[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 39 (Tuesday, March 7, 2017)]
[Pages S1616-S1625]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Portman). The Senator from Utah, the 
President pro tempore.

                     Commemorating Rare Disease Day

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to engage Senator 
Klobuchar in a colloquy to commemorate Rare Disease Day in order to 
discuss issues facing patients and the families of those who have been 
diagnosed with these types of conditions.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, as cochairs of the Rare Disease Caucus, 
Senator Klobuchar and I have worked hard to bring more hope to patients 
and their families who are coping with rare diseases on a daily basis.
  Today 1 in 20 individuals worldwide is living with one or more of the 
more than 7,000 rare diseases, 95 percent of which do not have an 
effective treatment. While the incentives provided by the Orphan Drug 
Act, first championed by me in 1983, has led to the approval of nearly 
600 orphan drugs, much more needs to be done.
  Many patients living with rare diseases rely on the FDA to evaluate 
and approve treatment options for their conditions. That is why it is 
so important for the FDA to use its authority to accelerate the 
evaluation and approval of drugs for treating rare diseases and for 
Congress to ensure that proper incentives exist for research to 
discover and make affordable treatments and cures available for this 
  To address this issue, Congress passed the FDA Safety and Innovation 
Act of 2012, which refined and strengthened the tools available to FDA 
to accelerate the evaluation and approval of new drugs targeting unmet 
medical needs for rare conditions. I have been paying close attention 
to how this new authority translates into advances for patients 
suffering from conditions such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, atypical 
hemolytic uremic syndrome, Bertrand-N-glycanase deficiency, and other 
rare diseases.
  In light of these changes over the past few years, I ask my friend 
from Minnesota whether the current approval process is achieving its 
goals of safety and efficacy without hampering the development of new 
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. I thank Senator Hatch for beginning this colloquy. I 
am so proud to be a cochair of the Rare Disease Caucus with him, and I 
share my colleague's concerns. I think there must be improvements that 
are made. I

[[Page S1617]]

continue to be inspired by the families across my State, your State, 
and our country who work so hard to make it easier for kids to have 
access to drugs to treat their illnesses. Unfortunately, we haven't yet 
achieved all we can do for these families, and I have heard time and 
again about the emotional roller coaster that many of them have 
experienced when they interact with the Federal Government on new 
approaches for these rare disease conditions. Too often they are 
unaware when drugs are under review or confused about why experts or 
patients are not even consulted. The individuals suffering from these 
conditions and their families need greater clarity about the process 
for evaluating and approving these drugs, and they ought to be included 
and informed every step of the way.
  It is critical that treatments that do exist for those with rare 
conditions be accessible and affordable. We must continue to protect 
the individuals from discrimination in insurance coverage and work to 
bring down costs. We have to ensure that incentives designed to spur 
the development and accessibility of treatments that the rare disease 
community desperately needs are not abused.
  I ask Senator Hatch, as one with longstanding leadership on the bill 
that you passed that has helped so many people and saved lives, how can 
we focus on sharing this message with our colleagues and our 
  Mr. HATCH. I appreciate that question.
  We must continue to urge the FDA to fully implement its relatively 
new authority. Every one of us in this body represents constituents who 
are battling rare diseases, and I urge the FDA to consider this 
flexibility as applied in reviewing all candidates' therapies.
  I will continue to work closely with my Senate colleagues to ensure 
that the FDA uses the tools, authorities, and resources required to 
provide patients and physicians with new treatment options. I have also 
contacted the FDA frequently during the past year to encourage the 
agency to listen to the voices of patients during the agency's 
evaluation process.
  When the Senate considers the nominee for FDA Commissioner, I will 
continue to stress the importance of incorporating a balanced and 
flexible approach when weighing risks, benefits, and outcomes, 
especially when dealing with small patient populations with such 
rapidly progressing prognoses.
  Patients with limited or no treatment options are depending on FDA to 
utilize the flexibility outlined in FDASIA. This law, which provides 
full and fair review of new drug therapies in a timely manner, gives 
hope to patients suffering from life threatening diseases and, of 
course, their families as well.
  I ask Senator Klobuchar, how can we move forward into the next user 
fee agreement?
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Well, that is going to be very important and really an 
opportunity to make sure that this works for patients with rare 
diseases and their families. We know that affordability and 
accessibility remain paramount. We should also think about the burden 
that these conditions play and the critical role of the voice of the 
  As you stated, Senator Hatch, more than 7,000 rare diseases exist, 
and the vast majority have no treatment. This is an extraordinary 
burden borne every day by Americans in every single State across the 
country. As we seek to continue making progress, including monitoring 
implementation of the advances in the bipartisan 21st Century Cures 
Act, we must ensure that rare disease treatments receive sufficient 
  We also must encourage Federal agencies to better incorporate the 
patient's voice in their decisionmaking process. As I mentioned 
earlier, all too often as we rightly focus on evidence-based medicine, 
we can lose sight of the human experience of these and different 
therapies. What may seem simple in a lab may be overwhelming or 
difficult when applied to patients in real life situations--all the 
more so when children are involved. The FDA and all agencies should 
ensure that they have appropriate processes to seek and incorporate 
this vital input. The user fee agreement will be an opportunity for us 
to make this case.
  I would like to thank Senator Hatch again for his time to discuss 
these issues that are very important to both of us. We look forward to 
engaging with our colleagues on these issues as we move forward to the 
implementation of the Cures Act, as well as the work on the Orphan 
Drugs Act, and as well as the user fee agreement.
  Mr. HATCH. I thank my dear friend, the senior Senator from Minnesota, 
for her time with me today. It is very meaningful to me and, I think, 
to everybody who is concerned about this rare disease situation in our 
  This is just the start of our conversation for this Congress. There 
is so much left for us to do, and I am certain we will succeed as long 
as we stay together and work in a bipartisan way. So I thank my dear 
colleague for her words and support and the good leadership she 
provides in the Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

                       Republican Healthcare Bill

  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I want to speak about the healthcare 
bill that has been laid out in the House now--introduced in the House 
of Representatives. I have great concern about the proposal as it 
relates to the people of Michigan, whom I represent, as well as to the 
people across the country. This proposal--or whatever passes--will be 
judged based on whether or not people pay more for their coverage, if 
they can find it, and whether they are going to be able to get the 
healthcare they need.
  Healthcare is very personal. Despite the politics here in Congress 
and in the White House, healthcare is not political; it is very 
personal. Can you go to a doctor? Can you take your child to a doctor? 
Can your parents or grandparents get the nursing home care they need? 
Are you going to be able to find insurance after you have had a heart 
attack or cancer or if your child has juvenile diabetes and, therefore, 
has a preexisting condition?
  I am deeply concerned after the initial look I have had, and we will 
continue to look at more and more of the details as they come out. This 
proposal is going to create chaos in the healthcare system. Frankly, I 
would say this is a mess. It is going to create a big mess as it 
relates to the families whom I represent and whom we all represent in 
our home States.
  This was written in secret. We have all seen the stories of the 
Senator from the other side of the aisle who was running around trying 
to get a copy of what was going on. Everything was done in secret, and 
now that it is out, we find out that there is no cost attached to it. 
We do not know what the overall cost will be to taxpayers. We also do 
not know how many people are going to be able to get healthcare, who is 
going to be able to be covered.
  What I have seen really falls in the category of creating a mess for 
families--higher costs for middle-class families, higher costs for poor 
families, but less coverage--such a deal. This is not the kind of deal 
that the people of Michigan want to have for themselves and their 
  To add insult to injury, it cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans, 
while it makes most Americans pay more. It makes seniors pay more, and 
we have heard people calling it the ``age tax'' or the ``senior tax.'' 
The reality is, in a number of different ways, in how we rate, which is 
based on age and other costs, seniors will pay more. It is my 
understanding that, in the middle of this, there is actually a 
sweetheart deal for the CEOs of big insurance companies that will give 
them pay raises. This whole thing is stunning to me, which is being put 
forward with a straight face.
  On top of everything else, it removes the guarantee for preexisting 
conditions. It is very unclear what will happen to someone who has had 
a heart attack. I have a new, little, baby grandniece who has had two 
heart surgeries already, and there is another one that she will have to 
have in another year. While she is doing great--and my niece and nephew 
deserve incredible admiration for taking care of little Leighton--she 
is going to have a preexisting condition her whole life. She is going 
to have a reconstructed heart that is going to cause her various 
challenges. Without the current guarantees that we have that she gets 
with her insurance, her folks are going to have a hard

