tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 4, 2015 2:00pm-3:01pm EST
responsibly. also on the trip to paris, senators from colorado, massachusetts, new hampshire, minnesota, as well as cory booker of new jersey, chris coons of delware, and oregon and hawai'i. >> coming up this weekend on c-span, saturday night at 9:00 eastern, the nation magazine holds a discussion on inequality in america, and what that means for society. speakers include "the nation" editor, former labor secretary roberter reich, and white house adviser ann jones. >> you have the racial justice leg which has no home and has no candidate, and you're talking about the dreamers, on the latino side, the "black lives matter" movement, idle no more month native americans, a racial justice third wing of the party with no candidate and no voice, and not even the pretense of a
black candidate and they exploded into public view. >> the republican jewish coalition presidential form featuring republican presidential candidates sharing their thoughts on terrorism, israel and national security. >> before recessing for the week yesterday, democratic senators spoke to reports about their plans to add gun violence legislation to at the recent bud jet reconciliation bill. they said it was time for congress to act. >> before we begin today, i'd like us all to pause for a brief moment to honor the victims of the tragedy in san bernardino.
>> well, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families. but as senator murphy pointed out yesterday, our thoughts and prayers are not even close to enough. the time for prayers, thoughts, and sympathies is now. but it is also a time to act. this country is dangerously close to falling into a new normal, where mash shootings of children, of health care human being workers, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, is commonplace. is this the kind of country we want to be? is that the kind of country we want our children to grow up in? mothers should not have to bury their daughters because congress doesn't have the courage to act. a husband shouldn't get a call that his wife was killed in the
classroom because republicans in congress don't have the courage to challenge the nra. enough is enough. and senate democrats are not waiting one more day. today is the day we act. later today, we'll be filing several amendments to the pending reconciliation bill that would strip out this political charade of a bill and replace it with meaningful gun safety legislation that the president would actually sign. we will have votes later today on these amendments, and the entire country will know where every member of the senate stands on tightening background checks, on keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, and on strengthening and improving mental health in this country.
the scourge of gun violence has snuffed out thousands upon thousands of lives. it's an epidemic that must be addressed head on and that means keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have guns. that's what almost everyone in america believes. but an intransgent few who happen to be senators, vowing to the power of the -- bowing to the mother of the gun lobby have stopped the will of the american people from being enacted. enough. enough. enough. i saw yesterday in california, the people were being led out of the room by a police officer who said, don't worry. they were afraid there were bullets coming. the police officer said, don't worry, i'll take the bullet for you. we shouldn't have a scene like
that anymore. we just shouldn't. so, that is what these votes later today are about. it's time for republican colleagues to summon the courage to stare down the nra and side with an overwhelming majority of americans and gun owners and pass gun safety legislation today. now we'll hear from the members who have bills that we -- or amendments well bring up. first, somebody who has been the leader on this issue, for now over two decades, senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, chuck. i wanted to say that on behalf of my colleagues, senator boxer, and all of us here, i spoke last night to the mayor of san bernardino, carey davis, and extended our sympathy and condolence itch didn't extend
anger, which i feel, because here we are again, gathered to mourn the victims of yet another mass shooting. this time it's our home state where at least 14 were killed and 21 now wounded. and again, we're talking about what congress can do. 0 or candid live what congress should have done years ago but failed to because it refuses to stand up to the gun lobby. so far, in 2015, there have been 355 mass shootings. we're currently in the 336 day of the year. this means on average there has been more than one mass shooting per day. that statistic should stun us all, and was once shocking to see that it's become normal. and that's a very sad statement about this country. the common denominator of all
these etangs is easy access to guns and that's no surprise, given how many firearms there are in this country. in fact, more guns than people. the day after thanksgiving, black friday, the federal background check system ran more than 185,000 background checks. that's in one day of people seeking to buy a weapon. so, that's at least 185,000 potential gun purchases. and the figures don't include purchases at gun shows or online. we saw many guns so it's no surprise that guns fall into the wrong hands. the bill, believe, is going to be before the floor, hopefully today, is entitled "denying firearms and explosives to dangerous terrorists."
