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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 13, 2013 12:30pm-2:31pm EST

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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators looking to vote or to change their votes? if not, the ayes are 54, the nays are 36. the motion is agreed to. pursuant to the provisions of s. res. 15 of the 113th congress, there will now be up to eight hours of postcloture consideration of the nomination, equally divided in the usual form. mr. reid: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: it is hard to believe that tomorrow will be the anniversary of the deaths of 20 little boys and girls in newtown, connecticut. not only those little boys and girls, but six educators whose lives were taken by an unspeakable tragedy at sandy hook, elementary school. the names -- allison, aviel, charlotte, daniel, olivia, josephini, anna, dylan, madeline, katherine, james, chase, jesse, grace, noah, jack, emily, carol, jessica and benjamin. these little boys and girls were 6 and 7 years old. they were murdered.
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although their years were few, their lives have touched and will continue to touch us all. as it did a year ago, my heart goes out to those families and those little angels, to all those affected by this tragedy. in honor of the ultimate sacrifice of victoria soto, dawn hochsprung, anna marie murphy, their teachers and educators who died trying to safeguard the children in their care. these six educators devoted their lives to teaching the children, newtown's children, how to read and write, how to add and subtract, how to be good boys and girls, how to grow into good men and women. they gave their lives to keep those children safe. they are a source of hope in a world that sometimes seems hopeless. it's hard to comprehend the type of tragedy that occurred at sandy hook, let alone to recover from it, but i'm inspired by the
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families of this community who have found purpose in the face of despair. there is a tibetan saying that says -- quote -- "tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength." close quote. the dalai lama says that whatever trouble you have experienced and however deep your heartbreak, when we lose our hope, that's our real disaster. that's what the dalai lama said. these families have channeled their pain into activism, raising awareness about gun violence and mental health issues in that country. i met with them on a number of occasions. their bravery in the face of pain is truly an inspiration, not only to me but to all of us. i'm proud of how hard my caucus fought this year to pass safeguards that would keep guns out of the hands of felons and people with severe mental illness. mr. president, that's why 85% of the american people agree with
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us. why should someone that has severe mental illness and someone who is a criminal be able to purchase a gun? they shouldn't. those that are trying to stop that legislation from going forward should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves. i personally am happy with my vote to keep military style weapons and large ammunition clips off the streets and to improve our mental health safety net, but at a time when more than 30,000 americans are killed by guns each year, it's shameful that the united states senate can't pass gun safety legislation which would protect our most vulnerable citizens, our kids, our children, our babies. so, mr. president, i told the families of the 26 innocents killed a year ago and the 172 children killed by guns since december 14, 2012, that senate democrats will not give up on them, and that's still a fact.
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we won't give up on the victims of 26 school shootings that have occurred since the newtown mass kerr. one in sparks. a young man came with a gun. who stepped forward to save the children? a teacher. he was killed. two others were injured in that assault. we'll not give up on the families and friends of those gunned down at a movie theater in colorado, a sikh temple in wisconsin, a shopping mall in oregon, and every day on the streets of america, our cities. last december, i promised the families a meaningful conversation about how to change america's culture of violence. i wanted everyone within the sound of my voice to know that the conversation is not over. the american people will prevail on this issue.
