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tv   U.S. Senate Advances De Vos Nomination  CSPAN  February 3, 2017 6:29am-8:30am EST

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the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o god, who has ordained the seasons of our lives, thank you for the steadfastness of your mercy and longsuffering. inspire our lawmakers to open themselves to the gift of your presence, remembering that you are always with them.
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where there is fear, give courage; where there is anxiety, give peace; where there is despair, give hope; where there is sadness, give joy. make our senators joyful because of the relationship they have with you. inspire them to hear your words and obey your commands. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: 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
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and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., february 3, 2017. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint th honorable ron johnson to perform the duties of the chair. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, just very briefly because i know we have to vote. the nominee for the secretary of education is one of the worst nominees that has ever been brought before this body for a cabinet position. on the grounds of competence and ideology and conflict of interest, she scores very, very low. that is why my good friend who has great integrity, the senator
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from tennessee, had to rush her through, five minutes of questions, they were afraid to hear what they might or might not know. i ask my colleagues to look into their conscience. sometimes loyalty to a new president demands a bit too much. with this nominee, it does. please think about it over the weekend. this person, ms. devos does not deserve be the secretary of education. the presiding officer: under the previous time, the senate will resume consideration of s.j. res. 41, which the clerk will report. the clerk: providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5 of the rules relating disclosures of payments by resource extraction issuers. the presiding officer: all time expired. the clerk will report the joint resolution for the third time.
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the clerk: providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5 of united states code and so so forth. the presiding officer: the question is on passage of the joint resolution. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change your vote? if not, the yeas are 52, the nays are 47. and the joint resolution is passed. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the senate will come to order. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent to waive the mandatory quorum call. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to
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bring to a close debate on the nomination of elizabeth devos to be secretary of education. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of elizabeth prince devos of michigan to be secretary of education shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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call. roll call.
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[inaudible conversations] roll call. [inaudible conversations]. senators voted in the affirmative. roll call.
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senators voting in the affirmative. roll call.
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senators voting in the negative, roll call. senators voting in the negative, roll call.
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everybody has voted. >> on this boat -- on this note. the clerk will report the nomination.depart nomination and department of education betsy devos to be secretary.the pres >> the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order.
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the senator from tennessee. thank you madame president. with this vote in the senate will move early next week to confirm the nomination of betsy devos to be the united education secretary.untry. about the divorce to the united states education secretary. excellent secretary in my judgment. the number one job of the united states ex to cajunwh secretary is to create an environment in which our 100,000 public schools succeed because that's where nine out of ten of our children go. when i was education secretary in the early 1990s i have the privilege of working with a man name david kern. who has been a chief executive officer of the corporation. he came in as a deputy b education secretary and the time he was the only one of the leading build --dash like businessman and he was also the leading businessman who tried to help change public education.
