Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  July 11, 2013 5:00pm-8:01pm EDT

5:00 pm
frankly, very controversial for here, only once in six years to very significant reasons. the need to file a petition in in my opinion, the president's nominations in his second term order to close debate and that wasn't just on executive nominations. have been less capable than his that was executive nominations first, they're not the kind -- many of them have serious and judicial nominations and legislation, once in six years. well senator reid has majority weaknesses that need to be examined, and many of them should never be approved. leader in his first six years had to file 391 petitions in i will just talk about one now this petition process is that's about to come to the designed to take a long period floor. and we ought to debate that. of time often up to weaken and d. because it was envisioned it the constitution provides that would be used so rarely. the senate should advise and so here we are with a minority consent on nominations. in the senate doing deep damage we have to consent to a to the executive branch, deep nomination, and that's the damage to the judiciary by the question that we are dealing with in many ways here. use of the filibuster creating an imbalance or creating an but look, we fight over that, equal branches of government and we come down to the big completely out of sync with the constitutional vision. issue, though. so are we as members of this
5:01 pm
i will just say this. this is the issue. body that have a responsibility who have taken a pledge to the constitution going to allow for in essence, to change the rules this deep abuse of the of the senate, it takes a constitutional vision? i don't think anyone who takes two-thirds, 67 votes of the senate to change the rules of this pledge seriously can come the senate, and what the to this floor and argue that a majority leader is proposing to small group of the senate should do, that because of a fight over be able to do deep damage to the other branches. maybe three nominations that were illegally appointed, as well, the republican leader determined by the court of appeals for the district of noted, he said the strategy here columbia, that court of appeals is to break the rules in order has said they were illegally to change the rules. appointed, the president wants to continue to have them serve, now, i thought i would just remind him that i believe he and we -- senator mcconnell came here in 1985 and in that opposed it and many others on this side oppose it and don't time. think they should be confirmed. not many times the senate has so what the majority leader is changed the president on the application of rules using a simple majority to change the proposing to do is to say in application of the rule. we did it in september, excuse essence they -- you can't block me december 11, 1985 and 1986
5:02 pm
a vote on those nominations and and twice and 87, one to 95, twice in 96 and a 19 in 1999, require 60 votes. there only have to be 51. and he will propose that in the year 2000 a year 2011. essence, and what will happen, the parliamentarian of the that's 10 times in the time that united states senate will rule that senator mcconnell is the republican leader had been a member of the senate. he described this as an air correct, that the nomination is option. not prepared to be voted on so under his reasoning there has because 60 votes weren't been 10 nuclear option bombs obtained, and the majority exploding in this chamber at the leader loses. then what does he intend to do? time he served here and get i he tendz to look to the -- didn't hear that in the presentation he put forward. intends to look to the chair and say i appeal the ruling of the now, it might interest the chair and expect all his members to line up behind him presumably republican leader to recall that and vote to overrule the rules all these instances that under the standard of a simple majority the purpose of the of the senate, overrule the rule, the application of the rule was changed occurred in the independent parliamentarian of time that he has served seven the united states senate. that's what he's talking about times under republican leadership.
5:03 pm
doing. then when senator mcconnell says he wants to break the it has occurred three times rules, to change the rules, under democratic leadership. seven times under republican that's exactly what he means, leadership and the type of and that's exactly what we are action we are discussing here, talking about. that is the -- very application of the rule a senator: would the senator another to make the senate work yield for a question? better, three times under democratic leadership. mr. sessions: let me just finish all of these during the time my thought, and i will. so that, colleagues, is the that he has served in this chamber. so to come to this floor and dangerous thing. stability in the senate requires talk about breaking the rules in order to change the rules us not to willy-nilly, every republican leader would have to go back and talk about those 10 times and explained how seven time we have a tempest in a teapot as these three nominations are, every time we happened under republican leadership is but somehow that have that kind of thing, that we doesn't qualify for the same standards. up and change the rules. i think it's important to get there will be times, no doubt, away from the over inflation of when things get so intense over the rhetoric that has been put forward here. big, big issues that actions get the second piece that bothered me in this debate was to say that the majority leader broke taken, and history would record, his word. now i think everyone is party to i suppose, whether they are wise or not wise, but colleagues, we don't need to be changing the a deal understands there were two parties to a deal in those
5:04 pm
rules of the senate every time it becomes inconvenient for the two parties -- there have. majority leader. he has already done this once, i would remind folks here about and he changed the rules of the senate when senator demint was what the republican leaders -- making a motion to get a vote, when he was denied the right to have a vote, the majority leader i put it as the january pledge. filled the tree, wouldn't allow this is a pledge made by the votes. he used the postcloture technique to force at least a republican leader on the floor this chamber. he said senate republicans will vote relevant to that issue, and continue to work with the the majority leader got tired of it, and he appealed it, the majority to process nominations consistent with the norms and traditions of the senate. chair ruled for senator demint, and he asked his colleagues to join him in now, what are those norms and overruling the chair, changing traditions? the rules of the senate, they those norms and traditions are the nominations that are able to backed him on that and that was done. so this gets to be a habit be voted on in a modest period around here, and our side is not of time with up-and-down votes. happy with the power from the if we should have any doubt about what the republican leader meant about norms and traditions we can go to the republican top, from the majority leader, policy document from 2005. and how it's impacting everyday here we have the last major life in the senate, and we're debate over the abuse of the filibuster democrats in the
5:05 pm
not going to go quietly on this one. it's just a big deal, and the minority, republicans and the senate should avoid it. majority and here is what is so therefore im pleased that what the policy set in '. this breakdown in senate norms is profound. there is now a senate creating a at least we'll have some sor of new 60 vote confirmation conference monday in which we will talk about the issue openly standard. the constitution and again i'm amongst ourselves and see if we quoting, the constitution can avoid what could be a serious constitutional crisis. plainly requires no more than a i believe we need to cool our majority vote to to and for any executive nominations that some heads down a bit and understand senators have shown that they that the nature of the senate is are determined to overwrite this constitutional standard. the majority does not get everything it wants. and so i will stop voting for a minute and just note very clear i was here, and i remember how delineation of the constitutional standard during the judges situation developed. that time the the time the republican leader was here in this chamber in 2005 not so many this is what happened. judges had traditionally not years ago. the document goes on to say if been filibustered. there had been a few attempts or efforts at it to delay votes and the senate does not at to that kind of thing, people were held up, but systematic restore the constitution simple filibusters were not at all part
5:06 pm
majority standard it could be of the tradition of the senate. plausibly argued that the president has been set by the so after president bush was senate's acquiescence in a 60 elected in 2000, the democrats vote threshold for nominations. went to conference and we had a and the document goes on to talk conference and a retreat somewhere in the neighborhood, about the flaw in the and marshall greenberger and laurence tribe and cass constitution of the thighs and consent. one way the senators can restore sunstein, three big-time, the senate's judicial well-known liberal lawyers and understanding of its advice and professors, and they came out of consent responsibility is to employ the constitutional option the retreat and announced we are exercise the senate majorities power of the constitution to changing the ground rules of define the senate practices and procedures. confirmation. exercise in the constitutional and eight out of the first 11 option in response to the nominees president bush nominated to the courts of judicial filibuster would restore the senator's appeals, they filibustered. long-standing norms and highly qualified nominees. practices. so if we want to know what norms and traditions meant on this men and women of great skill and ability. no basis to oppose them on pleasant january it's all laid out in extensive detail in the merit. republican policy document and its laid out in the history of and he went on for two years or the united states. more, and others were being it means a modest amount of time to have a vote after nomination
5:07 pm
blocked, and as a result, comes out of a committee with a simple up-and-down vote with rare exception. then-leader frist threatened but that is not what we have this kind of event. had. and so i would ask the and at the end, cool heads republican leader, let's have a prevailed, a compromise was discussion about our reached, and what happened was constitutional role, much like we said that the agreement was the debate that the republicans we would not filibuster federal led in 2005. judges unless extraordinary because otherwise you're just casting aspersions and the circumstances existed. normally, we would give an up-or-down vote to federal citizens looking and wonder what happened to that great judges, and that's the way that was settled. deliberative institution, the well, i would say with regard to senate. the nominations we are looking so this standard of processing at now, these three illegally nominations according to the appointed nominees are pretty extraordinary circumstances. norms and traditions of the we shouldn't sit here and go senate did not materialize after january. quietly when the president of within days there was the first the united states, without any ever, first-ever in the u.s. legal basis, in my opinion, history to filibuster a nominee makes a recess appointment to to become secretary and avoid the confirmation process ironically that nominee was a and now object to former republican senator chuck
5:08 pm
these people being confirmed after the court has held it was hagel. within a short period of time after that we had a letter from illegal, after they were in office, after the court ruled senators saying they would not allow a vote on any nominee from they were illegally appointed, they continued to sit and continued to vote. the consumer protection bureau. on issues important to america. they should not have done that. it any nominee? that is the advise and consent they should have followed the court's order, even if they role in the body of the constitution that calls for simple up-and-down that will use the filibuster for any nominee previously thought they were legally appointed, which they regardless of the person's qualifications? weren't pretty clearly from the that's actually using the filibuster in a whole new way to beginning. it was never close to being a basically say we don't have the votes to undo the consumer financial protection bureau legitimate recess appointment. which by the way is charged with well, i'm worried about this. hopefully, cool heads will come stopping predatory practices that undermine the success of together and work this out. with regard to the traditional families. but indeed instead of trying to get rid of this institution that norms of the senate that senator mcconnell talked about, since i have been in the senate and protects families and i'm not long before, holds have been put sure what family values fits in on nominations. there we are instead going to prevent anyone from exercising you don't move a nomination leadership and being in the until you get questions answered relative to their appointment.
