(Senate - December 13, 2018)

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[Pages S7534-S7540]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
resume consideration of S.J. Res. 54, which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A joint resolution (S.J. Res. 54) to direct the removal of 
     United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic 
     of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.


       Young amendment No. 4080, to clarify that this resolution 
     prohibits United States Armed Forces from refueling non-
     United States aircraft conducting missions as part of the 
     ongoing civil war in Yemen.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.

                         Farewell to the Senate

  Mr. HELLER. Madam President, I rise with gratitude to address my 
colleagues and members of my staff to reflect on one of my life's 
greatest honors, and that is serving the people of the great State of 
Nevada. I begin by thanking them for giving me the profound honor of 
representing Nevada in the U.S. Congress for 12 years and then in the 
U.S. Senate for almost 8 years.
  Nevada, thank you for granting me the privilege of working every day 
for a State I am so proud to call my home.
  Of course, I thank my immediate family, especially Lynne, my wife, 
for being at my side for my nearly 30 years of public service.
  To my children Hilary, Harris, Drew, and Emmy and to their spouses 
Eddie, McKenzie, and Collin, thank you for your patience, your 
understanding, and your tolerance of this process.
  I would be remiss if I didn't thank Jack and Janet Heller, my 
parents, for setting the right example and religious tone in our home 
while I was growing up.
  To Richard Brombach, my father-in-law, and all of my wife's family, 
thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter, sister, cousin, and 
  I have five brothers and sisters, and they all played a vital role in 
my upbringing. So thank you to Jack, Tamie, Mac, Sara, and Bryan.
  All of these individuals whom I have mentioned gave me their 
steadfast support and made my journey from the Nevada Legislature to 
the secretary of state's office, to the U.S. House of Representatives, 
and to the U.S. Senate possible. I could count on them every step of 
the way.
  We all know how important our staffs are, and I am no exception. I 
have been fortunate to have had two staff members with me during my 
whole tenure in Congress, and I would like to highlight both of them.
  Mac Abrams, my chief of staff, hails from North Carolina. I know more 
about North Carolina than I thought I ever would. Mac came to me from 
Senator Vitter's office. After 12 years, we muse about writing a book 
together because, together, we have seen and been through a lot. From 
the great recession's impact on Nevada to the visits from Senator Reid 
to my House office, to Senator Ensign's resignation, to the Governor's 
appointment of me to the Senate, to ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, immigration 
reform, tax reform, and changing the courts--just to name a few--Mac 
has always been there.
  In these Chambers, there are a lot of slings and arrows, and it takes 
an expert to walk through these minefields. No one does it alone. I 
have always had Mac Abrams by my side. So I thank him for his service 
to me but, more importantly, for his service to the State of Nevada.
  Scott Riplinger has also served the office with distinction. Those 
who know him and who have worked with him know that he is a problem 

[[Page S7535]]

It didn't matter which hat he was asked to wear, he wore it with pride. 
I will miss his hard work, his work on the Banking Committee, his 
loyalty, and his great sense of humor. Every office needs a Scott 
  I would like to mention two more.
  Sarah Paul has become a dear friend of mine. She joined my staff 7\1/
2\ years ago, and I have leaned on her heavily to help navigate some 
very complicated issues. From gaming issues, to mining, to technology, 
no one--I say no one--can grasp an issue like she can. During the last 
campaign, she served as my chief of staff as others were relegated to 
the State of Nevada.
  Thank you, Sarah, and congratulations.
  On Thanksgiving Day, she introduced Liam Milliner Paul to the world. 
Again, congratulations to Sarah, to Raymond, and to big brother James 
on the new addition.
  Finally, I recognize Ashley Jonkey. Ashley oversees our State 
operation, and she has been with us since my early days in the U.S. 
House of Representatives. Whether it is putting together the Tahoe 
Summit or keeping me up to speed on local issues, Ashley is someone I 
can always count on. In fact, over the past decade that I have known 
Ashley, she has become like family to me but, more importantly, like 
family to Lynne. She is based in Reno, but we are fortunate to have her 
here in Washington, DC, today.
  I recognize her, along with Mac, Scott, Sarah, and the many members 
of my staff, who are here today on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  We have a great team. I have had a great team from top to bottom--a 
team that includes naturalized citizens whose families came to this 
country to seek better lives, professional social workers, and multiple 
combat veterans. Every member of my team in Reno, Elko, Las Vegas, and 
Washington, DC, has worked tirelessly to make a difference in the lives 
of Nevadans. My staff's dedication, enthusiasm, and work ethic go 
  I ask unanimous consent to have a list of current and former staff 
and their names printed in the Record for this legislative day.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

 Senator Heller's List of Current and Former Staff To Be Entered Into 
                        the Congressional Record

