tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 7, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EDT
>> we are going to see the kind of sharp polarization that have come to characterize our politics seeping into the system. ofwill be just an extension our legislatures and our elections and our politics. erodes the theitutional integrity of judicial branch. at that point, people lose of thence in the ability fairly adjudicate cases and controversies. and our democracy cannot afford that. our system is designed to make that this branch works. broad requires a consensus, even if we don't agree on any particular ruling, the courts' rulings itself are legitimate. with ourstent democratic design. and that's why this is so
important. a matter of who is occupying that ninth seat in the supreme court. it has to do with how we as a thecracy operate, and particular authority that a court has to bring in order for work.mocracy to that was a really long answer. [laughter] >> others will not be as long. [laughter] >> let me ask you about that, mr. president. this point?et to you hear sometimes that the problem is the supreme court has into political issues, and so of course it gets inmeshed in politics. court has been controversial almost from the jeffersonansom the attack on the martial courts. and we haven't had this before. so do you have an explanation what it is that -- >> i think there are a variety of explanations. important to it's underscore what you just said.
all i don't have you law students -- all of you law students, i think just from reading cases you will that there's politics in legal rulings. make decisions about right, wrong, what are the rules governing our society, et cetera, that that's an extension of our broader political and democratic conversation. nobody is denying that. and you're right. there have been controversies in about how we should decide the balance between liberty and security, about how treat minority groups to assure that they are protected rule, how do we make sure that the political integrity,elf has and that our votes count. those are all issues where passions are real and people
have opinions. and there's nothing wrong with that. think what changed was when the congress itself and the senate in particular began to change. i think, in some ways, the casualtyprocess is a of some broader trends in our democracy. all, our politics have become much more polarized. called been something the great sorting, right? because of gerrymandering of how our media works where folks either watch fox or they read the new york times but rarely do both. positions get hardened and reinforced. partisans carry more weight party.each the notion of a liberal republican or a conservative
those things broke down. so politics itself got more polarized. that then fed into a culture in basic comedyhich and habits of courtesy and and institutional respect for people that you didn't agree with, those things to breakdown. said,libuster, as i started becoming just standard practice. there's nothing in the says everyn that item that comes before the get a is supposed to supermajority. it used to be that the alibuster -- it doesn't have very distinguished history -- was used principally for rights andvil anti-lynching and, you know, voting rights legislation. bad enough. it then suddenly became the norm
everything, as minority parties started to decide that wanted to block what the majority of the senators were in of.r think,all of this, i contributed to a breakdown of the process. fairness, democrats are not blameless on this. if you talk to republicans, they will often point to the borke nomination as where this all started. and there have been times where toocrats used the filibuster presidentsrepublican or conservative legal theorists imminently qualified jurists. say that there has not aen a circumstance in which republican president's appointee
did not get a hearing, did not a vote. and as a general proposition, evenhave been confirmed, where there have been strong objections. have here is, i think, a circumstance in which decided the senate have moreplacating our base is important than upholding their constitutional and institutional in our democracy in a way that is dangerous. and there are other examples of it. but this judicial nomination process, i think, has become an extreme example of that. >> uh-huh. let me take you back a step to whenou're thinking about you're making an appointment. again, let me try to put it in a historical context a little bit. you have presidents who really set out to reshape the court. and franklin roosevelt may be the clearest example.
would findrmined who justices who would uphold new deal legislation. richard nixon. then you have presidents who did have any particular agenda. and i think eisenhower is an example. of the greatthree justices of the 20th henchly, harlan, brennan. but his appointees came from different backgrounds, no identifiable tendency in the way they thought about the constitution. do you see yourself as one of those models or something different from both? >> there's no doubt that in appointments, the values of the justice matter to me. mean by that is not how they rule on a particular issue. very careful, when i interview candidates, not them about a particular controversy that, you know, might make it seem as if i
want a particular outcome. but what i've been consistent in looking for, and this is what i iw in justice sotomayor, what peoplejustice kagan, is who, number one, have integrity.l and what that means is that they at the facts and the law even if it's uncomfortable thehem, they don't like outcome, they follow the law. recognize that that's their job. that they bring a humanity to the job. mean by that is that, particularly on the supreme cases --ne out of 10
in the federal courts -- nine out of 10 cases, you can probably arrive at an outcome just by applying basic kind of the constitutional interpretation. lot of not going to be a controversy. the cases that really matter are there's where ambiguity, where there's a lack requiresy, where it constitutional principles being way that is true to true to basic but also that oferstands the unique role the court in making sure that people who are locked out of the political process, for example, out,ot permanently locked that they have some recourse,
justices who understand how the world works are not entirely blind to the history of racial discrimination or gender moneymination or how operates in our world. that necessarily leads them to rule on a particular issue but because it that when they're looking which statutee in or the constitution does not provide an immediate, ready can applyat they judgment grounded in how we actually live. ideals and principles that have made this such an extraordinary country. i want them to have lived a to see thebe able wide spectrum of people that going to be wielding this enormous power over.
of times, when i talk to the candidates for the time asking spend them about their families and and what werep formative experiences in their minds. and in some ways, that reveals more than anything. of the reason that i think merrick garland would be such an extraordinary judge is not just been anhe's already extraordinary judge but, you life i think about his story. and i mentioned this in the introduction. kid,he was a high school as class valedictorian and he's speaking ahead of him who lambastes the vietnam war and parents are trying to unplug the guy's mic, and in and -- not
because he necessarily agrees student but impromptu vigorous defense of free speech, as a 17- or 18-year-old kid. me something about him. it gives me confidence that this thoughtody who has what are our core values and ethics as a society? work he hear about the did in the oklahoma city bombing, and he's presiding over the investigation at the justice heartment, and the fact that was meticulous in how he conducted that investigation and didn't cut corners, even though, of those kinds of oftentimesttacks, it's convenient, because people aren't going to call you on it, to cut corners. and at the same time, how he
the program mourning the the memorial, because he knew that each one of those people who had been those, and each one of families, you know, had been affected in such profound ways. tells me something about who he is. and that, as much as anything, i menk, is going to give confidence. that's the kind of person where, if i'm before a judge, i want to make sure that i've got somebody about wise and who cares people. not arbitrary and can provide confidence to the system. and i also think part of the reason i thought merrick was becausew is precisely of all the polarization we were talking about earlier.