5:09 pm
director's chair at the cfp be. noms just don't go smoothly and so i will conclude with this. i see my colleague is waiting to get voted the next week. there are a lot of bases for speak. let's recognize that the deal laid out in january just didn't that. what was the breaking word the work. it doesn't make sense to keep saying who didn't make it work. question was this was raised at certainly from my perspective on the side of the aisle this issue the beginning of the year. these issues were discussed and an agreement was reached, and as of going to continuing to work part of the agreement, senator to process nominations didn't reid said he wouldn't use a nuclear option if the work. republicans agreed to certain my republican colleagues have a things and an agreement was different concept of how it should work but at the heart as reached. senator lamar alexander and john they acknowledge in 2005 and as mccain and others were in on the agreement and an agreement they argued in 2005 there is a was reached. senator merkley openly said now, constitutconstitut ional vision for the use of advise and consent and that constitutional well, the agreement just didn't work. vision is in deep trouble. well, there is an agreement out there, it was agreed to, and senator reid is now changing that agreement, changing the it is not permission for one coequal branch to undermine the other two branches. commitment he made in exchange for getting concessions from this side. that is why the members of his this isn't a breaking of a word body need to have this debate and that is why we are on the like you elect me majority floor now and it's why we need to wrestle with restoring the leader and everything is going role of this senate, the proper
5:10 pm
to be sweet and nice. this was a negotiated agreement role in the nomination process. of great intensity. thank you. senator merkley was ably involved in the discussion of it and several other senators were and an agreement was reached, and the essence of it was concessions were made by the republican side, and the democratic leader accepted those concessions and said he wouldn't use a nuclear option. now he is threatening to use a nuclear option. look at this nomination. supposed to have it before today, made in committee, they are determined to move it through. this is the man to be director the problem was that not only of the alcohol, tobacco and did he understand that was such firearms, a very important a very natural selection could agency, mr. jones. never have really worked because he as a united states attorney in minnesota dealt -- i was the you now imagine you have a united states attorney for 12 population of a million white
5:11 pm
cats and one black cat and suppose that being the black cat years. your closest agency you deal does provide you with some big with is the f.b.i., and you have to deal with them on a regular advantages but in this blending basis. they know how well you do your job. they know whether or not you are theory, you makes things like gin and tonic that cat mixed functioning well, and there is a good relationship normally, and you try not to be critical of with a white cat you get a grey one another. cat. all right. the gray cat mates with another this is what mr. oswald, the white cat to get the paler shade of gray cat and the thing just former special agent in charge of the f.b.i. wrote about gets diluted and deluded and the mr. jones -- quote -- "as a black advantage would disappear and never appear again. retired f.b.i. senior executive, i am one of the few voices able to publicly express our complete discontent with mr. jones. mr. jones is ineffective -- mr. jones' ineffective leadership and poor service provided to federal law coming up tonight on c-span2 a enforcement community without fear of retaliation or confirmation hearing with state department nominees taking questions from members of the retribution from him, because he senate on relations committee. is no longer in office. he doesn't have any fear. he's telling the truth, he says. he goes on to say -- quote -- "that he felt morally compelled
5:12 pm
to make the committee" -- that's the u.s. senate judiciary committee -- "aware of mr. jones' atrocious professional reputation within the federal law enforcement community and minnesota's twin cities area." close quote. this is a guy they want to promote to head the alcohol, tobacco and firearms. the frustration is with mr. jones', -- quote -- ," ineffective leadership, his attention by each of us -- close quote -- each of us meaning the other agencies like the drug enforcement agency, the secret service or the i.r.s. quote -- "our common dissatisfaction with mr. jones' poor leadership, pathetic interaction and insufficient prosecution support was the theme of many discussions during
5:13 pm
my tenure. he consistently reacted defensively and often spoke to us disrespectfully and occasionally with disdain." close quote. then he went on to note that after he became united states attorney in minnesota, they prosecuted significantly less cases of every type, 40% fewer defendants were charged in 2012 when mr. jones was a u.s. attorney than the previous year because he wouldn't prosecute the cases, and the federal investigative agencies were up in arms about it, and this retired s.a.c. tells the truth. i think he should be listened to, but president obama is determined to make him the head of the a.t.f., involving leadership of gun enforcement, firearms and weapons charges all over america. we've already had the fast and furious scandal.
5:14 pm
so shouldn't the senate ask questions about this? should we rubber stamp this? well, they are rushing it right through committee, trying to do it right now. move him on, get him confirmed, and anybody that stands in the way, tough luck. the majority leader's going to drive it through. he gets to decide who gets confirmed around here. he gets to decide what the rules are in the united states senate. and they are forgetting the effort they led against just in the last part of president bush's term when they blocked john bolton to be ambassador to the united nations. he was absolutely blocked by a full filibuster by the democratic senate, democratic members of the senate. so what i am saying is they weren't -- the rules weren't changed then and the rules are not to be changed now, so we have got a conference coming up monday.
5:15 pm
let's see if we can't work through this. let's see if we can't work in a way that restores the senate, but the senate is that saucer that's supposed to provide a cooling opportunity to slow down rush to judgment, and should the senate be compelled to confirm three members to lower official appointments in the federal government who are illegally appointed and continue to serve in the offices after they were so found? i don't think so. and i don't think that dispute is such that would lead the majority leader to break the rules of the senate to override the playing rules of the senate through a procedure not proper and dangerous to get his way on this matter. there are other things that
5:16 pm
could go wrong if this goes forward. my impression from talking to my colleagues is that there's very deep feelings about it and that people have had about enough of this. there have been all kinds of abuses here about how we conduct our business, and we're not going to keep accepting that, because when you accept that the loyal opposition is eroded over a period of time consistently, and its ability to exercise the little power that it has, then the senate is weakened. then the senate's role as the body that slows down problems, it stands up to a.t.f. nominations, it stands up to nlrb illegal appointments, is eroded. and we don't need to do that. i know there's a lot of feeling here. i see my colleague, senator
5:17 pm
hatch. he's been through these for a long time and been seeing these disputes. and i've seen a few myself in my 16 years. not here as long as senator hatch who chaired the judiciary committee, been ranking member on that committee. but i would just say is this situation does not justify the nuclear option. it does not. and it's a dangerous thing, and it can be addictive for the majority leader every time he's confronted by someone using legitimately the rules of the senate to raise questions about the majority's agenda that they are overruled and the rule is changed so the majority leader can advance his agenda. that's what the issue is about. i ask my democratic colleagues to let's slow down. let's don't go this way. maybe this conference monday will help us reach an accord and avoid their dangerous event for
5:18 pm
the history of the united states senate. mr. merkley: would my colleague yield to a question? mr. sessions: i would yield to a question. mr. merkley: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: thank you very much. i have in front of me the list of the number of times that the application of a rule was changed from the precedent, and it was done each time under a simple majority structure and it was done ten times since 1985. now, i pointed out earlier, i'm not sure if you were on the floor, that seven of these times this was done under republican leadership. so seven times -- mr. sessions: i wouldn't -- mr. merkley: excuse me. let me finish the question. seven times republicans came to the floor and said we're going to change the application of a rule under redirection of the precedent, or overruling of the precedent. i just want to ask if you're familiar with that? the way you were speaking, it
5:19 pm
sounds as if this conversation is about something, a procedure that had never been done and yet done seven times since 1985 by my republican colleagues. mr. sessions: well, first i would say i said it's a dangerous trend, and it can be addictive, and it can undermine the nature of the united states senate. i didn't say it never happened. to my knowledge, i'd like for the senator to list for me the number of times since 1985 the majority leader has gone before the parliamentarian and the presiding officer and actually altered the rules by a vote of the senate overruling the chair. mr. merkley: i'm happy to do that because i have that list in front of me. let's start in 1985, december 11. the senate allows a conference report on the basis that everything included is relevant, even though multiple provisions
5:20 pm
have been ruled toiolate the scope of the conference committee's authority. the ruling of the chair changing the precedent was reversed. this happened in september -- would you like the entire -- mr. sessions: was there a vote on that? mr. merkley: yes. mr. sessions: how many votes? i'm just curious. i know it's been done before. the big time i recall, senator merkley, was the one over the federal judges, similar to this. and at the end cooler heads prevailed, a compromise was reached and a very significant rule of the senate was not altered. some of she is could be technical rulings of the chair that are not that significant but i'm interested in seeing what others you might mention. i'm particularly interested if there was an actual vote of the body, the senate. mr. merkley: yes, i can assure my colleague that each and every one of these involved an actual vote. and each and every one of these ten occasions did reverse the
5:21 pm
previous precedent. that happens in two fashions. mr. sessions: would the senator offer that for the record? mr. merkley: absolutely. mr. sessions: i would like to look at it and see where we are. senator hatch is here. the presiding officer: without objection that will be added to the record. mr. merkley: thank you. mr. sessions: reclaiming the floor, mr. president, i think -- i appreciate the senator sharing that, and we will study that. it is absolutely a practice that can occur, but it's a very dangerous practice. and the senate is a place of a certain amount of collegiality and certain amount of good judgment and understanding and respect for the body. and sometimes you can carry out a procedure that may be dubious but within the realm of
5:22 pm
acceptable procedures. and sometimes you can feel and understand that that is a dangerous alteration of the precedents of the senate. that's where i'm afraid we are with this vote. and i guess we disagree. i would question from senator hatch. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: there is a difference between -- between issues where the chair has been overruled and the nuclear option, which changes the rules, which, you know, breaks the rule and changes it. that's a significant difference. that's what's being done here by a mere majority vote, the majority wants to change a very, very important rule. and if we go down that road, i've got to tell you, the
5:23 pm
majority is going to be a very sorry majority in the future because they may be a minority. and i've got to tell you, this body has always protected the rights of the minority, whether it's democrat or republican. it's what made it the greatest body in the world. we're about to destroy that for no good reason. if you look at -- mr. sessions: mr. president? i'd be pleased to -- the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: -- yield to the senator from utah and look forward to hearing his remarks. he's a man of great expertise on this particular issue. mr. hatch: i thank my colleague. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: let me just say there are differences with how the rules are interpreted from time to time, and from time to time the chair has been overruled. i've been here when it has.