the bill is a definition of a no-brainer, if someone is to dangerous to board an aircraft, they're too dangerous to buy a gun. i introduced a bill in february, the same day congressman peter king introduced the bill in the house, and the bill itself was developed by george bush's justice department. simply put, this shouldn't be a partisan issue. today, under federal law, an individual is blocked from buying a gun if that person falls into one of nine categories on the national instant background check system known as nics. i wanted to show you the nine categories. this is it. and these are the categories. have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for exceeding a year, is a fugitive from justice, an unlawful user
or addicted to any controlled substance, have been acued justiced as a mental defective or committed to mental institutions, and it goes on. one thing is left out of this. suspected of an act of terrorism or terrorist. and that is what this bill would remedy. the bill would add a new category that allows the attorney general to prevent a person from buying a gun or explosives if two requirements are met. first, that the individual is a known or suspected terrorist, and, second, if the attorney general has reasonable belief that the recipient would use the fire in connection with a terrorist attack. there are in any number of gun safety bills that congress should pass, but keeping the guns out of the hands of terrorists should be number one on the list. and the huge soft loophole is
that somebody can fly into this country and go and purchase a weapon, be a terrorist, and not be held attributable for it. that's the present situation. it doesn't count as a reason to deny a sale. so, giving the attorney general this authority, i think, is long overdue, and hopefully will have chance to vote on it today. let me see right here. senator boxer. >> thank you, senator. >> let he help you. >> this is -- go ahead. >> i just also spoke with the mayor of san bernardino, and he had, after i expressed my grief and solidarity, he just said, ask everyone to pray for san bernardino, and so senator schumer, thank you.
i also, as senator feinstein has done, offer the help of any federal agency. i know the fbi has been there from the get-go. look, my heart is broken again. i well remember so long ago dianne when john ferry walked into 101 california. this was a disgruntled man who walked interest a law office -- walked into a law office and killed a lot of people, and one of them happened to by my son's best friend. and senator feinstein then stepped up and said, what is happening? with these assault weapons. and she has been on the case ever since. i'm so proud to be her partner in this. my heart is broken again. whether it's connecticut, whether it's washington, whether it's oregon, whether it's new
york, name every state, they've all had this happen. we looked at the pain, the trauma, the fear. we look at war zones in our own country. war zones? i want to thank the medical personnel, the first responders. they're heroes. they rushed to the scene and later stopped these killers. and we know that victims in this attack were county employees. at the san bernardino department of public health. i was a county supervisor in marin county, and in california, i got to tell you, the county workers are so wonderful because they are giving back to their community. in this case, as you know the complex was decide indicated to people with developmental disabilities. and the attack occurred in a room, big room they rent out,
and this time it was for a department of health employees. so there's a holiday party, people gathered in friendship, and all of a sudden the unspeakable happens, and while the details of the motives are unfolding, they're troubling. this is what we know for sure. these suspects, they're not suspects. these killers. these killers used military style weapons, 14 people died, 17 people, at least, were wounded in just a few short minutes. and, yes, the scene looked like a war zone, and there's a reason. the weapons were weapons of war that were used. i know a lot of people on the other site of the gun issue, and i have never heard anyone give me a reason as to why military
style weapons should be used by anyone other than a military person or law enforcement officer. again, senator feinstein is going to have more information for you on her effort, but we're going to move again to make sure that these weapons stay in the hands of the military and the police. i am so glad, senator schumer, i say you and say to patty murray and our leadership here, senator reid and the rest, so grateful that we'll be voting today, and you outlined and you mentioned the background check expansion, the no terrorist can't gate gun, and also mental health. i want to point out that senator murray has a very important amendment i was proud to speak about at length on the floor that would increase the funding
to make our healthcare clinics safe. increase security. that's also part of this package. so, i'm going to close with this. after ten years of the vietnam wars, the vietnam war got me into politics. we lost nearly 60,000 americans in the vietnam war over ten years. we lose more than that to gun violence in less than two years in this country. ten years, we mourn the louse of soldier -- loss of soldiers, two. >> same number of people or even more die from gun violence. if there was any other thing that was kill: 30,000 of our citizens a year, you know everybody would be on the floor of the united states senate. but there's a lack of courage, a lack of courage, and that's why we're here to say, step up to the plate today. stand with us. people deserve to be safe in