       Mac Abrams, Sarah Paul (Timoney), Ashley Jonkey, Meron 
     Bayu, Scott Riplinger, Megan Taylor, Gretchen Andersen, Annie 
     Sedgwick, Scarlet Doyle, Andrew Williams, Joe Boddicker, 
     Blair Bjellos, Rachel Green, Lindsey Parobeck, Jazmine Kemp, 
     Adam Miller, Hayley Brower, William Yepez, Meagan Devlin, 
     Elizabeth Lloyd.
       Michael Lienhard, Katie Pace, Rocio Meza, Lauren Morris, 
     Eduardo Martinez, Brett Pollak, Mark Sutliff, Donna Bath, 
     Kike De La Paz, Andrew Lingenfelter, Christy Guedry, Devyn 
     Hartmann, Bruno Moya, Ryan Dutiel, Marcie Zajac, Andrew 
     Thomas, Andrew Holbert, Emy Lesofski, Leeann Gibson (Walker), 
     Josh Finestone.
       Hayley Douglas, Stewart `Mac' Bybee, Michawn Rich, Pat 
     Garrett, Alli Collier, Tom Ferraro, Stephanie Beverly, Mari 
     St. Martin (Nakashima), Corrine Gianpaolo (Zakzeski), Katie 
     Carr, Alison Gaske, Stephanie Ferguson, Karen Paulson, Paula 
     Carroll, Amber Heinz, Ryan McBride, Victoria Glover, Emily 
     Wilkenson, Jeremy Harell, Kristen Elias.
       Kristen Pierce (Casey), Luke Burns, Spencer Armuth, Laura 
     Hutson (Bland), Greg Facchiano, Chandler Smith, Neal Patel, 
     Lauren Ann Rehrauer, Ryan Leavitt, Chana Elgin, Matt Morris, 
     John Knobel, John Blum, Mallory Nersesian, Robert Jackson, 
     Eric Duhon, Erin Collins, Christine Atchian, Daniel Giudici, 
     Britt McManus Chapman.
       Veronica Charles, Josh Marin-Mora, Chloe McClintock, Sam 
     Crampton, Glenna Smith, Lucero-Gomez Ochoa, Stephen 
     Sifuentes, Michael Mendenhall, Margot Allen, Terri Fairfield, 
     Leonardo Benavides, Matt Morris, Andres Moses.


  Mr. HELLER. Madam President, I would like to shift gears, for just a 
moment, to mention several topics that have demanded a lot of my time 
and a lot of my energy.
  When it comes to our legislative successes--tax reform, changes on 
the courts, banking reform, go down the list--I am most proud of what 
we have accomplished to help the 300,000 veterans who call Nevada home. 
I think everybody in this Chamber will agree that while we can never 
fully repay our debt to our Nation's heroes, we can do everything in 
our power to show our gratitude for their selflessness and for their 
sacrifice. Once these men and women return home after leaving their 
families to fight for our country, it is our turn to fight for them and 
to make sure all of Nevada's veterans receive the treatment they need, 
the services they need, and the skills they need to get the jobs to 
take care of their families.
  I see that responsibility as a duty and a privilege. In fact, I have 
said this before, and I will say it again: The greatest compliment I 
ever received in public office was when I overheard one veteran say to 
another, ``If you need help, call Senator Heller's office.''
  As a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
I have had the opportunity to give our veterans a strong voice in 
Washington, DC. Under Chairman Johnny Isakson's leadership, we have 
made great strides in bringing greater accountability to the VA and in 
improving the benefits, the care, and the support our veterans have 
  For example, earlier this year, we pushed the historic VA MISSION Act 
over the finish line. This new law directs more than $50 billion to our 
VA healthcare system so the VA can hire more high-quality doctors and 
allow veterans to get the care they need near their homes and on their 
  We also expanded the VA Caregivers Program, which provided a stipend 
to the families of severely disabled veterans who require caregivers in 
their homes. Previously, only post-9/11 veterans were able to apply. 
Now veterans from every era are eligible. This was particularly 
important to many veterans in Nevada who told me how critical it was 
that we give veterans more access to this program.
  These are just a couple of examples to fix a problem that came up 
during my discussions during my Veterans Advisory Council meetings. I 
established these groups of veterans in the northern and southern parts 
of the State in order to speak frequently and directly with them about 
the challenges they are facing and the problems that need to be fixed.
  For instance, just a few years ago, the Reno VA was one of the worst 
ranked offices in the Nation. This was at a time when veterans were 
waiting, on average, 400 days for their disability claims to be 
approved. This was not acceptable, so I teamed up with Senator Bob 
Casey, from Pennsylvania, to hold the VA's feet to the fire. As a 
result of the implementation of the 21st Century Veterans Benefits 
Delivery Act, the backlog has been reduced by nearly 85 percent, and 
500,000 of our military heroes around the country are no longer waiting 
for their health benefits. We also provided accountability through 
expedited firing authority of bad VA employees and overhauled the VA 
appeals process so veterans do not have to wait years for a decision. 
The President signed this bill into law in Reno last year.