[[Page S1618]]

time, and little Leighton is going to have a hard time her whole life.
  When we look a little bit more into the details of all of this, we 
see, in fact, that this bill provides tax increases for millions of 
families. It repeals the tax credits in 2020 that help working families 
afford insurance. By the way, even though things do not happen 
immediately, in their knowing it is coming, the insurance companies are 
certainly going to find themselves making different kinds of decisions, 
and, certainly, families will make different kinds of decisions. I 
would expect the insurance system to be destabilized immediately. We 
are already seeing problems with insurance companies pulling out just 
based on the debate about repealing healthcare.

  When we look at the tax credits--or help--for buying healthcare, it 
goes from helping those from low-, moderate-, and middle-income 
families being able to afford insurance to changing the whole thing. It 
is based on your age and your income. So the higher the age and the 
higher the income, the more taxpayer dollars you get, which makes no 
sense. A 55-year-old with a higher income will get more taxpayer 
funding than will a 30-year-old who is working a minimum wage job and 
has the toughest time in trying to find insurance that he can afford. 
This is not the set of values or perspectives that make sense for 
people in Michigan, as well as for people across the country.
  While that 30-year-old who is working a minimum wage job is going to 
be paying more and hoping that he does not have a preexisting condition 
because he may not be able to find insurance at all, we see that there 
is a $300 billion--with a ``b''--tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. 
Picture this: Somebody in a minimum wage job who could very well see 
his health insurance go completely away will have that happen, while 
someone who makes more than $3.7 million a year will save over $200,000 
a year. So $200,000 a year is what he will get back now in the form of 
a tax cut, which is more than what most people make. Certainly, the 
majority of people in Michigan make less. They work very, very hard, 
but they make less than $200,000.
  Just to underscore, this is the first bill out of the gate here in 
which we are talking about any kind of tax cuts. We are already seeing 
Republicans cutting taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes on the 
middle class and raising their healthcare costs if they can find 
healthcare. These tax cuts are just the start. Wait until we get to tax 
reform, when we are going to see this whole debate happen again. My 
guess is that middle-income people are going to end up paying the 
bill--paying more--and the wealthy people are going to get another 
round of tax cuts.
  To add insult to injury again, there are the sweetheart deals so that 
the CEOs of the biggest insurance companies can get pay raises--can get 
more money--while people will pay more if they work or are poor or 
middle class. There are tax cuts for prescription drug companies of $30 
billion, but the bill does nothing to lower the cost of prescription 
drugs. This, certainly, is not healthcare for the majority of 
Americans. This, certainly, is not healthcare for those who need to 
have access to affordable healthcare.
  Then it is back to our seniors, who will pay more because of the 
changes in how healthcare costs will be rated. We will, essentially, 
see older people having twice the tax credit but five times more the 
cost. I am not sure exactly how it is being proposed for preexisting 
conditions. We are still working through that. I do know that the bill 
has a penalty. If you have health insurance and, for some reason, there 
is a crisis in your family and, for some reason, you cannot continue it 
and you drop that insurance and then you reenroll again, there is a 30-
percent late enrollment surcharge. You will be paying 30 percent more 
for your health insurance if you have a preexisting condition.
  There are just two other items that are very important. I know that 
the distinguished Presiding Officer shares the concern about this as 
well, which is the fact that we have been able to create more access to 
healthcare by expanding Medicaid, which is critically important.
  One of the great success stories in Michigan today is that 97 percent 
of our children in Michigan can now see a doctor--97 percent. We do not 
want to go backward. Every child should have the ability to see a 
doctor--every mom, every dad, every grandpa, every grandma. Right now, 
in Michigan, 97 percent of children can see a doctor because of the 
work that we did on the Affordable Care Act, including in the expansion 
of Medicaid. This goes away. It takes a couple of years, but that goes 
  Instead, what is proposed, essentially, is a voucher, but it has been 
called a lot of names. There used to be folks talking about a block 
grant to the States. Now they call it ``per capita.'' Yet it is really 
simple. Just like there have been proposals by Republicans for years to 
have a voucher for Medicare, now this is, essentially, a voucher for 
Medicaid of X number of dollars. If you need more for your nursing home 
care, then you are on your own. There are X number of dollars for your 
child, for a family. If you have something happen and you get sick and 
you need surgery or if you have cancer and it goes above that voucher, 
you are on your own.
  It completely changes Medicaid from an insurance system to a system 
of, essentially, a voucher. Millions and millions and millions of 
children, of families, of seniors--the majority of seniors in nursing 
homes get their coverage through Medicaid--and our moms, dads, 
grandpas, and grandmas, who right now get quality nursing home care 
because of Medicaid, will be severely impacted by this voucher that 
caps how much care they will be able to receive.
  Finally, for over half of the population--for those of us who are 
women--we will see a return, essentially, to a woman being a 
preexisting condition. Essential services for women--maternity care, 
which I was at the front of the line in fighting for, and prenatal 
care--are not available in the majority of private plans a woman tries 
to buy without her paying more. You can get maternity care, but it is 
not viewed as basic. It may be basic to you, as a woman, but insurance 
companies say: Sure, we will cover maternity care, but you have to pay 
more. Forever, women have been paying more for their basic healthcare. 
Under the Affordable Care Act, that changed when we said: Do you know 
what? As a woman, you should not have to pay more for the basic care 
you need.
  Now all of that goes away under the House proposal. Just to make sure 
that we see women's healthcare taken away, Planned Parenthood is 
defunded. Yet 97 percent of what they do is basic care--mammograms, 
getting to see your doctor, OB/GYN, prenatal care, and all of the 
things you need for annual visits and so on. That is completely 
  I congratulate everyone who has been involved in the effort to make 
sure that birth control is affordable for women, and under the 
Affordable Care Act, we have done that. This is an economic issue; this 
is not a frill for women or for men or for families or for those who 
have worked hard to make sure we can lower unintended pregnancies in 
this country.
  The good news is that we are at a 30-year low in unintended 
pregnancies, a historic low in teen pregnancies, and at the lowest rate 
of abortions since 1973--1973. Why is that? That is because women have 
been able to get the healthcare they need. They have been able to get 
affordable birth control to be able to manage their healthcare, as well 
as seeing the economy improve. But we are seeing more and more where 
more information is being made available, costs for basic preventive 
care is down, and women having access to what they need in healthcare 
allows them to be in a situation where we are seeing these historic 
lows on unintended pregnancies, teen pregnancies, and abortions.
  I know in Michigan we have a number of counties across Michigan, 
particularly in rural communities, where the Planned Parenthood clinic 
is the only provider of basic healthcare. It is the only provider for 
family planning and for cancer screenings and basic healthcare for 
women and for many men. It may be the only provider in the community. 
More than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural and 
underserved communities. About one-third of all of the women living in 
those communities where Planned Parenthood is available find that this 
is the only healthcare provider available to them.