what a good moment for us to somebody who is respected and who chief with onroberts served appellate court and befriended and consistently said, despite being on the opposite ends of a bunch of decisions, said this is somebody who, if he says you're wrong, you've got to think long and hard about it. embodies and models what it ourhat we want to see in jurijury. >> let me pick up on that. know, some people on the left were disappointed with your judge garland. they thought you should have appointed someone who would be more aggressive in moving the a certain direction. i guess what i want to say is, those of us who knew you back
said, you know, you shouldn't be surprised because if i remember and correct me if i don't -- when you were teaching constitutional law, there are work who that kind of hold up the warren court as the model and say a court's job is the front lines of attacking society's problems. and if i remember correctly, you skeptical of that when you were a law professor. so am i right in remembering that the skepticism carried over? >> no. i think you're right about this. law and you'ren familiar with this, probably the too, that, you terrific courts are a shield but they're not always a very effective sword. and what i mean by that is that there have been moments in history, brown vs. board of
education being the best and on the other end of the spectrum, a decision like scott, which was antithetical to we'd want to see a court do. there are certain moments where, in brown, the democracy has broken down. in a fundamental way. downajority has shut access for the petitions for redress from a minority group. times where an individual who is engaging, unpopular in highly ableh, is not going to be to, through the political thatss, uphold the values we collectively have decided are to uphold.rtant
circumstances, i view ofery progressive how the courts should operate. but as i think judge garland said, being a federal judge are -- mean that you that you have this broadness to simply remake society. ideally, you've got a political process that does that, that we argue about issues and we elect we get voteses and we pass bills, and we get a administration and they passed. stuff that we and it's rough and it's tumble and it's not always elegant. but that's the constitutional design. and it has the benefit of making sure that separation of powers
power intralization of our society keeps this lumbering pretty goodin a direction. it's been rare, and this is by design, that the court engages in massive social engineering. i care deeply about -- there are a whole range of willessive causes that i continue to fight for as long as i have a breath. society that, you know, is doing something about climate change in an aggressive way. i believe in a society in which to get ald is able decent education and opportunity. i believe that everybody should in a societyare this wealthy. it's note a privilege. it's a right. i believe that our criminal system is flawed in a
whole range of ways. ago, or maybe it was last week, i had lunch with that iing of the people pardoned for nonviolent drug offenses. got a woman sitting next to me who, at a very young her early 20's, was sentenced to life in prison for offense.ent drug it's crazy. makes no sense. it was unjust and counterproductive and leaves huge scars not just in that woman's family, in her children, but in our society as a whole. so there are a whole bunch of things i've done as president and i intend to continue to do and to advocate for. those are not things, though, that typically a supreme court justice is in a position to get done. have taxing power. they don't necessarily have the be designing programs to get at the things that we care about. and so i have a -- i do have a
modesty in terms of my expectations for what the court should do. but i want the court to do what it should do really well. does believet that that equality under the law is not justunder the law, the words but that it is that it's real. that is treating poor indigent criminal defendant the same as a wealthy criminal defendant. and that the justice is blind respect to -- she agrees with me. [laughter] >> so modesty in the scope and nature of what the law is really well what the court is designed to do.
that's what i'm looking for in a justice. >> i think we can open it up. to questions. there you go. a little socratic method here. state your case! [laughter] >> no. i'm teasing. i'm teasing. this young lady right here in the green. yes? >> so... >> do with ehave a mic? we have a mic? introduce yourself, by the way. >> hi. >> hi! >> my name is amelia. >> hey, amelia. >> i actually had the opportunity to ask you a question when i was 15 years old, in new hampshire. >> wow! [laughter] happy.'m really >> are you a student here now? >> i am. >> that's very cool. >> did i answer your question the last time? >> you did. very well. goodness. all right. what have you got? >> so i'm really happy to hear that you said you were going to for the issuesh that you care about. believe thatcourse the push for the supreme court
nomination is incredibly important. i'm just concerned that other issues could get less behind. such issue, for example, is criminal justice reform. massfically the problem of incarceration. so i was wondering if you could what more you'll do in your last 10 months to address this issue. >> great question. in this really interesting moment where generally congress thoroughly unproductive, not by the way because of the members of congress who are here -- [laughter] >> who are all doing great work. aggregate, it's not doing much. exception has been this movement,terest, this in criminal justice reform. and it's bipartisan. it's sincere on the part of all sides on this.
and it's an interesting convergence. conservativesl who have been seeing how incarcerate is to people year after year after year and how it's breaking the bank, particularly at the state level where if you track education, public incarcerationn years,e last 20, 25, 30 there's almost a direct line between more people in jail and support for public universities, for example. a fiscal concern. libertarian strand of conservatives who really believe, you know, why is it the government's business if somebody is smoking pot, let's say. and why would we want to jail
them for 20 years. very sincere evangelical movement that involved ins reentry programs or prison ministries and so have embraced the idea of a second chance. and so you combine that with law hasrcement that i think begun to recognize that a lot of how we have prosecuted the war on drugs has been unproductive recidivism is inevitable if people are getting no skills, they're incarcerated just arees and then we releasing them with no possible support. longstanding progressive view that a lot of our criminal justice system has by racialed discrimination and class bias. converging.ings are reallywe've got some
interesting coalitions. the aclu you've got and the coke brothers agreeing does not happy often. dirk durbin has been one of the leaders in the senate in a criminal justice reform bill that has a real chance of passage. and i think it's really important to understand the nominations process with judge holding back our ability to move forward. ifean, it would be one thing mitch mcconnell was say, man, it's going to take so long to anddule all the hearings votes and we won't have time, because we're just so busy that then do criminal justice instead. spikence there's been a in the number of days off in
and typically a judicial confirmation takes less than three months from the time that person's nominated. example, tookor 82 days. this is something that shouldn't getting done the criminal justice issues. i think what's been tougher is just managing the traditional politics around being soft on crime vs. being tough on crime. and right now, because crime sadly, except for in certain neighborhoods in chicago few other cities, have been going down in ways that are nobody can fully explain. there's less profit in saying i'm going to be tough on crime. there's always a hesitance on the part of legislators, because very rarely is a politician punished for having
crime andough on sentencing. know, a lanally, you willie horton, they feel that a that can be perceived as lenient might come back to bite them. the good news is, so far at least, people have stuck with it. and i'm modestly optimistic that get something done this year. it won't solve the problem of mass incarceration, because that process that took 20, 30 where we areto now. where we account for 5% of the population and 25% of the world's prisoners. so it's going to take some time to reverse. that's legislation pending right now provides meaningful reductions in the standards for sentencing around nonviolent drug crimes. important workry in terms of reentry, diversion
programs. breaks the psychology that we just have to lock people up in safe.to keep ourselves one last element to this that interesting is the opioids crisis that some of you may have read about. ,ight now, painkillers overdoses of painkillers kills people than traffic accidents. a remarkable statistic. there's been this huge spike in which isr addiction, then leading to heroin addiction, because oftentimes heroin is cheaper than painkillers. and four out of five people who addicted to heroin start their addiction with oxycontin some other painkiller addiction. unlike crack, it's not just
inner city african-american or latino communities. widespread. it's pervasive. it's seeping into rural areas. a tragic issue that we spending a lot of time focused on. but what's interesting is that the politics of this changes a little bit where, when elected officials see kids who are like their kids getting hooked and going through these terrible things, there's been a greater predisposition to think of this a public health issue rather than a criminal justice and incarceration issue. and, you know, that's -- i'm just being blunt. that's the truth but it actually has had an impact in terms of an openness, i think, to reexamining some of our drug laws. good question. your question eight years ago was really good too.
