wounded two dozen people. others were in gilroy, california, just this july where a man killed or wounded over a dozen people at an annual festival. can you imagine? going to enjoy yourself one afternoon or evening and having
that place of community and celebration turn into a war zone. and then having that happen not once in some horrible nightmare come to life but multiple times. we cannot let this waking nightmare continue in america. we have to make a commitment to each other, a promise that we won't leave each other and those we love to be victims of the senseless violence, not when we can do something to stop it. americans know this. they know that we're needlessly endangering our children and each other. they know that commonsense gun reform could both respect responsible gun ownership and fight the public health crisis that mass shootings and senseless gun violence represents. that's why people in both parties support sensible gun violence prevention reform, by huge margins. they know that we simply cannot sidestep our responsibility to each other.
we have to reduce these senseless mass shootings and save lives. and we can do that while also respecting the risks -- excuse me. respecting the rights of responsible gun owners. they are there every day as the invisible wounds have continued to heal and people have learned to walk, talk, and work. the doctors' and nurses who have cared for the injured have not given up. they don't say it's been two years so we won't care for the patients anymore. we haven't taken down the many moving memorials to october 1 like the mural at the corner of westcliff & lope way or the 50 wooden crosses near the las vegas welcome sign on the strip or the community healing garden on casino center boulevard.
just the opposite. clark county museum has been carefully photographing and cataloging over 17,000 items from las vegas strong t-shirts and bumper stickers to stuffed animals, from artificial flowers to rosaries that people left at memorials to the route 91 victims and survivors. that care and that attention, that's what a commitment is. when you make one, you have to be there for the long haul to see the thing you promise to the end. and so i will always remember the october 1 victims and their loved ones. always commemorate their loss. i know it's a loss that cannot be fully repaired but only eased by time. i will always honor the bravery of those who sacrificed their own safety to help others. and i will never stop fighting to make america safer. to save families across the country from what i watched families in las vegas go through
that night. from what my own family went through as we waited to hear back from whether my niece was safe or not as she attended that concert that night. so this is our commitment. we have to continue to remember, but we have to do something about it. our time is now. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. ms. rosen: on october 1, 2017, the city of las vegas experienced a tragedy on an unprecedented scale, a tragedy that has left our community deeply scarred and our city forever changed. it was a warm october night. tens of thousands of people were gathering in town for a music festival. they were there to have fun, to dance, to be joyous, but that
joy was cut short by violence and terror when a lone gunman began to open fire. in the ten minutes that the shooting lasted over 1,100 rounds were fired. i repeat, 11 -- 1,100 rounds. 58 innocent people were murdered next week marks the second anniversary of that horrific evening, the deadliest mass shooting in american history. sons, daughters, parents, friends, neighbors, each one of them were loved, and they were all taken from us far too soon. countless others were injured in the chaotic frenzy that will followed the gunfire. many will never live the same life they once knew. and several victims from that night never received the care they needed, including nevada's, members of nevada's
immigrant community who were too scared -- too scared -- to seek care for risk of deportation. the 1 october shooting forever altered the lives of countless families in las vegas and countless families across this country. many are still grieving and will suffer through pain that no family, no friend, no spouse or no child should ever have to face, and that empty seat at every thanksgiving and every holiday table will never be filled. numerous survivors are still working through the effects of this incredible trauma. put simply, this massacre shook our community to its very core. but let me be clear when i tell you today that we were not and we will not be shattered. the bright lights of las vegas will continue to shine through the darkness of that day.
we are resilient and we will always be vegas strong. i stand here today to honor the memory of 58 victims who lost their lives and hundreds more who were injured and still fighting to recover. i'm here to say that they will never be forgotten. we will be there to stand side by side with them as they continue to overcome the challenges and trauma brought on by the shooting. we must also remember that in the face of terror, there were people who made the selfless choice to run toward the gunfire and to help. they were our brave first responders, who risked their lives to offer aid, everyday citizens who offered escape to others in their cars, law enforcement officers, firefighters, every member of our community that could came
out to help. all of them are heroes and all of them must be remembered. and heroes continue to come forward in the days, weeks, and months and even years now following the shooting, lining up to donate blood, giving financial aid to help support those who were injured and the families of those who were murdered, helping to reunite friends and family in the aftermath, and to this day providing counseling and the much-needed support to those who are still suffering from the trauma of that horrific night. our city provided legal, financial and mental health service to those affected by the violence that night including the formation of the vegas strong resiliency center. in the days immediately following the shooting, community members and the local businesses formed what is now known as the las vegas community healing garden, a memorial to those whose lives were lost.
