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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  March 3, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EST

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when the president submits a nominee, we should give that nominee a fair and thorough hearing, a fair respectful and thorough hearing, as one republican said over and over again, in full view of the american people and then vote. fair warning to my senate republicans. they say the american people should decide. they will decide. they'll decide in november that the republicans in the senate should do their job. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: will the senator yield for a question? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, as the senator may well recall, he was here when i was chairman of the judiciary committee in 2001, during president bush's administration. the ranking member was senator hatch. we put together an agreement about how the committee would consider supreme court nominees. we wrote the judiciary committee's traditional practice has been to report supreme court
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nominees to the senate. once the committee has completed consideration. this has been true even in cases where supreme court nominees were opposed by a majority of the judiciary committee. does the senator recall that at that time the republican leader in the senate even read that letter into the record -- senator lott -- to say this is the way the senate should operate? mr. durbin: i do remember that. mr. leahy: thank you. i appreciate that. mr. durbin: mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i come to the floor this morning because of the important subject that's before us, the bill that deals with the opioid epidemic, follow-on heroin problem, a bill that was reported out of committee unanimously, a very important piece of legislation. but right now we have an
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fortunate political gamesmanship that has overtaken some of my democratic colleagues at the very same time that everybody on the judiciary committee knows that we need to pass the comprehensive addiction and recovery act. that goes by the acronym, c c-a-r-a, cara, for short. it happens that the epidemic is not a political game. it's a real problem out there, a massive hearing that we had in committee that demonstrates that. i'm very proud that the senate has taken the cara bill up. after this public health crisis festered for so long while the senate was controlled by the democrats. tragically, for example, heroin overdose deaths more than tripled from 2010 to 2014.
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all the while the democratic leadership simply didn't make it a priority to move a bill like cara. it's a bipartisan bill that addresses the public health crisis of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. through the hard work of many on both sides of the aisle, because it's a bipartisan bill, it passed out of our committee, as i said -- and you can't say so often -- unanimously because everybody at the grass roots of america thinks everything here is always partisan between republicans and democrats. not when it comes to the opioid issue or a lot of other issues. this bill came out of committee unanimously, and we ought to get it to the house of representatives as fast as we can and to the president.
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in just a few weeks after it came out of committee, here we are working on it; opportunity to pass it. this reflects the senate working in a very constructive bipartisan way on behalf of the american people and the people that are addicted to heroin and opioid. and this is very much unlike the way the snalt -- senated acted when the democrats controlled it. this issue was not brought up. but for political reasons, that's not a narrative that they want the americans to hear and so we're having this game today. yesterday there was a manufactured controversy over the amount of funding. of course the opioid crisis demands resources, and
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significant resources are being directed to it both by the appropriations committee and the programs laid out in this bill before us right now. in fact, according to the office of national drug control policy, the appropriations act passed in december provides more than $400 million in funding specifically to address the opioid epidemic. this is an increase of more than $100 million over the previous year. none of that money has been spent yet. all of that money is still available today. this bill authorizes so many activities to combat the crisis. but it was never intended to appropriate funding. that's what we have appropriation committees for.
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that's why we have an appropriation process. through the appropriation process, we can evaluate competing priorities and evaluate trade-offs, and in the end ensure that adequate resources are directed to this epidemic while at the same time maintaining fiscal discipline. so i'm glad that the senate rejected that attempt to inject gamesmanship into the debate over ways to improve this bill. that vote happened yesterday. now the minority in the senate, the democrats, are setting up additional procedural roadblocks. we tried to set in additional votes this morning to move this very important bill along so we can help the people of the
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various states, and particularly new england, solve this opioid addiction and heroin problem, also a problem in the eastern part of my state. but somehow the democrats wouldn't agree. and because we have this bill on the floor, i also ask the democrats on the committee to hold our weekly judiciary committee business meeting off off -- over here in the senate capitol building instead of in the committee meeting, right off the floor of this house, or this senate, as we do quite regularly, particularly when we have so much business here. so that was a routine accommodation that i asked them to make, similar to the accommodation that i gave to them when we had a hearing scheduled earlier this week on
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the eb-5 immigration bill when they asked to cancel that because this bill was on the floor of the united states senate. so i accommodated them. would they give me the accommodation of holding this meeting off the floor of the united states senate so we could take up the business of voting out some judges? there wasn't any legislation on our agenda, but we could have voted out some judges. but how often do we hear that the judiciary committee is not moving judges. we had a chance to do that probably in a ten-minute meeting right in the president's room, just a few feet off where i'm standing right now. but i gave them accommodation, but now i'm running into trouble because i canceled a meeting because we got this important bill on the floor of the united states senate. i understand that they're
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protesting the judiciary committee's lack of action on a supreme court nomination, which nomination we couldn't even possibly consider if the president doesn't send it up. so i imagine that this is just the first of several problems that we're going to have in the next few weeks. while they do that this morning, i want you to know that i'm going to be here on the senate floor trying to get this very important opioid addiction bill, heroin addiction bill passed. and i'll be thinking about so many people that cara will help once this bill is signed by the president. at our judiciary committee hearing that we had on this very important problem, we heard from nick willard, chief of the
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manchester, new hampshire, police department. his officers will benefit from the training the bill authorizes to use nalaxone, a drug that can save life after an overdose. at that hearing we also heard from donna doray, a courageous ohio woman who lost a daughter to the overdose and founded, she did, a support group for those in recovery called holly's song of hope. her group may profit from this legislation's grants aimed at building community of recovery. and i'll be thinking about the many iowans that i've heard about who have been impacted about this crisis. i spoke earlier this week about kim brown of davenport who lost her son andy to an overdose.