[[Page S1619]]

  So support for women, preventive healthcare, and Planned Parenthood 
funding are cut completely in this bill. Access to maternity care, 
prenatal care, and other basic essential services is eliminated. If you 
want that, you can pay more as a woman.
  On top of that, we are seeing essential services like mental health 
and substance abuse services and other basic comprehensive services 
that we said for the last several years should be available--healthcare 
above the neck as well as healthcare below the neck should be viewed as 
essential services for people across America. All of that goes away 
with this proposal.
  So, in my judgment, this is a mess. It is going to create a mess, 
with more costs, less service, shifting taxpayer dollars to the 
wealthy, while asking the middle-class and low-income families to pay 
more. This is simply not a good deal.
  I would welcome the opportunity to work with colleagues on something 
that makes sense. Let's put aside this whole effort of repeal. Let's 
focus on how we can bring costs down, including prescription drugs, and 
continue to move forward, but let's not go back. When 97 percent of the 
children in my State can see a doctor today, that is worth keeping. 
That represents the best of our values. We can't go backward. The 
proposal we are seeing in the House would take us back to a place that 
would hurt the majority of Americans, and I strongly oppose it.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, irrespective of how the Presidential 
election came out last November, we would be having a conversation 
about how to fix ObamaCare. There are many reasons for that, but most 
importantly is that it has just skyrocketed costs for people in this 
country. Premiums have gone through the roof, deductibles have 
increased, copays have increased, and out-of-pocket costs have become 
so extensive for people that even if they have coverage, they can't use 
their plans in many cases. So when our colleagues across the aisle talk 
about the recently rolled out proposal coming from the House--which 
they will be discussing and we eventually will be discussing--to try to 
drive down the costs for people in this country, that is what this 
debate is really all about.
  You can say what you want, but the fact is that this year, 2017, 
premium increases are 25 percent in the exchanges--25 percent. In six 
States, the premium increases were 50 percent in the exchanges. I don't 
know how anybody--any family in this country--can keep up with those 
kinds of skyrocketing premiums. If you are buying your insurance on the 
individual market, the roof is blown off.
  I talk to people in my State of South Dakota all the time who share 
with me the excessive amount that it now costs for them to cover 
themselves and their families. I talked to a lady in Sioux Falls 
recently, and she told me they are now paying $22,000 a year for health 
insurance. That is not working. That is why what we had was an abysmal 
  In terms of choices, the whole idea was that people were going to 
have options out there. In a third of the counties in America today--
one-third of the counties in America today--people have one option, one 
insurer. It is pretty hard to get a competitive rate when you only have 
one option. There is a virtual monopoly in a third of the counties in 
America today.
  So we have markets collapsing, insurers pulling out, and we saw that 
last fall Blue Cross Blue Shield pulled out of the individual market in 
South Dakota and left 8,000 people wondering how they are going to 
continue to cover themselves with health insurance. The markets are 
collapsing, choices are dwindling, and costs are skyrocketing.
  The Senator from Michigan was just on the floor talking about how 
terrible things are going to be under the proposal that is being 
considered and discussed in the House of Representatives, but the fact 
is, things are terrible today, and that is why we are having this 
conversation. Eight in ten Americans think ObamaCare either ought to be 
repealed entirely or dramatically changed, significantly changed. By 
any estimation, by any objective measurement or metric, it has been a 
failure, and that is why we are having this conversation, and that 
conversation would have occurred irrespective of what happened in the 
Presidential election last fall.
  So let's be clear about why we are here and why we are having this 
conversation and why we are coming up with a better solution for the 
American people that will drive down their costs, give them more 
choices, create more competition in the marketplace, and give them a 
higher and better quality of care because it restores the doctor-
patient relationship, which is so important, not having the government 
intervening and being in the middle of all of that.

                   The Economy and Regulatory Reform

  Mr. President, we have a recovery that technically began almost 8 
years ago, but for too many Americans, it still feels as if we are in a 
recession. Americans basically have not had a pay raise in 8 years. 
Since the recovery began in 2009, wage growth has averaged a paltry 
0.25 percent a year--one quarter of 1 percent increase in pay per year 
since 2009. Well, imagine if you are a family and you are looking at 
everything that is going up in your lives, whether it is healthcare, 
which I just talked about, or the cost of education or the cost of 
energy or the cost of food, all of these things that continue to go up, 
and you are getting a 0.25-percent--one quarter of 1 percent--pay raise 
on an annual basis. It is pretty hard not to feel like you are starting 
to sink and your head is going to be below water before long.
  Good jobs and opportunities for workers have been too few and too far 
between. Millions of Americans are working part time because they can't 
find full-time employment. Even as some economic markers have improved, 
our economy has stayed firmly stuck in the doldrums. Economic growth 
for 2016 averaged a dismal 1.6 percent, and there are few signs that 
things are improving.
  By the way, the historical average going back to World War II is 
about 3.2 percent average growth in the economy. So last year we were 
at one-half of what the average had been going back all the way to 
World War II.
  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is projecting average 
growth for the next 10 years at just 2 percent--in other words, long-
term economic stagnation.
  The good news, though, is that we don't have to resign ourselves to 
the status quo. We can get our economy going again. Republicans are 
committed to doing just that. To get our economy going again, we need 
to identify the reasons for the long-term stagnation we are 
  A recent report from the Economic Innovation Group identified one 
important problem: a lack of what the organization calls ``economic 
dynamism.'' Economic dynamism, as the Economic Innovation Group defines 
it, refers to the rate at which new businesses are born and die.
  In a dynamic economy, the rate of new business creation is high and 
significantly outstrips the rate of business deaths. But that hasn't 
been the case in the United State lately. New business creation has 
significantly dropped over the past several years. Between 2009 and 
2011, business death outstripped business birth.
  While the numbers have since improved slightly, the recovery has been 
poor and far, as I mentioned before, from historical norms. The 
Economic Innovation Group notes that in 2012--the economy's best year 
for business creation since the recession--it fell far short of its 
worst year prior to 2008. This is deeply concerning because new 
businesses have historically been responsible for a substantial part of 
the job creation in this country, not to mention a key source of 
innovation. When new businesses aren't being created at a strong rate, 
workers face a whole host of problems.
  ``A less dynamic economy,'' the Economic Innovation Group notes, ``is 
one likely to feature fewer jobs, lower labor force participation, 
slack wage growth, and rising inequality--exactly what we see today.''
  Well, American workers clearly need relief, and restoring economic 
dynamism is a key to providing it. We need to pave the way for new 
businesses and the jobs they create, and we need to ensure that current 
businesses, particularly small businesses, are able to thrive.

