tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 25, 2016 8:13am-10:01am EST
more pressure we then put on kim jong-un. he has got a fairly shaky economy, not a good hand. and so these sanctions i think could create a good problem for him. certainly to someone puts 30% of his economy into his military. >> thank you. i'm certainly a big proponent of our having passed those sanctions. i would like to say for the record, mr. chairman, that one of the things i'm very concerned about with respect to the sanctions and their enforcement is the fact that we still have sitting in the banking committee the nomination of adam szubin to be the person at the department of treasury who is charged with enforcing those sanctions, and yet he has not yet officially been approved. i hope we enter that into the record and i would urge we see some action on his nomination. and i'm out of time, mr. chairman but can i ask one more question? >> yes.
>> given the recent action by north korea, that we seen that affect chinese thinking for support for north korea and their willingness to try and encourage to pull back on their nuclear efforts, for either of you, both of you? >> well, as you know, they denounced actions as well. they stated their concern with them. >> right. >> i think they're in active conversations with us now but to this point we haven't seen the steps we would like them to take in my opinion and that they could take. >> thank you. thank you both, very much. thank you for your service. >> on behalf of chairman mccain, senator graham. >> thank you, chairman reid. general, let's pick up what you just said, are we overrelying on china to discipline and regulate north korea?
every time somebody mentions north korea the first thing out of their mouth, well, we have to have the chinese help us. >> sir, i don't know that we're overly reliant, for instance, there are certain actions, unilateral actions this body took that could apply as well. >> could you give me a list of things we do that we haven't done, regarding north korea, not right now but later. >> yes, i could. >> have you ever found a situation in modern military history sanctions stopped a dictator from acquiring weapons? >> i'm not aware. i'd have look at that, senator, to be honest with you. >> do you think he cares how his people? >> no, he does not. >> do you think if he had a missile with the united states he would actually use it against us? >> i think that his stated purpose is to protect his regime. if he thought his regime were challenged he states he would use wmd. >> is it in our national security interests to allow the
north koreans to develop missile technology that could hit the homeland? >> no, sir. >> would you suggest we use military force if necessary to stop that? >> if military force was necessary, yes, sir. but i think -- >> that should be on, but that should be one of options. >> yes, sir. >> do you agree with that, at myrl? >> i do. >> i want the committee to understand we're about to have to cross a road here eventually. don't you think in the coming few years we'll have to make a decision about this? does that make sense to you, admiral? >> it does senator, in my opinion. >> say in the next five years, i'm just picking a diet out of thin air here, the united states is going to have to make a tough decision regarding north korea, whether or not to let them know if you continue down the missile development road we will attack that program? >> at some point it may come to that? >> do you think it would be good for north korea to understand there is consequence what they're doing. >> i think they do understand
that, senator. >> do you think they believe we would use military force to stop tear program. >> i don't know what they believe. >> okay. what about you, general? >> i would say the same. the difficulty -- >> could we make it more clear to them? is it possible to make it more clear to them? >> i think it is possible to make it more clear to them. the second thing i would add, senator, you know as you look to the future i'm concerned as well not only about his nuclear missile capability, he is developing cyber capability. has strategic launched ballistic missile and developing air defense capabilities. all of those things in five or six years will be more formidable problem. >> in light after threat that could emerge next five years from north korea, if sequestration goes back into effect, does that affect the army's ability to participate in south korea effectively? >> yes, sir, it does. >> if see questions goes into full effect, admiral, what does that do to your ability in your theater? >> i think it hurts me greatly
not only for forces that are forward-deployed but also follow-on forces. i worry most about the follow-on force. >> so we have five-year window here where north korea is advancing missile technology and cyber capability. they're becoming more after threat next five years unless something changes, is that correct? is that what you're telling the committee, next five years? >> you said five years. i did not. >> i'm just picking five years. >> right. >> let's say in the next five years if nothing changes they will be a bigger threat to the united states? >> clearly. >> is that true for you, general? >> yes, sir, i agree. >> we got that done. in the congress's response is to reduce your capabilities in the next five years? is that what congress is doing to you? >> if sequestration remains the law of the land, as i testified during my confirmation hearing, i think it will hurt us significantly in the 2021, 2022
time frame. >> from policymaker point of view your military advice would be to change that construct? >> my military request of you, senator, would be to end sequestration. >> yeah, because what we're doing we're having the enemy increasing capability and we're decreasing your capability to confront that enemy. is that a bad confirmation? would you both say yes. >> not just in north korea. >> in your theater. >> in my theater. it es globally. >> what does north korea want, general? just survivability? >> sir, he wants to protect his regime, the kim family regime and wants to establish himself as recognized nuclear state. >> okay. admiral, would the tpp be helpful if passed in your region? >> it would be helpful to pass in my region. >> what if we failed to pass isn't. >> the countries in the region will question the seriousness of our commitment to the rebalance, one. and two, they will turn somewhere else. >> would that likely be china?