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she now speaks out across the state about the epidemic. there's carla richards of waukee, iowa, who lost her daughter anna to an overdose as well. she founded an organization to promote awareness called anna's warriors. there's all kinds of tragic stories that every senator in this body could talk about that highlight the rationale behind this legislation and the $400 million that's waiting to be spent to overcome the opioid addiction. and there's a seed of hope in many of them, hope that we can act to address this epidemic each in our own way. i'll be thinking of these stories today as we try to move cara one step closer to becoming law. so why would a bill that got out of committee unanimously have
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this sort of shenanigans going on on the floor of the united states senate at a time when people are dying, 44,000 people in recent statistical year, more than automobile accidents and gun crimes together add up to. a real problem. we need to get this bill passed, and we're working on accommodating amendments and moving it forward. it's not the time to go slow approach that we're seeing already on the floor of the united states senate. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: the senator would engage in a colloquy with other members of the judiciary committee for 30 minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. leahy: thank you. mr. president, one, just so we fully understand, we're perfectly willing to have -- even though we don't hold judiciary committee meetings every week, because we used to -- we're perfectly willing to have one that was not in a back room, but open so the press would see it. it's important to have such meetings open for the press and anybody who wants to come in. it's unfortunate that we've had a, with the supreme court vacancy there has been a closed-door backroom meeting, and that's when a small handful of republican senators decided with the republican leader to say the president should not follow his constitutional duty and nominate a supreme court nominee, and in unprecedented
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fashion the senate judiciary committee would not follow its constitutional obligation of advice and consent. and in that small, closed-door meeting it was decided that senators should not follow the solemn oath they've taken on this floor when they say they'll uphold the constitution, so help me god. we've had enough closed-door meetings, especially closed-door meetings that tell us to violate an oath when we said "so help me god," and to not follow the constitution. i think it's important that we have these meetings since the untimely passing of justice antonin scalia. there's certainly a disagreement over how to move forward in filling the supreme court vacancy, but i think the american people want us to do our job, and it's time we should
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have an open conversation about it. not closed-door meetings where self-serving press releases are issued which may or may not accurately represent what went on in those meetings. the american people deserve to have us do our job, hear us discuss and debate the committee's next steps in filling our constitutional duty. now, last night, my good friend, the senior senator from iowa decided to postpone this meeting rather than having it in public. now we have to wait another week before the committee can sit down in public so the american people can discuss an issue that's so important. and the move to postpone today's meeting is troubling, given that last week's meeting, a meeting that should have happened with the participation of all the committee members in a room open to the public showing us doing
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our jobs was also postponed. so we didn't have a meeting in public, we weren't doing our job. instead last week the committee's republicans chose to meet behind closed doors. the public couldn't follow what they were doing. and without any democrats so they could hatch a partisan plan to obstruct any effort to consider the next nominee to the supreme court and do that no matter what the constitution says. there was no consultation with any democrat serving on the committee. there was no public discussion of any kind. certainly in my 40 years here whether republicans have been in control of the senate or democrats, i cannot think of any precedent for this kind of closed door discussion of how we avoid doing our job. instead, 11 republican senators
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unilaterally decided the senate would abdicate its responsibility, and they block all of us from fulfilling our constitutional obligation to advice and consent, they block all of us from doing our job. now, supreme court nominations are a unique priority for the judiciary committee. since i have served in the senate, i have voted on every member currently on the supreme court and on several that have since retired. the judiciary committee has always held hearings on supreme court nominees. they have always reported them to the full senate for consideration. when i took over as chairman of the judiciary committee in 2001, george w. bush was president. i did not agree with much of what his administration was already doing, and i was very frank in discussions with president bush to tell him that. and i was not sure if i would
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approve of any supreme court nominations he might have the opportunity to make, but even with those reservations, i wrote a letter with senator hatch who was then the ranking member memorializing the agreement which republicans gave their word to follow. we reached how the judiciary committee would consider supreme court nominees. and that letter that we wrote, senator hatch and i, he gave his word and i gave mine. we wrote the judiciary committee's judicial practice has been supreme court nominees to the senate. once the committee has completed its considerations. this has been true even in cases where supreme court nominees were opposed by a majority of the judiciary committee, close quote. senator hatch and i gave our word on that and the republican leader at the time. senator lott then read our letter into the congressional
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record, to assure it was available for all americans to see, and i took the word of republicans in this body that they believed what they were saying. it showed the long understanding of the senate judiciary committee's commitment to an open, fair process, even when the majority does not agree with the opposing party's precedent. the priority of the judiciary committee to bring supreme court nominees is exemplified by its consideration of two of the most contentious nominations to the court, robert bork and clarence thomas. in both instances, then-chairman, chairman biden, both the nominations to the full senate even though a majority of the senate judiciary committee did not support the nomination. in other words, a majority did not support the nomination, but we still in keeping with our word moved them forward.
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in robert bork's case, a committee vote to report his nomination out favorably failed by a vote of 5-9 with both republicans and democrats voting against it. and actually at the time the reagan administration was quietly asking him to withdraw his name but still he wanted to have a vote in the committee then -- and the committee then voted to report his nomination with an unfavorable recommendation, and it was voted out unfavorably by a vote of 9-5 so the full senate could consider him. some democrats voted for it him, many democrats voted against him. some republicans voted for him, many republicans voted against it. but he had his vote. in clarence thomas' case, the committee voted to report his nomination out favorably. that failed by a vote of 7-7. the committee then voted even though his -- under our normal practice having failed to get a
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favorable nomination, a nomination would then be returned to the president. we then still even though he had failed to get a favorable vote and would have been returned, we voted to report his nomination without recommendation, and by 13-1, we voted to do that, to give him a chance to be heard on the floor. and even when a majority of the committee members have opposed a nominee, as was the case with robert bork or clarence thomas, we have not denied the full senate or the american people the opportunity to debate and consider a supreme court nominee. we were not going to say the senate shouldn't do its job. now, the judiciary committee has a strong tradition of transparency which i remember when i first came on there with
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one of the most conservative senators as chairman, jim easley. we have done it with all who have been chairs. i believe the american people have a right to see and hear what we are doing. they have a right to know whether we are doing our job. they have a right to weigh in on the decisions we make. nowhere does transparency matter more than a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land. you can't decide a question of somebody going on the highest court of our land with a lifetime appointment and do it with a small group behind closed doors. that's not doing our job. there's no place for backroom deals for somebody this important. public confirmation hearings are a vital part of our democracy. that's not just this. public hearings are how americans meet the nominee. public hearings are how every
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american can watch and listen to this person whose decisions may have a lasting impact on their lives. ultimately for a small group of republican members of the committee, meeting behind closed doors, unilaterally decided last week was to reject the long-standing tradition of public hearings. and in doing so, they are denying americans, all americans, republicans and democrats alike, the chance to participate in the consideration of a nominee. they deny americans the chance to have us do our job. now, the judiciary committee is one of the busiest in the senate. it considers some of the most consequential issues affecting millions of americans. when we commit ourselves to what brought us here to do our job and work together for our constituents, we can achieve great things. this is what happened three years ago. the senate passed comprehensive immigration reform.
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after six hearings and three weeks of markups, many lasting very late at night, each of the 18 senators serving on the committee participated in the process to draft that legislation. mr. chairman, everybody who had an amendment to bring it up, we go back and forth, one democratic, one republican back and forth. we did this day after day, late at night sometimes, but all in republic, all of it covered by television. not all of us support the bill, but all of us had a chance to debate and amend it, even the staunchest opponents of the legislation, including some in the chamber right now praised the judiciary committee's transparent and fair process for consideration of that bill. a vermont editorial at the time called our committee proceedings because they were open because everybody had a chance to
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participate, because the american people could see what we were doing, because we were doing our job, they called it -- quote -- a lesson in democracy. well, i think it's time for a refresher course. the legal issue before the supreme court is significant, and it's important that our constitutional democracy cannot be overstated, nor can the responsibility of both the president to follow his constitutional duty to nominate, but the judiciary committee's responsibility to fairly consider a nominee to serve on the highest court in the land. so it's with deep concern that i come to the floor today. i would urge my friend, the chairman, and all members of the judiciary committee to renew their commitment to transparency and regular order. and i ask you withhold your judgment. i would ask those who have met behind closed doors to withhold
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your judgment until you can review the record of whoever the president nominates. i ask you to give the next nominee to the supreme court a fair hearing, as we have done in this body, the body that should be the conscience of the nation, we have done for the last 100 years. the american people expect us to do our job. senator coons is on the floor. the distinguished senator from delaware is the ranking member of the court subcommittee. i would ask senator coons, through the chair, of course, what is your understanding of the role of the senate judiciary committee with regards to the next supreme court nominee? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: mr. president, i just want to emphasize how important i think the role is of the senate judiciary committee. as many present know, my predecessor, now vice president biden, is a former chairman of the senate judiciary committee.
