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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 6, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

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minority leader -- democratic leader. mr. reid: it's my understanding we're in a quorum call. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. reid: i would ask unanimous consent it be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i'm here to dendz chief justice john roberts -- roberts. i'm here because he has been attacked without cause by the chairman of the judiciary committee. yesterday afternoon, the senior senator from iowa hit a new low in trying to justify his unprecedented obstruction of president obama's supreme court nomination, judge merrick garland. the chairman of the judiciary committee accused chief justice john roberts of being -- quote -- part of the problem, close quote. when it comes to politicization of the supreme court, that is without any foundation. i don't agree with the chief justice on every opinion that he's rendered or, frankly, do i agree with any of the other
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seven on opinions that they render. we have had some disagreements in my own mind on a number of opinions that they have authored and participated in. but again i don't agree with the chief justice on many of the opinions that he's written. but his observations about the supreme court confirmation process have obviously struck a nerve in the republican caucus. here's what happened. days, simply days before the unfortunate death of justice scalia, before anyone could have anticipated a supreme court vacancy, chief justice roberts made the commonsense assertion in a speech that he gave that partisan politics hurt our nation's highest court. this is in fact what he said, and i quote -- "when you have a sharply politically divisive hearing process, it increases
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the danger that whoever comes out of it will be viewed in these terms. it's natural for some member of the public to think you must be identified in a particular way as a result of that process, and that's just not how we don't work as democrats as republicans. i think it's a very unfortunate perception the public has and they might get from the confirmation process." close quote. i was a member of the senate when we had the hearings regarding justice roberts. he came from the same court that merrick garland served on. they served together, and they are friends, and justice roberts in the past, justice roberts has said many glowing things about merrick garland. but after the -- what happened yesterday afternoon on this
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floor when the senior senator from iowa had the audacity to choose roberts as being part of the problem, even so far as to tell the chief justice listen to this one -- quote -- "physician, heal thyself," close quote. so i say to the senior senator from iowa, justice roberts isn't the one who needs healing. what needs mending is the judiciary committee under his chairmanship, which he is the next political arm of the republican leader's office. senator grassley has sacrificed the historical independence of the judiciary committee to do the bidding of the tea party and obviously the koch brothers. i have news for senator grassley. the american people don't think the process of nominating a supreme court justice is political because the supreme court's rulings don't match an expectation of the political right or the political left. i have confidence that these men and women who serve on the court do the very best they can to
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rule on the law as they see it. the american people don't think it's political because the senior senator from iowa is refusing to give fair hearings to a highly qualified nominee purely because he was nominated by a democratic president. the american people think it's political when the judiciary committee and the republicans on his committee meet behind closed doors and make pac's to blockade our nation's judiciary, from the supreme court to the circuit court to the district courts. i know that my friend who i served with for decades in this body is grasping for something, anything to get himself off the hook. president harry truman said the buck stops here. senator grassley wants the buck to stop with anyone but himself. he's done more to politicize the process than any chairman of the judiciary committee in the history of this country. if the senior senator from iowa really wants to understand why americans think the process of nominating a supreme court justice is so partisan, he
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should consider his own actions. he has only himself to blame for his not doing his job. i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: .
