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tv   Senate Rules for Nominations  CSPAN  April 30, 2018 5:16am-5:59am EDT

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york times" and ted olson, former u.s. solicitor general under george w. bush. watch landmark cases tonight on c-span. follow us at c-span. websiteresources on our for background on each case. a link to the national constitution center's interactive constitution and the landmark cases podcast at www.c-span.org. on wednesday, the senate rules committee approved a measure that would change procedures for considering certain nominations. the legislation advanced on a partyline vote would reduced postclosure debate for nominations. not including most cabinet level and senior judicial nominees.
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it is unclear when the bill might make it to a full vote on the senate floor. this is 40 minutes. >> the committee on rules and administration come to order. pleased to see my colleagues here. this is the second time i have had a chance to chair this committee and i am glad to return. i am particularly fortunate to have my ranking member. she and i worked on a lot of things together feared some of those things will come before this committee. the pleased to welcome senator to the committee. manyollow in the steps of
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a longippians fared history of service on the rules committee. .e are glad to have you here isator blunt: i think he talk to every member of the senate. his work here, we appreciate. the committee held a hearing on the resolution december the 19th 2017. the resolution was taken from a resolution that passed 78-16 in 108thndred and eight -- congress.
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once a majority of the senate , senators end debate would still be allowed to speak about all but the most serious -- senior executive and let judicial nominees speak. the most senior nominees would still be allowed to have debate for up to 30 hours. in 2013 judges as i did , would go to an eight hour debate. i support the resolution and look forward to today's vote. all senators, regardless of parties, should care and agree that the president should be able to appoint officials to carry out there agenda. excessive delays in the process
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make it harder for the newly elected president to take control of the government. our citizens are all well served when we have agencies with leaders. second, the floor of the senate should be used for more than nominations. the current congress, 20% of passedions eventually with votes of 90 or more. in these nominations where we we still have, huge votes for confirmation. we both want this committee to be one that leads us to having a senate that functions better in
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every way. senator, i am pleased to recognize you for comment. i am congratulating the senator on his new position. i enjoyed working with him. welcome to senator hyde smith. mr. chairman as you noted, we have had success working together on the committee and issues ranging from tourism to adoption. we have proven that working .ogether can be good we found week something we could agree on and that was a baby. example where senator
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blunt and i worked together to make a simple change to accommodate a new mother. senate amy: i know this is senator langford's proposal and while i do not agree with this specific proposal, we have worked together on hitting the funding for the election security. leaderou to the majority and senator schumer for their support on that as well. when i first came to the senate, push was for ethicsor reform feared we had violations ahead of occurred through the congress. supported strongly the process. last year, with both leaders working with us, we work with members of the committee on
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legislation. -- sexuald sexually harassment training in the senate. with this proposal before us today, i feel that this is not the right moment to make this change. thesenate is designed with careful consideration and debate. only once in the history of the process has the senate but it to permanently change the time to debate an issue. that was back in 1986. the resolution we are considering today asks us to make a second permit change. vote, 78-16.d it was to temporarily change the rules in 2013.
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it is important to understand that in 2013, the circumstances were very different than how -- weree today for today. the process for judicial and ations was respected thorough process was in print -- place. second it was a time of historic gridlock. just 22 judicial nominees were confirmed during president obama's last year in congress last year was actually a record breaking year. peter mcconnell -- leader mcconnell highlighted the fact that they work closing in on the record. in his first year, president
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trump confirmed 19 judges compared to just 13. of the judges confirmed last year, 12 were circuit court judges. the most confirmed in the first year of any presidency. member of the judiciary committee, i have seen the process and paste at which these nominations are being advanced. the committee reported 44 judicial nominees to the floor last year but in president obama's first year in office, we appointed just 23 nominees. my third and last point is that we are actually not using the 30 hour debate time. of the 86 nominations in which the senate invoked closure, only to nominations used 20 or more nominations used eight or more. 2013,ress the issue from
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the senate supported a temporary change to the rule. the is not what is before committee today. it has been critical that the senate have time to thoroughly that and consider potential nominees. for example, that the peterson, a nominee to a judge was unable to answer basic legal questions. he was just one of the more than 25 nominees that has withdrawn from this administration. the american people deserve qualified judges erred i have worked -- qualified judges. i have supported the judges in minnesota after the discussions that the administration has put forth. it has not worked in all cases.
