tv U.S. Senate CSPAN January 5, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EST
pause applause [applause] >> and here's a look at the u.s. capitol as the new session will be prepared to come in to session. that will be noon eastern today. we'll have live coverage shortly from the congressional black caucus. they have 43 members and they are doing at the capitol visitors center. when it gets underway we'll have live coverage right here on c-span2. we expect to hear from cbc chairman emanuel cleaver and the outgoing chairman barbara lee. and minority leader, nancy pelosi. the house is also going to gavel in at noon eastern today. we have live coverage, of course, on c-span. and we'll hear from republican congressman john boehner. this is likely to be elected the new speaker of the house today. looking ahead this week on
friday, the house begins debate on a repeal of the health care law. the house will take a final vote on that repeal next wednesday. in the senate, in this 112th congress the democrats are promising to weaken the filibuster and we spoke to a capitol hill reporter to learn more about that. >> alexander bolton from the hill the role of the use of the filibuster. what are senate democrats looking to do? >> well, senate democrats are looking to use a procedure known as the constitutional option. and it can only be used on the first legislative day of the session. and what it entails is asking for a ruling from the chair to adopt a new set of rules for the 112th congress. and essentially asking a ruling from the chair to amend the
existing senate rules. the ruling would only need to be ratified by a majority vote in the senate. and that's important because usually it takes 60 votes to pass any legislation in the senate because of the filibuster rule. and it takes -- during the rest of the year it takes 67 votes to change the legislative rules. or rather the procedural rules in the upper chamber. so they're looking for a ruling from the chair to change the filibuster rule to make it tougher for republicans to obstruct legislation on the floor. >> republican leaders are characterizing this as a power grab by democrats. can you tell us about that? >> well, what the proposal would do -- and it has been finalized. it's being work on right now. but number one it would eliminate the filibuster on the motion to proceed. right now it takes 60 votes to even begin debate on legislation in the senate and that really
slows things down. the other thing it would eliminate the use of secret holds. right now senators can block legislation and nominees anonymously just by placing a hold with their leader and the third things democrats want to do is require the minority party or the party that's filibustering legislation it to actively muster 41 votes. to stop action. right now, the majority party, the burden is on them. they need 60 votes to get something from the senate. this would put the burden more on the minority party and whether it's a power grab or not is up for debate. but certainly it would make it easier for the majority to get an agenda passed. >> who's leading the charge on filibuster reform? where is this coming from seven >> well, tom udall, a democratic senator from new mexico. he's the leader. he's been the most outspoken on this. but there are several democrats working with him including tom harkin, a democrat from iowa, jeff merkley, a democrat from
oregon. and amy klobuchar, a democrat from minnesota. >> is there any discussion of compromise on the rules? >> there's some talk of compromise. one thing that republicans want is a concession from majority leader harry reid that he'll stop the practice known as filling the tree. it's a procedural tactic that blocks republicans or members of the minority party and the majority party, too, from offering amendments to legislation that reid doesn't want to hold votes on. >> how will this be brought up when the senate gavels? . >> it was long expected it would happen the first day of legislation. it appears, though, the senate democrats have some disagreements over what should be in the new rules package. so it seems like what they're going to do is -- they're going to recess the senate at some point tomorrow and then reconvene after a two-week recess. technically it will still be the first legislative day.
when they do that, tom udall most likely will make a motion for the senate to consider changes to the rules and that be ruled on by the chair. but it looks like this whole showdown is going to be delayed by another two weeks because of some rangeling on some changes. even a postpone isn't official yet. it's something that's being negotiated and discussed right now. >> alexander bolton, we thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> so the senate in at 12:00 noon this afternoon and we will see if our reporters -- our predictions play out as the senators come in and begin this 112 congress. we'll keep an eye on what happens on his filibuster rules. there was a discussion yesterday at the heritage foundation on this subject. and as waiting for the black caucus swearing into begin under
we'll bring that to you. >> i'm going to -- i'll introduce the speakers in the order in which they will speak. first i'm going to introduce steven. steven currently served as policy director to crossroads gps which is a 501c4 organization dedicated to educating the public to advance free limit liberty and steven is known to a lot of us for his service in the u.s. senate where he worked for senator kyl, john kyl and the senate republican congress and we'll hear from bill wickerman who is the senior legislative advisor. but i think bill -- what he brings to the table today is two decades of experience in the house and the senate where he worked for former senate majority leader bill frist and at the white house two decades of experience. he understands the senate as
well as anybody that i know. james wallner, who is currently legislative director to senator jeff sessions of alabama also worked in the house side. he has experience in working in both houses -- i won't ask him if he likes the house more than the senate. as a former house guy, i know how i feel about that, james but he also is a scholar of these things and we know james well from that regard as well. and then finally brian darling who is at the heritage foundation director of government relations. also has many years of senate experience and brian focuses on educating senators and their staff about the research products and policy recommendations. he has appeared regularly on network news broadcast. he's a columnist for human events and for red state. and he keeps tens of thousands of readers riveted to their seats every week in his commentary on what's going on in the senate and brian has a law degree from the new england school of law in boston. so, steven, you go first. i'm going to depart the podium and we have a moderating q & a.
steven? >> thanks, mike. you know, i meet with mike regularly and talk about different issues and one of the things he always complains about that every discussion we have on policies devolves into some discussion of senate rules and to that i say, this is why. it's because exactly what's at stake in some of the cases is the policies being impacted by the procedures and processes of the senate is set up. the presentation covered a lot of things that i think a lot of us are planning talking so we'll be repetitive and i'll make the same mistake. in listening all of this we haven't divided this issue in its proper two parts yet. one there is the substantive end that the majority is trying to force upon the senate right now. that is a weaker minority. fewer tools to debate and demand and get involved in legislative process but there's also the method. and the method is most commonly referred to as the
constitutional option which is what senator tom udall refers to as and what i think has become the common use of the term now. these two issues are separate and related. but together they amount to the same thing. and that is an incredible -- i mean, an astonishing but not entirely unexpected power-grab by the remaining majority in the senate right now. i can't imagine that anybody thought that the lesson of the last election was that the voters wanted a stronger democratic majority in the senate. but that is exactly what this is. and from a basic -- a very basic democracy, you know, a republican governance standpoint, small r, you have to ask -- look at that and find -- and ask yourself, is that in any way what the voters were looking for? and? in keeping at all with what the voters wanted? the sad part is it's very consistent with the way this majority has operated over the last year or two.
you can go back in the most astonishing things for us all i think was when senator scott brown was elected and we all thought that now the states -- you know, perhaps the most liberal state in the nation, no offense to vermont, had -- [laughter] >> elected mr. brown to the senate, you know, when that happened that this would put some kind of brakes on health care reform and all it did instead despite the message from the voters was it encouraged democrats in the majority to push even harder and push it through. i think that mr. wallner in particular will do a good job of discussing all of the particular data that showed the filling of the tree and these words that don't mean anything that don't follow the senate that are incredibly important in the mechanics of how the senate is, filling the tree, filing cloture immediate, skipping the committee process and bringing floors to the floor, shutting off debate as soon as it comes up. all these processes are all about shutting out -- shutting
out republicans and shutting out the minority from being able to discuss issues to amend, to debate, to deliberate. and it's been an ongoing process that's gone on for some time. and then we see this now even when as senator alexander emphasized, it is in such questionable interest of the democrats to actually do this they would still push forward and to try to do it and it's quite amazing. i will say one thing without getting into the numbers i know that's going to be dealt with with the gentleman on my left. the numbers that you see thrown around on a regular basis, this number of filibusters and so forth, they are largely garbage and that's because you have to really get into what happened in each case. and whether there was an attempt to block the decision, try to have more amendments and delay. every situation is different. the democrats know this. the members know this. i think most of the activists know this as well. >> they throw the numbers around and what's sad they've got a lot
of the people in the press to adopt those numbers as though they are true. and they're not. and, unfortunately, you can't be very sophisticated without knowing about it. and the most obvious point that has to be made clearly and senator alexander started with it. the pendulum swings. does the democratic leadership really even want this? i understand they're being bullied by their back-bench members. i understand they are concerned about keeping their own leadership positions. i understand committee chairmen who are sitting there by virtue of seniority primarily are concerned about the people at the back of the bench who are antsy to move forward but do they want to do that to give this how the politics are swinging generally and the likelihood that republicans will be stronger in the senate if not solidly in a majority in two years? i really question whether they really do. and i think there's an internal division within the democrats that the press has done a pretty
allows si job of investigating because that's the story of what's going on that the caucus is breaking apart on their side on this issue and some other issues that are related to it. related to that, i think it's important as senator alexander mentioned to focus on the fact that there's a point of principle here for republicans. republicans in the majority in 1995, you know, opposed making themselves stronger in the majority. they unanimously opposed and that's when senator harkin and senator lieberman tried to gut the filibuster rules in january 1995. they opposed it then. they oppose it now. when there is another likelihood that republicans could benefit from it in a few years here. and they have -- the house is the back-stop right now so there's not even a real concern in the short term. because they have the house as a back-stop and say, let it go through. who really cares. two years we're in majority in the both bodies and we've got the ability to push it through.
it's the wrong decision. and they oppose it on principle then and now. you know, the thing about this is, if there were a serious effort to actually reform the senate, and to actually make the senate work a little differently, then you wouldn't come forward with this method of jamming through a rules-change under this very odd theory of a quasi not continuing body or a continuing body. i'm happy to do some writing on it if somebody wants to see it or to answer questions afterwards. but it's crazy to push something through like this when the process is to go through the rules committee, sit down, debate, have actual text of amendments. has anybody seen a text, seen text of an actual rules change? is that out there. has that been discussed? have rules experts sat down and figured out how that would work? no one has done that. this is a -- this is a knee-jerk reaction to a frustration, a frustration that the voters have been rejecting the agenda that
they've been offering and now we see the idea of a rules change without actually any text. anything that they can work with. there's a process for this. to bring up briefly and then i think it's better to deal with q & a if people want to the 2005 scenario with constitutional option having to do with judges. there was a rules committee process that went on then and there was plenty of debate about the specific issues and specific kinds of remedies. although senator schumer had rules committee hearings, those hearings in the end were not about specific changes. they were just merely about do we have a problem? and those are the hearings that had senator byrd come in and testifying and a lot of ambiguity as far as what the results were on that, whether there was. in my time, i'm sorry -- about 1 minute, okay. the last thing i'll say is -- what it is that minority rights guarantees? i use the word deliberation and
i use it very broadly. i think it's about amendment. it's about the right to offer -- to have amendments legitimately offered, debated as much as they need to be offered. it's about making sure that bills are written openly and are able to be considered -- >> and we're going to break away from this recorded forearm from yesterday and take you live as we promised we would to the congressional black caucus ceremonyial swearing-in. this is live from the capitol visitors center. there you see l.c. scott live at the podium. this is live coverage on c-span2. >> guests, family members and friends to this our ceremonial swearing-in of the congressional black caucus of the 112th congress. we especially want to thank our representatives from the obama administration who have joined us today. and i would be remiss if i did not thank academy award nominee
and emmy award winner sicily tyson for joining us today. [applause] >> it is with much pride that i ask you to recognize our singer of the morning, yvette jones, who you just heard. [applause] >> yvette is a 2009 cbc performing arts scholarship recipient. she has been singing since she was 4 years old and over her very short years has received many awards for her music ability. we thank her for her wonderful performance. i would also like to thank the old guard color guard unit for their participation today. the congressional black caucus foundation is very pleased to sponsor this event today. for those of you who don't know, the congressional black caucus foundation is a nonpartisan,
nonprofit 501c3 organization that was founded in 1976. our mission is to develop leaders, educate the public and to form policy. for almost four decades, we have placed interns and fellows in cbc members offices and committee assignments. cbc interns and fellows provide -- cbc internship and fellowship programs provide a unique opportunity for african-american college students and post-graduates to work on capitol hill. we're proud to introduce our internses, enrichment programs coupled with a lifetime experience. our fellows receive a salary a fringe benefits. cbcf programs is the support of cbc members have led the way in
making capitol hill more reflective of america. and they have given young professionals and future leaders the opportunities and experience to have successful careers in public policy and public service. cbc alumni are now working in congressional offices, on committees, in cabinet offices as well as in the private and nonprofit sectors. they're changing the landscape on capitol hill in board rooms and on work sites throughout the country. we're especially pleased that two of our graduates of our fellowship program have recently been appointed chiefs of staff of two incoming congress members. one of a republican and one a democrat. one of the reasons why for more than a decade we have sponsored this ceremonial swearing-in because it give us an opportunity for the members of the black caucus.
