tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 18, 2016 8:00am-10:01am EDT
though as you can see, we probably won't be able to finish our current cycle by june 1st. hopefully if not, sometime in june and then we'll move onto the second. we have semi annual qualifications. twice a year in the fiscal year. we are a little however. we have a great plan and they really will provide us with the ability to change how we train the dynamic range and it's really helpful for us to be able to tactically use the range. >> thank you, chief. and i yield back. ..
mutually protocol, so i'm interested in not going through it today but in reviewing that we do in terms of the protocol, what it is and how it is communicated to our workforce, number one. and number two, i'm wondering if the department has ideas on how the physical layout of the plan, the campus, might be adjusted to enhance safety and also to enhance the capacity of your members to do their job? >> certainly the physical security is one of our main issues. we have a very robust physical security services bureau, and
they had all the physical security aspects working very closely with the architect and the capital. the measures that were put in place post-9/11, we are at the lifecycle in a a lot of the life. we are looking at doing lifecycle replacement. of course, always a very expensive issue but it's certainly something that is very necessary. >> let me interrupt because i don't think i was clear on my question. for example, where is the perimeter? you can't really, i mean, we respect the fourth amendment. you have to have rationale for inquiring, but at the perimeter of the facility you don't. so where are the parameters set and how should they be set, and how would that make a difference for your troops? in terms of level of security in garages, we have garages that nothing about them.
we have garages that have an office building above them. what kind of deployment makes sense in each one? those are the things i was talking of. >> absolutely. of course, we always balance the open campus with a level of security we provide. it's very important to to maintain, and it's very difficult. you're absolutely right, it's very difficult balance for our officers. we don't have a physical fence. we don't have structures that prevent people from walking across the east front west front. we use our human intuitive capability and we deploy personnel. obviously, within a framework of the infrastructure, whether it's the olmsted wall or whether it's physical barriers that we install, barriers that pop up. for vehicular threats and those types of things, we have to be
very cognizant of the effect that security has on the openness and the ability for constituents to visit members. it's a very huge competing interest, the security issue. so we focus our main thrust and concentration on the largest threats, and we are always looking for the individual threat, which is one of the greatest threats that we have these days, individual. but we have to balance it and accept a modicum of risk in terms of the physical structures that we put into prevent people from approaching the building. we do work very closely with both this committee and the senate rules committee, committee on rules and administration to work on those issues, whether it's expanding the perimeter, allowing access close into the building, or
whether it's initiatives to do inspection of things that people bring with them to the ground. so it's a very tenuous line that we walk, and we take it, a very hard locating type of procedure we going to employ that could come close, could be perceived as a violation of the fourth amendment. we certainly don't want to do anything it would be contrary to the constitution. so it's a work in progress. we work on a continually but it's a conversation that i have with the capitol polic police bn a break year basis and will continue to have with the committees of jurisdiction. >> i see my time has expired. thank you, madam chairwoman,. >> mr. nugent. >> thank you, madam chairman. i appreciate you holding this. chief, welcome. >> thank you, sir. >> i appreciate your time we
came up to visit with me in the office. and what a different approach. i would just say this, i am not blowing smoke but what a different approach in regards to your approach and the prior chief with conclusion of the union, in a weekly or whenever necessary discussion. typically you're going to probably agree on more things than you will disagree but you always have disagreement. that happens in the best of families. but at the end of the day, the rank and file folks out there doing the job everybody has some great ideas. and i think that you're moving out fully in the right direction and i think we will be much safer as mbs of congress because of that collaboration between the two groups. one of the things, you know, that still strikes me when we go back and look at past history and we had the chief year
discuss that, particularly when we had lots of weapons and things like that. but reading an article where the person who sent the picture got so many months off without pay and demoted, and the person who left his weapon unattended in a location that could be accessed by other folks received a suspension but relatively minor in scope. and i guess, i'm still a little miffed at the fact that supervisor got demoted, but that also had a huge suspension without pay. and i understand some litigation so you probably can't talk about it, but i would hope just in the future, you know, what that person did is actually brought out an issue that needed to be under the light of day. so we all know.
we all take confidence in what goes on within the capitol police. i will go along with mr. brady. i've not had any negative comments with the union at all, which, that's a testament to your leadership, to be very blunt with it. a testament to your leadership and i hope that continues. one of the things i know we talked about was management by walking around. walking around your organization and listening to the folks that, you're only as good as the people you surround yourself with. i hope the leadership team will do the same and ensure that are under your leadership. one of the things ms. lofgren had mentioned was security, and i think that's an issue that we all grapple with from time to time. and you are right we have an open campus, what exactly as we move forward in regards to the
underground facilities, i know that the equipment is in place. would've the option of going to start to do that screening? >> we will be doing the security screening with the appropriate communication first very soon. i can't give you a specific date. i'm working with mr. irving, sergeant at arms, and we want to time it right so that we introduce the screening process. i know that people, we've had some community meetings with the staff several weeks ago, in terms of how we would roll it out. and i'm working very closely with mr. irving on exactly when we want to do it strategically, so we cause the least amount of destruction to the business process, to the committee. i would expect sometime in the next several weeks we will do it and we will certainly communicate it. i got that message loud and clear. we are going to make sure we probably communicate and make sure everyone is aware we were going to do. i do appreciate your comments
about working with the union. you know, i respect the troops. i consider myself for so foremost a police officer come at a prepared every time i'm out on the street to take police action. i don't have it today because i'm wearing this blouse, but i carry my radio every day. i monitor the radio, you know, i take police action when they need to. i have tremendous respect for the work that we do here. i ask a lot of the troops. they are ambassadors. they still have to enforce the rules and the law, and to deal with 10 to 12 million people a year. and that's just screening them through the process. there's probably another 10 million who walked through the grounds that we do, we talk to, we interact with. and i'm always amazed at how few complaints that we get from the citizens and the staff about courtesy of those types of things.
they truly are ambassadors. they do hard work. they are focused on the x-ray machines and the magnetometers, and knowing that every time that have to be 100%, they have to be sure. so i appreciate members of both unions being here today, and i appreciate the relationship i have with the officers. i always hoped of a positive relationship. obviously there are things we're going to disagree on and i have to make tough decisions and tough choices that affect people but i never fall short of understanding that these are people. they are not numbers. they have families. they have ambition, interest. anthony i tried to treat people the way i want to be treated. i'm not making a moral judgment on many previous chief or anybody else. it's just not approach to how i work with -- it's just the approach to how i work with my staff. i have leaders and deputy chiefs and civilian directors who are out with the troops.
and i appreciate that as well because they are good role models. they are out amongst the troops. we make management decisions and they are tough enough and don't agree is on the best approach to how we get to the bottom line, but the officers are a great resource. a great example of that is processing the 1300 or so arrests that we had a couple of weeks ago during the democracy spring demonstration period. now, this was nonviolent civil disobedience. it was nonconfrontational for the most part, and it took a lot of planning and effort and a lot of manpower. it's not me making the arrests. it's the officers that coming early. it's the officers that have to be the arresting officer, and it's the people who do the job that i respect. have so much respect for because really i worked the post and then those jobs and it's on a
sunday sometimes you got to coming. you got to wake up early and rather be doing something else but if we get the big bucks. they do a tremendous job. we took the concept in a new approach on how we handle mass arrests. other agencies in the city have had the ability to cite and release people. traditionally here with which the rules are set up and the laws, we've had the full custody arrests for most of the arrestees that we handle. even in mass arrests and disobedience situations come and its tremendous in terms of time and effort. these are the same troops during the week and had to go day-to-day for about 10 days and be the same people being brought in early to handle these arrests. so we took the concept that i thought could be employed. we borrowed and adapted the metropolitan police site and
release forms, their policy. we adapted into ours. we worked with the attorney general for the district of columbia to make sure we are using the appropriate charges. and when the law changed in 2013 it made it easier to use this process. so we employed it, and we were able to extradite the process. but the reason i bring this up is, it really wasn't, it wasn't me. i of the concept of the officers are the ones who took, even from the first day with arrests, took about eight hours to process 429 people. it doesn't seem like a lot of time but when you look at how come we would still probably be processing these arrests had we been using the old method, the old mass arrests method. in the short duration of one week, the officers came up with a great idea with a couple of minutes who are running the mission set, and expedited the process.
