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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 7, 2010 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

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to me i think i'm missing something but if you get a good education in education in the schools and then you do student teaching, that you will really -- if you're a student teacher, you are working with another teacher who can be a mentor. and then i was school board president. and we had the mentoring that was very important in every school and every young teacher who had a mentor went in and actually, you know, taped them in the classroom so that they could see what they were doing. and even the other teachers. it seemed to me there was an all of lot of continuing education and we had, you know, days of teacher training. i don't always know how good that was but teachers participated. it seems like to do all these things really -- the three things there probably should be done in school. and i know like stanford has a five-year program before they really get out.
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and i see ms. weingarten you were kind of shaking your head about the student teaching. >> i have both taught and practiced law. teachers -- and dr. ball said believe already. but there is -- in medicine, in law, in several other professions, the deliberateness of the training is much more intense than what you have in teaching. and so what you see in countries like finland and japan is the way in which -- finland spends a lot of time as the chairman said on the induction and recruitment and selection process of teachers. but what they do that is quite different than anything we do in
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the united states is the focus on teacher development in school when teachers get their in real time with real professional development. not off the shelf from someone else. and they do this by having teachers work together. it's expensive. because what you're doing is you're taking teachers together, working together, diagnosing what kids need. building on each other's practice, polishing the stone. thinking about the craft. in some ways like we do in ground rounds in medicine. like one does in a big law firm that i had -- you know, that i had the honor to work in. and that's how teachers really learn deeply to teach. but it costs a lot of money. and that's why a lot of school districts never, ever do it. >> what if you have the lsats for law and it's hard to get into medical school. do we need to raise the
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standards for getting into deegs start out with? -- education to start out with? >> it's both the issue of who comes in to teach. but i'm focused on -- regardless of who is there, how do we make them -- how do we help create the versatility both in terms of the content knowledge and in terms of the modes of transmission of teaching that congressman kildee talked about. and so ultimately, you know, what happens in finland is you have -- because of the value of teaching, you have some of the, quote -- you know, it has become the most attractive profession to go into. in the united states, that's not the case. but the emphasis on, congresswoman, it is a craft that you learn. that those of us -- and this is where i disagree with mr. winters. we are not that good. >> no, we're not ranked very
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well either. >> and even with my law degree and on law review and all of that, i was a biltering idiot the first weeks of school. it's the craft of learning with others and how to do things that dr. ball was talking about. and let me just finish by saying, we see good models throughout the country now. our real obstacle is how to create both the capacity and ability of that so that it's not individuals or individual schools, but how do we do that throughout the country? >> i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to all of you. i'd love to sit and have a long conversation with you because i really appreciate what you're saying.
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and maybe just picking up off ms. weingarten -- you're talking about the capacity. because one of the frustrations, i guess, that i've had in thinking about this and having been a former school board member a number of years ago, is that i don't think we have time to work on pilots throughout this country. and what i'm seeking is there something -- and i'm not looking for the silver bullet either. i think none of us are. as we reauthorize esca, language regarding evaluation that inspires and also provides for the kind of tools that local school districts can really pick up and use and that they can have some way of having some way of verifying what they're doing, you know, has some merit. i think the first question we have to ask sometimes is, do evaluations matter?
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i mean, do we actually see as student achievement improves in schools that have, you know, what we might call as close as possible to a kind of state-of-the-art evaluation. i don't know if any of those exist but maybe they do. and the question is, you know, what role does the evaluation process play in that? so looking at that issue. but then how can we do this because to me giving grants to schools, giving them an application process and demonstrating that they're doing -- i think it's going to be a little perhaps like national courts certification. and i've been a big champion of that and i love that idea of that in principalship but we know there are certain individuals who are going to seek that. and we have to reach everybody here. we can't just do that. so what is it that we need -- that we can do here in terms of evaluation because what i just keep feeling the push-back, you know, in whole or in part we
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don't want any link to test scores. well, local school districts control a lot of that, too. that's out of the hands of a lot of teachers but the way teachers prepare students for that to me would be more significant than the actual scores. help me out here. i'd love to be part of writing something that really makes a difference in this area. >> as chairman miller and i have had many a conversations about this and maybe -- we have broken new ground on this. but in january we talked before overhauling the teacher development and evaluation system. and having as a component of evaluation both teacher practice and teacher standards. but also student you learning. -- student learning. and students think about student learning such as standardized test scores and i think it much broader than that. but in your sense of urgency, we feel as well.
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but what we're trying to do here is create some good practice and some good templates so that actually districts and unions could use them. and some of the researchers who helped design the evaluation frameworks that we released that day said to us allow for modeling. don't come up with your own model. come up with frameworks that then districts and locals would use. and, in fact, what has happened since january is that we now have -- and we are about to submit an i-3 grant for 17 districts and local unions that are willing over the course of the next year to create this. we already have eight districts in new york and rhode island. and i see congresswoman mccarthy there. she's been very helpful in helping us figure this out. the goal is to create a tipping point.
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to use this coming school year and hopefully write a new esea a new overhaul on this so that we are looking at what practice works and what doesn't. and then how do we replicate the practice that works and jettison what doesn't work? and ultimately if a teacher is floundering how do we help that teacher? and if she doesn't make it, how do we weed her out of the profession? so if we had 25 or 50 pirates ability within the esea to really promote that within a year or two, then in three years from now, we will have totally revamped teacher evaluation, which i think is the critical measure, development and evaluation, to solving teacher quality. >> uh-huh. and what about -- i think that's fine. but everybody else, how do we -- how do we do something that in
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those three years, so we're not wasting that time, also create the opportunity for others to look at some of the things that you're doing. >> what is happening is that there's -- with race to the top and with this focus on teacher preparation and evaluation now, people are sharing information in the likes of which they have not had beforehand. but ultimately if we just focus on the single test scores just like right now, the antiquated 5-minute evaluations, we're not going to do any better in terms of teacher support than we're doing right now. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, ms. weingarten, for bringing up the very subject of competing with poverty. far too many of our nation's
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students go to school hungry or without proper medical care. many of them don't have someone at home to help with homework or a safe place to go after school. and i believe what you just said that schools and communities need to be able to offer these services to children and their families so that children are ready to learn when they enter the classroom. so we're talking about teachers. and how we ensure that the teachers are the most qualified, et cetera, et cetera. how can we -- how can we evaluate teachers that have wrap-around services available in their school districts with those who do not? i mean, what are we going to do? i mean, it's going to be the poor districts that need it the
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most that are going to have the hardest time getting these. i'll start with that. with you. if you have an answer. >> and congresswoman davis, i think in some ways said this, we have to build these planes and fly them at the same time. we don't have a choice as school teachers. and we have to help. so regardless a teacher gets the support she or he needs, regardless he has the support of principal. regardless -- you know, we can say regardless of all of this, every single day a teacher has to try to do her best to help create a connection and engagement with children. so there is a way. and i know the chairman and others have been talking about using growth models in terms of accountability as opposed to these -- as opposed to the current ayt and that may be helpful in terms of this.
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but what we're also proposing for esea is this notion of shared opportunity and 360-degree accountability. so that as part of an accountability system, if a school does not have some of the wrap-around services or programs that teachers believe kids need, that that is factored into accountability in some way, form or matter. but we can't for every school -- as much -- you know, as much as we yearn for kids to have these programs, we're not going to be able to wait for every school to have wrap-around programs for us to be able to focus on, you know, what teachers do -- can be be able to do and how we engage with kids. >> so would you take wrap-around programs and tell the members and everybody that's here what you consider the basics of a wrap-around program or will it
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that the same for every district or will they change depending on -- >> well, congressman hoyer has -- and i know you, congresswoman woolsey, has done this as well. you have bills with wrap-around communities and schools. what we have proposed is that there is a bucket of services that schools should be able to either access and coordinate with other not-for-profits. now, the race to the top has some of this as part of the promised neighborhoods. we've actually said, let's downsize that to actual schools. and so those services could include health services that could be paid for through the schip program. they could include social services. they could include after-school services. they could include in a high school services for parents. ell services. job development services.
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in order to start really bringing parents into the school. having a school open 20 hours a day, 18 hours a day so that the school is really the center of community. so some of these services, you know, let's say -- say you had 100 extra dollars, a school would then decide which service they could buy with $100. and maybe they couldn't buy all of it, but they would buy what was most necessary. >> okay. i have a question for you, mr. winters. what is an effective evaluation program. >> an example of one or what would one look like?3l >> what would one look like? i mean, i'm part of the experimental -- i think there's a lot of things we need to try. i think that -- i don't think the test scores alone, if that's where we're going -- i don't think the test scores alone are the way to go.cj7 i think the test scores are -- is -- you know, they are limiting and they are noisy.
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but they do provide some important information that should be used as part of the evaluation tools. i also think, you know, principal evaluations and even peer evaluations can play an important role in those kind of things. part of that -- there would need to be accountability on the principals and the peers to make sure they have the incentives to make the right decision business teachers as well. what all the correct weights of that are, i'm not sure. i think that's something for -- you know, we need to consider moving forward. but an evaluation system we have now, where 99% or a little bit less or a little bit more of teachers are rated as satisfactory or exceeding -- or excelling is by far off base of reality. >> i've used up my time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank the panel for being here today. i just want to say at the outset i really appreciate what you've
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had to say, ms. weingarten, about the out of school factors. something that i try to focus on since i was here beginning 2007. and i like the idea of schools that are community centers and we have a school in cedar rapids, iowa, taylor elementary school, that served that purpose quite well before the great flood of 2008 and they were inundated by a flood and coming back and doing that. and obviously it's important for the community as well when you get a wic program, for example, run out of a school, that sort of thing. so beyond what we think as normal school activities. i have some concerns about some of what appears to be assumptions today about sort of where we are already. and maybe part of that is because i'm from iowa. and maybe we take too much pride in what we already do in iowa. and how well we do it. i'm the first to admit that there may be some false pride there on my part for mothers.
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i'm sure, yeah, the chair likes to hear a me say that. i do have a question, dr. ball, you know, your own research. because -- and i like what congresswoman biggert said. there are programs that are in existence. they may be inadequate but there are student teacher programs. i want to ask you empirically and maybe you could forward some articles to me. i would love to see that. i was an academic before i became a congressman. i'm very interested in seeing the actual evidence in what we are lacking. if it is the case that this is true across the country or particular parts of the country, does it relate particularly to ses, are we talking race factors, ethnicity. what are we talking about when
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we talk about the inadequacy of teachers and the inadequacy of the teacher training programs. that seems to be the focus today. >> thank you. so your question has to do with what kind of evidence do we have about the inadequacy of our -- >> that would, in fact, demonstrate the problem as i see it that we're talking about today. the very central problem that we're talking about today. >> i think, in fact, it's true that an apprenticeship that we typically in the last 30 or 40 years referred to as student teaching, nobody has argued that's not a good idea. i'm not saying we shouldn't have student teaching. my claim is somewhat it's more detailed. it's what happened inside of student teaching or clinical experience. most programs, alternatives or higher ed programs provide field or clinical experience. but often they leave beginning teachers basically to experience on kids to get undetailed feedback from their mentors. mentors need to learn how to provide feedback to beginners.