5:24 pm
i've only been here 37 years, and i've never seen anything like this in the whole 37 years. i've got to tell you, this is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do. and i predict that if our colleagues on the other side, all of whom i care for, if they do this, they are going to rue the day that they did it. it's just that simple. they can say it's an eetsy teensy little change. it's not. it's a monumental change. there will be a tremendous price for it to the detriment of our country and certainly to the u.s. senate, the greatest deliberative body in the world. it's hard for me to understand
5:25 pm
over two nlrb partisans who the president just recess appointed, ignoring the rules of the senate himself. and over cordray who probably under any other circumstances would get through easily. but very good reason why he should not go through this way. well, mr. president, i would like to put my following remarks in an appropriate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise today to speak on what's known as obamacare, and what the obama administration did last week, hoping the american people weren't paying attention that impacts huge parts of the president's signature domestic policy achievement as our nation was celebrating the 4th of july. i'm talking about the
5:26 pm
administration's decision to suspend for a year, conveniently past next year's election, which is very interesting to me, enforcing what's known as the employer mandate, the requirement that businesses offer insurance to their employees or face a penalty. and then a rule issued by the department of health and human services last friday stating that it would not verify people's incomes before giving out premium subsidies. my gosh, we've got fraud all over the federal government, and they do something this stupid? and undesirable. well, i'm certainly glad employers got some relief. it's quite a message from the -- it's quite a message the obama administration is sending to struggling families and individuals who will get no relief from this monstrosity of a law and its burdensome
5:27 pm
individual mandate tax. republicans in congress believe this is unfair as such. senator thune spearheaded a letter to president obama which i enthusiastically signed urging him to permanently delay the whole entire law and treat individuals like he's going to treat businesses. i'm glad that it's been put over for businesses, even though i question why it was put over for this next year. why not do it for the individuals who are suffering from it? if it's good for the goose, it should be good for the gander. shouldn't the obama administration give the same relief to everyone? furthermore, i might point out that we've always known this law was a budget buster. with the employer mandate delayed, i joined with a group of republican committee leaders in the house and senate asking for the congressional budget office to get us an updated cost estimate of the bill.
5:28 pm
i can't say what c.b.o. will find, but i have a feeling that obamacare's price tag will continue to soar, and it's already off the charts. everybody knows it's an abominable bill. and that includes democrats as well. mr. president, what happened last week is just the latest in a series of confirmations that the president's health care law is simply not ready for prime time. and unfortunately, it is the american people who pay the price for the largest expansion of government in generations. they'll pay the price through higher taxes. they'll pay the price through higher health care costs and insurance costs. they'll pay the price with more and more government regulations and debt. they'll pay the price when they are forced on to what are called -- quote -- "exchanges" that are simply not ready and unlikely to
5:29 pm
be ready in the near future. this law that was jammed through congress on a purely partisan vote is simply too big to work. the lesson is that asking government to do this much with those of us who fought it tooth and nail said at the time would amount to a government takeover, one-sixth of the american economy will not succeed and cannot succeed. that's a lesson the obama administration doesn't seem to get. doubling down on selling obamacare that is less popular today than when the president signed it into law. in fact, the white house is rolling out a massive multibillion-dollar p.r. campaign using taxpayer dollars to try to convince the american people that it's all the administration promised, shaking down the health care industry. professional sports team and movie stars in the process.
5:30 pm
when's it going to stphepbd what's the -- going to end? what's the matter with this administration? can't they just live with the facts and acknowledge that this is a dog? in fact, a cynic might argue that obamacare was designed to fail in order for the federal government to step in for a true european-style single-payer system that many on the extreme left wanted all along. in other words, socialized medicine with the federal government controlling every aspect of our lives from the medicine standpoint and health care standpoint. now it seems as though every day we learn about more and more problems with obamacare. so what do we know about it less than four months out from the open enrollment in the federal and state health insurance exchanges which are supposed to occur on october 1? we've heard from countless experts who say that the exchanges will be rife with
5:31 pm
issues once they're supposedly up and running. indeed, those experts have predicted everything from -- quote -- "glitches" to -- quote -- "consumer horror stories". two g.a.o. reports released in june confirmed that the obama administration is ill-equipped for the implementation of both the federally facilitated health insurance exchange and the so-called small business health option program exchange. that's g.a.o., two reports, saying the administration is ill equipped to implement those federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. citing the program's delays and missed deadlines, the g.a.o. concluded that there is potential for -- quote -- "implementation challenges going forward." while we've been hearing about the problems with the exchanges for months now, we have not
5:32 pm
heard an explanation from the administration as to how despite all these reports, all of this is supposed to be up and running by october 1. i hope i'm wrong, but i have a feeling that come october, millions of americans are going to find themselves unable to navigate these waters. sadly, the problems with the exchanges aren't the only difficulties with obamacare. over the last several months we've heard numerous reports about the problems at the internal revenue service. let's face it, the i.r.s. has never been beloved. indeed, millions of american loathe and fear the i.r.s. and the recent scandal surrounding the target of conservative groups has not helped the agency's reputation either. at the heart of this recent scandal there are claims by the i.r.s. that they were simply unable to manage the increased workload that came with an influx of applications of groups applying for tax-exempt status under 501-c-4.
5:33 pm
according to i.r.s. officials, the increase in applications with a so massive that examiners had to find new ways to categorize and screen the documents submitted by these groups. that, they say, is the main cause of the targeting scandal. let's assume these arguments are true for a moment. when all is said and done, the number of applications of groups applying for 501c-4 status increased by 1,700 over a four year period. the i.r.s. had to resort to potentially illegal measures. give me a break. mr. president, if this is true, the country is in real trouble. if the i.r.s. cannot manage an increase of 1,700 groups applying for tax-exempt status, how will it handle its significant role in implementing obamacare?
5:34 pm
and even handling these so-called premium supports. under the so-called affordable care act, premium subsidies, complex tax credits designed to defray the cost of purchasing health insurance, based on household income, will go to an estimated seven million tax filers according to the joint committee on taxation. within two years, that number will nearly double. and they can't take care of 1,700 applications for 501c-4 that are basically and relatively simple? the number of premium applications will jump from zero to seven million in just one year. that's seven million applications for people across a wide income spectrum claiming subsidies that did not exist before. only god knows how many of those claims are going to be made fraudulently since they don't seem to be able to able to
5:35 pm
handle them. the obama administration would have us believe while a four-year increase of 1,700 applications was enough to give the agency fits, it's perfectly capable of handling seven million new filings for a brand-new health care entitlement. on top of that they want to us o believe they can continue to handle these subsidies as they double in numbers over first two years. needless to say, i'm more than a bit skeptical. it's difficult to know what the the obama administration expects the american people to believe when it comes to obamacare. despite all the upcoming deadlines it's not clear how the agency plans to fulfill this new responsibility. and despite numerous congressional inquiries as well as those from g.a.o. and the treasury inspector general for
5:36 pm
tax administration or tigta, no one really knows how the affordable care act office at the i.r.s. is going to work. one of the few things we know for sure is that the person who headed the i.r.s. division that was responsible for targeting conservative organizations now heads the division responsible for implementing obamacare. how lucky can we be? that's hardly a comforting thought, make no mistake, processing these complex premium subsidies will not be a walk in the park. these credits are both advancable and refundable, meaning that they'll be paid out first and verified later. some have referred to this process as -- quote -- "pay and chase"-- unquote. many of my democrat friends have referred to tax expenditures that they don't like as -- quote -- "spending through the tax code"-- unquote. that label is usually not
5:37 pm
accurate but when we're talking about refundable credits, it's precisely on target. the problem is that over the years, the i.r.s. has struggled to administer these types of tax credits. one needs to look no further than the earned income tax credit or eitc to see the inherent problems with refundable credits. in a report issued this past april, tigta found that 21 to 25% of total eitc payments were improperly given out. now, if you assume that same percentage of improper payments will apply to the trillion dollars we'll spend on obamacare premium subsidies, which is fair due to the fact that the i.r.s. has no way of verifying household income and now the department of health and human services said it will not even try to verify a person's income, we could be looking at
5:38 pm
$210 billion to $250 billion in improper payments over the next ten years. when is it going to end? when are the taxpayers going to get a break? this administration doesn't seem to know how to get us there. some of that will be the result of fraud, some of it will simply be due to filing errors. either way, if the i.r.s.'s track regard with refundable tax credits is any indication, we're looking at hundreds of billions of dollars in improper payments when it comes to the obamacare premium subsidies. and now with the obama administration abandoning any income verification, we are left with a policy that's a little more than an honor system for hundreds of billions of dollars of premium subsidies. i'll say it again. an honor system at a time when the finance committee and the administration is trying to crack down on improper government payments both within the tax system and our federal
5:39 pm
health programs. mr. president, if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then this is the definition of insanity on steroids. couple that with the already soaring price tag of the subsidies and we've got a disaster on our hands. in his fiscal year 2012 budget, president obama put the cost of the first year of premium subsidies at nearly $16 billion. in his most recent budget, that number soared to nearly $22 billion without any additional explanation. why are these costs going up? there are a number of possible explanations. for example, there is the fact that due to the costs imposed by obamacare, more and more employers are opting to drop coverage, pushing more and more people into the exchanges, subsidized by these very same tax credits. at the same time we know that in
5:40 pm
order to avoid providing health care benefits, many employers are moving employees into part-time work which, once again, pushes more people into receiving premium subsidies in order to purchase health insurance. and, of course, there is the looming fact that despite the president's claims that his health care law would reduce the cost of health insurance, the cost of insurance premiums has continued to skyrocket. all of these are potential splaingsz for why -- explanations for why the premium costs of the premium subsidies have gone up in the president's budget. as such, yesterday a group of my senate colleagues and i sent a letter to secretaries lou and sebelius, just yet, asking -- just yesterday, asking for an analysis of how much of a burden the new health insurance exchanges will be on the federal budget given the skyrocketing price tag of these premium subsidies. this is a reasonable question
5:41 pm
given the magnitude of america's debt. between the dramatically increasing costs, the daunting task of administering through the tax code and now the fact that the administration is pulling back antifraud requirements, the chances for success are extraordinarily slim. as i said earlier, this law is too big, too cumbersome, too intrusive and too costly to work. i've never supported it and for good reasons. what is most disconcerting is that it is the millions of americans who work hard every day to pay their bills, put food on their tables and send their children to school who will bear this burden. for their sake, mr. president, the best solution the is a permanent delay of the whole law , not just that for the business sector but for everybody.