all right. girl, boy,o go boy, girl, just to make sure this is fair. we monitor these things. [laughter] >> yes, gentleman right here in the tie. you. you look sharp. [laughter] >> do you wear a tie every day to class or... [laughter] >> good. jimmy. i've never asked you a question before. this might not go very well. but i've written it down, so hopefully i can read. plt -- mr. president, we are currently in the midst of a polarizing political election both partiesg around fault lines. widing toicipate this the expect we saw, and if not, what do you worry about for the the democratic party? i short answer is no, don't -- the cleavages inside
democratic party are not comparable to what we're seeing in the republican party right now. inside thet democratic party is a little bit more about means, less about ends. if you look at our two candidates, they believe that everybody should get health care, they believe every child should get a good education, they believe that climate change is real and should do something about it. in, you know, equality for the lgbt community. list, go through the there's not a huge divergence there. that in the democratic populousere is a impulse that grows outs of what also think has happened for folks who are voting in the
republican primary. this frustration in the wake of thefinancial crisis and bottom falling out for people lostost their jobs or their homes or, you know, lost their pensions. that the world is moving fast. ground is not firm under their feet. that crisis,re wages and incomes were not going same pace as productivity, corporate profits and so forth. there's a sense the game is rigged and we have to more fundamentally change that game, that system, whether it's wall street or how washington operates or what have you. healthy.hat impulse is you want people to be asking hard questions about injustice,
way thatlly and the insiders and the political representy not fully the interests of everyone. whether for republicans, is in a closed loop system where everybody is just listening to agree with them, the way start thinking to get to where i want to go is simply be as uncompromising possible and hold the line pay attention or listen to what the other side has to say. if -- and that is sort of a tea party mentality. and that anybody who suggests,
well, there's another point of whole half ofs a the country that completely disagrees with us that we have then youith, well, must be a sellout or you must be on theed or you must be take or what have you. have that is not, i think, useful. and it's not to say there isn't corruption, that there isn't or people compromising principles for less than noble means, et cetera. things happen and they should be called out. reason why athe lot of democrats who supported support me got is because a bunch of the country doesn't agree with me or them. and they have votes too. and they elect members of congress.
and, you know, that's how our democracy works. not a situation -- if you don't get everything you want, always because the you out.u elected sold it may just be because, in our taking halfend up loaves. i could not be prouder of the act.dable care but it was a messy process. it doesn't have a public option. it's not single payer. if i were designing a system scratch, i would have designed a more elegant system and a more efficient system. but that's not what was possible in our democracy. in the same way that social startrd, when it first was a meagerly program providing benefits to just a few people, and historically cut out for
reasons domestic servants or share croppers or you.have then over time, you kept on improving it. that's how change generally happens. and i think the thing that democrats have to guard against thating in the direction the republicans are much further senseon, and that is this of we are just going to get our then we'llwe don't, cannibalize our own and then kick them out and try again and we narrow our viewpoints more and more until finally we stake out positions that are so alienate thethey broad public. i don't see that being where the democrats go. but it's always something that we have to pay attention to. yes?
for theon't you wait mic. >> thank you so much for being here. my name is shaza. yourike to know, how are views on the supreme court nomination changed since you law herenstitutional at the university of chicago? it shoulds onin on how work haven't changed. my views on how it currently a source ofsly are frustration. look, just to kind of wrap up conversation,ourt perfectly is acceptable for republicans to decide that even though merrick garland is highly qualified, even though he's indisputably a even thoughr judge, he's gotten the highest ratings
the bar organizations and others that have examined his record, that, you know, i agree with him on x, voteand i'm going to against him because i believe in something different on important issues. what's not acceptable is not him a vote, not giving him a hearing, not meeting with him. acceptable, i the increasing use of the filibuster for somebody clearly within the mainstream or to essentially say that we are going to nullify the ability of a president who is from another party from making an appointment. and we're going to wait to see we can get a guy from our party to make the appointment. where you have a process
that corrodes the ability of the court to function effectively. how this -- how much of a problem this could end being, if in fact mitch mcconnell sticks to not giving a giving a vote -- and let's say from their perspective, everything works their nominee, be, wins andmight the white house. and they then make an appointment. is the democrats would then say, oh, well, we'll along with that. right? inconceivable, so now the democrats say, well, you know, what's good for the gander. good for the we'll wait four more years to see how the next president comes in. at which point what's most
mitch mcconnell will then eliminate the filibuster possibility for court justices as it was otherated for the judicial appointments. a majoritys just exercise inside the senate of controls the presidency and who controls the senate. and if different parties control the white house and the senate that period of time, you're not going to get any appointments done, which is a for the courts generally. for two reasons. one is there's a lot of work to get done, and you need judges. right now there are emergency situations in districts across the country. thing thatond happens is people will, at that point, just become more and more
cynical about decisions that are coming down from the court. they're already cynical because so many opinions just end up being straight 5-4. feeling like this is just a partisan alignment. gets much worse under these circumstances. courtsthen just view the as an extension of our political parties. polarized political parties. and if confidence in the courts down, theny breaks seeing our attitudes about democracy generally starting to break down and legitimacy breaking down, in ways that are very dangerous. it's a gentleman's turn, right in the front. >> i am impressed by the way you guys did all get dressed up.
[laughter] out?s there a memo sent did the dean say, we want you all -- because you don't go to class like this. know. i remember. ha ha! >> hello, mr. president. beingyou very much for with us today. my name is kyle. the law school. my question for you is, what sorts of constitutional questions were at the forefront deciding whowhen your nominee should be? and what source of constitutional questions do you think americans should be asking themselves when assessing your thection and thinking about 2016 presidential election? >> well, i will tell you, as i before, i'm very careful too specifically position ondate's live issues. well-informed a 2l. you know the issues that people debate. you know, there's a standard set issues that have been roiling society and the courts
for a long time. whether it's lgbt rights or rights. or civil what's interesting is there are a set of new issues that are forg to be coming up, that your generation, i think, are going to be increasingly salient. one great example is this whole ibate around encryption which think is just the tip of the iceberg of what we're going to figure out, you know, in so much ofn which your life is digitized. people have the whole new set of areacy expectations that understandable. they also expect, though, that since their lives are all digitized that the digital world safe, which creates a
ontradictory demand government. protect me from hackers. protect me from terrorists. protect me from -- et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. but i don't want you to know any of my business and i don't even the ability toe investigate some of that business when it happens, because of this broader implication and we're worried about big brother. so there's going to be a whole around thatsues that i think will be coming up. i think there are a range of issues that date back earliest days of prominentand were during the great depression and era that have gone into abeyance. attention topay them as much in terms of
monopoly concentration or et cetera.issues, but i think in this current environment we're going to be -- going to be becoming more prominent over time. political issues, issues,issues, voting money and politics issues, that's a whole series of issues believe are an important role for the court to play, because if we're not effectively setting the rules of the political process, if that is de-legitimized, then whatever are generated, you know, are subject to just endless contention. and this is separate from the judiciary. your president editorializing.