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a physician who's a competent surgeon doesn't automatically know how to provide feedback to a medical student. and, in fact, medical schools do a lot of work to help people learn to do that. i'm describing the need to become much more deliberate as ms. weingarten said about how we would provide much more deliberate clinical training. right now what i would say we have is a situation where it's left somewhat to chance. all it really shows is does student teaching matter or not? and you can't get much out of that because it depends what happens in the student teaching. how good the teach is and whether the teacher is good giving skilled feedback. you know, why did that lesson not go well? that requires a real ability to be analytic about a teaching act and be able to tell a beginner here's where it went wrong. the research would show that most of the efforts to try to evaluate these things are too undetailed. and so we get very sort of messy, noisy results. and what i'm arguing in part by looking at other professions is that we need a system that much more deliberately and
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systematically -- that you could count on someone having initial training having learned particular things. so all the talk about assessments today, it's important to remember that although the assessments for both kids, of course, and for teachers need to be improved, that without the training to help people achieve when they're given those assessments -- children won't do better by being tested. my arguments for assessments is primarily it will drive -- i hope it will drive a greater appetite for much greater training. if we have really good assessments and experts believe that are valid with good training which we don't currently have. >> is there any concern by any of you on the panel that if we move forward in the direction i think many of us think we should move and including many of you on the panel, that we might have the same problem that some of us would argue we had with no child left behind. and we sort of create a
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situation where we have a one size fits all model, potential for one size fits all model. we come up with some kind of new law regulations, whatever, when it comes to training good teachers that it's not going to be nimble enough to deal with different parts of the country and different parts of the state or whatever the case may be? >> mr. loebsack is going to take his answer off the air. >> i can do that. >> on talk radio. we're going to go to mr. courtney and he will be the last questioner of this panel and the second panel and they will present their testimony and ms. clark who i believe is next. excuse me, the panel -- we would like an answer to mr. loebsack's question. but i've got to move along here or we're going to lose opportunities. yes, mr. courtney. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my question was probably somewhat in the same vein. obviously we've looked at the new haven contract in connecticut very closely read it cover to cover and applied the
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hard work that went into getting into that point where i think there is serious buy-in at both sides of the table in terms of of a new way of approaching things. and again, i guess my concern is, you know, looking at the blueprint which obviously is a very unfinished document and, you know, the devil is in the details when we get a bill here, i mean, are you comfortable with whether or not, you know, they mesh or whether or not the challenge of building and applying everything may end up sort of crashing the contract to future bluntly. >> building -- building a plane and flying it at the same time always has its -- you know, has its obvious problems. but i think in terms of education, we don't have a choice. because as dr. ball said, we are dealing with children every single day. and so what we have -- by
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suggesting a shaping in the blueprint by saying that evaluations are critically important but let's create some pilots so we can create a critical mass at the beginning of this process, that other districts can buy into, we think will actually for the first time change teacher quality fundamentally around the country. i think there are programs and congressman loebsack, i've seen programs in iowa that are absolutely terrific. and we've seen programs around the country that are actually terrific. development and evaluation like what happened in new haven. so ing36k an evaluation system not simply a gotcha system or a snapshot system. it is the way in which you deal with the training piece that we've all talked about that has been totally and completely inperfect in schools thus far. that's the big difference in
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terms of a change, a systemic change in schools. the point i'm making about new haven is that they did it through the vehicle of collective bargaining.fúw3yp so cf5%jut(r'ing became a force for change. and became a force for buy-in. and they did it through a collaborative model.fxy and they met every single deadline -- people were skeptical when the new haven contract was first negotiated. that it was just an agreement to have committees. what has happened instead is that theyn8j actually met every single deadline and that the evaluation plan that they came up with is a really good model throughout the country. so what we're -- what we would propose is to have an opportunity to incentivize pilots so that we would have good practice around the country that one could look at as opposed to what, unfortunately, happened with no child left behind.
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regardless of how laudatory the intent was that you saw bad practice. teaching to the test instead of focusing on learning. >> do you see that in the blueprint submitted by the secretary. >> that's why i'm saying we would -- you know, one of our recommendations is to change the piece of the blueprint that talked about evaluation. and to say, yes, of course, evaluations -- in our letter to the secretary last summer about race to the top, we said evaluation is the rosetta stone. it is the critical need to really rechange it, overhaul it. and then in january we came up with a proposal about how to do so. but what's happening around the country is that in the zeal to change evaluation systems, people are going and doing the easy route, which is to just look at one test score. so we've gone from one snapshot of a principal coming in for five minutes a year to one test
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score, neither one of them work. we need to have this thoughtful, deliberate process that really changes fundamentally evaluation. >> dr. ball, you look like you want to weigh? >> i think that's absolutely right. we have to have a system to promote efforts to have people better. while we can do things in the environment of schooling that certainly will matter, we have a very large teaching force and i tried to sketch it that we'll have a need for even more entrance. if we want to improve the quality of what kids are going to be getting in the immediate future, we have to immediately change the way we're approaching both initial training and the assessment processes so that we can build the system we want, not merely test whether it works or not. we actually have to create a system that works effectively for young people. if all we do is test and throw out all the things that's not working, we're not really getting -- we're not improving it and there's an urgent need to do that. i think these problems are
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inherently requiring of multiple forums of expertise and one thing that concerns me sometimes a distraction, and that is who has the expertise to solve these problems when, in fact, it requires working across higher ed, researchers, practicing teachers, teacher leaders, people in the unions. there are a lot of people for the expertise of the problems. and we try to locate for these problems, these problems are complicated. so i encourage you to produce language that corroborates that increase over what we've seen in the recent years. >> that's a very good place for this panel to end because we're going to call upon all of you to participate in the solving of this problem. thank you. and thank you very much for your testimony and for your -- for your time. i think it's clear from those who got an opportunity to ask the questions that you've given us a lot to think about here with respect to our professionalization of our teacher corps.
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>> the presidents got on the phone and said to me, judge, i would like to announce you as my selection to be the next associate justice of the united states supreme court. and i said to him -- i caught my breath and i started to cry. and said, thank you, mr. president. >> learn more about the nation's highest court through the eyes of those who serve there in c-span's latest book "the supreme court." pages of history, photos, and interviews with all the justices, active and retired. "the supreme court" available now in hardcover and also as an ebook.
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>> and live now to the floor of the u.s. senate where lawmakers are gaveling to resume work on financial regulation legislation. yesterday senators voted unanimously to require the fdic to alter how much banks contribute to a federal insurance fund for winding down insolent financial firms. other measures includes the creation of a consumer protection agency and a provision to regulate the derivatives market. no votes expected until next week. and now live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.
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eternal god, thank you for life's blessings that you give us from your open hand and heart. you've blessed us with the sun, the stars, the wind, the rain, the sea, the sky, the fields and forest. all of these gifts we too often take for granted. thank you for the members of this legislative body and the many other workers who serve you faithfully away from the spotlights. empower them to meet the challenges of our times with your providential power. strengthen them to perform faithfully and well the work you have assigned their hands to do. we pray in your great name. amen.
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the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, may 7, 2010. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable mark r. warner, a senator from the commonwealth of virginia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, president pro tempore. reid mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will resume consideration of the wall street reform bill. there are no roll call votes today.
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or on monday or on next friday. the following monday, though, we're taking a look at that, mr. president. that's now scheduled as a no-vote day. we may not be able to do that. there are some other things that have come up, not the least of which is a conversation with secretary gates yesterday about the supplemental war funding bivment we're going to do our utmost to finish this bill we're on now next week. we have today and all day monday for people to work on amendments. we hope that we can make some progress in that regard. yesterday there were a few difficult spots, but late evening we were able to get our senate back on track, and we had some important legislation done last night. and i repeat what i said last night. there doesn't need to be long periods of time for debating most of these issues. we've all studied them. this bill has been in the public
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eye for a long time. sherrod brown had a very, very controversial important amendment. i supported that amendment. but he spoke for five minutes, and the opposition spoke for five minutes. and everyone understood what they were doing. it was a good vote. i use that as an example. we can move through this stuff much more rapidly. we want to make senators have the opportunity to offer amendments. again, as i said yesterday, there are lots of amendments, but a lot of them are in the same area, and we need to focus on these. senator durbin has six amendments. he's acknowledged that he's going to offer one of his amendments. i think that's an example for all of us to follow. again, we ended the day on a good note. i think that's important. we have already lined up some things to do when we begin legislative session on use it day. but monday the two managers are ready to do business on work
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that they're doing. a number of these things can be worked out. the two people managing the banking part of this bill are longtime legislators. of this a handled many, many -- they've handled many, many bills on the senate floor, and they will accept a lot of these amendments. the derivatives part of this bill is, by some standards, a little more complicated. but i think the issues even there are fairly clear. senators lincoln and chambliss are ready to work with senators who have ideas as to how they want to change this legislation. and they're also ready for business. so i hope that people understand the urgency of our agenda. we have many things to do in a very short period of time. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the
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leadership time is reserved and the senate will resume consideration of s. 3217, which the clerk will report. the erk: calendar number 349, s. 3217, a bill to promote the financial stability of the united states by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system and so forth and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that it be in order for the senate to proceed en bloc to the consideration of the following calendar items. calendar 261, s. res. 297; calendar 262, s. res. 275; calendar 287, s. 1053, calendar 291, s. 1405, calendar 295, h.r. 689, calendar 297, h.r. 1121, calendar 300, h.r. 1442, calendar 305, h.r. 2802. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: thank you very much,
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mr. president. the presiding officer: the senate will proceed en bloc. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to en bloc, the preamble be agreed to en bloc, that the committee-reported amendments where ally cable be agreed to, the bill as amend, if amend, where ally cacialtion be read a third time and amendmented -- if aimed, that the consideration of these items appear separately in the record and that any statements relating thereto appear at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. reid: i suggest the absence of quo presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimo consent that the call of the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to consideration of h.r. 4848 the, the fema supplemental, federal emergency management agency. this amendment is at the desk. the amendment amendment in order be a reid amendment regarding federal lawsuits against the federal government. that the amendment be considered agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, that any statements relating to this matter appear at the appropriate place in the record as if given. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer:
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i rise today to speak on the bill before us. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. corker: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i knee john mccain from arizona has come down and offered an amendment on fannie and freddie, or g.s.e.'s, as we call them. and i want to come down today and speak on that amendment. i know that i've worked with our presiding officer on big pieces of this bill, and i very much appreciate the spirit with which we've worked on this bill. i think that all of us know that there are pieces of this bill that are very, very appropriate,
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the orderly liquidation title that the presiding officer and myself and senator dodd and senator shelby and i have been involved in is an important piece of this lesmtion i think all of us realize secondarily that the derivatives title, once it getted corrected and in the right form, is a very, very important piece dealing with what we have just dealt with over these last couple of years. certainly some elements -- consumer protection -- are very important. hypocrite that we're able to get tbhak in balance. i -- i hope that we're able to get that back in balance. as with any piece of legislation that we pass here, sometimes we take a crisis and we use it to cause things to happen that don't necessarily have to do with the crisis itself, and i certainly believe that is the case with some of the expanse as it relates to consumer protection. but the fact is, look, i think the orderly liquidation title is something that's a useful tool. hopefully we'll get the derivatives title right and we'll no longer have a situation
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where people are hugely money-bad and don't settle up on a daily basis and post margins and end up in a situation we're a all too familiar with, as it relates to a.i.g. but, mr. president, there are still three areas that i think we have not dealt with that i think are very appropriate. one of them is underwriting, and i hope the presiding officer and others here will be able to work together and come up with an appropriate underwriting title. at the base -- in the core of this whole crisis, the fact is, what generated this worldwide crisis was the fact that a bunch of bad loans were written that should have never been written, and this bill does nothing whatsoever -- nothing, zero -- to deal with loan underwriting. and, to me, that's a huge oversight. and i'm hoping the senator from connecticut, the senator from virginia, the senator from alabama, many of us will figure out a way to zeal with in an appropriate way. i have an amendment. it is an approach.