today you can see the results of their collaboration such as scholarship recipients, yvette who you just heard from and our fellows are here today serving us. our fellows have light duty today. usually they are on capitol hill planning comprehensive forums, writing papers and helping to design legislation but today we have them helping us manage the event today. and also the fellows class of 2010, if you're in the room, just wave your hands. i guess they are out in the hallways working. [applause] >> i see lisa jackson our epa administrator has joined us. thank you for joining us. [applause] >> in addition to our scholarship, internship and fellowship programs, cbcf also sponsors the annual legislative
conference that many of you attend every year. this conference held in september allows cbcf allows us to collaborate with the programs and network opportunities that are unmatched. we also publish policy papers and sponsor issue forums. most recently we published a guidebook to the health reform act. we ask you to please go to our website and download a copy of it. especially because there will be a lot of discussion in congress about the health reform act and we want you to be promptly educated about what's in it for you. the ceremony swearing-in gives all americans -- because this is broadcast on c-span, it gives all americans an opportunity to celebrate and honor the members of congress who provide assistance, opportunity, and mentoring to young people as well as bring attention to the advances of african-americans
that we have made in being community and civic-minded citizens. today gives you the audience, a unique opportunity to witness the piece of history, senior members of congress sworn in. it gives you an opportunity to hear from our outgoing cbc chair representative barbara lee and to thank her for her stellar service for the past two years. it also gives you the opportunity to see and hear our newly elected chair of the cbc representative emanuel cleaver who has represented missouri since 2004. this ceremony event is an honored tradition in the african-american political world because it's given speck recognition to the 43 members of the cbc. and this year is special because of those of you who don't know, it marks the 40th anniversary of the congressional black caucus. what started off with only 13
but yet 13 extraordinary members has grown into 43-member body. we want to acknowledge the fact that two founding members are here serving in congress, representative john conyers and representative charles rangel. [applause] thank you. >> between the two of them, there's almost a century-worth of strong and proud legislative experience. to learn more about the founding members as well as the impact of the cbc, we have created a website, it's an online library that's a premier source of information about historical and contemporary african-american policy issues important to researchers, commissions, educators and students. we urge you go to to our website to learn more about the cbcf and
about the history of the blacks in the legislative process. to guide our program this morning is award-winning reporter mr. craig melvin, the weekend anchor of nbc 4 at 6:00 and 11:00 pm. he hails from columbia, south carolina. he's been working in journalism since his high school days when he was named our generation reporter. at the cbcf we would like to herald our emerging leaders and we clearly see craig melvin as one of the emerging leaders in journalism. his report on innovative teaching earned him an award from the associated press making him one of the youngest reporters ever to receive such recognition. after completely college in spartansburg, mr. melvin returned to columbia where he soon began anchoring the evening news and he earned an emmy award and best anchor recognition from
the south carolina broadcasters association. please join me in welcoming to the podium craig melvin. [applause] >> good morning. oh, we can do better than that. good morning! >> good morning. >> i'm honored to host the ceremonial swearing-in of the congressional caucus for the 112th congress. and as we welcome in the cbcf, we welcome the congressional caucus that was born in january 1969 when newly elected african-american representatives of the 77th congress joined six incumbents to form what was then called the democratic select committee. in february of 1971 with the emotion of charles v. rangel that committee was renamed the congressional black caucus with several founding members. they were shirley chisholm of
new york, william l. clay, sr., of missouri, george collins of illinois, john conyers of michigan, charles diggs of michigan, ronald belloms of california, augustus hawkins of california, ralph metcalf of illinois, robert knicks, sr. of pennsylvania, charles rangel of new york huis suits of ohio and delegate walter fauntleroy of washington. when the members met with former president richard nixon in march 1971. and presented the president with a list of 60 recommendations for governmental action on domestic and foreign issues. the president's response was considered inadequate by the caucus and did further strengthened their efforts to work together in congress. today the cbc is 43 member strong and represents 22 states
including the district of columbia and the virgin islands. a far cry from its humble begins that cbc has championed diverse causes that affect african-americans and others throughout the country and the cbc can count among its recent accomplishments a december signing by president obama funding for green job creation in the recovery act and the inclusion of focused efforts on minority health none of 2009's landmark health reform bill. at this time it is my pleasure to introduce today's guests of honor. members will be introduced by leadership position and then in order of seniority. for the sake of time we ask that you, of course, hold your applause till the end and we would also like to take this opportunity to remind all of you to make sure your cell phones are either off or on vibrate. preferably silent but we'll settle for vibrate. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the congressional black caucus of
the 112th congress including representatives donald m. pain, chairman, congressional black caucus foundation. [applause] >> representative barbara lee, 9th district, california, outgoing chairperson, congressional black caucus representative emanuel cleaver ii fifth district missouri incoming chairman congressional black caucus. ♪ >> now in senior order, representative john conyers, jr., 14th district michigan, founding member of the cbc. representative charles d. rangel 15th district new york founding member of the cbc. representative adolphis towns, representative eleanor holmes norton delegate district of columbia. representative maxine waters,
35th street california, representative sanford bishop, jr., the second district, georgia. representative corrine brown, representative district florida. representative james e. clyburn, sixth district south carolina assistant democratic leader. representative l.c. hastings, 23rd district, florida. representative eddie bernice johnson, 30th district, texas. representative bobby rush, first district, illinois. representative robert c. scott, third district, virginia. representative melvin l. watt, 12th district, north carolina. representative vinnie g. thompson, second district, mississippi. representative shocka pata, second districts, pennsylvania. representative sheila
jackson-lee, 18th district, texas. representative jesse jackson, jr., second district, illinois. representative elijah cummings, seventh district, maryland. representative donna christensen, delegate, virgin islands, first vice chair congressional black caucus. representative danny k.
davis, seventh district, illinois. representative gregory meeks, sixth district, new york. representative william lacy clay, first districts, missouri. representative david scott, 13th district, georgia. representative g.k. butterfield, jr., first district, north carolina, second vice chair, congressional black caucus. representative al green, 9th district, texas. representative gwen moore,
fourth district, wisconsin. representative yvette d. clark, 11th district, new york, secretary congressional black caucus. representative keith ellison, fifth district, minnesota. representative hank johnson, fourth district, georgia. representative laura richardson, 37th
district, california. representative andre carson, seventh district, indiana west congressional black caucus. representative donna edwards, fourth district, maryland. representative marsha fudge, 11th district, ohio. karen bass, 33rd district, california. representative hanson clark, 13th district, michigan. representative terry sull, 13th district, alabama. representative cedric wilson,
indiana. representative allen west, 22nd district, florida. [applause] >> representative frederica wilson, 17th district, florida. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating the congressional black caucus of the 112th congress. [applause] ♪ glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ glory, glory hallelujah ♪ glory glory hallelujah ♪ glory glory, hallelujah ♪ >> thank you. it is now my pleasure to introduce the reverend dr. myron mccoy, president of the st. paul school of theology. he will deliver the invocation for today's event. in 2003, dr. mccoy became the
fourth president of the st. paul school of theology in kansas city, missouri. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming dr. myron mccoy. [applause] >> i invite us all to be in an attitude of prayer. oh, god walk with us from sun up to sundown in days past. we thank you for a rich legacy of heroes and heroines who have nobodibly stood on the gap with justice on their minds. they stood in the midst of all minor of legitimatized and organized oppression and opposition. they reminded folks who didn't want to believe or accept that we too are american. we thank you for them and allowing us to stand on their shoulders and to build on their efforts. how grateful we are for allowing
us to see this new day. even with its grossly changed terrain from two years ago and the mistaken feelings of some that they have lost their country. we're mindful that the struggle continues and that there are still are many miles to go before we speak. and that we have to learn to live together as dr. king suggested or perish together. we thank you oh, lord that you promise never to abandon us or leave us alone. we thank you our god for all the returning members of the cbc and the successes that they were able to achieve in the last congress and in days past. and the many noble causes they have championed over time. we thank you for the nine new members added to the ranks as members of the congressional
black caucus. we remember all the members as they ceremonially and officially take vows to support the constitution of these united states against all their enemies foreign and domestic. help them, lord, with their vows and help them with all their enemies. lead each of these public servants in such a way that they serve the public well. give them political acumen in all manners of persuasiveness and abilities to help all their congressional colleagues who may somehow be blind to the casualties and catastrophes of existing laws and newly promised legislation. marshall these our congressional black caucus members in doing just this in demonstrating love and kindness and in walking humbly with you our god. embolden them to find ways to
create conditions where all can be housed, sent to work, sent to school, provided health care and offered a sense of safety and security with dignity. we pray especially this day for your servant, preacher, prophet, priest and public servant emanuel cleaver who will serve as leader and convener of these awesome collection of leaders. give to emanuel and all the members strong support from colleagues, staff members, family and friends. give to our brother energy, wisdom, and patience in harnessing and harvesting the awesome privilege, potential power and possibility this caucus possesses to serve the public good and ultimately your god. this is our prayer, so be it.