-- with with a couple of lieut. reprocess 300 arrests in three hours which is just phenomenal. we had very few issues. we will further refine the process based on the suggestion of the officers. i agree with you some of those ideas come from the ranks and rise to the ranks. i'm very appreciative of the efforts of everybody on this civil disobedience unit. switching years on you for one second. and yes, the case in the paper is in litigation. i would prefer not to talk about it but the individual it was not without pay but there to die. just want to set the record straight. >> thanks for your comments. i appreciate indulgence of that year and maybe ought to talk to your counterpacounterpa rt in the tsa in regards to listen to people who work there. be helpful. thank you. >> mr. parker. >> thank you very much, madam chair, for the opportunity to ask if you question.
i want to thank again for being with me in my office let me know what you're doing and which went to do. i appreciate that. i was very helpful. secondly, you another earlier but i think the capitol police but i think you for doing a really terrific job and i appreciate that. i wanted to mention one incident that we had to come a colleague of ours fell harder and one of the snowstorms, and hurt himself. he was found by another colleague of ours and it was quick to got a couple of police officers, capitol police to bring them inside and they were very smart to the gut that he had some chest pains and then did not let them walk away and said we're calling the medics entity. they got the medical response team to come. again, appreciate. very professional work. we would've probably allowed him to walk or if it would've been a very bad idea. so did i think the police did a fantastic job and want to thank you for the. i do want to ask a little bit about the issue of the open campus.
i've been to germany and they do put a fence around, very difficult to accept we see more and more, a double fence over and around the front of the white house. package a lot of protection but also prevents people from actually accessing the white house which one point they had access to. there is a balance there. and i think it is important to give people the opportunity to come and visit their members of congress and the senate. it is also interesting the issue of security. not so much for us but for those people who do come and visit us. so anyway i appreciate, you said you get that a lot of thought. could you comment more on that, if you will? >> we do try to leverage technology to the extent that we can. and believe me, again the force multiplier, technology, the system, some of the system i prefer not to talk about in an open forum but they are there
for us to use. we do use them and we deploy them very effectively. i think as technology increases and the quality of the technology, i think will be able to leverage that. obviously, there is no replacement for having an officer on the beat him on a fixed post or any patrol area that will focus on the security and particularly close in. we take sort of a layered approach. you want to keep the threat as far away as you can, push it up as you get closer to the circle you want to have your assets. we do leverage even the physical security aspects where we have barriers. we have the posts staff and we use the buildings as sort of funnels. we can sort of keep eyes on people and individuals who approach from various directions. but again we never want to trample on the ability of people to visit. i'm not advocating putting up a fence or anything like that.
i think with our troops and, you know, a focus and an approach where we maintain our vigilance in terms of looking at the threat, training out employees for what to look for and being able to make sure that the troops are fresh and they are able to react properly, i think with training and staffing, that combination along with physical security attributes that we have common we've been provided with to protect the campus, i think that the ongoing conversation will continue with the capitol police board and with the committees to ensure that all the things that we need, particularly technologically, that will help us assist us so that we can leverage that without sort of closing the campus off. so i know that it's sort of a work in progress as technology changes every day.
we want to be able to stay ahead of the curve and we want to keep our finger on the polls in terms of what is available to us to sort of used to leverage as a force multiplier. >> thank you very much. i know my time is about the. i would like to say even though they do monitor the threat they are very polite and professional. i appreciate that. i know i have commented for a couple of people in particular and i appreciate their professionalism. thank you. thank you, madam chair. >> thank the gentleman. chief, again, we want to thank is so much for coming today. we all are very desirous of looking forward to working with you shoulder to shoulder. not just you but a management team come and all the rank-and-file, union those that are here representing all the rank-and-file. just of the we appreciate. everyone of us is coming into these officers, these office buildings every day. we watch your folks day in and day out do the job so professional and bravely and well. and we all have a very high degree of comfort insecurity.
the professionalism of the brave men and women of the is the capital force. this committee standby to assist you, and one thing i would say add i would say at a i would say at a know i've said this to you privately, i will say publicly as well. don't sometimes wai we for yourn or wait for us to come forward with something. we really want to know from you if there's a shortfall somewhere that you see as a particularly critical element of something that we better be aware of them we need to help with. that's why we are here. we all work together. >> i sincerely appreciate the support and how cooperative the staff deal with me when i want to bring forward a for to bring forward ever wanted to meet with the members. i really sincerely appreciate the opportunity to do today. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. without objection all members will five legislative days to submit additional written questions for the witness, if we have any and we will for them and aske asked the chief respono the chief respond as public as a camp so that any images could be made part of the record.
c-span3, is set to mark's the opening of the smithsonian national museum of african-american history and culture. saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. american history tv is live for all the conference with scholars from across the country discussing topics including african-american religion, politics and culture, historic preservation and interpretation. at 10 p.m. eastern on the real america in 1975 church committee hearings convened to investigate the intelligence activities of the cia, fbi, irs and the nsa. the commission is testimony from two fbi informants, mary jo cooke as you penetrate an anti-vietnam war organization, and gary thomas roe who infiltrated the client and participate in violence against civil rights activists. >> you mean the birmingham policeman set up the beating of the freedom riders and you told the fbi that? >> that's correct. >> and where they beaten speak
with very badly. >> did the birmingham police give you the time they promised to give you to perform that? >> yes, sir. they said no intervention from any police officer whatsoever. >> then on lectures in history. >> what the opportunity of them was an opportunity to go to college. they save some of that money. they sent themselves through college. they sent siblings through college. they became doctors and lawyers. one became the first theme manager of any department. they became principles, surgeons, politicians, pilots and their able to do that because they have access to professional baseball. >> marshall university professor on how women aided the war effort in pakistan military auxiliary units. as the rise of women a small
lakes including the all-american girls professional league that was featured in the movie a league of their own. sunday night at 10 on road to the white house rewind. >> ladies and gentlemen, of the convention, my name is gerald in for our own. [cheers and applause] i stand before you to proclaim tonight america is a land where dreams can come true for all of us. [cheers and applause] >> the 1984 vice president acceptance speech at the democratic national convention in san francisco. she was the first woman to be nominated for vice president by a major party. for the complete american history tv we can schedule go to c-span.org.
>> our campaign 2016 bus continues to travel throughout the country to recognize winners from this year's studentcam competitions. the bus stopped in massachusetts to visit several winning students. they went to the state school in foxboro were all the students attended a school ceremony to honor seventh graders. the bus made a stop to the middle school to recognize honorable mention winners. >> a special thanks to our cable partners comcast cable and charter communications for helping coordinate this. you can view all the winning documentaries at studentcam.org.
>> the u.s. senate gathers today following morning business. lawmakers will resume debate on h.r. 2577 that combines transportation and housing spending bill for military construction. these are the second and third appropriation bills the senate is considering this year. yesterday on this and for those discussion on the vacancy on the supreme court. these comments are about one hour. >> i rise to discuss the pending vacancy on the united states supreme court, and i do so on a very woman does a day in american legal history. 17, may 17 today is the anniversary of the supreme court's decision in the pivotal case of brown v. board of education year on may 17, 1954, the supreme court ruled the promise of equality reaffirmed in the 14th amendment to the constitution passed in the aftermath of the
civil war could not be denied to little schoolchildren based on their skin color. the brown v. board case was five cases consolidated together, one from virginia, one from kansas, one from delaware, one from south carolina and one from the district of columbia.no while most of us know the issue in brown was the case come if te you remember the brown ruling was in serious jeopardy because of the death of the supreme court of justice and the deep divisions on the court among the remaining eight members. it was only t through the park filled at the judicial vacancy that the court was able to come together and render a ruling in america's best interest. the brown case was originally argued in 1952 and the court that heard the argument was hopelessly divided. so divide in fact that asked that the case be reargued in 1953. and then to make matters worse,
chief justice vinson died before the argument. by many accounts his death left the court evenly divided, evenly divided over an issue of the most fundamental importance. had the vacancy left by the death of judge vinson persisted, there is no way of predicting imagin even resolve the case. imagine how different our history as a nation would be if the supreme court had been unable to decide on that matter of fundamental importance. but president eisenhower nominated former california governor earl warren to fill the vacancy. the senate did it's job, held a prompt hearing and confirmed the appointment.o and chief justice warren then used his skills to cut through the division and convince his colleagues that the court should speak in an essay that a child's skin color should not determine which school he or she shoulde t attend.