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i'm hoping that over the course of the next week and a half we'll figure out some way of dealing with the core issue during this last crisis, which no doubt was just the fact that we wrote a bunch of loans -- our country did -- a bunch of mortgages were extended to people who could not pay them back. second, credit rating agencies were at the core of this. i know we'll deal with credit rating agency by virtue of a pleading standard making sure they are more liable for some of the recommendations they put forth. it's my sense that what's going to happen by addressing it that way is the smaller firms that are just entering the market that would like to be constructive as it relates to credit ratings basically are going to be pushed out of the market and the larger firms will be more consolidated or have more, a bigger piece of the business because they will be able to withstand some of the litigation that will take place,
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hopefully, if they make bad recommendations. but i think there's probably other ways of looking at this, and i know there's people in this body on both sides of the aisle that constructively are trying to figure out a way to deal with that. but the one glaring, glaring, glaring piece is tpa*epb ni and tpr*ed -- is fannie and freddie. i think one of the reasons we as a body haven't dealt with fannie and freddie is they're huge. they're a big part of the market. the housing industry is very dependent upon them. and there hasn't been a consolidation around what most works to move them away from being such a big piece of the market and such a huge liability for our country. that's why i so much like the amendment that john mccain has put forth, from arizona. i know he worked with judd gregg and others. but what is outstanding about his amendment is -- there are two things.
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number one, the fact is that we actually have to be honest with the american people about the cost, the liabilities that we're picking up as it relates to the g.s.e.'s. each year budgetarily we'll have to allocate moneys for the actual liabilities that exist here. i think that's a good thing. i think that's a very important step. there will be some transparency into what these organizations actually are costing our country. i think all of us realize that fannie and freddie are a huge problem, and we need to deal with it. so the second piece of the mccain amendment that i like so much is it puts in place dates certain by -- dates, a certain time by which we have to as a body have dealt with them. and i think one of the things i worry about -- it's really, again, pretty hard to believe that we haven't thoughtfully figured out a way to deal with g.s.e.'s at the time of passage right now. what i worry about is this bill
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passes and we move on to other topics and still have these huge issues that our country needs to deal with, that we know are out of control, that have done incredibly terrible jobs in underwriting and basically have missions that counter each other. i mean, the fact is it has a social mission, it has a business mission. we tried to put those together, and it just hasn't worked. we all know we've got to deal with that in a different way. what the mccain amendment would do is just ensure that we deal with it. sometimes again, we move beyond a crisis, we start thinking about other things, and then we have these festering problems that have not been dealt with. so let me say this. i'm being pretty honest right here on the floor. i realize none of us have come up with a silver bullet answer on what to do exactly with the g.s.e.'s. how do we move them into the private market without totally disrupting what's happening right now, with them being such
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a huge part of what's happening. the mccain amendment would just make sure that by a date certain we deal with it and we can do so incrementally. so i know that some people on the other side of the aisle might take the mccain amendment as a major criticism. i don't. i just look at it as a way for us to move ahead. so i hope that my friends on the other side of the aisle will actually look at the substance. i think it's thoughtful. i really do. i think it's something that, that, you know, allows us to start accounting for it. but then within a date certain period of time, within the next couple of years we will have had to deal with fannie and freddie or some draconian things will occur, no doubt. but i hope the senator from virginia, the senator from connecticut, missouri, new mexico, who are in this body today, i hope that we can move
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beyond any partisan thinking. and i will say this -- i think this body is, has done really well over the last week and a half. it's a complex piece of legislation. i think the senator from connecticut has tried to deal with this in a very good way on the floor. as a matter of fact, we had a vote last night that i think a lot of us were concerned about. and instead of somebody raising objection and trying to get us to a 60-vote threshold, we had a 51-vote threshold. i thought that was the best of this body last night. and i want to thank those in charge of he is according to this -- escorting this bill through the process for keeping it that wait a minute there could have been a motion to table. somebody could have asked for a 60-vote threshold. instead -- i know the senator from missouri is going to speak next, has been concerned about the processes here. and i join her in many of those concerns. but so far this process has been
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about the best that i've seen in some time. so as i move back to the mccain amendment, i know it's being offered by a republican. i don't offer criticisms at other side of the aisle for what's happened with the g.s.e.'s. let's face it, in fairness, both sides of the aisle have had a hand in these things being where they are. administrations on both sides of the aisle have used these g.s.e.'s towards their end. there is no question. i'm not trying to weigh which side is most responsible. but the mccain amendment, what it does is allow us to move ahead in a thoughtful way with these organizations. so, mr. president,lto i do urge my friends to please, please read the legislation. maybe there's a second-degree that's in order to make it even better. but i think it's a -- i really do believe it's a way for us to responsibly move ahead and deal
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with fannie and freddie in a way that needs to be dealt with. they cannot continue to exist as they are. everybody in this body knows that. the american people know that. let's deal with it. let's pass the mccain amendment. let's pass the mccain amendment with a tweak or two if that's necessary. but let's show the american people that we know it's a problem and that we have the ability to work across party lines to be able to do so. mr. president, i yield the floor. i tha all of you for listening. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? -- mrs. mccaskill: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i rise this morning in the cause of common sense in how the senate works. we have had so many delays on nominations this year, just as a quick review of where we stand, we've had over 51 roll call
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votes on president obama's nominations to serve in government under his presidency. of those 51 votes, over 80% of them were by overwhelming margins, yet they sat on the calendar for more than three months on average. overwhelming support, sitting on the calendar for three months on average. for comparison here, at the similar point in the bush administration, there were eight nominees on the calendar. right now we have 107 nominees on the calendar. as i look at the list, i am confused because most of the people on the list, we don't know why they're sitting there. we don't know who's making them sit there. enter stage left, the anonymous hold. or as i like to call it, nobody can blame me because they don't
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know who i am. there is a law that we passed that had a rule in it; very plain language, very easy to understand, that once a senator make a unanimous consent motion to confirm a nominee, then you've got to come out in sunlight. after six session days, after those nominations are made in terms of a unanimous consent motion for their confirmation, then the rule says that you must notify your party leader of your hold that you have on the nomination, and it has to be published in the "congressional record." so last week i came to the floor and made 74 unanimous consent nomination motions. now, who were those 74? this is the amazing part. this is really amazing. not one of the motions i made
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last week for unanimous consent had any opposition in committee. none. not a voice vote "no." no one spoke out and said "i have a problem." they flew out of committee, all 74 of them. but no one knows why they're sitting there or who's holding on to them. made the motion, and in the intervening week we've had a lot of activity in this regard. the first thing that happened is my friend from oklahoma followed the rule. he notified his party leader of the holds he had, and it was published in the "congressional record." he has a great habit of reading what we're doing around here. and when he read the rule, it was obvious to him that the rule said once the motion had been made, you say who your holds are. and he's never been afraid, my friend from oklahoma. haes never been afraid -- he has never been afraid to take
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accountability. i've seen him with great courage enrage this entire room because he had some principles he was standing on. he's a great role model in that regard. his principle stands, and he owns them. and that's all we're talking about here. we're talking about owning them. nobody in america gets why this stuff has to be secret. i know he's got an amendment that he wants to offer on secret spending, and i would like on the record to say i would like to join him in that amendment. the spending, the secret spending that goes on through the hotline process, he's absolutely right. publishing this stuff for 72 hours, he's absolutely right. but this practice is absolutely wrong. unlike his other colleagues, he stepped out of the dark and into the sunshine. but no one else did. so now, a week later, we still have 53 of those 74 names, and
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we have no idea who's holding them or why. some of them have been confirmed of the 74 since then. a few. and then i think that the senator from oklahoma identified a hold on five or six, i believe. six or seven. so now we still have 53 names that no one knows who is holding them and people who are avoiding the rule. i had somebody come up to me the other day and say there's no enforcement. i said who would have thought you'd have to make it a misdemeanor for a senator to identify their hold. they voted for the bill. the vote was 96-2. so they voted for it. they just don't want to live by it. today i come back to the floor with my colleagues, and there will be a number of us here, to once again try to trigger the rule. unanimous consent motions will be made.
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today we have 69 names. the 53 from last week that are still out in the dark somewhere. we don't know who's holding them or why. and additional names that have been added to the calendar since then. 64 of the 69 motions we'll make today, 64 of the 69 motions we'll make today had no opposition in committee. none. and as we will hear over the next hour or so, these are important jobs. national traffic safety board, the inspector general for the e.p.a. can you imagine right now not having an inspector general at the e.p.a. with what's going on in the gulf? so i am -- the other good news -- and let me just briefly talk about this. i'm going to yield to my colleague from colorado.
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we have a letter going around. and the letter is very simple. everyone who signs the letter is taking a pledge, public pledge that they will never again participate in a secret hold. and further, that they support abolishing secret holds. if you want to hold somebody, you've got to put your name on it. and i am very proud of the fact that we now have 59 signatures on that letter, both republicans -- a republican so far, two independents and all of the democrat, all of the democratic senators except one. i'm optimistic that we will get the last remaining democratic senator, senator byrd, since he cosponsored a resolution in 2003 along with senator wyden and grassley, who have done yeomen's work on this issue for years. the senator lott and senator byrd, along with senator grassley and senator wyden passed a resolution.
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sponsored a resolution back in 2003 to try to end secret holds. and here we are seven years later with 53 nominees in the dark after the rule has been triggered. so i am optimistic. i certainly am hopeful that we'll have a lot more republicans sign on the letter. i think we may have. the iceberg is moving. we may actually bust this thing up. i am wildly optimistic, which is an unusual thing around here about reform. it is hard to change the traditions of the senate, especially when they are bad habits. my colleague from oklahoma, he and i share the same view on earmarks and have tried from a principled position to not participate in those. i think that's also a bad habit. but clearly we've got a lot more people agreeing with us on secret holds than we do on earmarks. so i look forward to making these motions today. i look forward to the senators
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reading the rule, acknowledging it and putting their name on these secret holds. hold a nominee. if the senator from oklahoma is holding some nominees -- he's got the right to do that -- but the people we work for have the right to know why and who he is. that's all we're asking for today. we're ol' not asking anybody to give up their holds. we're only asking people to come out into the sunshine for the transparency that we all want to have as we serve the great people of this nation. t-and with that, for -- and with that, for the first unanimous consent motions, i will yield to my colleague from new mexico, senator udall. mr. udall: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. and i know the president -- our presiding officer today is also going to come forward and we hope to see him down on the floor, and i thank senator
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mccaskill very, very much for her organizational efforts, hers and senator warner's in working on this issue. this is a very, very serious issue for the senate in terms of how we move forward on the rules. i kind of liken it, senator mccaskill, to -- and i have some history here, and i know everybody has their history when it comes to administrations, but here you have this administration, just elected a little over a year and a half ago, trying put their people in place. they're trying to put the people in place to run, for example -- i'm going to be talking about the tennessee valley authority and talking about the eeo crnchts the equal cloymen -- thl
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employment opportunity commission. and my -- sometimes in the past -- and my father just passed recently, but he used to visit with me about the way they used to do it in the old days. in the old days you've got to put your people into place within the first couple of weeks of an administration. i remember my father telling me, he took over secretary of interior in january. within two weeks, he had all of his presidential appointees in place. he had his team in place. he could start carrying out the responsibilities that had been given him by the president. and my understanding is, most of the cabinet members in president kennedy's cabinet, the same thing was true. you -- within a couple of weeks you had your team in place and you could go out and try to do the things that your president had campaigned on. we're seeing a striking difference between those days,
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back in the 1960's, and what happens today. we're seeing incredible obstruction in terms of moving -- trying to move forward. and it's done through this process, as senator mccaskill as brought out here, of holds, secret holds. i think the obama administration -- i saw a figure -- at the end of the first year, they only had 55% of their team in place. 55% of their team. so what you're talking about is really holding up the ability of the president to have his team in place and do his job. and i think that's unacceptable, and i think one of the areas that is the worst when it comes to this is the hold process, the secret holds. and what is a secret hold? i mean, everybody asks about these secret holds. this means that a senator is
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able to put a hold on a nomination and not come out in public. we all know that the best thing, the very, very best thing is to shine sunshine on the process. i think one of our supreme court justices said it the best. "sunshine is the best disinfectant." well, the secret holds, there is no sunshine. and as many of us have pointed out on the floor, we want to bring sunshine to this process. and i want to congratulate senator coburn for being the only senator to step forward in this week-long process of trying to bring people out into the public. and i understand, senator mccaskill, your preceding of the statute. my reading of the statute is, if you have not come forward on this point on this large number of nominees, that unanimous consent has been asked and there has been an objection, you're in
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violation of the law. you're in rielings of the law. and only senator -- you're in violation of the law. and only senator coburn has stepped forward to say "i'm holding up" -- i believe he's holding up the broadcasting board of governors, holding up six people on the broadcasting board of gons. -- on the broadcasting board of governors. so today i'm going to try to move -- and we're doing this in a bipartisan way. we're not picking up democrats. we're talking about the eeoc and the tennessee valley authority. and we're moving forward with both democrats and republicans. that's why i'm doing an en bloc motion at this point so that we can get both democrats and republicans in place. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar numbers -- and this is for the eeoc -- 616, jacly n a. baron,
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617, chai rachel feldman,, victoria lipnic, and 620, victoria lipnic to be a member of the eeoc, and that the nominations be conferred enblork the motions to reconsider be laid on the table considered made and laid upon the table en bloc, no further proceedings be in order, the president be needly notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate lace in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: reserving the right to object, i'd like to make an inquiry. chair as to the interpretation of the rule that we passed, because it's my understanding that the rule doesn't require
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you to publish, but it does say the majority and minority leader are no longer obligated to honor your request for a hold if you have not. and i'd ask for the chairs opinion on that. the presiding officer: the law reads section 512, nz of objection to proceeding, "in general, the majority and minority leader of the senate or their designees shall recognize a motion of intent after senator who is a member of their caucus to object to a proceeding to a measure or matter only if the senator ""i'll read both of these -- i'll try paraphrases.