>> a few housekeeping notes, joshua du-boyd are from the white house. gentlemen if you would please stand and be recognized this morning. [applause] >> thank you. also i want to personally apologize to representative karen bass, 33nd california. where are you, ms. bass. i introduced karen bass and i demoted her. i did not call her representative. i read what was written and i'm on tv so i'm not real bright. but representative karen bass, congratulations and thank you so much for joining us this morning. also i want to quickly note that there are a number of empty seats because a member of our representatives are at another event this morning and they are en route and they will join us shortly. that being said our next speaker was elected new jersey's first african-american congressman by
an overwhelming majority winning by a wide margin in each subsequent election as well serving in his twelfth term congressman donald payne have served the residents of new jersey and he served as chairman of the congressional black caucus beginning in 1995 and currently serves and is chairman of the congressional black caucus foundation distributing millions of dollars in education and community programs across this country. he is a senior member of the house committee on education and labor and the committee on foreign affairs as well. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome chairman of the congressional black caucus foundation, congressman donald payne. [applause] >> thank you very much, brother melvin and let me just welcome all of you here this morning to this wonderful occasion of the swearing-in of the members of congressional black caucus for the 112th congress. it is always a pleasure to be
here and to see the colleagues and our staff through the friends and families and guests of the congressional black caucus. i'm certainly honored to serve as chairman of the congressional black caucus foundation and before i go any further let me acknowledge the fact that without a strong board and support, no organization can function. and i know practically all of us here are involved in some organization or group. and you know that it takes a whole lot of folks, it almost takes a village, to keep an organization going. and it's the same thing with the congressional black caucus foundation so i would like at this time acknowledge the members of the congressional black caucus foundation and the -- and the corporate advisory council which is an advisory group to the congressional black caucus. if those members are present,
why don't you stand. [applause] >> look at that. terrific. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. and also it would be impossible without having a cracker jack staff led by dr. l.c. scott and all of the staff persons of the congressional black caucus foundation. the foundation remains committed to changing the landscape on capitol hill. by creating a diverse pool of candidates and employees through our signature internship and fellowship programs. that's really what we're all about primarily. since 2004, we have distributed more than $24 million in educational programs, scholarships and community-based programs. 24 million throughout the united states of america. today we have a major research and development arm which
focuses on health care for blacks through our black health empowerment program and the recently released health care guide to help us navigate the new health care reform. it tells the truth about the reform. we have a homeownership and financial workshop and many more extraordinary national and international initiatives to improve the black experience in america and globally. today's program provides an excellent forum. to briefly talk about the critical bridge that connects the congressional black caucus foundation to the congressional black caucus and why our work together is vital to improving our community's quality of life here in america. i want to thank cbc chair barbara lee as chair during the 111th congress. representative lee has done an outstanding job carrying the torch of the conscience of the
time in black america. thank you so much, barbara. [applause] >> as our leader, she was a powerful voice who stood on principle and purpose, never backing down or away from the challenges before us especially during these horrific economic times. once again, thank you, congresswoman lee. this year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the congressional black caucus. before the caucus was started, there were few blacks on capitol hill in elected or appointed positions. you could actually walk through the halls of congress and think, where are the black people? where is the diversity? well, the fact is that there were few blacks in office and there were even fewer black staffers. it was the absence of blacks on capitol hill that led our esteemed founders, some of whom who are still with us today as you've already heard including congressman john conyers and
congressman charlie rangel and the late congresswoman sheli chisholm who in nine other public servants who had vision and they led our founding fathers of the congressional black caucus. we are forever grateful to me for their vision, for their courage and for their action. what some of you may not know is the educational link between the caucus and the foundation. the caucus has made it possible for more than 1,000 young people from across the nation to serve as interns and fellows in congress. i chair the collaboration with the cbc because i caution you not to underestimate the critical link between hands-on experience, networking opportunities, career development and a potential for elective office for our interns and fellows. the old cliche, they are our
future. it holds true today as it has in the past. it's essential we continue the development of our leaders, to further the policy and legislative work of the caucus. to continue work of the foundation and to continue to build upon the strong legacy of our founders. i do not embrace the program -- if we do not embrace the programs that prepare emerging leaders to lead washington and our nation, then we have failed our founders, ourselves, and our young people and compromise the future of millions of african-americans here in this country. today's swearing-in allows for a ceremonial passing of the baton to representative emanuel cleaver and to the new leadership of the congressional black caucus. congratulations to you all. it also serves as validation of the mission at the foundation to
create future leaders. as a result of both strong congressional support and through our stellar leadership program, we have now a foundation alumni working in congressional and committee offices and throughout the federal agencies in washington, d.c. we're actually changing the landscape here on capitol hill. biochemists and those in the pharmaceutical industry often refer to making a future blockbustering drugs as the pipeline for struggling black and latinos without jobs and out of school, their life journey is often referred to as a pipeline to prison. the cbcf fellows in our internship program are the pipeline to career opportunities and potentially greater leadership roles in both public and private sectors of this great country. we're here to make a positive
difference in our community. we will cause friction. we will take a stand. we will continue to argue for what is right. that is what we were elected to do. we have a voice and a choice to prepare young people for a pipeline to nowhere or for a pipeline to promise and prosperity. in addition to reaching back for young people, we must accomplish another part of what osie davis referred to it's not the man, it's it is plan when he spoke at the first caucus dinner 40 years ago. he said that america is at crossroads. and a plan was needed to move forward. as black people our plan must be to empowering our people to be civically engaged. civic engagement must be embraced, encouraged and accomplished in order for us to succeed as a people not only here on capitol hill but in the halls of congress but in every
community in every state and every hamlet throughout this nation i don't have to tell you that there was a political tsunami on november the 2nd. we all know about it. resulting in one of the most democratic changes in the political landscape in our nation's history. the midterm elections remind us of the danger of relying on periodic elections such as the primary presidential elections to advance our agenda for change. it is imperative that our people vote and become civically engaged and we must do it now. not only once every four years but we have to have that as a continuing program within our communities. [applause] >> in closing, i want to again congratulate the new leadership and my colleague congressman
emanuel cleaver. he's the right leader at this time. the challenges that lie before congress will be difficult. as we try to maintain the progress we have made and the services and programs our constituents and communities so badly needs. representative cleaver's training and his experience will bode well in this new congress. i'm confident he will continue to carry the torch of our founders as we together continue our commitment to be the voice of the voiceless and the conscience of the congress. we will later be joined by minority leader pelosi. we invited speaker boehner but as you know, there are a number of programs going on and he personally gave me his thought that he will no longer be here and he knows about our ceremonial swearing-in. and i would like to introduce
the next musical selection of yvette jones. as you know she's a black caucus performing arts scholar to sing "america the beautiful." >> thank you very much. [applause] ♪ ♪ oh, beautiful for spatious skies ♪ ♪ for amber waves of grain ♪ for purple mountain majesty ♪ america, america, god shares his grace on thee ♪
>> the swearing-in of congressional members is a time-honored tradition that signifies the start of a new congress, to administer the ceremonial oath of office is the honorable fernando gatan, chief u.s. district judge western district of missouri. with a career that spans more than 30 years, the judge has served on the state trial bench for the 16th judicial circuit in kansas city, missouri and was appointed to the missouri court of appeals western district of missouri where he served for five years. in 1991, he was appointed by president george herbert walker bush to become a u.s. district court judge for the western district of missouri where he became chief judge in 2007. ladies and gentlemen, the
honorable fernando j.gatan, jr. [applause] >> i'll ask if you would stand and raise your right hand and repeat after me. i and state your name. do solemnly swear or affirm. that i will support and defend the constitution of the united states against all enemies foreign and domestic, that i will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. that i will take this obligation, freely and without mental reservation of purpose of
evasion. that i will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which i'm about to enter so help me god. congratulations. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the congressional black caucus of the 112th congress. [applause] [applause] >> entering her seventh term serving california's ninth congressional district, congresswoman barbara lee's hard work and thoughtful political style have earned her the confidence and respect of her
peers and lots of voters as well. first elected in 1998, the lawmaker has established her reputation for principled and independent stance. taking on the tough issues and giving voice to the voiceless as she works to establish a more secure and just america for all people. she has faithfully served as the chairwoman of the congressional black caucus for the past two years through a very active period in which cbc members enjoyed unprecedented power in congress. during her tenure she introduced the landmark opportunity of all pathways out of poverty a shared agenda which addressed the pressing need to create jobs and accelerate economic growth especially in communities of color. in her district they are known to say barbara lee speaks for me. and it's true. barbara lee remains a powerful voice for a whole lot of folk. ladies and gentlemen, i am pleased to present to you the outgoing cbc chair,
congresswoman barbara lee. [applause] [applause] >> first, thank you, craig, for that very warm introduction. i'll first take a moment to thank all of you for being here. also to dr. scott, the staff, cbc foundations, thank you again for putting such a wonderful event together. i want to take a moment to say to the chair of the foundation, congressman payne, who really is an international -- is a world leader. you are to be saluted and really you're to be congratulated for your stellar and steady leadership of the foundation.
give congressman payne a round of applause. thank you so much. [applause] >> and to our assistant democratic leader, congressman jim clyburn. your sense of history, your clarity of purpose and your steadiness reverberates, not only throughout this congress but throughout the country. thank you so much for your strong and bold leadership. [applause] >> and let me take a moment to salute and to thank my distinguished colleague in the congressional black caucus including our retired members and our new members. these members are some of the boldest and brightest and most committed public servants i have ever had the privilege to work with. each and every one of you were
extremely helpful and supportive throughout my time as chair and i just have to thank you for the awesome honor of serving as the leader of this caucus for the past two years. it has been an amazing experience. it's been a very fast two years, too. it's been the fastest two years of my life but i just have to say it has been a magnificent experience. to my executive committee, to congressman cleaver, christensen, butterfield and clark, i just have to thank you all so much for your hard work, for your brilliant leadership and for always watching my back. that's so important in this town. thank you so much. give the congressional black caucus another round of applause on behalf of all of us. [applause] >> and i have take a moment to thank our staff, also my staff and the cbc staff for their
service over the past two years. they've done a tremendous job, worked in long days and nights mind you to ensure that the cbc continued its important work. give our staff a round of applause. [applause] >> and i know that our democratic representative steny hoyer has arrived. steny, thank you so much for your steadfast leadership. [applause] >> also for your friendship. and for being such an outstanding members' member. [applause] >> let me say a couple of things very quickly. in terms of where we go from here. the american dream as we all know too well has really turned into a nightmare for many, poverty, the foreclosure crisis, health disparities, unemployment, the lack of economic and educational opportunities, violence,
crime -- all disproportionately affects the african-american, low-incomed and communities of color. during the 111th congress, the cbc did not miss a beat. and they fought each and every day to address and attack and close these disparities and fought for equity and for justice in every major piece of legislation. these members also fought for parity and equity in our foreign policy especially for africa, the caribbean, latin and central america. with 18 subcommittee chairs, 4 full committee chairs, our 9 cbc task forces, legislation included provisions which never -- which never would have been part of these bills nor part of the debate had it not been for the vigilance, for the brilliance and for the hard work of the cbc and i saw how each and every member worked day and
night for the last two years to make the change that we so desperately need as part of our legislative process. our opportunities for our pathways out of poverty agenda really guided our work and the cbc continued to be the voice of the voiceless and the conscience of the congress during this new era of change. .. >> in spite of the enormous challenges, congressman emanuel cleaver has to go to the
scriptures, and i went to chapter six, verse 9 cents let us not become weary in doing good for the proper time we will reap the harvest if we do not give up. that is congressman reverend cleaver, i just have to say i know, i know and i am positive that you are going to lead the cbc to greater heights because you're a man who has never given up. congressman emanuel cleaver came from humble beginnings, growing up in public housing in texas. he would go on to earn his bachelor of science degree in sociology. my nieces graduated from preview. congressman cleaver arrived in kansas city as an activist in
the southern christian leadership conference charged with found at kansas city chapter of the civil rights organization. in 1974, after the kansas city chapter of the sclc received its charter, he began his past dork career at saint james united missionary -- st. james united methodist church with a membership of 47. today, it's my understanding that st. james has a membership of 2800. with that record i know that our congressional black caucus will grow its memberships in leaps and bounds. right? [applause] >> from 47 to 2800. in 1979 congressman cleaver was elected to the city council of kansas city. after three terms he ran for and was elected to the office of mayor where he made history as the first african-american to hold the city's highest office.