>> it will be china. >> thank you both, for extraordinary careers. thank you both. >> senator kaine. >> thank you, mr. chair and thanks to the witnesses. i appreciate this testimony much. some us are running back and forth to foreign relations committee hear with secretary kerry where many same issues are discussed. i apologize for that. i enjoyed our visit to halifax in november. one of the issues raised by senator king when i was gone but i think it was raised pretty briefly. he asked you whether the united states you should ratify the convention on law and sea. you said yes. i want to dig into that a lot more. a lot of talk is the chinese island building and activities in the south china sea and a lot of testimony going on upstairs with secretary kerry is about the same thing. w minutes ago, and i quote, you were asked
about china and what our posture is vis-a-vis chinese activities. quote, the goal is international rules and norms, close quote. i think that ought to be the goal. we should be an enforcer of international rules and norms. but, i just find it fascinating that it is much as we talk about the chinese activities in south china sea we're against because they violate international rules and norms we're the only major power in the world that has not ratified the u.n. convention on law of the sea. now as a practical matter in terms of our own activities we act if that is law. we act in accord with it but our refusal, and it is a refusal, a refusal by this body, the senate to ratify it, means we really lack standing to hold up against actions of anybody else an complain about their failure to follow the requirements of that
convention. and this is not only a matter with respect to russia, i mean with china in the south china sea, it is also increasingly becoming an issue with russia in the arctic. if you could, admiral harris, instead of just saying i support it, talk to me a little bit about from the security standpoint, the safety of the united states and the mission that we have in the asia, the indo-asia-pacific, what would ratification of that u.n. convention do for the united states? >> thank you, senator, for the opportunity. let me begin in response by saying that i have been, i have talked to quite a few folks who are opposed to united nations commission on law of the sea and i've been informed by them and i appreciate their position. i understand their position. i don't agree with it but, acknowledge there are good reasons, there are reasons to
oppose unclas. first it gives us credibility in the international space because we lack today simply because we're not signed on uncalas. in military sense, projection of power, whether we sign on to unclas or not will not affect that. i think by not signing on to it, that we lose the credibility for the very same thing that we're arguing for, which is following accepted riles and norms in the international arena. you know, united states is a beacon, we're a beacon on a hill but i think that light is brighter if we sign on to unclas. we'll find ourselves in this odd situation here in the few months if, if, the international tribunal on the law of the sea
agrees with the philippine position with regard to their claim against china's nine dash line. we'll find ourselves supporting that outcome yet not be a signatory to it. and that puts us in a awkward position vis-a-vis to other countries in the region. russia will reap the benefits of almost half the arctic circle because of this theory of extending continental shelf which is afforded by unclos, we on other hand, will not reap those great benefits because we're not a signatory to unclos i think it affects in our commerce and trade, part of our rebalance, one of those four big spheres of rebalance. >> absence of ratification does not only deprive of us argument of against activities of others
we would argue are not lawful but also deprives of us some positive upside benefits for example, with the extended continental shelf argument in the arctic? >> in my opinion, that is true. >> i have no further questions. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, on behalf of chairman mccain. >> i apologize for my absence. i have presiding officer duty on the senate floor. general scaparrotti, that is. testimony on page 12, we will continue to work closely with the republic of korea to assure it procures appropriate types of numbers of critical munitions in early phases of hostility. of note the potential ban on cluster munitions could have a significant impact on our ability to defend the republic of korea. could you say a little bit more about that significant impact, general scaparrotti? >> yes, sir, thank you. there's presently a policy that
in '19 that will go into effect of the basically use of cluster munitions with a dud rate of greater than 1% can not be part of our inventory of the deployed. i rely on cluster munitions in very large way if we go to crisis on the peninsula. my concern is that we will not be able to replace those cluster munitions with proper munitions to use unitary rounds which to have same effect i have to fire three to five rounds for each one of those cluster munitions. my point we need to work to develop munitions that are within, acceptable with less than 1% dud rate so we can replace them in due time. until we do, i need to be able to use those cluster munitions that i have in storage now in the peninsula in the interim. >> is the rationale for this policy a humanitarian concern,
based on the nature of cluster munitions? >> yes, sir. >> do you think it is more humanitarian to preserve munitions in arsenal hopefully deter or any other munition to have been used or remove them from the arsenal and perhaps increase likelihood of conflict which thousands could die? >> no. i think that particularly in this case if we were not to use cluster munitions in a crisis on the peninsula, it will result in greater both military and civilian casualties in the long run because the extension of the campaign and also the effect that it would have tactically on our forces. so, and i would be happy to share -- we've done some modeling an this. we've done some testing on it. i'm quite confident of that opinion. >> have your predecessors relied on these types of munitions going back to the 1950s? >> we have used cluster munitions in the past. they're being used today. for instance the russians have
used them in devastating way in ukraine. >> i've noticed. admiral harris, i would like to turn to your testimony on a rerelated topic, page 20, under the heading of critical munitions. you state critical munitions shortfalls are a top priority and concern. do you mean to say you are facing actual short falls in critical munitions? >> that's true, senator. i've called for increased munitions. there is a short fall in general scaparrotti's arena. part of that short fall is, should be paid for by our korean ally. that is subject of discussions we have with korea. >> is this, not just in korea though but theaterwide do you face this kind of shortfall? >> i do. but focus of that part of my written testimony, senator, on korea. >> okay. in this kind of unclassified setting something you can get
into more detail about the kind of shortfalls you're facing? >> i prefer not to in this setting but i would be happy to come back to you in closed session or come to your office. >> i understand. we might submit questions for the record. i think that would be height of irresponsibility for civilian and military leaders in this country not at minimum have sufficient munitions to fight and hopefully deter the wars we might face, whatever we might disagree about on longer term, large budget ticket items. we need rounds for soldiers sailors, airmen and marines. admiral harris i would like to turn to the u.s.-philippine alliance something which senator mccain alluded to mutual defense treaty. csis said we should offer explicit guarranty to the philippines that the u.s. will respond under mutual defense treaty with attack to disputed water or territory. should this option be considered? >> i think we should consider it
and have a discussion of it in the policy arena. our obligations under the treaty with the philippines is pretty clear. and whether we extend that to the shoal which we don't holds philippine sovereign territory because we don't take a position on sovereignty, we should have that discussion i believe. >> thank you. i think we should have that discussion as well. i think deterrents works best as deterrents are clear with relationships with nato and taiwan and so forth. my time has expired. >> senator if you would like to take additional time, we have, i'm told senator blumenthal and senator sullivan returning. your time something exquisite. thank you, senator cotton. on behalf the chairman mccain let me recognize senator blumenthal as he gets seated. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate your great work on behalf of our country and the work that you've done, particularly in the theaters
that you have covered. general scaparrotti, i want to come book to one of the points that was raised by my colleague, senator gillibrand, about soft targets in terms of cyber. how vulnerable do you think those targets are in the area under your command? >> i think first of all, i'm confident in our military systems and my command-and-control systems. we red team that. we exercise it. i think we have a good defense but the problem with cyber, it is very dynamic. it changes every day. so it is something we have to stay focused on. i'm concerned about obviously the civilian cyber network we're
connected to and as surveillance in the peninsula. that requires work with their civilian counterparts as well. >> is there, in your view, any action we could take with respect to north korea that would deter their invasive action such as we saw with sony, such as we have seen and you see in your theater? >> yes. i believe there are some actions we could take. i would prefer to provide that you in a either closed session or a classified document. >> i understand that point. without speaks to them specifically, have you made recommendations about them and do you think there is the prospect of imminent action that will widen, increase effectiveness of what we're doing? >> in terms of the recommendations we're actively
discussing some operations. in terms of their effectiveness, et cetera, but you know that's presently just a part of planning. >> admiral harris, in terms of the submarine capability of this country we face no shortage of challenges in the asia-pacific and we also, i think have no doubt about the importance of submarines and i know my colleague senator ayotte asked you about the sufficiency of the funding that we have in prospect. if you were to talk to the american public, how would you put it so that they could understand the importance of our submarine capability in the
asia-pacific? >> senator, i would say that submarine force has been our principle asymmetric advantage over all the adversaries we faced in the 100 years of the submarine service. and it is such an asymmetric advantage, that every country who can builds their own submarine force. those countries that are building those submarine forces are building some very capable vessels. the russians, the chinese, lead that effort. the japanese make a great submarine. but, i'm concerned about the russian and chinese submarines as they increase in their capability. the russian submarine force in my opinion did not take a hiatus when the cold war ended. so now we have the class ssbn, they're newest ballistic missile
submarine is in their far east fleet in the pacific. the chinese are building jin class, ssbns, which will has the capability, if made with the right missile, to threaten the entire united states. so these are submarines that we have to, we must place them, keep them at risk whenever they're underway and on patrol and i face a submarine shortage in the pacific. my requirements are not being met. that is a function of numbers and global demand. i get all of that. i'm also worried about that delta, that short fall between requirement and presence. >> thank you. thank you both. my time has expired. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. on behalf of chairman mccain, senator tillis.