are the only advanced on earth that systematically and purposely makes it really hard for people to vote. and we sort of take it for granted. just assume,rt of well, yeah, that's, i guess, how it is. no other country on earth that does that. there's a legacy to that, that grows directly out of a property, which first men, and then white men, then women,olks didn't want minorities to participate in the and be able toss empower themselves in that fashion. now, that's the history.
we should be a society in which, yes,is point, we said, that history wasn't so good. that's not who we are. a civil war fought about all this stuff and we laws, a whole series of like the voting rights act, and at this point we should be at the point where we say, you know what? we want everybody to vote, because that's the essence of our democracy. we have not just federal laws but state laws that unabashedly discourage people from voting. which is why we have some of the rates of any advanced democracy in the world. and that's a problem. something that -- i'm saying that to congress as well presidency as well as to governors as well as state
well as to as courts. that can't be right. it -- there's no justification for that. you can't defend it. and i have always said -- and this goes back to the young man's question earlier about polarization -- you biggestybe the single change that we could make in our political process that would reduce some of the polarization, invested,e feel more restore integrity to the system, would be just make sure voting.y is australia has got mandatory voting. 70%, 80% getting voting rates. that's transformative. all right. how much time do with ehave, by the -- do we have, by the way?
we'll take two. [laughter] >> ha ha! young lady in the green right sweater. the that's you. yes. you didn't remember what you you?wearing today, did >> ha! pardon me. no, that's okay. i think we can agree that, in celebrate, we diversity of ethnicity, of backgrounds, of races. wondering -- of course university of chicago, diversity ideas. i'm just wondering what diverse characteristics judge garland would bring to the supreme court. >> well, he's from skokie. [laughter] >> i think -- [applause] >> that's very important. great place. it's a great town. you know, the way i thought diversity is not to think as, oh,y single seat i've got to fill this slot with demographic but, rather, if
set of nominees to make -- and this is true do is the board -- how make sure that i'm intentional throughout that process? that the talent of every american, and every potential a fair look.ts that if i confidence stick to that, if i do that, if i make sure that i'm broadening search, broadening the pool, looking at a bunch of folks, they're not going through the conventional paths, end up -- the process will result in diversity. fact is what's happened. to brag, butw, not transformed the federal courts from a diversity
a record that's been unmatched. [applause] >> we've got more african-americans on the circuit courts than we ever had before. i've appointed more african-american women to the federal courts than any other before.t i've appointed more latinos than any president before. appointed more native americans, more asian-americans. more lgbt judges than ever before. but at no point did i say, oh, you know what? i need a black lesbian, you know. from skokie. [laughter] >> in that slot.
can you find me one? [laughter] >> you know, i mean, that's just not how i've approached it. if the processat is fair and you are saying that important that our courts changingctive of a society, you'll end up with a really good cross-section of people who are excellent and we've been able to appoint. and so when i look at merrick person, that was the that, you know, the difference between the supreme court is seats come up of at any given time. i appointed a latino woman, that.r woman right before so, you know, yeah, he's a white a reallye's outstanding jurist. sorry. [laughter] >> you know, i think that's important. but this speaks to the broider -- broader debate about
diversity that i think is important and obviously churns up in college campuses a lot. is, have you set up a process and are you intentional? intentional about giving everybody a shot? you thinking about notblocks to why we're seeing a more diverse population? asking thosestart questions, in whatever withtution -- i just met the chairman of the joint chiefs combatantnd the commanders, sort of our key military leaders. the u.s. military, interestingly, has probably done of a job as any institution in our society when comes to integration and bringing diverse people in. but as you go up the ranks, you
seeing that it becomes of thed less reflective broader population and the the men and women in uniform, who are coming in. reallye had a interesting conversation about, what's happening? how much of this is that the african-american or latino officer or woman officer isn't person righthe above them and steered into that arer assignments less likely to achieve a promotion? we do about a set of financial burdens that may exist? and if a lot of those folks are going into, as enlisted men and women, because that's the opportunity that was presented to them and nobody told them they could apply to west point. what are we doing to find
outstanding enlisters and saying, you know, you'd make a good officer and we're going to groom you. that does -- you satisfyings not as comes to publicity, just checking a box and saying, ork, i appointed this person that person in any particular slot. but that's whether you start changing systems and you start changing institutions, and you broad baseda really change in access. that's something that i deeply about because, just as it's true in it's truery, generally. look, our society is changing. a successfulve america if we are leaving out populationof the
from opportunity and leadership. doesn't work. the same argument i make countriesnally in that are still repressing women. your society cannot work. it doesn't work. half -- more than half of is constrained, that population that is most likely to be raising your children and the next generation is not getting opportunity, your fail.y will over the long term. and that's just true generally. all right. one last question. excuse me. you were not called on. [laughter] are a journalist. and i'm calling on students.
so thank you very much. is -- this wasn't a press conference. let's just see. it's a gentleman's turn. this gentleman right there. >> my name is seth. i'm a 3l. mind, i'm going to read my question. >> it is okay. you guys and your phones. by the way, are you now -- i'm assuming you can't carry your phones into court. can you? >> i think it depends. [laughter] >> i'm just saying. practice.ight want to [laughter] >> yeah. [applause] to work on that. [laughter] >> so one issue that judge garland would likely never be he wereconsider, if confirmed, concerns the
president's authority to conduct strikes away from active battle fields. and due to the strikes that you continuously authorized on the basis of vague legal standards that you unilaterally be satisfied in each case, without ever appearing before a court, and in the killing hundreds of innocent civilians as well as, in some cases, american citizens. is, how are these killings morally and legally justified, and what kind of message does this drone program send about america's values to american people, and to law students like myself who refuse to put our trust in opaque process? >> that's a great question. say that i will dispute some of the underlying asmises that you asserted facts. but i think it's an important topic and it's a fair one. when i came into office, we were of two wars,midst in iraq and afghanistan.
border regions between afghanistan and pakistan, al-qaeda was still highly active. to drone technologies began develop in parallel with -- had presidencyrior to my but started to really accelerate the technology and the precision with which strikes could be taken. the challenge for me as commander in chief has consistently been, how do you new technologys consistent with of war,, ideals, laws but is also consistent with my first priority as president and commander in chief, which is to
keep all of you safe, including you? think it is fair to say that in the first couple of , the of my presidency legal architecture, administrative architecture, command structures around how wase were utilized underdeveloped in relation to how fast the technology was moving. our military and intelligence teams started seeing this as effective, and they started going, because the goal was, let's get al qaeda, let's get these leaders, there is a training camp here, a high-value target there, let's move. decision-making nothe decision-making was
inhoc, but it was embedded decisions that are made all the leading a a commander military operation, or an intelligence team trying to take out a terrorist. there was not enough of an overarching structure. recall, but if not, i'm sure we can send it to you -- i did a speech at the national defense university in which i said that we have to create an architecture for this, because abuse, given for of these weapons and their lethality, we've got to come up with a structure that governs how we approach it.