first african-american to serve as the mayor of kansas city. [applause] as mayor emanuel cleaver worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the cities residents. he championed programs and initiatives designed to create jobs and stimulate economic development. including infrastructure improvement, city planning and youth outreach. emanuel cleaver's exemplary leadership earned him a two-term position as president of the national conference of black mayors. now entering his fourth term representing the fifth district of missouri, in the house of representatives, congressman cleaver continues to make a positive impact for his constituents and the entire country. here in congress users on exclusive financial services committee, the homeland security committee, and the select committee on energy independence and global warming. above all, his proudest achievement i know it is beautiful family.
is beautiful family. he and his wife diane have been married for more than 30 years and have made kansas city their home. they have four grown children and three grandchildren. over the last two years congressman clay would have served as first vice chair of the congressional black caucus, and cheered our very successful and effective economic recovery task force. i had valued his wisdom, his counsel, and can say with certainty, with certainty, that in spite of the challenges and difficulties, he does not get weary. for he knows the cbc must continue to fight for what is morally right. and also must continue to take many times unpopular stands. and so it's my pleasure now to introduce to you my colleague, our friend, a dynamic leader,
the new chair of the congressional black caucus, congressman emanuel cleaver. [applause] [applause] >> thank you very much. barbara lee has been a fantastic leader for the congressional black caucus. and there is no disagreement among the members, and as a point of remembrance of these soft, easy years that you have led us, we would like to present
you with this memory, a piece that we hope you will keep with you. it's a presenter congresswoman barbara lee in recognition of your outstanding and dedicated service for the 111th congress, as chairperson of the congressional black caucus. [applause] >> i would like to thank chairwoman lee for her kind introduction, and i would like to now introduce, until 12 noon today, the majority leader of
the united states congress, my friend, steny hoyer. [applause] >> my, my, my. >> thank you so much. thank you so much. i need to go to a lot of events over the next hour and 50 minutes. barbara lee, an extraordinary leader of our country, of the cbc, and of the congress. thank you so much for your service. [applause] >> to donald payne, alcee scott, angela wright, thank you for your leadership in various different capacities. this organization. to the manuals beautiful wife,
son, i know this is a proud, proud day for you. and i'm not sure whether you are the manuals father or father in law. father. and i know it's a very proud day for you. neither of my parents, none of the three pairs i had, my stepfather, were alive when i was elected to the congress of the united states. to have your son and your husband and your father given this great honor, has been preceded by so many trade rate americans who love this country so well. it is i know a very special day for you. but i want you to know it is also a special day for the speaker and i and all of emanuel's colleagues who know him well. and i will speak to that in just a second. to all of you, who are such critical members of the democratic caucus, but more importantly than that, the
congress of the united states. i don't know of any group in america who would be any more justified in being cynical, angry, and disaffected african-americans. treated so badly in a country that pledged itself to equality for all, but failed to practice equality for all. and, indeed, enslaved some of its citizens because of the color of their skin. the fact that you have dedicated your cells to positive participation in building a more beloved community has benefited my children, my grandchildren, and my great great-granddaughter. so i am here to thank all of you, each of you are what you
have done, are doing, and continue to do to make this country all that it can be. [applause] >> i'm here to congratulate barbara lee on her outstanding work as chair of the congressional black caucus, and welcome emanuel cleaver to his leadership role. i was proud to work beside barbara on so many things. important legislation, 111th congress. together we stood up for small business to create jobs in our communities, for access to higher education, four h.r. disaster struck neighbor, haiti, for an end to genocide in sudan, along with donald payne has been our leader on that issue. and for peace and self-determination in south sudan, and for so much more that barber and the black caucus have
been the conscience of the congress and the leader in the congress. ensuring our focus on those issues. we all know that these are going to be tougher times for democrats but that's just what is so important to stand by the principles that have motivated our work and, indeed, your work of such a very long period of time. principles our security and opportunity for all americans, and all working people. for four decades in the majority in in the minority, in times of prosperity and times of trial, the congressional black caucus has led congress and the democratic caucus in the work of living up to the promises and principles and hope and vision and opportunity of the declaration of independence, and of the constitution whose words we will read tomorrow on the floor of the house of
representatives. those words have always been compelling, but as the congressional black caucus knows better than any other group in the congress of the united states, words alone are not enough. words are not self executing it they require the blood, sweat and toil of literally millions of people, some who are famous in so many who are unknown. to make us a more beloved community. the congressional black caucus has been and will be our leader in that effort. and now, i am pleased to again say to my friend, emanuel cleaver, who has become a dear and close friend as was his predecessor, and, frankly, through his predecessor i became his good friend, my dear friend, emanuel cleaver.
[applause] >> as you have heard, from barbara lee, he is a man of great faith, a leader of his flock, leader of his city, as its mayor, and the faithful and effective representative of his constituents. i know as you know he will again excel and inspire in his new role in leading the congressional black caucus. congratulations, emanuel cleaver. america will be a better place. the congressional black caucus is stronger, part of our party, and of our congress and of this country because of your leadership. may god bless you, as you bless
america through your leadership and to each and every one of you, who has overcome discrimination, rejection, racism, and so much more, to emerge as positive leaders of principle in this land of the free, and home of the brave, god bless you. and thank you. thank you all. [applause] >> before we proceed let me introduce the surgeon general of the united states, dr. benjamin. [applause]
>> thank you for joining us, and let me just introduce and present my wife, diane, and my father who has been my father all of my life. and i say that because that, there is meaning in that. has never been a time when i didn't have a father. thank you for being here, to my entire family, my friends, thank you for being here. [applause] >> and our with, until 12 noon, they had a prayer meeting earlier today, and he was there praying for me. [laughter] thank you, mr. with -- mr. witt.
this is truly a great moment in the 40 history of the congressional black caucus. and to my colleagues, i must say i am humbled that you have chosen the two lead as the 22nd chair of this great body during such a time as this. thank you all for being here this morning and reaffirming your support for the work of the cbc, and celebrating the legacy during this historic swearing-in ceremony. standing before this vast number here today, we, the congressional black caucus, the 112th congress of the united states of america, are inspired in filled with robust hunger to defend the advances made by
those who so ably and vigorously toiled in these hallowed halls long before most of us arrived. they ran the race, and that race is continuing in us. what a company. the names that set any african-american heart beating faster, conyers, wrangle, stokes, mitchell, chisholm, jordan, clay, hawkins, nick, metcalf, collins, digs and roy. these are the heroes of our political history. [applause] >> mr. chairman and mr. chairman, thank you so much. they were courtiers who practiced statecraft at a level
which brought about sociopolitical change that laid the foundation to make the promise of america the practice of america. and we will devotedly and unwaveringly follow the example of bold and prophetic world. as the incoming chair of the cbc, there's great hope that i will come as every chair before me, move forward beyond compromise agenda of this body. to the cheers whom i've observed since my election to congress a mere six years ago, elijah e. cummings, mel watt, carolyn cheeks kilpatrick, and my tutor, oakland california's barbara lee. please know that i will not allow pride to prevent me from imitating the best of what i've seen in each of you. when i consider the vastness of
the challenge ahead, i can't help but chant the prayer of the old fisherman when he took his little craft up on the ocean. he prayed, oh, my god, my boat is so small, and the sea is so great. nevertheless, all anxiety is castaway by the flames of the lamp of my 42 colleagues. we are at a critical point in this nation's history. were as african-americans we live the bitterness of slavery and oppression, held onto the hopes of progress, and for generations reached for and in countless cases achieved the american dream. today, cbc declares what the songwriter, we ain't no ways tired. from the chains of slavery
across the bridge in selma, and to the highest office in the land, we climbed a great ladder of equality and advancement. yet there is more work to be done. for the past 40 years the congressional black caucus has continued to fight the good fight. the cbc has been involved in a myriad of legislative initiatives ranging from full employment to welfare reform, south african apartheid, and international human rights. a minority business development to expanded educational opportunity. it's always been our mission as a caucus to preserve a national commitment to fair treatment, for urban and rural america, the elderly, students, small business, middle and low income families, and economically disadvantaged to give voice to the voiceless. 40 years since our founding we have been successful in rising
to strategic positions on congressional committees, to affect change in federal policy. and now to the highest office within the nation, can you believe it? one of the merits of the congressional black caucus now sits in the white house. [applause] >> and to say it in the words of the old preacher who wanted to use a big word to impress the congregation, he said we are hippopotamus proud. [laughter] >> i stand before you today to tout our historic accomplishments and share a vision of what's to come. if we don't tell our story, who
will? it's time we stand and declare who we are. the 11th congress, cbc members, held three committee chairs, and 18 subcommittee chairmanships. we are freedom fighters, justice seekers, equalizers and pursuers of the american dream for all america, regardless of race color or creed. we stand for parity and economic, we stand for equality in education. we stand for access to health care for all americans. we stand for reclaiming the american dream for all. strangely, there's a question raised i some in the media. in fact, this morning during an interview, it was the first question and it will continue to be a question until we put a
stop to it. and this is the question. is the congressional black caucus relevant in this postracial era? to that spectacular assertion, i must politely say, get real. [applause] >> the long and laborious march towards a society that puts down issues of race will eventually arrive at its destination. but today is not that day. to be sure, there will come a day when the people of this nation see other americans from different backgrounds and different races with their hearts instead of their eyes. but today is not that day. when the day does arrive, and it
surely will because it is near, when all americans choose to discover new truths about each other, at long last lingering prejudices will subside, and we'll have a postracial nation. but today is not that day. it is important that we obliterate the notion that we have reached race relations nonviolent. because the failure to do so presents us from engaging in the demanding but necessary work. clearly we have come a long way, but our work is far from over. we have so much more to accomplish before we sleep. to paraphrase the poet robert frost, we have miles and miles to go before we sleep. and miles and miles to go before we sleep. had we slept during the 111th congress, they would not be a section 342 to the dodd-frank
wall street reform act which great the office of minority of women inclusion in each federal financial service agencies. [applause] >> nine members of the financial services committee following our leader maxine waters met in her kitchen and decided to stay together until we were successful in getting this through. had we slept during the 11th congress there would be no fair sentencing act which reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine. had we slept -- [applause] -- and the 111th congress, african-americans and native americans farmers would still be waiting for the $4.6 billion that has been owed to them for over a decade. [applause] >> had we slept during the 111th congress, they would be no american recovery and
reinvestment act that injected $800 billion into our economy, and help families, small businesses and our workforce recover during what most of us believed to have been a depression, had we slept during the 111th congress, there would be a major gap in funding for historically black colleges and universities. had we slept in the 111th congress, the pell grants program would be just a pittance of what it is had we slept during the 111th congress, there would be no health care reform. and this congress, congressional black caucus, will continue the good fight. why? let me tell you it this way. one day i decided to go to our
sunday school to observe what was going on, because in united methodist church we are subject to a bishop, the united methodist methodist church or methodist church and catholic churches have bishops that can appoint and disappoint. [laughter] >> in an attempt to protect my appointment, i thought i needed to make sure that our sunday school was working fine. so i went into one of the teenage classrooms, and a teacher welcomed me. she said pastor, come on writing. and i said i would like to ask questions. of the student. and she said go right ahead. i said, billy, who knocked down the jericho wall? he said pastor, i didn't do. i know i have a bad reputation.