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when 85% of the american people believe in an issue -- when 85% of the american people believe in not only an issue, a quest in fairness, it's going to happen. it's only a question of when it happens. i urge the families and friends of those killed in newtown to never lose hope, never lose hope. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of state, annew. patterson of virginia, career member of the career foreign service, ambassador, to be assistant secretary of state. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. baucus: mr. president, john adams, america's first vice president and second president,
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and his bust sits right above us looking over the senate every day, once said, and i quote -- facts are stubborn things, and whenever it may be our wishes, our inclinations or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts in evidence. mr. president, it's been more than three years since president obama signed the affordable care act into law. at that time, its opponents had made every effort to misinform the american public about this law and the benefits it provides the american people. but as adams said, facts are stubborn things. i want to make sure facts are the affordable care act do not get lost amongst the criticism and false claims. so here are the facts. thanks to the affordable care act, people have received free preventative care. more than seven million seniors have saved nearly $9 billion on prescription drugs. and 25 million people who elect
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health insurance will finally be able to get the coverage they need. the affordable care act also helped slow the growth in health care costs. national health care spending grew by 3.9% each year from 2009-2011, the slowest rate on record. mr. president, i can remember not too many years earlier, the annual rate of increased health care costs in the neighborhood is 6%, 7%, 8%, 9% a year, dramatic reduction. that means we will save huge sums of money down the line. for example, the c.m.s. says national health care expenditures has dropped by $507 billion in three years, $507 billion reduced projection of national health care costs by the year 2019. the health insurance marketplaces are open for business and every day we hear
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how the web healthcare.gov site is working better. it's picking up steam. it's handling more and more consumers. "the new york times" reported on tuesday that -- and i'm quoting -- "the number of applicants who dropped a plan into their virtual grocery carts was climbing at a rapid clip." those are the facts. the affordable care act is helping millions of people. it is improving millions of lives. but, frankly, i think the american people are a bit tired of hearing politicians argue over the law. i'm sure every one of my colleagues has spoken at length about it here on the senate floor or back home. i know i have. i think it's time to change the conversation. i think it's time to hear from the american people, hear from them how they think the law is helping them. i think it's time to hear what "the new york times" called -- quote -- "the voices of quiet optimism and relief amid the uproar over the health law." take these two stories.
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claire hu is a college student whose parents have never been able to afford insurance. she and her brother lived most of their lives without coverage. and she told "the new york times" if they got the flu -- quote -- "we just stayed home and waited it out." when claire and her family sat down to look at their options under the affordable care act, here's what they found. they found a high-quality plan that will cost them only $30 a month. claire said of the a.c.a.'s critics -- quote -- "i see so much negativity behind this, but in reality there's a lot of families who are like mine." and then there's a story of bruce kleinschmidt, a lawyer who lives in louisville, kentucky. bruce had insurance through his employer till he stopped working full-time. bruce is 61, not yet eligible for medicare. using kentucky's new marketplace, bruce found a generous plan that saves him
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$300 a month in premiums. bruce calls it -- quote -- "a godsend." there are hundreds of similar stories in newspapers all across the nation. the "san jose mercury news, "hartford courier, "l.a. times," many more. not only do we read these kinds of personal stories in newspapers, we receive letters from them every day. here are a few examples i've heard -- letters i've received from montanans. john wrote in to my office with his family's story. what did he say? john's daughter recently beat cancer. she's under 26 so thanks to the affordable care act, she is still covered under her parents' insurance. there's more. when she does turn 26, she will have guaranteed right to coverage. no insurance company can turn her away because she had cancer. john said they're counting on the affordable care act to help them find an affordable plan. marge wrote in to say that the act has been an enormous relief
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for her. she has battled emphysema for years despite the fact she's not a smoker. a doctor told her she could never lose her job because no one else would ever insure her. so for marge, the affordable care act means she can breathe again, that she doesn't have to live in fear of losing her insurance or falling into bankruptcy because of her medical costs. we all know, mr. president, that many, many told us before the act how many people went into bankruptcy buzz of healt becaush care costs, it's one of the leading causes of bankruptcy is health care costs. and jillian wrote in to say how excited she was to be able to shop for coverage on the marketplace. jillian's married. she and her husband are expecting a child but her husband's employer-sponsored plan does not pay for her coverage. so here's what she wrote -- quote -- "i am looking to make a more affordable choice for me and my baby-to-be." letters like these come in every day. they tell stories how the affordable care act is working for them, it's helping them.