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"following the objection to a unanimous consent to a proceeding to and/or passage of a measure or matter on their behalf submits the notion of intent in writing to the appropriate leader or their designee and" paragraph two, "not later than six days submits for clietion inclusion in the "congressional record" and in the applicable calendar section described in the section the following notice" and then follows the notice of intent. mr. coburn: so, i will take that reading of the law as an assumption that agrees with the position that i just put out there. you know, and i would say, if the chair would give me some time during my consideration in reserving the right to object, i served in the majority two years prior to the senators who are here on the floor today.
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i understand the frustration. i've been there. i was on the other side. it is difficult on terms of numbers, we've had more of president obama's nominees cleared than president bush's nominees at the same point in time. i want to raise the question. i'm going to comply, you know. first of all, i don't have any problem explaining why i hold somebody. the b.b.g. nominees -- b.b.g. is in such a mess. i wanted to make sure i visited with every nominee before i give them a clearance to get on that board. we're wasting money there and not doing anything positive for our country as we do spend that money. there are a lot of reasons why we hold people. one of the dangers of coming forward is the things that i've experienced as a senator myself by putting it out there. and the danger is this: if i want to do further work or
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study or have a question, the assumption were with a hold is that you don't want them to move. and that may not be the case at all. the assumption with a hold oftentimes is, i want to look at the history. i want to look at the background and i want to take the time to meet the individual myself. and that fulfills the true obligation of our advice and consent. i would also say that we were frustrated when we were in the majority the same way, and we played the same kind of parlance except with our own nominees. when somebody on our side had a hold, we didn't ever mention that. we didn't ever complain about that. we just complained when the other side did it. so the perspective has to be understanding the frustration, the president deserves advice and consent, but i'd also notice that there's 150 nominees right
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now sitting in committee that haven't been cleared of the committee and we're a year and a half almost a year and four months into this administration that aren't there. so it's not just that. i intend to object to every one of these, not because i personally have an objection -- and i want my colleagues to know that -- but one of the considerations of courtesy on the senate snroor if somebody else does, you will honor that. the final point i would make is that the majority and minority leader usually work these things out. i think we passed 28 in the last two weeks. probably so many of it to the -- probably some of it to the good effort of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to apply the heat. but i plan on objecting to every one of these because there are individuals on our side, whether they are wanting to visit with the individuals, whether they have a real problem with the individuals, but i don't disagree with the fact that you ought to stand up and say why you're greeing to them. but that isn't our case right
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you now. that isn't the case. law as i understand f it just removes the obligation. so you understand under that basis, i will object to this first package and plan on objecting to every other one in forebearance and as a courtesy to those on my side of the aisle to have a problem with some of these nominees. ms. mccaskill: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. ms. mccaskill: well, i am confused. mr. coburn: then objection was heard? the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: i am confused. this law was passed in the most bipartisan way possible -- 96-2. are we going to pretend that this law doesn't say what it says? let me make sure i put in the record what it says. "the majority and minority leaders of the senate or their designees shall recognize a notice of intent of a senator who is a member of their caucus to object to a proceeding or a measure, only if the senator, first, following the objection
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to unanimous consent proceeding submits the notice of intent in writing to the appropriate leader or their designee -- and -- not later than six session days after the submission under paragraph 1 submits for inclusion in the "congressional record" and in the applicable calendar section describing subsection-b the following ntsz: i, senator blank, intended to object to proceedings to [blank] dated [blank] for the following reasons [blank]. now, it says the majority and minority leader can recognize a hold only if the senator, first, submits the notice of intent in writing after the unanimous consent motion is made and submits it to the "congressional record." now, if we're going to try to slice and dice the plain
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language of this -- really? -- about something as obvious and commonsensical as owning your hold? i know the senator from oklahoma doesn't agree with that. he's just said so. he is not doing this. and i know he's here ha as a cut to his fellow members. but with all due respect, it is 107-8 on the executive calendar. eight -- that's how many were on the calendar in the bush administration at the same time. eight on the executive calendar. there is 107 on the executive calendar in this administration. and honestly, we can do this forever. we can say when we were in the majority, you know, we didn't do this and you did it. and then when we were in the minority, we didn't do this and you do it. we got a chance to stop it. we had 96 votes to stop it. then we're going to stand on
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some kind of notion that the law doesn't say what the law says. i know that part of the senator's amendment that he's got says that he wants senators to sign in writing that they've read what they're passing and that they understand the impact. i'll be honest, i'm going to cosponsor that amendment if he'll let me because i agree with the premise of it. but it's a little paternalistic to make senators sign something that they understand the impact. does anybody really believe that senators doesn't understand the impact of this language? are we really going to stand on some kind of format that we don't -- formality that we don't have any way to enforce it? maybe it, i guess the position that the senator is taking on behalf of the republican calks is the law -- republican caucus is the law doesn't say what the law says. i know this is not a standing -- i've ahead a briefing this week on the standing rules versus the rules versus the law.
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that's what drives america crazy about this place. that is what drives america crazy about this place. the secret hold is wrong. the senator from oklahoma knows it, and i guarantee you most of his colleagues do. you'd be amazed how many republicans have come to me this week and said "i don't do it. i don't do it. you know, claire, i don't do it." i've got to get them all on the letter. i asked the senator from oklahoma to join the letter since he doesn't do it either. he has courage. he has guts. he's accountable to the people that voted for him. but to stand on behalf of the republican caucus on some notion that this doesn't say what he says, that's all we were sent here to do. honestly it wasn't. believe me, i know the stuff that goes on around here, democrats are doing it now in the majority. some of this stuff, the
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republicans. i will say this, we cleared all the secret holds this week. and we had a few. the democrats had a few secret holds. we cleared them all. and i had a couple democrats come up to me, you know, i can't believe you made me give up my hold. they weren't happy about it. and we had some reluctant signatures on the letter. they weren't happy about it. but they've done it. you know what's nice about this letter, mr. president -- and i think this is important for the senator from oklahoma to understand -- this letter doesn't say we're giving up secret holds for this administration. there is a lot of my friends across the aisle that have a spring in their step right now. they think that my party's on the ropes and that there's a chance that come next year at this time, that senator mcconnell will be the majority leader. or that congressman boehner will be the speaker. and you know what? all the names on this letter do not say while we're in charge. it says forever.
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so we now have 58 members of this caucus, 56 and two independents that caucus with us, and 1 republican so far that says forever, as long as we're senators, we're not going to do secret holds. so, frankly, my friend from oklahoma doesn't have to worry next year about secret holds from this side of the aisle. i'm proud that we've done that. now there may be a nominee that a future president makes that's a republican. if the people of missouri are kind enough and good enough to hire me again, that i may not like. but i guarantee you, i'll have the guts to say so. and so i -- mr. president, i just wanted to clarify the plain reading of the law and obviously
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what its intent was. i don't think anybody with a straight face can argue what the intent was. the intent was to stop this stuff. and we can either ignore the intent and stand on some kind of slicing and dicing or parsing of the language and reassure the american people that we completely don't get it, or we can move forward and have people come out of the shadows and claim these holds. once again i will yield to my colleague from new mexico, and i appreciate his indulgence for me to respond to the senator from oklahoma's objection. mr. udall: mr. president, i seek recognition. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: now we've seen demonstrated, i think, dramatically what the process is here. we tried to move on a bipartisan basis for the eeoc to put democrats and republicans in that important government agency, an agency that focuses on discrimination.
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and if the people aren't in place, it can't move forward with that very important goal. and our friend on the other side of the aisle, senator coburn, has objected to putting democrats and republicans in that agency so it can move forward. so now i'm going to try to move forward also in a bipartisan way on the tennessee valley authority. many people may not know, but in the tennessee valley, the power is provided by an agency called the tennessee valley authority. and everybody knows how important power is to economies. when we look around the world, we see communities being stifled because they have blackouts and brownouts, and they don't have the ability to have power. well, the tennessee valley authority has a number of members that need to be appointed to the board of directors. and we're moving today, both
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democrats and republicans, to try to bring home the point we need to get this board of governors in place. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 74, marilyn a. brown, 74 1, william b. sansome. 742, neil g. mcbride. 743, barbara haskew, and that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motions to reconsider be considered made and made upon the table en bloc, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record is as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. udall: mr. president, moving forward with some individual nominees for
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president obama to put in place, people at the department of commerce, at the health and human services department, at the treasury department, at the state department and at the energy department. all very important government agencies, all president obama wants is to have his team in place so they can start doing their work. but what we're seeing on the other side over and over again is secret holds, delay. and it's important to remind everybody that at this particular point in time, 107 nominees are being held up of the executive branch. at this point in time in the past for president bush, only 8 nominees. so 107 being held up; for president bush only 8. and you can only think and draw the conclusion that this is
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about preventing the president from getting his team in place, which is obviously a very important function. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 640, eric hirschhorn to be under secretary of commerce for the export administration, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. udall: mr. president, now proceeding with an important nomination in the health and human services department. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 647, jim esquea to be assistant secretary of
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health and human services, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. udall: to proceed with another important position in the department of treasury. we all know the department of treasury supervises everything that's out there in terms of our economy; very important position. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 652, michael mundaca to be assistant secretary of the treasury, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the
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senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record is as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection in. mr. coburn: i object. promise objection is heard. mr. udall: another important nomination at the department of state. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 722, judith ann stewart stock to be assistant secretary of state, that the nomination be confirmed, that motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: mr. president, i want to make it known that i am carrying on senate courtesy on my side of the aisle and the
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objections i'm voicing are not necessarily my objections but those on behalf of my colleagues. in that regard i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. udall: senator coburn, we very much understand that, that you're carrying this out for others. what we want is them to step forward. what we want to get rid of is the secret holds, like you have stepped forward on the broadcasting board. you've stepped forward and said i'm holding up six people to go on that board of governors. it's out there. it's in the public. it's something that all of us can examine, the media can examine, we can figure out whether or not your objections are legitimate or not. but that's the process we're in. that's what's -- that's what's going on. secretly delaying the administration from getting its team in place. and that's -- let's come out.