>> thank you, chairman. i'm sorry i was not here for a lot of committee meeting. i have judiciary and veterans affairs going on at same time. thank you for your service and all the folks that back you up. i have a he question that i hope hasn't been asked but has to do with the buildup we see in china. admiral, when you and i had a briefing you made the comment we have a qualitative advantage but quantity has a quality of its own. as china continues to expand, either its geographic footprint or it continues to build ships and other assets, has there been any modeling or any focus on what it's going to take to continue to operate these things in terms of fiscal sustainability? is there anything in your analysis to say at some point, you got to maintain them, you have got to operate them. with their financial woes, is there any thought in that or analysis being done? >> yeah. it is a great point, senator.
i have not done that analysis. nor have i seen analysis of china's fiscal sustainability of air military, out beyond, pick a date, 2020, 2025, whatever. what i have seen increased number of front line capable ships, submarines and aircraft well into the 2020s. so i'm worried about that and, but i have not looked at their ability to fiscally sustain that force. >> another point that you made that really struck me was the difference, when you talk about our qualitative advantages. it is not only technological, our power projection capability but also has to do with important things like survivability. and, in producing, if we're clearly going to have to spend more, sometimes take longer to increase what assets we have in
the area because of the premium that we place on force protection and survivability, i just think that is important for people to understand. we would never feel like, given china's priorities today that we need to match them ship for ship, but we need to figure out when those ratios, i think your concern is, even with our advantage, that the ratios are getting to a point where you expressed some concern, is that correct? >> it is correct, but i'm less concerned about matching the chinese ship for ship, than i am matching missile for missile. so, you know, their missile ranges far exceed ours, ship to ship. >> that's a very good point. i should have pointed that out. >> in the '11 budget we put in budget improving surface-to-surface capability -- '17 budget. >> we're showing china as
emerging threat or growing threat in that area of the world. what sort of work can we do to identify instances, particularly as it relates to north korea, to find partnerships in common interest and what kinds of things, either general scaparrotti or admiral harris, that we are working on that could potentially bear fruit? >> so i have talked in public before about there are more things that bind and link china with the united states than separate us. the things that separate us are not insignificant but let me talk about now for those things we can do together and share security spaces. so we have a military consultancy working group with china where we meet with them on regular basis to discuss incidents at sea and in the air. we have a rules of behavior working group. and we have all of these positive forum where we engage in discussions with our chinese
counterparts. they are active globally in positive areas and we should, you know, talk about those and commend them for it. you know, they were involved in the removal of chemical weapons from syria. they were involved in evacuation of noncombatants from yemen. they have been involved in counterpiracy operations off horn of africa now for years. they are in the 22nd iteration of that. they have large ships off the west coast of australia in search for missing malaysian airliner. these are all positive things. they're doing good things in that international space. it is just those provocative things they're doing in southeast asia and south china sea which raises tensions and provocations which causes problems in that area that we have to work with them on. >> thank you. in closing two things i suspect my colleague will bring up the 425. i want to associate my concerns he may have with that i will be
sticking around for his questions. i think also to continue to communicate back to us how the current budget request helps you, what the priorities should be, communicate those back to our office and continue, i think, to pound the table avoid all costs avoid sequestration. i look forward to working with you and thank you for your service. >> on of ba of the chairman, senator sullivan, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and my colleague senator tillis is wise in terms of his ability to anticipate questions. i want to talk a little bit about some of the force posture. admiral harris, in your testimony you talk abouted tyranny of distance and importance of forward station forces at high levels of readiness that can rapidly respond to a crisis in terms of a full range of military options. in the president, when he announced the rebalance which i think has brought here on this
committee, bipartisan support, he talked about no force reduction in the asia-pacific theater. despite that, as you may be aware, and we talked a little bit about it yesterday, the army has decided to essentially get rid of the only airborne brigade combat team in the asia-pacific, the 425. the also the only arctic-trained, only mountain-trained. they're a brigade combat team bring as lot of onlies to the fight. although it is a army decision, it certainly impacts the two of you. i know, general scaparrotti, you view the 425 as important strategic reserve that can get to korea within seven hours. we have a huge strategic lift capability coupled with the 425. admiral harris, you actually own the forces in terms of operational command. general millie to his credit
said he would take a look at this cities. he actually has put the decision on hold. i was up in alaska with him. he was on a fact-finding mission just a couple days ago. if he were to reverse that decision, would you, would you support his decision to do that, if he were? both of you? >> yes, sir, i would. it brings a very specific set of capabilities to the theater. as you just stated. i would just say that general millie as you know with the downsizing of our force has got to make a decision to take that someplace and with that comment, i would just say i think my personal opinion is, that we need to reconsider the downsizing of the army at this point given the challenges that we have around the globe. we've got a mismatch between requirements in our strategy and force that we have today. >> i couldn't agree more with you on that, general, and
general millie again to his credit look hard at two detail ratio in wanting to cut. if he has to cut anybody, infantry, armor, tooth element of our forces but i think your broader point on not drawing down the 450 is really good one. admiral harris, do you have any thoughts on that? >> sure, senator. sure much more fun to be insatiable cocom than a service chief. i don't with the service chiefs that have to make these difficult decisions. our nation has insatiable desire for security and rightfully so. i welcome general millie's decision to reconsider the reduction of the 425 in that great capacity that's resonant in alaska. these are follow-on search forces that without them, you know, i don't know where we would be if we had major fight
on the korean peninsula. >> thank you for that. i was just out at for the polling, j.r. tc, the 425 is doing their month-long training out there. to watch close to 1000 airborne soldiers drop out of the sky, in the middle of the night, on a fourth century military exercise shows that awesome instrument of american power this unit is and i certainly think it's a strategic mistake for the country to be getting rid of them. let me ask you one final question switching gears here. csis in their report, i know both of you have reviewed it, recommended we should consider offering an explicit guarranty to the philippines that the united states will respond on mutual defense treaty to an attack on the philippine military in the disputed waters or territory. i think to the president's credit he did this with regard
to one of the islands with regard to our treaty obligations to japan recently. what, should this option be considered and what do you think the effect of such a declaration would be? what do you think the effect of the president's previous statement vis-a-vis japan and our treaty obligations to japan on one of the islands, what do you think impact of that was? >> so, trying to decide which question to answer first. i'll start backwards then. so i think that the secretary of defense and the president's declaration unequivocal declaration of the caku islands fall under protect shuns afforded by mutual security treaty with japan had a positive effect on the situation in the east china sea and i responded to a question earlier about csis's recommendations about the
philippines. >> i'm sorry -- no, no. and, and i believe that our obligations to the philippines under that treaty, which is different than, every treaty is different, it is clear, i understand my obligations. i think we should consider it for sure. we should consider clarifying our position on the philippine marines, that are on the sektoma shoal. we maintained as a nation that the shoal, that territorial maritime dispute there, the maritime dispute we don't take a position on that. so we're going to have to study this and get into it but i think it clearly should be considered. >> why do you think -- your first statement about the president's statement, you said you thought it was positive. why? why do you think it was positive? what did it do? >> it sent a clear signal to china we would protect, we would protect the sinkakus or defend
them as we would defend tokyo. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator sullivan. and admiral harris, general scaparrotti. on behalf of chairman mccain thank you for your testimony, your service, continued service. on behalf of the chairman let me adjourn the hearing. thank you. >> thank you, sir.