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we think this is a very bad time to change this i don't want to private members from sin what they want to set, durbine asked senator and alexander if there would like to comments. senator mcconnell, if you would like to start your comments. sen. mcconnell: i will yield to center alexander who was in the middle of discussion in 2013 leading to the two-year standing order. at a time whot, were trying to discourage the majority leader from using the nuclear option, which are been
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threatened on a number of occasions. in order to take the sting out of the issue, there was an overwhelming vote to go to the two-year standing order, which is essentially the lankford proposal before us today. didn't work well because six month later, and his desire to stack the d.c. circuit, the majority leader recommended to his party that the nuclear option be used in the threshold below are for every appointment, except the supreme court. episodely puts that into context. but we are talking about now strikes me -- as we think the senate's time. -- and iot a long list will spare all of you of appointments that we had to file cloture on.
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-- there was little to no opposition. it was pointless wasting time, even when we know what the outcome is going to be, is what we are talking about here today. we and the majority know we can point, outcome at some the question is, what does constructive use of the senate's time, stick around post-cloture 97 tog to pass somebody 1. with that, i yield to senator alexander. thank you, mr. mcconnell,nd senator
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senator durbin, amy. i would like to see what i can say that is constructive. i brought a picture with me of the senate doing nothing, which is what happens when we do what we are doing right now, and nominate derek khan on thursday to be the secretary of transportation and then he would and nextcut off debate monday we confirm them but only one senator speaks. our district judge from georgia, cloture on wednesday, and a week later cut off debate, confirming the next day know senator speaks. the problem is people look at c-span and they say they are doing nothing, and they are as bad as we thought. that is one problem. i would like to see if there's any way i can resurrect the bipartisan spirit that existed
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and 2011, 2012, and 2013, when a group of former white house counsel's can to me and said, could we do some thing about the tradition of innocent until nominated? nominating andof confirming presidential appointees. where president obama, a democrat and democrat majority -- i am a republican, and i said i would like to try that. i worked with a bipartisan group durbin,ors, senator barrasso, and in each of those two years we took steps to try to improve the presidential nominating process. we did some pretty important things. we eliminated wondered 63 -- 100 63 positions that do not have to be confirmed. and we took 200 more to our privileged and can move rapidly.
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-- secret 16 holds thoughts come and we eliminated the thousand controversial positions. for two years we said, percept cap it members, eight hours of post-cloture debate. senator reid really wanted us to do that but senator mcconnell do not want to do it, but we did it anyway because we thought it was good for the senate as an institution. today, and back then i remember senator schumer saying who in america does it take a president, democrat or public info officer suspects ann i remember senator schumer for who should run the agency? he said everybody believes that. everyone knows where we are right now. democrats agree for a variety of reasons, and that tactic is to start on the senate by taking a long period of time to consider the president's nominees.
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he has a lot stacked up. i left the subcommittee hearing and the department of justice who have its nominees reported out of committee but haven't been able to come to the floor. where does this lead us? i am afraid i know. what happens is if one party abuses the rules, the other party takes notes and does the same. democrats block circuit judges for the first time since 2003, so we did it in 2011. democrats use the nuclear option in 2013, so we did in 2017. democrats are making it virtually impossible for president trump to fill his administration, but what you think will happen when it takes a democratic president? you have to take notes to remember that. i think i know what happens. one party or the other will say we cannot put up with this, we
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are going to change the roles with 51 votes to make this happen, and we're going to gradually move to an institution where the majority can do anything it wants to whenever it wants to, and what we were warned is when we do that, we wee a center dot rules -- become a senate with no rules. it is a vote for the nuclear option because but that did discuss republicans what to do. i would like to turn in another direction and i think senator lankford has the right approach, which is to take a relatively reasonable proposal we adopted once before and adopted as a rules change and the right way, and avoid piling on their option after googler option, which is a prelude to the destruction -- piling on nuclear option after
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nuclear option. like world war i, where it should have been stopped, but nobody could stop it. i appeal to my democratic colleagues to look at the proposal, and think of a version you can vote for that can stop this prelude to destruction of the senate as a consensus building institution. if there ever was a time our country needed a consensusbuilding institution, it is right now. we are fractured, we have impulses coming out of our ears, but what we don't have is an ability to work across party lines. all of us have done it. we pray about it in our prayer meeting, but when we go out in public it gets harder to do. my hope is we can go back and resurrect the spirit of 2011,
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independent13 and of the senate as a constitution, i like the lankford proposal because it does what we did before, and i don't know why we don't do it again. sen. durbin: most of us remember in history that moment ibrahim lincoln contacted general mcclellan and said if you are not going to use your army, can i use it to which the civil war? i thought about that because there was a suggestion in our caucus that we consider leasing out the senate chamber for events, wedding sinceions, and the like, we're not using it much. i would say lamar alexander is correct. we can reach a standoff in a hurry on this question of filling vacancies.