5:42 pm
that's what we need to do. and we've got to get rid of this pay and chase system that's going on right now where the government just pays in accordance under the honor code that they've described and then later have to chase -- chase those who have defrauded the government. it's just unbelievable. well, you know, look at the premium subsidies. these are tax credits in obamacare designed to detray the costs of purchasing health insurance. these are going to go to some seven million tax filers and households earning as much as $94,000 a year. how many people who are making much more than that will claim they're making less than $94,000 a year? well, if we look at the past, there's going to be a lot of them. and what's the i.r.s. going to be able to do? they won't be able to prove it because they don't have the
5:43 pm
mechanisms to do it. my gosh. the administration said they're just going to rely on the filer to self-report their income to get access to the credits. give us a break. my gosh. like i say, the projected figure for subsidy expenditures has gom from $16 billion to $22 billion in just a couple of years. so i mean i just -- i just don't -- it's mind-boggling to get away with it. it's mind-boggling that the american people haven't just risen up in rebellion against this stupid bill. and it's mind-boggling to me how my colleagues on the other side continue to defend this monstrosity. every day you hear of more and more problems with it. every day you hear of more and more costs. every day you hear of more and more fraud. every day you hear of people who don't understand it and can't
5:44 pm
figure it out in the government. when are we going to grow up and realize that this is a dog? and it's hurting america. i'll be honest with you, i really believe within a year or two, the president's going to throw his hands in the air and say this is not working, we have to go to a single payer system, in other words, socialized medicine. where the government will control all of our lives and will determine who gets health care and who doesn't. i have to say that's why we're headed and i hope that -- i hope that i'm proven wrong in the future, but i know that i'm going to be proven right. i can just see it. and if it happens, it will have been done by our friends on the other side who 100% of whom voted for this dog. and who don't seem to recognize that it's eating america alive.
5:45 pm
i don't understand it. i love my colleagues on the other side, we've been friends for a long time, i've been here 37 years and only two senators in that 37-year period that i thought had no real reen to be here. -- reen -- reason to be here. i have loved everybody else, some more than others, of course. the fact of the matter is what's happening here has happened because of the democrat side of this floor, and we have got to have some heroes over there to start standing up and saying we're not going down that road, we're not going to become socialism revisited, even though many of their supporters want that. this is evident to anybody who looks at it. when is our media going to wake up and realize that this is what's happening to this country
5:46 pm
and it's wrecking it? now, on top of that, we have this absolutely idiotic desire on the part of my friends on the other side to change the rules, to break the rule, to change it. mr. president, i yield the floor.
5:47 pm
mr. hatch: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum.
5:48 pm
the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
5:49 pm
5:50 pm
5:51 pm
5:52 pm
5:53 pm
5:54 pm
5:55 pm
mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to ten minutes in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. there is broad agreement that overleveraged financial institutions significantly contributeed, to put it mildly, to the 2008 financial crisis, and that they were bailed out because everyone knows that they
5:56 pm
are too big to fail. years later, it's five years later now, there is an implicit assumption that the largest megabanks, the five or six largest banks in the country, still are too big to fail. that means that markets give them funding advantages that experts estimate are as high as 50 or 60 or 70 or even 80 basis points. that means when they go in the capital markets, they can borrow money at close to 1%. 80 basis points is 4/5. 88 points is 4/5 of 1%. they with borrow money at lower costs than virtually anyone else in our economy can. studies have shown from bloomberg that this can be -- this can mean a subsidy of upwards of $80 billion to these five, six, seven megabanks, these large megabanks. last year, as a result, my colleague, senator vitter, and i began to push the banking
5:57 pm
regulators, federal reserve, the control of the frenzy and the fdic, federal deposit insurance corporation, to use stronger leverage rules to end this too big to fail subsidy. there is now a bipartisan agreement that imposing more stringent capital and leverage requirements for financial institutions could help prevent the next financial crisis and prevent future bailouts. unfortunately, the boswell committee responsible for the basil three, named after a city in switzerland, for the basil three international capital rules adopted a mere three percentage leverage ratio. in 2007, the investment banks bear stearns and lehman brothers were leveraged 33-1 and 31-1 respectively. these institutions would have been compliant with basil three with their international leverage ratio, and yet each would have become insolvent or nearly insolvent if the value of their assets declined by as little as 3%. that meant they only had 3%
5:58 pm
protection, and if their assets declined more than 3%, they are what you call under water. they simply were failing unsustainable institution or bank. i am pleased to say that this week, regulators finally went beyond these inadequate rules and proposed a 6% leverage ratio for insured banks. i had said earlier that senator vitter and i had argued for this and were pushing the banking regulators to do what they, in fact, did this week. the move is a necessary step in the right direction. it shows how far this conversation's gone in a short time, but there is more work to be done. let me explain several things we can do now. first the number needs to be higher. "the wall street journal" editorial board, not a group of people with whom i often agree or whom i -- with whom i say -- that i see eye to eye with very often, wrote this morning about these rules. our preference would be to go north of 6% to be higher. why not approach the capital
5:59 pm
levels that small finance companies without government backing are required by markets, required by markets to hold which can run into the teens. they are required by markets, the megabanks, the market doesn't quite respond the same way because of their economic and their political power. second, i'm still concerned that banks can use risk weights in their internal models to gain capital rules. this amounts to banks determination themselves -- this isn't good some government bodyr unaligned group of economists. this amounts to banks determining for themselves how risky their assets are, thereby setting their own capital requirements. the financial times said today the biggest banks plan to use optization strategies, not more equity to meet the new leverage ratios. we're going to be able to pull a lot of levers. analysts at goldman sachs noted in research for clients that banks have a lot of options to
6:00 pm
mitigate the impact. that's why we need simpler rules that can't be gamed by wall street. this rule cannot be watered down by wall street lobbyists. there is no reason that agencies should not finalize these rules and begin implementing their rules tomorrow, not go through the long, long rules process. can't wait. small businesses and families can't afford to wait. neither can our economy. there is much more work to be done to rein in wall street megabanks. senator vitter have the bipartisan too big to fail act, would restore discipline, eliminating the federal safety net that sports them. i've also proposed legislation called the safe banking act to cap the amount of nondeposit liabilities that any single megabank can have. the regulators have begun to do their jobs. it's time for congress to do its job. this week was a good week. it was a step in the right direction, but it's time to finish the job. it's time to end too big to fail
6:01 pm
once and for all. i thank the presiding officer. i yield the floor to another senator, if senator mccain is ready, who has been a real ally in fighting on many of these bank issues. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i'm pleased to join senator warren of massachusetts, senator king of maine and also recognize the hard work of my friend from ohio who has been heavily involved in this issue in the past. and this legislation, it's bipartisan, and the 21st century glass-steagall act which will restore the much-needed wall between investment and commercial banking to lessen risk, restore confidence in our banking system and better protect the american taxpayer.
6:02 pm
the original 1933 glass-steagall act was put into place to respond to the financial crash of 1929. like the 21st century glass-steagall act that we are introducing today it put up a wall between commercial and investment banking with the idea of separating riskier investment banking from the core banking functions like checkings and savings accounts that americans need in their everyday life. commercial banks traditionally use their customers' deposits for the purpose of main street loans within their community. they did not engage in a high-risk venture. investments banks, however, managed money for those who could afford to take bigger risks in order to get a bigger return and who bore their own losses. unfortunately, core provisions of the glass-steagall act were appealed in 1999 -- repealed in 1999, shattering the wall. since that time we have seen a culture of greed and excessive
6:03 pm
risk taking take root in the banking world where common sense and caution with other people's money no longer matters. these two worlds collided; the investment bank culture prevailed cutting off the threat of lifeblood of main street firms, demanding greater returns that were achievable only through high leverage and huge risk taking which ultimately left the taxpayer with the fallout. leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, the mantra of bigger is better took over and sadly it still remains. the path forward focused on short-term gains rather than long-term planning. banks became overleveraged in their haste to keep in the race. the more they lent, the more they made. aggressive mortgages were underwritten for unqualified individuals who became homeowners saddled with loans they couldn't afford. banks turned right around and bought portfolios of these shaky
6:04 pm
loans. i know that the 2008 financial crisis didn't happen solely because the wall of glass-steagall was knocked down, but i strongly believe the repeal of these core provisions have played a significant role in changing the banking system in negative ways that contributed greatly to the 2008 financial crisis, and i believe this culture of risky behavior is still in play. for example the senate permanent subcommittee on investigations on which i serve as ranking member held a hearing in march of this year to discuss the findings of the subcommittee investigation report entitled "j.p. morgan whale trades: a case history of derivatives risks and abuses." the hearing of the finding of investigation describe how traders at j.p. morgan chase made risky bets using excess
6:05 pm
deposits that were partly insured by the federal government. if they wanted to make those bets on deposits and money not insured by the federal government, the senator from massachusetts and i would not be here today. they used federally insured deposit putting the taxpayers on the hook for their risky and ultimately failed investments. and i say again, mr. president, the dodd-frank bill was the, the whole purpose of it as sold to this congress and the american people was to ensure that no investment or company or corporation, investment financial enterprise would ever be too big to fail again. is there anybody that believes that these institutions like i just talked about -- j.p. morgan and others -- are not too big to fail? of course they're still too big to fail.