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president, just a little earlier today, the senate moved to proceed to the f.a.a. reauthorization bill. my hope would be that here in the not too distant fute we'll be able to -- future, we'll be able to -- the distinguished senator from florida, senator nelson who is the ranking member and i will move to have a substitute considered and hopefully that will happen very soon. mr. thune: i wanted to speak to the overall subject that is before us and that is the f.a.a. reauthorization bill. thrpt, this week the senate is keying up something that is a
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very important piece of legislation when it comes to aviation reforms that will support u.s. jobs, increase safety, improve drone operations and make travel easier for airline passengers. the bill before us today, the federal aviation administration reauthorization act of 2016, will help update aviation law, reflect the rapid advances in technology we've seen over the last few years. for example, since the last reauthorization of the federal aviation administration in 2012, the use of drones has increased dra the maically. -- dramatically. the f.a.a. has sought to keep up by using the authority it already has to safely advance this burgeoning industry but there are limits to what the f.a.a. can do with only outdated authority to manage this rapidly advancing technology. passing this reform bill would help the f.a.a. remove barriers to innovation and address unacceptable safety risks when it comes to unmanned aircraft. just last month, "the los angeles times" reported on an incident where a airlines 8380
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jumbo jet approaching los angeles international airport experienced a near miss with a drone that flew just 200 feet over the airliner. while fortunately in this case the two did not collide, the prospect of a jumbo jet carrying hundreds of passengers striking a drone while flying over a heavily populated area is chilling. our colleague from california, senator feinstein, noted in a statement on this incident that our f.a.a. bill includes key reforms that will keep drones out of the path of airliners. she add, and i quote, "we must pass this bill and streang then the law -- strengthen the law wherever we can. end quote. mr. president, i could not agree more. to keep drones out of the paths of commercial air liefners, the senate bill -- airliners, the senate bill would implement standards so existing technologies can be built into unmanned aircraft. this legislation also takes steps to require drone use rs to learn basic -- use rs to learn
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basic limits of the sky so they understand when and where unmanned aircraft may operate. this is critical as we move into an era where drones share air space with commercial aircraft, emergency medical flights, low altitude agriculture planes and general aviation pilots. our focus on safety in this legislation doesn't stop at promoting safe use of unmanned systems. our legislation addresses safety issues across the aviation spectrum. lithium batteries, the batteries that power laptops and mobile phones have helped grow our digital economy, but the bulk transport of these items poses serious shipping challenge tion. our -- challenges. our bill ensures swift implementation of new international safety standards for the bulk transport of these batteries. although the sequence of events preceding the tragic german wings murder suicide almost certainly would not have happened in the united states due to existing rules, our bill
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recognizes the importance of mental health and strange thens evaluations for commercial pilots sms our legislation improves a voluntary safety reporting program for pilots and set as deadline for creating a pilot database to ensure air carriers have all available information about pilots' training, testing and employment histories when hiring. in response to an independent recommendation completed after our experience with the 2015 ebola virus outbreak, our bill directs federal agencies to establish aviation preparedness plans for any future outbreaks of communicable diseases. our legislation also directs the f.a.a. to update guidance regarding flight deck automation such as the use of autopilot, a key factor in recent fatal accidents. this legislation also makes existing funds available for a $400 million increase in the airport improvement program to sheng then infrastructure -- strengthen infrastructure and safety measures at our airports. while our top priority is
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safety, the senate's aviation bill also makes consumer friendly reforms to improve air travel for passengers. i commute weekly from my home in south dakota to wrarkt so i understand owe washington, d.c. so i understand the many frustrations faced by passengers and our colleagues and i are immensely proud of the pro consumer provisions in this bill. our legislation has been hailed by a consumer columnist for "the washington post" as, and i quote, "one of the most passenger friendly federal aviation administration reauthorization bills in a generation." end quote. under our bill, airlines must return fees consumers have paid for baggage if items are lost or delayed. we also require airlines to automatically return fees for services purchased but not delivered so the travelers don't have to go through the hassle of trying to reclaim their money from an airline. and for customers frustrated by lengthy legal jargon that can make it difficult to understand fees, our bill creates a new and easy to read uniformed standard for disclosing baggage, ticket change, seat selection, and