  Expanding veterans' access to care has been one of my top priorities. 
For veterans living in Northern Nevada, I worked to authorize 
construction of the Reno VA hospital and delivered $33.5 million in 
Federal funding for it so that the veterans of the north don't have to 
drive 500 miles to Boulder City to access the State Veterans Home.
  I walked through the construction site when I was in Sparks last 
month, and I look forward to the completion of this state-of-the-art 
  I did the same for veterans in Southern Nevada. I worked for 10 years 
to secure the approval of the new larger clinic in Pahrump. For 
veterans who face barriers to try to get an education so that they can 
earn a good living, I introduced a bill that increases the education 
benefits for Guard Reserve members that ensures that the GI bill is 
available to veterans for life.
  After Nevada was ranked second among States with the highest rate of 
veteran suicides and was experiencing a doctors' shortage, I authorized 
a new law that gives veterans more access to mental healthcare services 
and treatment.
  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Chairman Isakson, 
Ranking Member Tester, Senate leadership, and this administration to 
enact laws that provide our veterans with the support and benefits they 
are owed.
  While we have made progress, we can and must do even better. It is my 
hope that the next Congress--Republicans and Democrats--can continue to 
work together to get things done for our veterans.

[[Page S7536]]

  Now, on another topic--tax reform--when I delivered my maiden speech 
on the floor of the Senate, Nevada was struggling after being knocked 
down by the great recession--a time when Nevada led the Nation in home 
foreclosures and when we had double-digit unemployment. Today, Nevada 
is leading the Nation in private sector job growth, the housing market 
has recovered, and home prices are increasing. Now we are one of the 
fastest growing States in the Nation.
  Nevada is booming. It is because this Congress delivered tax cuts 
that put more money in America's paychecks, their pocketbooks, and 
their pensions, and we advanced pro-growth policies that have led to 
more jobs, higher wages, and more opportunities for Nevadans.
  As a Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, I am proud to have 
authorized and authored several provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 
that include, for example, not limiting but doubling the child tax 
credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. Since the law was enacted, tens 
of thousands of jobs in the State of Nevada have been created. 
Recently, Nevada's unemployment rate hit a new 11-year low--the lowest 
rate since the 2008 economic downturn. As a result of this new law, 
tens of thousands of Nevadans have benefited from bonuses, raises, and 
expanded benefits, on top of bigger paychecks and strengthened 
  To give you a couple of examples, South Point Hotel and Casino 
doubled its full-time workers' bonuses. Developers of a stalled project 
on the Las Vegas Strip committed to creating over 10,000 jobs, and the 
Prospect Hotel in Ely gave its employees bonuses and raised its 
starting wages. All of this was a direct result of the tax reform bill.
  Nevada's economy is back on track, and I hope this Congress will 
continue to advance policies to keep us on that path to help Nevada 
workers and the hard-working families get ahead.
  Let me move on. Since coming to Washington, DC, my No. 1 focus has 
always been the people of Nevada and putting our State's priorities 
first. For example, I worked with Senator Martin Heinrich from New 
Mexico to level the playing field for the development of new, 
alternative energy technologies to support Nevada's energy 
  Earlier this year, I was proud to host the bipartisan annual Lake 
Tahoe Summit, and I worked with Senator Feinstein throughout my career 
to deliver resources to protect the Tahoe Basin and to fight 
devastating wildfires.
  When Congress came together to approve a 5-year highway bill, I was 
able to secure my top infrastructure priority, and that was to expand 
Interstate 11 up to Northern Nevada.
  Whether it is leading the Republican charge to extend unemployment 
benefits in 2014, when Nevada's unemployment rate was nearly double 
what it is now, or breaking with my party to pass the Violence Against 
Women Act, I have always been willing to work with anyone who has good 
ideas to help move Nevada's families and Nevada's communities forward.
  While I am pleased that I have been able to work with my colleagues 
to turn these ideas into over 100 pieces of legislation that are now 
law, this job is about more than advancing good policies. It is about 
helping people, and that is what is most important. I work for 
Nevadans, and when someone comes to me with a problem or calls one of 
my offices for help, we drop everything we do and all that we do in an 
effort to help them.
  When the VA refused to pay a homeless veteran $40,000 after he won 
his appeal, we made sure the veteran got paid so he could get back on 
his feet.
  When a constituent had a liver transplant and was denied coverage and 
left without insurance, he enrolled into the marketplace exchange. When 
the time came to reenroll, the exchange denied him and forced him to go 
without insurance until my office intervened.
  Take, for example, a woman who came to us after being charged a 
Medicare penalty of about 40 percent each month. My staff worked with 
the local and regional offices to secure reimbursement of $1,000 and to 
adjust the monthly premium to save that constituent, potentially, 
thousands of dollars.
  When a constituent spent 9 months trying to get her Social Security 
retirement benefits, we were able to get her a resolution to properly 
begin receiving her payment.
  Finally, when a Navy veteran was in jeopardy of losing his home while 
he was temporarily out of work, we contacted the lender of his mortgage 
on his behalf and ensured that he was able to keep his home.
  These are just a few examples of what this job is really all about--
making life better for people you work for. I know that I am not alone. 
I truly believe that this is what drives all Members of Congress, and 
that is to serve their constituents--no matter your party, no matter 
your State, no matter what you did before you got here.
  Before I got here, I grew up with two parents and five siblings who, 
like Nevadans, embodied the ``battle born'' spirit. I would like to pay 
tribute not only to my family, friends, and mentors who have helped me 
along the way but to all of my constituents by talking a little bit 
about what makes Nevada different.
  Nevadans are pioneers. They are not afraid to take risks, to dream, 
to put in hard work, or to start from scratch. We are self-starters, we 
are builders, and we are trailblazers. We laid down tracks to connect 
railroads and mined for gold and silver in the north. We shoveled mud, 
drilled through rocks, and scaled concrete to construct the Hoover Dam, 
and in the Mojave Desert we created the Entertainment Capital of the 
  One characteristic outsiders may overlook is this: We are fighters. 
There is no other event in our history that best serves as an example 
of that trait than the aftermath of the October 1 mass shooting in Las 
Vegas, a tragedy that truly shook our State.
  I have spoken before on the Senate floor about the incredible and 
heroic people who helped to lead concertgoers and, in turn, the whole 
community, out of that darkness. Whether these individuals wore 
uniforms or not, they stepped up to help others, and their actions 
helped us grieve and start to heal together.
  This immeasurable pain, suffering, and devastation inflicted by one 
man elicited a profound, innate, and immediate human response from 
Nevadans across the State.
  Like many Nevadans, I saw firsthand the strong sense of family, 
faith, and strength in the wake of the October 1 shooting. When I leave 
here, I will carry those extraordinary moments of unity and generosity 
with me.
  During the 1989 inaugural address, Former President George H. W. Bush 
once said:

       We know what works: Freedom works. We know what's right: 
     Freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and 
     prosperous life for man on Earth: through free markets, free 
     speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will 
     unhampered by the state.

  Regardless of what party affiliation you have, I still think we can 
all agree with those words. We can all agree that we are fortunate to 
live in a great country defended by men and women who stand guard to 
defend our way of life. We can all agree we are fortunate to live in a 
great country in which every aspiration or dream is possible to 
achieve. We can all agree that this is because freedom works, and that 
freedom is right.
  No, not everything comes easy, and I would be lying if I said others 
didn't have to fight harder than some. But that job you want to get, 
that school you want to get into, that business you want to start, or 
that idea that you would like to see come to life is possible in 
America. This is a country where the son of an auto mechanic and a 
school cook had the opportunity to deliver the newspaper to then-
Governor Michael O'Callaghan, go to Sunday school with then-Lieutenant 
Governor Harry Reid's sons, get his education at the same public high 
school as the late Senator Paul Laxalt, play basketball with Governor 
Brian Sandoval, and a place where that same kid can grow up and serve 
Nevada in the U.S. Senate.
  My goal always has been making Nevada a better place today than it 
was yesterday. It is a better place to raise a family--not only one 
where you can find a job but a place where you can have a long-term 
  I would like to end with this. My daughter Hillary and her husband

[[Page S7537]]