6:06 pm
investigation revealed startling failures and shed light on the complex and volatile world of synthetic credit derivatives. in a matter of months j.p. morgan was able to vastly increase its exposure to risk while dodging oversight by federal regulators. the trades ultimately cost the bank a staggering $6.2 billion in loss. this case represents another shameful demonstration of a bank engaged in a wildly risky behavior. the lincoln whale instant -- the lincoln whale instant matters to the federal government because the traders at j.p. morgan were making risky bets using excess deposits, a portion of which were federally insured. these excess deposits should have been used to provide loans for main street businesses. instead j.p. morgan used the money to bet on catastrophic risk. 21st century glass-steagall act will return banking back to the basics by separating
6:07 pm
traditional banks that offer savings and checking accounts and are insured by the federal deposit insurance corporation from riskier financial institutions that offer other services such as investment banking, insurance, swats dealing and hedge fund and private equity activities. now i believe big wall street institutions should be free to engage in transactions with significant risk, but not with federally insured deposits. the bill also addresses depository institutions, the use of products that did not exist when glass-steagall was originally passed, such as structured and synthetic financial products, including complex derivatives and swaps. finally, the bill provides financial institutions with a five-year transition period to separate their activities. many prominent individuals in the banking world that pourt -- support returning to a modern
6:08 pm
glass-steagall banking provision including fdic vice chairman thomas honey. last year in his opinion piece in the wall in the "wall street journal" entitled no more welfare for banks, the underwriters have too much private risk taking. he lays out his plan to strengthen the u.s. financial system by simplifying his structure and making its institutions more accountable for their mistakes which he calls glass-steagall for today. he ends his piece by stating -- and i quote -- "capitalism will always have crises and the recent crisis had many contributing factors. however, the direct and indirect expansion of the safety net to cover an ever-increasing number of complex and risky activities made this crisis significantly worse. we have yet to correct the error. it's time we did. and i couldn't agree more. almost three years ago congress
6:09 pm
passed dodd frank with the intent to overhaul our nation's financial system. i did not vote for dodd-frank because it did little, if anything, to tackle the tough problems facing our financial sector. and dodd-frank did so, was create thousands of pages of new and complicated rules. is there any member of this body who believes that dodd-frank has resulted in the end of too big to fail? the 21st century glass-steagall act may not end too big to fail on its own but it moves the large financial institutions in the right direction, making them smaller and safer. this bill would rebuild the wall between commercial and investment banking that was successful for over 60 years and reduce risk for the american taxpayer. mr. president, i ask that the piece entitled "no more welfare for banks" by thomas hoenig be inserted in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mccain: i'd like to thank the senator from massachusetts, who i will freely admit has a great deal more knowledge,
6:10 pm
background and expertise on this issue than i do. i appreciate her leadership. when the senator sought to join us here in the united states senate, she committed to the people of massachusetts and this country that she would be committed to certain significant reforms to ensure that we never again have the kind of crisis that devastated my state. still today nearly half the homes in my state are under water, which means they are worth less than their mortgage payments, while wall street has been doing well for years. it's a bail -- the bailout was one of the more unfair aspects that i have seen in american history. and we can't revisit or fix history, but we sthaour can make sure that -- we can make sure that we've made every effort to make sure these large financial institutions don't gamble with taxpayers' money. mr. president, i thank the senator from massachusetts. it's a pleasure to join her in
6:11 pm
this effort as her junior partner. mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from massachusetts is recognized. ms. warren: mr. president, i rise today in support of the senior senator from arizona and to support the 21st century glass-steagall act. i am honored to join senators mccain, cantwell and king in introducing this bill, and i particularly want to commend senator mccain for his hard work and his longtime dedication on this issue. senator mccain is a real leader here in the senate. while we don't agree on every issue, he's a fighter. he stands up for what he believes in. senator mccain worked hard to shed light on the too big to fail problem, and he's been thinking about how to bring back elements of glass-steagall for years. i'm proud to join with him today to speak about the 21st century glass-steagall act. i am glad to be his partner in
6:12 pm
this endeavor. washington is a partisan place, and this congress has its share of partisan bills. but we have all joined together today because we want a safe future for our kids and for our grandkids. and we know that five years ago wall street's high-risk bets nearly brought our economy to its knees, disrupting the lives and livelyhoods of hardworking americans. we know that the economic downturn did not affect just democrats or just republicans or just independents. it affected everyone. over the past five years we've made some real progress in dialing back the risk of future crises. but despite the progress that's been made, the biggest banks continue to threaten the economy. the four biggest banks are now 30% larger than they were just
6:13 pm
five years ago. and they have continued to engage in dangerous high-risk practices that could once again put our economy at risk. you know, the big banks weren't always allowed to take on big risks while enjoying the benefits of both explicit and implicit taxpayer guarantees. four years after the 1929 crash, congress passed the banking act, or the glass-steagall act, as it's known, which is best known for separating the risky activities of investment banks from the core depository functions like savings accounts and checking accounts that consumers rely on every day. for years glass-steagall played a central role in keeping our country safe. traditional banking stayed separate from high-risk wall street banking. but big banks wanted the higher profits they could get from taking on more risk, and
6:14 pm
investors wanted access to the insured deposits of traditional banks. so wall street investors combined with the big banks to try to weaken and repeal glass-steagall. starting in the 1980's regulators at the federal reserve and the office of the comptroller of the currency responded, reinterpreting long-standing legal terms and ways that slowly broke down the wall between investment banking and depository banking. and finally, after 12 attempts to repeal, congress eliminated the core provisions of glass-steagall in 1999. now, the 21st century glass-steagall act will reestablish the wall between commercial and investment banking, make our financial system more stable and more secure, and protect american families. like its 1933 predecessor, the
6:15 pm
21st century glass-steagall act will separate traditional banks that offer checking and savings accounts and are insured by the fdic from the riskier financial services. it will return banking, basic banking to the basics. the 21st century glass-steagall act also puts in place important improvements over the original glass-steagall. it reverses interpretations that the regulators used to weaken the original glass-steagall. our bill also recognizes that financial markets have become more complicated since the 1930's and separates depository institutions from products that did not exist when glass-steagall was originally passed such as structured and synthetic financial products including complex derivatives and swaps. the idea behind the bill is simple. banking should be boring. anyone who wants to takeig
6:16 pm
and they should stay away from the basic banking system. now, i want to be clear. the 21st century glass-steagall act will not by itself end too big to fail and implicit government subsidies but it will make financial institutions smaller and safer and move us in the right direction. by separating depository institutions from riskier activities, large financial institutions will shrink in size and won't be able to rely on federal depository insurance as a safety net for their high-risk timpts. -- activities. it will stop the game that these gang of eight banks from -- banks games these banks have played too long. heads, the take all the profits and tails, the taxpayer gets stuck with all the losses. i ask my colleagues to join me
6:17 pm
in supporting this legislation to reduce the risk in the financial system and to dial back on the likelihood of future crises. exactly 70 years ago, the halls of the senate filled with excitement and history when it passed the original glass-steagall. the financial industry at that time experienced some big, immediate changes. but despite all kinds of claims to the contrary, wall street survived, and the sky did not fall. in fact, the american people enjoyed a half century of financial stability and a strong, growing middle school. the regular -- middle class. the crises that occurred over and over before glass-steagall faded away and our economy became more stronger and more stable. few in congress have been around
6:18 pm
enough to live through the great depression that led to the first glass-steagall but we were all around during the 2008 financial crisis. it's been five years since then, but our economy has still not fully recovered, and the downturn has had an impact everywhere, on our families and businesses, retirees and workers, schoolchildren and college students. we need a banking system that serves the best interests of the american people, not just the few at the top. the 21st century glass-steagall act is an important step in the right direction. i ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this measure. thank you, mr. president. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
6:19 pm
6:20 pm
6:21 pm
6:22 pm
6:23 pm
6:24 pm
6:25 pm
6:26 pm
6:27 pm
6:28 pm
6:29 pm
6:30 pm
quorum call:
6:31 pm
6:32 pm
6:33 pm
6:34 pm
6:35 pm
6:36 pm
6:37 pm
6:38 pm
6:39 pm
6:40 pm
6:41 pm
6:42 pm
6:43 pm
6:44 pm
6:45 pm
quorum call:
6:46 pm
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i'm sorry to keep y'all waiting. they should never acknowledge our mistakes. but i was on my way home and i knew i forgot something, and that was to come and close the senate. here i am, we'll do it now. i'm sorry. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. reid: i ask consent that it be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: so i don't have to admit my frailties now. there is no record here. mr. president, thank you very much for your patience. i ask consent that the committee on finance be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 2289. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 2289, an act to rename section 219-c of the internal revenue code of 1986 as the kay bailey hutchison spousal
6:47 pm
ira. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the bill be read a third time, passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to h-fplts con. res. 4 -- h. con. res. 43. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: con. res. 43 authorizing the use of emancipation hall in the capitol visitors center for a ceremony honoring the life and legacy of nelson mandela on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of his birth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceed to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the concurrent resolution be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of s. res. 191. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 191
6:48 pm
designating july 27, 2013, as national day of the american cowboy. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to consideration of the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the rabble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i am told there is a bill at the desk due for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill. the clerk: s. 1292 a bill to prohibit the funding of the patient protection and affordable care act. mr. reid: i ask for a second reading in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14 and then object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be read for a second time on the next legislative day.
6:49 pm
mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the morning hour deemed manned -- manned tower quorum be waived and when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until monday, july 15, following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for use later in the day and that i be recognized and following the remarks of the two leaders the time until 5:30 be divided equally between the two leaders or their designees, with senators permitted during that time to speak for up to ten minutes. further at 5:30 i will be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, then there will be roll call vote at 5:30 p.m. on monday. there will also be an
6:50 pm
all-senators joint conference at 6:00 p.m. on monday in the old senate chamber. if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
6:51 pm
miami president, i move to count number 51. >> is there objection? >> no. >> question on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. >> all those opposed day no. the aye have. >> the motion is agreed to. >> thank you. i a cloture motion at the desk. >> the clerk will report the nomination. bureau of consumer financial protection richard cordray of ohio to be director. the clerk will report the cloture motion. >> signed by 18 senators as
6:52 pm
follows. -- we not read the names? >> is there objection. >> without objection. >> i now move to proceed the legislative session. >> the questions on the motion to proceed. >> . >> all those in favor say aye. >> aye. >> all those opposed say no. >> the aye appear to have t. >> i'm sorry to interrupt you. i proceed to the -- count number 100. >> the notion proceed. all those in favor say aye. >> aye. >> all those opposed say no. the aye appear to have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. nomination national labor relations board richard f griffin junior of the district of columbia to be a member. >> a cloture motion at the desk. >> the clerk will report the cloture motion.