visitors planted 58 trees, one for each victim and painted rocks and ornaments with words of encouragement and words of strength. family members decorated trees of their loved ones. following the shooting, nevada also took action passing a series of gun safety measures to prevent this kind of tragedy from occurring again. two years have passed. i wish i could say that congress has followed nevada's lead, that we have come together as a nation in healing, put partisan differences aside and passed commonsense gun safety legislation to protect the lives of americans, but sadly this is not the case. each day and each year that congress fails to pass sensible gun violence prevention measures is another day, another year that we fail to honor the 58 who lost their lives on 1 october
and the countless lives that have been lost to gun violence. this type of tragedy happens all too often in our country. this past year there were 337 mass shootings. that's nearly one a day for an entire year. and so far in 2019, we've already experienced over 300 mass shootings. this is unacceptable. we must work to prevent these weapons from ending up in the wrong hands, and we owe it to the countless americans who have lost their lives, who were injured and forever scarred. we owe it to them to find a solution not just for those who lost their lives in las vegas, but for those in countless other american cities. in the days following the terrible tragedies in gilroy, el paso, and dayton, i visited the heroes at the vegas strong resiliency center. they have been working nonstop
for two years helping our community to heal. as i learned of their efforts not only to help victims and survivors, but they also extend a hand to help communities like ours in their greatest time of need. i'm reminded from them just how resilient we are as a people, as a community, and as a country. we owe it to these heroes to no longer accept inaction. we must all continue to stand up to speak out and to refuse to allow these kinds of tragedies because they should never define us. no american, no american should ever have to think twice about going to church, the movies, a concert on a warm october night, and no parent, no mother should have a bullet-proof backpack on their back to school shopping list. as members of congress, we were elected to solve problems and to
keep our country safe. when it comes to gun violence, we are failing. we're failing spectacularly on both counts, but we don't have to. we can take action. we can take reasonable steps to reduce gun violence. we can put a stop to carnage that is happening across our country, and we can do this while still respecting the second amendment. what's happening is not normal, but it's also not inevitable. sharing our thoughts and prayers shouldn't be the only action we ever take. let's put our differences aside and make mass shootings a thing of the past, not a daily expectation for our future. it's been over 200 days since h.r. 8, the bipartisan background checks act passed the house of representatives. and i'm a proud cosponsor of the senate's companion legislation, s. 42.
the legislation, it's ready to go. the legislation that will close loopholes and require background checks for all commercial gun sales, including those made at gun shows and on the internet. in memory of the 58 americans who lost their lives on 1 october and those that have lost their lives before and after, i call on my colleagues to act and to take up this legislation for an immediate vote. it is past time. it is past time that we come together and find solutions. it's past time, because if we don't act, then the inevitable will continue to be our daily reality. we can prevent mass shootings in this country, but can is not possible without the word courage. i postcloture this body to have the -- i implore this body to have the courage so that no other family has to endure this
objection. mr. jones: mr. president, mr. president, i am here once again to urge the senate to take up the future act, to extend funding for our historically black colleges and universities. i see my great friend, the senator from tennessee, across the way. i know that the senator as a music fan and a musician himself understands the term of a broken record. a broken record is that record that -- the whole album, the vinyl that has a little bit of a flaw in it and just gets stuck on the same lyric, the same refrain and keeps going back to it. that's what i feel like today, but i also know that with just a little pressure on those old vinyl records, just a little bit of pressure, you can go right through that and get to the melody. that's what i was hoping to do today, that we could put just enough pressure on the senate and others to go right through and to fund hbcu's.