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and david kearns believed it'so very difficult to help children by changing public education be try to do from within. he respected as all of us do the teachers and the parents in the students who work within the public education system but over the last 30 years as his country has worked to try to improve our public schools much of that energy has come from outside the public school establishment. among those were the governors of the country in the mid- 1980s all of the governors met together in 1985 and 1986 on one subject for a whole year the purpose was how can we help improve our public i was chairman of the governors that year. bill clinton was a vice. chairman. we did that from outside the ma
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since that time many governors e and business leaders had worked hard in support of our public schools trying to help them become even better opportunities for our children. among those has been betsy devos. i think of governor jed bush. o and john engler of r commissioner. and in the work they did in their respective states to maketi their public schools better. integrate other opportunities for children. all of those governors the three i mentioned bush, romney engler they support betsy. lette the 22 governors who had written letters to me as chairman of the senate education committee supporting betsy devos. they see her as someone fromho outside the system of public education who as they worked for 30 years can help change that. i asked consent to include in
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the record the names of the 22pp governors who support her.kansas they come from alabama, arizona. kentucky, maine michigan mississippi. ohio oklahoma tennessee. o all of those. the governors of all the states support betsy divorce.pot four of the last education secretary support her. this b joe lieberman who served inorke this body and worked on the voucher program for many years endorsed her. she has strong support from the governors who for 30 years had been working hard to successfully improve our public schools. some have said she has spent her time working on to be
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children choices of schools other than public schools. she's done that. and it's always puzzled me as to why anybody would criticize that. the idea that a low income child should have the same opportunity or more of the same opportunities that aou wealthy family has would seem to be a very all-american idea.oes and not only does it seem to be it's an idea that underlies the most successful piece of social policy our country has ever enacted arguably. the g.i. bill from veterans in 1994. the veterans came for home from world war ii. we give them a scholarship. it followed them to the college of their choice. arg she has argued for the same thing for children. g whitey had to create the greatest generation and the greatest commenters of the world. w so a dangerous for schools.overo
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but i would argue that she hasas been among the forefront of the leaders like the governors for the most successful reform over the last three years to change and improve public education and that would be the public charter schools. begn those begin with 12 schools in minnesota created by the democratic former labor party in the early 19 hundreds. since then they had been supported by every president president obama president president bush. the most recent education th secretary was the founder of charter schools. this congress four times by the bipartisan majority has supported charter schools. the last six united states education secretaries have supported charter schools. they had grown from 12 to 1600 per day.e they are public schools in
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betsy's in the forefront of helping to create that opportunity for public education. and finally madame presidentt 85 she believes what 85 of us voted for the lot that president obama called the christmas miracle december 2015 is to reversetr the trend from the national school board and restore control of our children in our schools to those closest tocommn the children. there will be no mandates for common core. for teacher evaluation. unite from the united statesartmen department of education headed by betsy devos. will be swapping a national school board for what she believes and which is a local school board which is what 85 of us four. i'm pleased to support her. -ll i include within following my record asked consent an article from by max eaton that
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was published a couple days ago. the detroit charter schools by three major studies are better e and perform better. in the traditional schools of detroit. i look forward to cassie my vote for betsy devos.adam pre early next week. think you madame president. [inaudible] the president --dash make the senator from washington. i'm here today to stand with parents, and students and teachers and families in communities across our country to make sure they have a voice to strongly oppose betsy devos
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and her plans to privatize public schools and destroy public education in america and to urge my colleagues to stand with their constituentsubi and join democrats and republicans in rejecting the dissemination.ols. i come to the floor today is the former preschool teacher someone who got my start in politics fighting for a strong public school. a former school board member. a senator committed to standing strong for public education in america. a mother and a grandmother who cares deeply about the future of our students in our schools.across and someone like 70 people across the country is everything i have to a strongedo education. that's what i received growing up in this country. it's my responsibility to do everything i can't to make can to make sure the opportunities that were there for me and some of the others are open to every student in this country ty no matter where they live or
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how they learned or how much money their parents had. and i believe the federal government in general and the department of education specifically has important role to play in making that happen. i take the position. with this moment. it is a critical job. i consider it to be my job to do everything i can to make sure that the person who feels it is truly committed and if i will discuss in detail today and in the coming days i do not believe that betsy devos is the right person to do that. before i get into the failed field records and her lack of experience i want to make a point about how i approach nominees and how that impacts o my perspective on this one.ebate any of them on the other side of the aisle are going to