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how many traditional nominees got through the last two years of brocarak obama. wery the mayor garland, and go one after the other, and at the end of the day we are at a standstill in the situation. here for a few years and some of you have been as well, and it is hard to expect to newer members of the senate what the 70's to be like, her we used the floor of the senate for debate. it was a regular occurrence, and it was exciting. there were tough boats there, and some you thought would kill you in the next election, they didn't, but you thought they would. it really was with the senate was about come there was real debate going on there. i long for that. i expect the members what it was like. they cannot believe that they can offer amendment and get a vote on the same day. i did it come up most of us did it. it was considered normal around here, but now it is beyond our
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reach or it appears to be. i have one glimmer of hope, i don't support center lankford approach as outlined here. when you look at the actual numbers, 74 of the 86 some nations were considered post-cloture. but there is a problem in the senate, and i put my faith in this bill from alabama. this new chairman from the senate appropriations committee, committee, he and i and i believe senator mcconnell have been in these conversations come in really want to restore the appropriations process. think about it, 12 bills coming to the floor subject to debate. it will be like the senate of old. i would say that is the confidence builder. o get back to executing on the floor and that will build up more
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bipartisanship and camaraderie and trust. we need to restore the trust of the institution and the count on you senator shelby and a count on you. i would say the center needs to have time to do that, but i could convince them to allow me to be the chairman of the committee, but if you have any comments to make. >> i am here to support you. i wish we didn't have to go down this road. the graph you handed out says a lot and i'm sure you look at it. cloture vote on executive nominees under president carter, zero. zero,president reagan, george h.w. bush, zero, under president clinton, eight. under george w. bush, for. under obama, 12.
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under trump thus far, second-year, 86. this is telling. it means we have to change the way we do business. i wish we didn't have to do this, but i support the change. >> thank you, german. chairman. any other comments? any weddingecall happening on the floor that made a difference, and also the other anyg -- i don't recall tting happening on the floor. we cans up floor time so get to other bills and other things. few votesthe last that were clearly controversial.
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a circuit judge and administrator for nasa. the nominees were more controversial than the nominees that got 80 and 90 and 98 votes of debateng period where there is no debate going on. did come from our 15th circuit judge last week. it is whatever hours that we use are not available for anything else. is amosul like to get to nomination as reported out of committee that comes to the floor, and whatever debate is necessary to have at the time up until people are worn out, you could have come up that you would have the vote.
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we had a nasa administrator, and the time for the vote was longer than the time taken for debate. we set aside the 30 hours for debate. that dictate was 17 minutes by the minority. to insist on the full-time and take the 70 minutes if you could do other andgs at the same time, senator king and i have talked about trying to revive that concept where we could have other work on that same time. there are things this committee cannot do, but the issue for us today is this, there are amendments filed. in senatoro follow durbin's footsteps and not do a one-on-one facts. -- on april 12, senatead sent to the 734.
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donald trump 589. nomineesn issue of coming to us because of slowness of getting them forward. i want to put on record one thing for senator schumer, which is a special report that i want to put on record. sen. klobuchar: and the take on the suggestion is that if this goes out to the future somehow that number of us would like to work with you on that. i also want to continue to work on this issue. i'm not in support of this motion as it currently stands. that i perhaps will put to the floor that we can have discussion if this will change goes to the floor is if the cloture vote achieves 60 votes or more, then the time limits will collapse to the lankford proposal. in other words it would
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alleviate the situation where you have a cloture vote and everybody is for the person they are going to pass 98-2, there is the suggestion that we can talk about as the matter proceeds. another proposal as you and i -- i amcussed is seeing one of those new people, not younger, but new. why can't we do other things all we wait for the eight hours or 30 hours to elapse if it is not being used for debate on the nominee? in other words, can we walk and chew gum at the same time and consider other matters during that period? here of you who have been longer know why that is not the case, but as a newcomer has always puzzled me. that used to happen with
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great frequency but needs consent, and for several years that is the way the senate did function. senator king, we had an amendment on the issue that you do not want to offer today. if there are no further comments i have to amendments to offer. one and two, i asked for unanimous consent these amendments be considered en bloc so they require one vote, without objection. proposed to make sure this is consistent with the current president and remove any future issues of interpretation recedence beass set. it is currently required to and
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debate on nominations should a new precedent be established, and will not conflict with the new precedent if this change is made. a call for the vote if there are no questions. this will clarify that we will ent at anyw preced future time this amendment is approved. sen. klobuchar: this would keep it at 51? i don't know if you want to add anything to that. thank you. >> i think we could do this with a voice vote if that is acceptable. all those in favor say aye. the amendment is agreed to. are there further amendments?