because of the senate did it's job, the court was able to do and to lifted. i listen to my colleagues and to virginia citizens about the vacancy for three months. i've come to this conclusion. i think the senate is treading on dangerous ground. we are communicating and i think that the medication could be unintentional, but we are adjudicating a message to our public that is painful, and ouri actions in this high profile matter are creating pain among many of my constituents. and i fear that a president is about to be set bac that giuntay all three branches of our government. c so i offer these comments todayo because the senate can correct the dangers message was sent and i hope that calm reflection will call us to honor the greatth traditions of his body. the death of justice lee on february 13 created a naturallyq
occurring vacancy on a court that is statutorily required to. have nine members. within hours of justice announced a blockade on the vacancy, declaring that no nomination by president obama would ever receive a hearing or a vote. this hastily announced blockade has been described as follows. the majority thinks the american people should decide on the presidential race and that therefore this nomination should be for the next president to make, even if that means a supreme court vacancy for morere than a year.he i want to examine the majorityts rationale. what has the senate but in other instances when a vacancy has occurred during the last year of the president's term? that's easy enough to find out. before justice elizabeth, more than a dozen justices have been confirmed during a presidential year. and for the last 100 years with the exception of nominees will
withdraw the nomination, the senate has taken action on ever. pending nominee to fill a vacancy on the court. in the past some senators have suggested that a vacancy occurring during the final year of a presidential term should be entitled to less deference than other executive nominations but that led to the question of whether or not a senator votes yes or no. and, of course, senators are free to vote yes or no on nominees but the refusal to even consider a nominee is unprecedented. beyond the president of previous send actions let look at article ii, section two that says the - president quote you nominate and quote a point i and with theot advice and consent of the senate closed quote. ferries officials including supreme court justices. while i'll agree that the advice and consent provision gives thes vicinity building to affirm or
reject the nominee, there is nothing in the clause suggesting the senate can blockade the consideration of a nominee. there is certainly nothing in the clause to suggest the president appointed powers or the senate's confirmation powers are somehow limited in the last year of a presidential term. finally, the meaning of the the constitution clause was extensively discussed as theat constitution was drafted, approved and ratified by the state. alexander hamilton's federalist paper 76 also discusses the provision at length. all understood the advice and s consent provision was an opportunity for the senate to determine whether a presidential nominee for a senate confirmable position can best quote a character. that's the check against presidential power.de t the president knowing that this it would inquire into the character of a nominee would not just nominate people purely for partisan or personal original
reasons wanted to the people from my state comforts over instead character by the president nominate somebody who could pass that scrutiny in the senate. and fit character is a phrase senator subjectivity. giving each a senator the ability to decide what it means in a given instance. but the position the character of the nominee doesn't matter at all doesn't matter at all as evidenced by the majority's view that will be no meetings, no hearings and a vote regardless of the person nominated for the vacancy is directly contrary, in my view, to the intent of the provision. so i look at this and i believe that the assorted rationale that we should not take up the garland nomination because the vacancy has occurred in the final year of a presidential term is at odds with the text ot the constitution, with a clear many of the text as explained during the drafting of the
provision, and with a clear line of senate action in previous cases. so what could explain the blockade of judge garland? i obviously don't know and i can't comment upon motivationso that i am unaware of. but i do want to discuss how it appears a perception we're leaving possibly unwittingly based on my discussions with virginians. the current senate blockade is pres the nominee, as opposition to the particular president making the nomination, or as some effort to undermine judicial the independence. so let's look at those three interpretations that are very commonly held by virginians and others. the first interpretation, is in opposition to the nominee but i think we can dispense with thatq pretty quickly. the blockade strategy is not
based on the character of a nominee judge merrick garland, s and i can assert this is because the blockade strategy was announced, no meeting no hearings no vote before the president even nominated judge , garland. it was said regardless of the character of a particular nominee they would not entertain a nomination from this particular president. this is ironic, given that the nomination for supreme court justice is fundamentally about the very essence of justice, and that the essence of justice must carry with it a duty to consider each individual on his or herefo own merits, the position that we would refuse to consider judge garland on his own merit seems contradictory to the very notion of justice itself. and other judge garland has been blockade is not about the character of the nominee. judge garland has an esteemed record as a prosecutor, private
practitioner, federal appellate judge on the d.c. circuit court of appeals. he's the chief judge on the core. is a judicial source alone is approaching the 20 year mark on a court that most believe the second importance only to the united states supreme court.aj i have not seen any member of the majority of assert any credible weakness in judge garland's background integrity, experience, character, judicial temper or business for the position. a senior member respected former chair of the judiciary committes has praised judge garland is exactly the kind of jurist who should be on the supreme court. and in my recent interview with the judge garland i came away trial thoughtful manner and hisne significant experience as a trial attorney and judge. this is the ivory tower rate -- ivory tower jurors. a man to understands lawyers and juries, legislators and citizens, trial judges who
depend upon the supreme court to give clarity and guidance to the rules that impact the most important issues of their lives. i think we should give president obama is due in proposing a nominee with such impeccable credentials. so i reject the first possible explanation that the majority's opposition is about the nominee. in fact, a determination that merrick garland was not a fit character to even receive consideration as a supreme court justice would set such a high bar for appointees is hard to imagine anyone ever clearing it. since the carla blockade has nothing to do with the care of the nominee, many perceive that it is instead explained by the majority's use of this precedent. is there something about president obama that would ward his supreme court nominee receiving second class treatment compared with past practice?
could be the circumstances of the president election put the president election with some presidents have been elected with less than a majority vote of the american public and have been burdened with the notion that h they did not have a mande for the american public. present of him was elected in te both 2008 and 2012 with overwhelming majorities in the elect rural college.oth and popular vote margins in both elections were also relatively strong in comparison with the norms in recent presidential elections. so there's nothing about theectn legitimacy of president obama's election that would warrant treating this president's nomination different thans. previous executives. this makes extremely puzzling the majorities claim that theyer want to quote the american people decide. the american people did decide. date the president obama the constitutional responsibility to nominate justices to the supreme court from his first day in office to his last. some may not be happy with the
decision that it's insulting to the present and it is insulting chos to the american electorate who chose them. according to long-standing and clear a local roles to demean the legitimacy of his election. could it be that unique unpopularity of this president? i think you could hypothesize a situation where a president in the last year of his term is so unpopular that a senate might include that the public is no longer supported of theesident executive. but that's not the case with president obama. the president's current popularity is actually quite stronstrong tempered with other presidents during their final years in office. that so there's nothing about the president's popularity with the american electorate that would warrantis treating this courtea nominee different from the treatment of past nominees. so what could it be about president obama that would warrant the blockade of this i court nominee and a matter completed and then we did soon
as treated other occupants of the oval office but in what wayi is this president different to justify such treatment?n't k i say again what i said before. obviously, i don't know the answer. would be so willing to break this historic practice, and my reading of the constitution, to refute consideration of the nomination made by this particular president. but i can say that it is painful and offer some thoughts about how but appears to many of my neighbors, too many of my constituents, and also to many of my parishioners who i attend church with.er they reacted with alarm when news came that certain leaders have declared senate president obama was elected as their primary goal was to assure that he would not be reelected. they watched with sadness as some in congress raise questions about whether he was even born in the united states. they saw some in congress question his faith and his
patriotism. they absorbed a member of congress shout you lie at this president during a televised speech to the entire congress.et they noticed recently as the budget committees of both the house and senate refused to even hold hearings on the president's submitted 27 budget, the only time a president has been treated in such a manner since the passage of the budget control act of 1974. in short, they're confused and they're disturbed by what this as a tap on this president's legitimacy. i'm not referring to attack on this president's policies, which should always be fair game for vigorous disagreement. w and i've often attacked this president's policies. but instead what people are vert worried about is some level of a tap that it is this particular individual. and this latest action, the refusal to even consider any
supreme court nominee supported by president obama in his final year with the president were granted consideration other nominees seems highly suspicious year wind up like aid isnt maintained even after the president puts forward a nominee with story credentials, he asserted reason is the need to quote let the people decide, thus suggesting to people's decisions will elect this particular president twice isar entitled to no respect, they arn deeply troubled. what can explain why this president in the nation's first african-american president is singled out for this treatment? again, i don't know but we cannot blind ourselves to actions are perceived. the treatment of his supreme court nomination by this e president that departs from the practice with previous
executives and that cannot ber explained due to any feature of percep consideration feeds a painful perception about motivations. and the pain is magnified when it's in connection with an appointment to the supreme court whose very building proclaims in stone over its entrance the cardinal notion of equal justice under law. troub there is a third interpretation of the carla blockade that is also troubling. some see the blockade a sort ofe power politics come as an attempt to slant the court. the death of justice scalia creates concern among those whot fear natural transition on the corporate and so there's an effort to stop that natural and lawful transition. the blockade on filling a natural occurring vacancy, in my view, is harmful to the independence of the article iii branch.