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spend their time in this debate. he they will try to say president trump has won this election he should be able to pick anyoned he wants to fill this position i we should also down and be quiet. will madame president i reject that. i believe the senate has an important role to play in thispr process it is our constitutional duty to take these nominations seriously. i refuse to stand by and just watch. they absolutely have the right to nominate people he thinksea they will carry out the vision for the country. that does not mean that the senate should be ahe rubberstamped to the contrary. we owe it to the people we represent to make sure everybody nominate is not only qualified for the position and free of conflicts of interest
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but that he or she will put families into workers first and not millionaires and billionaires or big corporations. it was the first presidential candidate in decades. it did not release his tax returns. he is openly flouting the conventions regarding his personal and family businesses. >> i believe in an administration who well line around potential conflicts of interest and they're likely to be blurred at the top. they need to be even clear at the individual agencies. i will not apologize. our for demanding the senate do his job. i will not back down from asking my questions for my constituents the ones that they would want me to ask. and i will not stop fighting as hard as i can to oppose a secretary of education who
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doesn't stand with them. i'm extremely disappointed howe this process has gone so far. i have great respect for the , espec chairman of our committee that i have never seen anything like it especially coming out of our health educationee labor. until now we had worked together across party lines so well. right from the start was very clear republicans intended to jab this nominee through the process as quickly as possible.ut corners were cut. precedents were ignored. they were brought. i have never seen anything like it. on this committee.republic the democratic administration or republicans it has been
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truly frustrated and deeply disappointing.s i believe it is our job to scrutinize nominees. their they were acting like it was their job to protect her fromtin in first republicans rushed up and do hearing before we have her ethics paperwork in.e that might seem like a small thing may seem like a procedural issue but madame president it was every single nominee during the obama administration has their ethics paperwork in before and hearing. bef and the republican majority majority leader made having ethics paperwork in the hearing a court demand of hisn during the obama administration. the reason for this isul simple. senators should be able to ask them questions about their finances.
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their potential conflicts of interest. how they plan to avoid them. and how they plan to uphold the letter in the spirit of our ethics laws. without the author's of financial disclosure senators go into a hearing in the dark on a nominees ethics and finances and that is exactlywhew what we were pushed into with mrs. divorce. secondly. when we get into that hearinges we were told that democrats would only had five minutes each to ask questions. to ask about betsy devos and her finances. the long record on privatization of public education her vision for this department and the many issues in this department's no five minutes and then cut off. this was completely unprecedented and absolutely
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wrong. never before have it been the case in our committee not a single time that i recall that a senator who have a question for a nominee and was cut off and blocked from asking it. democrats were sitting at the hearing waiting, hoping the s chairman would change his mind but we were shut down and we were silence. and miss divorce was protected from answering additional questions. third, after we finally got her ethics paperwork and have a number of questions about ithn i requested another hearing where we could ask those questions. that was a reasonable request. it was rejected.uestio i have a number of questions inf for betsy devos about missing information in her paperwork for the committee and she isro simply not provided to the
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committee with the required movg financial disclosures. we have a strong tradition in our committee of not moving to vote until the ranking members and the questions were answered.ushed and finally madame president. after was pushed through the committee with questions abouto they were ignored to get this job done. well. republicans are attempting to jab it through here as well. it's pretty clear to me why. the more people learn about it o the more they realize how wrong she is a for our students in our schools the more they hear about her background they more they see her as one more way that president trump is rogue and
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swamp and of the more that comes out about her failed f records her tangled finances and conflicts of interest and her lack of understanding or experience the more the pressure increases on republicans to put their allegiance to president trump aside and to stand with their constituents. g i understand like some republicans. and he gets absolutely wrong. and i know people are paying attention i want to make one final point on this. the chairman of our committee be the senior senator from tennessee has brought up the " idea of fairness when it comes to how we should approach this nomination. he believes president trump'sfao heinee should be treatedr is a finding fairness and an interesting way.dn he same if republicans didn't scrutinize president trumps a
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nominees if they didn't take the time to do their dueo diligence then it would be unfair for democrats to do that for president trump. i don't agree with that. i do find ferland this very differently. i believe the fair thing to do is what is fair for them that we work for them. and should do right by them. not for a party a nominee or an administration. i believe that the fair thing to do is to scrutinize these nominees ask the tough questions and push for real answers. and we should air err on themo side of deeper review more robust questioning. rather than on the side of pointed how they were treated in the past and the fairness to nominees.being i think it's clear this cor nominee is being rushed through in corners are being cut but i want to take some
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time now to talk about why i will be opposing her and urging all of our colleagues to do the same. i three main reasons and they are, open questions about her tangled finances in potential conflicts of interest strong concerns with her record and her lack of experience and aun clear lack of understanding of basic education issues.ith it is is deeply at odds with where parents and students and e families across the country want to go. first of all her tangledde finances and the potential conflicts of interest. i mentioned this a bit before. i have never seen a nominee with such tangled in opec finances misses a divorce is a billionaire.