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let's admit what's going on here. the folks that are putting these holds on do not want to see the president have his team in place. if he doesn't have his team in place, i think the expectation is they think he won't be able to do the job. once again, want to nominate somebody very important to secretary chu at the department of energy. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 726, patricia a. hoffman to be assistant secretary of energy, the notion be confirmed, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. udall: once again, holding
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up through secret holds -- and senator coburn has said he's doing this on behalf of members on his side -- not allowing all of these people to get into the government and do the job. what we're talking about is important government agencies. skra*eur commerce -- secretary of commerce, health and human services, secretary of treasury, secretary of state, secretary of energy, all objected to today. and many of these have been pending for awhile. there are very few objections in committee. this is something that is being put forward for the purpose of delay. and at this point i would -- mr. coburn: would the senator yield for a moment? mr. udall: i'm going to yield to my colleague from minnesota. mr. coburn: well, would the senator from minnesota yield for a moment? mrs. mccaskill: for a minute,
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sure. mr. coburn: sure. i just want to make a point. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: the motives ascribed here, i think, are improper by the senator from new mexico. i i don't think it's so people can't get into a job to cause president obama problems. i reject that motive. with any administration, there's a very big difference of opinion -- that's why we have elections, that's why things move like this in our country. it's about whether or not somebody objects to somebody's philosophical bent or qufntion qualifications for a job. and i'd just make the point that at the same time under a republican congress, president bush had less numbers approved than president obama does at
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this time. so i would hope we would not ascribe that motive. i want president obama to have, in fact -- to have, in fact, the people that he needs to have in place to effectively run our government, and i will give you the numbers again. to this date, president obama has 596 of his nominees confirmed. at the same time president bush had 570. in the two previous administrations, bill clinton had 740, and president h.w. bush had 700. so i think what you're fighting for is fine. i agree with you. i'm on the team as far as that's concerned. but i think we ought to be careful with the motives that we ascribe because i really don't think it's to try to handcuff the administration. i think it's different. and of course the sign we're putting is up about who's pending. i understand that. but let's be careful on the
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ascribing of motives, because as i talk to my colleagues, i don't really find that their motive. i think some of them -- even though they may not be out forward -- out front with it as i have been, that doesn't necessarily mean that they want the administration to not be effective. thank you. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. msminnesota.senators need to be reminded that senators may not yield the floor to one another. they must yield only for a question and through the chair. ms. klobuchar: thank you very much, mr. president, for that correction. i appreciate my colleague's statement about his general support. i assume he meant for getting rid of secret holds. he can correct me if i'm wrong. but his general support for changing this process and getting things done. but i will say that when we're in this time of economic challenge, no matter what the motives are -- i really don't care what's in the heads of my
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colleagues when they put the holds on. what i care about is getting things done in the government when we have so many people unemployed, when we clearly need to move ahead and do more about small business and exports. all i know is this -- if you want to talk about the difference. at this point, 107 obama nominees are on hold and be obstructed. at the same point, whether it was because not enough were nominated -- i don't really care -- but at this same point of bush nominees waiting to a vote, there were eight. what matters to me is that we move ahead and get going. it is no surprise to me that the senators that have taken the floor are senators who want to see good government, senators from open states with big, blue skies like the state of new mexico, senator udall, who's now our presiding officer, or my state, the state of minnesota, that's always been a leader in open government and moving
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things ahead, or senator warner, who knows what it's like to manage a large state and knows that you have to have your team in place if you're going to get things done with the state of virginia, or senator mccaskill, who's been leading this effort from the show-me state -- right? -- the show-me state, the state of missouri. the biggest issue here is not just making sure shah we can run this government and get the government moving and helping people again. the bigger issue for me is that things shouldn't be done in secret. if you're going to put a hold on someone, we should know why. we should know who's doing it. i sated other day that what this reminds me of is like an olympic sport where there's a race and they're passing the baton from senator to senator so you can't figure out who's holding the baton. so they rotate who's putting the hold. so they get around th the rule. if the delay was an olympic sport, my colleagues would be getting a gold medal.
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this has to stop. i want to give you a few examples of the kind of senatore kind of senators from we're talking about here. and the kind of nominees that we would like to see get confidence. now, if -- i want to just give you some examples of who these are and i'll then go through and make a motion to put them through. we're right now in the middle of an oil spill of just cataclysmic proportions in the gulf. i'm going there this afternoon actually to see it. we're going to have a major nearing our environmental hearing on use it day. you know who's being held up right now? well, michael tiglman is being held up to be a member of the marine mammal commission. another guy -- darren bonus, member of the marine mammal commission. now, normally you might not think this is the most important position in government. but i say two things. one, we're dealing with marine issueissues right now.
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extreme marine issues. and the second thing, why would anyone hold up members of the marine mammal commission? one guy that i actually know, mark rosekind, a member of the national transportation safety board. does a good job. he's being held up, like you, mr. president, i am a member of the commerce department. we know commerce -- commerce committee. we know how important it is. earl weern, a member of the nationanational transportation y board, as we dealing day in and day out with issues of threats to our transportation. the potential we have -- you know, airplanes that have gone down in the sky in the middle of buffalo. we've got potential terrorist threats to our transportation system, and what are we doing? we're holding up the nominees. we've got toyota putting out cars that have basically killed people across the country because the safety measures weren't taken and they have a just paid the biggest fine in the history of this country. and what are we doing?
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there are members that are secretly holding up members of the transportation safety commission? why would we do that? so i'll start with these, mr. president. i ask consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 592, mark rosekind, and 787, earl weaner, both stob members of the national transportation safety board, that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table en bloc, that further motions be norksd the president be immediately notified of the senatest action, and that any statements related to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i on. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: this is a perfect example to me. we look at what happened to the buffalo flight going down, we look at what happened with the toyota cars, we look at what's going on across the country as we're focusing on terrorism and
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what happened in times square just recently. this is not the time to block nominees to the national transportation safety board. whatever the motives, whatever the reasons, yi at this point, i don't care. i think the president should be able to have his team in place. next, i mentioned the marine mammal commission as we're dealing with an oil spill across the gulf. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 784, michael f.tillman, and 786, daryl j. boness, that the nominations be confirmed enblorgs, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table en bloc, no further motions be in order, the president being immediately note fisted senate's action and that any statements related to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: socks is heard. ms. klobuchar: all right. very good.
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again, marine mammals, we're dealing with animals that are almost certainly going to die because of this oil spill, and we're -- there are people on the other side of the aisle that have decided to block these nominations. next, warren miller, who he's been nominated to be director of the office of civilian radioactive waste management at the department of energy. i don't know the reasons this hold was put on. i don't know why this person was held up. but i don't think anyone in this country believes that we should have no person directing the office of civilian radioactive waste. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 404 for the nomination of warren miller, that the nomination be confidence, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: next, geoto winslow lorenzo sergeant would be the chief counsel for advocacy in the small business administration. 64% of the jobs in this country, mr. president, created by small businesses. you know, wall street has been making record profits, but small businesses in this country are still sumpleght it's like wall street got a gold, main street got pneumonia. this is a time when we should have a strong and robust small business administration. i ask consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 427, the nomination of winslow lorenzo sergeant, in a the nominations be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be notified of the senate's action, any statements appearing in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
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ms. klobuchar: mr. president, the next one that's being held of these 107ominations that are being held, benning lynn tucker to be deputy director for state, local, and tribal affairs in the office of national drug control policy. as a former prosecutor and i know you as former attorney general, understand the importance of having people in place to work on our national drug policy and to reduce the illegal drugs in this country. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 556, benning lynn tucker, that the nomination be confirmed, the nominations be considered and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be notified of the senate's action, any statements appear at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? burn byrne object. the presiding officer: outercontinenta--mr. coburn: i . the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, next john law to be director of
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the national institute of justice. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 581, john lobby, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, in a further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and in a any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, the next of the 107 nominations be put on hold, david lopez, p. david lopez, number 618, to be general counsel of the eeoc. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 618, p. david lopez, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, in further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the
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appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there 0,? burn brn i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: next one is joe an thompson, to be a member of the farm credit administration. coming from an agricultural state, i understand how important it is to have people in place for the farm credit administration, especially during this difficult time, which because of agencies like the farm credit administration, at least r. our rural areas have not gone off the cliff and have maintained some stability but are always challenged. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 628, jill long thompson, that the noim nation be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that any statements reelgt to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, next, james p. lynch to be
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director of the bureau of scrusties statistics. again as a former prosecutor, it is incredibly important that we have statistics on crime understand that we know what's going on so we can develop the best policy and triage the cases so we can keep our neighborhoods safe. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 705, james p. lynch, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, understand that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: the next one, as a member of the commerce committee again, i'm very concerned that we still don't have a deputy administrator for the federal aviation administration in place. as we know, thrft been many recent incidences. we're trying to get the f.a.a. reauthorization done to finally modernize our airport with genf
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nex, so we can better land these planes, so we can have more safety and less congestion at our airports. this is very difficult to do when you don't have in place all of your managers that are supposed to be managing the federal aviation administration. we've had incidences in minnesota, the plane that overran the airport and ended up in wisconsin. we've had planes that have been sitting on the tarmac for six hours with the passengers without food and water. we've had all kinds of issues with aviation and yet -- and yet my colleagues on the other side of the aisle while supportive at times of these efforts to modernize our air traffic control system are blocking the nomination of the deputy administrator for federal aviation administration. so, mrk unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 782, michael peter huerta, that
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the nomination be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be notified of the senate's action and any statements related to the nominee peering at the appropriate place in the -- appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: again we're dealing with a sensitive and catastrophic issue with this oil spin in our oceans. yet another person, administrator of the maritime administration held by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. i don't know what the motives are. maybe they don't like this person. we don't know who's holding them. but all i know is that a president has to get his team in place when he's dealing with an issue as catastrophic as this b.p. oil spill. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 783, david
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matsuda, the phoeplgs be confirmed, no further motion be in order, the president be notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? coburn i object. the presiding officer: objection is -- mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: finally, mr. president, we have arthur alan el k*eu ns -- elkins, dealing with an environmental crisis in the gulf coast area, yet we can't get the inspector general in place. i know many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle support having inspector generals in place so we can look at what's going on in government, so we can figure out what's happening and get things right. yet, this nomination is being held. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 794, arthur
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allen elkins, that the nomination be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? coburn -- mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. klobuchar: thank you. i see a smile on your face as you see i am reaching the end of the nominees i am reporting today. having managed an office of 400 people, this was a local attorney's office, i can't imagine trying to run that place without having my top people in place, and that kind of security. it is very difficult to cut government spending, to make the kind of decisions that you need to make when you don't have your top team there to get the work done. and worse than that, with the secret hold, it is very hard to even understand why these people are being held, who is holding them. and that's why we are working so
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hard to get rid of this. as i said, this new crop of senators that have come in the last two years, we do not like business as usual. we just want to get the business done. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. mr. warner: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia is recognized. mr. warner: mr. president, first of all, let me thank my colleagues for being here this morning. i'm pleased to join this effort. i want to thank my colleague from missouri, who has been a relentless voice on opening up and bringing a little sunshine not only on this issue, but on a lot of things that go on here that maybe make some of our colleagues a little uncomfortable, but she is constantly being that voice and pushing and prodding and trying to make sure that we improve the processes here. also i want to thank my colleague, the senator from oklahoma, who i think the senator from missouri said is,
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may not always agree with, but there's very few folks in this body that are more straightforward and honest about what they believe in and are more consistent. my colleague from oklahoma from us some of us, but he is absolutely consistent in what he believes and holds our feet to the fire again. and i commend him for bringing forward his holds and being willing to step up and explain them. let me acknowledge. i'm, like the presiding officer, i'm a new guy here. but unlike so many of my colleagues, i've never been a legislator. i recall -- i was a business guy for a number of years. then i had the honor of serving as governor and quite honestly had a little tv in my office and whenever the legislature was on, i simply turned it off.