even in the three months since justice clears court the challenges of an eight member corporate on four occasions already the court has been unable to render a clear decision in a case of great importance and since the blockade is successful, will probably maintain the artificial vacancy until the spring of 2017 is likely to happen in other cases as well. and so lower courts at all persons whose rights and liberties are subject to rulings by this court are deprived of the clarity on federal issues that the court was designed to provide. but it's more commits more than just a hobbling of the courts ability to decide individual discrete cases. ago 70 years ago when winston churchill spoke at westminster college about the dissent of an iron curtain across europe, he defined the differences between free societies and those driven by tierney, and he to his description of free societies was an independent judiciary.
it's an independent judiciary that served as a bulwark against executive or legislative power grabs. protecting the liberties of an individual from the overreaching executive or from the majoritarian legislature that does not fully grasp the rights of minorities. that's what independent legislature and judiciary is designed to do. and i think we all know that this independence of the american judiciary has been one of the great hallmarks of american democracy. in my view, the blockade of the carla nomination undermines this independence. composi the judiciary act of a consistent such the composition of the court at nine justices with life tenure and that statute has remained in force for 150 years. when president franklin roosevelt did not like certain rulings of the supreme court in the 1930s, he tried to expand the court and elbow out older justices by proposing a forced retirement age, and an expansion
of the numbers in the judiciary 1869. everybody understood that fdr's actions were an attempt to attack the independence of the judicial branch. and so congressional leaders of both parties stood up to stop it. i think this current blockade is the legislative equivalent of what president roosevelt tried to do. refusing to consider an obama ct nomination in order toear is artificially maintain a court vacancy for more than a year is as much an attack on the judiciary as trying to expand it beyond nine members. and i hope we would agree with this, whether an independent judiciary's attack by the executive or the legislative branches, we need to be equally diligent in retelling that day.s american diplomats worked every day around the world trying to convince other societies of the virtues of the rule of law and independent judiciary year but the current blockade unless
corrected suggest we do not practice what we preach. by refusing to fill a natural occurring vacancy we send a message that the rule of law and independent judiciary arepliant ultimately secondary and had a more favorable or a more compliant judiciary, even if we have to we commit to obtain what we want. madam president, i once lived in the present with a military dictatorship that held this view of the judiciary. the judiciary was not price was independent but yet prize for his slavish obedience to a few in control in society. by refusing to fill a supreme court vacancy because a partial and weakened court is deemed more acceptable that a full and lawfully constituted court, we move away from one of our best traditions to become more like legal systems that we are working to change around the d world every day. in doing so we weaken the judiciary by leaving this
vacancy is already affected proceedings, we weaken the executive by hobbling thetive a constitutional power. but we also weaken the legislative body which has thaty important duty of checking based on race for fitness of character and by doing it by willing cannot cast a vote. i think we are our ownwn institutional credibility. in conclusion, madam president, i hearken back to 1954.at a matter of fundamental boards were nation was before the an supreme court. the death of a justice left abatement the court had already like unable to reach a role in but the senate did it's job and filled the court, and the court could then render a ruling that changed the course of american history for the better. we should learn from this. history and do our job. persisting with this current blockade and sending this
possibly unintentional messages these deeply dangerous. the refusal to carry out the command of the constitution and the judiciary act of 1869, to abide by senate precedents, to fill a natural occurring supreme court vacancy, to offer the advice and consent that is part of a senator's job description and to entertain a well-qualified nominee even for hearing, much less a vote, one not viewed favorably in the bright object of light that history will shine on all of our actions. we can fix this. if the judiciary committee will hold a hearing, cast a vote, report judge garland to the floor adventure the senate debates of this nomination and holds a floor vote will uphold our responsibility. judge garland might be confirmer or not be rejected. but in taking action rather than mounting an unprecedented t blockade weavers of the building of each senator to make that judgment about whether judge garland possesses the character necessary for the position.
we act in accord with the constitution and accord with the constitution and usury act of 1869. we follow the traditional practices of the senate, case practices that serve as well in the case of brown versus education shows. strategy. and we have a dangerous messagee that is committed by the current blockade strategy. without, madam president, i yield the floor. >> madam president?remarks of >> the senator from delaware. >> madam president, i rise to follow the a liquid remarks of my colleagues on the state of virginia and to remark on 62 years to 62 years since brown v. board was handed down by our supreme court. 62 days since judge merrick garland was nominated president to fill a vital vacancy on our nation's highest court. just want to thank and commend my colleague, and very able attorney, someone who is argued cases passionately around a wide range of issues but none so much as civil rights. as he rightly pointed out the wr
history of around for support is a series of cases were brought together from across the several states including his state of virginia and my state of delaware. gather together and argued in front of the supreme court by thurgood marshall to the naacp. and ultimately decided in 1954. but initially it divided court was unable to render because the spring of 1953 chief justice vinson had died. leaving the court been in a similar situation as it is now divided on a range of vital and important issues. the good senator from virginia has reminded us that our failure to act now come are fitted to do our job and to follow the dictates of our constitution, the chalet which in article ii, section two, the failure of this body to offer any hearing or vote on this very capable circuit court judge sends the wrong message not just a within this country to our citizens but around the world.
he spent time to change his lifc and his perspective in central america as a younger man in a country where judicial independence was a fiction on paper. i spent time in the 1980s in a country in southern africa known as south africa where this same legal system that existed here under jim crow existed there under the name of apartheid. it's for that country that i go in just two weeks. congressman john lewis of georgia and with the children of robert kennedy took aim at the 50th anniversary of a speech given in cape town 50 years ago. it is a striking moment for us to reflect on the importance and the power of the centrality of brown v. board in wiping away the dark stain of alexi for this focusing, that of legal fiction rendered in 1896 that separate but equal allowed us to square y the horrible injustice of a separation between the races
with the words in our constitution, the word of you, madam president in the words above the interests of our supreme court are the words of the president's desk in our chamber, e. pluribus unum, from anyone. more important the words above the supreme court, equal justicl for all. we have the soaring words in our foundational documents and our most important government buildings that suggests we will dispense justice equally, that we will be gathered from many differences in background into one.is if the rail the in this country for its initial decades, both in its initial century was anything but. and it was 62 years ago today that the supreme court of the united states issued a unanimous decision wiping plessy v. ferguson away. i rise briefly to comment that i grew up in a small town in delaware, and it was a so-callee colored school that was the basis of one of these cases.