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other fees. our proposal also helps families with children find flights where they can sit together without additional costs by requiring airlines to tell purchasers about available seat locations at the time of booking. mr. president, as a resident of a rural state, the needs of the general aviation community were a priority of mine when we wrote this bill. i'm pleased that we were able to build a consensus for including reforms from the pilots bill of rights that was offered by many of our colleagues and led by senators inhofe and manchin. it includes reforms to the certificate required for noncommercial pilots and new protections for pilots in their interactions with the f.a.a. to reduce the risk of aircraft accidents for low altitude flyers like agriculture applicators, our bill includes requirements for highly visible markings on small towers posing hazards. this bill would also strengthen the aviation industry by improving the f.a.a.'s process for certifying aircraft designs
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and modifications and ensuring that these certifications benefit manufacturers competing in global markets. this would help manufacturers move u.s. aerospace products to market faster without compromising safety standards. mr. president, while i expect and encourage robust debate on this bill, i hope that that debate will go forward with the same bipartisan and constructive spirit that senator nelson and i witnessed during consideration of this bill at the commerce committee. at the committee markup we voted to include dozens of amendments reflecting ideas from both sides of the aisle. on final passage we approved this bill by voice vote without a single committee member recording an objection. part of reaching this consensus was an agreement senator nelson and i had reached did not include certain proposals that divide our colleagues and we worked hard to find middle ground on a number of issues to enable us to move this bill
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forward. air traffic control reform and passenger facility charge increase were excluded from the package because at present these proposals lack sufficient support in their inclusion could have jeopardized the legislation. senator nelson and i also agreed to limit the length of this bill to 18 months. this allows us to enact important reforms now while providing an opportunity to revisit other issues reasonably soon. mr. president, we debate this bill, we should remember the urgent need for safety improvements in good government reforms to improve our aviation industry. there are numerous reforms in this bill that are simply too important to delay and i look forward to a productive debate. finally, i took to the floor earlier this week to discuss the recent horrific attacks perpetrated by isis and the implications for security and for our aviation policy. in addition to this f.a.a. bill,
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the commerce committee has approved two bipartisan aviation security bills. the first senate bill 2361, the airport security enhancement and oversight act that senator nelson and i introduced along with a bipartisan leadership of the homeland security committee as cosponsors and, second, was h.r. 2843 which is the tsa precheck expansion act offered by representative john catko in the house. historically the senate has passed aviation security enhancement senate from a reauthorization of the federal aviation administration. while i still prefer this separate approach, i will pursue every option to enact these improvements and will vigorously oppose any efforts to water down the security enhancements in these bills. i know we all share the goal of keeping aviation secure and i will listen to the views of my colleagues on whether we pursue enactment of these bipartisan aviation security proposals through this reauthorization or through separate legislation. but, mr. president, i want to
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thank my partner on the commerce committee, ranking member bill neglectson as well -- nelson as well as senator cantwell who lead our aviation subcommittee for their work on the federal aviation reauthorization act. i look forward to the ensuing debate on this bill. and i urge at the end of that debate my colleagues to move forward, to pass this legislation because it's important for america's economy and for the safety of our traveling public. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i think the chairman, senator thune, has pointed out that what we have tried to exhibit is the way the senate is supposed to work in a bipartisan way to forge consensus in order to be able to govern. and the subject matter, the
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f.a.a., aviation, is one that we shouldn't dillydally around and indeed some of the very serious consequences that are facing the national aviation system, we take them head-on. and i want the chairman to know how much i appreciate the spirit with which we have worked not only on this issue but the many issues in the commerce committee. and i think we're seeing the proof in the pudding and i think we will see in a mandatory process that runs fairly smooth as a result of the example and the spirit that we have tried to set with regard to this legislation. it's a comprehensive bill. it's been months in the making, and in working together in the
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fashion that i indicated, the bill reflects the broad agreement on aviation. we at the same time have refrained from the controversial proposals such as the plan in the house bill that's come out of the house committee has not gone to the floor, that being a plan to privatize air traffic control that has stopped the house f.a.a. bill dead in its tracks. we have a good bill in front of us here in the senate, and in this robust process we'll consider many amendments and improvements as we continue on down the legislative process.
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there is no basis, mr. president, for the chatter coming from some in the house that hearts and minds down here are going to change on air traffic control privatization. air traffic control privatization is just not going to happen. i've made myself very clear such a privatization scheme would seriously impact the overall success of our aviation system. it would dismantle the long-standing partnership between the f.a.a. and the department of defense and needlessly disrupt the progress f.a.a. is making in its modernization efforts. and let me underscore that.