that's what we have done. i put forward what is called a presidential directive, basically a set of administrative guidelines whereby these weapons are being used. put forward ad nonclassified version of what those directives look like, and it says that you can't use these weapons unless you have near certainty that there will not be civilian casualties, that you have near certainty that the targets you are heading are in fact terrorist organizations that are intending to do imminent harm to the united states. agencies whol the are involved in that process, they have to get together and approve that, and it goes to the highest, most senior levels of our government in order for us to make those decisions.
but i've also said is that -- what i've also said is that we need to start creating a process public accountability is introduced so that you, or citizens, or members of congress outside the intelligence committee can look at the facts and see whether or not we are abiding by what we say are these norms. actually, there are a lot of legal aspects to this, because part of the problem is that this dragon program initially came through the intelligence -- this program initially came through the intelligence side as opposed to the military. heart of what i also said is that i don't want our intelligence agencies being a paramilitary organization. that is not their function. this should be done through our
defense department so that we can report what we did and why we did it in our assessment of what happened. slowly we are pushing it in that direction. my hope is by the time i leave office, there is not only an internal structure in place that governs these standards, but there is also an institutionalized process whereby the actions the u.s. government takes through technology are consistently reported on an annualized basis, so that people can look. the reason this is really important to me, and this was implied in your question, is there is a lot of misinformation about this. there is no doubt, and i said this in an interview recently, there is no doubt that some innocent people have been killed by drone strikes. it is not true that it has been
this willy-nilly "let's bomb but a village -- let's bomb a village." have not how folks operated. what i can say with certainty is the rate of civilian casualties in any drone operation are far lower than the rate of civilian casualties that occur in conventional war. irony, let's take an example like the bin laden raid. was as precise and that ive in operation don't think anybody would dispute was in the national security interests of the united states, and we put our best , who operatere as precisely and effectively as any group of individuals probably ever have in the history of the planet, and they executed their mission
flawlessly. but there were a number of people who were killed in that who you might describe as not the targets of the mission, members of bin laden's family, for example. counted as a civilian casualty. under the standards from which you drew your information. and if you calculated it as a percentage, there was actually a pretty high civilian casualty rating, for this precise mission. imagine during the height of the iraq war, or when we were still actively fighting in afghanistan , the number of civilians who were killed in normal military operations.
we talk about the number of u.s. troops that were killed in iraq, the number of iraqi that were by aqi andmarily but alsowere fighting, by u.s. military who was trying to be as careful as possible in ,haotic situations, like ramadi were in the tens of thousands. ist of my job as president to figure out how i can keep america safe doing the least in really tough, bad situations. and i don't have the luxury of not doing anything and then being able to stand back and feel as if my conscience is
completely clear. i have to make decisions. because there are folks out there who are generally -- genuinely trying to kill us and would be happy to blow up this , and are actively trying to find ways to do it. i wish i could just send in ironman -- [laughter] sen. mcconnell: i don't -- i don't mean that as a joke. i just wish that the tragedy of war, conflict, terrorism, etc. did not end up creating circumstances where we wheeled in connecticut power and don't end up hurting anybody who should not have been hurt. what i tried to do is this, set up the system as best i can.
i think it is important for those who are critics of the u.s. government, and this includes folks on the outside, to examine the incredible progress we have made over the course of a couple of decades, because this conversation did not even exist, did not even crossed the minds of people in the white house as recently as 30 or 40 years ago. it was not even a factor. this in auish over very serious way. is a legitimate concern is the transparency issues. i think the way this got built up through our intelligence and meant that0 programs it was not subject to the same amount of democratic debate as when we are conducting what are department of
defense conventional operations. that has done a disservice not only to the public being able to examine where we made mistakes and create corrective action, and has actually done a service to the dedicated men and women in intelligence and operations who perform these operations, accusationsect to that somehow they are irresponsible and bloodless and going around blowing up children, which is not the case. our popular media, i think, has a wholee to project bunch of scenarios that are generally not accurate. i guess i should stop there. [laughter] you forama: but thank
the question. it was a legitimate one. nd where i started, based on the quality of the christians -- quality of the questions in your very sharp appearances. you guys have a lot to contribute. don't let the day-to-day noise and news and frustrations with our democracy discourage you from being involved. am phasing out of this particular part of my life, but i have said this before. i believe that when i was teaching here, i believe it even more now after having been president, the most important office in democracy is the office of citizens. i believe that. when citizens are informed, are engaged, are paying attention, are asking
tough questions. asking tough questions of themselves, by the way, not just with others. not too comfortable with whatever dogmas we all attach ourselves to. and you are learning the kind of critical thinking in this school that will allow you to become really good citizens. use it. thanks. >> thank you, mr. president. [applause] ♪
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] obama backpresident at the school where he used to teach law. speaking about the supreme court. to the supreme court, merrick garland, the fact that republicans are not taking up that nomination, whether at a hearing or a vote. we want to hear what you think tout what the president had say, and should the senate consider merrick garland's supreme court nomination? call -- rs to let us know what you think. president speaking today in the same area where his presidential library was slated to be built, the southside of chicago. alice is waiting on the line.