there were two cases from delaware related to the high school and relating to the elementary school. and in both cases a famous lawyer from delaware named louis redding took their cases to the delaware courts, and a brief judge, rendered a judgment that found the discriminatory practices in the state of delaware illegal. it was that case that was affirmed of the five gathered in brown v. board begun although delaware has a very troubled and checkered racial history, these cases are ones in which i and my constituents can justifiably be proud of. moments when the courts of this country have stepped up andooks wiped the stain of racism end of legal segregation from our books, our moments of which we can and should be prep it and as my colleague from virginia reminded us, for 62 days, the incredible qualified and capable
district court judge nominated by our current president has waited, waited for an answer i from this body, waited for hearing before the senate judiciary committee on which i i serve. waited for a vote. and every previous nominee who has not withdrawn in the center that has been a judiciary committee of this body has received a hearing, a vote, or both.aid what are we so afraid of? in allowing this talented judge to come forward to latest uses his credentials and its experience before this body or a committee of this body. what is the concern? my colleague from virginia has asked and i asked, what is the animating concern that insist that for 62 or three or four or more days judge garland must wait? throughout this entire year perhaps. into next year. how many cases will remain undecided but equally divided court due to our and willingne willingness, the ugliness of many in this chamber, to do
their jobs, to take up the challenge, to have a hearing and to cast their votes? so with that, madam president, i still do want to say that it is to be of great concern that we haven't acted as a body, that we haven't acted collectively to provide a path forward for this talented and capable judge. many in this chamber may find a them not to be capable or qualified but without hearing how would you know? he has submitted a full response, thousands of pages to the questioner typically expected before the judiciary committee of any nominee. his record is before us abundant, voluminous. he has more experience than any previous nominee as a federal circuit court judge. what is the concern that would prevent us from moving forward? on the 62nd anniversary of thehe most important decision come in my view, and history of the united states supreme court, brown v. board or i call my colleagues do what they can show the courage of louis redding, a
judge sides can of justice warren come and of all those the rendered central decision in history of this country that allowed our supreme court to operate independent of political interference and capable of making real the promise of ourmm supreme court of equal justice for all. madam president, thank you and i yield the floor. >> madam president?tor fr >> senator from connecticut. >> thank you, madam president. i am really honored and i feel very privileged to be a member of this body to do as we commemorate the anniversary of brown v. board of education but i want to thank my colleagues, the distinguished senator from delaware and most especially my very good friend and colleague from virginia for his very eloquent and powerful remarks and also for bringing us together in this colloquy today, 62 years ago on this day the
supreme court unanimously struck down as unconstitutional the segregation unequal. today that proposition seems so obvious as to be indisputable.us and the fact of a unanimous supreme court seems inevitable. but it was hardly inevitable 62s years ago. .. american justice that it happened understand that it happened at all, given the staunch and implacable resistance that there was to that proposition 62 years ago. in fact, the united states supreme court courageously stepped forward to advance american justice and establish a milestone and reestablish the principle that is enshrined in
our is that you every citizen is entitled to equal protection under law. under law. every citizen is entitled to equal protection under law. the battle to upend years of racial and educational inequity remains unfinished today. if we emerge from this colloquyu with any message, it must be the work remains unfinished and there is so much more work to be done in the spirit and letter of the law. the culmination of decades long work and strategy by innovativer lawyers, community organizations and organizers and other advocates of social change was e that decision and it is a tribute to their work as well and a reminder that individuals can make a difference in our
system, can litigate to a successful conclusion, can advocate principles that are a matter of moral imperative. it took an act of the supreme court of the independent judiciary to declare segregation unconstitutional and integration of the law of the land. as a law clerk on the united states supreme court in the 1974-75 term, working for justice harry blackmun, i had the chance to watch argument, some of them on pressing issues of the time, but also to talk with some of the justices who watched or even participated in the brown decision, including justice thurgood marshall, the
chief counsel for the plaintiff in brown. anybody who thinks they shouldol talk to some of the lawyers who were involved in the litigationo and to a successful conclusion and behoove the history of the controversy within the court and the debate internally that took place with the proper role of w the court and the principles to be applied. gover it also shows how the branches of government working together and improving justice in america are important to the fundamental dynamic of our constitutional system. the brown decision typehower enforcement and president dwight eisenhower left that effort of,
one of the toughest tasks with a massive protest in little rock, arkansas just three years -- 10 years after brown congress expanded the decision to pass the civil rights act of 1964, making segregation in public places illegal as well. t reading the dynamics of court time if there were only members how much they might have been different. justice might've been delayed in history changed for the fireworks justice denied the result of that delay. the group of justices unanimously issued the decision was no intellectual monolith with members nominate in the court by president roosevelt,
truman and eisenhower, before the court came an issue of major significant which they came together to evaluate on principles of law that we all share, that discrimination is invidious and in tolerable and violations of the constitution will be held unacceptable in the courts.reme cou for now. republicans hampered the ability to answer important legalng questions of our time, refusing to hold even a hearing or a vote for judge merrick garland. they are doing so has left the bench of the united states w supreme court with only the lack of immense justice diminishes in many respects even disable the court as we saw just yesterday
in a decision that might well have been decided otherwise if there had been nine justices to give a majority to one point of view or another. justice scalia against stating '-backquote a justices raisede the possibility that by reason of a tie vote, the court will find itself unable to resolve significant legal issueecusal presented even one unnecessary recusal impairs the functioning of the court. justice scalia's foresight was pressing.ck in two recent cases, even before the one yesterday, the court deadlock unable to reach a definitive pronouncement on the law because of a fortran for s four law, a circuit caused
uncertainty, which in turn hamper the activities of ordinary citizens of small businesses, wondering what rules that applies to them, whether it's banking roles are investment regulation, hampering acce jobs. the "washington post" recently reported the court's acceptance of new cases we've been crucial unresolved legal questions without definitive answers. it is not how the supreme court could resolve the brown versus board of education challenge being supreme court must have justices to effectively address the complex challenging, urgent issues space-bar nation today. t
i reject the notion that the senate's refusal to act as laid out in no uncertain terms by our republican colleagues, fulfill their constitutional obligation. it's our obligation to it dies s and contend on the president's nominee. we shall do so. that's the kind additionaln mandate. not when it's politically convenient.id now what we think it's advantageous, but when the president nominates. whether it is president eisenhower nominated for president truman and roosevelt to nominated other justices on the supreme court that decided brown versus board of education what cannot afford to weekend the federal judiciaryst credibility. the trust and confidence of the
american people in the authoritd of judiciary and depends on it being about politics. but the senate allies is doing is tracking the united states supreme court into the muck. brown v. board of education became the law of the land because of the united states supreme court credibility. the supreme court had no police force to enforce it. it had no army or mandatory physical force. it had its credibility and above authority, its moral authority because it was above politics in the minds of most americans. and that's the reason president eisenhower was able to do what he succeeded in enforcing that little rock and presidents i afterward done similarly.
most importantly, it would take time to reflect on the importance of the brown decision and recognize the great and courage of the men and women who fought to end school segregation only 62 years ago. the best way of honoring their legacy is to do our job and our duty constitutionally to fulfill that duty and their legacy by considering judge garland's nomination without further delay. madam president, i yield the floor and recognize my distinguished colleagues from new jersey.