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the defense department operates in about 20% of our airspace. they cannot afford to have a private company handling that airspace. and of course this privatization could also lead to increased costs for the traveling public and users of the national airspace system. the measured approach that we're taking in this bill we think is the better path, and we are not alone in this view. this bipartisan bill enjoys the support of a huge number of organizations. now, nothing is perfect. and so it was my hope that we could find a way to help our busiest airports by increasing the resources they need to
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improve and maintain vital facilities. we couldn't reach that agreement. and that is one reason why the term of this bill is somewhat limited through fiscal year 2017, so that we have an additional opportunity to revisit this and other issues in the not-too-distant future. but it is a consensus bill, and it contains, as the chairman has just mentioned, many new consumer protections for airline passengers, critical improvements in drone safety and reforms to boost u.s. aircraft manufacturing and exports, and it will do all of this without
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disrupting the safest and most efficient air transportation system in the world. let me highlight some of these consumer protections. how irritating is it to passengers that they don't know about this and that fee, this and that charge, consumers who at the end of the day feel nickeled and dimed. they deserve to know, and they need some relief. well, this bill makes progress on that. last summer, this senator released a report that found that airlines failed to adequately disclose the extra fees and the add-on costs charged to the flying public.
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in many cases, passengers didn't know that they could get a seat without having to request a special seat with a fee. in many cases, passengers didn't know about the fees that they had to pay for airline baggage. well, that report had a number of comprehensive recommendations, and this legislation builds on that report to protect the flying public. many, many things in the bill. for example, it requires fee federal funds for lost or delayed baggage. it requires new standardized disclosure of fees for consumers. it requires increased
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protections for disabled passengers. as the chairman mentioned, drone safety is a very important bill. remember captain sully sullenberger who became a national hero when upon takeoff and ascending out of laguardia encountered a flock of sea gulls which were sucked into his jet engines? now, that's flesh and blood and feathers and webbed feet. you can imagine what would happen if a drone on as ent or on descent of a passenger -- on as sent or on descent of a passenger airliner sucks in the plastic and metal of a drone.
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there are lives at risk and there might not be a hudson river that captain sullenberger could belly it in in the hudson river and save all the lives of his passengers. last year alone, the f.a.a. recorded over a thousand drone sightings in airports and aircraft. well, that's unsent, and we must do everything that we can to protect the flying public from these dangers posed by drones. and so this bill creates a pilot program to test various technologies to keep drones away from airports and it requires the f.a.a. to work with nasa to test and develop a drone traffic management system. we have seen the technology
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already available that can suddenly capture a drone as it goes into a prohibited area and land that drone or take over that drone and take it someplace else. the identification of drones that go in and out of prohibited areas is also important. and we're going to have to face this because sooner or later it won't be what happened at the miami international airport with a drone within hundreds of feet of an inbound american airlines airliner into miami international. so we want to avoid that catastrophic outcome. this legislation also provides reforms in the f.a.a. certification process that will
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boost u.s. manufacturing and exports and most importantly create really good jobs for hardworking americans. now, those are just some of the key features in the bill when it comes to reauthorizing the f.a.a., and that's what brings here today with the bill on the floor. we know that we're in a new context of world terrorism, having just been reminded in brussels. the dual attacks on a brussels metro station and the airport are a grim reminder of both aviation and surface transportation networks remain attractive targets for terrorists.
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and it's now almost 15 years after september 11. the terrorists are still out there seeking these vulnerabilities. in november of last year, we saw the ability to penetrate airport perimeter security in egypt caused an employee to get an explosive device on a russian passenger jet, and that killed 224 civilians. and so we have amendments to address these. we think these amendments are noncontroversial. we think they are bipartisan. and they certainly are timely. and so as our debate unfolds
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over the next few days, aviation security will be an important factor in the discussion. the chairman and i have talked at length and we have some of the ideas that we are going to present for consideration on security. one such proposal as the chairman has mentioned in his opening remarks. we already passed it in the commerce committee. it's right there. the airport security enhancement and oversight act. and that also legislation sponsored by a number of us on the committee would improve background checks for airport workers and increased employee screenings, and obviously a reminder of the russian jetliner this is important, a reminder of the gunrunning scheme in the
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atlanta airport over 100 guns over a three-month period put on airliners transporting them from the atlanta airport to new york. so it's an area that requires attention, so i look forward to collaborating with our colleagues as we move these important issues. mr. president, i yield the floor and i yield it just in time before my voice gives out. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota.