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as my good friend and colleague from the state of vermont just reminded us, there is a long and important history on the senate judiciary committee that i think bears repeating, that since its formation a century ago, the senate judiciary committee has provided a hearing, a vote or both for every single supreme court nominee. the only exepgz being those that went straight to the floor because their confirmations were supported so broadly. i also think there is a second important point if i could just briefly touch on it, that even in those instances where a nominee did not enjoy majority support on the committee, even in those instances just cited by the senator from vermont where a majority of the senate judiciary committee voted against a confirmation, that confirmation proceeded to the floor of the senate to ensure that advice and consent, our constitutional
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duty, could be carried forward. if i might ask for the forbearance of the senator from vermont for one moment, i also just wanted to set the record straight about what my friend and predecessor, then-senator, now vice president biden actually said in a floor speech back in 1992, a floor speech that's been widely cited as evidence of some new set of so-called biden rules that is somehow a basis for the obstructionism we now see, a refusal to even meet with a supreme court nominee let alone give them a fair hearing. and i just want to take this moment because then-senator biden has been quoted out of context. he gave -- i'm sure this won't surprise some in the chamber -- a somewhat long and winding speech. there was no supreme court vacancy at the time. he was simply observing what might happen if there were to be a vacancy. and while he did early in the speech give some comments that have been now used, he also gave
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at the end of his speech a section i want to read. this is just three sentences. to quote directly -- "i believe that so long as the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course for both the white house and the senate. therefore," said then-chairman biden, "i stand by my position that if the president -- then president bush -- consults or cooperates with the senate or moderates his selection absent consultation, then his nominee may enjoy my support, as did justices kennedy and souter." close quote. let me just in conclusion remark that what then-chairman biden did speaks more loudly even than what he said. his record as chairman of the senate judiciary committee, i believe, is unmistakable. in case after case, he convened and held timely hearings even in the election year of 1988. it means that he considered and confirmed 64 judicial nominees as late as september in a
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presidential election year. it means that he voted in favor of justice kennedy and justice souter, nominated by republican presidents, and it means that in his speech in the section i just quoted, i think he sent a clear request to then-president george h.w. bush, worked with the senate, send us a moderate nominee and i will consider supporting them. i urge all of e members of this important and august committee to follow the actual biden rule, by working across the aisle, by consulting and by offering a fair, open, and timely hearing for any nominee that should be proffered by our president. mr. leahy: mr. president, i thank the -- the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i thank the senator from delaware for clearing that up. i'd also note that at a meeting, while i normally don't discuss what is said in meetings with the president because there's been so much reported from the two republicans who were there,
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the distinguished senator from iowa and the distinguished republican leader, vice president biden was also there, and he made very clear what he meant so there would be no question. he also did point out through september, 68 republican presidents nominees went through. i think with president bush's last two years, about the same number, 67 to 68. the court of appeals judges as well as district judges. we see the double standard from our friends the republican party. they've allowed only 16. it is just acts do speak louder than words. so i thank the distinguished senator from delaware for
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clearing up that matter. i know the distinguished senator from rhode island also had something he wished to say, and i would yield to him. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: let me thank the ranking member for that courtesy. the constitution in article 2, section 2, states quite clearly that the president shall nominate a candidate when there is a vacancy in the united states supreme court. and i'd like the record of this discussion to reflect that the term "shall" as defined in merriam webster dictionary in the relevant dictionary is, a, used to express a command or exhortation. and, b, used in laws, regulations or directives to express what is mandatory. for the president of the united
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states now under the constitution that we are all sworn to uphold has a mandatory duty. and i think it is important that he accomplish it and nominate a candidate. i would ask my colleagues to imagine if there were another mandatory duty of the president of the united states that this president refused to perform, imagine the calf -- cavalcade of republican senators to the studios of fox news to decry and condemn this president for that omission. this should be no different. the president must and will do his constitutional duty. if and when he does that, then the constitutional burden of duty moves from the president to the united states senate. and we will then have a choice
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whether to do our constitutional duty, whether to follow the regular order that so many of us have articulated as an important goal, whether to follow the precedents of previous nominees, whether to act fairly, whether we are going to be an organization here, an institution that will prejudge a nominee before we even know who he or she is. prejudge is at the heart of prejudice. it is not a good thing for the senate to be doing. and finally, we will have to decide then whether, what example we want to set to the rest of the world. a country that follows the regular order as established in its constitution has its institutions of government do their duty. or as a country that will bend, twist, and dodge those
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responsibilities because of the demands of immediate politics. those are choices that i will address when they come to us. for now, i only wish to say that the president's mandatory duty is clear, and no one should be surprised that he performs it. thank you very much, senator leahy. mr. leahy: mr. president, i thank the senator from rhode island. of course he's a former attorney general of his state, former u.s. attorney, well familiar with what the constitution requires, and i appreciate him urging the united states senate to do its job and follow the constitution. mr. president, i'd ask, at this point i'm going to yield to the distinguished senior senator from new york. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague and our ranking member on the judiciary committee not only for his friendship and his articulateness, but his great
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work on this issue. now just as the president has a constitutional responsibility to name a nominee to the court, the senate has its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on the nominee. it is our job, it's the job of this body specifically the judiciary committee, to hold hearings on that nominee. this chart says america says to senate republicans: do your job. today we might be saying america to the judiciary committee, do your job. the american people expect us to do our job in the senate, in the committees, and do what we're supposed to be doing. mr. president, as my colleague from vermont has noted, the judiciary committee should be meeting right now at this moment, as we do every thursday. this would have been the first opportunity for all members of this committee to debate in
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public the republican chairman's unilateral decision to issue a blanket hold on an unnamed supreme court nominee. we hold judiciary meetings thursdays all the time while legislation is being debated on the floor. there were no votes scheduled. every thursday we do it. we know why they're not doing it today. they're afraid to discuss the issue. they cannot in public debate win the argument that we shouldn't be doing our job. win the argument -- they can't win the argument that the judiciary committee shouldn't be holding hearings. and so we have the meeting abruptly canceled at the last minute not because cara is being debated on the floor. cara is important. but because people didn't want to debate the issue of the supreme court. let's face it, that's the truth.
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now democrats -- and we're not asking the senate or the judiciary committee to be a rubber stamp. one more point on the judiciary committee, we're asking our republican colleagues to simply do their job. hold this body and the judiciary committee in some regard. we can disagree on the politics. we can disagree on a nominee. but hold a hearing. hold a vote. that's what our constituents sent us here to do. and i would remind my dear friend from iowa -- and he is a dear friend -- what his own web site, the committee on the judiciary's web site says is its job. this was pointed out by senator durbin a few days ago, but i think it's worth repeating. this, mr. president, is a copy of the web site of the judiciary committee. here is part of what it says when it comes to nominations. when a vacancy occurs on the supreme court, the president of
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the united states is given the authority under article 2 of the united states constitution to nominate a person to fill the vacancy. the nomination is referred to the united states senate where the senate judiciary committee holds a hearing, where the nominee provides testimony and responds to questions from members of the panel. traditionally -- this is again the web site of the judiciary committee, chairman, our good friend from iowa. traditionally the committee refers to the nomination -- refers the nomination to the full senate for a vote. this is the web page of the senate judiciary committee. it says not you hold a hearing when you want to. not you'll hold a hearing when you like the nominee, but when you don't -- not to hold a hearing only when your party has the presidency. it says, i'll read it again,
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"the nomination is" not may be. is referred to the united states senate where the senate judiciary committee holds a hearing where the nominee provides testimony in response to the questions from members of the panel. it doesn't say the senate judiciary might hold a hearing. could at its whim hold a hearing. it says hold a hearing, no qualifiers. and so, mr. president, we ought to be holding a hearing and we ought to be debating whether to hold a hearing now in the chamber of the judiciary committee on thursday at 10:00 a.m., as we have done week after week after week when other important issues are being debated on the floor of the united states senate. we can do both. we can move cara. i admit it doesn't have the funding that i'd like to see there at this point. and we can meet in the judiciary committee. so i don't understand the decision by the chairman of the judiciary committee, who i believe holds the same reverence
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that i do, the same reverence the ranking member and former chairman does, the senator from vermont, for its profound and historic standing in the senate. i'd like to hear directly from the chairman about the thinking behind his decision to unilaterally decide that this committee will have no voice, no ability to examine a nominee's record and qualifications. earlier this week the chairman indicated there are some members of his committee majority who might like to see us hold hearings. he said -- and i quote -- "as any chairman ought to do, i went to the members of my committee. they all agreed with me for different reasons, not just because i'm chairman. some had reluctance, but all signed." unquote. some had reluctance, but all signed. the chairman indicated he'd consider breaking ranks with his party leader by meeting with the potential nominee, eighth
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circuit court judge jane kelly from his home state of iowa. he was reluctant to issue this same across-the-board denial. i understand his reluctance, and he's a good man. chuck grassley is a good man. he comes from the heartland of america and represents its finest values. but i regret to say, and i think it's politics that's pulling him off course here, and i hope he'll return, because he is a good man, and i understand the reluctance of senators to sign that letter. it's not what senators came to washington to do. the senators know the folks out there want them to do their job. editorial boards across the country have castigated this policy of obstruction. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. schumer: almost every poll shows the majority of americans favor action. one more point, mr. president, it's not right to do what the committee is doing, and i sincerely hope the chairman will reconsider his position.