6:53 pm
>> in other -- to be a member of the national labor relations board signed by 17 senators adds follows. >> reid -- >> unanimous consent that the reading of the names be waived. >> without objection. >> questions on the motion to proceed? all those in favor say aye. >> aye. >> all those opposed say no. the aye appear to have. the aye have it. >> counter number 101. >> the questions on the motion to proceed. all those in favor say aye. >> aye. >> all those opposed say no. the aye appear to have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. sharon block of the district of
6:54 pm
columbia to be a member. >> i have a cloture motion, ma'am president at the desk. >> cloture motion nonders signed by 17 senates adds followses. >> i asked the anonymous consent that the readings of the name be waived. >> is there an objection? >> without objection. i move to proceed to legislative legislation. >> he filed cloture on the debate on the seven nominations. here is more about the filibuster in the senate. >> the a yes, appear to have it. the aye have it. >> senior congressional report for "politico" joining us. what came out of the meeting between majority leader harry reid and the proposed changing to filibuster rules? >> it sounds like harry veed
6:55 pm
ready to go forward be a so called nuclear option fop change the senate rules by 51 votes rather than the normal threshold of 67 votes that higher threshold is usually set name harder for rules changes to cur. reid said he's frustrated with the use the minority party to block nomination and legislation from moving forward that he is going to invoke very usual procedure to change the rules by 51 votes. what reid wants to do in the nuclear option to essentially change the filibuster rules so no longer will 60 votes be required to confirm to overcome a filibuster facing presidential nominees for executive branch positions. so only effect the executive branch positions, not judicial nominee, not legislation, coming forward reid wants to move
6:56 pm
forward so no longer can senator block a nominee for the epa, labor department, the deafen department by requiring 60 votes instead 51 votes would be required to move forward. a majority of the senate. >> so the -- he wants to move forward. what would the next step by be in the senate. >> there's going to be a joint meeting on monday evening in the old senate room just off of the senate floor. and this is very rare. rarely do both parties decide to actually meet in one setting, and they're going talk about the use of the whether or not senate should go forward. that seems to be a bit of a dog and pony somehow. i continue think that's going to if he gives mcconnell caves to
6:57 pm
the demand and gives him the spate of pending nominee. and allow them to be confirmed by 51 votes. right now that's very unlikely. reid is threatening to move forward with a unprecedented step which future majority leaders could cite to further weaken the filibuster rear -- rural. >> say that have been toying it with for the last year or so. what is the impetus for the latest effort? >> our several nominees who are stuck who harry reid has tried to get confirmed. the consumer financial protection nominee. the national labor relations board would allow that agency to cbt to function. as well as a couple other nominees who are awaiting action, the labor department, secretary tom and gene that
6:58 pm
mccarthy. no u the labor and epa it sounds like mcconnell would allow the votes to go forward. the dispute is around the nlrb and the consumer financial protection bureau. those are wrapped up in a larger fight before the supreme court involving the president's recess appointment authority. which he moved forward with the cordray nomination as well as the nlrb pick when the senate -- the debate about whether the senate was actually in recess and the president was allowed to circumvent the senate. there's a larger constitutional fight that pending before the supreme court is regarding the nlrb nominees. that -- those nominees now are before the senate, and reid wants to confirm them by an up or down vote. mcconnell is saying he's not going to allow it to happen. that's where we are. >> you mentioned mitch mcconnell the minority leaders.
6:59 pm
what are republicans saying about what reid is planning to do? >> they are furious. mcconnell was on the floor saying if reid goes forward he'll be considered the worse majority leader ever. those are very strong words, especially the senator floor you don't get very personal at times. and this is a very personal exchange. they're warning that if this happens, if reid invokes a nuclear option and decides he change the rules by 51 votes, future majority leaders are going to do exactly the same thing. they're not going hold back. they will continue to weaken the filibuster which is used by the minority party to protect against the agenda of the majority. they continue to weaken the filibuster to the point where it may no longer exist. they say if that it happens the senate will be the house. the house passes legislation it will when the majority wants to pass something. if that happens, then this that could have major impact on the future presidents. it could have a huge impact on the country, and the republicans
7:00 pm
are speaking very dire terms. >> he's a senior congressional reporter for "politico." thank you. >> thank you. glmpleght as we heard senator reid saw cloture on a block of seven nominee on thursday afternoon. setting the stage for a potential vote on invoking the so called nuclear option of tuesday. "politico" writes if republicans don't filibuster any or all of the presidential selections, the democrat will force through the proposed rules change. a few of the nominees include richard cordray to continue as director of the consumer financial protection board. fred hoff berg to be president of the export/import bank and thomas perez for labor secretary. here are the democrats talking about filibuster rules change. [inaudible conversations]
7:01 pm
>> okay. everybody, we had a good caucus. couple of people don't like changing the rules, so we have the votes to move forward on this. i'm finding cloture on seven nominees in a few minute. our position is very, very clear. we want to break gridlock and make washington work for america. especially the middle class. senate need to change from place of constant, constant gridlock where we get things done and respond to the challenges faced by america and especially the middle class. the first step is stop -- blocking the president's nominees. all you had to do is be on the floor this morning and see senator mcconnell making the case for us. we have nominees that approve 98 to nothing, one was 100
7:02 pm
nothing. isn't that terrific? what are you complaining about? those nominees took months and months and months before we had a vote on somebody they agreed with. three of the people that are my favorites on cloture on us is cordray with the consumer affairs department, they don't like that law. they don't like dodd-frank. so they're going to -- [inaudible] but they said we'll work out a comprise with you. what we'll do is relegislate that issue. what we'll do is set it up so we can defund the agency. then we don't have to worry about richard cordray. nlrb these people are tainted. there's no a single word in any record any place that depose of the three in the nominee. not a single word.
7:03 pm
my friend senator mcconnell on the floor said it's big labor. big labor? 6% the private sector is represented by organized labor. do you think that organized labor should care a little bit having a secretary of labor. having someone who works with the "cosmo" poll motel in las vegas, caesar's palace, do you think those maids, valet parkers, janitors should have somebody to -- represent them when they fire them or there's a labor dispute? the nlrb goes out of business august 1st. so we're not interested in cutting a deal topaz one, two, or three nominees. the president deserves to have
7:04 pm
his team in place, and there are no more major objections or qualifications to any of the nominees. all we need is six to invoke cloture. let them vote against the people. why should they hold them up in an up or down vote procedurally? it's not about democrats and republicans. typical about having a president. this time obama having the team in place. in three and a half years, it may be president clinton, maybe president biden. maybe president bush. shouldn't they be able to have the team they want? that is what this is about. it's about making washington work regardless who is the president. if there's a single person out who thinks washington is working well. you can search for them, but one place walk there down the hall mitch mcconnell thinks the status quo is terrific. the only person who thinks that is my good friend and republican leader. constant objection in this
7:05 pm
chamber has gone on long enough. the question is -- let get together for a joint caucus. fine, i have no problem with that. we tried that, remember? my staff will be happy to pass to you prior accounts where i asked that and mcconnell said that. i'm happy to do that. it we had a wonderful joint caucus with senator mccain talking about his experience in vietnam. i'm happy to do this joint caucus. but bottom line is gridlock is paralyzed this institution and nation. senator durbin. >> thank you, senator reid. the republicans in the senate have refused to acknowledge the on. twice the american people have elected barack obama president. it's been their decision to let him lead america. he's asked for the team to lead this country.
7:06 pm
they're in complete denial of his individuality i are and mandate. time and again they tell him on the most critically important agencies they're going stop him from leading this stopping him from having the people he needs on h in place. richard cordray has been waiting for two years. twoea rs, fore senate republicans to give him this opportunity. why won't they do it? is in an allegation of inexe tension or corruption? not at all. they don't like the agency. the consumer financial protection bureau. to stop the agency from functioning they refuse to give him a chance to serve. that's their policy. they would rather see it disappear. so the president was forced to recess appointment. now they said these two people are disqualified from ever serving. have they raced --
7:07 pm
raised any questions of competency? no. they are try to stop the president from leading the nation. the gridlock in the senate has to come to an end. let me say a word about the institution. how sad it is to see where we are today. we a gluer use moment a few weeks ago on a bipartisan basis. we put together an immigration bill. it's the exception. it's not the norm. the norm sadly, are 60 vote margin, filibusters, 30 votes on the floor, people looking very closely at the television screens on c-span to see if there's any evidence of life on the floor of the united states senate. that's become the norm in this institution. it's unacceptable. the american people expect us to step up and solve problems. they expect us to do it without gridlock, and this is the only way we can move this forward. the numbers, the numbers speak for themselves. since 1949 to 2008, there were
7:08 pm
exactly 20 filibuster of executive appointment. 59 years, 20 filibusters. under president obama and the last five years, there have been 16. it's become the norm. filibuster. as senator reid said, at the end of the day after they sit on the calendar for months and months with exception of cordray, obviously. sit on calendar for months and months they end up giving them overwhelming votes. delay it, wait, stall. the american people don't want us to stall. they want us to act. they want us to solve the problems in this country on a bipartisan basis. we have got to break this. >> thank you, i want to thank my colleagues. the majority leader has just announced he's move moving forward with a group of nominees to give the president the team deserves to fight for the middle class. just about everyone america,
7:09 pm
republican, democrat, liberal, conservative believe once you elect a president he deserves his choices to run the executive branch. but a new tactic has been introduced. try to paralyze the executive branch the way they paralyzed the legislative branches. because they really don't want the government to function. and they have chosen two age -- agencies they particularly dislike. and those are at the nub of the problem. cfpb, which protects consumers, and the nlrb, which protects working people. the nominees are incredibly well qualified. they are more than capable of leading the agency the president asked them to lead. and actually there is bipartisan agreement on that point. you would be hard pressed to find a republican who would call these nominees unqualified. why won't the republicans let them through?
7:10 pm
if they they don't object to the qualification or the ability to do the job. they are blocking these nominees because our colleagues want to paralyze these agencies. they just don't want them to function no matter who runs them. they hate these agencies more than they hate others. say that don't like the agent. they don't like what the agencies do. so they block the nominees who would lead them. take the nlrb, they say, well, these people were illegally appointed. why does the president have to do recess appointment? they but cubes as soon as the president submitted nominees to the in 2011 the republicans responded they blocked every single nominee to the board no matter who it was. the board didn't have a forum. it couldn't function if they had succeeded. so it's sort of like, you know, alice in wonder land. they say they're going block the
7:11 pm
nominee. the president finds a way to appoint them. and legally appointed, we can't let the nominees go forward. the president was forced to recess appoint sharon block and richard griffin because they strongly objected, the republicans did, to the nlrb's existence they refused to let the nominee come up for a vote. of course, we note the story on the cfpb. they have been more explicit. refer to it the minority leader said if i had my way we wouldn't have the agency at all. they refused to allow on a vote on richard cor cordray. they wouldn't have allowed a vote on elizabeth warn the president's choice initially. not because they think either is unqualified. senator corker and cornyn have said things about him. because they want the cfpb, the consumer financial protection
7:12 pm
forward disappear, they're willing to allow a vote on cordray only have they have taken all the teeth out of he agency. that's like saying to a baseball player, we'll let you step up to the plate you can't have a bat. now hit the ball. republicans don't have a single axe to grind with these nominees. it's similar with the atf nominee. in the agencies they hate the most, their tactic is simply not allow the agency to have a leader. not because they don't like the leader, but because they don't want the agency to exist. it exists in law and this is the tactic they used. they don't have a single axe to grind with our nominee. they won't let them through because they object to the existence of the agency and the board they lead. even though they have been created by law. when it comes to criticizing the person trait and qualification of individuals the president put forward, all you hear is crickets. it's gone.