senators john f. kennedy of massachusetts and hubert humphrey of minnesota. this was only the second televised presidential primary debate in history. >> now the next president must arouse this nation to heroic deeds. he must courageously search for a lasting peace with justice and freedom and he must understand the complexities of disarmament negotiations, workings of diplomacy of the united nations. >> because i believe strongly in my country and in it is destiny
and because i believe the power and influence of the next president, and his vitality and force are going to be the great factor in meeting the responsiblities that we're going to face. >> at 6:00, on american artifacts, we'll tour louisiana's whitney plantation slavery museum, that traces its history to 1752. >> the story of slavery is integral to the history of the united states. we don't talk enough about the inequality of african-americans and what they have faced in this country. and we don't talk enough about our role today in kind of perpetuating that inequality. so it is really, really significant i think. and also a lot of historic sites kind of address it in fits and starts and, i think it is important for people to come here and kind of get a more complete understanding of slavery. >> for the complete american history tv weekend schedule, go to c-span.org.
>> according to news reports the white house is vetting nevada republican governor brian sandoval as a possible replacement for justice antonin scalia on the supreme court. the governor is a former judge for the u.s. district court for nevada. next remarks by senators on whether the senate should consider a supreme court nominee offered by president obama. this is 35 minutes. >> the senior senator from iowa along with other republicans on the senate judiciary committeed announced that they won't be holding a hearing on presidenton obama's haven't all nominee to the supreme court.they they won't give the eventual even a meeting, no hearings, no meeting. the president sent anything to
us. this is historically unbelievable, and historically unprecedented. don't know the nominee will be't already mentioned k that. al confirmation, won't give the confirmation process even a start.tart why? because of person nominated by president obama. remember, republican leadersep saidub many years ago number one goal he had was to make sure the president obama was not reelected. that failed miserably. the president won by more than five million votes. andd everything has been done bn the republican those in the senate to embarass, obstruct, filibuster, anything that could be done to focus attention on o president obama. none of which has helped theenat country. g but senator grassley has surrendered every pretense of
independence and let the republican leader annex the judicial committee in a narrowy partisan mission of obstruction and gridlock. so partisan in fact, that the senior senator from iowa won't respond to a personal invitation from the president invitings him to the white house to discuss d the vacancy. think about that. the president of the united states calls a very seniorere senator here and doesn't even respond to the president. p this is sad day for one of the proudest committees of the s united statesen senate. so i ask, is this the legacy that he wants? is this how he wants his committee work to be remembered, as a chairman who refused their duty and instead allowed thead republican leader to ride roughshod off the judicial committee. strength of committee chairman in the united states senate have been, legendary.
no majority, minority leader, l could tell a share what to do do with his committee. that was off bounds but doesn't appear so now. and abdicating, abdicates hisate responsibility the senate has always held republicans always upheld republicans are -- never in the history of the country has a senate simply refused to do anything, even meet with the person who has been nominated. r so republicans setting a dangerous precedent for future nominations, not only for the supreme court, butsupr for the senate itself as institution. yesterday the senate historian's office reported that thed denial of committee hearings for art n supreme court nominee is t
unprecedented. if that is unprecedented, how about the fact't you won't meet with the person who has been nominated? unprecedented how about the fact that member of ee the united states senate won'tet even go to the white house to talk to the president about something that supreme courtsena seat? senior senator from iowa will be the first judiciary chairman t ever to refuse to hold a hearing onri a supremeng court nominee. that is quite an achievement. but none should make him very proud.is this sort of wanton obstruction isn't what the american peopl want. it is not what the people of iowa want.t wh last week no fewer than six iowa newspapers issued scathing ed grassley to change course, givee the president's supreme court nominee the respect he or she deserved. for example, globe gazetteette wrote, i quote, especiallye
disappointed to see iowa's own c chuck grassley join the partisan crowd calling for delay. there is no constitutional or cn historical precedent for flagrant, outrage just, shameful and ball faced partisanship. close quote. gas set in seed sar rapids iowa, wrote of senator grassley's actions. horde to conceive of anythings butat political maneuvering, supreme court, constitutional process and the common good. close quote. "des moines register" red quote, senator grassley's supreme court stance is all about politics. mr. president, is that the legacy that chairman wants for iowa and our nation? i certainly hope not. does he want to be remembered as least productive judiciary chairman in history?icia his current pace he will be remembered as most obstructive chairman in history.e, h perhaps the instead of studyings what thet vice president said a
quarter of a century ago, senator grassley should takenote note of what senator biden did 25 years ago, or generally as a member, and chairman of that committee. in 19 the 2 the judiciary committee under his leadership, senator biden's leadership confirmed 64 circuit and district court nominations.on alls. of the judicial nominatios made byy a president from the opposite party, president george h.w. bush. and in 2015, senator grassley's first year as chairman of the c judiciary committee, the senate confirmed 11 judicial nominations. that was fewest in judicial nominations confirmed ever. we're much smaller country perhaps, ever would be a little bit much, but certainly in the last 50 or 75 years. that's quite a comparison. biden 64, grassley, 11.
but that even gets worse thanet thats for my friend. in entire 102nd congress, when joe biden, with joe biden as chair, the senate confirmed 120 nominees.no 120mi judicial nominationed undr biden. 11 under chairman grassley. the difference is stunning. encourage my friend from iowa to focus on chairman biden's actions and results rather than cherry-picking remarks 25 yearse ago. judiciary committee of joe biden honoredded its constitutional obligation considering being, meeting and confirming nomineesg in timely fashion even though they were a republicanimel president's nominees. i can't say the same of committee today. no one can. as chairman joe biden did his constitutional duty, process for nominations for republicanesid presidents to the supreme court.
justice kennedy, that was in last year of reagan. that vote occurred in the last s year of president reagan's presidency. souter, and thomas, focus on thomas just a little bit. thomas got 52 votes. he squeaked through the senate. any one senator could have forced cloture vote. any one democrat could have dono that. . . the last few years. now bork, a very controversial person, received a long, long hearing before the committee and a long debate here in the senate. and he was voted down. that's the way this place is supposed to work. other nominations have been voted down. but we didn't, with bork, we didn't say we're not going to hold a hearing on bork.