[[Page S1620]]

  There are a number of ways we can do this. One big thing we can do is 
relieve the burden of excessive government regulations. Obviously some 
government regulations are important and necessary, but too many others 
are unnecessary and doing nothing but loading businesses down with 
compliance costs and paperwork hours. The more resources businesses 
spend complying with regulations, the less they have available for 
growth and innovation. Excessive regulations also prevent many new 
businesses from ever getting off the ground. Small startups simply 
don't have the resources to hire individuals, let alone the consultants 
and lawyers to do the costly work of complying with the scores of 
government regulations.
  Unfortunately, over the past 8 years, the Obama administration spent 
a lot of time imposing burdensome regulations on American businesses. 
According to the American Action Forum, the Obama administration was 
responsible for implementing more than 675 major regulations that cost 
the economy more than $800 billion. Given those numbers, it is no 
surprise that the Obama economy left businesses with fewer resources to 
dedicate to growing and creating jobs or that new business creation 
seriously dropped off during those years in the Obama administration.
  Since the new Congress began in January, Republicans have been 
focused on repealing burdensome ObamaCare regulations using the 
Congressional Review Act. We have already used this law to repeal three 
Obama regulations, and this week we will use it to repeal at least two 
more, including the ``blacklisting'' rule, which imposes duplicative 
and unnecessary requirements for businesses bidding on Federal 
Government contracts, and the Bureau of Land Management methane rule, 
which curbs energy production on Federal lands by restricting drilling. 
This methane rule would cost jobs and deprive State and local 
governments of tax and royalty payments that they can use to address 
local priorities.
  Another area of regulatory reform we need to address is ObamaCare, as 
I mentioned. Repealing the burdensome mandates and regulations this law 
has imposed on businesses will go a long way toward removing barriers 
to new businesses and spurring growth at existing businesses.
  Another important thing we can do is remove unnecessary barriers that 
restrict access to capital. Both new and existing businesses rely on 
capital to help them innovate, expand, and create jobs.
  In addition to removing burdensome regulations, tax reform needs to 
be a priority. Measures like allowing new businesses to deduct their 
startup costs and reducing rates for small businesses would spur new 
business creation and help small businesses thrive. Republicans plan to 
take up comprehensive tax reform later this year, and I look forward to 
that debate.
  The American economy has always been known for being dynamic and 
innovative, and we need to make sure it stays that way. We need to free 
up the innovators and the job creators so that the next big idea isn't 
buried by government regulations before it has a chance to see the 
light of day.
  Sluggish economic growth doesn't have to be the new normal. By 
removing burdensome government regulations and reforming our Tax Code, 
we can spur business creation and innovation. We can increase wages and 
opportunities for American workers, and we can put our economy on the 
path to long-term health, where that growth rate gets back to that more 
historic level that allows for better paying jobs and higher wages for 
American families.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues in both Houses of 
Congress to achieve these goals, and I am anxious for us to start 
passing bills that will put policies in place that are favorable to 
higher economic growth, better jobs, and better wages for the American 
people and their families.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. President, as we continue to debate H.J. Res. 44, a 
resolution of disproval to nullify the BLM planning 2.0 rule, I would 
like to bring to the attention of my colleagues an editorial published 
last week in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. It outlines many of the 
reasons we should oppose the repeal of the BLM planning 2.0 rule.
  I ask unanimous consent that the article be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From The Daily Sentinel, Mar. 1, 2017]

                            Aligning Values

       Colorado's biggest political guns are marching to the beat 
     of the same drum, proclaiming the Centennial State is the 
     perfect new location for the massive Outdoor Retailer Show 
     which is leaving Salt Lake City over the extreme stance 
     Utah's political leaders have taken on public lands.
       Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sens. Cory 
     Gardner, a Republican, and Democrat Michael Bennet sent a 
     joint letter Monday to the Outdoor Retailer Show hailing 
     Colorado's bipartisan commitment to maintaining and 
     protecting public lands.
       Considering that Utah is ground-zero for a movement to 
     transfer management of public lands from the federal 
     government to the states, it's not hard for Colorado to claim 
     that its values are more closely aligned with the outdoor 
     industry, which relies on public lands for its livelihood.
       Colorado could enhance that claim if Gardner and Bennet 
     refuse to overturn the first major revision of the Bureau of 
     Land Management's land-use planning process in three decades.
       Congress is seeking to overturn BLM's Planning 2.0 
     initiative under the Congressional Review Act. The House has 
     already voted to eliminate the rule. If the Senate follows 
     suit, it will undo an effort to increase public involvement, 
     improve transparency and promote science-based decision-
     making in public-lands planning.
       Planning 2.0 is not without its critics. The Western 
     Governors' Association has asked Congress in a Feb. 10 letter 
     to ``direct the BLM to re-examine the final Planning 2.0 
     rule. Any revisions . . . should be crafted collaboratively 
     with western states.''
       But there can be no revisions if the rule is repealed under 
     the CRA, which is a ``nuclear bomb'' of a legislative tool. 
     The CRA would not only overturn the rule, but block future 
     rulemakings that are ``substantially the same'' without prior 
     approval from Congress.
       That means the BLM would be stuck with an antiquated 
     planning process, hobbling the agency in a way that 
     reinforces all the negative perceptions that already exist 
     regarding the way it manages public lands.
       Sportsmen's groups, the Pew Charitable Trusts, conservation 
     groups and the Outdoor Industry Association all support 
     Planning 2.0. The WGA wants to keep it alive to improve it.
       Public lands are the backbone of the outdoor industry, 
     which contributes $646 billion to the economy annually.
       Gardner sponsored the Outdoor Recreation and Jobs Economic 
     Impact Act, which was signed into law by the president last 
     year. It requires the Bureau of Economic Analysis to 
     calculate the economic impact of the outdoor recreation 
     industry and requires the Commerce Department to provide 
     Congress with a full evaluation of the outdoor recreation 
       He obviously recognizes the importance of the outdoor 
     recreation industry as a jobs creator and an economic engine. 
     He should also understand that the industry equates killing 
     the rule with hampering growth.
       The Senate vote may have not any bearing on whether the 
     Outdoor Retailer Show relocates to Colorado. But supporting 
     2.0 is a show of good faith that our senators get what's at 

  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, I oppose today's resolution to 
overturn the Bureau of Land Management planning 2.0 rule.
  The Bureau of Land Management is charged with ensuring responsible 
use of public lands, which requires extensive land use planning to 
balance priorities like recreation, conservation, and energy 
development. Planning 2.0 simply updates outdated planning processes 
that date back 30 years to provide greater community input and 
transparency. This is intended to create plans that work better for all 
users, including local communities. It is also meant to reduce the time 
it takes to complete the planning process.
  Under the new rule, the public is involved in the planning process 
early to avoid costly and time-consuming disputes later. The rule 
allows for the use of current technology like geospatial data to allow 
for more science-based decisionmaking.
  Developing planning 2.0 took 2 years and included consideration of 
more than 6,000 public comments. With today's resolution, we would 
abandon modernization that makes it easier for the public and State and 
local governments to be involved in the Federal planning process and 
revert to rules that were written in 1983.
  A wide range of sportsmen groups, including the Izaak Walton League 
of America, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout 
Unlimited have asked us to preserve Planning 2.0. They write: 

[[Page S1621]]

from across the multiple-use spectrum agreed that the previous BLM 
planning process could be improved. Under the outdated process, 
opportunities for public involvement were too few, and the public 
didn't learn about agency plans until they were already proposed.''
  If we pass this resolution today, BLM will have to go back to that 
outdated process and would be prohibited from proposing a rule that is 
substantially similar to planning 2.0. I urge my colleagues to vote 
against this resolution.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.