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in her inherited money is invested along with other members of her family and could potentially be hundreds her holding company. and it they often invest in other holding and it is often very hard to untangle the individual companies she and her family actually on stakes and. in. k it's very relevant because we know her family has had significant education company holdings in the past. they'd be impacted by the decision she made if confirmed. not she has told us she will comply with all of our fixed rules should she be confirmed but we still had questions and she still has not fulfilled the committee requirements. we had questions about areas in her ethics paperwork where it is simply unclear if assetsos
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and the ones that she continues to hold a potential conflicts of interest and we have not been given the full answers.amily we also want to know more from her about the family trust. she is maintaining positions in. and we have not been given the full answers. and finally, i had raised a number of questions about her failure to put the required financial disclosure to the committee and i have not been given full answers there either. cs secondly madame president. i very strong concerns withd, her record, her lack of experience and her clear lack of understanding of basic education issues. i will take these one at a time.ommitt the nominees for this position had been people who were committed to students they have a long career dedicated to education and were focused
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on keeping public education c strong for all students in all communities. betsy devos is very different. she is first and foremost a republican and conservative activists and make a donor. she was chair of the michigan republican party. they have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to republicans and conservative groups over the years. second of all, she has spent her career and her fortune bringing the system to privatize and to defend public education and her students and communities. she has no experience with public schools except to the work try to tear them down. she has committed herself for decades to an extreme ideological goal to push students out of public schoolst.
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and we can public education. she is spent millions of dollars in political donations organizations and super pacs to try to influence elections and policies to encompass that goal. madame president is not p difficult to pick up where she has the signs are usually pretty easy to see. s where she has succeeded in getting her way too often there are weaker, public schools worse outcomes and fewer true opportunities for students. in fact the only people guaranteed the benefit when she focuses her attention on a community or estate are the tv stations. they see hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in money for him to attack ads against her political opponents. her but all people need to do is watch her hearing in our t committee and they can learn
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everything they need to know. this was a hearing that people across the country heard about. and for good reason. sho for local newspapers to local news to the daily show to the view and post that then wentho viral on social media a lot ofop people heard betsy devos herself for the first time iner the hearing and they were not impressed to put it mildly they watched as democrats were locked from asking questions in an unprecedented and disappointing attempt to protect this nominee. was and then on the questions we were allowed to ask they saw a nominee who was clearlysed ill-informed and confused and gave a number of very concerning responses to serious and reasonable questions. let's go through what she said to us. she refused to rule out flashing investments or
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privatizing public schools. she was confused that federal law provides protections for students with disabilities she did not understand a basic issue in education policy. stud whether students should been measured based on their proficiency or their she argued that gods needed to be allowed in schools across the country to quote protect from grizzlies.dent and even though she was willing to say president trump behavior towards women should be considered sexual assaultchos she would not commit to actually enforcing federal laws protecting women andwa girls in our schools. that madame president her hearing was such a disaster it was so clear how little she understood about education issues that a number of people
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and groups who usually stay on the fence or even sometimes stand with her on some issues could not stand with her and the parents watching across the country they saw a nominee who doesn't seem tout care about or understand the education issues that impact them and their kids. this takes me to my final point right now on betsy divorce. her vision for education in america is one that is deeply at odds with where parents and students and families across the country wants to go.tion at a time when education and the opportunity affords is more important than ever she would take it in the absolute wrong direction eli broad