adopted a young child from China. She was abandoned as an infant at a 
bus station. Her name is Ava. She was raised in an orphanage for the 
first 2 years of her life.
  When my daughter and her family first met Ava, she did not cry when 
she was hungry. She did not cry when she was tired. She did not cry 
when she needed to be changed, and she did not cry when she was hurt. 
Why? Because it didn't matter; she was always on someone else's time. 
But she did cry when they took her shoes off to put her to bed. You 
see, in an orphanage, kids sleep with their shoes on so they don't get 
lost. Ava, at 2 years of age, had never slept without her shoes on.
  Now, she did cry the first time when they bathed her in a tub of 
water. In an orphanage, you take cloth baths. So Ava had never been in 
a bathtub. Today, when Ava falls, someone is there to pick her up. 
Today, when she cries, someone is there to wipe away the tears. Today, 
when she is hungry, someone is there to feed her. Today, when she is 
tired, there is always someone there to tuck her into bed.
  When Ava grows up in this country, there will be plenty of doors that 
she can open that would otherwise have been closed. I will never forget 
seeing my newest granddaughter in the arms of the Vice President, 
knowing that her life had changed forever.
  This is the job at hand, to uphold this country's longstanding 
reputation as the land of opportunity.
  I an optimist, and I will remain one after leaving this great Chamber 
because I have seen remarkable moments here in Washington. This body 
has come a long way from its early days when Henry Clay, Daniel 
Webster, and John Calhoun were navigating a divided nation and fighting 
to save our young democracy. I believe that our Nation's future is 
bright, and that Nevada's future is bright. My heart has been and 
always will be in Nevada, a State that I love and a place that I am so 
proud to call home.
  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for you.
  Thank you, Madam President.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority whip.
  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, I can say with great confidence that 
Nevada and the Senate and the country are better for Dean Heller's 
service to our Nation. We know Dean is a smart guy. He is so smart that 
when I was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 
2010 and was trying to get him to run for the U.S. Senate, he declined 
to do so, only to then run in 2012 and, obviously, he succeeded.
  I know there are many others who would like to speak and pay tribute 
to Dean, and I won't take but a moment.
  Of course, one of the things I remember most about Senator Heller is 
his optimism. I also particularly appreciate his comment about things 
he has done to help ordinary Nevadans that do not involve major pieces 
of legislation. He certainly played a part in major legislation like 
the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but Dean's efforts to also pass legislation 
like the SAFER Act, which helps our law enforcement agencies reduce the 
rape kit backlog--Dean's efforts on the Federal level, coupled with 
State level reforms, played a role in making it possible for nearly 
8,000 untested sexual assault kits in Nevada to be sent to labs for 
  Dean's commitment to our veterans led to his bill, the Veterans 
Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act.
  I appreciate his reminding us that sometimes the most important work 
we do is what we call casework. When veterans come to us and say ``I am 
not getting access to the healthcare that I have earned by virtue of my 
military service'' or when a senior says ``I am not getting my Social 
Security benefits'' or sometimes when people contact us and say ``I 
have relatives who can't enter the country because they can't get a 
visa''--these are the kinds of things that people will never forget. 
They are the sorts of acts of individual kindness and generosity that, 
with a true attitude of public service, people will never forget. 
Sometimes these efforts amount to some of the most meaningful work that 
we can do and that our staff can do.
  So I have every confidence that we will see and hear a lot more from 
Dean and Lynne, no matter what they do. It is clear to me that Dean has 
his priorities right: family first, faith, and then service to our 
  Dean, we are going to miss you, but we look forward to staying in 
touch with you and Lynne, as friends do, and we wish you all the luck. 
Given your talent for working on cars, which is one of the things I 
think is particularly noteworthy, you will be my first call if I need 
my transmission fixed.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. ISAKSON. Madam President, as chairman of the Veterans Committee, 
for the last 4 years I have had the privilege of working with Dean 
Heller from Nevada.
  In his opening remarks in his farewell speech, he spoke about his 
compassion for veterans. I have seen it up close and personal. His 
value as a member of that committee to me is invaluable. I could not 
have had a better member.
  We had a lot of tough votes that had to be taken. A lot of times I 
had to count noses, and I knew I could count on him when it got to 
committee. This is a guy you could count on 100 percent of the time, 
every day.
  He cares about what he is doing. He knows what he is doing. He is an 
affable person who is fun to be with, even if you disagree on things. 
Dean is one of a kind, in my opinion, and someone I am very proud to 
have served with on the committee. I wish he were going to be there for 
my last 2 years as chairman so that I could count on him a little bit 
  Dean is the real deal. He is the guy you can put money in the bank 
on. He has helped a lot.
  I wish him the very best. His service to the country is invaluable. I 
served with him in the House and in the Senate. For the whole 20 years 
he has been here, I have been here too. I have seen him in countless 
tough votes. Whether it is Part D of Medicare or whatever it might be, 
he has always been there to be counted on.
  He has stood up for the State of Nevada, whether the issue was 
nuclear energy, nuclear storage, nuclear waste, or nuclear bombs.
  Nevada is a great State. This is a great Senate, and we have a great 
country. One of the reason we do is we have great individuals like Dean 
  God bless you, and I wish you the best.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Madam President, I wish to associate myself with the 
comments of my colleague from Georgia, Senator Isakson, who chairs the 
Veterans Affairs Committee.
  I have the privilege of chairing the Senate Commerce Committee. 
Senator Heller has been a very active and important voice on our 
committee on countless issues. Our committee has a very broad, wide 
jurisdiction. We heard him speak about his passion for veterans, and 
everybody knows that and how hard he has worked to make life better for 
veterans in the State of Nevada. But I would say, also, on issues like 
rural broadband and transportation, many of which, as I said, fall 
under the jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce Committee, I can't think 
of anybody who has been more passionate, more representative of his 
State and his people, more conscientious, more hard-working, and, 
frankly, just rock solid when it comes to the way he stands up for and 
represents the State of Nevada here in the U.S. Senate.
  So I, too, am going to miss him and his voice and his excellent work 
and that of his staff on the Senate Commerce Committee. As those who 
have spoken before me have said, we know that his contributions not 
only to the people of Nevada but also to the people of this country 
will continue because he is someone who not only has great talent but 
also tremendous character.
  As I think about the future that he and Lynne are going to enjoy, 
hopefully it will include a little more time together and more time 
with those grandkids, which we talk about all the time.
  The other thing I appreciate about Dean Heller is that no matter how 
tough the going was, he always had a smile on his face. People talk 
about his optimism. That is a virtue that, to me, really matters around 
here. We deal