we didn't say we're not going to take the committee's actions and leave it at that. listen to this, bork was turned down in the judiciary committee by an overwhelming margin, but in spite of that we brought it to the senate floor and there to the senate floor and there inspite of that we brought it to the senate floor and it was a debate and he won by two votes. no filibuster. he was defeated in the committee. we didn't look for an excuse. that is what used to be done. republican leadership now will not meet with the nominee even they don't know who it will be. they will not hold a hearing and the chairman of the committee won't even go to the white house and visit with the president. as chairman, senator biden did his constitutional duty, process nominations even though they were republican nominations. so we don't have to go back to 1988 or 92 to prove the current
judicial chairman spent met with. the current chairman, just in the past year, what is the emergency? emergency? it means there are not enough judges, too many cases were judged to do the work. a vacant judgeship is automatically declared an emergency as it should be. when the republicans who controlled the senate last year, there were 12 emergencies nationwide. today, a year later that number is almost tripled to 31. we nearly every metric of the judiciary committee under chairman grassley is failing dramatically, setting all records up a leader in this great body. the committee is failing the people of iowa and the nation. but to the senator from iowa, i stress, i plead, don't continue down this path. rejected this record-setting
obstruction and simply just do your job. the powerful chairman of the judiciary committee. >> mr. president, every member of the senate stands in the well of the some of their elected and takes an oath of office. that oath of office required by the constitution is our statement to not only the people we represent but to the nation that we will uphold and defend the constitution of the united states. article ii, section two of that constitution empowers the president and those powers include the president's power to fill vacancies on the supreme court. it's not permissible language, the word shall can be found in this paragraph. it basically says that the president of the united states shall nominate and blind -- by advice and consent of the senate shall appoint judges of the supreme court. for the first time in the
history of the united states of american, the senate republicans are prepared to defy this clear statement of the united states constitution. what an irony that filling the vacancy on the court by the untimely death of antonin scalia, filling the vacancy on the court of the man who prided himself about his judicial career of being what he termed an originalist, sticking to the strict letter of the law as spelled out in the constitution. that in filling the vacancy the senate republicans have basically decided to reach a new low. in fact, to make history in a very sad way. a seat on the supreme court lies vacant because of the death of justice scalia. the president has a constitutional obligation, as i've read, to name a nominee to fill the vacancy. and senate republicans are now
saying it won't even hold a hearing on that nominee. as the president says unnamed, and he will, to the senate to fill a vacancy, they have said they will not hold a hearing. they will not schedule a vote, and listen to this yesterday, senator mcconnell said i will not even meet with that person. this is a new low. since the senate judiciary committee start holding hearings on supreme court nominees, a century ago, the senate of the united states of american has never, never denied a hearing to a pending supreme court nominee. it has never happened. but that's what senate republicans are saying they will do. this level of abstraction, but doing this clear language of the constitution is unprecedented. and it is dangerous. this goes beyond any single vote
for any supreme court nominee. this is an abdication of the senate's responsibility under article ii, section two of the constitution to provide advice and consent on supreme court nominations which the president shall appoint, shall nominate. senate republicans want to keep the supreme court vacant for more than one year. they want this vacancy to continue for more than one year. that will encompass two terms of the supreme court. this is demeaning to the institution of the supreme court. unfair to millions of americans who rely on that court to resolve important legal questions. in the coming days the president will name a nominate as the constitution requires, senate republicans should meet their responsibility under the constitution. senate republicans should do their job and get the president to nominate a fair hearing and a vote.
yesterday the republican members of the senate judiciary committee sent a letter to the majority leader and here's what they said, this committee will not hold hearings of any supreme court nominee until after our next president is sworn in on january 20, 2017. why did they take this unusual position in defiance of the constitution? the presidential election is well underway. americans have already begin to cast their votes. the american people are present within accede a rare opportunity to decide the direction the court will take over the next generation, in the quote. that argument is specious get the american people have already voted. they voted to elect our president, barack obama, he voted to elect 100 senators who currently serve in this body. president obama was elected to a four-year term, and is a than once remain.
the american people voted for each of us to do our jobs for as long as we serve in office. by a margin of 5 million votes, the american people have chosen a president. did they elect a president for three years, or three years in two months? no. they elected a president for four years, it is presidents term continues until january 20, 2017. the republicans conveniently ignore the obvious. the will of the american people as expressed in that election and election of barack obama as president empowers him under the constitution to fill disappointment, fill the vacancy with an appointment. they didn't vote in that election for us to sit on our hands for over a year while the supreme court twists in the wind and one republican senators pray every night that president donald trump will somehow give america a different supreme court nominee. and not a single american,
incidentally, has yet cast a vote for president of the united states you're not one in the next election. despite the statement of the senate judiciary committee letter that says the other, otherwise. it is february, the nomination conventions are scheduled for late july. the modern supreme court confirmation process has taken an average of 67 days. there is more than adequate time to hold a hearing on this nominee and get this done properly. all we need is for the senate republicans to do their job. yesterday on the senate floor i urged my republican colleagues not to duck a vote on the president's nominee. they can vote yes. they can don't know but they shouldn't abdicate their constitutional responsibility for political advantage. i'm amazed my republican colleagues now say that not only want to train for the vote, they also want to avoid even having a hearing on the nominee.