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if republicans truly respect the constitution, they should follow it and consider a nomination from the sitting president rather than play political games. i yield back to my dear friend, our outstanding leader on the judiciary committee, senator leahy. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i realize i, our time has expired, but i would ask unanimous consent that i be able to yield the floor for my colloquy but i be followed for five minutes by the distinguished senior senator from connecticut and he -- for five minutes by the distinguished senior senator from minnesota. the presiding officer: i'm in the chair and probably can't participate, but i want to make clear that i want the manager of the bill to speak so --
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mr. leahy: mr. president, can we have order. can we have regular order. the presiding officer: i'm exercising my prerogative. if i don't have that prerogative, then i object. i recognize the senator from north carolina. mr. schumer: mr. president, may i make a motion, unanimous consent request? the presiding officer: the chair recognizes the senator from north carolina. amr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. one of the benefits of being a freshman member is you get the opportunity to preside and observe the discussion about the scotus nomination. let's take a look at what's going on here.
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in north carolina over the past 24 hours, some four people have died of a drug overdose. we had more deaths associated with drug overdoses than we had with car accidents last year. so what's going on here? mr. tillis: back in 2008, there was an opioid epidemic. there was a supermajority in the u.s. senate, there was a democrat in the white house and majorities in the house of representatives, no action. in 2010, the epidemic is growing. in places in new england, in the midwest, down in the south, people are dying, and yet there was no action. now, this congress has taken action. i think it's time to move the cara bill. to hold hostage the cara bill and shift the discussion to a genuine disagreement that we have with the minority on scotus is literally costing lives. for those who sit here and want to hold up the cara bill for the purposes of discussing the scotus nomination, we don't even have a nominee yet. there is going to be plenty of
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time in committee, there is going to be plenty of time on the floor to debate this difference of opinion between the minority and the majority. but in the meantime, for people who would hold up passing the cara bill over the scotus nomination, what are you going to tell the two people, two freandz of mine who over the last week when they heard my speech on the senate floor come to me and say thank you for moving this bill. i lost my son a year and a half ago. two of my friends have told me thank you for helping us increase the visibility and get to a point to where we're saving these lives? what are you going to tell people who are holding up the cara bill, those who would hold up the cara bill, what are you going to tell the first responder who if they had naloxone could potentially save the lives of somebody who is potentially falling on the floor and dying? what are you going to tell them? what are you going to tell the law enforcement officers who are going to go and try to help people live who have succumbed to addiction and opioid abuse? what are you going to tell them by holding up this bill? what are you going to tell the parents who are struggling, who
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need help with education, who need help with incarcerated children who may have succumbed to addiction, did the wrong thing, they are be in prison and now they need help, they need to be rehabilitated, they need to be saved? you know, at some point, we need to recognize that we do need to do things separately. we need to recognize it's disgraceful to hold up the cara bill over a genuine disagreement that we're going to have for months. i'm one of the senators in the judiciary committee that signed the letter. i do not believe until we hear the vote of the people that we should hear a scotus nomination, but i'm not here to talk about scotus today. i'm here to talk about saving lives. i'm here to talk about addressing the addiction problem that is growing. i'm here to talk about the sad, heart breaking stories of families across this nation who are starving for help. this bill helps. this bill appropriates over $100 million that can be spent between now and the end of september to save lives. if if i come to the floor tomorrow, i'm going to be talking about four more lives that have been lost in north carolina.
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some that could have been saved if we would just do our job. there is a lot of discussion about doing our job, right? well, let's do our job. let's do our job today by getting cara passed. mr. schumer: mr. president, i would ask my colleague from north carolina to yield for a question. mr. tillis: yes, sir, i yield. mr. schumer: thank you. i appreciate the courtesy. i just so understand what you are saying. a week ago i held in my arms a father whose son had committed suicide waiting for treatment, so i understand the importance of the bill that we have before us, but my question is this -- i don't see why we can't do both things at once. the senator -- just let me ask my question. the senator from north carolina has sat with me while we have debated important bills on the floor and met in the judiciary committee, and all of a sudden at the last minute the rug is pulled out from under that meeting. it was scheduled. the cara bill was scheduled to be debated and we could meet in judiciary committee. i'm sure my colleague will admit
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the issue with the supreme court is important, too, just like cara is. so could he explain to me why we couldn't do both, have our meeting in judiciary committee, let those who wanted to be in judiciary committee speak there and let those who wanted to speak on cara speak here? no votes were scheduled, i'm right about that, correct? so just explain how one delays the other. mr. tillis: well, mr. president, i actually -- i was speaker of the house in north carolina for four years. i like a good scrap. i don't have any problem with going to a committee hearing and explaining why i have taken the position i have on the judicial nomination, but that's not what i am talking about today. i am talking about over the next 24 hours, four more people are going to die of overdoses in north carolina. i'm trying to figure out what i will say to that mother and father saying gosh, things just got gummed up here because we have decided to connect two unrelated issues. one has to do with the supreme court nomination, and that's very, very important, it's critically important, i get that. but what's more important than
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saving the lives of people that we know are going to die? the data is compelling. folks, we've just got to get to a point to where we get washington working again, and you don't do it by playing this chess game. i'm not an attorney. i'm not a constitutional scholar, but i am a father. i am somebody who spends a lot of time in my state. and i think we have reached a point to where we need to get serious with this. we're creating obstacles on cara that don't need to exist. people are absolutely costing lives by failing to move on this bill. then let's have the fight. let's have the committee hearing. i like a good scrap. i'm looking forward to having that debate. i'm looking forward to the history of other positions that have been taken by my friends across the aisle on how to dispose of nominations from the president. happy to do that. but i want this bill passed. i want to be able to go back to the people in north carolina and say we're doing everything we possibly can to save lives. that's what cara does. that's why we need to act. thank you, mr. president. mr. schumer: would the gentleman
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yield? the presiding officer: who seeks the floor? mr. schumer: i seek to ask, mr. president, another question of my friend from north carolina. mr. tillis: mr. president, we were supposed to be here moving the bill forward. we need to make it clear that we were going to vote on amendments on cara today to draw down the backlog and move the bill. you decided to have the meeting off the floor so we could move judicial nominations. we weren't going to take up any judicial legislation there. i think what we need to do is get back to the work of disposing amendments, making the bill better potentially and getting it to the president's desk. that's what i am talking about. we have limited capacity in this chamber. you all know that. the procedural games that you played around here, the limitations of time are numerous. and we're just creating more of that. we're gumming up the works while people are dying. one person every six hours in the state of north carolina is dying from a drug overdose. we delay by six hours, we're responsible for a life in north carolina. these are lives that we can
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save. we need to dispose of the amendments on this bill and move it to the house. mr. president, i apologize if i'm angry, but when lives are involved, when youth is involved, i think it's time for us to do our job, and our job is to dispose of amendments and move this bill to the house of representatives. thank you. mr. schumer: mr. president, would my colleague yield for the question? the presiding officer: does the senator yield? mr. tillis: yes, sir. mr. schumer: i would ask my colleague, isn't it true that we have had debates in the committee in the committee room while important discussions have been carried on here in other instances. is that true or false? mr. tillis: senator schumer, it's true, but i don't see its relevance to the task. that's the problem, if i may completely answer the question. that's the problem with this process. i mean, i hear that. i see the kabuki dance that is going on, but what i want to do is dispose of the amendments on the cara bill and do our job. let's do our job. our job is to pass legislation and in this case save lives. so i get that we need to do the other things, but let's get to the task at hand.