[[Page S7538]]

with weighty and serious issues. It is important that we see the 
lighter side and that we appreciate the humor in what we do, too; that 
we approach it with a sense of purpose but also a sense of optimism. 
That is always evident whenever you encounter Dean Heller in any 
circumstance. The thing I think I will miss the most about him is that 
whenever I see him, I see that smile, and I appreciate that.
  I wish him and Lynne and his family the best in the days ahead. I 
thank him for his great work here, and I thank his family for the 
sacrifice they have made to enable him to be here to represent Nevadans 
in the U.S. Senate.
  So, Senator Heller, God bless you and your family in the days ahead.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
  Ms. CORTEZ MASTO. Madam President, like my colleagues, I, too, want 
to honor and express my gratitude to my friend and colleague, Senator 
Dean Heller.
  Most people don't know that he has spent 30 years serving the great 
State of Nevada. I have heard everyone talk about how Dean loves 
Nevada. There is no doubt that if you just have an initial conversation 
with Dean Heller, you will learn about Nevada and his love for Nevada 
and why it is a wonderful place to live.
  He has advocated for the people of Carson City as a member of our 
Nevada State Assembly. He served as Nevada's secretary of state, where 
he made Nevada the first State in the Nation to adopt paper records for 
electronic voting machines.
  In Congress, Dean has fought tirelessly on behalf of our Nation's 
veterans, as we have heard, first as a Representative for Nevada's 
Second Congressional District and then as a United States Senator. I 
have watched Dean and have had the honor to work with him now across 
the aisle.
  When I first came to the Senate as a junior Senator, he warmly 
welcomed me. We had a conversation about how we could work together--
although we don't see eye to eye on everything, but how we could work 
together for the best interests of the State of Nevada. He made a 
commitment then, and he followed through on that commitment.
  So together we have worked to do so many things on behalf of the 
great people of the State of Nevada. We worked on critical 
infrastructure. He has worked to support our local law enforcement and 
fund programs, as you have heard, for veterans and seniors and low-
income families.
  We also found common ground, just as Nevadans expected us to do, and 
introduced bipartisan legislation to protect our public lands in 
eastern Nevada while also prioritizing long-term economic growth in our 
rural communities. I have also worked with him and watched Dean as he 
worked on domestic violence prevention and human trafficking prevention 
in the State of Nevada.
  We have had the opportunity, not just here in Washington but in our 
home State, to work side by side to stop any attempts to revive Yucca 
Mountain. We introduced bipartisan legislation requiring the Secretary 
of Energy to obtain the written consent of the Governor and impacted 
local Tribal communities before building a nuclear waste repository.
  As you have heard, Dean and I also shared an unfortunate, horrific 
incident on October 1--the deadly shooting in Las Vegas. He and I were 
on the ground, along with our entire delegation, to do everything we 
could in our community, and Dean was everywhere. He was talking to so 
many people, thanking the first responders, stopping by the hospitals, 
talking with the families. It truly was his commitment to his home 
State to do everything he could to help that community heal, and he 
continues to do so today.
  The one thing I do know as a Nevadan born and raised, just like Dean, 
is that when it comes to our beloved State, it is about putting that 
State first, the people there, and uniting and coming together to make 
sure that we are working together. No matter the climate, no matter the 
partisanship that we see here in Washington, it is about what we can do 
every single day to work together, and I thank him for that commitment. 
I thank him for his willingness to bring this junior Senator in and 
have conversations about how we can work together to the benefit of our 
  I want to thank Senator Heller for everything he has done over the 
years on behalf of the State of Nevada, for his decades of service, and 
for his friendship. I wish you and Lynne and your beautiful children 
and grandchildren the best in this chapter of your life. I know you are 
not done. We are all excited to see what is next.
  So I thank you, my friend, and I look forward to working with you in 
the future as well. Thank you for your commitment.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Florida.
  Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, before I speak on the topic that I came 
to the floor to speak about, which is the resolution currently before 
the Senate, I wanted to just echo the commentary made about our 
colleague Senator Heller. I have enjoyed our time working together.
  I spent 6 years of my childhood growing up in Las Vegas, so we have a 
lot of mutual friends. He knows a lot of the people I grew up with and 
is a part of our family. He will be sorely missed here. I am sure he 
will be warmly welcomed back home to the community and to his family. 
We all look forward to seeing the future endeavors lying ahead for him. 
I know he still has much to offer the Nation and the State of Nevada.