>> madam president. >> the senator from new jersey. >> thank you very much. also really what is momentoushe anniversary and our country of f the 687th anniversary of theha brown be board of education witp vision and the work that remain before. i want to thank my colleagues before this anniversary and a 6a years ago the supreme court nevr unanimously affirmed they could never be equal, but under the i law at the very least, every
child born in america regardless of the color of their skin had the right to pursue a quality education. the core. the court found separate schooling of children based on their race was in direct violation of the 14th amendment of the constitution. the court's finding is perhaps best summarized by this excerpt from justice warrant opinion when he says we come then to the question presented, the segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and othere tangible factors may be equal to pry the children of the minority group of people educational options. we believe that it does. so are those historical words. o this not only make clear that the time of it being real, but settled legal standard for generations and posterity that reflects our deepest held
american values that we as a nation believe in equality. we as a nation to leave in our interdependency to one another. in the decades since the brown ruling, implementation of the court's decision has contributed to a lot of progress. i stand here today frankly because of the progress and momentum exhibited by that decision. read before brown v. board of education, only one in seven african american men compared with one in three wide held a high school degree.or today we have come so far that e 87% of lack adults have a high a school degree equal to that ofbe whites which are 89%. only about one in 40 blacks earned a college degree. now more than one in five black students are going to college.
this is something we should all celebrate. under the law at the very least the court clearly affirmed all americans right to equality education and in doing so affirmed equal value, dignity and worth of our kids. t it is also reflect in on the anniversary of around that our nation has struggled to live up to the standard and full. you see, brown advanced a civilt rights movement that helped desegregate many parts of american society, but we still have work to do. let do. let us take this anniversary tol recognize not just our progress, but to really understand that the work of equality, the work of recognizing the value and how much we need each other still goes on. in fact, yesterday six days after brown struck down the
doctrine of separate but equal, a federal judge ruled that a school district in mississippi was continuing to moderate asys. segregated secondary. once at a school for white and went to school for blacks. across right now, about 40% of black students intend more than 90% minority student body. they intensely segregated schools and white student are isolated from their peers with color. only 14% would consider multicultural multiracial reflecting the diversity of our country. too many of our schools continue to fall short of our low income minority students. in other words, too many students of color and low-income students were concentrated in poor performing schools. within 1.1 million american
student attending over 1200 high schools in our nation that failed to graduate one third of their students. this student is an outrage. it's a moral friend to who we are. we still have work to do. our nation is still struggling to live up to the ideal entity judicial standards set by brown in the realm of education in many ways because of our failure to live up to the standard in so many other areas of our american life. does still exist in the words of dr. king's. is okay but in 1960 at about the other duality that persisted, the disparity spas in educatione employment and income and he spoke of what he referred toime very pointedly the misguided
idea that only time can solveut the problem of racial injustice. the idea worked out for them had a copy of siam about the progress we've made to the contrary, i have to say that 50 years after king spoke those words that we still have so much work to do. time does not solve the problem. there remains challenges in our country.tle i this duality is more subtle in some ways that was in 1954, but it still exists in justice in america. from housing to education, de facto segregation alongany socioeconomic and racial line has blended together come in many ways replacing the segregation.n. very slowly residential segregation the rates have declined for white still live largely of neighborhood with low
minority density. the people of color still lives in neighborhoods of high minority density.gh many of these neighborhoods were designed through policies that were discriminatory against minorities. we still are seeing the legacies of those policies from redlining to fha policies, to have policies that were designed to the legacy of that still exists in segregated neighborhoodsf today. among african-americans has fallen over the past half-century, something we should be proud of.am black poverty rates are still more than double that of whites. that means the same for kids whe today. children of color are often twice as likely to be poor as white children. in fact, one out of three hispanic children growing up are growing up in poverty. one in six african american
children live in what is called extreme poverty on less than $8e a day. this is not who we are as a nation. our children our greatestwe national resource in the global knowledge-based economy competing against other nations from germany to japan and the most viable natural resource the nation had is not oil or coal or gas. that's the genius of our children.vi you see, many people think brown was about achieving greaterpl justice for black people, but what we really understand especially in retrospect as the african-americans now contributed in every area of life, the reality is this is about bringing justice to all on america. we as a country are a house divided does fall.te ron was saying the truth is we do better when we are together.
if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together because we as a country need each other. it's like the words of thee jefferson memorial bridge in our declaration of independence when we moved to make this country work, we need one another, sos much so that the founders pledge to each other their lives and fortunes and sacred honor. we cannot afford in thishe competitive nature to waste things. worse than the gulf coast oil spill, we are wasting the potential of our children when we leave so many squandering in poverty and lack of educational opportunities. children growing up in poverty right now have dramatically negative life outcome in comparison to people who are not growing up in poverty. right now in america, where 20% of our children live in poverty,
only nine out of every 100 kids born in poverty will make it too college. often an industry has been successful, manifesting new genius, citing greater ways to contribute to the whole. so we have work to do. we have work to do in particular in an area that drives so much of the injustice in our country. one of the quaint ways we cede my generation that was not the case in my parent's generation, in the 1950s, something that is how thin and exploding justice into our country, growing like a cancer on the soul of our country has been the criminal justice system. the same supreme court with a great case was decided on the nw above the wall is equal justice under law.
we now see a nation of the criminal justice system that is not affording equal justice to all americans. unfortunately, we see that often falling among racial mine we have this explosive drug war, which has not been a war on drugs, but it has been a war on people. particularly the most vulnerablo people in our society from people who i didn't do the substances to people who have mental illnesses, for people who are poor and yes, proportionately directed towards minorities. we now give criminal justice system where we know based upond data analysis, there is no difference between blacks and whites in usage of drugs. in fact, there's no difference in selling drugs between blacks and whites, but the reality is if you're african american in this country, you are three times more likely to be arrested for this drug crimes. if you are turned into the criminal justice system, just
one arrest for nonviolent drug offense, something the last two presidents have admitted to doing and you are arrested for that. then you find yourself in a literall association says you havelatera literally 40,000 plus collaterac to find employment when he finishes her sentence. you find it incredibly difficult to get a business license or a power plant. you find it hard if you can't even get food stamps provide public housing assistance. we now live in a nation where w have so over incarcerated disproportionately centers of our country but today one in 13 african-americans are preventede by law of even voting because they've lost their right to vote because of a felony conviction.
in some states can some states come to the over cursor ration for drug crimes is so great that we see in places like florida one of every five african-americans have lost their right to vote. this isn't just affect those people who are turned into the system. it is affecting their children as well. today in america, one in nine black kids are growing up with a pair of behind bars which means the financial well-being affects your ability to rise up out of poverty because they are being thrust into it. in fact, a recent study has shown we as a country as a whole would've 20% less poverty if we had incarcerated other industrial nations. so here we celebrate the anniversary of a momentouse decision to take a huge step fou our nation and the march towards justice and equality.
but now we see in our country because of staggering injustice like we see on the criminal justice system, the kids often struggle more in school and are poorer and few opportunities because of a broken criminal justice system. 62 years after brown, we know our schools don't exist inthem. vacuums. they exist because of the communities that are around them and when communities of privilege that had the same amount of violations of drug pove they get the community poverty experienced criminal justice system to have so much moreldren incarceration. to having greater hills to climb, greater mountains. i celebrate so much of great decision, but to remind us that we have worked to do in this country.
and so we can begin to live up which is love of country, which she may necessitate that we love each other. we don't always have to agree o with one another. we don't always have to get -- r along, but we recognize everyone of us in this nation has value,d has worth. we need each other and we need our children to do well because if my neighbors child loses, i lose. if they go to prison, i paid. but if they succeed, they become a teacher, artist, biologists,in inventor, businesswoman. to contribute to this country and my children benefited because your children succeeded. that is the story of america. a we cannot afford to leave people behind as we as a nation strivea for x months of greatness. we cannot be a nation truly reaching its potential if we waste so much of the potential on the sidelines.
i'd be remiss if i did not also speak to a process issue. but we are still working to fulfill the vision of brown, itw is more urgent now than other that we have a fully functioning supreme court. we were fortunate to have as, functioning supreme court in 1954, nine justices doing their job, the president willing to do their job in a senate, all working in a time of greatn. tumultuous change both parties ha justice. we know that with people in their seats, in their jobs, i m have faith in america and their ability to get it right. you need to make sure that today we give every opportunity to get the job done, to do the work that is necessary. it is important that we fill positions and vacancies in the one in the supreme court now is
clearly needed. today is an important day of remembering. but history shows we cannot employ against that applaudingas our past glory of the greatness is truly worthy of our reverend. but if we are to honor those who struggled before, if we are to honor those miles else, if we are to celebrate the history that showed us at our best when we came together from a black american, white american, latino american, indian american, asian american. if we celebrate those great days that pass, not just with cheers and remembrance is, but by redoubling our work in accordance with those values, we must have a sense of urgency. time is not -- we cannot count the great days of the past.