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let's do our jobs. i'm prepared to do the job. i'll stay here all weekend long. i will work 24/7 until this bill gets passed. why don't we focus on that and introduce a little humanity into the discussion. i get the procedural issues. i get what we're going to have to deal with. we need to have the debates in judiciary. i'm perfectly happy to do that. i want this bill passed. i want members to come down to this floor, pass amendments, draw down the queue and send this bill to the president's desk. let's do our jobs. i'm prepared to do my job today, tomorrow, saturday, sunday and through all of next week if that's what it takes to get this done. i hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will, too. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator has yielded the floor. who seeks recognition? mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, as one who has held a lot of hearings on opioids, as one who has brought together law enforcement , the medical community, parents, the faith
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community and physicians in my state on the opioid matter, i am perfectly happy the republicans control the schedule, i am perfectly happy they want to stay here today, tomorrow and the next day and go forth. and, mr. president, if i just -- mr. schumer: just before that, would my colleague yield for one more question? mr. leahy: certainly. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. i would just ask you, our ranking member, haven't we been able in the past to hold meetings in the judiciary committee and debate important bills on the floor? mr. leahy: we did a sex -- we did a hate crimes legislation on the floor at the same time we were doing a supreme court nomination. those are pretty significant things. mr. schumer: and one more question to my colleague. one more question to my colleague. has the leader filed cloture yet which would move this to a conclusion? has the -- as best of your
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knowledge, has the leader filed cloture, because if he hasn't, we're not holding anything up. and i would suggest to my colleague from north carolina if he wants to move the bill quickly, he ought to go to the leader and say file cloture, not say delay a hearing -- a meeting in the judiciary committee. is that right? have you heard of the leader filing cloture yet? mr. leahy: mr. president, it's my understanding that cloture has not been filed. mr. schumer: thank you. mr. leahy: but as i would agree with the now distinguished presiding officer, i will stay here friday, saturday, sunday and vote and pass this. i would hope we are actually putting some money in it so we're not just passing something symbolically without the teeth. but, mr. president, i would ask to be able to yield -- mr. grassley: before, can i -- the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i would like to ask the senator from vermont a question if he would take it because -- mr. leahy: without losing my
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right to the floor, i would yield to answer the question, yes. mr. grassley: mr. president, i have heard what they said about the meeting being canceled today because we could have held the meeting off the floor and vote three judges out, and that's -- so somehow that interfered with what they wanted to do in the judiciary committee meeting. i asked for an accommodation, i asked the ranking member the same accommodation that i gave his side when we canceled a hearing on the ab-5 program earlier this week, and a hearing obviously doesn't take the same time away from the floor as -- as a markup might, so consequently i'm asking the -- the ranking member if that accommodation isn't worth the
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accommodation that i asked today. mr. leahy: mr. president, addressing the distinguished member through the chair, he is well aware of my concerns. the difference between eb-5, which is being debated all the time, and a supreme court nomination, it's -- this goes beyond apples and oranges. there is absolutely no comparison. and i think that having had the -- the republicans having had a closed door meeting where a small percentage of the senate decided there should be no debate or discussion of the supreme court nomination, there is no way that having a closed door meeting off the floor is something that wouldn't pass the giggle test. i think all of us, all of us, both democrats and republicans, would have been rightly
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criticized by the press if we had done that. this is anything but routine. we're talking about the supreme court. i would ask consent that i be able to yield five minutes to the distinguished senior senator from connecticut and then five minutes to the distinguished senior senator from minnesota. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i am always honored to be in this chamber and feel immensely privileged to participate in any debate, but i must say, mr. president, that the average american listening to the colloquy that has been conducted just within the past few minutes would regard it somewhat in disbelief, maybe dismay, because the presiding officer is absolutely right that the people of our states are
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literally dying as a result of the heroin and opioid epidemic that has created a public health hurricane, a crisis of untold proportion, and this body should and hopefully will pass a bill that will help to address that public health crisis. only a down payment, only a first step and only effective if accompanied by funding an emergency supplemental that is necessary to provide the real resources to address this problem. but this body is capable of passing that bill and still debating whether there should be a hearing and vote on the president's supreme court nominee. the voting on the comprehensive addiction and recovery act, also
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known as cara, is within the control of the majority. that is a simple fact. as ronald reagan said, facts are stubborn things. the fact is that control of the votes on that measure are within the prerogative of the majority. and in the meantime, the majority also has the power and authority to say we will have a hearing and a vote on the president's supreme court nominee. we will do our job. that is what senators are elected to do. that is why we have come to the floor of the united states senate to say the united states senate must do its job. it has a constitutional duty. it has no discretion whether it should wait to a politically opportune time to do its job,
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whether it should hear from its base politically. it should do its job when the president submits his nominee. what may be most regrettable about this debate and about the majority leadership's refusal to have a hearing and a vote on the president's nominee is that it demonstrates political machinations, game blaming that threatens the supreme court as an institution. it endangers its credibility and trust. the supreme court has no armies or police force. it depends for the enforceability of its decisions on its credibility and trust. and when it is demeaned in the eyes of the public, when its stature is diminished, when it
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is dragged into the political morass of a partisan debate and partisan paralysis, its credibility and trust and its stature are vastly diminished and it's -- its powers as an institution is endangered. i am dismayed that these machinations tend to diminish and demean this institution where i work for a year as a law clerk for supreme court justice harry blackman, where i argued cases when i was attorney general, where i was yesterday on those steps with the statement awe and admiration and indeed receive answer that the american -- revrance that the american people should feel about an institution above politics, higher than the ordinary give and take and
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contention that occurs on this floor and throughout the political institutions. the renewsal to -- the refusal to even consider, have a hearing, have a vote, have a meeting with the president's nominee endangers this institution. elections have consequences. we all say so. obstruction has consequences, too. and the failure to consider these nominees -- the presiding officer: senator, your time has expired. mr. blumenthal: means critical decisions will be left undecided. i urge my colleagues to enable us to have a vote. may i have just one more minute? the presiding officer: is there objection. mr. leahy: i'd ask consent for three more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: i want to close with the words of justice scalia
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who said, when he was asked to recuse himself, that leaving the court potentially equally divided 4-4, that a 4-4 vote was to be avoided, if possible. and he said -- quote -- "with eight justices raises the possibility that by reason of a tie vote, the court will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case. even one unnecessary recusal impairs the functioning of the court." "even one unnecessary 4-4 vote impairs the stature and the credibility and the effectiveness of the court. i urge all of us to move forward with the president's nominee when it is made. thank you, madam president. mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, i
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thank the distinguished senior senator from connecticut, especially as he brings a wealth of knowledge here. he was one of the most noted attorneys general of his state but also he has that very unique knowledge as a clerk, one of the most highly sought positions, a clerk to a member of the u.s. supreme court. in many ways, these are the people who have the closer view. and so senator blumenthal's experience as a clerk on the supreme court is something none of us should ignore. and, madam president, i'd ask that i be able to yield to the distinguished senior senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: madam president, i want to thank the senior senator from vermont for the opportunity to speak. i'd ask consent to speak as if
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in morning business. the presiding officer: is there objection? so ordered. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i rise to discuss the united states and coalition strategy to bring about a lasting defeat of the terrorist group isis, often known by different acronyms, isil, also by the terminology "dash." i'll use the acronym isis. we know that isis poses a direct threat to our partners in the middle east and is exporting its distorted, hateful ideology to other nations, including here in the united states. beginning in 2014, i have pressed the administration to take action against the financial and facilitation networks that support isis. the administration has done good work but much more remains to be done. in mid-february, i traveled to a
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number of countries in the region, to israel, to saudi arabia, to qatar and to turkey to conduct oversight of our strategy to cut off the financial networks that support terrorist groups like isis. i found that the events of the last two years have brought the issue of terrorism financing into sharper focus and certainly into sharper focus for the countries in the region. isis attacks in places like saudi arabia and qatar should be a wake-up call for gulf countries. terrorist financiers not only support isis but they present a direct threat to their own internal security and stability, the security and the stability of these gulf countries. as well as other countries the world over. while coalition partners are taking steps in the right direction, much more work remains to be done.