                              S.J. Res. 54

  Madam President, one of the things that makes service in the Senate 
meaningful is when we get to discuss big issues of great importance. I 
want to start by thanking the authors of this War Powers Resolution on 
Yemen because, while I may not agree with it--and I am going to 
describe why in a moment--I think it is important that the Senate have 
big debates about big topics and play its rightful role. The Senate and 
the legislative branch have an important role to play in setting the 
foreign policy of the United States.
  I actually don't think the War Powers Act is constitutional. I 
believe it is an unconstitutional restraint on the power of the 
Commander in Chief, and even if it were constitutional, I do not 
believe that our engagement, or what we are doing in Yemen with the 
Saudi UAE coalition, rises to a level of triggering it.
  That doesn't mean that Congress should not be involved. Frankly, the 
one way to be involved if you wanted to, if you wanted to pronounce 
yourself on a matter of this topic, you should file to cut off the 
money. I wouldn't support it, but that is where Congress's power really 
comes from. Shut off the money; say that no money can be spent on this 
effort. Few people are willing to do that, so we rely on these other 
mechanisms that exist in our law.
  But I want to talk more about why I think it is bad idea to vote for 
this and why I hope more of my colleagues will join me in opposing it.
  First of all, I understand what is happening. This resolution is not 
new; it has been discussed before. It existed for a number of months, 
well before Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi's brutal murder 
at the Saudi consulate in Yemen. So this is not a new issue, but it has 
become for many Members proxy--a vehicle by which they can express 
displeasure at the way the administration and the President have 
responded to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.
  I think what has happened to Mr. Khashoggi is an outrage. I don't 
need a smoking gun or an intelligence briefing to tell me that the 
Crown Prince is responsible.
  If you know anything about Saudi Arabia, if you know anything about 
how their government works, and if you know anything about the Crown 
Prince, you know that there is no way that 17 guys close to him get on 
an airplane, fly to a third country, chop up a guy in a consulate, 
dispose of the body, and fly back, and he didn't know anything about 
it. It is just not real.
  It is also consistent with a pattern of behavior by the Crown Prince. 
He literally kidnapped the Prime Minister of Lebanon about a year and a 
half ago. He has jailed multiple members of his family and government 
because they weren't in support of his being the successor to the King. 
This is a pattern of behavior that needs to be dealt with. I do not 
believe dealing with it requires us to shatter the Saudi-U.S. alliance.
  Foreign policy is hard because it must be infused with our values and

[[Page S7539]]

the defense of human rights. And I say this with humility--I hold my 
record up to that of anyone in this Chamber when it comes to fighting 
on behalf of human rights and humanitarian causes, and we have a lot of 
great champions of that in the U.S. Senate. But we also have to 
recognize that this has to be balanced sometimes with realism, and it 
requires us to make difficult decisions.
  The interesting thing about foreign policy is that it is often not a 
choice between a great idea and a bad idea; it is often a choice 
between two less-than-ideal outcomes, and you are trying to figure out 
which one would do the least harm and make the most sense. In many 
ways, that is what we are facing here in this debate about the Saudi-
U.S. alliance.
  I have long recognized and condemned the horrifying human rights 
violations that occur at a systemic level in Saudi Arabia, and I will 
continue to do so. But I also recognize that there is a threat in the 
Middle East posed by Iran and their ambitions that must be confronted, 
and it must be confronted now, regionally, or eventually it will pull 
the United States into direct conflict. Saudi Arabia and our alliance 
is a key part of that coalition, so it would be a mistake to shatter 
  In the case of Yemen, this has become a proxy issue for the broader 
issue of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Hopefully later today, there will 
be a resolution offered by the chairman of the Foreign Relations 
Committee and the majority leader--I hope others will join in--that 
makes very clear that the vast majority of Members in this Chamber 
condemn what happened to Mr. Khashoggi and hold the Crown Prince 
responsible for his murder.
  There is no disputing that what is happening in Yemen is a horrifying 
humanitarian tragedy. The numbers speak for themselves. Over 57,000 
human beings have lost their lives. Half the country's population of 28 
million people is starving to death, including many women and children, 
and 2.3 million people have been displaced from their homes. It is 
horrifying, and there is plenty of blame to go around, including Iran 
and their Houthi surrogates.
  The first question I would ask is, If this resolution passes and were 
to become law, would it end this conflict? If we pass this and the 
White House were somehow forced to do what we are asking them to do, it 
wouldn't end this conflict. This conflict will continue, this fight 
will continue, and the reason why is pretty straightforward: The Saudis 
view the Houthis as agents of Iran. They already see agents of Iran via 
Hezbollah, Syria, and Iraq obviously for a long time in Lebanon, and 
now, to their west and south, Yemen. They are not just agents of Iran. 
They have launched rockets and ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, at 
their civilian populations, including efforts to kill members of the 
Saudi royal family and government leadership. They have threatened 
global shipping in the region, where over 400 million barrels of oil a 
day transit--critical to the world's energy supplies. So they are going 
to have a war. There is no way Saudi Arabia or the UAE or any of these 
countries are going to allow themselves to be encircled by Iranian 
  This conflict will continue irrespective of what we do, and the 
Saudis will have no problem buying weapons. One of the sad facts about 
the world today is that countries have plenty of sources from which 
they can buy this weaponry and plenty of countries and arms dealers who 
are willing to sell it to them.
  Will this resolution, if it passes, end the suffering? The answer, 
sadly, is no, it will not. In fact, it is the Houthis who have blocked 
the two access roads that lead to the port, making it difficult to 
deliver aid. It is the Houthis who have placed mines at the entrance of 
the port. It is the Houthis, by the way, who are torturing people--
torturing people. We have seen reports of faces being smashed by 
batons, of people hanging from chains by their genitals and by their 
wrists for weeks in places, people being scorched with acid. That is 
the Houthis. That will continue.
  Will this end the warfare? It will not. It will not end the warfare. 
In fact, I think it has the potential to trigger broader warfare.