>> the u.s. senate is about to dabble in for the day to continued work on the 2017 transportation housing and the military anecdote. we expect $1.1 million zika virus spending. now live to the floor on c-span the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, our hope and our salvation, we trust you to surround us with your divine favor. your way is perfect.
give us the wisdom to follow your guidance. be for us a shield of salvation, as we seek to do your will. lord, keep us from self-made cares, as we continue to look to you the author and finisher of our faith. today, support our lawmakers with your grace. give them faith to look beyond today's challenges and trials knowing that nothing can separate them from your love. help them to demonstrate their gratitude to you with selfless
service to those who need your love and care. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: today we'll continue working on two appropriations measures that responsibly fund american priorities. the first will invest in our transportation infrastructure and fund economic development efforts. the second will support our veterans, service members, and their families. these are good bipartisan bills that prioritize funding for important programs. they are the result of continuing leadership of senators collins and kirk. i would encourage my colleagues to work together to continue moving these appropriations bills forward. now on another matter, last week the top democrat on the judiciary committee said that some would like to do some sort of a pretend hearing on the president's supreme court nomination. he went on to dismiss the idea by noting that the senate is not
a pretend office. apparently he was overruled. later today democrats will have what he called a pretend hearing. the democrats initially invited a witness who at the beginning of the bush administration wrote this, the senate should not act on any supreme court vacancies that might occur until after the next presidential election. he also wrote that this would be a -- quote -- "responsible exercise of the senate's constitutional power." apparently that witness is no longer available. interesting. the would-be witness is admiral mikva, a former democratic congressman, federal judge and white house counsel. he wrote these words in the second year of president george w. bush's first term. it was not like the situation today. in the eighth year of a term-limited president. democrats certainly have a complicated history when it comes to their own words and the
supreme court. they have the schumer standard: don't consider a president's nominee one and a half years before the end of his final term. they had the biden rule: don't consider a president's nominee before he's even finished his first term. now they have the mikva mandate: don't consider a president's nominee from basically the moment he takes office. it seems the more we hear from democrats about the supreme court, the more we're reminded by comparison of how reasonable and commonsense the republican position is today. now on one final matter that colleagues will discuss further a little later today, a video recently surfaced that should concern all of us. it was three of president obama's former speechwriters laughing it up. they were reminiscing about the time they apparently helped
mislead the american people with a line that would one day become politifact's lie of the year. if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. they laughed and laughed. it was evidently pretty funny to them. it's no laughing matter, however, for the millions, millions who have lost their plans. it's no laughing matter for the millions who continue to suffer under this partisan law, this partisan attack on the middle class. health care costs are now the number-one financial concern facing american families, according to a recent survey. number one. more than concerns about low wages, more even than concerns about losing a job. another survey found a clear majority of americans disapproving of this partisan law. yet another survey found that of the americans who said obamacare had impacted them, more reported it hurting than helping them.
if recent headlines are anything to go by, no wonder. americans now face premium hikes of up to 30% in oregon and 37% in virginia. they face premium spikes as high as 43% in iowa and 45% in new hampshire. and in tennessee, the state's largest health insurance is planning 0 implement hikes higher since january. this is the same law that promised to make health care more affordable for american families, but nearly half of all americans reported increases in their insurance premiums and more than a third reported increases in co-pays and deductibles in the past two years. consider this dad from jackson, kentucky, who learned that his insurer would no longer offer his current plan as a result of obamacare. he said that the most inexpensive replacement plan
would be an 80% increase over his current monthly premium. this ill-conceived health care reform, as he put it, is going to be the end of good-quality care for the whole nation unless it's repealed and replaced. that from jackson, kentucky. part of the reason insurers are seeking such dramatic premium rate increases is to help cover the losses they've experienced as a result of the unworkable policies of obamacare. some are pulling out of the exchanges altogether. several states and hundreds of counties will now only have a single insurer to pick from in the obamacare exchanges. just one. no choices. that's true in parts of kentucky too, and it's terrible for consumers. what if these sole insurers pull out of the exchanges? an administration official couldn't rule out that possibility, and it doesn't appear they have a serious plan to deal with it either. the administration hardly ever seems to have an obamacare
answer that doesn't boil down to this: more money from taxpayers. look, this is not a law that's working. this is not a law that's fair. this is a partisan law that is a direct attack, a direct attack on the middle class. the democratic leader recently said americans just need to get over it. just get over it and accept the fact that obamacare is here to stay. obamacare, he says, is doing so much to change america forever. maybe democrats think the middle class should just get over double-digit premium increases. maybe democrats think it's funny that millions of americans lost their plans because of obamacare. republicans think we should work toward better care instead. that's why we recently passed a bill to repeal obamacare and start over with real care.
obamacare may be changing america, but this partisan law's attacks on the middle class don't have to go on forever, as the democratic leader would like. we can give our country a new and better beginning. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: our friend, the republican leader, continues to complain about obamacare. and this has been the mantra of the republicans since it passed. but the true facts are these: obamacare has reduced the uninsured to the lowest rates since we've been keeping records in america. the uninsureds are going down, not up. people are healthier now as a result of being able to go to the doctor or the hospital when
they're hurt or sick. now we talk about this obamacare in a vacuum. what was going on before obamacare? insurance companies ravaged the american people. the people were fortunate enough to have health care had to be aware that on any given time they could have their insurance canceled. if you were disabled, no insurance. but that isn't all. if you'd had a prior malady of some kind, if you'd had cancer, if you had diabetes, you couldn't get insurance. but not anymore. under obamacare, you cannot be denied insurance for any condition. they used to charge women more than men. no reason except some statistical analysis had taken place in some dark room by a guy
with a green eye shade determined that maybe statistically women cost a little more than men. can't do that anymore. and i'm always so stunned by we've got to replace it with what? it's been seven years. with what? the republicans have come up with nothing. so in short, is obamacare perfect? of course not. could we improve it? yes, we could. but it would be nice to have a little cooperation from the republicans, but they're unwilling to do anything other than complain. mr. president, again, the senior senator from kentucky complains about the fact that the most senior member of the united states senate, the chairman of
the judiciary committee, senator pat leahy, is going to have a meeting today, and he's invited all the judiciary committee members to come, democrats and republicans, invited all senators to come because he's going to have some witnesses testify about the importance of having a court that's full of justices, all nine, that's what it means, full. the republicans won't come to that hearing, that meeting -- call it whatever you want. they won't be there. no, they'll blockade that and obstruct that like they have everything. the american judiciary is in trouble, and that's why the ranking member of the judiciary committee is having these, this meeting today. to do its work, the united states supreme court needs nine justices. not eight, not seven. nine.
but because the senate republicans' refusal to consider the senior judge on the d.c. circuit, the second most influential court on the land -- merrick garland -- the court's in trouble. the court is short staffed. the court doesn't have enough people to do the work. people, we're talking about one person, to have so much control over what goes on in the supreme court, but that person is not there. in recent weeks the supreme court has deadlocked on many important cases and questions before it. for example, the day before yesterday the justice punted on two more cases, demanding both to lower courts. these actions were clear indications that the court was tied 4-4. and to the wisdom of the people that are on that the court, they decided it would be better, since they couldn't arrive at a
decision, to send it back to the lower courts to see if they could help work out the problems. not having nine justices is a serious problem. as was written yesterday in "the new york times" editorial, i quote, "every day that passes without a ninth justice underlines the -- undermines the supreme court's ability to function and leaves legal of americans waiting for clarity as major legal questions are unresolved." litigants take their cases to the supreme court in search of justice. it takes years, often, to get to that court. they seek resolution. they seek clarity. but because republicans' unprecedented obstruction, americans are getting neither. they're not getting clarity, they're not getting resolution, they aren't getting justice. but the problem is only going to worsen. that's the sad part about it.