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finance the price put it very well. when he said that the risk of stating the obvious we must have a secretary of education who believes in public education and we will need to help public schools and keep them public. he went on to say and i quote with betsy at the helm of the u.s. department of educationccol much of the good work that has been accomplished to improve public education for all of american can be undone. ". i completely agree parents across the country want their government and the representatives fighting toothty and nail to improve public schools for all students in every community. betsy is committing to
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privatizing public schools and diverting public funds into taxpayer-funded vouchers that will leave far too many of our students behind. and i will add i have many friends here in the senate representing states that will be severely impacted by a secretary of education who implemented a radical agenda like this.hat the bottom line is that strong publication is at the heart of true opportunity in america. something we all strive for. people understand that. and they see that the vision for this job as a direct attack on the core national value madame president i truly believe this is what has motivated some people around up the country to stand up and speak out.cial they saw her hearing on the news. and it's clear that people
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across the country care so deeply about education and are so passionate about making sure that we have strong public schools. jus that scene in president trump to nominate someone like betsy divorce to run department it's very close to home to a whole lot of people. it is so deeply offensive it publ the parents of students in our public schools it is very hard to see a billionaire who nevero, went to public school who didn't send her children topo public school but in a position to work against yourfo interest. for teachers who work so hard every day in the public schools it's hard to see your work denigrated.methin for semi others in communities across the country. something about betsy has led lit a fire under them as abo well.
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they've all decided to do something about madame president they had been shut down over the past week. every office is receiving tens of thousands of letters asking the senate almost 40,000 have come into my office alone. same millions of people outside petitions with the same message that have been rallied and protested across thend country and millions more posting on facebook sharing it with their friends. tweeting and doing everything they can to make their voices heard. i want to share just a sample of what i've heard from my constituents.. one teacher at 26 year veteran of washington state public state public school said she has worked tirelessly at title i elementary schools to help children achieve their
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greatest potential.his if she is confirmed this teacher is terrified. me another constituent of mine. tells me she has grandchildrenec in michigan who are at risk because of the reckless policies there. and she does not want to see this is after disaster repeated throughout our regio country.e he and his colleagues didn't even know where to begin laying out their concerns with betsy devos. a fourth grade teacher from spokane washington reach out to me to tell me that she watched the confirmation hearing. she was shocked at how little se she seemed to understand about the issues she faces every single day in her classroom. those are just a few examples. there are thousands upon thousands in every community in every state it is having an
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impact every member of this body has felt the pressure. already two republicans have made it clear that the voices of their constituents had push them into the no column. i know there are other republicans who take what their constituents had to say seriously. whoave and who had serious concerns about putting partisanshipon't ahead of their state and theirre constituents in stress. i don't like that we are rushing into this without the information that we need. but if the majority is going gymnast through we will do everything we can to have a robust debate over the next few days.. i'm here to say i'm proud to stand with parents, i'm proud t to stand with students and i'm proud to stand with teachers they support strong public schools and true education
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opportunities for all. i'm proud to stand up and fight back against her.of i yielded the floor. i think you. >> mr. alexander [inaudible conversations]. [inaudible conversations].
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it has been an early session here in the senate this morning. they started the day with the votes on the resolution. disapproving the overturn. by oil and gas extraction companies. lawmakers of course ability to advance the nomination a betsy devos to be education secretary that vote was 52-48. to continue to be on the nomination next week. two republican senators had vowed to vote against the nominee for confirmation. they say they will vote against her. this is live coverage of the senate on this friday morning. here on c-span two.