[laughter] >> i know i have a bad reputation of the church, but i didn't do it. and then the teacher stood up and said, pastor, he's telling the truth that i watched him when he got off the bus. he came in, just didn't do it. [laughter] >> and i thought to myself, i have lost my appointment. so i called a meeting with the church officers the day after the service. and i went in and i said we've got a crisis. we've got to deal with it. and we got to do with it now. i said look, i went to a sunday school class. i asked little billy who knocked down the jericho wall. he denied it. and i said, worse still, the teacher came behind him and corroborated his statement.
and so is the chairman said, pastor, whoever knocked it down, they will pay for it. [laughter] >> well, my friends, the wall of protection of the unemployed is down. the wall of summer job security for young people is down. the wall of middle east peace is down. the wall of disease is down. the wall of civil discourse is down. the wall of homeownership, expecting 1 million foreclosures this year, is down. the wall of separation between
financial predators and the poor is down. but good news, we've got 42 wall builders. [applause] >> standing ready to rebuild the wall. we don't care who knocked it down. we are going to rebuild the wall. wall builders of the cbc. we will rebuild the wall. [applause] >> keep in mind, this is the only caucus that did not lose a single member in the last election. [applause] >> this is the only caucus that gained membership in the last election. these are wall builders. [applause]
>> aren't we relevant? the answer is yes. the congressional black caucus will be relevant as long as we continue to have work in front of us. as long as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, we are relevant. as long as our communities suffer a depression while the rest of the country talks about a recession, we are relevant. as long as the first recommendations presented by our caucus to president nixon in march of 1971 has some relevance into the state of our union, we are relevant. as millions continually call out to take their country back, that pakistan's ready to continue its relevant work, of creating a nation for all americans, black, white, rich, poor, young and immigrants alike. i nation inclusive of all god's children. sadly, the people's house has has become a bitter and in this
venue for unresolved squabbles over a super abundance of issues, which could determine the social and economic survival of our nation, and perhaps the entire world. as result of documentation between members of congress, we are having work that is much, much more difficult to address. yet congress at its worst demand the congressional black caucus at its best. in this bewildering fog of political tribalism and instantaneous instigation by the media, and a factory debate, the cbc will embrace its mission. let the word go forth that the cbc did not come to congress to
make enemies. we came to make a difference. our enemies our ignorance, bigotry, unemployment, needless war, and failure. it's clear that our time to stand up is now. our time to reclaim the dream is now. we must lead the charge. we must continue on this great journey, and when all is said and done, the promise of america will no longer be just a promise. it will become the practice. let me conclude by sharing with you, particularly with my father here, we had to go to church when i grew up. i come from a family of creatures, so on saturday night we had to go to bed so we could go to church and stay all day. i'm just saying. [laughter] >> but we could stay up on
friday nights, which was great because friday night at 10:30 we had the monster mash. and that was the highlight of our week. there were eight cleaver kids, first cousins, and we tried to spend the night with each other every weekend. and so we would get around that old black and white tv with rabbit ears, and they would start this horror movie, the most delicious films ever made. and my cousins, my three sisters, they would be afraid, they would cover up when the monsters came. but i was there looking at the monsters directly, trying to see every bite. and then win some and sensitive person drove a stake through the heart of dracula --
[laughter] -- my sisters and my first cousins went off to bed. but for me, the best was yet to come. i would move over in front of that old black and white television, and i would hear an announcer say, we've come to the end of another day of broadcast until tomorrow morning on channel six we will resume programming. and then my heart would begin to beat heavily, and then finally i would see it. a silver jet would fly through the clouds, soft, almost edible looking clouds. and then that just right but just extreme music would begin to play. and then a golden voice could be heard, i dance the sky on wings,
the son would join the clout. 100 things you never dreamed of. swung high. chased the winds along, through footless halls of air, up, up, up the long delirious of i climbed the heights we're not a lark or even eagle flew, and were assigned to -- lifting mind i've trod the high of space. put out my hand, and touched the face of god. in 1941, an 18 year-old american-born canadian pilot by the name of john gillespie was
killed when his spit fire crashed into another plane inside the clouds. but fortunately, a few months earlier he had sent that poem back to his mother and his father. it's called my flight. over the next two years, congressional black caucus, as it has during the past 40, will be on a high flight. your mission, should you accept, is to be with us, encourage as, and sometimes even criticize us. because we dare to chase the shouting wind along. thank you very kindly. [applause]
[applause] [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the new leader of the caucus, representative emanuel cleaver their, i didn't make it to church last sunday by don't feel bad about it now. we are almost to the end of our program. before we move on real quickly, we do want to acknowledge, we know we have a number of active united states military members in our audience. a number of retired members as well. we would like to take a quick moment just to acknowledge the
members current and retired, the members of the nested military who are here. please stand and be recognized. [applause] >> and it is with great pleasure that i now introduce the democratic leader of the 112th congress, representative nancy pelosi. [applause] >> the speaker, nancy pelosi. [applause] >> good morning. >> good morning. >> yes, i am still speaker of the house.
[laughter] >> for a short period of time, but one of my last acts as speaker of the house, the 111th congress, is becoming congratulate the congressional black caucus of the 112th congress, and a short period of time between their swearing in and the swearing in of the new congress. i come on behalf of all of my colleagues, to not only offer congratulations, but with a deep sense of gratitude for the contribution that the congressional black caucus and its many friends have made to the strength of our country. and with the recognition that so much more needs to be done, and the challenges that we face ahead. there's a tradition in the house when you hear somebody very eloquently presenting the case that you just decide to say i associate myself with the previous speaker, and call it a
morning, i do want to acknowledge how blessed we are to have emanuel cleaver as the head of the cbc. [applause] >> he follows in some mighty footsteps of congresswoman barbara lee fulfilling a vision that she set forth starting, of this caucus which has been said over and over, started four decades ago. congratulations to you, congresswoman barbara lee for your exceptional work as leader of the cbc. congratulations to emanuel, good luck to you. and i'm so happy to see emanuel senior along with emanuel junior. is emanuel the third here join diane. congratulations to the entire family for the wonderful benefit will have. emanuel senior, i have to tell you this. gwyneth emanuel was a new member
of congress, we asked him to speak as a freshman member, a meeting, a rally that we had turkey talk about you the whole time. he talked about how in church one day the minister was saying that, they took up the a collection and he said that money was tainted, was tainted, was tainted. and then finally, you know, the collectors bringing it up, and he said is tainted. it taint enough. [laughter] expect that was our introduction to emanuel cleaver. i needless to say did not do justice the way he told the story. but that was, if the world knew what you all new. and we suspect that we had a great leader in our midst, and
he out to get the message across. we take such great pride in the cbc in the 40 years of its leadership in the congress, but i was reading that chairman conyers and chairman rangel, two charter members, founding members, thank you for your leadership, but they're originally worth -- okay. [applause] >> that originally were 13 original members. and i was thinking how interesting, 13 original colonies, coming together to fight for freedom. 13 original members of the cbc coming together to expand freedom in our country. 10 years before that, and we will serve at this month 50 years ago is at the inauguration john f. kennedy. many of you were drawn into
politics, many of you were not born, but -- i was there that day. so it may be history to you, but it was my youth. to see the swearing in and the beautiful words that were said about how important every person is in our country are and in the course of that time, from the present inauguration and then present lyndon johnson, but people like john lewis and our distinguished assistant leader, many people who are there working hard to teach america what our country was about in the civil rights movement. and because of what they did. what are we now, 42? 43 strong here. we want more, of course but 43 strong from the original 13.
it is an honor again, thank you melvin, for your introduction of one word or another. congressman donald payne, thank you for your leadership as chair of the foundation. and evette jones, congratulations for receiving the south asians performing arts scholarship. it's very important to recognize the talent among us in many different ways, and what a great honor to receive that from the cbc. but back to john f. kennedy. he said at the time, this nation was founded by men, men, of many nations and backgrounds, and was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man is threatened. i did not really mean that as a source of humor.
[laughter] >> but in any event, the fact that the one bright, the rights of one person are threatened, then the rights of every person are diminished. what we are facing now as we go forward and emanuel address this, and this is the essence of the congressional black caucus, that if we're talking about the dignities of every person and that everyone is equal, then it is really important in our society that dignity be afforded the ability to make a living, suitable to the talent that people have. it isn't enough to say we're going to put people back to work. many people have not had work, because for a number of years they have been excluded. because our system has favored
the high-end. under president obama and the conscience of the congress and cbc, we have fought to change the leverage. with wall street reform, with the greatest consumer protections ever where we are saying no longer will recklessness on wall street cause problems on main street. the worker must be valued, the consumer, the greatest consumer protections in history. and talking about the health care reform, where again the leverage move to the people away from the insurance company. these are all in their own rights important, but as a source of job creation, in any way, what we want to do want energy independence and new green jobs, and a new way so that many young people, in the african-american community and the minority community, our on the ground floor of building the future for our country.
so what we are saying is, as we go forward, we extend a hand out a willing hand of friendship if our colleagues are interested in creating jobs for all americans, if they are interested in strengthening the middle class by enhancing those who were there and pulling many more people into it. and by reducing the deficit so that we are not giving tax cuts to the rich and sending the bill to our grandchildren and future generations, as it increases the deficit. create jobs, strengthen the middle class, reduce the deficit. that helps all americans. that helps create american jobs. i was so pleased to see the acknowledgment of our men and women in uniform and the african-american to be has played such a big role.
the minority community in general has played such a big role in keeping is the home of the brave and the land of the free. so thank you for your service to our country. we owe you more though the net thanks. we all our returning troops jobs. we owe them jobs, so that when they come home -- [applause] -- we are building a future worthy of their sacrifice. so this 40th cbc, probably the greatest collection of idealism, of imagination for what you have connection to people and their needs, to energy and stamina, to get the job done, to a relentless and dissatisfaction with the status quo until many more people can partake in the american dream. so i have come here to say thank you for the. our great president barack obama
has said we will measure our success by the progress that is being made by america's working families. if relentlessness could be expanded with intensity, that only begins to tell the story of barbara lee, emanuel cleaver, and members of the cbc, on behalf of working families in america. relentless, dissatisfied, persistent, creative, entrepreneurial, imaginative, patriotic for our country. we have our own preacher in the leadership, jim clyburn, who has us reflect upon our purpose as we begin our meeting. and again we've had a service this morning at church, and they
came here entered preacher cleaver, and it is true though that what he was saying, it is about our values, about what we carry inside of us. and if we go to church and talk about god's blessings on all of us and how we are all of equal in his eyes, and we are all equal in terms of our constitution, that equality has to extend to economic opportunity for all americans as well. [applause] >> as dr. martin luther king taught us a lot about how to be effective in how to get the job done, have to stick by your principles, right, john? and taught america so much. we learn everyday as a congress that instruction continued from
our cbc. as others have said, they are the conscience of the congress. your support of them intellectually and everywhere personally and every way is a great resource, not only for them and the congress, but for our country. so we will not rest, again, we extend a hand of friendship to create jobs, reduce the deficit. we look for common ground to solve the problems of the american people. their health, the housing, their jobs, their savings, their children's education. but where we cannot find common ground we must stand our ground on behalf of the pledge we take every day, with liberty and justice for all. and that includes economic justice for all. so i have come here to thank the
cbc for being who you are, to congratulate you, jewish success to your new leader, he manually, to express appreciation to barbara lee for her leadership to the foundation in donald m. payne, to the families are sharing a manual with those, but this looks like one big family to me. i seek diane watson who's going to be leaving us now, but will always be part of our family. [applause] >> so, we all know what our important role is, has been, and will continue to be. two years from now when we come together, things will be different. [applause] >> things will be different. and we are now all engaged in a campaign for all americans for better field marshals in that
campaign, the congressional black caucus under the leadership of emanuel cleaver. thank you all very much. congratulations, and i was you on the floor of the house. thank you all very much. [applause] ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the house, ms. nancy pelosi. [applause] >> we would also thank the congressional black caucus for four decades as it has served as the conscience of congress. as we move further into this century we look forward to your dedicated service of leading us to the next phase of our historic journey, and we would ask right now that all the members please stand. ladies and gentlemen, one final time, please join me in saluting the congressional black caucus of the 112th congress.