pennsylvania, a democrat. what do you think? should the senate consider merrick garland? collar: they certainly should. the man should have interviews and a hearing, at least. it is a big -- it is a disgrace, the dirt thrown at our parent -- at our president's face, and the adequacy of- and our government. i said, if we can only have him for another term. it is unbelievable. host: do you think it will happen in terms of what the presidential race will bring? i think it is in the hands of god, and we have the hopes that the right one would win. thank you. ann is on the line, independents and others. caller: yes, my name is ann, and
we should go by vice president biden. we should wait until the next term. if it was good to say then, we should be good for now. host: so you don't think that -- is 12 months is less enough to nominate or hear from a supreme court nominee? caller: no, if it was good for back then, it should be good for now. bob, a republican, somerset, massachusetts. go ahead and turn on your tv if you can. from somerset, massachusetts. i am a conservative republican. i think that we should definitely consider garland for the nomination. should doeel that we anything against the
constitutional rules that we have in place. bob, what do you think the impact will be on republicans if they hold to their line that they will not consider him? do you think that will affect senate races? caller: i think it will hurt them. i wish that they would reconsider their position, because i am a constitutionalist , and i believe that the .onstitution should rule even though i am a very conservative republican, i think republicans are taking the wrong, wrong route. thanks for the call. another bob on the line, indiana, south bend. bob, should the senate take up the merrick garland nomination? caller: yes, they definitely should. two calls prior to me said that we should abide by the biden world -- biden rule. it's ok forsaying
my wife to cheat. that's absurd. and we have to get out of this juvenile attitude that we have wrisked. the president is right. there are no way that democrats are going to stand by and say, you are not going to give judge garland a hearing, so if you do in fact when the white house in 2016, we are going to give your guy a hearing. when does this juvenile attitude stop? and do -- when do we become adults? and the other caller, this country holds president obama -- goes president obama a huge thanks of gratitude. all of the problems -- owes
president obama a huge thanks of gratitude. all of the problems he has solved we take for granted. i will say this and then drop off. biden has said the first thing did in the white house, he had eight simultaneous decisions and had to get them all right. biden said the same thing at the congressional hearing. imagine you had to make eight simultaneous decisions, and they are all huge, and you've got to get them all right. ,ost: all right, thanks, bob from indiana. let's take a look at some tweets . this is from "the chicago sun-times" during the president's comments, merrick garland is ideal now because he is respected by both sides and
friends with john roberts. we will take a look at what the judiciary committee had to say about chief justice john roberts and a little bit. congress is thoroughly unproductive, says obama, but one exception has been growing interest in criminal justice reform. and brian with the wall street journal asked, what kind of diversity does merit garland bring to the court? president obama says, well, he kokie.m s we will continue to take your calls. nebraska, a democrat. are you there? >> can you hear me? host: there you are. go ahead. caller: ok. i am from nebraska, where everybody votes red for some reason. i can't figure the republicans out myself. i know there are a lot of good ones. anyway, i just wanted to say a what ar president obama,
great job i think he is doing. i think the senate ought to ok forjudge he has put up supreme court justice. republicans why the want to drag their feet and stop us from voting. i just don't get it. i don't understand. host: looking down the road and depending on what happens, are you voting for a democrat for president? caller: absolutely. host: so what do you think will happen if another democrat is in office and we play this out? doobie -- do you think republicans are going to be an even worse shape? i don't think politics ought to get into our court. we have a constitution to go by. let's go buy it. that's what i say about that. host: all right. let's take a look at what chuck grassley had to say about the supreme court chief justice john , and bringing politics
into the nominating process. sen. grassley: the chief justice has it backwards. the confirmation process has gotten political precisely because the card itself has drifted from the constitutional text and rendered decisions based instead on policy preferences. in short, the justices themselves have gotten political . and because the justices' decisions are often political and transgress their constitutional role, the process becomes more political. in fact, many of my constituents believe, with all due respect, that the chief justice is part of this problem. chuck grassley is just one
of the senators who has said he will be meeting with the nominee. president obama nominated merrick garland. take a look at a couple of the other names. tuesday is the meeting with chuck grassley, wednesday, kelly ayotte from new hampshire, and rob portman on thursday from ohio. list oned to the friday, lindsey graham of south carolina says he will meet with the nominee, and later on, just lake of arizona and lisa murkowski of alaska. taking your calls, we want to hear what your thoughts are on the subject. should the senate consider merrick garland for the supreme court? from delaware, the republicans line, you've got the floor. robert, are you there? caller: thank you. host: there you are, go ahead. caller: i have been a registered republican since eighth-grade. if mitch mcconnell does not want
to take up the vote, he is going to have a hard time with the senate and congressional party come november. i will be almost 53. they need to take up the hearing, they need to take up the vote, and he needs to talk to them. to garland. host: what's going to happen if he doesn't? caller: well, we need a 5-4 court. you were showing obama talking about what might happen, it will be devastating. if the republicans don't want to get it together, i will have to vote democratic congressmen and senators. host: ok. calling from delaware. a couple more calls, beth from ohio, calling for mansfield. hi, beth. caller: hi. i agree with the previous
caller that it is really risky ,hat they are not nominating considering merrick garland. right now they don't need to wait. i think he is a very qualified person for this position, and they should take this opportunity to consider him. i think it is risky to let the court go without a nominee right now, and i think they are taking a big chance that they are going to get somebody a lot worse, for one thing, and that we don't need to have the supreme court go without a nominee right now, without another judge. for thel right, thanks call. let's talk with someone who has been reporting on this from politico. she is going to join us by phone. tell us, what has come from the
nomination since he has been meeting with a number of lawmakers on capitol hill? honest, it is a whole lot of nothing. we are getting a lot of photo ops and nice calls from democrats about how great a nominee judge garland is. example, senator suzanne collins from maine, and senator mark kirk from illinois. they praised judge garland abusively. they say the senate needs to act on his nomination. but at the republicans -- but other republicans who have met with him and will meet with him next week are not going to be singing that same tune. we had senator john boseman of arkansas sit down for a 20 minute meeting with judge garland earlier this week, and he said, look, i told judge a nice guy,are but we are not going to move your nomination this year.
tap forrepublicans on personal one-on-one's next week, you will see them deliver the same message to judge garland. host: what is their motivation? caller: i think there are various reasons. we know that senator chuck grassley of iowa is going to be meeting with them. he is the point person in the senate on all nominations, so he feels it is in his courtesy to me with judge garland, so they are going to be having breakfast on tuesday. some of the other senate republicans, kelly ayotte of new hampshire and rob portman of ohio, they are running for reelection in very purple states, and they don't want to ceray from the party stan that there should be no consideration of his nomination this year, but they also want to say, look, we are senators, we meet with everyone, we will give him a courtesy call. senator jeff flake of arizona feels that as well. host: and let's turn to the
democrats, what is their strategy? what kind of procedures can they put into place on the house floor? caller: right now they are really focused on wanting to do this the right way, the traditional way, the way that also bring court nominees have gotten. i think you are going to be seeing general public relations pressure for the next several weeks. the on that, if republicans continue their blockade, which we expect them to do, because mitch mcconnell has been adamant that the nominee will not move this year, you will see democrats discuss more procedural test takes -- procedural tactics, such as the motion to discharge. a sickly, you are discharging the committee -- basically, you are discharging the committee of the nomination of merrick garland. but there are other rules for that. the senate has to be an executive session for the democrats to deploy this maneuver. we know that the executive sessions usually have unanimous
consent to go into it, but republicans can block it by forcing them to get 51 votes to head into executive session. democrats only control 46 votes. that is just the beginning of the parliamentary jujitsu here. host: thank you. i appreciate your time, and we will keep following your reports on politico.com. tampa florida, democrat. sam, what do you think? i really enjoyed the president's remarks to the law students. i feel that the country is going to be very sad to see this president go. he is, without a doubt, one of the most intelligent and fair-minded presidents that we have had.