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quorum call:
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mr. lankford: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: i'd ask for the qowk to be eviscerated. promise without objection. hearing, waiting, hoping the mr. lankford: madam president i rise to talk about what's going on in the senate right now. we have done a series of votes that started at 6:30 this morning and we have a great deal of work to be done. in the middle of the work we're taking on right now, there was a lot of conversation about personnel. the senate is in the personnel business especially in the beginning of a legislative term. one of the biggest decisions we'll make in the senate will be the supreme court. americans voted last year in
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great measure about the supreme court, and the direction of the supreme court. president trump put out a list of 21 individuals that he would choose from so the american people would be fully aware this is the type of individual i would go after, and you can look at any of these and be able to evaluate it. as i look through that list of 21, one name stuck out to me, the name neil gorsuch, who from oklahoma, as many people in this chamber know, he represents the tenth circuit. he served on that circuit with great distinction which includes oklahoma. we've been able to see his work and what's happened on the bench, the opinions that he put out and the consistency, how he's been respected by individuals on both sides of the aisle throughout oklahoma and across the tenth circuit. neil gorsuch went on to the bench in 2006, put on the bench by president bush. they body when they debated neil gorsuch in 2006 unanimously approved him with a voice vote.
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not a single senator opposed neil gorsuch when he went on to that tenth circuit bench in 2006. that means at that time senator barack obama supported him. senator hillary clinton supported him. senator joe biden supported him. senator chuck schumer supported him in 2006. all these individuals looked at who he was, what he was about and supported him going on the tenth circuit bench. and what has he done since that time? he's been a remarkable judge. he's advocated for something very clearly, that is the role of each branch of government and each branch of government doing its job and only its job. he's spoken out on an issue that i've spoken out on the floor several times and oftentimes in committee, an issue called chevron deference, one of those issues most people don't track but i hear a lot of people say the executive branch is of out of control and putting these executive orders out and i will smile at folks and say if you want to go into the heart of it
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itsz not executive order, it's chevron deference. in the 1980's the supreme court gave the ability to every president to interpret the law as they choose to and to be able to put regulations in if under this term they were reason in interpretation. in other words, if a piece of legislation mentioned a topic, then a president could create regulations around it. well, it started slow, but i will tell you that's accelerated in the last several years. and what has happened in the last several years is presidents have reached in, looked at a statute, tried to find a gray area of the statute and use their deference ability to be able to interpret it. neil gorsuch in his writings stepped out and said what that does to be able to give that kind of deference to any president is to give the president the ability to literally legislate an issue and then implement the issue and do his own interpretation of the issue. that is all three branches all
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piled into one. that's the president having the ability to say i'm also the court, i'm also the legislative branch and i'm going to execute this out. that's a government out of balance. and what judge gorsuch has done is over and over again pushed out this basic judicial philosophy that our nation was founded on three separate parts of government, that the legislative branch is the only branch that legislates, that the executive branch carries it out. and there's only one branch that interprets the law. that's the courts. if we were to move back to that simple model, it gives balance and consistency to all individuals to be able to know what the law says, what is the law and to be able to actually push that out in such a way that people can trust it stays consistent. i'm proud to be able to sit down and have conversations with neil gorsuch in the days ahead. i'm looking forward to getting a chance to meet with him in my office and to be able to work through other areas and issues that he faces. but when president trump
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selected neil gorsuch and suggested him for the bench, as i have mentioned before, my first thought was we couldn't have a better judge to be able to come out of the midwest and to be able to speak out for the issues that real americans want to be able to speak out for and to be able to have a court that is consistently speaking what does the law say when it was written. let's just do that. now, there are a lot of other personnel issues that are in front of the senate right now. betsy devos is in the process of what's called a cloture vote right now for secretary of education. that is final closing of debate and to be able to move to a vote that will happen monday or tuesday of next week. i would tell you there's been a lot of conversation about betsy devos, and i've heard the debate both on this floor and in conversations and things that i've read. what's interesting to me is to be able to hear person after person stand up and say she's not for public education.