[applause] >> members, we would also ask that you remain for a few moments for an official photo. please remain standing in position for a quick photo. we would also like to take a moment to thank our audience for fortunate to congressional black caucus foundation in our ceremonial swearing in of the black caucus 112th congress as we move to the 2011 calendar, we look forward to witnessing, witnessing the important work of the 43 dynamic individuals that we have saluted today. we invite you, the audience, to great members at the reception immediately outside this auditorium, outside being the operative word there. again, thank you very much, and this concludes our program for the day.
[applause] spirit and again we would like to remind our members, if we could all stay in position for the photo. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> also, i didn't a quick goodbye, the recession is outside so please make your way outside to left and the right to endorse. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the 112th senate gavels in live at noon eastern here on c-span2. the house is also coming in at noon eastern today. that's live on c-span. this friday we expect debate on the repeal of the health care law. a vote is likely next wednesday. right now on c-span2 from yesterday, house republican speaking about their plans for the repeal.
consulted with democrats through this, which to my knowledge, has never been done before. i don't say that in the expectation that they will be supporters of chief of supportive of the package, but as you talk to the democrats who were designated, rob andrews anb brady, they are two individuals who followed the process. i don't want to speak for them, but they were encouraged by some of the things that we were working on. so i think that we have got a wonderful opportunity tomorrow afternoon to bring back the kind of accountability and transparency that the american people desperately want and have the rules package that is focused on job creation and economic growth. the top priorities of this 112th congress. >> thank you, david. i just want to say thank you to david and his staff. i think this is an impressive rules package that will transform this house back to where it is the people's house. it is the people's business, the
taxpayers' money, and they have a right to not only observe what goes on in our committees, but also participate more fully in the process. having legislation available online for at least three days for their opening up the committee process the putter scheduling i think is going to lead to better policy which is what we should be all about. better policy. creative minds from both sides of the aisle. the nation faces huge challenges. this is an opportunity to fix the process so that we can begin to address this challenge is in a positive way. this is a package that puts in towards the taxpayer when it comes to try to reduce the cost of government. no more on a pilot on spending. the opportunity to reduce the deficit. i think that is unprecedented. it will be controversial, but long river do. we had a very good and vigorous discussion, and we look forward to going to the floor with his rules package. for the relief for the board -- we look forward to going to the floor with a proposal that i
have put forward to reduce the spending in congress by 9%. we have to lead, and that starts with us. very few people have made it clear that they are making sacrifices, tough times, cutting back. this time for the leaders and the government to do the same. we will leave with that and addressed the spending problems that we have here in washington. >> usain many times, express your frustration many, many times with democrats. why will the be a closed rule on health care repeal? >> we said very clearly from the beginning, we were going to in fact repeal the health care measure. that was the messes that the american people sent on november 2nd. what we argued is that we need to have a transparent and more open process when it comes to the replacement, which is exactly what we are going to be delay on thursday in the rules committee at tech talk with cameras in the room.
an opportunity for members to propose amendments. my recommendation is story to be when the process begins at the committee level that is when these ideas need to be heard. at the end of the day when we have the measure that would, in fact, replace, come forward, we will have a transparent and more open process on the house floor. we know that when this measure was considered that there was not the kind of openness. what we said is we will have a more open process. sadly we have just completed the 111th congress which has had the most closed record in the history of this country. and we are -- the message we sent was a clear one. we are going to be spending time in the rules committee on this, but at the end of the day this one sentence which simply repeals a bill which has promised, the commitment made, our pledge which is what we will proceed with.
>> what can you do that across the board? i understand later put the replace factor. >> our goal is, our goal is to pass because we said that we would do this, a measure that will appeal the job-killing health care bill that president obama put forward. but we want to do, it is not an asterisk. we are saying that this is one sentence measure. but we are saying is that our goal is to make sure that democrats and republicans, to maquettes and republicans who were denied an opportunity a stake in the process as it moves forward will through the committee structure that we will have with the replacement mechanism which will be directing, they will be able to participate. >> already spent a lot. there is something a lot more power. sort of in some ways write the budget themselves.
blowing this out of proportion. >> yes, they are. first of all, they had a full year to promulgate a budget, put it before the house, and pass it. pass an appropriations bill. the control both the house, senate, and white house. the failed to put forth a budget. they left us with the continuing resolution that runs out in march. we must move fairly rapidly. this is not unprecedented. we intended to get this in process. so, you know, they could have acted in should have acted. they abdicated their responsibility and left us in this large. removal work and finish up this year and get started on the next fiscal year. i think it is fully appropriate to the needs to happen, we need to get going to cut back on spending and get a budget in place. >> that is the important point to make. the budget committee and appropriations committee are focused on reducing the size and scope and reach of government
and encouraging economic growth. it is clear that the authority needs to be there to do that, but it is as transparent as can be. that is but the goal is. the chairman of the appropriations committee describes this committee as the test appropriations committee. effort and said that publicly because he knows that it is absolutely imperative that we cut. look at the fact of the net last four years we have had a 5% increase in non discretionary spending. but the chairman of the appropriations committee and the chairman of the budget committee are committed to is reversing that. i am convinced that this rules package, which, again, is unprecedented and is not focused on creating a climate to increase spending but rather to create a climate that will be focused on reducing the size and scope and reach of the federal government. by virtue of that we will be on the same page. >> keep in mind, i think this is the first undoubles package has
been up to this far in advance on line. i don't know if the democrats but there is on line yet. i assume the will at some point. we were trying to move this forward. there has never been this much. >> it is a great point. december 22nd raid will the tech and put this out for everyone to see. again, having gone through this myself for eight years as chairman of the rules committee, this is something that we put together, but we never did it with this kind of openness. that is what i am very impressed with the way we're doing it this time, not only much better than the way that it was done by the majority moving out now, but those of us in the majority in the past. >> apennines and. [inaudible question] >> the fact is we are just going through right now.
there are a couple of amendments that were accepted and we are in the process of putting this together right now. we obviously want to do everything that we can to insure that we reduce spending. transparency was our guide when it came to this issue. insuring that with the spending reduction account, the us are a that is now going to be in house rules when we pass this tomorrow, we will have that dollar amount set aside before it goes into the senate. we cannot control what the senate does, but we know this. we can't control what they do, but it is obvious that we can make a parent what has happened in the house of representatives. when dollars are there there will be greater accountability. that is why i believe the provisions that we have are, in fact, going to be the proper one to provide what it is that we need. >> and, remember, we will have a tough budget number to begin
with. so what we are talking about are reductions through amendments below that number. >> until you actually cut the allocation. >> right. >> and we are going to be focused on bring about those cuts in the house. again, the very important part of the challenge that we have commander you want to work in a bipartisan way. i am hoping that we will be able to put together a joint committee in the house and senate for us to look at reform of the 1974 budget and impoundment act to read something i hope we will be able to put in place so that we can work in a bicameral as well as bipartisan way. at this juncture the rule that we have is one that is focused on our bringing about these spending cuts and making it fully transparent win in the house-senate conference the issue is addressed. >> at the end of the day we still have to get appropriation bills down to the president for any changes in spending to take
effect after nine and. [inaudible question] >> democrats have accused republicans of using in run type gimmicks when you repeal health care. how do you address their criticisms that you are not being completely forthcoming when you are addressing major things like tax cuts and health care? >> first of all, on the tax cuts we have a philosophical difference. we don't believe it is the government's money to start with. is the individuals' money. we have a philosophical difference with comes to tax cuts. when it comes to spending you can also make the argument that obama care to ten years of revenues in six years of expenditures and produced a deficit. so let's understand. we have an up or down vote to repeal obama care and then we will go forward with the replacement through the regular
order of the committee process and then we will move forward with other reductions that come ahead with tens if not 50 if not $100 million in cuts. we will be very transparent. our committees will be organized. they must be able to do that work. they will, and you will see it. you will get to observe it is an unprecedented manner. >> thank you all very much. happy new year. [inaudible conversations] >> the 112th congress cavils and today with both the house and senate coming in at noon eastern. in the house they are electing a new speaker. expected to be chosen to lead the majority. looking ahead on the repeal of the health care law the house is live on c-span. here on c-span2 we have live coverage of the senate. we expect some for discussion on the filibuster. democrats want to weaken the filibuster.
a republican senator spoke out in opposition of the move yesterday. lamar alexander was hosted by the heritage foundation. we will hear his remarks first and then a panel discussion on the filibuster. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. tricky for joining us here atjou the heritages foundation. our first event of 2011.verye hr to welcome everyone who joins us on our website, and we remind our internet yours that questions can be put submitedm, throughout our program.