and be afraid to even meet with his nominee for fear that maybe they might think it's a good nominee. even more shockingly, the republican leader and several members of the judiciary committee said yesterday that would not even meet with the president's nominee. i heard one of our colleagues in the senate last on television when asked pointedly a and directly as the president nominates someone from your state to the supreme court vacancy, are you saying you wouldn't meet with that person? by called it on the other side of the aisle ducked the question. this is done. remember the president is obligated by article ii, section two of the constitution to send a nominee to the senate. that is the process the founding fathers established. that is the president's responsibility. how can this and republicans refused to even meet with the person selected under the constitutional process? how is that being faithful in terms of that constitution of? how are the senate republicans
upholding and defending this constitution by this evasive, historically unprecedented action? sadly it appears in republicans have calculated its in the political best interest to keep the president's nominee out of the spotlight. they are hoping with this letter from the senate judiciary committee and by saying we want nothing to do with it they will turn out the lights on this issue. that's not what's going to happen. this issue is going to be there and remembered and it's going to be recalled on the floor of the senate repeatedly. they thought they could close down the government when senator cruz at texas sat here for, i don't know how many hours, reading dr. seuss while we shut down the government. they thought people would forget senator cruz of shutting down the government. they didn't. and he is finding on the campaign trail that a lot of people have remembered that. the mccain people are not going to forget what the senate
republicans are trying to do with the supreme court. i served on the senate judiciary committee hearings and confirmation votes for of the eight sitting supreme court justices. let me state clearly that the senator is more than happy to meet with the president's supreme court nominee as i have with all nominees, republican/democrat alike. i will consider the nominee on the merits as i've always tried to do in the past. yesterday senate republicans also tried to deflect attention from the unprecedented obstruction by pointing to quotes from some democrats years ago, but the record is good democrats have never, never block a supreme court nominee from having a hearing. republicans are breaking new ground with this abstraction is a. the american people deserve better. the bottom line, there's no excuse for the simply fail to do its job. once the president has named his nominee the senate must give that nominee a fair hearing and economy vote. if the constitution means anything here to my colleagues
on the other side of the aisle they understand what they are doing is unprecedented. it has never happened once in american history. we are now fighting the obstructionism of senate republicans reaching a new low. -- finding. they are ignoring clear wording of our constitution which they have sworn to uphold and defend and they are obstructing in which we have never seen before in the history of the united states. that is the reality. of reality that will not be lost on the american people. i yield the floor. >> i want to talk for a few minutes about justice scalia and the vacancy on the court. there's no question that the supreme court has lost a strong and thoughtful voice. there's also no question that no matter what people on the court might have disagreed on issues and disagreed on the way to interpret the constitution that justice scalia have unique capacity to get beyond that and will be missed by the court both for his intellect and for his
friendship. he was an associate judge on the court for almost 30 years. he was a true constitutional scholar both in his work before the court and on the court, and really brought to the court a lifetime of understanding the law. he began his legal career in 1961 practicing in private practice. 1967 became part of the faculty of university of virginia school of law. in 1972 he joined the nixon administration as general counsel for the office of telecommunications policy. and from the place he was appointed an assistant attorney general to the office of legal counsel. he brought great capacity to his work and finish that part of his career off being a law professor again at the university of chicago. that's the point when he became a judge, and in 1982 when
president reagan appointed him to the u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia, a court that gets many of the cases that wind up on the supreme court, and with little more than four years on the court in 1986, president reagan nominated to serve as associate justice. he was an unwavering defender of the constitution and brought to the debate at the court as perhaps no one had been a long time and perhaps no one will in a long time, a sense of what the constitution is all about and a sense of what the constitution meant eric and by that he meant what the constitution meant to the people that wrote it. there's a way to change the constitution. if the country and the congress think the constitution is outmoded in the way it would've been looked at by the people who wrote it, there's a process to
do something about that. thought process was immediately used when the bill of rights was added to the constitution and could still be used if people think the constitution no longer means what the people who wrote it and the people who voted on it to prove it thought it means. and justice scalia brought that to every argument, sometimes arguing against where his personal view might have been, in arguing for what the constitution meant and what it was intended to mean. his opinions were well reasoned. they were logical, eloquent, they were often laced with both humor and maybe a little sarcasm, whatever grounded in the idea that judges should interpret the constitution the way it was written. his contributions to the study of law left a profound mark on the legal profession. lawyers, particularly young lawyers in many cases, talk about the law differently than
they did before justice scalia began to argue his view of what the constitution meant and what the court meant. it was a great legal mind. he was fun to be with. i personally will miss the opportunity and i had to talk about books we were reading or books maybe the other one should read, or maybe books the other one should just avoid reading because of the time required. but yet a broad sense of wanting to challenge his own views, and be willing to challenge other people's views and do that in a positive way by a way that he thought advanced the constitution and what the constitution meant to the country. as i stand here today, i'm sure many people all over america, and people that his family came into contact with are continuing to remember his family, our
thoughts and prayers with his wife, maureen, their nine children, they're literally dozens of graduate. i'm not sure if the number is 36 or 39 but it's big enough that it's an impressive number. people who had a chance to see, to be there or to read his sons alec went handling of the funeral service and the eulogy, what a great legacy. that clearly shows that he and maureen our late into the country. i'm not a lawyer, which is often the most popular thing i say so i don't want to pretend to be a lawyer you're talking about the law and the constitution, but you really don't need to be a brilliant lawyer to understand the constitution or understand what justice scalia is going to be. as a history teacher, as somebody who had a chance that
you did, mr. president, to a university president, first person in my family to graduate from college but i have those unbelievable opportunities because of where we lived. we had at the constitution. there is no magic in the number of how many judges are sitting on the court at any given time. in fact, the constitution doesn't even suggest what the number should be, and it has been different numbers over time time. the number for some years has been nine but there is often not been nine judges sitting. and even when nine judges are sitting because of recusal, because of other reasons when judges leave, when judges retire, when judges resigned to do something else, they are often not been nine judges. frankly, the often been a judge. there's often been a court that easily could wind up in a
transport i. i think 15 time since world war ii the court has only had a judges -- 4-4 time. harry truman who used the test here before me, the desk i get to use when he was a member of the senate, a month after he became president he asked judge robert jackson to be the chief prosecutor at nuremberg. and so just as jackson went to nuremberg, and for the better part of a year and a half from my of 45 until october of 46, he wasn't sitting with the court wasn't making decisions involving the court. he was the chief prosecutor at the nuremberg trials. a thai decor can do a lot of things. i can't uphold the lower court decision. they can decide we are tied to what we should really do is read your this case.
also not unusual in history of the country because you can be tied even if the our nine judges and one of them for whatever reason decides they can't participate in that case. and when that happens the court can do a number of things and will. this is an important decision. it's a decision in the shadow of the next election way or nine months and a few days away from people getting a chance to vote on and a lifetime appointment on the court is an important thing. justice scalia three decades appointed by ronald reagan served for a quarter of a century after ronald reagan left the white house, served for a decade after president reagan died. this is something worth thinking about and, frankly, at this moment in history and other moment in history when a vacancy has occurred in election-year it has often been the case that the
decision is the american people ought to have a say who sits in that supreme court seat. that's what will happen this time. i think it's the best thing to happen this time. there's a lot at stake. it was a fight for court on decision after decision. and what the court does on the second amendment matters. what the court does -- 5-4 decision. the first of freedom added to the constitution, the first freedom in the first amendment is freedom of religion. no other country wasn't founded on the principle that the right to pursue your conscience, the right to pursue your faith is a principal tenet of founding this government. it was a principal tenet in the revolution. more importantly it was immediately added to the constitution when there was some concern that maybe the constitution isn't clear enough
about this fundamental principle. a time when the obama administration is suing the little sisters of the poor because the little sisters of the poor don't want their health care plan to be a plan that includes things that are different than their faith believes, freedom of religion is really important. and freedom, that's one of the cases before the court right now. i don't know how the court will decide to determine it but i do know that there is a reason we should be concerned about freedom of religion to the right of conscience. president jefferson and writing a church that asked him about individual freedom said in a letter to the church while he was president, i think it was, might have been late in his administration, said all the rights we have, the right of conscience is the one we should hold most dear. and the american people need to
be thinking about as they determine the next president who is likely not to just fill this vacancy but likely to fail more than one vacancy during their time in office. mrs. clinton says if she is elected president that she won't appoint anybody to the supreme court that will not reverse the freedom of speech case in citizens united. sounds like me the presidential candidates are willing to make the court a major issue in this campaign. voters should have the right to make the court a major issue in this campaign as well. freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the second amendment, the 10th amendment that says anything the constitution doesn't say the federal government is supposed to do is left to the states. this president, the closer you are to where a problem is to solving that problem, the more likely you're going to get a commonsense solution.