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and in the end, that's what matters. not the pundit tri, not the polls, not the political points. what smearts that the la matters improving the lives of millions of americans. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mccain: may i address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. the quorum call is suspended. mr. mccain: mr. president, i've been engaged in the back and forth for many years concerning the rights of the minority to oppose legislation or nominations for senate advise and consent, which obviously, as we all know, is part of the constitution of the united states.
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and after investing all those hundreds of hours in compromises both when republican leadership wanted to act to curtail the rights of the minority and when democrats were doing it, i fought hard. a short time ago senator levin and i and senator schumer and others changed the rules to try to expedite the consideration of legislation. for a whole lot of reasons, including the fact that a majority of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have never been here in the minority, we have now acted in a draconian fashion and, in my view, have fundamentally historically damaged this institution, among other things, for the first time since the united states senate has been a body. we have now changed the rules with 51 votes rather than 67. first time in history.
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and unfortunately the repercussions of this will be that we are moving a step, very significant step, towards a majority-rule body. and as my friend from michigan, senator carl levin, quoted senator vandenberg, a former senator from michigan and a highly regarded individual in this institution, that we have now broken the rules to change the rules. and i read the night we changed the rules from a letter that senator robert byrd who was one of the most outstanding leaders and clearly the expert on the constitution and this institution had written a letter cautioning against it. so the reason why i come to the floor today is not so much to revisit that because it's done, but i'd like to point out i see the first manifestation of now the majority rule vote. i've been a member of the
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homeland security committee, and i have been involved in these issues for many years. i've also been involved in the so-called gang of eight where we came up with a comprehensive immigration reform bill which was passed through this body, and we still hope that the other body will address at least in some way the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. well, i come from a border state, as my colleagues know, and our border is not secure. in fact, a majority of drugs that still comes across our southern border comes across the arizona-sonnorra border in mexico. and my constituents, many of them who live in the southern part of the state of arizona, are -- have home invasions, have people causing their property, they have in one case a rancher has been shot and killed, a
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border patrol agent has been killed. in fact, the reality is that they don't have the same security in the southern part of my state as the rest of our citizens do in other parts of the country. so border security was a fundamental and vitally important issue in the hundreds of hours of debate and discussions that i and my seven other colleagues engaged in as we shaped the comprehensive immigration reform legislation, which largely intact was passed here through the senate. and so i went back to my constituents and i said look, there is a very vital, important provision in this bill, and that is that when this legislation is passed, we will embark on the goal of achieving 90% effective control of our border. now, we can never get complete control of our border, we all recognize that, but 90%
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effective control through surveillance, through hiring new people, through capabilities that we have, we can achieve 90% effective control. so then comes the nomination hearing of mr. jeh johnson for secretary of the department of homeland security. i asked mr. johnson a simple, straightforward question. the question was mr. johnson, when you are secretary of the department of homeland security, will you provide this committee and me, senator mccain, with a description of the measures that need to be taken in order for us to achieve what we have turned into legislation, at least here in the senate, 90% effective control of the -- our southern border? his answer was no. his answer, believe it or not, believe it or not, was no, that
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he could not provide that information. in fact, i was so asston issued at that that i wrote him a letter and i received a letter back from him which i would like included in the record in just a minute, and that is -- quote -- "-- here it is -- november 19, 2013, senator mccain. i regret that in my current posture as a nominee and private citizen, i'm not now in a position to commit to provide the information you seek from the department of homeland security. at this point, i must respectfully refer you to the department's current leadership. i know this was a matter of discussion between you and secretary napolitano, and i understand your frustration. i believe i have demonstrated to you and others on the senate and house armed services committee -- why he said armed services committee, i'm not
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sure -- but i have a strong respect for congress' oversight role. if i am confirmed and if your request is still outstanding, at that point i promise that addressing your letter will be a top and immediate priority for me. so, in other words, the nominee for the department of homeland security, direct responsibility for securing our borders, direct responsibility as outlined in legislation passed by this body, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, refuses to give me and the -- and this body the information -- and i would hope that there were other senators who might be interested in what's necessary to achieve 90% effective control of our border, he refuses to give me that information. thanks to the good offices of my beloved friend carl levin and my dear friend senator carper, i just came from a meeting in my
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office with mr. jeh johnson. mr. jeh johnson again repeated to me that he could not give me the information that -- of what is necessary, what tools are necessary to ensure 90% effective control of our border. now, allegedly, he is being prevented from doing that by the white house. now, it's -- it's stunning. why would the white house prevent the nominee for secretary of homeland security from providing members of the senate and members of the committee that oversight homeland security information which is fundamental information if we are going to achieve effective control of our borders? so now, i go back to arizona and i say yeah, it's in the law, my friends, it's in the law that we're going to have to get 90% effective control of our border, but i don't know how you do it.