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yes, sir. with post-cloture after cloture is invoked, is that correct? that is correct. i appreciate the tone of senator durbin's comments and senator mcconnell's. let me make a suggestion. in oursted this republican lunch, we have a discussion among ourselves of what the amendment process actually is when appropriations bills comes the floor because so many senators have not seen it before. what has been the problem. you can change all the rules in the book, but if alexander objects to the durban amendment,
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and the whole energy and water bill stops. we are going to have to have a consensus within each of our caucuses if senator shelby and leahy are going to be successful, that if senator mcconnell moves to bring a bill to the floor, and if there is no objection to that, he does not have to file cloture on that, and in senator durbin moves an amendment some of us don't like, we need to table it and vote on it. that requires understanding of each caucus because i'm much or most senators know exactly how that works. >> given the two recent examples, went to the floor on immigration that is open for debate. we called the couple banking the open for debate. what senator alexander is
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talking about is preventing other members from getting a vote. that is not a way to fix that from a procedural point of view. it is a behavioral issue. ifemember you send one time you do not want to vote, don't come to the senate. there's nothing wrong with voting. we will be going to the prohibition bill and we had a constructive meeting in my office with senator leahy, and minority leader, and expressed an interest in getting in a probation bill without having to have a motion to proceed, and having open amendments. senator alexander just what that anybody can event anybody else from getting an amendment vote. we need to quit that, it is not a rules issued, it is a behavior issue. sen. klobuchar: and those
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reported to us in the ranking members way, and his intention senator durbin has expired to go forward with the operations process. there was fast agreement that was a good idea. i really believe that when the a probation process breakdown, the senate breaks down. it reflects on both of us, republicans and democrats, because the senate is not working. if we work the process we're going to work the senate and i believe this. that the want to add appropriation bill puts training wheels on it, so let's see how this works. we have to educate ourselves, and you are right, as long as you do with unanimous consent, anyone can stop the train. i hope we can find a way to get back to the old. >> if somebody comes up, it
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could be one of ours, or yours, and if someone comes up to the committee and says unanimously that i am going to talk on a motion to proceed, we have to cut that off together. that is what they used to do. i have been there, and you have been too. it only works if we work together. an unwrittenting rule by speaking to many times -- but with you and senator klobuchar, i would hope that take itmittee would upon itself to focus on the health of the senate as an institution. and lead us in these discussions. i overheard justice thomas talking last summer when someone asked him how he and ruth bader ginsburg got along so well, and
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he said we try to remember that the institution is more important than any of our opinions. i think this committee could help senators remember that this institution is more important than any of our opinions or partisan differences. it will be welcome by almost all of us. , we're in agreement that is something would like to have accomplished your, and we're willing to spend time and effort to do that. i think more and more fit leaders, the democrats and majority leader are hearing that members want to vote. give us a chance to vote, and one member -- complaining and objecting should be able to decide the rest of us don't get to participate in the process, or three members who don't want an amendment and they are
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worried about voting on. viewnk senator durbin's that if you don't want to vote, you should come to the senate, is the correct view. debate, is no further the question is reporting favorably of a senate resolution of 355 as amended. all those in favor will vote, ose vote no. the clerk will call the vote. [vote call]
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chairman blunt: the ayes are 10, the nos are 9. ask unanimous consent in preparing to measure purporting other estimate any required
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technical and conforming changes. we told our leaders today we want to vote, and now we would like to get the nomination process working better so we can get the other things we are supposed to have the time to do those. i am pleased to be able to share this committee again and am pleased to serve on the upper position to meet with our new chairman, senator shelby. i think will do our best to bring the institution of the senate to what it should be, can be, and hopefully will be. job,klobuchar: it is a big but we are up for it. >> the committee stands adjourned.
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