that's why that 10th amendment is better and why it needs to be vigorously adhere to. these are important times. anytime we have an election in the country, there is always a sense that this may be the most important election we've ever had. and they all are. they all are. and particularly and election with the constitutional principles of government where executive overreach, where regulators who are unaccountable and out of control on one of the big concerns in america today, is an important time to be thinking about the supreme court, important time to be thinking about our responsibility as citizens and the responsibility of the next president of the tiny. this president has every constitutional right and obligation to nominate somebody to a vacancy on the supreme court. but there's a second obligation in the constitution and that's the obligation of the senate to confirm that nomination.
the senate has, i have the view that the answer to that question is, not this person, not right now because we are too close to making a big decision about the future of the country not to include this process of what happens in the supreme court in that process. i wish the process of democracy well, the american people well as they think about these things, and the senate well as we do the other work that the constitution requires us to do. i yield the floor. >> secretary of state john kerry is on capitol hill today to testify about his department's 2070 budget request. you can see his testimony before the house foreign affairs committee live 9:30 a.m. eastern on our companion network c-span3.
spin former president bill clinton campaigned for his wife at this weekends south carolina democratic primary. he will attempt to get out the vote rally today at fairfield middle school in south carolina. live coverage at 7:45 p.m. eastern and to consider life on c-span2. >> c-span's campaign 2016 is taking you on the road to the white house. saturday the south carolina democratic primary. live coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. eastern with election results and speeches from the democratic candidates. we will also get your reaction to your phone calls and tweets. join us saturday for live coverage on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org. >> booktv has 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors every weekend on c-span2. here are some the programs to watch for this weekend.
>> metadata is literally the outside of the envelope for electronic communications. as you said, america law-enforcement tradition as the able to look at the outside of the envelope. the supreme court decided that the fact of your phone calls, you called, when or how long, also was essentially the outside of the envelope. >> watch booktv all weekend every weekend and c-span2, television for serious readers.
♪ >> i am supporting hillary clinton because i think she is a fighter and the record shows she's been fighting for children and minorities and women her entire life and she's never been -- choice works hard and get stuff done. >> i'm supporting bernie sanders for president because we have some incidental changes we need to have happened at incrementalism will not work. hillary wants to chip the paint off the wall. barney wants to bring that ball down and that's what we need with environment, with economy, with all the international things going on. hillary is a war hawk. she will drag us into more wars and that's kind of it. >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in on this thursday morning. they will be spending most of the morning on general speeches and then this afternoon at about 1:45 p.m. eastern u.s. a debate
on a resolution commemorating supreme court justice antonin scalia who died nearly two weeks ago. on the floor this morning senators will continue to discuss replacing justice scalia and whether it should happen before or after the next election. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, you have withheld nothing we need. today, meet the needs of our lawmakers. give them so much more than they expect or deserve that they will sing praises for your goodness. in these days of unprecedented
challenges and opportunities, empower them with faith, courage and goodwill to make the world a better place. lord, use them as your servants to bring healing to our nation and world. today, we also pray for the ill, the bereaved, the infirmed, the discouraged and the lonely. keep them as the apple of your eye. hide them in the shadow of your wings. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the president pro tempore: pleae join me in reciting the pledge f allegiance to our flag.
i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: by now many know the numbers. overdose deaths in kentucky were responsible for more than 1,000
deaths in 2014 alone. this is devastatingly -- this is a devastatingly high number, among the highest rates in the nation. but it's even more heartbreaking when you consider the real-world toll substance abuse can take on friends and family members. -- not to mention their children. the trickle-down effects of opioid and heroin abuse are palpable and widespread, lasting and cyclical. but there are steps we can take today to help families impacted by drug abuse and keep more families from ever going through it to begin with. that's why i'm proud to join my colleague, the senior senator from iowa, in introducing the protecting families affected by substance abuse act, which would reauthorize grants to help children in foster care or at risk of being placed there because of their parents' drug habits. here's what one kentucky group
said about their experience with these grants: "the regional partnership grants have been integral to the implementation of kentucky start, which has helped more than 800 kentucky families and more than 1,600 kentucky children. it's programs like these which focus on better outcomes for children and safely reuniting families that are helping combat the negative effects of the opioid, heroin, and other drug epidemics facing the commonwealth. i'm also proud of the work that's being done in the common twoalt address the opioid -- in the commonwealth to address the opioid cries. the program hida was recently recognized by the office of national drug control policy as the top program of its type for 2015. i'd like to recognize all they've done in the fight against drug trafficking and
illegal drug use. i have no doubt that without their efforts and those of other leaders in the commonwealth, the toll of the epidemic would be much greater than it already is. so whether i.t. by supporting the efforts of local hid as, there are many opportunities for senators to help ensure we respond to the drug epidemic wreaking chaff vok on our -- weeing havoc on our communities. therthere are a number of other pieces of legislation right here in the snavment this week senators discussed one of these bills in the finance committee. it would allow comier advantage and part-d plans to implement a prescription drug abuse prevention tool similar to what is already available and used in kentucky in the medicaid program and in private plans. i was proud to join the junior senator from pennsylvania as a cosponsor of that bill as well.
and of course there is the comprehensive addiction and recovery act, cara. senators have been leading the charge on that effort, and i'd like to thank the chairman of the judiciary committee, senator grassley, and senator alexander for helping work -- for working actually together to have the bill reported out of judiciary and it came out of judiciary, mr. president, on a voice vote. in the coming days we'll be working 20 movworking to move tt bipartisan bill forward. it has gearned a great deal of support from both sides of the aisle because of its provisions to strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, improve treatment programs and give law enforcement more of the tools it needs to address this awful epidemic. with bipartisan support we can pass legislation like cara and the others i have a discussed
today in order to promote healthier families and a healthier country. in the meantime, we took a step forward yesterday by confirming dr. robert califf. in a recent meeting with dr. califf, i discussed my concerns about the need for more action by the f.d.a. i was encouraged by dr. califf's recognition that the opioid epidemic is a serious problem and the f.d.a. must did a better job of addressing it. dr. califf received broad, bipartisan support yesterday here in the senate, and we look forward to working with him. i'll continue to hold him accountable to lead the f.d.a. in a new direction to help prevent dependence and abuse of prescription opioids. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: i join the
republican leader on the need to address the scourge of opioid addiction. it is a scourge. that's why it's more important than ever we back our words with real solutions, real resources. that's why the amendment by senator shaheen to the opioid bill will be important, and i hope it gets every consideration and i hope it passes. mr. president, i start today by reading a statement the republican leader on the senate floor in 2007. "i will never agree to retreat from our responsibility to confeconfirm qualified judicial nominees." "i will never agree to retreat from our responsibility to confirm qualified judicial nominees." my republican counterpart said that -- his own words. fast-forward nine years to today, now. not only is the senior senator from kentucky abandoning his
responsibility to confirm a supreme court justice, he is leading the entire republican kazarqawi cuss-- theinthier repo retreat. the republican senator was right nine years ago. as senators we have a responsibility to uphold a number of things. one is certainly the constitution. that responsibility is clearly outlined in the oath that we take before we are sworn into office, right there. every one of us has done it, and what are we asked to confirm, to swear to? we swear to support and defend the constitution of the united states. we swear to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. we swear to faithfully discharge the duties of the office. we swear to faithfully discharge the duties of the office -- i was to repeawantto repeat that. senate republicans are making pledges of a different sort these days.