their communities, going to a holiday party, going to school going to a mall to a restaurant. they deserve to be safe. that's why we're here. >> over the past 20 hours, lawmakers in this building have offered their thoughts and prayers to the victims of yet another heinous mass shooting in this country. today, my colleagues and i stand here once again to say, we need something more. we need action. we stand here today because we know, and the majority of americans agree, it is far past time for this congress to adopt common sense reforms. we don't have all the details what happened yesterday in california, but we already have far too many examples, from
every corner of this country, including my home state of washington, to know we must act. we must act so children at school, young adults on campus, women in abusive relationships, patients at planned parenthood clinics, and coworkerses at a holiday party, know their government is doing something, anything, to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous criminals and terrorists, and that action needs to start right here, in this building. >> thank you for organizing this. here is the very sad truth. and that is that it is very difficult for the american people to keep up with the mass shootings we have seen -- seem to see almost every day. yesterday, san bernardino. a few days ago, colorado
springs. before that, roseburg, oregon, before that, chat noone nothing good, "t," and on -- chattanooga, test, and on and on it goes the san bernardino shooting was the 355th mass shooting this year. gun violence has reached endemic levels in the united states. over the past decade 275,000 americans have been killed by guns. let me paraphrase what president obama said recently. and what he said is that this is not an easy problem to solve, but just because+ó÷ it is not an easy problem to solve does not mean that we should not do everything that we can. now, the bad news is in fact, that this nation is divided over 0 the gun situation, that's simple fact. the good news is there is a broad consensus, perhaps 60-70%
of the american people, who agree on common sense gun safety legislation. and here is what that consensus is about, supporting, by a strong majority of the american people. we need to significantly expand and improve background checks. who is arguing that people who should not have guns, because of a criminal background, because of mental problems, should not be able to purchase those guns? very few americans disagree with that. we need to renew the assault weapons ban. we need to end the sale of high capacity magazines. we need to make gun trafficking a federal crime and give law enforcement the tools they need to get illegal guns off of the streets. we need to close the gun show loophole as well as loopholes that allow gun purchasers to buy a gun after the waiting period expires without a completed background check.
we need to close loopholes that allow domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain guns. we need to strengthen penalties, restore purchases, who buy guns front licensed dealers on behalf of somebody prohibited from purchasing a gun. and very significantly, we need to greatly expand and improve our mental health capabilities. the sad reality is that in america today there are many thousands of people walking our streets who are suicidal or homicidal. and these people need treatment when they need treatment, regardless of their income, regardless of their insurance status. when they are in crisis, they should be able to get treatment. today not two months from now. these are just some of the ideas that in fact are supported by the vast majority of the american people and it's time that congress moved forward in
response. thanks. >> we are just days away from the third anniversary of the newtown massacre, and once again, unspeakable tragedy and carn national in america, once again, evil and good, evil in the horrendous neutrality of massacres and good in the emergency responders and police, who face down danger to rescue people. once again, prayers and platitudes. but we're all in agreement here, prayers and platitudes are not enough. the most common question in america today is, what will it take? what will it take to face down
this evil? will it become the new normal? will the banality of evil, a term used in reference to another time of mass killing -- what will it take for real safety and security in america? not just for us but for our children, for innocent people, in churches, and schools, and clinics around america. all i've heard today in this building so far is pretty much business as usual. we're going to take another vote on the affordable care act. congress is complicit in these mass murders when it fails to act. inaction makes congress complicit. and for anybody who says, connecticut now has a strong
measure on gun violence and so does california, so does new york, the simple stark fact is that the strongest state laws are at the mercy of the weakest. because our borders are pourous. gunses flow across state line and victimize innocent people as a result. so, state laws are not the solution. nor is shrugging our shoulders. that's the most common reaction. can't be done. there has to be a tipping point. what will it take? 30,000 deaths every year ought to be enough. a mass shooting every day on average ought to be enough. not just san bernardino but the constant flow of death and blood as a result of gun violence, and
it cannot be business as usual anymore. as senator schumer said so well, enough is enough. enough is enough. >> prayers and sympathies were important to us in sandy hook. i know that thoughts and prayers are important to the people of california today. but members of congress don't get elected in order to send out sympathy tweets. members of congress get paid to change policy to make people safer. and what is so offensive to those of us particularly who lived through sandy hook and watched communities lift through similar episodes, is that it's not bad enough that we have not passed any legislation to try to address the epidemic rates of