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we need to see more investigations turn into more arrests, more prosecutions and more sentencing. more accountability in these countries that will take these criminals and terrorists off the streets. it also became clear to me on my visit to the region that we need to improve upon the international architecture that cuts off terrorist financiers and facilitators from the international financial system. as a first step, countries should seek to meet the requirements to be a member in good standing of the financial action task force, known by the acronym fatf for f-a-t-f. this is a multinational intergovernmental organization tasked with addressing money laundering and financial crimes. countries also need to take steps to address the ways
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terrorist financiers use the black market and the gray market to facilitate their work. for example, in turkey, my last stop on my visit to the region, i came away with the impression that the turkish government is not adequately prioritizing efforts to stop foreign fighter movements and the illicit smuggling of cash, oil, antiquities and i.e.d. precursor components across its southern border. as terrorist financiers' tactics evolve, our strategies must improve and respond. for example, more work needs to be done to regulate and to cut off the informal exchange houses in countries bordering isis occupied territory, which may be the primary way that isis gains access to the international financial system. more work remains to be done in the united states -- and the
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united states should continue leading the effort. at every stop i was impressed by the good work of our u.s. military personnel and diploma diplomats. one of the highlights of my trip was the afternoon i spent at the al audid air force base -- air base, i should say, in doha. i spent time at the combined air operations center, known by the acronym kaok, where elements from all u.s. services and representatives of many of our coalition partners work together to coordinate and execute air operations against isis. i also received a classified briefing from the commander, lieutenant general brown, which, of course, i cannot detail here. but general brown has said publicly -- quote -- "successful strikes on oil facilities and on monetary centers have resulted in dash or isis' cutting pay to
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their fighters and increased the amount of money available to conduct and fund their operations." this is an important developme development. it's important to note this, that u.s.-led airstrikes are having a profound impact on isis' financial operations. so as lawmakers, we must continue to critically evaluate and develop constructive policies to bring about a lasting defeat of isis. we cannot abdicate our oversight responsibilities. to my colleagues who say we're doing -- quote -- "nothing" to fight isis, i encourage them to go to a place like the al aoudid air base, meet directly with senior leaders who are bringing the fight to isis and see firsthand the incredible work of our service members, just as i did in the middle of february. we need to hear directly from military commanders and national
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security experts before offering prescriptions like increasing troop levels in iraq or expanding the mission sets our military is currently executing. we owe it to these men and women to have a robust, bipartisan debate about this strategy and to vote on an authorization for the use of military force. vote on legislation to cut off financing, vote on bills to promote humanitarian aid -- all elements of this strategy. rather than conducting oversight by sound bite and oversight by categorical condemnation, let's have a serious debate on this critical national security issue. madam president, i would yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: iowa.
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-- the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: we've had quite a discussion this morning on why the judiciary committee didn't meet. the judiciary committee committee was prepared to meet. we were prepared to meet the same way we often meet, when there's just maybe five minutes of business, to meet off the senate floor here so that we can do both the work of the entire united states senate and the work of the judiciary committee. that happens often. and that's the accommodation i asked of the minority party of the judiciary committee, to do that. the same way that they asked me to accommodate them on a hearing that i had scheduled for earlier this week on the e.b. immigration issue. and i canceled that hearing because members of the democratic caucus of the judiciary committee felt that they should not have that
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hearing when this very important opioid addiction bill, heroin addiction bill is before the united states senate with 44,000 lives being lost in a year because of that addiction. and the immediacy of legislation to solve that problem. i did not get that accommodation so i canceled the meeting. and so what we heard on the floor here, holding up the opioid bill, was all the rationale about having a debate about the next nominee to the supreme court, a nominee that hasn't even been made yet. so i come to the floor now to respond to some of the very ridiculous arguments that my friends made on the other side. but there are a couple of
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remarks that can't go u unanswered, even though i should probably give a long list of reactions to what they said. but but i'm going to limit it to just a few. first of all, we are going to have a debate about the supreme court and we should have that debate. we're going to debate whether or not the american people want yet another justice who decides cases based on what's in his or her heart or whether they want a justice who will decide cases based on the constitution and the law. that's not my estimation of the debate. that's exactly what this president on previous judge and justices nominations have said, that he was looking for somebody who would have empathy for
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people that came before the court. having empathy for people that come before the court means that you're supposed to do something different than what judges are supposed to do because judges are supposed to look at what the facts are of a case and look at what the law is and make their decision based upon the facts and the law, not based upon their personal feelings. buzz if it isn't -- because if it isn't based on the facts and the law, then we have a government of men and women, not a government of law. and we're a society based upon the rule of law. so you get back to something people have to think about and people can have a voice in this as we have planned, as senator
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biden said in 1992 or senator schumer said in 2007, you know, way long time before ends of terms of lame duck presidents. those presidents should not appoint a person to the supreme court until after the election. so we have an opportunity to have a national debate, not only who's going to be the next justice but this whole -- this whole debate about whether or not we are going to have justices who have empathy as opposed to the letter of the constitution and the letter of the statute. then on the second point, we've heard a lot of complaining around here and i suspect we're going to hear a lot more that the senate judiciary republicans met and then made public our decision not to hold hearings on
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the supreme court nomination during a heated presidential election year. give me a break. we made a decision based on history and our intention to protect the ability of the american people to make their voices heard. we didn't play games anymore than senator biden as chairman of the committee in 1992 was playing games when he gave that 20,000-word speech in which he said that we should not have that lame duck president appointee until after the election or the same thing that senator schumer said in 2007 before the american constitution society, 18 months before george w. bush was going out of office, that george w. bush should not appoint a president if there's a
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vacancy on the supreme court. so that -- that's a historical approach, at least history of the last 30 years, very plain and open, both by democrats and now by republicans taking the same tone so that people could make their voices heard, not only on who's going to be the next justice filling scalia's seat but also on this whole role of whether or not the supreme court ought to be a legislative body making law or interpreting law. and when we -- as i said, we didn't play games and we made that decision and immediately it was made public. i don't remember being invited for the benefit of the other side who have done a lot of strange things when it comes to the rules of the senate as they apply to judges. i don't remember being invited to the secret meetings that the
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democrats held before they all walked on to the floor of the united states senate november 2013 and invoked a nuclear option so they could pack the d.c. court of appeals with three judges because you know there was something wrong with that d.c. circuit. we'd reduce the number so we could save the taxpayers' money. it's the least overworked circuit court in the history of the country -- i mean, it's the most overworked -- underworked court of the circuits today, and you didn't need three more people but when it was divided, four liberals and four conservatives and they reviewed the president's executive orders and regulations and all the things coming out of the bureaucracy, this president wanted to make sure that he had enough judges on there that will let him when he says he has a
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pen and a phone and if congress won't, i will, wants those favorly reviewed so pack the d.c. district court so you can have more of that sort of thing. so i've also -- so that's why they had the nuclear option because they had to get around the 60-vote rule that we had here for the approval of the judges. now, the american people ought to appreciate a 60-vote rule when you are packing the court with three judges you don't need because the court is underworked. then i also keep hearing a claim that chairman biden when he was a senator should be praised for how he handled the bork-kennedy episode. now, i happened to be here in 1987. i saw what happened to robert bork. i saw how he was smeared. and because he was smeared, that seat remained open and was filled early 1988.