we will post the program within 24 hours on wour website as we. one last richie's check, we appreciate everyone's making tued off forones have been turned off for those recording the festivities. hosting our discussion as much as -- as well as introducing our special guest is michael frank.s he serves heritage as vice president for governmentke relations. mike. >> the q and good afternoon. my honor to introduce our keynote speaker, center lamar alexander from tennessee. tenne and in preparing for this it occurs to me that we could have easily title today's event why y can the senate be more like the house. in a nutshell that is why we will be talking about.sal thatil there is a proposal likely to come befor be the senate in the next few days or week that coul,
easily change one senate rule,et fundamentally change the nature that body in no way that was probably never intended by ourtt founders. it is a debate that goes to what the essence of the foundershey they created ahamber chamber designed for the state's designed to create the interests of the states, especially smaller states that didn't have the proportional representation in the house. there is a lot at stake. may not be cow incidental. i counted 49 sners in the incoming senate who previously served in the house and especially the top three, democratic leadership, all of whom are former house members and yearn for the days being in the lower body. so they are trying to do things to the filibuster rule that would turn the senate into a body like the house. our speaker, senator lamar alexander of tennessee. he serves on committees
overseeing education, clean air, highways, science, appropriations and not unimportantly for a senator from tennessee, tennessee valley authority. he was elected both governor and senator. he has been u.s. education secretary, president of the university of tennessee and professor at harvard school of government. and he served on president reagan's commission on american outdoors. in private life, he helped find the largest provider of work site day care. he is a classical pianist and author of seven books. please welcome senator lamar alexander. [applause] >> thank you, mike. and ladies and gentlemen and to heritage foundation, thank you
very much for sponsoring this forum and for inviting this distinguished group of panelists. i'm one of the former number of governors and i don't have the desire to turn the senate into the house but that is what we are talking about today. i saw the title and i changed it a little bit. i borrowed a line, which you will see in a few minutes. i have a short video to show you what some prominent americans have said about the idea of changing the senate filibuster rule. but this is what a radio announcer during the world war inch i era had to say about the filibuster. he said it's democracy's finest show, the right to talk your head off. that's the subject of what i would like to talk about for a few minutes this afternoon. voters who turned out in
november are going to be disappointed when they learn the first thing that some democrats want to do is to cut off the right of people they elected in november to make their voices heard on the floor of the united states senate. now, in the november election, voters showed that they very well remember the passage of the health care law on christmas eve 2009. the night sessions, voting in the midst of a snowstorm, backroom deals, little time to read, amend or debate the bill. it was how it was done as much as what was done that angered the american people. minority voices were silenced. those who didn't like it were told, we won the election, we write the bill, we don't need your votes. the majority's attitude was just that and one person said you can read it after we pass it. of course, the result was the law that the majority of americans now believe is a
historic mistake and the passage of the bill launched the beginning of an instant effort to repeal and replace the bill. voters remembered all of this on november 6, but only six weeks later, some democratic senators seem to have completely forgotten it. on december 18, every returning democratic senator sent a letter asking the majority leader to take republican abuses to our rules to -- democratic abuses to our rules to an end. some have threatened to change the rules so it would be easier to do with every piece of legislation. ram it through with a partisan vote with little debate, little amendment, little committee consideration and without listening to minority voices. the brazenness of this proposed action is that democrats are proposing to use the very tactics that in the past almost every democratic leader has
denounced, including president obama and vice president biden when they were senators, who said such a thing would be a nuclear option, a naked power grab and destructive of the senate as a protector of minority rights. the democratic proposal would allow the senate to change its rules with only 51 veets ending the historical practice of allowing any senator at any time to offer any amendment until 60 senators decided it's time to end the debate. as investors business daily wrote, quote, the senate majority leader has a plan to deal with the republican electoral success. when you lose the game, the newspaper said, you simply change the rules. when you only have 53 votes, you lower the bar to 51. this is called election null fix, unquote. now there is no doubt that the senate has been reduced to a shadow of itself as the world's
greatest deliberative body. a place which, as senator arlen specter said in his fair well address, has been distinctive because of the ability of any senator to offer any amendment at any time, unquote. but the demyself of the senate is not because republicans seek to filibuster. the real obstructionists have been the democratic majority, which for an unprecedented number of times used their majority advantage to limit debate, not to allow amendments and to bypass normal committee consideration of legislation. to be specific. according to the congressional research service, number one, the majority leader has used his power to cut off all amendments and debate 44 times, more than the last six majority leaders combined. number two, the majority leader has moved to shut down debate the same day, measures are
considered, nearly three times more on average than the last six majority leaders. and number three, the majority leader has set the record for bypassing the committee process, bringing a measure directly to the floor by passing committees 43 times during the last two congresses. let's be clear what we mean when we say the word filibuster. let's say the majority leader brings up the health care bill, which is his right to do. i go down to the floor, senator from tennessee, to offer an amendment and to speak on the health care bill. the majority leader says, no, senator alexander, and he cuts off my amendment. i object. majority leader calls what i tried to do a filibuster. that's what he defines as a filibuster. i call what he did, cutting off my right to speak and to amend, which is what i was elected to do. so the problem is not a record
number of filibusters, the problem is a record number of attempts to cut off amendments and debate so the minority voices across america cannot be heard on the floor of the senate. so the real party of no is the majority party that's been saying no to debate, no to voting on amendments that minority members believe improve legislation and express the voices of the people they represent. in fact, the reason the majority leader can claim there have been so many filibusters is because he is counting the number of times he has moved to cut off debate. instead of this power grab as the new congress arrives tomorrow, the goal should be to restore the senate to its historic role where the voices of the people can be heard rather than silenced, where ideas can be offered as amendments, rather than supressed and those amendments can be voted and debated upon
rather than cut off. to accomplish this, the senate needs to change its behavior, not change its rules. the majority-minority leaders have been in discussion on steps that might help to accomplish this. i have been part of those discussions, some of them. i would like to discuss this afternoon why it is essential in my opinion to our country that cooler heads prevail tomorrow when the senate convenes. one good example the democrats might follow is the one established by republicans to gained control of both senate and house of representatives in 1995. that was the so-called gingrich revolution of 1994. on the first day of the new republican majority, democratic senator harkin of iowa, proposed a rule change diluting the filibuster. every single republican senator voted against the change, even though supporting it clearly
would have provided at least a temporary advantage for the republican agenda. here is why the republicans who were in the majority then and democrats who are in the majority today should reject a similar rules change. first, the proposal diminishes the rights of the minority. in his classic book "democracy in america," it was written that one of the two greatest fears for our democracy was the quote tyranny of the majority, unquote. the possibility that a runaway majority might trample minority voices. diluting the right to debate and voting on amendments deprives the nation of a valuable forum for achieving consensus on difficult issues. the founders knew what they were doing when they created two very different houses of congress. senators have six-year terms. one-third of us are elected every two years. the senate operates largely by
unanimous consent. there is an opportunity unparalleled in any other legislative body in the world to debate and amend until a consensus finally is reached. this procedure takes longer, but it usually produces a better result. and a result that the country is more likely to accept. for example, after the civil rights act of 1964 was enacted by a bipartisan majority over a filibuster led by senator richard russell of georgia, senator russell then went home to georgia and said that although he had fought the legislation with everything he had, quote, as long as it is there, it must be obeyed, unquote. compare that to the instant repeal movement that has been the result of jamming the health care law through in a partisan vote. third, such a brazen power grab by democrats this year will
surely guarantee a similar action by republicans in two years if we gain control of the senate, as many observers think is likely. we have seen this happen with senate consideration of judges. democrats begin the practice of filibustering president bush's judges even though the nominees were well qualified. democrats are unhappy because many republicans regard that as a precedent and have threatend to do the same to president obama's nominees. those who want to create a freight train running through the senate today as it does in the house might think about whether they will want that freight train running through the senate in two years when the freight train might be the tea party express. finally it's hard to see what partisan advantage democrats hope to gain from destroying the senate as a forum for consensus and protection of minority rights since any legislation
they jam through this year or next year without bipartisan support will undoubtedly die in the republican controlled house during the next two years. the reform the senate needs is a change in behavior, not a change in rules. i have talked with many senators on both sides of the aisle and i believe most of us want the same thing, a senate where most bills are considered by committee. come to the floor as a result of bipartisan cooperation, are debated and amended and then voted upon. not so long ago, this was the standard operating procedure. i have seen the senate off and on for more than 40 years, from the days in 1967 when i first came to washington as howard baker's legislative assistant. in those days, there was only one legislative assistant in each senate office. i came back for a while to help senator baker set up his leadership office in 1977, and i
watched the way that senator baker and senator byrd led the senate from 1977 to 1985. when the democrats were in the majority for the first four years and the republicans were in the majority the second four years. then, most pieces of legislation that came to the floor started in committee. then, that legislation was open for amendment. there might be 300 amendments filed. and after a while, the majority leader would ask for unanimous consent agreement to cut off the amendments. he always got it, because he let let anyone offer any amendments they wanted to offer. the voting would continue. the leaders would work to persuade senators to limit amendments so there wouldn't be 300-amendment votes. that didn't always work. so the leaders kept the senate in session, during the evening, kept in session during friday, sometimes even into the
weekends. senators got their amendments considered and the legislation was fully vetted, debated and finally passed or voted down. now senator byrd knew the rules. i recall that when republicans won the majority in 1981, senator baker went to see senator byrd and said this, bob, i know that you know the rules better than i do, so i'll make a deal with you. you don't surprise me and i won't surprise you. senator byrd said, let me think about it. and the next day senator byrd said yes, and the two of them managed the senate effectively together for eight years. what would it take to restore to today's senate to the era of senator baker and senator byrd? well, we have the answer from the master of the senate rules himself, senator byrd, who in his last appearance before the senate rules committee on may
19, 2010 said, quote, forceful confrontation to a threat of a filibuster is undoubtedly the and ti dote to that malady. senate majority leader reid announced that the senate would stay in session around the clock and take all the procedural steps necessary to bring financial reform legislation to the senate as preparations were made and a deal was struck within hours and the threat of filibuster was withdrawn. senator byrd said i also know that current senate rules provide the means to break a filibuster, unquote. in those remarks, his last ones, as i said, senator byrd went on to argue strenuously that our founding fathers intended the senate to be a continuing body that allows for open and unlimited debate and the protection of minority rights. senators, senator byrd said,
have understood this since the senate first convened. then senator byrd went on, quote, in his notes to the constitutional convention on june 26, 1787, james madison recorded that the ends to be served by the senate were, first, to protect the people against their rulers. second, to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they might be led. they themselves as well as the numerous body of representatives will err from fickleness and passion. a necessary fence against this danger would be to select a portion of enlightened citizens whose limited number and firmness might seasonably interpose against i am pet youous counsel. that's the end of that quote. that fence, was the united states senate, the right to filibuster anchors the necessary fence but not a right intended
to be abused and then senator byrd concluded, there are many suggestions about what we should do. i know what we must not do. we must never ever, ever, ever tear down the only wall, the necessary fence this nation has against the excess of the executive branch and the result and haste and tirn any of the -- tyranny of the majority. that was senator byrd in his last appearance before the rules committee. what would it take to restore the years of byrd and baker so bills are first considered in committee and when more amendments were considered, debated and voted upon? first, we have to recognize there has to be bipartisan cooperation and consensus on important issues. the days of we won the election, we jammed the bill through are going to have to be over. senator baker would not bring a bill to the floor when republicans were in the majority
unless it had the support of the ranking democratic committee member. number two, recognize that senators are going to have to vote. to say that may sound ridiculous to an outsider but every senate insider knows that a major reason why the majority cuts off amendments and debate is because democratic members don't want to vote on controversial issues. that's like volunteering to be on the grand ole opry and claiming you don't want to sing. if you don't want to vote, don't run for the united states senate. and the third thing that would restore the period of the 1980's, according to senator byrd would be the end of three-day work week. the senate convenes on most mondays for a bed check vote at 5:30. the senate during 2010, did not vote on one single friday. let me repeat that.
the united states senate, in the year 2010, did not vote on one single friday. it is not possible for the minority to have the opportunity to offer debate and vote on amendments or for the majority to forcefully confront a filibuster if every senator knows there will never be a vote on friday. now, there are some other steps that can be taken to help the senate function better without impairing minority rights. one bipartisan suggestion has been to end the practice of secret holds. it seems reasonable to suggest or to expect a senator who intends to hold up a bill or nomination to allow his colleagues and the world to know who he or she is, so that the merits of the hold can be evaluated and debated. second, there is a crying need to make it easier for any
president, republican or democrat, to staff his or her government with key officials within a reasonable period of time. one reason for the current delay is the president's own fault, taking a long time to vet his nominees. second reason is shared responsibility, the maze of conflicting forms and f.b.i. investigations and audits and ethics requirements and financial disclosures required both by the senate and the white house. i spoke on the senate floor on this tying my speech "innocent until nominated. third obstacle and one we should do something about is the excessive number of executive branch appointments requiring senate confirmation. there have been bipartisan efforts to reduce these obstacles with the support of the majority and minority leaders and perhaps we might achieve some success. if all of these efforts succeed,
there will be delayed nominations, bills that are killed before they come to the floor and amendments that never see the light of day. this is nothing new. i can well remember when a senator from ohio put a secret hold on my nomination when president bush nominated me to be the secretary of education. he held up my nomination for three months, never really saying why. i was very perplexed about this, so i went to see senator warren ruddman of new hampshire. i asked hm what to do about the hold and he said nothing and then he told me his story. president ford appointed warren ruddman to be a member of the federal communications commission in the 1970's. the democratic senator from new hampshire filibustered ruddman's appointment until he asked the president to withdraw his name. is that the end of the story, i
asked warren ruddman? he said no, i ran against the so and so and i beat him and that's how i got to be in the senate. during his time here, senator metzenbaum would hold up every one. senator allen of alabama did the same. and in the 1960's, senator williams, whispering john, he was on the floor regularly objecting to federal spending. that is when i first came here more than 40 years ago. now, i have done my best to make the argument that the senate and the country will be served best if cooler heads prevail and democrats don't make their power grab tomorrow and try to make the senate more like the house of representatives.