the deadline for that funding ends september 30. now, people will say it is not going to turn the lights out in our historically black colleges and universities, and it's not. i get that. but we also know we have to plan. we have to look months in advance. we have to look a year in advance to make sure that funding is there. this bill, a similar bill has passed the house of representatives unanimously in this partisan world that we're living in, it passed the house unanimously the other day. it has overwhelming bipartisan support in this body. this is something that our historically black colleges and universities need today. they don't need to wait. we don't need to put them in the lurch and the uncertainty. because in today's world in washington, d.c., there is no certainty. we don't know what will happen tomorrow. we don't know what's going to happen next week with the
legislation that will come before this body. nothing is predictable. we don't see the kind of legislation that we should be seeing. we don't deliberate and how the kind of deliberations that we have seen this body have in the past. so to say that we can put this together as part of a bigger bill and hopefully get this done this year is possible but it's also just as possible in today's world that it doesn't get done, that it ends up somewhere buried beneath a whole bunch the other qualified and just as meritorious bills that never see the action of the united states senate or the congress of the united states. i would urge, urge that we do the right thing by our historically black colleges and universities. let's get this bill passed unanimously, sent to the president of the united states for his signature so all of our historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions can breathe a sigh of relief. mr. president, i ask unanimous
consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 212, h.r. 2486. that bill be considered read a third time and passed, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. alexander: i object. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: i recognize the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: the distinguished senator from alabama mentioned music and a lot of us have been watching ken burns country music film the last several days which is terrific and includes lots from alabama and even more from tennessee. my experience with music and song writers is to get a melody, you need some cooperation. you need cooperation. usually three songwriters will write a song.
so i'm interested in harmony but i think we need some cooperation across the aisle as on our committee, thanks to the distinguished senator from washington state, senator murray and senator jones, we often had. we had it on fixing no child left behind. we had it on the 21st century cures. we had it on the opioid crisis response act. we have it on the lowering health care costs act which came out of our committee 20-3 just recently. and we need to have it on higher education. so i have a suggestion today. and i want to speak about it for about ten minutes. i believe the opportunity to deal with the historically black colleges legislation is indeed an opportunity to do more than that. in the first place, the bill passed by the house is a short-term bill which is funded by a budget gimmick which has no
chance of passing the senate. i would propose that we do permanent funding of historically black colleges. that's the way to provide certainty and that we include within it a package of seven or eight other pieces of legislation on which there is bipartisan support, as many as half the members of the senate, about half republican, half democrat, and all of these provisions simplifyin simplifyi, pell grant, pell grants for prisoners, increasing the amount of pell, all of these provisions help low-income americans be able to go to college and simplify the process for doing that. so if it is urgently important as i believe it is to properly fund historically black colleges, i'm ready to do that but i'm ready also to continue to work -- to pass a small
package of bills that will help many of the same people that the historically black colleges legislation would help. and then to continue to work with senator murray and with other members of the committee on a larger package of bills that would include issues that could be part of a more comprehensive, higher education reauthorization act, issues such as accountability, federal, state partnership, campus safety, and the like. senator murray and i for the last five years have been working on a bipartisan reauthorization of the higher education act. we've had about 30 hearings on all manner of issues from accountability to campus safety to simplifying the student aid process. we've yet to reach agreement on some of those issues, but on several important issues, as i mentioned, we have bipartisan proposals by members of our committee and senators who are not on the committee that will
make college more affordable for low-income students and make college worth senators' time and money. i'm committed to working with the senator from washington state to develop a larger, more comprehensive bill. but right now why should we pass up an opportunity to enact a package that includes several of the bipartisan proposals that are the result of our five years of work, including permanent funding of historical black colleges and universities? at the end of the month, as the senator from alabama said, the law providing for funding for historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions expires. everyone wants to see that continue. the house of representatives passed legislation. but instead of the short-term patch that the house passed, we should pass a long-term solution that gives certainty to college presidents and their students.