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let me tell you where i am on this. nine out of ten students in our nation are in public schools. i grew up in public schools. my kids attend public schools. many of my family members work in public schools or have worked in public schools. i'm very passionate about what happens in our public schools because the vast majority of our students will be influenced and will be trained in our public schools. that has to be a primary focus of what we do. but what's interesting to me is betsy devos was very outspoken during her confirmation process about her support for public schools. now did her children attend public schools? no, they did not, as barack obama's children did not attend public schools, as many other wealthy families, their children did not attend public schools. many wealthy families choose to do that because they have that option. betsy devos, though, has been a person to raise her hand and say why do only wealthy families get to choose where their kids
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go to school. why is that? why don't other families have that same option that wealthy families have? but betsy devos has been outspoken to say it is a main responsibility to be able to focus on the improvement of our public schools. because, again, that's where the vast majority of our students attend. it's also been interesting to me that all these statements that come out against betsy devos often don't take into account this basic thing. betsy devos for decades has been passionate about trying to help students in the inner city, students that are in poverty, any student to be able to have every opportunity in education they can possibly have. i would think as a nation that we would encourage that, and that would be a positive thing rather than a negative thing. this body in 2015 looks at a public school education law called no child left behind and said the direction of public school education is going to be
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wrong -- is going the wrong way. and for 15 years, we have mandates coming down on our schools from washington, d.c., mandating what type of curriculum they use in their school, what kind of teacher evaluation is done for our public school teachers, what kind of testing requirement will come down on our schools, and this body with 85 of 100 voting for it said no child left behind is putting federal mandates on every school. and the place where those decisions should be made is not washington, d.c. it is local districts, done by parents, done by teachers, done by superintendents and done by state legislators. that is exactly what betsy devos has said as well. devos has been very clear. she is not trying to promote every state in every district doing charter schools, allowing vouchers or private schools, allowing other options. that is completely the decision of the school. while i have heard people say if
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she is put into place, she will take away all this money from the schools, that is not her role nor her capacity to even do that. she has been very clear to say all of those decisions are made by local districts and by state legislators and by parents, where the decisions should be made. betsy devos has been very clear -- no child left behind was the wrong direction. 85 members of this body in a very bipartisan way agreed with that two years ago. president obama agreed with that two years ago. and we all said the best place for education decisions to be made is the local level. betsy devos was asked very directly will you go to these districts and try to impose them to be able to put off charter schools and private school access there, and her answer was no. that is up to that local district what they choose to do. but nor would she try to stand in the way that if a local
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district or if a state chose to provide other options, that is not her role in the federal government to try to stand in the way of that. i, quite frankly, find that refleshing that someone would say we're not going to run your school from washington, d.c. what you choose to do in your schools, you're allowed to do. there has been a lot of conversation about alcohols and other options that are out there. i remind people, i hear people all the time say there is a problem with vouchers, and how could the federal government be involved in any money going to preschools private schools or public schools or whatever that may be. we settled that decades and decades ago. it's called the g.i. bill. when the g.i. bill was passed after world war ii, the federal government told those veterans coming back from the war that you could choose to go to any school you want to go to, public school, private school, wherever it may be. the g.i. bill is still considered one of the most
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effective tools that our nation has ever done in higher education. it's a voucher program. and for many people, they have not had the opportunity to be able to think through what does this mean? now, again, betsy devos has been very clear to say it's not her desire to be able to impose that on every state, but if a state chooses to do that, why would we stop them when we have already seen clear evidence the g.i. bill was so incredibly successful in its time, going back now 60-plus years? it's an issue that we look at and say why would we stand in the way of charter schools when in the past they have been very well received by republicans and democrats alike. president obama was a supporter of charter schools. both of his secretaries of education were outspoken supporters of charter schools. in fact, one of them helped found a charter school. charter schools are public schools. and they're received well. in my state of oklahoma, we just had another school that came
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online that's a charter school that's been approved by our state board of education in a unanimous vote just a few weeks ago. these are decisions that are made by local districts. these are decisions that don't work in every area, in every location, especially in many rural areas. it doesn't work the same way. so why don't you allow that local district to make those decisions? why don't you allow that state to make the decision? why don't you give the authority to oklahoma to do it, and let's not ask betsy devos -- in fact, allow congress to hold her to account to make sure that our secretary of education is not trying to impose on our states what she wants to do but allowing our state to do what we want to do. and what we ask of a secretary of education is not to run our schools but to stay out of our schools' business. and to allow us to be able to make those decisions. she is not going to step in and try to take funds away. that's not her funds to give and to be able to monitor.