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i don't fully appreciate perhaps all the traditions of a legislative body. and i don't by any means know the history as well as my colleague from missouri, my colleague from oklahoma, around the holds. i did a little bit of research, and it seemed to me that this holds notion came up as a courtesy in the last century because senators had to travel a long distance to get to the body. if they couldn't be here because they were traveling on horseback, it would take days or weeks, somebody might say, as a courtesy, we're going to set this aside or put a hold on somebody until the senator can get here and explain himself or herself -- i guess himself at least at that time -- in a fuller matter. it seems to me some of our, the traditions of this institution that were used on occasion, whether it's holds or filibusters or what have you,
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that what was used to try to keep this body functioning are now being so overused that we seem to be institutionalizing dysfunction. and i think the senator from oklahoma has made the case. neither side has clean hands. and whoever's up today may be down tomorrow. one of the things that i think the senator from missouri in her effort has done is said we're not saying we ought to change the rules for this moment in time. we ought to change the rules forever. i can't explain to anybody in the commonwealth of virginia why in the 21st century we've got something called a secret hold that somebody can say we don't like this guy or gal, and we don't want them to be put forward, debated, voted up or
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down for some secret, unknown reason. i know my colleague, the senator from oklahoma, said that most of the members may have a legitimate reason because they don't agree with the individual's philosophy or the background. that's a very legitimate reason to raise. i do know that there's been at least -- and i can't, again, ascribe motives. but there was a recent press report about some, an issue that got some controversy on this floor where a member held one of the president's nominees not because the member felt there was anything wrong with the nominee's qualifications, but because as a leverage matter to try to encourage the administration to change a law with canada on a totally
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unrelated matter. that, to me, seems like institutionalizing dysfunction, not back to the whatever i've at least been able to read about the history of holds, that it was a courtesy because folks couldn't get here and make their case in person. even with our slightly dysfunctional airline system at this point, we can get here within a couple of days absent storms now. so i hope that -- again, commending my colleague from oklahoma for stepping up on this one. if we've got a problem with somebody the president is putting forward, this president or any future president, we ought to acknowledge it. we ought to say what's wrong. we ought to have a spirited discussion. and then either vote the person up or down. i'm anxious to listen. if there's something wrong with some of these folks, let's vote them down and tell the president to put up somebody else. 16 months into this
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administration, as a former business c.e.o. and a former c.e.o. of the commonwealth of virginia, i couldn't imagine having my folks languish in limbo in this kind of skull and crossbones kind of secret hold society stuff. it seems like it was something that came out of the 18th or 19th century at certain institutions of higher learning, and it's been transported, this idea of secret holds, here to the floor of the united states senate. it just doesn't seem to make sense. i know i'm going to get at it because there are other colleagues. i think the senator from oklahoma is going to have to rise a number of times because there's a lot of folks we've got to go through. i won't go on with this issue. i sure as heck hope the senator from missouri -- and i'm proud to be part of this effort -- will continue to make us uncomfortable on this issue. i know the senator from oklahoma will continue to raise issues, particularly around public spending which i hope to find
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places on common cause to join him with. i appreciate his willingness to come forward. i sure as heck hope more members on both sides of the aisle will join this effort. it sure in the 21st century the notion of secret holds should be left behind. i've got two nominations, both en banc. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar numbers 589, anthony coscia and 788, jeffrey moreland, that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table en bloc, no further motions be in order, the
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president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. warner: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to skaoufrgs for the purpose of consideration -- executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar numbers 500 judy r.e.s. r.e.s. -- judy reskin and 501, gloria webber, that the nominations be made en bloc, no further motions be to be in order, the president to be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appear at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. warner: i again appreciate the courtesy of the senator from
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oklahoma and leadership of the senator from missouri that we're going to continue to raise this issue with the same kind of relentlessness that the senator from oklahoma raises on public spending. i hope he continues to make some progress. i look forward to joining him on some of his efforts, and i hope this list of now 59 senators will include many members from both sides. it seems to me to make good common sense. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri is recognized. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i listened to my colleague from oklahoma. i understand it's difficult to listen to any of us put motives on something when we don't know what the reason is. ascribing motives is really unfair when you don't know. but you know, sometimes my experience as a mother pops up in my brain. i think of my kids when they were little, especially as they
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became teenagers. and i remember one time catching one of my kids, and he had snuck out of the house at night in the dark. and i caught him, and i said, you know, you're in big trouble, buster. he said, "mom, i wasn't doing anything wrong. you know, we just walked around the block. you know, we weren't -- you know, we weren't doing anything you'd get mad about. we weren't drinking. we weren't smoking. we weren't chasing down girls. we just walked around the block." i said, you know, if you do it in the dark and you're not willing to tell me about it, then you know what i'm going to assume? i'm going to assume you're doing something sneaky and underhanded. and you just need to bank on that. that if you think you've got to hide something from me, you've got to assume i'm going to think
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you're doing something wrong. you're not willing to talk about it, you're not willing to own it, you're not willing to tell me about it, you're in trouble. end of discussion. and that's why we're ascribing motives. it's only logical to assume that after voting for a bill that clearly says once the unanimous consent motion is made, you've got to come out of the darkness. you've got to explain what you're doing. the fact that these people are not doing it, i've got to tell you, if they were my kids, i'd assume they were doing something they weren't proud of.i would a. if they were doing it sneaky. and that's what this is. this is sneaky. because they're not stepping up, like the senator from oklahoma has.
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step up. own it. hold for as long as you like. some of us may agree with your reasons and join you. -- and joined new your hold. but there are -- and join you in your hold. but there are literally names on this list that no one knows why they're being hold. the white house doesn't know. the nominee doesn't know. maybe the leader mcconnell doesn't even know. it's nonsense. it's just plain and simple nonsense. so you're absolutely correct, my friend from oklahoma is absolutely correct. we should not ascribe motives. but it's only human nature if people are not looking at the plain language of the ethics bill they proudly voted for and doing what the plain language says you shall you're supposed to do, the people are going to start thinking that something underhanded is happening. the only way to fix that is to step up. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the
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purpose of consideration of calendar number 648, the nomination of michael w. punke to be deputy trade representative with the rank of ambassador, the the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, "no" the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and any statements appear in the record as if revmentd. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. scl skill i ask that the senate proceed to the executive session for the purpose of calendar number 649, the nomination of islam sediqie that the nomination be confirmed, that the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the order as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? burn brn i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: i ask that the senate proceed to executive
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session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 799, in a many nomination be carolyn hessler radelet be made director of the peace corps, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements appear in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? bur brn i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 800, elizabeth littlefield, to be president of the overseas private investment corporation, nomination be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified, and the any statements relating to the nominee appear in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: i ask unanimous consent that the national proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of ambassador ambassador 801, the nomination of lana pollack to be
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commissioner on part of the united states on the international joint commission, united states and canada, the nomination be confidence, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be moat notified of the senate's action, any statements appear in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there, sno. mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 809, bisa williams to be ambassador straird nature to the united states of america to the republic of niger, nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified st senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place plt record n.a.s. read. the presiding officer: is there objection? burn brn i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number
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810, raoul jzaguir revment tosh ambassador to the dominican republic, the nomination be confidence, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate praise in the record as if read. mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 811, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be made on the table, no further motions be made. ness for the 234078 nation of theodore seventh wick, the ambassador to the sloughic republic. the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and an any statements appear ate appropriate lace in the prord as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. ms. mccaskill: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 812, robert stephen ford to be ambassador to the syrian
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air be a republic, the nomination be confidence, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any stay i wants relating to the nominee appear in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? burn brn i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session 824, dana katherine bilyeu. the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, any statements appear in the record as if read. the presiding the presiding officerthe preside objection? mr. coburn: i object. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of 826, michael d. kennedy, to be a member of the federal retirement thrift investment board, that the motion reconsider, that the
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motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that any statements appear in the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session 827, dennis p. walsh, to be the chairman of special panel on appeals, that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the executive session for the purposes of calendar number 829, todd edelman to be associate judge, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that any statements relating to the nominee appear at the appropriate place as if read t the. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president,
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i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 830, judith anne smith, to be associate judge of the superior court of district of columbia, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill plon mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 832, david b. fein, to be united states attorney for the district of connecticut -- united states attorney for the district of connecticut, the nomination be confirmed -- i believe, mr. president, that united states attorney for the district of connecticut would have jurisdiction over any federal crimes that may have been committed by the individual that tried to blow up people in times square on saturday night.
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that man lived in connecticut. any activities that he engaged in, in planning this disas a reasonablareasonabledastardlypls killed. but we have no u.s. attorney in connecticut, that would be the chief law enforcement sofer any federal crimes -- officer on any federal crimes that would have been committed by this american citizen who has confessed to some of his crimes. but we may not be aware of other crimes that may have been committed. the nomination be confirmed of david b. fein to be united states attorney for the district of connecticut, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing in the appropriate place as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection?
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mr. coburn: reserving the trite object. i'm not sure there's a vacancy at the district of connecticut in the u.s. attorney's office. i think this is a replacement nomination. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 833, zane david memegor to be u.s. attorney for the eastern district of pennsylvania, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 834, cliftonmasenneli to be united states marshal for the eastern district of arkansas, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the
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senate's action and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to executive session for the purposes of calendar number 835, paul ward, to be united states marshal for the district of north dakota, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and that any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: mr. president, i have -- there are some nominees that have not been -- the motion has not been made. my colleague from rhode island has a number of judicial appointments that he will return to the floor to make those nomination motions, those confirmation unanimous consent motions later, i assume soon.
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there will be 64 total motions that will be made today that we can't find opposition for. 64 we can't find opposition. i'm going to now make five motions. i'm going to make five motions that there was opposition. and the ones i just made, by the way, the last group i just made, they are new motions. they have been added to the calendar since i made the motions last week. and this is going to continue. i'm going to do my very best job at impersonating the tenacity of my colleague from oklahoma. i am going to do my very best job of being a dog with a bone on secret holds. i'm not going to give up. i'm going to be out here every
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week, as often as i need to be out here, i'm going to get as many colleagues to help me, and we've now got everybody on this side onboard with the exception of senator byrd, and i'm optimistic we'll get senator byrd. and i'm hopeful that the next time i'll have some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that agree secret holds are wrong, to help make these motions. so the ones i just made were new motions. so as notice to the senators that may be holding those, they were not made last week and so i would urge everyone to check the list. and if they've got a hold on them, to notify leader mcconnell and let leader mcconnell know what their objection is and comply with the law that they voted on. so let me make these last ones but i wanted the record to be clear that these are the first ones we've made that anybody voiced opposition to. anybody. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session for the purpose of consideration of calendar number 552, jane bran s is it edderbranch to be united
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states circuit judge for the sixth circuit. the nomination be quirnlingsd the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: i might note for the record that this nominee was voted out of committee by a vote of 15-4 with three republican senators supporting her in committee and four republican senators opposing her in committee. the final vote was 15-4. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for the purposes of consideration of calendar number 588, phillip coyle to be associate director of the office of science and technology policy, the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements relating to the nominee appearing at the appropriate place in the record as if read.