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if that's the other side's argument, then i think we all know how weak their position is. finally, let me say this. i said yesterday and i want to say it again, the other side knows that the nominee is not going to be confirmed. everyone knows it. the only reason that they're complaining about a hearing that was canceled today or i mean a hearing about the nominee is because they want to make the process as political as possible. that goes to the heart of the matter. we're not getting to politicize this process in the middle of a presidential election year. we're going to let the people have a voice. i yield the floor. a senator: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from maine. a senator: madam president, first i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you. madam president, i listened with great attentiveness to the comments of the very distinguished chair of the judiciary committee who i have the utmost respect for. mr. king: but i feel like i must respond given this important question that is not before this body but should be. i think the first point i would make is the term lame duck is being used rather loosely. lame duck as i have always understood it is the period between the election and the swearing in of a successor. a lame duck congress is the congress between november and january. a lame duck president is the president between november and january. i think as i've always understood the use of that term to apply it to a president who's in the middle of -- or the early part of the fourth year of his
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or her term i think is thought an accurate characterization or usage of the term "lame duck." the distinguished chairman said we are going to have a debate. i'm delighted to hear that the question is when. the question is when. now, i wasn't here in 1992. i wasn't here in 1987. i wasn't here in 2007. so i'm trying to figure out how to respond to this situation, how to understand the situation with reference to the constitution. now, there are lots of provisions in the constitution that are subject to windy law review articles, to lengthy court decisions, to interpretation, to characterization of what they actually mean, what was the original intent of the framers and all of those complicated issues of discussion, dissection and expractice indication -- explication but the word four as in one, two, three, four and the word shall as in shall do
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something are not among those confusing terms. i would submit, madam president, that the president has a constitutional obligation to submit a nominee to this body and this body has a constitutional obligation to consider that nomination, not an obligation to confirm, not an obligation to say yes, but an obligation to consider it. the presidential term is four years. it is not three years and one month. that's in the constitution. article 2, section 2 says the president shall nominate ministers, judges, and justice -- and judges of the supreme court with the advice and consent of the senate. now, i would not for a minute presuppose what the decision of the senate should be. but to argue that the senate will not even hear the nomination, will not discuss it, will not debate it, in fact some
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of the members have said they won't even meet the person with no knowledge whatsoever of who this person is. the president may nominate a person who's a combination of airs totle, thomas jefferson and saint thomas akwaoeupb nass but he's not even going to be met with, he or she. i don't understand that as a matter of interpretation of the constitution. and there's a lot of discussion about the people should have a role in this decision. the constitution makes that clear that they do have that role when they elect the president of the united states for a four-year term, not for a three and one month term. i can see no wiggle room on the president's obligation to submit a nominee to this body. and this decision to stonewall this nomination, to not meet with the nominee, to not hold
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hearings, to not hold a debate, to not hold a discussion has profound implications for the court because the reality is this will mean the court will be without a justice for essentially two terms. we've lost justice scalia in february. the term of the court doesn't end until later this spring. he will not be present for the final decision making on matters that have been before the court this term. and then if a new president -- if we wait until a new president -- a new president comes in january 20, 2017, submits a new nomination almost immediately, let's say it's within the first to weeks of his or her taking office. the average time for consideration of a justice is between 60 and 9 on days so we are -- 90 days so we're into february, march, april, that's toward the end of the next term of the u.s. supreme court. so by delaying this decision, we are basically saying we're going to leave the court without a
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justice in contravention to the explicit provision of the constitution for what amounts to two terms. now, again, i want to be very clear. i am not saying that there's any constitutional obligation on this body to approve the president's nominee. but i believe there is a constitutional obligation to consider that nominee, and that's really what we're debating here and i'm delighted to hear the distinguished chairman say we're going to have this debate, but we ought to have it now under the constitution which requires the president to submit a nominee. and i would argue requires this body to at least consider that nominee, to hold hearings, to let the people hear who the nominee is, what their views are, and to make the decision in this body whether or not this nominee should be a i proved -- should be approved for this incredibly important and solemn
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obligation to undertake as a justice of the united states supreme court. so again for and shall are not debatable propositions. whether or not the senate should confirm is clearly within the discretion of every senator in this body, but to say that we will not have the opportunity to make that decision i think is contrary to the constitution. it's contrary to the best interests of the american people, and i'm surprised, frankly, that my colleagues are taking this position because nobody is saying how they have to vote. if they don't like the nominee, they can vote them down, but why not have a hearing? why not have a debate? why not have a discussion? why not find out who this person is? it may be -- the president may nominate someone who is of great appeal to both sides of this body. so i would hope that the distinguished chair of the committee would reconsider his
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decision and the committee's decision to not even hold a hearing and to carry out what i believe is the obligation to at least hear the nomination, not approve it but to at least hear it and, therefore, let the american people participate in this discussion. but let's also follow the explicit provisions of the constitution that require the president to submit a nominee and i believe require us to at least consider it, if not approve. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor, and i suggest the absence of a quorum -- i will withhold that motion. mr. cornyn: thank you. i appreciate it. madam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i come to the floor tiewk about the pending -- to talk about the pending legislation. it actually enjoys broad, bipartisan support and i'm optimistic we can get it done.
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i just want to comment on some of the things that have been said here on the floor with regard to the vacancy created by the death of justice scalia. first of all, the democratic leader, senator reid, clearly wants to apply a different set of rules when republicans were in the majority than he did when democrats were in the majority. that's really clear. you know, people may get lost in some of the arcane nature and the convoluted nature of the arguments we make on the floorkn the floor, but the american people understand hypocrisy when they see it. and, clearly, senator reid back in 02005 -- back in 2005, made it statement, "the duties of the senate are set forth in the u.s. constitution. nowhere in that document does it say the senate has a duty to give presidential appointees a vote."