  Mr. SCHATZ. Mr. President, last night the Republicans in the House 
revealed their plan to scrap the ACA and replace it with something much 
worse--TrumpCare. There are so many things that are wrong with this 
bill. A lot of us are still going through the 184 pages and all of its 
implications, so it is impossible to encapsulate all the difficulties 
in this legislation in one speech.
  I am going to highlight eight problems with this bill to start. First 
of all, this bill is a complicated and rushed mess. Despite the fact 
that they had 7 years to work on their own plan, the Republicans 
cobbled together a bill that makes no sense. In an effort to make 
everyone in their caucus happy, they have made no one in their caucus 
happy. That is why we have seen conservative groups--from AEI to AFP, 
the Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers--come out and express 
opposition to the legislation.
  Second, this bill cuts Medicaid. They are going to use a phrase 
called block grants, but I want everyone to understand that is cutting 
Medicaid. That is a euphemism for cutting the resources for Medicaid. 
This cuts a program that helps more than 70 million Americans across 
the country get the healthcare they need. It means less care for 
pregnant moms, less care for families with loved ones in nursing homes. 
Nursing home benefits will be totally trashed, and all of these changes 
will reduce Medicaid to a level not seen before.
  By the way, Medicare doesn't escape the ax. It is also in trouble if 
we enact the House legislation. TrumpCare will actually move up the 
date of insolvency of the Medicare trust fund by 3 years, to the year 
2025. That is not 20, 30 years from now when they talk about the Social 
Security trust fund. That is quite soon to have Medicare be insolvent, 
and they are accelerating the date in which Medicare becomes insolvent.
  Third, this bill hits the elderly with an age tax. Here is how the 
law currently works. It is basically a cap on the amount that an 
insurance company can charge a senior for healthcare. It says you 
cannot charge more than three times the amount you charge a young 
person for a senior citizen.
  It is capped at three times what you charge for young people. This 
would increase the cap to five times the cost. If a young person's 
health insurance costs $250, the maximum under the current law is $750. 
Now you are talking five times $250--$1,250 per month.
  This is an age tax. If there is any doubt about how difficult this is 
going to be for senior citizens, ask the AARP. They are a bipartisan, 
well-respected organization that works in every State. Seniors across 
the country need to understand what this age tax is. You will pay more 
for health insurance if the law passes as it is.
  Fourth, and this is a very important point. This is basically not a 
healthcare bill because if it were a healthcare bill, everybody knows 
it would require 60 votes. It would be enacting new legislation. This 
is a budget bill. All they can do, really, is cut taxes related to 
healthcare. This is a bill that cuts taxes for rich people.
  How does it finance it? First of all, it finances--probably a lot of 
it by borrowing. The other portion of it is by cuts to Medicare and 
Medicaid. TrumpCare has special tax cuts that only benefit the highest 
earning households and another one that will go to insurance company 
executives who make more than half a million dollars a year.
  You cannot make this stuff up. They are cutting taxes for insurance 
company executives who make more than half a million dollars each year, 
and they are financing it by cutting healthcare for the people we all 
  Fifth, this bill will blow up the debt and the deficit. The crazy 
thing is, we don't actually know how much our debt and deficit will 
increase because Republicans are in such a hurry to rush this through 
without a formal CBO analysis. We have no idea how much this is going 
to cost--probably trillions, but they haven't even asked for a CBO 
score. They don't want to know how much this is going to blow up the 
debt and the deficit because all of the fiscal hawks will be found to 
be hypocrites who have been railing about deficits for all of their 
career. Yet this might be the biggest budget-busting piece of 
legislation in many, many years, and they don't want to know how much 
it costs because they have made a promise. They are going to go ahead 
and fulfill that promise no matter how ridiculous it is.
  Sixth, this bill will trash mental health coverage. The ACA was a 
huge step forward for the mental health community because it required 
insurance companies to cover mental health and substance abuse 
disorders. We are in a moment when every State is struggling with an 
addiction crisis. What I don't know is why we would rip away these 
services when so many people are counting on it to break their 
  Seventh, this bill will defund Planned Parenthood because they can't 
help themselves in the U.S. House of Representatives. Planned 
Parenthood is a provider that offers healthcare to millions of women 
across the country, but this bill will stop low-income women from 
getting critical health services like breast cancer screenings from 
local clinics. Oftentimes, this would happen in communities where women 
have nowhere else to turn. Many community health centers don't have the 
services women need or they have twice the wait times that a Planned 
Parenthood would have. For women waiting to find out if they have 
cancer, that is simply not an option.
  Finally, this bill is too partisan. I think we can all agree that our 
approach to healthcare could use some improvements, and I am more than 
ready to work with my Republican colleagues to make healthcare better. 
That is not just a rhetorical flourish. I have tried to back that up 
with my legislative actions. I have worked with Senator Hatch on 
legislation to increase access to high-quality care in hard-to-reach 
regions. I have worked with Senator Cassidy and many others on a bill 
to create a public health emergency fund. I have worked with Senators 
Wicker, Cochran, and Thune on a telehealth bill.
  We can work together on healthcare, but it requires three things: No. 
1, good faith, and there is no good faith in this piece of legislation. 
No. 2, bipartisanship. This bill, I am quite sure, will get zero 
Democratic votes in the House or the Senate. No. 3, we need legislative 
hearings. We need to have a conversation in the light of day and let 
the American people weigh in. We need to figure out what it is that 
they are doing to the American healthcare system.
  If they are so proud of their plan, why no hearings? If they are so 
proud of their plan, why not get at least a score from the 
Congressional Budget Office? If they are so proud of their plan, why do 
they lack the confidence that any Democrat will support it?
  Look, we do have the opportunity to work together to improve 
healthcare, but this bill is basically a mess. It is worse than I 
thought. I think it is worse than a lot of people thought, especially 
given that they have been talking about this for 7 years. So one might 
think they would have had a really well-thought-through plan. This has 
all of the characteristics of something that was rushed out the door in 
about a 48-hour period.
  I hope my colleagues will join me in opposing this very bad piece of 
legislation and give us some space and time to do this right and to do 
this in a bipartisan fashion.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous request that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S1622]]