gun violence, but in this congress we're not even trying. we're not even making an attempt. that's offensive. so we're going to try today. we're going to show the americ\ public there is a group of sane people in washington who realize that the status quo isn't acceptable. maybe these measures will pass. maybe they won't. at least the american people will see that we are plugged in to this disbelief over the inaction of this congress. i want to say one word about the intersection of mental health and gun laws. there's probably nobody over the course of the last year who worked harder oregon building consensus around mental health reform legislation than i have and i hope that senator cassidy and i have chance to bring our bill before the united states congress. but the united states doesn't have a rate of mental illness greater than that of other first world countries. we don't spend less money on
mental health than other countries. but we have a rate of gun violence that is 20 times that of the average first world nation. what is differents about america is we have more illegal guns than any other country. what is different about america is we have the loosest gun laws than any other country. what is different about america is we allow for military style assault weapons to pop late the streets of the country. i'm glad we're going to have an amendment on mental health, but let's be honest about what differentiates america. it's the fact we refuse to get serious about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and military style assault weapons off of the streets. we're going to try today. i don't know whether we'll succeed but at least we'll show the people of california, connecticut, south carolina, and oregon, that somebody, that somebody is listening and reacting to the pain that
millions of people are feeling across the country. >> questions. >> you are arguing that what you really need to reduce the number of shootings is stopping the sale of high pass magazines and assault weapons. >> we have argued on all of to the fronts. in fact win we put together our principles, we talked about the number one thing we could do would be close the gunshow loophole, stop selling guns online, universal background checks, and that's what we're introducing today. we are also, because there is such an increase in violence from terrorism and isis, it is just absurd to leave the law such that if you're on a terrorist watch list, you can buy a gun. we'll come back with other issues. these are the two we think do the most now. next question.
>> [inaudible] -- mass shootings date can back to san francisco, harvey milk. shot a congresswoman in the head. why does -- [inaudible] many of this press conferences over and over -- >> i think we are, as we said before, reaching a tipping point. i was the author of the brady law. that forced people to act, and the brady law, which saved tens of thousands of lives, and many other things we did on crime, reduced crime. and the american people said, okay, things are okay as they are. aagreed with us on gun control but wasn't a high, ranching issue. the mass shootings, week after week, different types of people, all being killed is arousing the american conscience, and we will win these fights. if we don't win today, we'll win next month or the months after that or the months after that. the worst thing we can do is do
nothing. and let those who are hiding out of fear of the nra, stay under the covers. we're going to keep at this. we talked about those a month ago. we talked about doing a major bill on our three principles in the early winter. we'll keep at this, and, believe me, we will win, america is changing. >> can i -- i just want to respond. when you asked the question, you're basically saying, why bother? does not what cities do. they don't just hide because they may not win the vote you. keep doing it. i'll give you one statistic. in california, since the '90s, we have passed a number of important gun safety laws, and over that period of time, we
>> well, i don't -- yeah. i don't see what they've done on -- yeah. beyond see -- >> crs, for example, when congress was split? >> well, look, the bottom line here is we just have, the nra is a powerful opponent. the gun lobby is a powerful opponent. and the best weapon we have on our side is the outrage of the american people. it is growing. if we keep at it, we will win. that is the way to do this. we don't control the house, we don't control the senate. but we have the people of america on our side. and if we continue to have votes and force people to vote, we will win. let me tell you something today. there are a good number, not all, but there are a good number of our republican colleagues dreading these two votes, dreading them. [inaudible conversations] >> no, the gentleman. >> you're really serious, why are you trying to attach this to a bill the president has already
said he's going to veto? >> okay. we have, our proposals rescind the underlying bill and just have this. so the president will sign them if they should pass. >> so if that doesn't work, will you prepare to fight for this in the omnibus? >> we're prepared to fight for this in every place where we can make a difference and succeed. yes, go ahead. go ahead -- she wanted, i mean, here's a question for you also. >> i'd like to say something. you know, this is such a huge, hard issue because it is driven by gun manufactures who support the lobbying groups who raise the fear of gun owners. when i began this way back in're 93, it was, oh, they're going to take away our hunting weapon. and so what we did, was we exempted from the assault weapons bill 37 be 5 specific