7:13 pm
these positions are going unfilled not because republicans object to the nominee. because simply they don't like the agency and don't want it to function. that's not right. that's not fair. we have an obligation to stop it or it will only get worse. >> you know, i think it's kind of amazing that republicans we know who love to go on and on about streamlining government about red tape and making government run more like a business are behind this unprecedented failure in making congress work for the people that elect them. and it is the complete failure. you just listened to the numbers that senate durbin talked about. you see in the fact that we have executive nominees waiting on average for over 250 days. we have 184 nominees that are pending. we have question nears with over
7:14 pm
1100 questions being asked to them. talk about government ine fresh sincerity. absolutely no business would tolerate this and the republicans ought to know that. neither should we. the president deserves to have a qualified team he has selected to help our economy grow. he needs his whole team. not half of it or a few that the senate republicans leapt through. that's not how it works. elections have consequences. republican or democrat deserve to put in place a full team to work for the american people. we need end the gridlock and become more responsive to the major problems we face. at the end of the day, it's not about an inside baseball argument that only effects the people in this town. this is about serving the american people. we're not going that when we allow the republicans free reign
7:15 pm
to block people whose job it is to protect our shrinking middle class from hazard use workplace conditions or unfair wages or disappearing benefits or whose job it is to protect americans that are struggling financially from falling victim to unfair mortgage schemes or deceptive lending practice os credit card schemes. or to ask the person who is charged with protecting our air and water and environment to sit on the sideline even though she has the qualification and experience to begin serving steady. this is gotten out of hand. and if it's not already clear our patience with the standoff has run thin. this president and the american people deserve a functioning government. we're going to fight to ensure they get just that. >> reporter: what would happen if the republicans agree to -- are you absolutely?
7:16 pm
[inaudible conversations] >> i don't know yet. >> okay. >> reporter: if they do yet would you go -- >> if they approve all seven i wouldn't want to do that. >> what will you do if they block three or four? what is the next step? >> i'm going go to the floor on tuesday and do what i need to do so it doesn't happen anymore. [inaudible] >> the issue is this. if you go back and we can go back and look at all the statements made by republican colleague. he was all in favor of doing something. we were able to get over that. we worked our way through that because there were people who reasonable who moved forward. we don't have that same reasonable ideology among the republicans. you would think they could come up with six people to invoke cloture on the six people or seven i have there. but they don't exist anymore.
7:17 pm
this is -- as we have learned, my friend, the republican leader was boasting out there about getting things done that we used to do automatically. for two successive congresses, i have held back my caucus. the vast majority of my democratic caucus wanted to move forward and change the rules. i took senator mcconnell at his word. said he would only do this filibuster stuff under extraordinary order circumstances. i guess being in session an extraordinary. he said he would call the norm of the senate. the place doesn't work. and it's too bad that the american people know this dysfunction we have here. and all we're asking is receipt the president have his way. we're not talking about changing the filibuster rules it relates
7:18 pm
to nomination or judges. we're saying we shouldn't be held up with fifteen nominees who have been held up for an average of nine months. this place needs to be changed. >> reporter: senator reid. -- >> what do you do? look at all of these people. i don't mind you being here. but you get the questions. you are a bully. [laughter] the question is you minged judges. sending to conservative nominees the floor within the next couple of weeks. why won't we be right back? -- [inaudible] >> this is to co -- focused very concisely. judges will do our best to get those done. we need a d.c. circuit very much. it's about presidential executive nominees. >> reporter: senator grassley said yesterday at the hearing we had. we don't need anymore judges on
7:19 pm
the dc circuit. it's already blocked the next three judges on the dc circuit. we thought that all along. >> reporter: senator reid can you -- [inaudible] about the plan? >> i don't think that would be appropriate. >> reporter: do you have a plan yet? >> yeah. oh yeah. we got it. it's very simple. we have the past 36 years we changed the rules 18 times. this is -- how are you going do it? it's simple we if it 18 times in the last 36 years. >> reporter: [inaudible] >> no. we have to wait and see what the weekend brings. maybe they will be brought to reality. but the reality is if they're not willing to be reasonable. we know where they're headed. thanks, everybody. [inaudible conversations]
7:20 pm
the majority leader reid is planning what is being called a joint meeting on monday evening 6:00 p.m. eastern to bring the senators together in the old chamber to talk about the filibuster rules. they weighed in on the possible rules changes today. [inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> well, if as you can see, this is a real mess. and it's not a good mess. in fact of the matter is that the senate has been the most deliberative body in the world
7:21 pm
we protect the right of the minority. it was just a few years ago that the majority leader was arguing for those rights themselves saying the senate would be destroyed if we went to a nuclear option which nobody did. it's never been done before. frankly shouldn't be done now. the fact of the matter is that their playing parliament tear tricks with regard to this. they are doing it to the detriment of the united states senate, to the detriment of the minority. i have been both in the minority and the minority a number of times. i have to tell you i fight to my death for the right and the right of the minority. because that's one way that the united states senate is the most important legislative body in the world. right now if we go and -- democrats are going it's going a very instructive thing.
7:22 pm
they'll say they're limiting if to certain executive branch people. once that -- you start down that road senator reid is characterize as pandora's box, then there's no end to what one side or the other can do. a lot of things they hold dear can go by the way sydney if the majority was to change. the protection of the right of the minority, that's one of the things that made the united states senate the greatest body in the world inspite of what happened lately. the fact the matter is they bring up a bill and file cloture immediately, even though they know that nobody is filibuster. accuse of filibustering. all of them go through without any real problem. and in the process, what really
7:23 pm
are the filibusters as filibusters. the only time they become filibusters if you actually fail to invoke cloture. the fact of the matter is, this is a very pearl louse time for the united states senate, for our country. if we make the senate just like the house of representatives when any majority can do whatever they want. without the direction required by the protections to the minority that we currently have in the rules. and they change that rule then all i can say is is going to be the great detriment of this country and the great detriment of this institution. i think the great detriment to people on both sides. not just republicans right now, but democrats. this is driven by the trade union, the big unions in this country, who want to be able to get whatever they want whenever
7:24 pm
they want. i don't know about you, but many of the things they wanted over the years have not been right. and would have destroyed the country. some things they have wanted they have gotten because they have been right. but many of the things they respect not right, and frankly, i don't know what is a matter with my colleagues on the other side, they seem to be in the caucus of the union on -- [inaudible] frankly they want to get two people on the national labor relations board properly appointed and who shouldn't be on that board. i would suggest that all the president has to do is appoint 0 two others who have the same philosophy. they would get through the senate. because the rules were broken, procedure rules were broken, the republicans have no choice but to stand up and say that's not right. and there are ways we can do this. if you look at the record over
7:25 pm
the last number of years of this administration's appointment process. he's been been treated better than the predecessors. they have backed off on the judges because they know darn well that the judges have been treated very fairly. and so have most of the others. we have yet ever to filibuster and stop an executive nominee. we didn't have any until the democrats filibusters four or five nominees. it's a serious issue. i hope my colleagues wake up on the other side. it's not going to be fun for them someday in the future. >> in the regard to the filibuster, what is the big deal? we have approved 199 judges, disapproved two. what is the big deal? we have three judges on the
7:26 pm
calendar they can be brought up any time. that's not much. they can be brought up any time. what is a big deal on a filibuster. we have 82 vacancy in the court. 53 nominees aren't up here from the white house, so the big deal about not approving fulfilling these vacancy is obviously something wrong down at the white house they respect sending up the nominees. i have a quote here you have heard so many times. i think it's very good. the nuclear option was the most important issue i had ever worked on in my empire career because that if it had gone forward, it would have destroyed the senate as we know it. the majority leader reid, march, 2009. that's a pretty big deal. because involves a check and plans of government. basically what you're doing is
7:27 pm
destroying the constitution if we go ahead with this if it destroys the checks and plans that the senate is the only institution in our political system where the minority views are expect -- protected. i would like to say two things one about what is stake here and the claim that republicans are slowing things down. this isn't about a change of rule, it's about changing the senate. changing the character. most of the founders of our country did not want -- they created a congress. to check and empire call presidency. the best known power of the united states senate is probably the power advising consent. it means that the president was not a king has to be checked in his nomination of about 1,000 in
7:28 pm
the major appointee of the government. senator mcconnell said this morning it doesn't mean sit down and shut up. it usually means ask a lot of questions. democrats ask so many questions to attorney general ed -- took a year for him to be confirmed. they had so many questions of me when i was nomined to be education secretary. it took 87 days. i didn't like it. but it was the right of the senate. what is at stake here is not just a change of the rule. it's the way the rule is being changed. what it means is that with 51 votes, any majority can do anything at once at any day of the united states senate. it can change abortion rights, can change civil right, environmental laws, labor laws. today the house can do that. when it comes to the senate, we stop and think and consider. after this, whoever has the majority can do anything it
7:29 pm
wants on any day. that's a dangerous trend. it's what washington and jefferson and adams feared. it was one of the two greatest danger he saw to the democracy the terne any of the majority. changing the characteristic of the senate is encouraging tier any of the majority. if anyone has a deep understanding of american history. finally, this claim that somehow republicans are delaying the number of cabinet members whose seats denied by filibusters is 0. the number of district judges who have not gotten their seat by filibuster is zero. the number of sub cabinet members is zero. the number of judges -- circuit judges is two because the democrats denied five of the republican judges under president bush. as far as delay "the washington post and congressional search service say that president --
7:30 pm
president obama's nominees are being considered more rapidly than president bush and clinton. as far as nominee it's called the executive calendar. there are 24 names on it. they come out of democratic committees. that's the only way they can get here. ..