  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, TrumpCare is here, and you are going to 
hate it. This replacement for the Affordable Care Act has been 7 years 
in the making. On a cursory overview, it appears that when you ask the 
question as to who gets hurt under the replacement plan, the answer is 
everyone, with the exception of insurance companies, drug companies, 
and the very wealthy.
  I hope we are able to step back and take our time to analyze what 
this replacement plan is going to do to Americans who badly need 
healthcare, who believed Republicans when they told them that they were 
going to repeal the bill and replace it with something better, and who 
believed President Trump when he said that he was going to repeal the 
Affordable Care Act and replace it with something that was wonderful, 
that insured everybody who was insured under the Affordable Care Act 
and did it at lower costs.
  I know that my colleagues who are well meaning in this Chamber cannot 
read this replacement plan and understand it to do anything but strip 
coverage away from millions of Americans and to drive up costs for 
millions of Americans. There is no credible way to look at this 
replacement plan without seeing the devastation that will be wrought.
  I want to spend just a few minutes, now that we have had this plan to 
look at for 24 hours, talking about how dangerous it is and pleading 
with my Republican colleagues to take their time and, hopefully, decide 
instead to work with Democrats to try to strengthen the Affordable Care 
Act, fix what is not working as well, but preserve the parts that are 
  Here is what I mean when I say that everyone, with the exception of 
insurance companies, drug companies, and the superrich, is hurt by the 
GOP replacement plan. First, this idea that we are going to end the 
Medicaid expansion--that is what this replacement plan does. It says 
that in 2 years, effectively 2020, the Medicaid expansion will go away. 
That means in my State, 200,000 people will lose healthcare. Millions 
across the country will lose healthcare. They are, by and large, the 
poor and the lower middle class--largely women and children who can't 
get insurance other than through the Medicaid expansion--who will no 
longer be able to get it. Medicaid has been expanded in Democratic 
States, Republican States, blue States, red States. Letting Medicaid 
expansion hang around for 2 years is no solace to people who will jam 
into those years as much healthcare as they can get, but then be 
without it afterwards.
  Even more insidious is the part of the GOP healthcare replacement 
plan that would turn Medicaid into a block grant after 2020. This has 
been talked about in conservative circles for a long time, but has been 
resisted, again, by Democrats and Republicans who understand what that 
means. It means Medicaid will eventually wither on the vine and will 
become a State responsibility. No longer will the Federal Government 
help States pick up the costs for insuring the most vulnerable 
  Remember who Medicaid covers. Medicaid covers 60 percent of children 
with disabilities in this country. Of the tens of millions of kids 
living with disabilities, 6 out of 10 of them get their insurance from 
Medicaid. If Medicaid is turned into a block grant, let me just tell 
you, let me guarantee you that healthcare will end for millions of 
those kids. If it does not end, it will be dramatically scaled back 
because States cannot afford to pick up 60, 70, 80 percent eventually 
of the cost.

  Thirty percent of non-elderly adults with disabilities are covered by 
Medicaid. Sixty-four percent of nursing home residents are covered by 
Medicaid. Two out of every three of our senior citizens who are living 
in nursing homes are covered by Medicaid. If you block-grant Medicaid, 
all of a sudden States will not be able to pick up those costs and will 
not be able to deliver healthcare to people in nursing homes. That is 
just the truth.
  The Republican bill effectively ends coverage for 11 million people 
all across this country who are covered by the Medicaid expansion after 
2 years, and then it jeopardizes care for tens of millions more by 
dramatically cutting the Medicaid Program and the Medicaid 
reimbursement to States. This is not a game; this is 11 million people.
  Remember, it is not a guess because in 2020 you will be reverting 
back to the rules before the Affordable Care Act. Before the Affordable 
Care Act, 11 million fewer people were covered under Medicaid. Even if 
States maybe hang around and decide to front the billions of dollars 
necessary to cover a few million of those, you are still talking about 
5, 6, 7, 8, 9 million people who will lose insurance--again, people who 
can't buy it anywhere else. This is people's lives we are playing 
with--as I mentioned, 200,000 in Connecticut alone.
  Do you know who else gets hurt by this replacement plan? Older 
Americans. It seems that older Americans are really targeted in this 
plan because although the underlying Affordable Care Act says that you 
can't charge older Americans more than three times that of younger 
Americans, this replacement plan changes the rules. It allows insurance 
companies to jack up prices on older Americans. So a 60-year-old would 
have their premium go up by about one-quarter. That is roughly $3,000, 
according to an AARP study. I don't know about the Presiding Officer, 
but a lot of adults getting ready to qualify for Medicare in 
Connecticut don't have $3,000 sitting around.
  But it gets worse. Because the premium support is so skimpy, under 
this plan, that same 60-year-old in Connecticut would have their 
premium support--their tax credit--cut in half, from $8,000 down to 
$4,000. Do the math. That is a $9,000 increase in healthcare costs for 
a 60-year-old resident in Connecticut. That is unaffordable. There is 
just no way for anybody to say that for that 60-year-old living in 
Connecticut or living in Nebraska or living in California, that is 
better healthcare. Nine thousand more dollars out of pocket for a 60-
year-old is not better healthcare.
  The claim is that this bill will cover people with preexisting 
conditions, but because there is no minimum benefit requirement, the 
plans don't have to cover anything that you need for your preexisting 
condition. So, yes, they can't technically charge someone with cancer 
more, but they don't have to cover chemotherapy. The Affordable Care 
Act says insurance has to be insurance. There has to be some minimum, 
basic level of benefits so that everybody knows that when they buy an 
insurance plan, they are basically getting coverage for maternity care, 
for cancer treatment, for mental illness. Because this legislation 
strips away any requirement that insurance be insurance, maybe you get 
insurance if you have cancer, but it may not cover anything you have.
  Of course the cruelest piece of this bill says that if you lose 
insurance, you then get charged more. Republicans are right that in the 
Affordable Care Act as it exists today, there is a penalty if you don't 
buy insurance. Republicans just do their penalty differently. What this 
replacement plan says is that if you lose insurance and you try to get 
it later on, you will pay 30 percent more. I admit that there is a 
penalty in the underlying Affordable Care Act and there is a penalty in 
the Republican bill, but the problem is that under the existing 
Affordable Care Act, the help you get to buy insurance allows you to 
buy insurance. That is why 20 million people have insurance today. But 
because the tax credits are basically cut in half under this proposal, 
it will render healthcare unaffordable; thus, more people will have 
gaps in coverage; thus, more people will pay the penalty.
  So in the end, this bill really does not provide protection for 
people with preexisting conditions because they are not going to be 
able to buy insurance in the first place. They are going to fall into 
that gap, and then they are going to have to pay more. Even if they do 
have insurance, it may not even cover what they need.
  All of this is made harder to understand because it seems to be one 
big excuse to deliver a giant tax cut to the wealthy. The Joint 
Committee on Taxation estimates that this bill would cut taxes by $600 
billion for the wealthiest Americans. The Affordable Care Act was 
financed in part by a tax on unearned income for people making over 
$250,000 a year. I live in a pretty wealthy State--Connecticut--but 
people who are making $250,000 and a whole lot of unearned income are 
not amongst the most needy in our society. The average tax cut under 
this bill