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mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: on that nominee, mr. president, the vote out of cefs 19- -- out of committee was 19-6. 19-6. five republican colleagues supported this nominee and five republican senators opposed this nominee. so it was a 5-5 split of the republicans on the committee to that nominee. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session for purposes of consideration of calendar number 703, benita pearson, the nomination be confirmed, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and any statements of the nominee appear at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
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mrs. mccaskill: i might note this was a voice vote in committee and senator sessions did raise concerns in committee. so there was not a tally vote. no one requested a roll call vote on the nominee. it was noncontroversial enough that no one wanted to go on record with a roll call vote, but we wanted to be very transparent and did want to indicate for the record that senator sessions did raise concerns in committee about this nominee. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session 747, ari ne'eman to be member of the national council on disability. i ask unanimous consent that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, no further motions be in order, the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, that any statements relating to the nominee appear at the appropriate place in the record as if read. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mrs. mccaskill: this is a nominee that once again it was a voice vote but there was
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indicated concerns about the nominee at the committee level. mr. coburn: and has an appointment with the gentleman to have a discussion. mrs. mccaskill: we have now gone through the entire list with the exception of about ten judicial nominees that senator whitehouse will be making the motions on. i was hopeful that this week we'd know who's holding these votes. we still don't know. you know, i might make a suggestion. i'm not confident it will be accepted. if the leadership of the republican caucus wants to hold these nominees, senator mcconnell can put his name on all of them, and then the people of america will know that senator mcconnell is holding them and they will see him as a leader of the republicans, and they can judge accordingly. but if senator mcconnell doesn't have objections to them and is not willing to put his name on them, then the people who have the objection should
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put their name on the holds. we're going to break this bad habit. mr. president, i do want to make a note that there were four judges that i made nominations on that inadvertently got on the list, and they have been confirmed. and we will provide for the record those four names so they can be appropriately noted. so instead of doing 69 today, we're only doing 65. and i thank the senate for its indulgence. i thank senator coburn for remaining on the floor. as i said, senator whitehouse will be back to make a few more motions, let's break a bad habit the people of this country don't agree with. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: thank you i'm not going to -- i'd like to have approximately 15 minutes as if in morning business for
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myself, with unanimous consent in that regard. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. coburn: i want to pay tribute to one of my staff members today. she recently left. she had a child and being a mom and a civic activist. but she was a trusted advisor and more than that a dedicated patriot. jane treet, who has been with me since the earlier part of 2004, is leaving to become a full-time mother. it's hard to lose her, but i understand the attraction as well as the commitment for a much more important job. she first came to work for me as a volunteer, fresh off her studies at patrick henry college. since that time, she's played a key role on my judiciary committee through many intense legislative battles. she spent many long days in the dirksen building poring through
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briefing materials, preparing background notes for me and negotiating on my behalf with other offices. she was there during the roberts and alito hearings and for a time she also served as interim chief counsel on the committee since i had no attorneys, and she was a nonattorney as well, which was a rare occasion. her dedication has never wavered. the fact she worked the day she delivered her first child. she prepared negotiations that day for a bill that threatened the second amendment of the constitution and how it interacted with our veterans. and we prevailed that day in no small part because of her efforts. one would be hard pressed to find anyone who cherishes the constitution and who knows its principles as well as jane treet. my legislative director jokes,
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although jane did not actually write the constitution, she is its fiercest defender. i would have to agree. for the past two and a half -- two years and after the birth of her daughter, jane has managed the correspondence team that works in my office, ensuring that every letter that reaches my desk was treated with the utmost concern and professionalism. she cared for each constituent as if it were written to a close relative or neighbor, and in that she's done a terrific job. there's one last quality of jane's that i commend to everyone in the room, and that's courage. jane has a keen sense of right and wrong and will not allow an injustice to stand, whether it's policy related or simply human. she fights for everybody. and when she -- i'm laughing about this because when she disagrees with me, i'm always sure i'll hear about it later. and she'll come to the office and knock on the door and say, "we need to have a talk.
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you were wrong." and of course i remind her that she wasn't elected and i was, and there is some interpretation to the constitution. but the quality of having the courage to confront on things that are strongly held beliefs is a great quality that built our country, and she distinguishes herself in it. and that's in contrast to what usually happens in this town, is where we avoid difficult issues rather than confront them. now, true to her principles, she will turn her attention toward her new community in broken arrow, oklahoma, where she'll be a full-time mom. it will not be long for sure before she's volunteering again for a cause close to her heart. jane, we appreciate you. we thank you for your service, and we thank you for the modeling of your behavior. now, mr. president, i just want to spend a few minutes, because what we've just gone through is a challenge to a process that's been ongoing for a long period of time. and the president knows i'm in
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agreement with sunshine. as a matter of fact, the president and i created the transparency and accountability act so that everything we do gets published in terms of what we spend and how we spend it. and i agree we ought to be forthright with the reasons we hold individuals. but let's talk about what a hold is. a hold is saying you don't agree to a unanimous consent request to pass an individual out. in other words, what is a hold? what does it really say? it really says, first of all, i either may have very significant concerns with this individual or i may want to study this individual for a period of time in the record before i agree to it. or i may want to debate it, the qualifications of the individual. and i agree on the transparency. but i think it's very important that we go back to say not
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necessarily atune the motives. when i read the signs about those being held now versus the bush administration, i'm reminded that there were over 100 u.s. attorneys and marshals and 50 judges at the same time that were blocked in committee so they couldn't even get to the floor at that time. so it depends on where you take the snapshot. there are lots of reasons to not agree to people being confirmed. and i have no problem with stating my reasons, and i'll publish my reasons. i don't have any problem even publishing them. but i'm not sure that we want to necessarily impugn the motives of somebody who takes advantage of that. and i agree with the senator from missouri. i have no problems with putting it out in the open. but i did ask the question, and at some point in time i think it would be wise for those that think that, is that we get a parliamentary ruling on what the rule really means, because i
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think there is some discussion. i don't doubt that the intent of what was passed was exactly what we intended, to put it out there. but i think the interpretation or how it may be read is subject to some debate, and it would be great to have a parliamentarian rule on that. finally i would say the other side of this issue which comes back to things that are dear to my heart is the fact that 94% of everything that passes in this body passes by that very process: unanimous consent. unanimous consent that says we won't have a debate. we won't have an amendment. and things will pass because nobody objects to it passing. there's a real disadvantage for our country in that. and the disadvantage is this, the american people never know what we're doing. they don't get a hearing. they don't get to hear the policy debates on both sides of the issue. and it's good that we work some
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things out. but if you watch the floor, what we know is 40% of the floor time is spent in quorum calls. and the real issue that we're fighting is the reason the majority leader doesn't move them is because it takes time to move them. right? that's our problem. time is our biggest enemy in the senate. but yet, that's exactly what our founders intended. they wanted it to be very difficult to change what they had put in place, and they set in motion this system that says we're going to make things thoughtful under full consideration, with open debate. and we hear our colleagues all the time say this is the greatest deliberative body in the world. it is, but not all the deliberation goes on on the senate floor. and i have no doubt that there are abuses on both sides. and i don't know what the
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motives are. when i hold somebody, i hold them because i think they're either not qualified for the job, i think they have a past record that would question their character, or i think in fact that i think they'll do a terrible job at the position even if they are qualified. and i have the right as an individual senator to say i'm not going to support that nomination. and so i'm all for moving and giving presidents what they want. but i'm not for doing it without the debate and the consideration that needs to be there. and so i'm very supportive of people standing up to say why they're holding people. through the courtesy of the senator from missouri, she didn't list one of the judges, which ao*eupl sure she was going to -- i'm sure she was going to ask unanimous consent on, because i was the lone senator in the judiciary committee to vote against him. i don't know who's holding him. but the fact is i don't think he's qualified. i want him to be debated. i want to have a chance to
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inform the american people on why i think he shouldn't be a circuit court judge, and that's my right. and to say we're just going to move him without a debate, without anything but a vote, i'm not going to do that on people i think are not truly qualified. so it's not as straightforward as we think. i think we ought to think about how the process is working. that the leaders really do work on this process and they move a lot of them forward. and i understand the frustration. and i'd be giving the same speech if it was turned around. as a matter of fact, i have before. so i concur with my colleagues. i think sunlight is a wonderful thing. i think there's some times where you have the problem, and i'll give you three specific examples. i publish all my holds. and under the emmett till bill, i was immediately accused of being a racist because i held the bill. because i wanted it paid for.
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but as soon as i put out that i was holding the bill, i was accused of being a racist. so there are reasons for people to work behind the scenes to be able to work on things, to solve the problems with their concerns without it becoming public so that you get the ultimate action but don't impugn the integrity of people because they may not agree. so the potential of letting go of all this idea that we can't negotiate before we come and that we have to expose everything, what happened was the special interest groups attacked me ferociously. i ended up becoming the best friends with the very significant individual that drove that. and what has happened today is we still haven't done because we didn't put the money in to pay for it, which is what i wanted. and there is still no special provision, still no action. and we passed it two years ago.
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the next thing is the veterans caregiver act. i hated veterans because i thought we ought to pay for and i thought it ought to apply to every veteran that had that kind of injury that served this country. but yet, ferocious attack by the interest groups. i'm willing to take that heat. that comes with the job. but it's certainly not fair to put yourself in the position. i understand why other senators are not going to stand up and say every time why they're holding a bill when you see that kind of attack that comes. same thing on breast cancer. attack. you know, sister -- sister-in-law, cousin, all with breast cancer, two-time cancer survivor myself, but i hated breast cancer patients. so you can see why the idea of having a -- objecting to a unanimous consent and then immediately putting it out there will end up the attack of the
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special interest groups in this country, because you're trying to make something better but your motives are impugned because you don't agree with the special interests that's running the bill in the first place. or in the case of a nomination, the special interests, the administration, they think this is the individual. i put it out. i'm willing to take that. but i understand that's not always the best way to go to get something accomplished, because you end up spending a -- burning a lot of energy defending yourself on something you're innocent of in the first place. you want a different result for a different reason but that never gets covered. this morning's been great. i think it's interesting we've had this debate. my hope is we'll have people that will stand up and speak and put up why they believe what they believe, fight for the principles they believe in. i think i can defend my principles to the hilt. and i think in front of 100 commonsense folks in this country, i can get 85 of them to side with me. so i'm not afraid to do that,
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and i'm willing to be honest and transparent and straightforward. but the impugning of motives really worries me on this, because it has nothing to do with not wanting president obama to have his people. it has to do in many instances with people who are truly unqualified or truly, or truly are divergent on what their past has been versus what they say. and those are legitimate reasons to have debate on individuals that are going to serve or function in this government. with that, i would yield back the floor and thank the presidentor his consideration. aenator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i rise to speak about an issue of great importance, the foreclosure crisis and the fear and frustrations of american families who are at risk of losing their homes. wherever i go in minnesota, people tell me horror stories about losing their homes to
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foreclosure. i'm sure the same is true of the presiding officer when he goes home to virginia. the fliewsh crisis strikes at the heart of the american -- the foreclosure crisis strikes at the heart of the american dream, threatening americans' life savings, their family lives and what they've achieved. the president took a big step in addressing this crisis when he created the hamp programs, which encourages mortgage servicers to modify home loans to help people avoid foreclosure. but it's often difficult to implement complex programs and hemp is no exception. when hamp works, it can be great. it can literally save people's homes. but too often, homeowners who try to use the hamp program find themselves involved in a bureaucratic process that is riddled with errors. these are errors that have serious consequences for people's lives. take a woman named tecora who's
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a homeowner from south minneapolis. incidentally, she's someone who actually would have been helped by a consumer financial protection bureau. several years ago, she bought a house with an option arm or adjustable rate mortgage, where the mortgage payments increased dramatically over the years. someone should have told her that the teaser rate her lender offered her might be misleading. someone should have told her she might not be able to afford her mortgage payments in the future but no one did. a few years ago, tecora's payments went up and she fell behind on her mortgage. she entered the hamp program hoping to save her home, but seven months later was told by her mortgage servicer that her file was closed because she ha had -- quote -- "declined a final modification of her mortgage." here's the only problem -- she hadn't.