i believe what he mentioned is so important with regards to the effectiveness of the supreme court situation. effects of the supreme court situation. what republicans have done, first of all, is to bring shame upon themselves. secondly, they have effectively removed the third branch of .overnment from our system without the supreme court, you have only the legislative and executive branch. farce withomplete regard to the republicans are acting. i really wish that they would reconsider. i thank you. thank you. a caller from tennessee on the line, an independent. caller: hello. i am a retired, veteran --
retired combat veteran. i vote mostly democrat, but i also vote republican. but i am very impressed with both hillary clinton and john kasich. they are the two adults running for president. and i do support hillary clinton. host: what do you think about this merrick garland supreme court nominee, whether the senate should consider him or not? caller: first of all, when mcconnell made the statement that he would not even consider, that showed that he was acting childish. we need to follow the judicial system, and we need to respect to supportnt enough garland as supreme court justice. i think it is a shame that they would use politics to play with
our whole judicial system. host: thanks for the call. take a look at the new york times. they've got a breakdown of where ae senators are standing on supreme court nomination. you can look at the breakdown, including who would meet, who would consider him after the november election, those who would support holding a hearing, and those who would support the nominee at this time. it gives a rundown of names and also those who would not. take a look at that. that's at thenewyorktimes.com . we've got george calling from largo, florida. should the senate take this up? caller: yes. i have been a republican since reagan. what has been going on with the republican party since president , he hass been in office
managed this country without the help of the republicans, and i am ashamed to say that i am a republican because of it. stupidest thing that they can do right now, considering what is going on with this election and everything else. the republican party does not , and theyer black eye should go ahead and nominate the president's choice. he has managed this without them. not hurting the president, they are hurting the american people and this country. host: sorry to cut you off. democrats line, one more call from what haven, new york. alex. go ahead. caller: i want to address saidhing to people
earlier. first was the republican caller who invoked the biden rule. i want to know that justice scalia died in february. joe biden made these remarks about how no supreme court nomination should be heard. that was in late june and july. this is much, much closer to the end of the president's term. the second thing i want to say is that the politico reporter said what isrlier happening is a whole lot of nothing. that might actually be true from what is coming from the one-on-one meetings, but what i do see happening is that the public's hearing more and more about chief judge garland, and they are realizing just how qualified he is and just how disinterested the republican party is by holding a government that actually works. the republicans are trying to make the entire government dysfunctional. that is what they want, that is what they are doing with the
supreme court nomination, and that's why this country is not succeeding as it should be. once they stop being obstructionist at every turn, we will finally have a country that works for people on both sides of the aisle. host: alex, thanks for the call. we believe that there. thanks to all who called in. if you did not manage to get in, the conversation will continue online at facebook.com/c-span, and you can tweet us @cspan. i also want to tell you the judgegs scheduled with garland. tuesday, senator grassley will be meeting with him again, followed by senator ayotte of new hampshire, rob portman on thursday, and lindsey graham as well. of arizona and lisa murkowski a little bit down the road. you missed any of the president's remarks, we will be showing them tonight at 8:00 p.m., where he used to be a
professor, university of chicago law school. we will hear now from chuck grassley. he talked about the supreme court and also the nominating process. this is from earlier today. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: we have a unique opportunity for the american people to have a voice in the direction of the supreme court. the american people should be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on this very important matter. our side, meaning the republican side, believes very strongly that the people deserve to be heard and they should be allowed to decide through their vote for the next president the type of person that should be on the supreme court. as i've stated previously, this is a reasonable approach. it is a fair approach and it is a historical approach. one echoed by then-chairman biden, senator schumer and other
senators. and also, i might say, it was something that was practiced during president johnson's administration, lyndon baines johnson, and it was also something that happened during the eisenhower administration. now, the other side, meaning the democratic side, has been talking a great deal about the so-called pressure campaign to try to get members to change their position. it is no secret that the white house strategy is to put pressure on this chairman of the judiciary committee and other republicans in the hopes that we can be worn down and ultimately agree to hold hearings on the nominee. this pressure campaign, which is targeted at me and a handful of my colleagues, is based on the supposition that i and they will
crack and move forward on the consideration of president obama's pick. this strategy has failed to recognize that i am no strange to political pressure and to strong-arm tactics. not necessarily for mother democrat presidents -- not necessarily for more democrat presidents, probably for more republican presidents. when i make a decision based on sound principle, i'm not about to flip-flop because the left has organized what they call a pressure campaign. as many of my colleagues and especially my constituents know, i've done battle with administrations of both parties. i've fought over irresponsible budgets, waste, fraud and policy disagreements. i've made tough decisions. i've stuck with those tough
decisions regardless of what pressure was applied. the so-called pressure being applied to me now is nothing -- it's absolutely nothing -- compared to what i withstood from heavy-handed white house political operations in the past. and let me say, by the way, most of that has come from republican white houses. just give you a few examples. in 1981, as a new member of the senate and a brand-new member of the senate budget committee, i voted against the first president reagan's first budget proposal because we were promised a balanced budget and it didn't balance. i recall very spreskly a budget committee markup april -- i recall very specifically a budget committee markup april
19, 1981, on president reagan's first budget. now, it happened to be i wasn't alone on this. i was one of three republicans to vote against that resolution because it did not put us on a path to a balanced budget. and you can imagine when a budget has to come out on a party-line vote, you can't lose three republicans. and three republicans that were elected in 1980 on a promise to balance the budget did not go along with it. and what a loss it was for this new president reagan that his budget might not get adopted by the budget committee. we were under immense pressure to act on the president's budget regardless of the deficits that it would cause. but we stood on principle and didn't succumb to the pressure.
but just as an example, right after that vote when it wasn't voted out of the budget committee, i was home on a spring recess like we just had here when all of this stuff on the supreme court comes up at our town meeting. i remember calls from the white house. i remember threats from the chamber of commerce while i was home on easter break and even interrupting my town meetings. four years later i led the charge to freeze spending and to end the reagan defense buildup as a way to get the federal budget under control. the year was 1984. i teamed up with senator biden, a democrat, and senator kassebaum of kansas, a republican, to propose a freeze of the defense budget that would
have cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the annual deficit. now, funny, at the time it was known as the kassebaum-grassley budget because it fit into what you recognize the soviet k.g.b. -- it came out k.g.b. defense freeze. but it should have been the g.k.b. freeze because it was my idea in the first place. and i think you can kind of sense, then, how the logic of was that it became k.g.b. freeze. but it doesn't matter. it was the principle that counted. we were going to make sure that across the board budgets were responsible, whether defense or anything else. so for months i endured pressure from the reagan administration and from my republican colleagues that argued a freeze on defense spending would
constitute unilateral disarmament. president reagan had put together a less aggressive deficit-reduction plan. we didn't think it went far enough. my bipartisan plan was attacked for being dangerous and causing draconian cuts to the defense budget. i knew it was realistic and a responsible approach. i didn't back down. we were forced to vote that year, may 2, 1984, in the budget committee, we forced a vote on the senate floor and that particular year we were not successful. this effort required the senate and the nation to have a debate about a growing defense budget. we started that debate, including the waste and inefficiency in the pentagon and the growing fiscal -- federal fiscal deficits. despite the weeks-long pressure
from conservatives in the reagan administration, i did not back down because i knew the policy was on my side. in this process, i stood up to pressure from president reagan, defense secretary caspar weinberger, secretary barry goldwater, senator john tower, chairman of the committee, and many others. i remember a meeting it he white house where i reminded the president that he had been talking through the campaign about the welfare queens fraudulently on the budget. it happens that i reminded him that there was defense queens as well. i started doing oversight on the defense department. it wasn't long before the evidence of waste and fraud began appearing. we uncovered contractors that billed the defense department $435 for a claw hammer, $750 for
toilet seats, $695 for ashtrays. we found a coffeepot that even cost $7,600. i had no problem finding democrats to join my effort -- oversight effort back then, but it's somehow kind of interesting how hard it is to find bipartisan help when doing oversight in the current democrat administration. nevertheless, 12 months later, on may the 2nd, 18the 1985, afta year to make the case that the defense department needed structural reforms and slower spending growth, i was successful. my amendment to freeze the defense budget and allow for increases based on inflation was agreed to when a motion to table failed by a vote of 48-51. a majority of the republicans opposed me and a majority of the
democrats were with me. that didn't matter because i knew that we were doing the right thing. i went against my own party, my own president to hold the pentagon accountable and i never backed off. i had a similar experience with president george w. bush, 1991. in january 1991, the senate debated a resolution to authorize the use of u.s. armed forces to remove saddam hussein hussein's forces from kuwait. i opposed it because i felt the economic and diplomatic sanctions i just voted for should have been given more time to work. i was not ready to give up on sanctions in favor of war. in the end, i was one of just two republicans, along with senator hatfield of oregon, that opposed the resolution. i was under pressure from
president bush, vice president quayle, white house chief of staff john sununu. i even was pressured by then-iowa's governor, terry branstad, no once again iowa's governor. i heard from a lot of iowans, particularly republicans, who were disappointed and even angry with my position. some were even considering a public rebuke because of my vo vote. being one of just two republicans, it was difficult to differ with a republican president on such major issue, but as i stated at the time, my decision was above any partisa partisanship. it was a decision of conscience rather than a matter of republican versus democrat. after a tremendous amount of soul-searching, i did what i thought was right, regardless of the political pressure.
