Minority Leader Schumer on Presidential Nominations CSPAN January 10, 2017 3:25am-3:38am EST
mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. now, mr. president, last wreak i expressed my sincere hope that the majority leader and i could come to some agreement on the process of nominations. he has negotiated in good faith, and we've made some progress. i sincerely appreciate his willingness to work with us so far. but i do want to clarify why democrats are doing this. yesterday my friend, the majority leader, went on television and suggested that we
were raising concerns about the nominations out of peek or anger. he choked up these -- quote -- "little procedural complaint co" to "sour grapes." we're not doing this for sport. democrats feel very strongly that pushing for a thorough and thoughtful vetting process is the right thing to do. and here's why. the democratic majority was and is concerned about the hearing schedule, which is so jammed right now that several high, important hearings will fall on the same day, depriving senators and the american people a chance to properly participate in the vetting process of these nominees. our caucus was and is concerned about the timely completion of the standard paperwork and
ethics clearance for nominees before proceeding full steam ahead with confirmation hearings and votes. now, bear in mind that president-elect trump's nominees pose difficult conflict of interest challenges. they come, many of them, from enormous wealth. many have vast holdings in stocks and very few have experience in government. so they have not been appropriately vetted for something like a cabinet post before. what had been standard practice for the vast majority of nominees, the completion of a preliminary ethics review before their nomination, was skipped over for the vast majority of president-elect trump's nominees. in fact, the independent office of government ethics went so far as to send a letter warning that their -- the republican's schedule -- has created undue pressure on o.g.e. staff and
agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews. the o.g.e. office is nonpartisan. it's never been political. so this has nothing to do with politics. quote -- "i am not aware" wrote the director, of any occasion in the four decades since o.g. was established when the senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process." unquote. and the very same majority leader, my friend senator mcconnell, who suggested that democrats were raising concerns out of pique or resentment in fact raised the same concerns in 02009 -- in 2009 when he was minority leader. in fact, then-minority leader mcconnell sent then-majority leader reid a letter saying out his prerequisites for time agreements on the floor for
president obama's nominees. they're almost exactly what democrats request. mr. president, i don't bring this up to play gotcha. i'm doing it to show that our requests are eminently reasonable and, in fact, have been shared by leaders of both parties. now, i'm going to read the letter, because it's amazing how it mirrors our requests. it was sent to harry reid from mitch mcconnell in 2009, just as president obama became president. "dear harry," the letter reads. "the senate has the constitutional duty to provide its advise and consent on presidential nominations, a duty we take seriously. in consultation with our ranking members, we affirm our commitment to conduct the appropriate review of these nominations, consistent with the long-standing and best practices
of committees regardless of which political party is in the majority. these best practices serve the senate well, and we will insist on are their fair and consistent application. therefore, prior to considering any time agreements on the floor of any nominee, we expect the following standards to be met: 1 -- the f.b.i. background check is complete and submitted to the committee in time for review and prior to a hearing being noticed. 2 -- the office of government ethics letter is complete and submitted in time for -- and submitted to the committee in time for review and prior to a committee hearing. 3 -- financial disclosure statements and applicable -- and tax returns for applicable committees are complete and submitted to the committee for
review prior to a hearing being noticed. 4 -- all committee questionnaires are complete and have been returned to the committee, a reasonable opportunity for follow-up questions has been afforded committee members, and nominees have answered with sufficient time for review prior to a committee vote. 5 -- the nominee is willing to have committee staff interviews, where that has been the practice. the 6 -- the nominee has had a hearing fl 7 -- the nominee agrees to courtesy visits with members when requested. and 8 -- the nominee is committed to cooperate with the ranking member on requests for information on transparency. there will be additional requirements," the letter continues. "honoring the traditions of the senate for judicial nominees. these scwns standards and long-standing practices will ensure that the senate has had
the opportunity to fairly review a nominee's record and make an informed decision prior to a vote. sincerely, mitch mcconnell, republican leader." and i ask unanimous consent the letter be added to the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: so i plan to return the exact same letter, the exact same letter, to my friend, the majority leader, with the same requests. in 2009 the then-minority leader called these benchmarks "contributory negligence "-- -- "commonsense standards" these standards don't indicate a lack of maturity. they show an abundance of common sense. just as his letter said. and i remind the majority that several, if not most of the nominees, have actually failed to meet the qualifications laid out by this letter, given the hearing schedule.
mr. president, the majority leader is fond of mentioning that many obama nominees passed quickly in 2009, and he asks this we do the same. but there's a big difference between 2009 and today. president obama's nominees made -- met all the standards laid out in then-minority leader mcconnell's letter. president-elect trump's nominees have not. back in 2009, every obama cabinet nominee had an ethics agreement in before their hearing. every obama cabinet nominee underwent a full f.b.i. background check before the senate considered their nomination. president-elect trump's nominees are way behind that mark. mr. president, i only ask respectfully that the republican
majority follow the same set of standards they had in 2009 when the shoe was on the other foot. especially because these nominees raise particular concerns. the standards we've laid out as leaders of both parties address conflict of interest and security concerns. those, of course, are prime concerns. but there's another concern as well. these nominees have even collectively very little experience or record in government. many of them have taken positions quite different from the president-elect. they need to be thoroughly vetted, not just before the u.s. senate, before the american people. if, for instance, representative price is for the privatization of social security but president-elect trump said he is not, what position is nominee price going to take?
jamming all these hearings into one or two days, making members run from committee to committee makes no sense. after all, they're going to hold -- these nominees are going to hold incredibly powerful positions for potentially the next four years. to spend an extra day or two on each nominee, even if it takes a few weeks to get through them all in order to carefully consider their nominations, that is well worth it. it is only fair that they are given a thorough and thoughtful vetting and that they abide by the -- quote -- "long-standing ethics practices that were established and laid out quite clearly by the majority leader himself to ensure cabinet officials were in good standing to work on behalf of the american people. thank you, mr. president. thank you, mr. president.