types -- 375 types of specific hunting weapons so when the nra said that, we could say what is your weapon. and you would say it's a winchester or whatever, look in the bill, it's exempted. you have such a push to buy in gun magazines, in open stores, guns on display everywhere. and it's a society that has kind of bought many to the kool-aid -- in to the kool-aid. that the more guns there are, the better protected you are. let me tell you one story. this was "the washington post" dated october 6. it was in tennessee. where in tennessee? white pine. and there were two families, and they lived next door to each other. the boy in one house was 11, the girl was 8. they both got put byes. --
puppies. the girl didn't want to show the boy her puppy. he pulled out a 12-gauge shotgun, and he came and shot and killed the 8-year-old. that's what this is leading to. i'm not saying this is every day, but this is the culture that's being built, that problems get solved this way. and we've got to stop to it. because it has the ability to destroy the fabric of this country. >> thanks, everybody. [inaudible conversations] >> congress is scheduled to be in for two more weeks of work on capitol hill before wrapping up for the year. house leaders are hoping to finish next week. government spending for the 2016 budget year tops the schedule. current funding runs out next
week. the house will also vote on a bill to tighten the visa waiver program. the senate will vote on a revised education program, doing away with no child left behind. the house approved that measure wednesday, and once house is finished with the spending bill, the senate will need to vote on it. the house you can watch live on c-span, and the senate, c-span2. >> all persons having business before the honorable, the supreme court of the united states, are admonished to draw near and give their attention. >> monday on c-span's "landmark cases," we'll look at the case of baker v. carr, the 1962 decision that ruled federal courts could intercede in disputes over reapportionment and the drawing of election districts. chief justice earl warren called the most important case of my tenure on the court. here's a portion of the actual oral argument. >> these 11 tennessee voters live in five of the largest cities of tennessee. they are the intended and actual victims of a statutory scheme
which devalues, reduces their right to vote to about one-twentieth of the value of the vote given to certain rural residents. >> by the early 20th century, population shifts in states like tennessee had a majority of voters from rural areas move into the city. yet those rural districts, with now smaller populations, held voting power equal to the larger urban districts. so a group of voters from knoxville, member first took their -- memphis be took their case all the way to the supreme court. it has continuing relevance today as the term one person, one vote is still being debated. joining us in the discussion, theodore olson, former u.s. solicitor general, and douglas smith, author of "on democracy's doorstep: the inside story of how the supreme court brought one person, one vote to the united united states." that's live monday night at nine
eastern on c-span, c-span3 and c-span radio. for background on each case while you watch, order your copy of "landmark cases" companion book available for $8.95 plus shipping at c-span.org/landmarkcases. ♪ ♪ >> booktv has 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors every weekend on c-span2. saturday afternoon at two, it's the 15th annual vegas valley book festival in las vegas featuring author talks on race, free speech and the american west. >> there's a fantastic word, and it's tragic it had to be invented, but it was invented by an australian anthropologist, and it is the unconsole bl loss of a place that you know that's been pull bed out from underneath your feet. so you feel nostalgia b for a place you've been or where you grew up, whatever. some nostalgia is when you're
standing still, and you're watching the landscape out the front of your windshield or the front of your living room window go away. >> and at 10 p.m. eastern on "after words," gilbert gall examines the business culture of football. >> i don't think the players in a few years are going to be satisfied just with a couple of thousand dollars. i think they're going to look around. you know, some of them are quite smart, and they're at least smart enough to see where the money is and what the coaches are being paid. >> and joining the conversation is tom mcmillen, former u.s. representative from maryland and president and ceo of the division 1a athletic directors' association. and sunday at noon on "in depth," a discussion with political commentator cokie roberts, author of "ladies of liberty," "founding mothers," and her latest, capitol dames. join us as we take your phone calls, e-mails, facebook commentses and tweets.
watch booktv all weekend, every weekend on c-span2. >> yesterday a marble bust of vice president dick cheney was unveiled at the u.s. capitol's visitors center. he, president bush, vice president joe biden, mitch mcconnell and house speaker paul ryan spoke at the ceremony. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the chairman of the senate committee on rules and administration, roy blunt; senate president pro tempore, orrin hatch; senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell; speaker of the house of representatives, paul d. ryan; president george w. bush and vice president dick cheney. [cheers and applause]
cheney, we thank you more -- for his service to you and country. remembering the many years he labored in the political arena, we're grateful for your gifts of people who are passionate about keeping this nation strong. continue to bless and keep vice president cheney and his loved ones as we receive inspiration from his contributions. remind us that with your power, we are strong enough to overcome difficulties that trouble our nation and world.