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mr. thune: i have 10 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i could unanimous consent that christopher loren, a detailee on the commerce committee be granted floor plirchls -- primples throughout the debate on the vehicle for f.a.a. reauthorization. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you,
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mr. chairman. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i rise today to address an issue -- the presiding officer: i'm so, the sno senate is in a quorum call, senator. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. today i rise to talk about an issue that affects the heart of our constitution. now, the constitution begins with those three words "we the people." you can talk in any town hall across america and say, what are the first three word of our constitution, and people respond, "we the people."
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and they know that the constitution starts with those words written in supersized font because this is really the heart of what our system of government is all about. not "we the powerful commercial interests," not "we the titans of industry." no, we the people, our system of government is set up to honor and respect and address the concerns of ordinary citizens. that's very different than so many other countries where our early residents came from from across the sea. so these three words capture the spirit of what our new nation was all about. or as president lincoln later summarized, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. and i am coming to the floor periodically to address various issues related to "we the people, requestings "related certainly to honoring the spirit of our constitution.
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in that regard, this week i'm coming to the floor to address the responsibility of our senate and its advice and consent role under our constitution. the president's duty is to nominate a supreme court justice when there is a vacancy, and that responsibility is clearly written into our constitution. and the senate's duty is to consider whether that nominee merits being appointed. now, in the early ages of our country, as we'd gone from the revolution of 1776 to the drafting of the constitution, our founders were of mixed minds about how this appointment process would work. some said the appointments should all be done by what they referred to as the ablemmably. that is, by all of us here in congress, so that the executive branch has a check on it with
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the positions filled by congress. and others of us said, no, no, no. that's too difficult. too much horse trading is going to go ofnlt the responsibility needs to be vested in the president, him or herself. that's accountability. but what happens if the president engages in appointments of dubious merit, people of dubious character, people of dubious qualifications? and so they came out with this compromise. the president nominates, and our responsibility here in the senate is to determine whether or not the nominee is of fit character. you can get a little flavor of this from the writings of hamilton in "the federalist" papers. paper number 76, he writes, "to what purpose then require the cooperation of the senate? i answer that the necessity of their concurrence would be a
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powerful, though in general, silent operation. it would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the president and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters." so that's our responsibility, to vet the nominee and to vote upon determining, is the individual of fit character? and that certainly can be broadly interpreted to include personal characteristics and qualifications for a job that requires specific qualifications. so that's our responsibility. every senator here took an oath to the constitution, pledged -- pledged to honor their responsibilities here, as they are laid out in the constitution. so that is why i am so disturbed that at this moment we have
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senators in this body who have said, i am not going to do my responsibility under the constitution. i am going on a job strike. i don't want to work and do my responsibility under advice and consent. i don't want to do the work of vetting candidates and voting on candidates. i'm just going to sit on my hands and, well, sing la, la, la, instead of doing the work the constitution requires. that is unacceptable. to my colleagues who are sitting on thear -- on their hands and g to do their responsibilities, i sumly say, do your -- i simply say, do jury job. on march 16, president obama nominated merrick garland to serve on the u.s. supreme court and certainly the president has now fulfilled his responsibility under the constitution. he would put forward a nominee to fill this critical vacancy on
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the supreme court. i certainly look forward to meeting with merrick garland, reviewing his credentials, and learning more about his vision for the supreme court. that is part of the vetting process. that is something all of us should be doing. and then it's time for the senate as a body to act, and that means the judiciary committee proceeds to collect information on mr. garland's background and on his decisions, and then they hold a hearing and they ask -- members of the committee ask penetrating questions. why did you say that in a particular opinion? he's got a whole record to be examined, and that's what we should be doing right now. not since the civil war have we left a vacancy on the supreme court for over a year. but the job strike my completion are engaged in -- my colleagues are engaged in today are saying,
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we are going to leave this vacancy on the court. we're going to go on a job strike for an entire year and not do our responsibility under the constitution because we just don't want to. that is a dereliction of duty, and i encourage my colleagues to rethink their position. since 1975, it has taken, on average, only 67 days to vet and vote on a supreme court nominee. just 67 days, or a little over two months. now, there are some folks here in the chamber who say, well, this is a unique circumstance because we're in the last year of a presidency and, therefore, we should just wait and leave the court spot empty for a year, wait until the election of next