now, the same is true today with regard to the supreme court vacancy. under president george w. bush, i faced another dilemma. the president and the republican congressional leadership determined after president george w. bush was elected president on a policy to get tax cuts done -- and i agreed with that policy -- but they wanted to provide a $1.6 trillion in tax relief in 2001. i was chairman of the senate finance committee. the problem is, we had a senate that was divided 50-50 at the time. the parties' numbers were equal also not only in the senate but on the senate finance committee. i had two members on my side who were reluctant to support a huge tax cut because they had concerns about the deficit and the debt.
and, as we saw a few years later, their concerns were not totally unwarranted. but at the time, the administration leadership would have nothing to do with anything except what the president wanted , $1.6 trillion of tax increase, but obviously the president, the white house wasn't thinking anything about what republicans might vote against it. and when you have a 50-50 senate, you can't lose a lot of republicans. after very difficult negotiations, i finally rounded up enough votes to support a $1.3 trillion in tax relief, so what happened? there was a hailstorm of criticism following. there were republican house members who held press conferences denouncing the fact that i wasn't able to achieve the whole $1.6 trillion.
now those house members were more professional in their criticism which we witness almost every day from the current minority leader about my role as chairman of the judiciary committee, but it was still a very contentious and difficult period that included both the budget and the reconciliation process. minority leader reid has already brought up the pressure that i came under in regard to obamacare back in 2009. of course, his version is his usual attempt to rewrite actual history. at that time, i was the ranking member of the finance committee. i was involved in a very -- in very in-depth negotiations to try to come up with a health care solution. we started in november, 2008.
we had negotiations between three republicans and three democrats on the finance committee. met hours and hours, almost time consuming totally. so we met in november, 2008, and mid september, 2009, and then they decided that they -- the other side decided they ought to go political and not worry about republicans. the minority leader in his very unusual, inaccurate statement of facts about ten days ago, about three days before the recess, he's trying to say that republicans walked out of those negotiations on obamacare. the fact is we were given a deadline and told in that deadline that if we didn't agree with the latest draft of the bill, then the democrats would
have to move on. and i would ask anybody in the senate that wants some reference on this talk to senator snowe, senator enzi. i was the other republican. talk to senator baucus. talk to senator conrad. and then the then-senator from new mexico. the president called six of us down to the white house early august of 2009, and the first question i got, would you, senator grassley, be willing to go along with two or three republicans to have a bipartisan bill with obamacare at that point, and i said, mr. president, the answer is no because what do you think we have been working on for nine months? we have been working trying to get a broad bipartisan
agreement. it's something like 70-75 votes that you're trying to get if you really want to change social policy and have it stick. we didn't abandon this until 2009, but my idea is that probably it was that meeting at the white house early august, 2009, where this president decided we don't want to mess around with those republicans any more, we have got 60 votes, we're going to move ahead. well, that happened then in that september. the fact is we were given that deadline and we were shoved out of the room, so when we didn't bow to this pressure and agree to the democrat demands, that's -- it ended up being a partisan document, and that's why it still doesn't have majority support of the american people. i want the minority leader to
know that's what happened, not what he described a couple of weeks ago. eventually, as we all know, the former majority leader, now minority leader, had his staff rewrite the bill that came out of the health committee and came out of the finance committee and the secret of the back rooms of his leadership office, and we ended up with a disaster that's called obamacare that we have today. the senate minority leader also recently proclaimed that rather than follow leader mcconnell mcconnell -- and these are senator reid's words -- republicans are sprinting in the opposite direction. the minority leader also wishfully claimed that the republican facade was cracking on the issue. senator schumer fancifully
stated -- quote -- "because of the pressure, republicans are beginning to change." end of quote. you can almost hear the ruby slippers on the other side clicking while they wish this narrative they describe about us on this side of the aisle were true. the fact is the pressure they have applied thus far has had no impact on this senator's principal position, and i would have to say the principal position of almost everybody on this side of the aisle, and on this side of the aisle, the people that disagree with us, i wouldn't say that they're unprinted. i'd just say they're wrong. our side knows and our side believes that what we're doing is right, and when that's the case, it's not hard to withstand the outrage and the pressure
they have manufactured and the the -- the headquarters for that is the white house. this pressure then as i have given you this whole thing about my career in the united states senate and the more opposition i have had from republican presidents putting pressure on me that i have been able to withstand, this pressure we're getting on this issue pales in some pair son to what i have endured and withstood mostly from republican presidents, but now, of course, i face it from the democrats. i yield the floor. president obama spoke about the supreme court and his nominee just a short time ago. we will show you his remarks at 8:00 eastern. announcer: c-span's washington
journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, olivia golden, executive director of the center for law and social policy, talks about work mandates that are taking effect in over 20 states and may cause as milling -- as many as one million americans to lose their funder -- lose their food stamps. a report that ranks the 50 states and the district of columbia on their economies. forthe government reporter the montgomery advertiser on the articles of impeachment against governor robert bentley, following reports of an inappropriate relationship with a former staffer. tch c-span'sa washington journal. join the discussion.
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