7:31 pm
>> affects that senator alexander just put out there make it very clear that this is nothing more than a power grab, nothing more and nothing less and that's precisely what it is. the democrats here in washington want to run roughshod over the minority and we have seen that and we have seen the president doesn't like dealing with the minority party here in washington whether it's the irs or the epa or the cfp cf pd because you have a lot of agencies that are trying to usurp the powers ,-com,-com ma the separation of powers and things that are traditionally inferred on the legislative branch of the government and trying to potentially legislate by executive order. that has been the pattern and what the majority democrats are talking about doing in the united states senate is essentially running over the rights of the minority and senator alexander said it absolutely right. there is no basis or foundation on which to change the rules. you look at the executive branch
7:32 pm
nominees and he said many of them denied confirmation in the second term or for that matter before that but the votes votes have been there in the department of energy is 97-0. the department of transportation was 100-0. nuland got 71 presbytery getting overwhelming votes in in the senate. as there has been stated there than 199 lower covert confirmations to defeated in the time the president has been in office and if you look at just this year the number that was confirmed was 28 judges at the same time in president bush's second term that number was 10. processing time has been a lot faster. they are getting 100 days faster in terms of a raid in which judges are getting through the process so there is simply no foundation and no basis upon which the democrats should do what they are talking about doing. i will just want to say as
7:33 pm
someone who back in 2005 came into office on this argument because at that time the democrats were holding up president bush's judicial nominees and there was a big debate about whether or not to exercise the nuclear option. many of us to camp in the house of representatives were frustrated with the pace of the senate and thought it was wrong the democrats were doing this and were actually sympathetic to the argument that fortunately cooler heads prevailed. not only the judge issued but legislative matters as well. we would love to have gotten medical malpractice reform passed. that that got 58 votes in the senate or expiration on the north coast of alaska for energy. i think that got 58 votes in the senate. big majorities that less than a supermajority that it takes to get things done here in the senate. that is the beauty of united states senate. it allows representation for minority rights and what they are talking about doing would undermine and wreck that. senator reid said it well back in 2009. he said this would ruin the
7:34 pm
country and went on to say but it destroyed the senate to have used the nuclear option and change the rules. make no mistake about it. they are talking about executive nominations today but if you do this up close the door wide open. they will establish a precedent that will only be a matter of time before they use that as judicial nominations and legislation as well. there is going to come a time here in the united states senate where they are no longer the majority and is going to be very difficult to turn back the hands of time if they move forward into what they are talking about doing so i hope cooler heads will prevail again in the united states senate this year and the democrat majority will decide to reverse its plans and continue the tradition and the history the president on the rules of the united states senate. >> you mentioned the nominees being contested. the issue that i've heard republicans say is that they are unconstitutional because they
7:35 pm
were appointed during what was it a recess but if you confirmed them now would be constitutional so i guess i don't understand the argument. wouldn't that address your concerns? >> unless they disobey the rules and go-round around the rules it seems to me you don't put people that have gone around the rules into positions because they are people that will not abide by the rules. and like i suggested if they want to pick two others who may be of the same philosophy they would probably get through. but we don't continents that type of thinking and frankly i don't know anybody who would. lamar you have to leave so you may want to say something. >> if i could, that's an excellent question. here is what happens. the president sent these two names to the senate in mid-december of 2011 and the regular order and therefore their names, their papers even
7:36 pm
got to the appropriate committee he used his recess appointment power to appoint them at a time when the senate was in session. so the court said that's unconstitutional. now that is a gross affront to the checks and balances and separation of powers that are in the constituconstitu tion that restrain an imperial president so we have to think about what can we appropriately do about it. one thing we did was to appeal to the court in the court agreed with us. a second thing we can do is to say that those two individuals who continue to make decisions after the court said they were unconstitutionally there, that we are not going to confirm them, they should have stuck down which is what we call on them to do. they have participated in deciding 1031 decisions all of which are subject to being vacated and causing great consternation. so this is our appropriate response within the law within the rules and within the presidents of the senate and
7:37 pm
within the constitution to an unconstitutional act by the president of the united states who appointed two people to the national labor relations board using his recess appointment power when the senate was in recess. >> you were quoting senator reid from 2009 saying that this would render the senate. he and his democratic colleagues were here saying they senate is already ruling because there is very little getting done. so does he have a point to that and also senator thune to the idea that cooler heads prevailed back in 2005 could that happen again? could you show him the goodwill to say maybe we will let a couple read a couple of nominees get 51 vote threshold? >> the main reason the senate is not doing as well as it should is because of the way the majority is running at which is an argument which will take across the country and say let's have a different majority in the senate. we know how to make it work. i think it's dysfunctional leadership of the senate, not a
7:38 pm
dysfunctional senate. the second thing is we could be working on student loans this weekend. that is what i've been working on in a bipartisan way all week. last week i was working in a bipartisan way to vote for an immigration bill and before that it was the water resources bill. the poor world that it was the marketplace brings fairness act so we are getting a lot done. if the majority leader will lead the senate in a way the -- has been accomplishing some things and i think what there had mission is that they failed. they can't run the senate. we need a new majority and that is what we are going to be arguing for. >> i mean lamar gave you several examples of things that we are getting done but if you look at immigration and you look at the farm bill and the mainstream fairness act there is a whole bunch of legislation that is moved and they are working on an agreement on the student loan bill right now and i think that ultimately will be moved through publicly with bipartisan support
7:39 pm
but again i don't know if you can -- how you can come out here to the microphones and with a straight face with the argument that things are working especially on a nomination. there hasn't been a single nominee in a a second term that hasn't been confirmed. as i pointed out earlier confirmed by overwhelming majorities. the same thing is true with respect to judicial nominations. the facts don't, they just don't bear on what the democrat argument is on isn't that timmy is more than anything else or you can have an argument and everyone can have their own opinions about whether or not they like the roots of the senate or whether the rules of the senate ought to be changed but you can't argue the facts. the facts are indisputable because they are right here in the same thing is true with regard to legislative activity and there a number of major things that have been done and done in many cases with bipartisan support. as to whether not cooler heads can prevail absolutely and i hope they do but right now we are not the ones that are rushing to the floor to try and
7:40 pm
change the rules. we are trying to say let's put the brakes on here. we would be happy to sit down and it's been suggested we have a joint caucus meeting to talk about this issue and if there things we can work together on with regard to the nominees republicans are more than willing to do that but at this point in time clearly the democrats are moving in a direction i think is very detrimental to the country and really jeopardizes the institution of the senate. >> the democrats say it's improper because they have a problem with a lot of a should mix the two seriously let me ask you, he was appointed in a recess appointment either president when the senate was not in recess. so he has that problem just like labor relations. think about this. senator reid himself invented something called the pro forma three day session. most of you are veterans of this press corps and you know about that. he did that during president george joby bush took the bushes
7:41 pm
time to keep president bush's for making recess appointments. president bush didn't like it at all but he respected the separatioseparatio n of power so during one of senator reid's pro forma sessions present's pro forma sessions present, made recess of limits on the president -- in the senate wasn't in recess. he appointed three out nlrb members. that is the unconstitutional imperial action of the person and that demands a response from the senate if checks and balance mean anything. what are the immediate consequences if you stop working on legislation altogether? >> if senator reid changes the character of the senate then the senate ceases to function. we will take her case to the people. we will argue for a new majority and then republicans will be in a position to do whatever republicans with 51 votes want to do. we can take a break to work.
7:42 pm
we can take up finishing yucca mountain. we can take up building the keystone pipeline. we can take up medical malpractice. we can repeal obamacare. we can change the dodd-frank act. in fact the more we think about it the more attractive it becomes so that is what will happen. instead of the work we have been doing on student loans and immigration, the farm bill and all the things senator thune mentioned that will turn this into a national debate about who controls the new majority institution in our country because we will have a new one for the first time in 230 years in the united states senate and we republicans want to be a look to do with 51 votes whatever we can think of to do whatever day we want to do it. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
7:43 pm
a story on the hill. some republicans have no other legislation will pass in the senate until after the next election democrats trigger the nuclear option that changed the chambers filibuster rules. majority leader reid has considered changing the rules to allow nominations to move forward with a majority vote rather than 60 votes. democratic senator jeff merkley of oregon spoke on the senate floor about the proposed rules change. see i've been listening carefully to the debate that has been taking place here on the floor and the esteemed minority leader had a couple of phrases that he used many number of times. one of those was that this debate is about whether to break the rules in order to change the rules and the second phrase also
7:44 pm
involving it was repeatedly to say to the majority leader that you have or can your word. those are very powerful words. my mother always told me that people start saying things like that it's because they are lost for a real argument. i found them disturbing. i found both of these phrases disturbing. and i find them disturbing because they are so at odds with what this conversation is really about. we are here in the midst of a constitutional crisis. our constitution was set up with a balance of powers between the three coequal branches for checks and balances. never in their wildest dreams did the crafters of our constitution envisioned that a majority that is the minority
7:45 pm
excuse me the minority of the senate, the minority of one chamber would undermine the functioning of the two branches. in fact they were very deliberate, very deliberate in their determination that they're not a such a possibility and laid out with clarity that advise advise and consent on the treaty took a supermajority but when it came to the other branches, judicial branch and executive branch out of the de facto simple majority standard in the constitution they are exactly the same paragraph. if you compare one to the other. now our founders talked about this and they talked about it because they have the experience with the continental congress in which a geordie had caused all sorts of difficulties. so i thought i would have my mind is just a little bit about the framework laid out in the constitution. alexander hamilton said on the
7:46 pm
supermajority, he said it would be too tedious delays, continual negotiations and intrigue, contemptible compromises of the good. alexander hamilton felt so strongly that there should be a simple majority standard, he wasn't alone. we have madison who wrote that the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed if a supermajority was a functioning principle. so we have a system of coequal branches with simple majority vote on nominations as a check against extraordinarily ill-advised nominations by the executive branch entity that has been the tradition throughout our nation's history. simple majority fuzz on a timely basis on nominations by very occasional blockades put up by exercising the will to
7:47 pm
filibuster. but very rare use of that. until the last few years. and indeed just a few years ago that our republican colleagues were in charge and they were upset by a small number of filibusters by the democrats by the judicial nominees and they came to this plan they said that's not acceptable and they reminded us of this constitutional framework. they asked for a deal and the deal they asked for was they wouldn't change the rules and the democrats would filibuster the nominations. and yet we don't see a deal was struck. but now the tide has turned. the parties are reversed and suddenly that deal is not holding. we see filibuster after filibuster after filibuster obstructing the ability to enable the executive branch the president elected by the citizens of united states and vacancies with judicial
7:48 pm
vacancies heather and beyond. why vacancies? largest number of executive branch appointments piled up and yet so my colleagues on the other side here are saying well the senate is functioning just fine. about 8% of the american people think the senate is functioning fine and does a% you have to recognize or just not paying attention. this is not the senate. that i knew as a young man coming here as an intern sitting up in the staff gallery was senator hatfield coming out to brief him on the amendments and debates before each vote. at that time we had simple up-and-down votes on nominations. a rare exception and if we turn the clock back to lyndon b. johnson in the six-year period lyndon b. johnson as the majority leader dionne this chamber on this floor right
7:49 pm
7:50 pm
7:51 pm
7:52 pm
7:53 pm
7:54 pm
7:55 pm
7:56 pm
7:57 pm
7:58 pm
7:59 pm
8:00 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on