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our decision is what do we want to do as a state in education? what options do we want to provide to our kids? and what i would ask most of the secretary of education is leave us alone. and allow us to do what we can for our kids. and quite frankly, i don't have a problem with school choice. even as a parent that sent my kids to public schools when i could have sent them to private schools because i thought the school was doing a great job in my area, and i was glad for my kids to be able to be involved in that. but why would we ever tell a parent if you'll give us just five more years, we'll get this school cleaned up and turned around? their child doesn't have five more years. their child has one shot, and if they wait five more years to graduate from high school, they didn't get the opportunities they needed. it may work for their younger brother, but they couldn't wait.
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why don't we give that ability back to the parent? as an avid supporter of public education, as a person with deep respect for teachers in my school, as a person that i myself have a secondary education degree from college and i have spent 22 years working for students, i cannot tell teachers enough thank you for your thankless service. they spend all day with students that don't want to be there most of the time, and they deal with parents at night that are upset that their child got a b-plus rather than an a, and they worked tirelessly through a lot of bureaucracy. we're grateful for that. i assure you, this congress will make sure that no secretary of education reaches into any classroom and tells them how to do their business, including the next one. we've got a couple others i want to mention as well. jeff sessions, who's coming out
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of this body, will be the next attorney general. he'll be a great attorney general. jeff sessions has proven over the years that he is passionate about the law. he did it when he was in alabama. he's done it here in the senate. he has been an individual that's very focused on what does the law say let's do that. he has been a person that has been a lover of all people but also a person that's not willing or that's not opposed to confronting people when they need to be confronted. it's a good role for an attorney general. i look forward to seeing him in that spot. we have a favorite son in this fight as well. his name is scott pruitt. scott pruitt has been beat up a lot by the special interests lobbyists and the environmental lobby. they put out all kinds of stuff about him. i would encourage them to actually meet scott pruitt and hear from him. scott pruitt has been passionate about the environment. scott pruitt actually likes breathing clean air. that may be shocking to people. but he likes clean air.
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in fact, he likes clean water as well. i don't know if you knew that or not. but scott pruitt has been a very good attorney general for us that has also been very focused on doing this one thing. what does the law say? let's do that. some of the pushback scott pruitt has had is not that he is opposed to the law, it's that he is not willing to push beyond the law, to be more creative with the clean water act, to be more creative with the clean air act. that's not the job of the executive branch is to be creative with an old law. it's to implement the law and to do it well. i fully expect scott pruitt to hold every person and every company that's a polluter to account because we as a nation all want clean air and clean water, but i also fully expect him to push back when someone says to him you ought to do this, for him to respond that may be nice, but that has to pass congress, because the environmental protection agency can't make up the rules, they can only implement the rules that have been given to them by
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congress. looking forward to scott pruitt serving in that role. and in the weeks ahead as he's left out of committee now and advanced out of committee, he'll come to the floor and we'll have a full vote here, and i'm willing to tell all of my colleagues that when scott pruitt is at the environmental protection agency, you'll be pleasantly surprised with how fair he is, how responsive he is and how passionate he is about actually implementing the law. these are long days for us because there is an awful lot of stall tactics going on. president trump is trying to put his cabinet together. by this point, two weeks in, president obama had almost all of his cabinet done already. well over 20 individuals were already in place in president obama's first term. the other party has blocked as many as they possibly can so that president trump can't get to work. you may think that's a nice political thing to do, but the nation had an election, and as president obama said, elections
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do have consequences. president trump should be allowed to put together his cabinet just like republicans allowed president obama to put together his cabinet before. it's a fair thing, and it's a right thing to be able to do. we all need to be able to get our work done, president trump included. let's let him put his team together and get to work as the american people have asked him to do. with that, i'd yield back and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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