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because the agency that will be required to do it will not give me the information of what is necessary to do it. so, my friends, we will be voting monday, i guess, to confirm mr. johnson. he will be confirmed, there is no doubt about it, now that we have majority vote, and we have now deprived republicans of their advice and consent responsibilities and authority. so we have not only changed the rules of the senate, we have abridged the constitution of the united states, because the only way that i could have gotten this information from mr. johnson was if i would have said i can't approve of your nomination until you provide the information which by any objective observer i am entitled to, and not only entitled to, it's my responsibility to know
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that. it's my responsibility. that's why we have a committee. that's why we have a committee, the homeland security committee, that oversights the functions of the executive branch. that's how government, equal branches of government are supposed to function. so now we have mr. johnson will be confirmed and the message will go out. believe me, the message will go out. you don't have to answer a question by a republican senator. you don't have to respond to a straightforward question. there was nothing devious about the question that i asked mr. johnson. there was nothing complicated. i know they -- well, they certainly should have the information of what steps and measures are necessary to ensure 90% effective control of our border, which is a requirement in the law, that at least if it is ever passed by certainly --
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requirement is passed by the senate of the united states of america. so it's really a very kind of sad day. it was a sad day for me when we changed the rule. it was a sad day for me to see people who have been here a very short period of time basically shatter the comity that exists and is vital to doing business here in the united states senate. so i also would like to point out to my colleagues, particularly those who are new who drove this change in the senate rules, and i want to tell you this. i have been here long enough that what goes around comes around, and what goes around will come around, and to their deep regret, someday, i say to the president and i say to my colleagues who voted for it on a
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party-line vote for the first time in history, changing the rules of the united states senate from 67 votes to 51 votes, you will regret it. and the people who will really suffer from this is the american people, because this place is largely dysfunctional anyway. if you think it was dysfunctional before, wait and see, and i say that with deep, deep regret, because i value and treasure my relationships with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. some of the best friends that i have are on the other side of the aisle. but to expect to do business as usual when i can't even get a straight answer for a question that now by not having the answer inhibts and in many ways prohibits my ability to carry out my responsibilities to the
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citizens of my state isn't be gone unresponded to. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now yield back all time on the paterson nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further action on s. res. 299 and we proceed to that matter. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 299 congratulating the american jewish joint distribution committee on the celebration of its 100th anniversary, and so forth and for other purposes.