[[Page S1623]]

would be $200,000. Why? Because we are taxing so few people who are 
making such big amounts of money, the average tax cut would be 
  It is so hard to understand because when you do the sum total of 
parts that are moving under this replacement plan, it seems as if the 
biggest parts that are moving are care away from millions of poor 
people and the elderly and money going to the wealthiest 1 percent of 
Americans. That is not hyperbole; that is just how this bill works out.
  The biggest net result of this bill from the status quo is that 
millions of people who are on Medicaid today in a few years won't have 
it--those are kids; those are the disabled; those are the elderly--and 
a handful of very wealthy Americans will make out with enormous tax 
cuts under this legislation.
  I guess it is no secret that this bill was crafted behind closed 
doors. Seven years in the making, and this bill was hidden from public 
view until yesterday. Now House Republicans are saying they are going 
to give the American public 1 week to look at this. No estimate of the 
cost--they are going to ram it through as quickly as they can.
  I held half a dozen townhalls in the summer of 2009, when the tea 
party tempest was at its highest, where people really wanted to talk to 
me about how upset they were with the way the healthcare debate was 
going. One of the refrains that I heard in those townhalls was that 
Democrats were ramming through the Affordable Care Act. Everybody heard 
it. Ramming through the Affordable Care Act. It was on FOX News every 
night. It was part of our townhalls regularly.
  Well, let me tell you what happened in 2009. The House process 
spanned three committees: the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ways 
and Means Committee, and the Education and Labor Committee. The House 
had 79 bipartisan hearings and markups on the health reform bill--79 
bipartisan hearings and markups. House Members spent nearly 100 hours 
in hearings, heard from 181 witnesses, and considered 239 amendments 
and accepted 121. The HELP Committee had 14 bipartisan roundtables, 13 
bipartisan hearings, and 20 bipartisan walkthroughs on health reform. 
The HELP Committee considered nearly 300 amendments and accepted 160 
Republican amendments. The Finance Committee held a similar process. 
When the bill came to the floor, the Senate spent 25 consecutive days 
in session on health reform--the second longest consecutive session in 
  So don't tell me that the Affordable Care Act was rushed through when 
during that time the HELP Committee considered 300 amendments, held 
dozens of hearings, and in 2017 there are going to be no committee 
meetings, no committee markups, no committee amendments, and barely a 
week for the public, for think tanks, for hospitals, for doctors, for 
patients to be able to consider the chaos that will be wrought if this 
healthcare plan goes through.
  So I am on the floor today to plead with my Republican colleagues to 
step back from this potential debacle. This seems like it was written 
on the back of a napkin in order to rush something out into the public 
so that Republicans can claim they are fulfilling the promise they 
made, without thinking through the consequences.
  Over and over again, I heard my Republican friends and President 
Trump say they are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace 
it with something better. I heard the new Secretary of Health and Human 
Services say that no one was going to lose insurance, that costs were 
not going to go up, and that the insurance protections were going to be 
preserved. None of that will be true under the current plan under 
consideration. Everybody knows it, which is why it is being hidden from 
public view.
  Politicians love praise. We love good press. So if Republicans 
thought this was a praiseworthy plan, they would not be hiding it. They 
would not be trying to rush it through. They would be celebrating an 
achievement they have been crowing about for years--replacing the 
Affordable Care Act with something that is better.
  This is worse for everyone except for insurance companies, drug 
companies, and the superrich. The superrich get a big tax cut, and all 
of the fees that were levied on the insurance companies and drug 
companies that were used to pay for additional expansion go away.
  Tucked inside here, there is even a very specific tax cut for 
insurance company CEOs. I mean, think about that. Tucked into this bill 
is a specific tax cut for a select group of individuals--insurance 
company CEOs. I represent a lot of those CEOs, but it does not make it 
  I hope we will find a way to work together to try to strengthen the 
Affordable Care Act and fix what is wrong. The plan that was unveiled 
yesterday--I understand not by the Senate but by the House--hurts 
everybody except for a select few. I think most of my colleagues know 
we can do better.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that at 3:45 
p.m. today, there be 15 minutes of debate remaining on H.J. Res. 44, 
equally divided in the usual form.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Discharge and Referral--S. 416

  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship be discharged from 
further consideration of S. 416 and the bill be referred to the 
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, we are coming to the end of debate on 
the disapproval resolution for the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule. I would like 
to take just a few minutes to highlight the very broad support it has 
drawn here on Capitol Hill but really across the country.
  Here in the Senate, I mentioned earlier that there is a total of 17 
Members who have joined me in sponsoring our version of this 
resolution. That is nearly one-fifth of this Chamber. It includes every 
Republican from a Western State with BLM lands within its borders. 
These are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, 
Nevada, Montana, even Kentucky, and the State of the occupant of the 
Chair, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, so a very strong contingent of 
Members who are in support of this disapproval resolution.
  Across the Capitol, the House of Representatives passed this 
resolution with bipartisan support a couple of weeks ago through the 
leadership of Representative Cheney of Wyoming. This resolution wound 
up with 234 votes in the House. That is a pretty strong vote.
  The reason why so many Members of the House and the Senate want to 
overturn BLM's planning 2.0 Rule is pretty simple. We know what it 
means for our Western States. We don't like the impacts that it will 
have and neither do a wide variety of elected officials and 
stakeholders back home.
  In my State of Alaska, I have heard from the Alaska Municipal League, 
the Alaska Farm Bureau, and the Associated General Contractors of 
Alaska. The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce wrote to ask us to 
overturn the rule. The Alaska Chamber wrote in support of our 
resolution because they said BLM's planning process ``has grown to be 
substantially lengthier, more confusing, and burdensome for 
stakeholders to engage in.''
  We have heard from our leaders in the Alaska State Legislature, State 
Senators Pete Kelly and John Coghill, who have asked for this rule to 
be nullified, as have several of our Alaska Native corporations, 
including CIRI, Olgoonik, and Calista Corporation. The Alaska chapter 
of the Safari Club opposes it because its landscape-level approach to 
land management planning has the potential to withdraw and lock up even 
more land in Alaska.
  Alaska's energy, mineral, and timber producers are united in their 
opposition to this rule and in their support of our disapproval 
resolution. We have heard from the Resource Development Council, the 
Alaska Oil and Gas Association, the Alaska Forest Association, the 
Council of Alaska Producers, the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, the 
Fortymile Mining District, and the Alaska Miners Association, and they 
all oppose BLM's planning 2.0 Rule because it reduces economic 
opportunities for Alaskans--those who actually live near these BLM 
lands, who know

[[Page S1624]]

the most about them, and who depend on them to provide for their 
  It is the same story in many other Western States, from Arizona and 
New Mexico to Washington and Oregon, to Montana and South Dakota. This 
rule affects all 12 BLM States, and those States just are not happy 
about it.
  We have heard from about 80 groups so far that oppose that rule, and 
I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the list of supporters be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                       S.J. Res. 15/H.J. Res. 44

                Strong Support From Western Stakeholders

                         National Stakeholders

       American Energy Alliance, American Exploration and Mining 
     Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American 
     Petroleum Institute, Americans for Prosperity, American Sheep 
     Industry Association, Association of National Grasslands, 
     Independent Petroleum Association of America, National 
     Association of Conservation Districts, National Association 
     of Counties, National Association of State Departments of 
     Agriculture, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National 
     Mining Association, National Water Resources Association, 
     Public Lands Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Western 
     Energy Alliance.