to permit them to do with any legislation what they did with the health care law, i have said that to do so will destroy minority rights, destroy the essential forum for consensus that the senate now price for difficult issues and surely guarantee that republicans will try to do the same thing to democrats in two years. more than that, it's hard to see how democrats can gain any partisan advantage from this destruction of the senate and invitation for retribution any bill they force through the senate in the next two years in a purely partisan way will surely be stopped by the republican-controlled house of representatives, but on this subject, i am not the most persuasive voice. i'm not the most persuasive voice against tomorrow's proposed action. other voices are. and i have collected some of
those voices, mostly democratic leaders, who have wisely argued against changing the institution of the senate in a way that would deprive minority voices in america of their right to be heard rather than tell you about those voices, i would like to conclude my remarks this afternoon by showing you a short video about what some of them have said. >> half of official of washington is here. here to talk your head off. >> we must never ever, ever, ever turn down the only wall the
necessary fence that this nation has against excesses of the executive branch. >> the checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated. the checks and balances which say if you get 51% of the vote, you don't get your way 100% of the time. >> you got majority rule and got the senate over here where people can float things down, where they can debate and have something called the filibuster, it seems like it's a little less than efficient. well, that's right, it is and deliberately designed to be so. >> totally oppose to changing the filibuster rules. that's foolish. >> that's why we have a senate, to amend and debate freely. >> the whole idea of the senate is not to have majority rule but to force consensus and force a group of senators on either side have to respect each other's
votes and protect votes on important issues. >> i can understand the temptation to change the rules to make the senate so unique and at the same time so terribly frustrating, but whether such temptation is motivated by noble desire to speed up the legislative process or by pure political ex pedensy, i believe some changes would be unwise. >> the senate is the only place in government where the rights of a minority are so protected a minority can be right and minority views can certainly improve legislation. >> american people know that it's not just the voices of the senator from kansas or senator from iowa that are supressed when the majority leader cuts off the right to debate and right to amend. it's the voices we hear from across this country who want to be heard on the senate floor. >> you just can't have good governance unless you have good ideas brought forward. >> to my fellow senators who
haven't served in the minority, i urge you to pause in your enthusiasm to change the senate rules. >> it's part of the fabric of this institution we call the senate for 200 years we have the right to extend the debate and not some procedural gimmick. some in this chamber want to throw out 214 years for the quest of absolute power. they want to do away with mr. smith as depicted in that great movie being able to come to washington. they want to come do away with the filibuster. >> if the majority chooses tond the filibuster and choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse. [applause]
>> thank you, senator. the senator will have to leave quickly so i will ask one quick question. you alluded to it in your remarks, but if this rule were to be adopted and the senate were to change, the only place where there would be open debate is in committees. do you have any thoughts -- would the committee process in the senate change as well because that might be where the need to offer amendments and debate and vote would then default to? >> well, that's a very good insight, but the problem with that is, over the last two congresses, as i mentioned in my remarks, senator reid has set a record for bringing bills to the floor directly and not going through committee.
i mean take the health care bill over a year ago. sure there were a lot of committee hearings, but when it got down to writing the bill, what did they do? they went off in a room by themselves, they being the democrats. and this was in december, the snow was coming down and then they brought it out more than 2,000 pages. we were told you could find out what's in it after we pass it. so the problem with relying on committees for this is that one of the problems of the last few years has not just been cutting off debate or amendments on the floor, it's been bringing bills directly to the floor without going through committee. you take the 9/11 bill that came up in the lame duck session. everybody wanted to help the 9/11 heroes but show up with a $7 billion proposal that hasn't been carefully considered to see where the money is going, is it going to people who really need help, that's what the committees
are for. when i say we need to get back to the era of the 1980's of senator baker and senator byrd, i don't just mean allowing any senator to offer any amendment, but let the committees work a bill over. and i mentioned just in passing that senator baker, when he was the majority leader, had a habit, i'm not sure he did this in every case, he would tell his republican committee chairmen, don't bring a bill to the floor unless you have the ranking member's support. you bring a bill to the floor and you could expect that you are likely to achieve some sort of consensus and you get better result and better september tans. i think it's very important to emphasize the fact that there are several reasons for consensus, for cooperation, one is you get a better result. but the second is people accept
it. people are more likely to accept it. in the 1960's, lyndon johnson had big majorities in the democratic congress, but where did he have the civil rights bill written? in the republican leader's office. and why did he do that? one reason was to be able to surmount a filibuster, but the other reason was that president johnson knew that was a volatile piece of legislation. he did it piece by piece from the 1950's on. and he knew that if he had a bill that he and the republican leader passed, written in the republican leader's office that people across the country, many of whom didn't like the bill, would say well, if senator dirk sen is also for it, maybe it's ok and maybe i'll accept it and you have that image of senator
russell who led the opposition to the bill instead of launching a movement to repeal it, went home to georgia said, it's the law of the land and we need to obey it. >> thank first i'm going to introduce steven duffield and is policy director to crossroads g.p.s. dedicated to educating the public to advance free enterprise, limited government and individual liberty. steven is known to us for his service for at least five years or so in the u.s. senate where he worked for senator kyl of
arizona and senate republican conference. then bill wichterman. he is senior legislative advisor in government affairs at a local law firm. what he brings to the table today is two decades of experience in the house and senate where he worked for former senate majority leader bill frist and at the white house. he understands the senate as well as anybody that i know. james wallner who is currently legislative director to senator jeff sessions of alabama also worked on the house side. has the experience of working in both houses. i won't ask him if he likes the house than the senate. i know how i feel about that, but he is a scholar of these things and we know james. and brian darling, who is director of government relations and has many years of senate experience and brian focuses on educating senators and their
staff about the heritage research product and has appeared regularly on network news broadcasts and columnists for human events and he keeps tense of thousands of readers rivetted on his commentary on what is going on in the senate. graduate from new england school of law. steven, you go first. >> i meet with mike to talk about different issues and one of the things he complains about is every discussion we have on policy did he involves on discussion of senate rules and to that i say, this is why, because this is exactly what is at stake and the policies that is being impacted by the procedures that the senate has set up. senator alexander covered a lot of things. we will skip over some things or be repetitive. first thing i want to say in
listening to all of this, we haven't divided the issue in two parts yet. one there is the substantive and the majority is trying to force upon the senate right now, weaker minority, fewer tools to debate, amend and be involved in the legislative process. there is also the method and the method is referred to as the constitutional option, which is what senator udall refers to it as and common use of the term now. these two issues are separate and related, but together, they amount to the same thing and that is an incredible, but not entirely unexpected power grab by the remaining majority in the senate right now. i can't imagine that anybody thought that the lesson of the last election was that the voters wanted a stronger democratic majority in the senate, but that is exactly what this is.
and from a basic, very basic democracy, republican governance governance standpoint, you have to look at that and ask yourself is that in any way what the voters were looking for and is this in keeping what the voters wanted. it's very consistent with the way this majority has operated over the last year or two. you could go back, and the most astonishing thing for us all is when senator brown was elected and we thought that perhaps the most liberal state in the nation, no offense to vermont, had elected mr. brown to the senate. when that happened, that this would put some kind of brake on the health care reform, but instead encouraged democrats and the majority to push it through. mr. wallner will discuss all of
the particularly -- data and words that don't mean anything that don't follow the senate but are important. filling the tree, filing cloture, skipping the committee process and shutting off debate as soon as a bill even comes up. all of these processes are all about shutting out republicans, shutting out the minority from being able to discuss issues to amend, to debate, to deliberate. and it's been an ongoing process that has gone on for some time. and we see this now even when senator alexander emphasized some questionable interest of the democrats to do this, they are still pushing forward to do this. i will say without getting into the numbers, the numbers that you see thrown around on a regular basis, this number of filibusters, respectfully they
are largely garbage and that is because you have to get into what happened in each case and whether there was an attempt to block the decision, try to have more amendments, to delay, every situation is different. the democrats know this. the members know this. i think most of the activists that are running the groups, they know this as well, but they throw numbers around and they have adopted the same numbers as though they are true. they are not. and you can't be very statistical about understanding what each one of those events were without looking what happened in each case. there is a tremendous -- the most obvious point that has to be made clearly and senator alexander started with it, the pendulum swings. does the democratic leadership even want this? i understand they are being bulleyed and concerned about keeping their leadership positions and the chair has
examined the journal of the last day's proceedingsmen are concerned about the people who are antsy to move forward but do they want to do this and the likelihood that republicans will be stronger in the senate if not in the majority in two years? i really question whether they do. and there is division within the democrats that the press has done a lousy job of investigating and exploring because that's the real story of what is going and how the caucus is breaking apart on this issue and other issues related to that. related to that, i think it's important as senator alexander mentioned to focus on the fact that there's a point of principle here for republicans. republicans in the majority in 1995 opposed making themselves stronger in the majority. they unanimously opposed and
there were two senators trying to gut it. they opposed it then. they oppose it now when there is another likelihood that republicans could benefit from it in a few years here and the house is the backstop right now. so there isn't a real concern. the house is a backstop. who cares, let it go through. we have the ability to push it through. it's the wrong decision and they oppose it on principle e then and now. the thing about this is, if this were a serious effort to actually reform the senate and make the senate work a little differently, then you wouldn't come forward with this massive rules change other -- under another discussion. i'm happy to do some writing on it if someone wants to answer questions but crazy to push them through like this when the process is to go through the
rules committee, sit down, debate, have actual text of amendments. has anyone seen text of an actual rules change, has that been discussed? have they sat down and figured out how it would work? no one has done that. this is a knee-jerk reaction to a frustration, frustration from the voters. and now we see the idea of rules change without any text. anything we can work with. there is a process for this. to bring up briefly and i think it's better to deal with it later, the 2005 scenario with the constitutional option having to do with judges, there was a rules process and debate about the specific issues and specific kinds of remedies. although senator schumer had rules committee hearings, those hearings in the end were not about specific changes but merely about do we have a
problem and those are the hearings that senator byrd testified and a lot of ambiguity of what the results were in the end. i don't want to -- one minute? ok. the last thing i'll say is and the senator touched on this pretty well, what it is that minority rights guarantee and i use the word deliberation and i use it broadly. it's about amendment. the right to have amendments legitimately offered and debated. it's about making sure that bills are written openly and are able to be considered. it is a broad-based transparency approach and it's exactly contrary to what we have seen in the last couple of years in the way things have been run. i think one example and then i will be quiet that's important, think about what happened with the dream act in the last couple days of this last congress in the senate.
that was a different dream act that had gone through committee. there were important changes that had been made to it. in order to cut a deal thinking they had bought off the last few votes, the sponsors came out and offered a different piece of legislation than it was before, with substantive changes that were different than before, but didn't offer any opportunity to debate it in length nor an opportunity to amend that. when you do that, they are going to reject it. we can offer amendments that can change that. maybe we'll vote no in the end but we'll try to fix the thing that you are going to pass and get a majority together for that. that was a tremendous book end to the congress to have that be one of the last votes that came through in the end and to be something that was just ram, inc. something through. and here they want to ram