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the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate shall proceed. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. promise without objection. mr. reid: i ask consent the kwraoubgt be discharged from further -- i ask judiciary committee be discharged. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 263 designating the week of september 23 through september 29, 2013 as national estuaries week. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the white house amendment to the preamble which is at the desk be agreed to, the preamble as amended be agreed to and the
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motion to reconsider be laid on the table and there be no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that we now proceed to s. res. 320. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 320 designating december 14, 2013, as wreaths across america day. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding on the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table and there be no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to s. res. 321. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 321 honoring the life, accomplishments and legacy of nelson mandela and expressing condolences on his passing. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding on the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask the resolution
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be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table and there be no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask for a bill which is at the desk for its first reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the first time. the clerk: s.1824, to exempt the safe drinking water act for fixtures that contain brass. mr. reid: i ask for the second reading but that's in order to place the bill on the calendar and under the provision of rule 14 i object to my own request. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, -- mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: -- the bill will receive its second reading on the next legislative day. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. the senate is in a quorum call. mr. reid: yes. i forgot about that. i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate having received from the house h.r. 3458 the bill is considered read three times and passed and the motion to reconsider made and laid upon the table. mr. reid: if there is no further business to come before
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the senate i ask that the senate adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stays adjourned until senate stays adjourned until >> the senate has gaveled out after today's session with no recess. the senate convened at 2 p.m. on wednesday to consider a number of executive branch and judicial nominations. under new rules enacted last month only a simple majority is needed to confirm a nominee. to protest that new rule, senate republicans forced the senate to remain in session overnight on wednesday and thursday. over the last two days of the senate confirmed eight of the president's executive and judicial nominees. we are expecting a brief senate session on sunday and senators are back on monday with confirmation votes after 5:30 p.m. eastern.
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this morning, two republican senators, dan coats of 80 and and pat roberts of kansas spoke on the floor about why they opposed the new rules aren't approving presidential nominees. >> madam president, we are not in about the third i think of a somewhat tortured process that was the result of a power grab that has changed their tradition of the united states senate, a tradition which is held for about 225 years. republicans are frustrated with the attempts, successful, made by the democrat party under its leader. to change the rules, break the rules, change the rules. and so we end up with no rule,
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no rule relative to protecting the rights of the minority. now, i know if these of for those who have been elected in recent years that it never served in the minority, because they simply don't have the experience of what it's like to be subject to a leader and a party which basically says we don't care what you think. we don't care what you say. we don't care what you do. none of it will be a loud unless we give you consent to do it. and i know that a lot of my friends across the aisle have said, well, it's your party that's holding things up. and you are making the senate a dysfunctional institution. but what they haven't done is asked why are you doing that. first of all, i don't believe we
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are the ones making a dysfunctional, but even if you think that, the question has not been asked why are you doing this. and we're doing this because we have three years of pent-up frustration, or more. under the leadership of our minority leader who is essentially turn this into the house of representatives. what's wrong with that? the majority vote rules. just but everything else we do, why shouldn't majority vote rule here? well. said it was not set up that way. famously known, the senate is set up to be a place where tempers can be cooled, the passion can be told, something to be debated and worked out. and if major legislation is passed, that affect significantly this country, that legislation is passed in a bipartisan fashion following significant debate and we've always had a provision which basically says, those in the minority will have the right to
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participate. have the right to offer amendments to produce the in the debate. we have been shut down from offering amendments. it's been growing frustration on our side basically saying, this is not how the senate has worked traditionally. this is not how it's worked historically. this is not how it is worked according to the founding fathers determination of protecting the senate giving it extra long terms, giving members the opportunity to use the agreed upon rule, to achieve the right of the somewhat in the minority to speak up. now, the democrats are going to rue the day when they made this move and jammed it down our throats instead, you don't like it, tough. because at some point the pendulum will swing, and i think maybe sooner than a lot of people think.