                           State Stakeholders

       Associated General Contractors of Alaska, Alaska Chamber of 
     Commerce, Alaska Chapter, Safari Club International, Alaska 
     Farm Bureau, Inc., Alaska Forest Association, Alaska Miners 
     Association, Alaska Municipal League, Alaska Oil and Gas 
     Association, Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Alaska 
     Trucking Association, Calista Corporation, Cook Inlet Region, 
     Inc., Council of Alaska Producers, Fortymile Mining District, 
     Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, Members of the Alaska 
     State Senate, Olgoonik Corporation, Resource Development 
       Arizona Association of Counties, Arizona Cattle Growers 
     Association, Arizona County Supervisors Association, Arizona 
     Farm Bureau Federation, Arizona Mining Association, 
     California Cattlemen's Association, California Farm Bureau 
     Federation, California Wool Growers Association, Rural County 
     Representatives of California, Colorado Cattlemen's 
     Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Wool Growers 
     Association, Idaho Cattle Association, Idaho Farm Bureau 
     Federation, Idaho Wool Growers Association, Montana 
     Association of Counties, Montana Association of State Grazing 
     Districts, Montana Electric Cooperatives' Association.
       Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Mining Association, 
     Montana Petroleum Association, Montana Public Lands Council, 
     Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Wool Growers 
     Association, Eureka County, Nevada, Nevada Association of 
     Conservation Districts, Nevada Association of Counties, 
     Nevada Cattlemen's Association, Nevada Farm Bureau 
     Federation, New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, New 
     Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, New Mexico Wool Grower, 
     Inc, North Dakota Stockmen's Association, Association of 
     Oregon Counties, Oregon Association of Conservation 
     Districts, Oregon Cattlemen's Association.
       Oregon Farm Bureau, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, 
     South Dakota Public Lands Council, Utah Association of 
     Conservation Districts, Utah Association of Counties, Utah 
     Cattlemen's Association, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Utah 
     Wool Growers Association, Washington Cattlemen's Association, 
     Washington Farm Bureau Federation, Western Interstate Region 
     of NACo, Governor Mead of Wyoming, Petroleum Association of 
     Wyoming, Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, 
     Wyoming County Commissioners Association, Wyoming Farm 
     Bureau, Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Wool 
     Growers Association.

  Ms. MURKOWSKI. This list includes our Nation's energy and mineral 
producers, the people who keep our lights on, who provide fuel for our 
vehicles, and who construct everything from semiconductors to 
skyscrapers. The American Petroleum Institute, the Independent 
Petroleum Association of America, the Western Energy Alliance, the 
National Mining Association, and the American Exploration & Mining 
Association are all opposed to this rule, and so are many State groups, 
like the Arizona Mining Association, the Montana Electric Cooperatives' 
Association, and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.
  Joining them are many of our Nation's farmers and ranchers, the 
individuals who provide so much of our Nation's food supply, whether 
that is steak or whether that is milk or something else. The National 
Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Sheep Industry 
Association have registered their opposition. The American Farm Bureau 
Federation opposes the rule and so do many of its State partners, 
including the Colorado Farm Bureau, the New Mexico Farm & Livestock 
Bureau, the Oregon Farm Bureau, and the Washington Farm Bureau.
  Perhaps most critically, planning 2.0 has drawn strong opposition 
from local and State governments, the entities that are elected to 
represent all of the people, not just one specific interest. The 
National Association of Counties, the voice of county governments all 
across the country, sent a letter outlining their support for the 
disapproval resolution. Another group, the National Association of 
Conservation Districts, wrote that planning 2.0 should be repealed 
because it ``skirts the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and 
reduces the ability of local government involvement'' while seeming 
``forced and blind to the many issues raised in the public comment 
  Again, this disapproval resolution has drawn strong support from a 
wide range of stakeholder groups--energy, mining, and grazing, 
America's farmers and ranchers, State officials, local counties, and 
conservation districts. Everything from the Alaska Trucking Association 
to the Public Lands Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have all 
weighed in. At last count, more than 80 groups had asked us to repeal 
BLM's planning 2.0 Rule, and I am sure there are many others that are 
not included in that count.
  We have heard such strong support because this is a misguided rule 
that will negatively impact our Western States. It subverts the special 
status relationship between the Federal Government and the States and 
local governments. It limits local involvement and local input. It 
opens the door for decisionmaking authority to be centralized at BLM's 
headquarters here in Washington, DC. It upends BLM's multiple-use 
mission by allowing the agency to pick and choose among preferred uses, 
while sidelining industries that provide good-paying jobs in our 
western communities.
  I think there is broad agreement that planning 2.0 should be 
overturned. That is what we are here to do, and we will have that 
opportunity in just a few moments.
  So I ask all Members of the Senate, including those who do not have 
BLM lands in their States, to consider the strong support this 
resolution of disapproval has drawn and to join us in passing it at 4 
  With that, I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, we had a chance earlier today to talk 
about this Congressional Review Act resolution before us that I urge my 
colleagues to turn down. This resolution basically would negate a very 
important aspect of a rule that was put in place to help the public 
have more input on public lands.
  The rule was pretty straightforward--common sense--to make sure that 
there was a lot of increased public input to bolster the decisionmaking 
process and to ensure that there are 21st century management policies 
in place.
  There is nothing in this rule that was implemented in the last 
administration that erodes or takes away from the States' and local 
governments' planning processes and the decisionmaking they do.
  So it is very important to me that we continue to have the 
transparency and openness and sunshine in our public planning. I think 
one editorial from the Post-Register from Idaho said it best. So I will 
read from it.

       Resource management planning. Sound boring? Maybe. But if 
     you are a Westerner, it definitely shouldn't be.
       Resource management planning (RMP) affects how you can or 
     can't use the vast swaths of public lands outside your back 
     door for things like hunting, camping, four-wheeling, hiking, 
     fishing, and rock climbing--a lot of the things you probably 
     love about being a Westerner.
       With a new Republican presidential administration in power 
     and the GOP-controlled Congress rubbing its hands together in 
     delight, ready to implement part one of its grand scheme for 
     public lands--cashing in on

[[Page S1625]]

     those resources--RMPs should get a whole lot more interesting 
     to Westerners.
       Since 2014, BLM officials have been toiling away, 
     rebuilding the current rules for land use planning in a 
     significant way for the first time since 1983. . . .
       One important change is that Planning 2.0 would let the BLM 
     take into account local impacts from the beginning.

  Going on to read from the editorial:

       The Republican-controlled House has already passed a 
     resolution to strike Planning 2.0 from the books once and for 
     all. The Senate will vote within days on whether or not 
     they'll use the same sledgehammer--the Congressional Review 
     Act (CRA). It's an especially diabolical weapon.
       Once the CRA is used on Planning 2.0, it will be gone 
     forever. It prevents future BLM rules for planning land use 
     from being introduced if they are ``substantially the same.''
       The utterly confounding part is why this rule is being 
     picked on in the first place. . . .
       Planning 2.0 actually mandates more local control, gives it 
     more often and is a smarter, more elegant solution to sharing 
     use of our public lands.

  I couldn't say it better than that editorial. Local communities are 
watching. They want more sunshine. They want more input. They want a 
smoother process. They don't want lawsuits that take forever. They want 
us to work in a collaborative fashion, guaranteeing the public input of 
local governments, States, and our citizens in how we manage our 
Federal lands.
  I urge my colleagues to turn down this resolution.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Strange). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I yield back the remaining time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time is yielded back.
  The joint resolution was ordered to a third reading and was read the 
third time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The joint resolution having been read the 
third time, the question is, Shall the joint resolution pass?
  Mr. WICKER. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Georgia (Mr. Isakson).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 51, nays 48, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 82 Leg.]




     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--1

  The joint resolution (H.J. Res. 44) was passed.