  First of all, it won't end the warfare because right now they are 
having peace talks. Put yourself in common sense for a moment, and ask 
yourself: If you are the Houthis and you just read in the newspaper 
that now the U.S. Senate has voted to end support for Saudi Arabia--do 
you know what they are thinking? We don't need a peace deal; we might 
be able to win this thing now. They don't know that it is not going to 
become law, that the House is not going to take it up. They don't know 
any of that. They just read that the United States is weakening in its 
support of Saudi Arabia, and they think, we don't need a peace deal. It 
is going to embolden them to not strike a peace deal.
  But here is where I think it really gets dangerous. The United States 
stops its support of Saudi Arabia. Houthis establish more control and 
more stability in their control in areas of Yemen. What are they going 
to do then? Are they then going to go and rebuild the country, build 
roads and bridges, and move on to an era of prosperity and peace? They 
are not. They are going to become what they are but in an expanded 
way--agents of Iranian influence and of Iranian-sponsored violence.
  Here is what you can expect to see if the Houthis establish control 
of key areas of Yemen and are able to reach a stalemate or, worse, are 
able to solidify their grip on power: You are going to see hundreds of 
ballistic missiles launched against Saudi Arabia--missiles that, by the 
way, in a contingency where there is a crisis between the United States 
and Iran, would also be able to target American service men and women 
serving in the region. You are going to see these explosive UAVs that 
they have already used in attacking Saudi Arabia.
  Do you know what Saudi Arabia is going to do in response? They are 
going to hit them back even harder. In fact, they may even hit Iran, 
triggering an even broader war. And it gets worse. It gets worse 
because you can also see them using explosive boats and anti-ship 
missiles to cut off shipping lanes in the Arabian Gulf. At that point, 
you will see the U.S. Navy called upon to go in there and reopen 
shipping because the global energy supply is relying upon it, and the 
world looks to the United States as a guarantor of the freedom of the 
  In essence, this could very well lead, in the long run, to an even 
broader and more dangerous conflict that could involve us and could 
pull us in. That is the way we need to think about these issues--not 
just what is before us now. You have to think two or three steps ahead, 
and two or three steps ahead is that this could become a broader 
conflict that forces us in.
  Imagine it for a moment. We know for a fact that Iran's plans are to 
use surrogates to attack the United States in instances of a crisis. 
That is why these Shia militias in Iraq are so dangerous. At a moment's 
notice, they could decide they are going to start attacking American 
troops in Iraq, and Iran is going to say: It wasn't us; it was the Shia 
militia. That is why Hezbollah in Syria is so dangerous. That is why 
Lebanese Hezbollah is so dangerous. That is why they have cells all 
over the world ready to be activated at a moment of crisis as an 
asymmetrical way for Iran to attack the United States without direct 
attribution. And now we are going to give them one more--the Houthis in 
Yemen to target our service men and women and our allies in the region, 
and then we will have to respond, and then we will be in a war 
involving American service men and women.
  Nothing we are doing now guarantees that won't happen anyway, but I 
am telling you that if we pull out of this effort, it makes it likely. 
I think it makes it likely that we will see a broader conflict in the 
very near future that will directly involve the United States of 
  On this final point, I will say that it is important for us to think 
about these things pragmatically because we lose our influence over the 
conduct of this war. The Saudi authorities and their military do not do 
a good job of respecting the rules of war. In fact, they have a 
military culture in Saudi Arabia where you are more likely to get 
punished for not taking the shot than for blowing up a bus full of 
children or hitting a residential project.

[[Page S7540]]

You are more likely to be punished for not taking the shot than for 
taking the shot that kills innocents. That has to change, and we have 
some level of influence now, given the fact that we are engaged with 
them, to sort of steer them in that direction and explain to them what 
troubles our alliance here in Washington. We lose that influence if we 
walk away.
  I do sympathize with the two points behind this resolution: 
reasserting congressional authority on foreign policy--I agree we need 
to have more oversight and engagement, and I agree that the conduct of 
this war in Yemen is horrifying and that what is happening to civilians 
there is terrible. I just don't think our pulling out makes it better. 
I actually think it makes it worse, and I actually think that in the 
long run, it sucks America into a much broader and more dangerous 
conflict. That is why I hope more Senators here today will oppose this 
  We do need to send a clear message to Saudi Arabia that what the 
Crown Prince did to Mr. Khashoggi is unacceptable, but this is the 
wrong way to do the right thing.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I know I was supposed to speak next, but 
I know the distinguished Senator from Missouri has a unanimous consent 
request, so I yield to him.
  Mr. BLUNT. I thank the Senator from Vermont.