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2014 looks like a turnaround year. and if it is there's some who find themselves in the minority. you will see, and they will learn, what it's like to be denied the opportunity to be elected to the united states senate and be a member of this a gust audie, be one of 100 -- auguste body, the one of one of people who are chosen to represent their state and represent the united states of america, and he shut down from having any opportunity whatsoever to have a voice in what goes forward here. to offer your thoughts, your amendment, to represent your state. but to be told by the majority leader, i'll decide whether not you can have an amendment. and by the way, i'll use procedures to make sure you can't have your amendment. now, i've had the privilege of serving here on two different
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occasions. i came here in early 1989 and served 10 years in the senate. i don't recognize the senate today. i don't recognize this. this is not the senate that i joined in 1989. it was under democrat control. torture mitchell was the majority leader. the democrats have the majority. they controlled it. i served 10 years in the house of representatives along with my colleagues from kansas, senator roberts, who is unsure -- who is here listening to me speak, and i appreciate that, pat. we've got to the same experience. but when i served before under democrat leadership, i realized what the difference was between this upper chamber and the lower chamber. under the juniors of our
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founding fathers, the lower chamber, to represent the immediate concerns of the people of their state or their district. and the senate, given the opportunity to step back and take a broader look and work to fashion bipartisan support so that something major that impacted the american people and impacted our constituents was settled and debated and worked out and ground through the process, and give us an opportunity to say wait just a minute, do we want to rush to judgment here, or do we want to step back and look at the larger picture? and so as a minority member, of the republican party, in 1989 and following all the way up to 1995, i enjoyed the years, the
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opportunity that i had. my former mayors of the house would ask what's the difference between serving in the house and serving in the senate? i said come in the house majority party rules. and you're lucky, you're lucky if you can get the rules committee over there to allow you to have an amendment on a particular bill. every once in a while that what happened -- wow, this is special. but in the united states senate every minority member i said could offer any amendment to any bill at any time. and that is a great privilege that has been afforded to us. but what a necessary privilege, because without it you get stuff rammed down your throat, doesn't have bipartisan support, you're denied the opportunity to purchase the demand, to adjust, to be a part, of fastening something that can be accepted
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by the american people would support from both sides. and so this boiling up frustration has been happening here increasingly under the leadership of this majority leader. who simply says, i'm going to turn this into the house. i'm going to change this institution from 225 years of what it once was to something entirely different. and forget it, you guys on the other side, you in the minority, you don't have the rights you once used to have. i respected majority leader george mitchell. tough, ran the place like clockwork. we were in late at night a number of times, but every member of the minority had the opportunity and the right to offer an amendment, the right to participate, the right to be heard. and the right to offer an
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amendment to a provision. george mitchell as leader recognized those rights, and he would say, guys, ladies, you can offer any amendment you want. we will take it up, we will have a vote on it. you may win, you may lose but you have that right. so the reason why we are frustrated here, the reason why we're using some procedures no, which denying all of us a lot of sleep that would like to have and the christmas season would like to go out and shop for some gifts for families. we would like to make some plans for the christmas season, and we are stuck year. the reason for this is, it's boiling over. the last insult was simply basically saying, forget it. forget the rules -- forget the procedures, forget the courtesy, forget the privilege, forget the
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rights that you've enjoyed for all these years in the senate. we're going to turn this into a different place and you just take it or leave it. so we are kind of left with very few resources in able to express how we feel about this. i think there's a solution, easy solution to our problem. that is, number one, understanding the frustration each side has. but it has to include the understanding of why they are frustrated. and it's not just the democrats that are frustrated with republicans trying to use techniques that will allow us to at least have a say in how things are working here, but also frustration among republicans and basically saying, bill after bill, time after time we have amendments that we would like to offer that represent the wishes of the people of our state that would
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represent. our constituents. and i have been denied that opportunity by the majority leader. will the senator yield? >> not a phone calls me distinguish but i'm happy to yield to someone that does but also a good friend. >> there's a good reason for that. we both came to the house at the same time. we were sorry to lose you to the senate, but i truly appreciate what you have said here. it reflects conversation that we both have had to try to tell, to try to educate, to try to suggest basically just to get to know each other a little better with our colleagues across the aisle, as to why this is taking place. what our frustrations are that you've summarized them very well. i would urge my colleagues across the aisle to take your