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november and the new president to come in in and then to get a new -- to come in in january and then to get a new nominee. now, that argument is an argument that fails on several accounts. first of all, there is nothing in the constitution which says you only do your job in a year -- well, full, -- well, if youa year that is in the first year of the president. for any of my colleagues who make this arctic i would be happy to read the constitution to you. or actually, read the constitution yourself. look at the responsibilities required under the constitution. the president is required to nominate all four years, and we here in the senate are required to proceed to determine whether that nomination is of unfit character or fit character. and that means vetting, and that
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means voting. the president doesn't get a break on his fourth year and told to do nothing, and we don't get a break in our sixth year. we're not told we should wait to make decisions in the sixth year because we have to run for reelection and, therefore, we should wait until our citizens vote for the next -- no, we have a term that runs a full six years, and we have responsibilities through the entire six years. the president has a term that runs four years. he has responsibilities -- or she has responsibilities -- during the entire four years. there is nothing in the advice and consent clause that says at a certain point in time we're just not going to do our responsibility for advice and consent. it is conceivable, the founders could have written into the is that you in the fourth year of a presidency, the senate will not fill any positions, but they didn't write that into the constitution, and it wouldn't have made sense for them to do so because the work of the courts is on-going, and the work
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of the executive branch is on-going. and indeed if we want any form of precedent, we can look just to the recent past. justice kennedy, who sits on the court today, was confirmed in the last year of president reagan's final term, and he was confirmed under a democratically controlled senate. i have not heard a single member come to this floor and say that if they had been here in that year that they would have advised that we leave president reagan's nominee hanging, unvetted, unvoted on for an entire year waiting for the next president. no one here made that argument back then, and nobody is making it now. what we are seeing is a purely political effort to pack the court, to politicize an institution that shouldn't be
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politicized. we still have from the moment of nomination to the end of this administration 310 days. the average for after a nomination to confirm a nomination, 66 days. in other words, we have five times as much -- many days as needed for the average to confirm. there is no argument there is not enough time. a job strike based purely on partisan politics, designed to polarize and pack the court is going to do a tremendous amount of damage to this important institution. our founders laid out in the constitution a vision of three coequal branches. but, colleagues, if you take the advice and consent power to undermine the ability of the executive branch to operate or the ability of the courts to
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operate, you are damaging in a serious way the quality of the three branches. you're saying that one branch has the power to derail the ability of the other two to function. that is absolutely clearly, completely, 100% not the vision laid out in the constitution, not the vision that was laid out for advice and consent. let me remind you, advice and consent was the responsibility to determine if a nominee is of unfit character. how can you determine if someone is of unfit character if you won't meet with them? how can you determine if someone is of unfit character if you aren't willing to review their writings? how can you determine if they're of unfit character if the judiciary committee doesn't hold a hearing to actually raise questions and ask the nominee to respond to them? how can we as a body determine and make that decision if someone is of unfit character if
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we don't hold a vote? consider now the precedent that is being established and the damage it will do. so, let's say, for example, that my republican colleagues, by refusing to do their job, they delay until the next administration comes in and it's a republican administration and they get a nominee that they feel is -- has far-right views that they like a lot better than the nominee they have before us. by the way, merrick garland's views are about as straight forward down the center as they can be. he's been praised by republicans in the pavmen -- in the past. the a member of this body, a key member of this body who's been here a very long time, had said that if someone like justice garland was nominated, well,
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that would be a very reasonable nomination. so we have a very reasonable down-the-middle nomination. but what if this tactic of going on strike and failing to do your job works and so that you can secure in the next administration a supreme court justice that's way to the right. well, first of all, it's been a clear and complete effort to pack the court. you have destroyed the integrity of the court as one that rises above partisan politics. but then along comes another vacancy, and you have a different president, and/or maybe the same president. and now the minority says, well, we're going to go on strike. or maybe the majority is going to go on strike because they don't like this particular president, or they don't like this particular nominee. they say we're not going to vet. we're not going to vote. we're going to wait -- it's only
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three years until the next president. let's let the people decide. we'll wait for the next president. or perhaps if the republican side succeeds in packing the court and then the question becomes another vacancy, democrats say, look, we have to restore the balance of the court so we're going to absolutely refuse to act on the next nominee of this republican president. this you can see. this precedent is not only a dereliction of duty, it is deeply damaging to the integrity of the court. it is deeply destructive of the integrity of the court. this is a path we do not want to go down as a body, exercising our advice and consent responsibilities, politicizing our judicial system, polarizing our judicial system, destroying the integrity of our judicial system.