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and her mortgage servicer had no record of a conversation or correspondence with her. they had simply marked the file as closed. tecora is lucky enough to be working with a wonderful nonprofit in minneapolis, twin cities habitat for humanity, and they are helping her to fight this mistake. but they have been working on this since march, and the government resources that are available just aren't very helpful. in the meantime, tecora is constantly worried that she may lose her home because her mortgage servicer made a mistake. or take barbara, a homeowner from minneapolis who fell behind on her mortgage payments because her husband was laid off and her son got cancer, racking up huge medical bills. talk about someone who might lose their home through no fault of her own.
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her mortgage servicer claimed she wasn't eligible for a final mortgage modification using incorrect information about her financial situation. when she pointed out there was a problem, her servicer told her there was nothing they could do because -- quote -- "once you have been denied for hamp, you can't be eligible again." barbara is fighting this but someone from the government really should have her back. yesterday i filed an amendment with senator snowe and seven other colleagues to fix the hamp appeals process. people at risk of losing their homes are going through enough already, they shouldn't be stuck fighting over mistakes with their servicers without a guarantee that someone will be on their side. our amendment would create an office of the homeowner advocate modeled after the very successful office of the taxpayer advocate within the i.r.s.
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the advocate's office would be an independent unit within treasury charged with helping homeowners, their housing lawyers and their housing counselors to resolve problems with the hamp program. the office would be temporary, lasting only as long as the hamp program does. but while it exists, it would have a lot of authority to help homeowners and families around the country. for the first time, homeowners would be able to call an office in the government and know that someone, someone with the authority to fix the problem is actually fighting for them. staff of this new advocate's office would be able to make sure that servicers obey the rules of the hamp program or risk suffering consequences. perhaps more importantly, opening a case with the advocate's office would delay a servicer's ability to sell a person's house, giving the
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office time to resolve the problem before it's too late. the director of the advocate's office would be someone who can truly fight for the rights of homeowners. he or she must have a background as an advocate for homeowners and cannot have worked for either a mortgage servicer or the treasury department in the last four years. the director will also be able to help those of us in congress understand what's going on in hamp, because the office can collect data about the kinds of complaints and appeals that come in, the director will be in a good place to know what kinds of changes both administrative and legislative that need to be made in the program. and can describe them to the treasury department and to congress. once a year, the director will issue a formal report laying out in detail all the problems that people have -- have had with hamp and how they can be
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resolved and the way such problems could be prevented or better resolved in future. i know that many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle are understandably worried about the deficit, so i want to be clear about one thing: this amendment includes no new appropriations. the advocate's office will be funded with existing money that is set aside for hamp administrative costs. i'm pleased to say that our amendment is supported by the treasury department itself. in fact, just yesterday it was featured on the white house's blog as one of the good guys. ten simple, straightforward amendments that would strengthen the already good wall street reform bill. the good guy, this thing. my amendment is also supported by a large number of groups, including americans for financial reform, the center for
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responsible lending, national consumer law center, the leadership conference on civil and human rights, consumers' union, consumer federation of america, the service employees' international union and national council of la raza. i'm particularly pleased to say that the amendment is also supported by several of the most important housing groups in high home state of minnesota. the idea behind the advocate's office is simple but the impact could be huge. for all the people that we are all here to represent. please, join me in helping to ensure that hamp actually works for families around the country. we owe it to tecora and to barbara and to all the working families in your states and around the country. i'd now like to shift gears and talk briefly about the other amendment i'm proposing to reform, this one to reform the
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credit rating system, the credit rating industry. this industry is fraud with bad practices -- this industry is fraught with bad practices and perverse incentives. these incentives produced inflated ratings which resulted in dangerous junk bonds getting aaa ratings and, thus, being eligible for public pension funds. in fact, the court just ruled last week that a suit on this issue brought by calpers, the california public employee pension system, can now move forward. calpers represents nearly 1 1/2 million public employees, including thousands of teachers and public safety officers. calpers has brought suit against the three biggest credit rating agencies, moody's, standard & poor's and fitch. calpers states that the big three provided -- quote -- "radically inaccurate and unreasonably high" ratings on
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products that ended up in their investment fund. when these structured finance products, including securitized subprime mortgages, when they tanked, calpers' fund -- pension fund almost almost a billion dollars. that's a loss of a billion dollars for california teachers, police officers, firefighters, and public servants. from their health benefits and from their retirement plans. calpers is not the only group to take action. private suits have been filed in new york and the attorneys general of connecticut and ohio have brought suit against the rating agencies on behalf of the people of their state. ohio attorney general richard cordrain filed a suit last fall on behalf of five ohio public employee retirement and pension funds. cardrain said -- and i quote -- "the rating agencies assured our employee public pension funds that many of these
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mortgage-backed securities had the highest ratings and the lowest risk, but they sold their professional objectivity and integrity to the highest bidder. the rating agencies' total disregard for the life's work of ordinary ohioans caused the collapse of our housing and credit markets and is at the heart of what's wrong with wall street today. the inflated ratings cost middle-class families in ohio nearly a half a billion dollars in retirement funds." but this problem is not limited to california and ohio and new york. it's affected my home state of minnesota. this affected the president's home state of virginia. it affected every state in this nation. by now i hope you've heard the details of my amendment to
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reform the credit rating system. it would limit the pay-to-play model currently used in the credit rating industry. the amendment calls for an independent board to develop an assignment system to match the insurers of complex financial -- the issuers, the issuers of complex financial products with a qualified rating agency to provide the product's initial rating. this system would apply only to initial ratings. issuers could seek a second or third rating from whichever credit rater they prefer. but the initial rating would put a check on any subsequent rater, which would be disinclined to provide an inflated pie-in-the-sky rating to a junk product. by providing for an assignment process, the conflicts of interest driving the system will be eliminated, and the
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assignment process will allow smaller rating agencies that are performing well to get more business. and rating agencies performing poorly to get less. this will hold rating agencies accountable for their work. it will incentivize accuracy and increase competition. i know many of you agree with me, and the list of cosponsors on this amendment is growing. most recently, i was particularly pleased to have senator wicker join our effort. of course, i'm deeply grateful for the leadership of senators schumer and nelson and the support of senators whitehouse, brown, murray, bingaman, merkley, lawment, shaheen, and casey. restoring integrity to the credit rating system will provide real protection for working americans. working people like takora and
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barbara are still reeling from the effects of this recession. our unemployment rate still hangs near 10%. working americans together have lost nearly $4 trillion in the value of their homes and about $3 trillion in the loss of retirement savings during this economic crisis. the wall street reform bill before us goes a long way to prevent this from ever happening again, but there are few places where it can be improved. i hope that my amendment creating the office of the homeowner advocate will help struggling americans keep their homes, and my amendment calling for an overhaul of the credit rating agency industry will protect millions of americans from unprecedented losses in their supposedly safe retirement investments. i ask my colleagues for their support for both of these critical amendments. thank you, mr. president, and i yiel the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. specter: i have sought recognition to talk about three amendments pending on the legislation to reform wall street, and i begin my -- by noting the spirit of bipartisanship which is present on this issue, and i think it is a very, very important sign. there is too little bipartisanship in this body. from my travels through my state and elsewhere, i believe that the american people are fed up, really sick and tired with the kind of bickering which is present in the senate, and it took a lot of public pressure
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and an obvious and great and serious problem to bring about this bipartisanship, but it is very important that it be present in our efforts to reform wall street, and i hope it will be a sign of things to come. some time ago, i introduced a bill which would change the decision of the supreme court of the united states which held that aiders and abettors were not liable under the securities act. i have taken that bill and have offered it as an amendment with quite a number of cosponsors. it is amendment numbered 3776 to allow suits against aiders and abettors of wall street fraud, cosponsored by senators reid, kaufman, durbin, kaufman, leahy, levin, menendez, whitehouse,
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feingold, and merkley. prior to the decision of the supreme court of the united states and central bank back in 1994, supplemented by the stone ridge investment partners decision, the law was that aiders and abettors were civilly liable for damages. it is a very odd circumstance that aiders and abettors remain liable under the criminal law but are not liable under civil law, and this amendment would reinstate the civil liability for aiders and abettors. it is narrowly drawn to apply only to individuals who knowingly provide substantial assistance to the primary
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violator, but where you have a stock offering and you have many parties who are working with the principal offeror, he can -- the offeror can only carry out the fraud with the assistance of quite a number of people, and this bill will reinstate what had been the law prior to the supreme court decisions which i have just mentioned. i think it is worth noting that senator shelby had introduced similar legislation back in 2007. but the second amendment that i want to discuss briefly is amendment numbered 3217 introduced by senators leahy,
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grassley, kaufman and myself, which would directly sentence a commission to review and amend the sentencing guidelines for securities and financial institutions which engage in fraud, and the guidelines should reflect the intent of congress, the penalty for those offenses should be increased. earlier this week on tuesday, the criminal law subcommittee held a hearing attended by quite a number of very experienced people in the securities field and in penalogy. the uniform view was that where you have a fine imposed, it is not a deterrent at all. it is insufficient as punishment for the perpetrator, but it is
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insufficient for the gravity of the offense. a fine is simply incorporated as part of the cost of doing business, passed on to consumers. and that -- the provision for a jail sentence would be an effective deterrent. i base my own view on this subject from my experience as district attorney of philadelphia where i convicted many white-collar criminals and corrupt political figures like the chairman of the philadelphia housing authority, the deputy commissioner of licenses and inspection, the stadium coordinator, to name only a few. and if the perpetrators of fraud know that they are going to be going to jail, it will have quite a different impact on their own conduct. one of the witnesses testified to a celebrated case where an individual was fined $50 million
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and was willing to pay that but said simultaneously with the payment of the fine that he had been charged criminally, he would have fought it tooth and nail because of the concern with going to jail. the third amendment which i wish to discuss is numbered 3806, which provides that there should be a fiduciary duty for broker dealers to avoid conflict of interest in investment and make such violations a federal crime. in the s.e.c. complaint against goldman sachs, the -- and i acknowledge and am explicit that these are only allegations -- that the package of mortgages was put together and then broken up into securities, and an
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individual who was involved in putting the package together, knowing the details, immediately hedged and sold short. that means that he bet against those securities. he thought they would go down. it is my view that the people that put that transaction together have a fiduciary duty to tell the investors, even institutional investors, as to exactly what is going on, that they should know that somebody is simultaneously saying that their professional judgment is that the value is going to go down. i ask that the next comments i make be labeled under the caption of don't give miranda warning to suspected terrorists. the presiding officer: without objection.

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