they vow to not hold hearings, even though denying a hearing is unprecedented in history. they've sworn not to meet with the president -- i'm sorry, with his nominee -- and maybe even him. he's been waiting for the chairman of the judiciary committee as to whether they're willing to come to meet with him in the white house. that's been going on for several days now. they've sworn not to meet with the president's nominee,. by refusing to hold supreme court hearings fo for the supree court nominee, they undermine the constitution and the united states senate. senate republicans have known and having for sometime now as a set of human brake pads, obstructing, filibustering virtually everything president obama has had on his agenda. but this raises obstruction to a new level never seen before in this country.
the supreme court -- no hearings, no vote, and yesterday even more -- they even refused to meet with had man or woman who's going to be nominated. no meetings, no meetings with the nominee of the scorkts a person put forth by the president of the united states because the constitution states "he shall nominate." he has no discretion. he shall nominate. by refusing to even sit or talk with any nominee, they make a mockery of the office to which the american people elected them. think about this: republicans won't do their due diligence by speaking with the no many to assess his or her qualifications. meeting with the nominee is basic. holding hearings is routine. these things are common sense. so why won't republican senators make an effort to uphold their constitutional responsibilities? u.s. senators have an obligation to evaluate the presidential nominations. not only for the supreme court
but for every nomination that comes forward, but especially the supreme court. i mean, sitting down with the nominee -- that means holding hearings to learn about their record and qualifications for the position. that means -- the senior senator from texas said the same about seven years ago after justice sonia sotomayor was nominated. he told c-span, "my own view is that we ought to come up with an open mind and do the research and do the reading and then be able to ask the nominee about them." close quote. what he said, the senior senator from texas, is that his view is that we ought to come with an open mind and dot research and dot reading and then be able to ask the nominee about them. i agree. the united states senate should be able to research the president's supreme court nominee, background, ask any question you have about him, and
why -- why, for the first time in history, do we have this situation? why do the republicans -- the republican senator from texas i just quoted and all republicans -- eve refuse to even meet withe nominee? you can't offer i ask unanimous consent on a nominee you've never met. it's impossible. they're hoping that the supreme court nominee will just go away. it won't. maybe republicans think they'll only endure a couple weeks of negative stories. there are no positive stories that i'm aware of saying that's great. for the first time in history you're not even willing to meet with a nominee. i guess they believe that the american people will forget about this vacancy. but they won't. democrats are going to fight every day to ensure that this important nominee gets a dignified confirmation process that past senates have afforded
all supreme court nominations. i along with every other member of the democratic caucus will be on the floor next week, the week after that, the week after that, as long as it takes, to bring to the attention of america the failure of this republican senate to meet its constitutional mandate. pretending the nominee doesn't exist won't make the supreme court vacancy go away, it won't make the president's nomination vanish. it leaves the american people with a senate full of republicans who, as the republican leader said, are retreating from their responsibilities. that's what the republican leader said. their obstruction of the president's supreme court nominee is an abdication of the oath my republican colleagues took when they assumed the title of "united states senator." once again, i tell my republican friends, don't run away from your responsibilities. just do your job. do your job.
mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: mr. president, i rise for the purpose of showing how one bureaucracy, the corps of engineers, and to some extent the e.p.a. working with them, is going -- has already made farming very difficult, and how if the waters of the u.s. rule goes into effect, it can be much worse than even what i'm going to be referring to. now i'm going to quote word for word a farmer's problem from the
"iowa farm bureau spokesman" january 27, 2016. and then i'm going to make some comment on it. and for that reason since i'm told the next speaker isn't going to come until 10:15, i ask unanimous consent to continue until that time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: before i start quoting, this is a story about a california farmer by the name of john dewarty of tihama county, california. the title, "one farmer's ordeal: signal agency's actions under waters of the u.s." "all john dewarty did was hire a guy to plow some grazing land so
that he could raise wheat on 450 acres that his family had purchased in california's tihama county north of sacramento. the land had been planted to wheat in the past. the wheat market was favorable and the farmer made sure to avoid some wet spots in the field called vernile pools which are considered wetlands. but that plowing which disturbed only the top few inches of soil unleashed a firestorm from the u.s. army corps of engineers, the environmental protection agency, and other regulators against california farm bureau member. the regulators' action stopped dewarty from raising wheat, tried to force him to pay millions of dollars to restore the wetlands in perpetuity,
although there was no evidence of damage, and sparked lawsuits and counter lawsuits. dewarty's experience could well turn out to be an example of how the agencies will treat farmers in iowa and all over the country under the expansive waters of the u.s. rule, according to dewarty. his attorneys and experts were the american farm bureau federation. this really shows how these agencies' actions can play out on a specific family farm, dewarty said recently during a press conference at the american farm bureau federation annual convention in orlando. we aren't concerned about it because john dewarty is having a bad time with the feds. we are concerned because this is
a very serious threat to farming as we know it in america. although the e.p.a. and other agencies continue to say to farmers that the waters of the u.s. rule will not affect normal farming practices such as plowing, dewarty's case shows that it will, said tony fran francois, an attorney with the pacific legal foundation representing dewarty. anyone who is being told not to worry about the new waters of the u.s. rule, they should be thinking about this case, francois said. the very thing they are telling you not to worry about is what they are suing dewarty over: just plowing. don parish, american farm bureau
federation senior director of regulatory relations, said a big problem is the wide parameters that the agencies have placed in the waters of the u.s. rule. he noted the rule is filled with vague language like adjacent waters and tributaries which are difficult to clarify as broad as possible, they want the waters of the united states to be as broad as they can get it so it can be applied to every farm in the country. iowa farm bureau federation and other organizations have worked hard to stop the waters of the united states rule, which was imposed last year but has been temporarily suspended by court rulings. the rule was