lord, strengthen our commitment to you and country by turning our thoughts toward hope, our hearts toward justice and our hands toward works of peace. we pray in your sovereign name, amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the senate committee on rules and administration, the honorable roy blunt. >> well, welcome this morning. it's a great opportunity for us to be here and to be part of this presentation of welcoming vice president cheney officially to the capitol as part of
collection that the senate started in 1885, 130 years ago. the senate decided it would be appropriate to recognize the vice president, but principally to recognize the vice president in his job as president of the senate and, certainly, to get to recognize a person who spent a lot of time in both the house and the senate as vice president and before the 46th vice president of the united states, dick cheney. the story of vice presidents and their impact on congress and the country is an important part of our history, and as we celebrate this event today, we get a chance to welcome both current and former members of the house and senate, some of whom you'll hear from, former members of the cabinet, justice scalia, we're pleased to be joined by him and, of course, by president bush. and before we're done, we'll be joined by vice president biden. we're particularly pleased, as i
know the vice president is, to be here with his family. such an important part of his life and his great partner, mrs. cheney. you know, lynne cheney, a partner in this project, like she has been a partner in so many ore things -- other things the vice president has done. she has a deep appreciation for the history of the country. she's written great children's history and great adult history. she and the vice president wrote a wonderful book, speaker ryan, on speakers of the house when he was serving in the house, and we're lucky to have her come just last year and visit with senator bees about her really ground -- senators about her really ground breaking book on james madison. when dick cheney was a member of the house, i remember him telling me that he and others founded the dennis thatcher society because mrs. cheney was the chairman of the national endowment for humanities, and in the tradition of dennis
thatcher, they thought they should band together and see what it was like to have a spouse with a more powerful job than they had. but they have been great partners, and so when mrs. cheney said that she thought that william baron's had true -- barrons had truly captured the presence of the vice president, that was probably the most important indication that everything was going to work out all right. we're also very pleased to have william barrons and charlotte barrons, his wife and members of their family, with us here today. this'll be the second bust that he has done that'll be part of the vice presidential collection. he's now working on the third, and that will be the vice, vicee president gore's bust. as we're talking today, he is planning that. so, vice president cheney, welcome back to the capitol. will rogers said that the man with the easiest job in the country was the vice president
because all he had to do was get up every day and say, "how's the president doing?" [laughter] but recent presidents and recent vice presidents have changed this job a lot since will rogers would have said that. every vice president, starting with john adams, has done a lot to make their own impact on the country and uniquely had the opportunity to make an impact on the congress. dick cheney wrought to the vice presidency -- brought to the vice presidency the preparation of a lifetime of service. his no-nonsense approach, his willingness to solve problems made him an influential and an active part of president bush's administration. he'd come to that job, actually his first job in washington was to be a fellowship at the capitol. six years later he's the chief of staff for the president of the united states. one of the quicker moves from intern to chief of staff that
ever happened. [laughter] his ten years in the house he was the chairman of republican conference, he was the republican whip. now, i had that job. i was the majority whip and never lost a job -- never lost a vote in the, when i was majority whip. i also for a little while was the minority whip, and i lost some votes there. dick cheney is the only minority whip who never lost a vote because the president's father, george h.w. bush, asked him to be secretary of defense before he could ever whip a vote. [laughter] and he holds lots of distinction in the history of the country. it is an honor to be part of this presentation today, and it'll be a great honor to see him recognized and remembered for time immemorial in the capitol of the united states with this bust. [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen, the majority leader of senate, the honorable mitch mcconnell. [applause] >> richard bruce cheney. he's had one of the most interesting careers and one of the most fascinating lives of anyone you'd ever want to meet. as roy indicated, chief of staff, secretary of defense, member of congress from wyoming, house minority whip and vice president to president george w. bush and master fly ferberman.
fisherman. this son of casper, wyoming, succeeded says, i this -- i think, quite a lot about him. because when dick cheney sets his mind to something, he's absolutely determined to achieve it. it's a trait he's well known for, and here's another one: dick cheney loves his family. and, lynne i want to say how much i enjoyed the biography of james madison. i had read a few others. yours literally brought him alive. and one of the things that george will and i agree on, we think he's our favorite president who went to princeton. the other one being woodrow wilson who's been engulfed in some bit of controversy lately. [laughter] and he loves his daughters, obviously, too. the truth is, for all the vice president's well-deserved reputation as a man of action, we all know lynne is the real force in the family.