congress has time to do this. it is true that the law expires at the end of this month, but the money doesn't. the united states department of education has sent a letter assuring us -- assuring congress that there is enough funding for the program to continue through the next fiscal year. so there is a year for us to work on permanent funding, and this small package of other bills, which we've already spent five years on. that ought to be enough time even for united states senators. so we should reach a long-term solution. that's why i'm today introducing a long-term solution to permanently provide funding for minority-serving institutions, including the six historically black colleges and universities in tennessee. the solution would be part of a package of eight bipartisan higher education bills drafted by 35 senators, 20 democrats, 15
republicans. that will help many of the same students that are helped by the historically black colleges act. the package of bills will make it easier for millions of students to receive a college education by simplifying the federal application for student aid, providing pell grants to parole-eligible prisoners, allowing pell grants to be used for short-term programs, and increasing the maximum pell grant award. here are the eight provisions that i believe should be included in the package. first, permanent mandatory funding, $25 5 million each year for historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. second, fafsa simplifying. reduces the number of questions on the free application for student federal aid from 108 to between 17 and 30 questions. as senator jones and i have proposed, this all means that a quarter of a million students will now be eligible for pell
grants. in addition to 1.3 million students will be eligible for the maximum pell grant award. there is no excuse for not passing the fafsa simplifying act. senator bennet and i, senators senator murray and jones and i and others, have been working on this for others. 20 million families have to fill out these 108 questions every year that are unnecessary for them to fill out. and delay is unnecessary for us. three, pell grants for prisoners. allows incarcerated individuals eligible for parole to use the program. a number of senators want do that, including schatz, lee, and durbin. four, portman, kaine, cardin, gillibrand, stabenow, baldwin, brown, capito, coons, shaheen, moran, smith, wicker, brawn --
braun want to support this legislation and have introduced it to use pell grants at high-quality, short-term skills and job-training programs that lead to jobs in fields like cybersecurity. five, simplify aid letters. sometimes students get an aid letter that says, you got money, but they don't understand that some of it is a loan that has to be paid back and some of it is a grant. senators grassley, smith, hassan, rubio have legislation that would simplify and make that clear. six, increase the maximum pell grant award. seven, to pay nor this package, we have a bipartisan proposal that both president obama and president trump have supported which is to ensure that students who opt to pay back their loans under the income-driven repayment plan pay the full 10% of their discretionary income as the law intended. and finally, eight, a proposal by senator murray and me along with senators collins, cornyn,
gardner, hassan, king, stabenow, tillis, whitehouse to allow students to answer up to 22 questions on the current fafsa with one click, using data the government already has from the i.r.s. i can't tell you how many times tennessean parents have said to me, why do i have to give the government the same information twice in order for me student to be able to go to college. this would also reduce the burdensome verification process. the senator has already passed this -- the senate has already passed this legislation once. that is within the jurisdiction of the finance committee. it'll be included once the package is ready for consideration on the floor. in addition, there are at least three other bipartisan provisions that with a little more discussion and work i believe should be included in this package. they have the support of 30 senators from both sides of the aisle. the college transparency act is the first. it creates a student unit record
system to help students and families compare how students perform at specific colleges and universities. senators warren, cassidy, baldwin, brown, casey, ernst, gardner, graham, grassley, klobuchar, murray, romney, scott, cinema, smith, sullivan, whitehouse, and alexander all support this provision. there's substantial bipartisan support in both the senate and the house for it. we'll work to include it as we move forward. then the education of the deaf act which simply authorizes gallaudet university here in washington, d.c., support and the education and success act which reauthorizes the trio program which helps low-income, first-generation and other disadvantaged programs to enroll in a college and university
programs and has the support of several senators. so to continue funding for historical black colleges and other in the-serving institutions, the house of representatives took a shortk they rushed the bill to the floor that has serious problems. first, it's not a bill that can pass the senate. my socks not the only -- my objection is not the only objection. second, it only funds hbcu's and minority-serving institutions for two years, setting up yet another artificial cliff. and finally, it uses a budget gimmick to pay for it, which is one reason it won't pass the senate. this presents congress with an opportunity, an opportunity to do it right and to pass other important legislation that we've already agreed to -- at least half of us -- that presents congress with an opportunity to give certainty to hbcu's and minority-serving institutions and make it easier for millions to receive a college education. so the package i'm proposing,