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suggestions and your plea really on behalf of us all to heart, would encourage everybody if it nothing else to do around you, to read the congressional record and to reach remarks and to take them too hard. i remember so well when i came to the senate in 1996, and you were here, and i had an amendment that i wanted to offer. and being a member of the house for 16 years, what you had to do in the house was to check with the chairman, and we served in the minority, and then the revolution came in 1994. but -- and things changed. but then you had to go to the rules committee, as the senate has pointed out was a very unique experience. and so i'll remember what i had to do to get anything done in
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the house, and basically i have defined a democratic colleague, a friend who was serving in the majority to cosponsor the bill that i had and put his name first, and then go to the rules committee to make it an order so that my bill, and his build, could work. my partner in this effort was congressman stenholm. i first went to the rules committee in the house. i had not been at the rules committee. i thought the debate would be about whether this bill should be considered or was it timely. to find out it was just a debate all over again on the merits of the bill. and on a partisan partyline vote they would tonight any republican amendments. so stenholm was a partner in the effort with the bill -- i can't iif a member which one was it wt
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this particular time, but it was my first big attempt -- and it was on the farm bill. and we have mutual concerns and we thought it was a good amendment. it was the roberts-stenholm bill. it didn't take me for long to figure out that the roberts-stenholm bill was going nowhere. and so charlie leaned over and he said, it might be a good idea that this is the stenholm-robert dove, or maybe just the stenholm bill. i said i think you've got a pretty good idea. so for a while it became the stenholm bill. and it was made in order. been on the floor, charlie stenholm thing that kind member he was, all of the sudden it became the roberts-stenholm bill again and it passed. and voilĂ , my first amendment before the house. that was my background. so i had an amendment, and i know the senator remembers well that we are standing right about
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down here and i was asking you, i checked with the ranking member and the chairman at the time we were in control, and we had the majority. and i had a very simple a minute and i won't go into, but at least it was reference to health education labor and pension committee. and i was checking around with a raking them and whatever and they looked a little surprised that i was even checking with them. and the chairman of the committee, republican chairman can indicate become well, i just as soon you didn't do that because we have a complete bill. we put it to the committee. i think you're a minute has merit, -- i think you're an amendment has merit. i knew it was a very easy and that would pass. buddy told me just wait, we will take that up sometime down the road. welcome down the road in the senate means way down the road.
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so i was sort of grumpy and just goes on and i said well, the chairman doesn't -- listen, this is the senate. you can offer any and them anytime whether it's germane or not. this is the senate. you have rights. and i knew that. i've gone to the robert c. byrd lecture as a new member and. >> -- and he lectured me on minority rights and how we should conduct ourselves. he was the institutional flame of the senate. and you urge me to offer the amendment. i should have done it. but i thought all right, i'll wait. i will defer to the chairman's advice. i've often regretted that. and later, i'm talking about two or three years later, the same subject came up. i happened to be on the floor. senator ted kennedy was in charge. they had taken back control, and he knew about the intimate and he said, would you like to get
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you a minute passed? houston on the floor. door started anybody else here. and bingo, using the parliamentary procedure that you could do in the majority, why, my and then it was passed to it was not the kennedy-roberts bill by the way. it was the roberts bill authorize, didn't get too much money for but at least it made the effort. i've gone into a long personal history here just to demonstrate exactly how this works. now we have a farm bill that's been hung out for over two years. we have a farm bill that the principles are meeting in secret. there are 37 of us that are also on the conference wondering where on earth is the farm bill. the house just passed by unanimous consent an extension of the current farm bill, like we did last year. well, last year we passed the farm bill. lasted majority leader, in a discussion with me, said if you can get it done in three days, i'll let it happen.
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note, i'll let it happen. and chairperson stab in i'll certainly wasn't working extreme hard on her site. i was working on my side. we're going to distinct me and said i think we can get regular order. i think you can get your amendments up. nobody believed me. we had 73. we did it in two and half days, and once that tipping markets with people withdrawing amendments, why, you get your work done. but the minority at every opportunity you to offer amendments. so a year ago considering the farm bill, the first amendment was by senator rand paul, considering the pakistani who helped us with regards to the osama bin laden raid, and he was in prison. and so senator paul that is good at it told the a to pakistan until they released the presenter. what did that have to do with the farm bill? nothing. but it was the first amendment considered. it

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