think tank scholar, public servant, a strong woman who's never afraid to share her opinion on an issue. dick cheney might be tough, but lynne is tougher. [laughter] and i think the vice president is just fine with that. now, here's what's interesting to me as a member of the senate, and it's the reason we're gathered here today. dick cheney wasn't just the vice president of the united states, he was also the president of the united states senate. that's why we dedicate a bust to him and to every vice president. many vice presidents have viewed that role as truly ceremonial, but not the one we're honoring today. when dick was vice president, he was up at our policy lunch most tuesdays. he was an active member of the senate. he sat there like a sponge and soaked up the information, and we could rarely get him to say anything. wasn't that we didn't think he had strong opinions, but we knew
he was there for president bush to figure out what we were up to. one of the instances i remember quite well relates to the vice president's only opportunity to vote, and that's to break a tie. here's the setting. we had what by today's standard was a rather modest deficit reduction package which we could do through what we called in the senate reconciliation. so it meant we could do it with 51 votes. i was the whip, the guy in charge of counting the votes. i counted, and i recounted, and i recounted. remember, we had 55 republicans at the time. i could only get to 50. here was the complication: dick was in pakistan. boy, i did not want to have this whip count be incorrect, so i had to call him in pakistan,
eight and a half time zones away, god knows how long to fly back, and i said we need you to come back. i sweated as he flew all the way back hoping that we'd, in fact, have a tie. and, alas, we did, and dick broke the tie. that was my most be memorable moment as the vote counter in the senate. vergingly, he made his way back, as -- eventually, he made his way back, as i said, through all of those time zones, and, mercifully, i was right in my count. we've had with us a president and a vice president who have taken very different paths in their post-presidency and post-vice presidency. one continues to engage passionately in the debates of the day. he writes, he speaks, he lets his opinion be known in no uncertain terms. the other views his role in a
different way. he's done important work, but he's stayed home in the background. he's done humanitarian work, for instance, and he does something else too. he paints. [laughter] now, who can say which role is the correct one when you've left both of these important offices? it's a matter of personal opinion. but i know we're all looking forward to seeing more of president bush's masterpieces. thank you, everyone, for gathering today. thank you, president bush. thank you, vice president cheney , for all of your remarkable service to our country over many, many years. thank you so much. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the house of representatives, the honorable paul ryan.
[applause] thank you. thank you very much, and i just want to welcome all of you to the capitol visitors' center, especially our honored guests and the cheney family. so the way i see it, nobody could accuse dick cheney of living an inconsequential life. he was working in the white house on 9/11, he oversaw operation desert storm, he worked at the side of gerald ford as that good man restored the presidency. he dedicated his life to public service, and perhaps closest to my own heart, this is a man who witnessed the very first drawing of the laffer curve. [laughter] now, given my position, i'm especially interested in his career as a congressman, a member of the people's house. he was elected in 1978.
he served in the house for ten years. can and while he was there -- and while he was there, he literally wrote the book on this place be, "kings of the hill," with his wife, lynne. he vigorously supported ronald reagan in that time, and over time he rose in the ranks. the list of people he knew and befriended is a who's who of the conservative movement. newt gingrich succeeded him as the house republican whip. he moved among giants in american politics. he is one himself. later, of course, he left the house to become our defense secretary. he then went on to serve as the president of the upper chamber which we in the house prefer to call that other chamber. will have of.-- [laughter] and then he was never heard from again. [laughter] i think the one thing people
forget about vice president cheney is, actually, he's a really funny guy. i mean, i studied the vice presidential debates because i had my own vice presidential debate. and if you remember the 2000 vice presidential debate -- [laughter] he's up against joe lieberman. joe lieberman's talking up the boom times under president clinton. and he says, i'm pleased to see, dick, from the newspapers that you're better off than you were eight years ago. candidate cheney replies: i can tell you, joe, that the government had absolutely nothing to do with it. [laughter] joe lieberman continues. i can see my wife, and i think she's thinking, gee, i wish she could go into the private sector. without missing a beat again, dick cheney says: i'm going to try and help you do that, joe. [laughter] this runs in the family. years later when the vice president had his critics just going off the deep end -- as they often did -- he asked
lynne, his wife, does it bug you when people refer to me as darth vadar? and she said, no be, it humanizes you. [laughter] [applause] that's what i'm going to always remember about the cheney family, that wry sense of humor, that calm determination, the fierce be love of country -- fierce love of country through all the years, through war and peace. he did all he could to keep this country safe, and we all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. thank you, vice president cheney. [applause] ..