the eight bills i'm introducing today, and the three bills i hope to include later, have been drafted by 48 senators, 25 democrats, 23 republicans. working together on a bipartisan bill that can pass the senate now is the best strategy to give permanent funding to hbcu's and other minority-serving institutions, to simplify the application for student aid to provide pell grants to parole-eligible prisoners, a how pell grants to be used for short-term programs and increase the maximum pell grant award. senator murray and i have discussed as recently as yesterday her desire and my agreement to try to work toward a comprehensive higher education piece of legislation. we've been working on that for five years. we can continue to work on the issues that still divide us. in the meantime, i agree it's urgent to deal with historically
black colleges. it's also urgent to deal with the 20 million families who mill out the fafsa each year, also urgent to deal with the other issues i've mentioned. we've agreed on those. let's put them in a package, turn them into law and keep working on the other issues. i thank the president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague from alabama for his tremendous leadership on this really critical effort, because right now we are days away from a very damaging lapse in funding for our hbcu's, our tribal colleges and other minority-serving institutions, and that creates unnecessary and needless uncertainty for students in schools across the country. now, mr. president, both of my colleagues spoke of music and the need for harmony. well, it appears to me that the bill that the senator from alabama is asking us to approve today for the funding for hbcu's is a heck of a lot of harmony.
the house has already acted to fix this. they sent this bill to the senate on a bipartisan basis. all members of the house supporting it and paid for it in a way that even the white house supports. in this day and age, i would that i can that harmony. so i am very frustrated about today's opposition to a very simple step to protect colleges and universities with such important missions. and, mr. president, i really can't see a good reason why we haven't sent this president this bill yet. now, i listened to the senator from tennessee, and it sounds to me like he wants to write a whole new song. he's interested in a small package of higher education proposals, and he said he wanted to see the future act as part of that. but it's pretty clear to me that when you have a good song and you have everybody together moving that and maybe there is a discordant note somebody, you just keep with that song, if we
want to stay with the country music theme here. i believe we should not delay here. let's not threaten the funding for some of our most valuable institutions. we should pass the act right away. and then continue our committee's discussions. since the start of those discussions, i've been very clear. we need to do this reauthorizationness a comprehensive way that really helps our students with the many challenges they face. we've got so many students today who are struggling with the burdensome cost of getting a agree, who find themselves cheated by bad actors, that by the way secretary devos is not holding accountable, and they are stuck with mounting debt. they face bullying, harassment, and assault when they should be focused on learning in their classes. or their faced without pathways to help them get into higher education in the first place. the house today is rightly looking at a comprehensive higher education reauthorization
to address all these issues of affordability and accessibility and campus safety. that's what the senate should do as well. surely the senate can reach an agreement on those issues but only if we stay at the table and keep working together, rather than veering off the course we set, and it is what i am very concerned a smaller package would mean. i believe that we have a real opportunity to reach a comprehensive agreement that helps students in need, and we ought to take it. in the meantime, there is no excuse for playing politics, holding up the future act, and exposing students and schools nationwide to uncertainty and to dysfunction. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i rise today to join my colleagues, senator murray and senator jones, to call upon the
senate to pass the fostering undergraduate talent by unlocking resources for education, or the future act, today. because that future is today. should the senate fail to act on this legislation, hundreds of minority-serving institutions and historically black colleges and universities across america are going to face some drastic funding cuts that could jeopardize the education of millions of students of color nationwide. collectively, these institutions serve nearly 6 million undergraduate students throughout the united states, two-thirds of whom come from communities of color. mr. president, without these federal dollars for m.s.i.'s, we're facing the potential for job losses, the possible closure of important academic programs, and, most importantly, the doors of educational opportunity slamming shut for young men and women of color across this
country. minority-serving institutions have long enjoyed bipartisan support in this body. so it's perplexing and concerning to think that the senate would depart for recess without passing this critical legislation. afford to short which change their education? mr. menendez: i believe that representing a community that is already such a large part of the