already the stalemate is creating long-term issues for our nation's highest court. this term, eight justices on the court have agreed to hear only 12 cases for its next term which begins in october through june of 2017. if the court continues to accept accept cases at this glacial pace, the next term will have justices hearing fewer cases than have been heard by that court in more than be seven decades, -- seven years. it stands to reason that justice roberts, our chief justice, and his colleagues are accepting cases according to their ability to hear and process them. a gridlocked court can't accomplish the same work as a fully staffed court. it's not the supreme court's fault. the blame belongs to senate republicans for their blockade of merrick garland's nomination. for seven and a half years,
senate republicans have blocked anything that president obama has proposed. who is behind this? right-wing organizations led by the koch brothers. they want to keep it just the way it is. they want to keep this court so it can't do its job. for seven and a half years, senate republicans have blocked anything that president obama has proposed, including now, a new supreme court justice. now by preventing the court from having nine justices, republicans are bringing gridlock in the legislative branch to the judicial branch. previously, for the whole time that obama has been president, they were blocking what has gone on in the legislative branch. they have now broadened that to deadlock the supreme court.
this is not acceptable. justice delayed we've heard is justice denied, and that's certainly true. by bringing the court to a standstill, republicans are doing justice all americans deserve. there is still time for my republican colleagues to do the right thing, fill the supreme court vacancy, but to do that, they must begin to process garland's nomination. his questionnaire is here, it's filled out, it's done. i wonder how many republicans have even looked at it. has there been any? shouldn't there be a hearing? the reason republicans don't want a hearing is they know that a hearing public in nature would show to the american people and the world what a good man merrick garland is, what a good lawyer he was, what a good judge he has been. but they have to start
processing this, and they, the republicans, seem to want to refuse to -- not want. they seem to be refusing anything dealing with him. i think they should attend that meeting today on the garland nomination, organized by judiciary committee democrats, calling in the finest people that we can find to tell us what's going on in the judiciary. my friend, the republican leader, brings up abner mikva. abner mikva hasn't served in congress in 40 years. he was a lawyer for the president -- that's clinton. we have been through quite a bit since then. but he has nothing else to refer to so he talks about abner mikva who was going to come, who is not going to come. do you think part of it can be that he is more than 90 years
old? republicans should attend today's hearing. now the judiciary chair, senator grassley, should proceed with committee hearings. the american people deserve a full and transparent accounting of merrick garland's record and qualifications. after a hearing, of course we should move his nomination for a vote here on the senate floor. every day that passes without confirmation a of a ninth justice to the supreme court is another lost day for the federal judiciary and american justice. republicans claim their obstruction of president obama's supreme court nominee is to give the people a voice. but their actions are doing just the opposite. republicans are denying the american people the justice they deserve. take, for example, the cases they referred back to lower courts. they have already done it. and the litigants have waited years to get before the supreme court. now in effect they have to start
over. republicans are denying the american people the justice they deserve, the justice that we thought was guaranteed by the constitution. so instead of silencing the supreme court and gridlocking our entire judicial system, republicans should give the court the ninth justice it desperately needs. now, focus has been on the supreme court, and it should be, but the republicans are doing the same thing with trial court judges. the federal judiciary has many, many districts that are declaring a judicial emergency. they don't have enough judges to do their work. the republicans are -- the only thing they know to do very well is to block things. we, the american people, know the need to do something about the judiciary. republicans should do their job and give merrick garland a hearing and a vote. mr. president, my friend from south dakota is here.
i would ask the chair prior to his being recognized to tell us what the schedule is for today. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein and with the majority controlling the first half and the democrats controlling the second half. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'd like to take just a moment today to discuss congress' efforts to combat the zika virus. combating zika is a public health priority. it's important that this not be turned into a political issue. the administration and congress need to work together to combat the virus by funding necessary programs like mosquito eradication efforts before the threat escalates further. congress has already acted to provide incentives for manufacturers to develop new medicines to prevent or to treat zika. we have also approved the use of nearly $600 million to initiate a zika response effort including research into vaccines and treatments and improve mosquito
control. because the best way to deal with any illness is to stop people from getting sick in the first place, we need to make controlling mosquitoes a priority. i introduced a measure to remove burdensome permitting restrictions on mosquito control efforts so that we can immediately free up additional resources to keep the mosquito population in check. a vaccine to prevent the zika virus is unlikely to be available until next year at the earliest, which means that our primary weapon in combating zika right now is controlling mosquitoes so that people don't get infected. for that reason, mr. president, we need to prioritize mosquito control programs and provide immediate regulatory relief. aggressive mosquito abatement is the most timely step that we can take to keep women and children safe. i'm pleased that my approach was included in the cornyn amendment the senate considered yesterday. i only wish that it had prevailed. i'm hopeful that we can still work with both sides of the
aisle to get timely regulatory relief for all impacted industries in the final zika response package, mr. president. i believe it is that important that if we're going to beat this thing that we do it by eradicating mosquitoes and making it possible for those who are responsible and tasked with that responsibility and are able to do that. mr. president, back when the president and senate democrats were lobbying for passage of obamacare, they made a number of promises. one thing they promised over and over again was that the president's health care plan would lower costs. bringing down costs of health care insurance and making it more affordable is job one for this health care reform. that's a quote that was made by then-democrat majority whip on the floor in december of 2009. families will save on their premiums, president obama pledged that same month. the affordable care act democrats made clear was a
solution to the health insurance challenges facing american families. well, mr. president, six years down the road, it's clear that the affordable care act was no solution at all. the president promised that health care reform would reduce premiums by $2,500 for the average family. instead, the average family premium for employer-sponsored health insurance rose by $4,170 between 2009-2015. 45% of americans report that their health insurance premium has increased over the past two years and 25% report that their co-pays and deductibles have increased over the same period. the president promised that americans who like their insurance plan can keep it. instead, the president's health care law pushed more than 4.7 million americans off of their health care plans. and then there is the centerpiece of the president's
health care law, the exchanges. the exchanges are supposed to offer accessible, affordable health care to those who had struggled to get insurance, but a lot of americans are finding out, mr. president, that the health care offered on the exchanges is neither affordable nor accessible. last year, countless consumers around the country faced massive rate hikes on their exchange plans. one constituent wrote to tell me that her plan would cost $1,600 a month for her, her husband and their four children. $1,600 a month. that's more than $19,000 a year. a new car would be cheaper. and all signs point to consumers being set to face yet huge rate hikes again this year. "investors business daily" recently reported that oregon's largest insurer in the individual market is seeking an
average rate increase of 29.6% for its exchange and nonexchange plans for 2017. meanwhile, over the weekend, the "chattanooga times free press" reported that blue cross exchange customers in tennessee will face, and i quote, a major rate increase that may exceed the 36.3% rate increase exchange customers faced this january. the associated press recently reported that insurers are seeking rate hikes ranging from 9.4% to 37.1% on the exchanges in virginia. a 37.1% increase. think about that. let's say that you have a family health insurance plan that costs $10,000 a year. a 37.1% increase would add more than $3,700 to the cost of your plan.
$3,700. for just one year. that's a significant amount of money. you could easily end up facing a similar rate hike the following year. mr. president, i could go on and on about obamacare. i could read from a steady stream of news stories reporting on obamacare's many failures from huge cost increases to bankrupt co-ops to decreased access to doctors and hospitals. i could talk about the ways that obamacare has hiked prescription drug costs, so the challenges facing businesses thanks to the affordable care act's taxes and mandates. i could read stories from my constituents. constituents who have had to wrestle with the inefficient obamacare bureaucracy, constituents who lost their health plans as a result of obamacare, constituents who can't afford their obamacare insurance. but since i don't want to use up
all my colleagues' time on the floor, as well as my own, i will just say this. three weeks ago, on april 27, gallup published the results of a poll on the financial challenges facing american families. the headline of the article was this -- "health care costs top u.s. families financial concerns." let me repeat that, mr. president. health care costs top u.s. families financial concerns. mr. president, if six years on from the passage of the affordable care act health care costs top the list of american families financial concerns, then the affordable care act has failed and it's time to repeal it. the republican-led senate has already passed lags to repeal obamacare, but we need a president willing to work with
us, or a significant, i should say, support from democrats here in the congress if we want a repeal to become law. well, mr. president, i hope we'll see that kind of support in the near future. the afford -- the affordable care act has been a disaster from the beginning. it's time to lift the burdens that the law has placed on americans and replace this law with health care reform that will actually drive down costs for american families and consumers and increase access to care. mr. president, that is what we should, and i hope we will be focused on. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor today to speak as senator thune has just spoken about the disastrous results on health care