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we actually agre agreed with ser reid then but to have him come to the floor and lambaste the chairman of the judiciary committee and others in a very personal sort of way should be beneath the dignity of this body and of any senator. somehow -- somehow, the democratic leader feels like the rules that apply to the rest of us sumly don't apply -- simply don't apply it him. and he comes down here and tries to provoke fights. we actually have some important work to get done, and we will get it done o on this addiction and recovery act, the so-called cara act. but i want to make another point clear, that republicans on the senate judiciary committee agreed in a united way to the same principle that our democratic colleagues have argued for for decades. during an election year, a supreme court nominee should not
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be confirmed. i previously have spoken about senator joe biden when he was chairman of the judiciary committee back in 1992 making that point. senator reid in 2005 made that point. 2007, senator schumer, the heir apparent to the senate democratic leadership, made that point again. they feel like the rules should apply differently under a democratic majority than they do to a republican majority. we are not in rubber stamp for the president of the united states. the constitution says as much. we can grant consent or we can withhold consent, and i, for one, am for withholding consent to the confirmation of another liberal on the united states supreme court. we've seen the type of justices that president obama has
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nominated. just kagan, just sotomayor, clearly on the -- justice kagan, justice sotomayor, clearly on the left. and to simply give president president obama the ability to appoint somebody that's going to change the balance of the supreme court, to tilt leaflet for the next 25, 30 years is simply unacceptable. it doesn't make any difference who the president nominates. i'm sure they will be very much in the same mold as the two justices he's already nominated, justice kagan and justice sotomayor. i say that with respect to them as people. they're entitled to their opinions, just like we are. but their decisions make fundamental changes in the united states, and it's not just for a term of office; it's literally for a generation. and we are not going to stand by and allow president obama on his
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way out the door as a lame-duck president, to change the balance of power on the supreme court for the next 25 or 30 years. now to a more pleasant topic. i actually have been encouraged, despitdespite the disagreement e with our friends across the aisle on the supreme court, -- like the comprehensive addiction and recovery act. this bill has been the result of a lot of hard work and bipartisan discussions, and thanks to the leadership of the chairman of the judiciary committee, senator grassley, he made this a priority. this wasn't just for republicans who were proposing us to move on this legislation. senator klobuchar, senator whitehouse on the democratic side, senator portman, toomey and ayotte on the republican
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side brought this to everyone's attention, primarily because of the devastating impact of the opioid prescription drug abuse problem and the heroin problem in their parts of the country. but if affects the whole count country. and so i'm thankful that the democratic leadership understands that this legislation should not be taken as a partisan hostage, because it's about helping to restore communities and families from the effects of drug addiction and it's about stemming the tide of a massive epidemic of opioid drug abuse that continues to claim lives across the country. and it is an example of how in the 114th congress since the beginning of last year that we've actually been able to work together with our colleagues across the aisle. before that under the leadership of the senator from nevada, this institution was deadlocked, and it wasn't just when republicans
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were in the minority. when democrats were in the majority, not even they could get votes on amendments. and it's pretty hard to explain that back home that, yes, i'm in the majority, but it doesn't make any difference in terms of my ability to get things done for the people that i represent. so i actually am very glad that we've been working our way through this legislation and other legislation that can help advance good policies that plausibly impact the lives of the american people on a daily basis. another effort that we have worked on in the judiciary committee has to do with the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system. i recently met with a number of the major county sheriffs, and i was introduced to the sheriff of los angeles county, and he said, i'm the largest mental health provider in the country -- the
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sheriff of los angeles. the fact is, after we de-institutionalized people with mental illness, basically there was no safety net for them, no continuing treatment or attention to their needs, and so they end up either in our jails or end up living homeless on our streets. so i've introduced legislation -- senator grassley, chairman grassley allowed us to have a hearing ton. it was very instructive. it was also interesting -- i say tthis to my friend from maine, n some committees in the senate, these a common practice. but usuall usually in the judicy committee things are so polarized, we rarely have a consensus panel. but we did on the issue of mental illness. it has become an issue of real bipartisanship as well. in order to protect our communities and get help to the
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people with mental illness, we need to act. but what's also become clear is nthat many who struggle with mental illness struggle with addiction and substance abuse. they, in many instances, self heave medicaid. they've got a mental illness, they can't deal with it. they end up drinking or taking drugs. these are so-called co-occurring disorders. americans suffer from both addiction and mental health disorders, co-occurring disorders. but unfortunately many substance abuse services like specialty courts, like drug courts, veterans courts and the lirks they've operated on separate tracks and only treat one aspect of the problem. someone with a history of drug abuse and mental illness may be
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sent it a drug court where their mental health needs are not taken into account. when that happens, the underlying problem isn't addressed at all. so i've introduced an amendment to this legislation that will address this common link between mental illness and substance abuse in the criminal justice system. it would direct existing programs to aplay to co-occurring disorders as well. so that people suffering from both addiction and mental health problems are not just seen and treated for one of those problems. it seems like it makes sense. it would also expand substance abuse and transitional services to help people suffering from co-occurring disorders receive appropriate treatment they need in order to get back on their feet. this amendment has been cosponsored by the chairman of the health, education, labor, and pensions committee, the senior senator from tennessee, who i thank for his important
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contribution to this effort. and it has the support of many stakeholders around the country, including the national alliance on mental illness and the national association of police organizations. so i hope what the time comes, our colleagues will support this amendment as a commonsense measure that will help those suffering from both mental health and addiction problems and i believe it will make the underlying bill that much stronger. madam president, i have one -- i have 10 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i'd ask consent that these requests be agreed to and that they be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. donnelly: thank you, madam president. i rise today to talk about the vacancy on the united states supreme court. following the passing of supreme
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court justice antonin scalia and our condolences to his family and our gratitude for all his hard work on behalf of this country. the time has now come for the president to nominate a new justice and for the senate to do its job and to review, consider, and either confirm or reject the president's nominee. that's our job. hoosiers don't ask much, but they do expect common sense. do your job, treat people fairly. that's what we expect from neighbors and friends and family, and it's certainly what we expect from those elected to serve us here in washington. back home in indiana, we have a proud tradition of senators who have embodied that approach by looking beyond partisanship and
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giferg full and fair consideration to a president's nominee. they don't have to vote "yes," they don't have to vote "no," but we should at least listen and do our job. that's what the people of indiana elected me to do. that's what people across the country elect my colleagues here in the senate to do. even when the timing is inconvenient. -- for one side or the other. the confirmation of a supreme court justice should not be taken lightly. and it deserves careful consideration and open debate. senators, using our best judgment, are free to ultimately reject whom ever the president nominates, but to real estate fuse to hold -- but to refuse to hold a hearing, to refuse to consider any candidate?
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i know my colleague from maine talked about aristotle or oraqiunas. they might be good candidates for the supreme court. but to not consider any candidate, before the president has even chosen a nominee, is a dereliction of duty, of our most basic duty to faithfully serve our country. some of my colleagues have been steadfast in promising they would not meet with a nominee, let alone hold a hearing or allow a vote. would not even meet. common sense tells you that's not right. i hope they will reconsider their position. the united states senators, myself included, were elected to do a job. to do a job for our nation, not
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only when its convenient but every day. every day we've been hired by the people back home to work here and stand up for our country. that jobs includes considering and voting on nominees to the supreme court. let's do the job we were elected to do. madam president, i yield back. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:


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