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so i appeal to my colleagues. rethink the oath of office that you took to do your job and decide to end this job strike and do your job. rethink how important a responsibility we have as a senate to maintain the integrity of our institutions, and that for short-term gain destroying the supreme court, polarizing, diminishing the supreme court is not in the interest of our nation. i'll go back to where i started with our system of we the people. our we the people constitution designed to create laws of, by, and for the people, three coequal branches of government, one creating laws, one executing those laws and one determining whether or not those laws are
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within the bound of our constitution. this action of trying to pack the court through a job strike is ekweuf atlanta to shredding key parts of this beautiful document. it is wrong in terms of the short-term action. it is certainly wrong in terms of our long-term responsibilities. so let's end this show. let's end this highly politicized moment. let's actually hold the hearing to vet the candidate. let's meet with the candidate so we can develop our individual understandings. let's review the candidate's writings and let's gather here on the floor to vote whether or not we believe this character is a if i want character or unfit
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character -- is a fit character or unfit character. that is our responsibility. let us do our responsibility. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, last saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the obama administration's deal with iran known as the joint comprehensive plan of action. this is the nuclear deal with iran that officially went into effect last october. briefly summarized, in exchange for billions of dollars in near-term and long-term sanctions relief, iran made some very modest nuclear concessions.
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and that is if you believe the inspection regime is not fundamentally flawed, which i do not believe. so instead of trust and verify, we can't even really verify iran is complying with the terms of the agreement. and indeed, i think we can pretty much be guaranteed that iran will do its dead-level best to cheat. to make matters worse, the administration all but admitted the deal wasn't going to stop iran from exporting terrorism, when it's the number-one state sponsor of terrorism in the world. violenting the human rights of -- violating human rights of it's citizens or advancing its ballistic missile program. all of these major bipartisan concerns were highlighted by congress but totally ignored by the administration.
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president obama himself warned that -- quote -- "this deal is not -- is not contingent on iran changing its behavior. " that's the president of the united states, the leader of the free world, the commander in chief. the president of the united states said this deal is not contingent on iran changing its behavior. unbelievable and outrageous. my concerns with this agreement have done nothing but grow ever since the deal was done, and iran continues to prove that it was not negotiating in good faith. to the contrary, that it was negotiating in bad faith and would take every advantage it could to advance its nuclear ambitions, to continue its state sponsorship of global terrorism. iran is still working to undercut the united states and its priorities in the middle
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east by fueling proxy wars in the region. in places like aircraft, yemen and syria. and the administration has even made clear that it knew that the money that was released as a result of the sanctions relief, that it knew that the tens of billions of dollars of intermediate sanctions relief going to iran would be funneled to terrorist groups across the middle east. so we've got an unverifiable deal and we've got the money going to finance terrorism. what's not to love about that? that's the administration's attitude. in fact, earlier this week, it was reported that the u.s. navy, the u.s. navy for the third time in just two months intercepted an iranian shipment of weapons in the arabian sea. believed to be headed from iran to rebel groups in yemen. one has to wonder how did iran pay


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