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tv   U.S. Senate Approves Mattis Waiver 81-17  CSPAN  January 12, 2017 12:29pm-3:17pm EST

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of submitting questions following the hearing for the record. >> did you have a question. >> okay, senator cortez, i didn't realize you wanted another round. >> i appreciate that and i will be brief. you've done you've done an incredible job and i appreciate the comments in helping individuals. there is one thing of interest to me, however that you talked about which is public, private partnerships and the financing when it comes to partnerships. i haven't really had a conversation with you and how that would be addressed when it comes to housing and mortgages. >> when i talk about. >> we are going to leave this hearing at the u.s. sending is about to gamble in. earlier today, we had been showing you the hearing for a new cia director and that hearing was interrupted by a power outage and rollcall it was not russian hacking as someone joked but due to electrical work that was taking place at the capitol building.
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you can read the story of rollcall.com. the meeting today for general speeches, they completed the main legislative work for the week earlier this morning by passing the resolution that begins the process of repealing the affordable care act. it now goes over to the house which is expected to take it up tomorrow. off the floor, senators have a mid afternoon closed or classified briefing on russia. live coverage of u.s. senate, here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, in these challenging days, our hearts are steadfast toward you. lift from our lawmakers all discouragement, cynicism, and
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mistrust. lead them safely to the refuge of lead us safely to the refuge to give a future and a hope. lord auction give our senators the power to do your will as they more fully realize that they are servants of heaven and stewards of your mysteries. provide them with the wisdom to make faith the litmus test by which they evaluate each action, as they refuse to deviate from the path of integrity. lord, keep them from being
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careless about their spiritual and moral growth, as you give them the courage and grace to do -- and the grace to fulfill your purposes. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., january 12, 2017. under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate,
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i hereby appoint the honorable james lankford, a senator from the state of oklahoma, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate just passed the legislative tools needed to repeal and replace obamacare. this is a critical step forward, the first step toward bringing relief from this failed law. the resolution now goes to the house. they'll take it up soon. the next step then will be legislation to finally repeal obamacare and move us towards smarter health policies. the repeal legislation will include a stable transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care. we plan to take on the replaced challenge and manageable pieces with step-by-step reforms.
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we can begin to make important progress within that repeal legislation and we'll continue to work with the incoming administration and the house in developing what comes next. there are other steps we can take as well, including important administrative steps like confirming tom price as secretary of health and human services and sima verma. they can start bringing relief to the american people. there's a lot they can do. there's a lot we can do. we may not be responsible for obamacare and the harm it's done to so many, but we have been clear about our commitment to bringing relief from it. from skyrocketing premiums and deductibles to dwindling options on the exchanges.
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too many families don't know how they'll continue to endure the consequences associated with obamacare. these families have called for a helping hand. they've called for congress to listen to their concerns, and they've called for us to finally build a bridge away from obamacare and toward health policies that put them first. we just took a decisive step toward that goal last night. repealing and replacing obamacare is a big challenge. it isn't going to be easy. nonetheless, we're committed to fulfilling our promise to the american people, and we will.
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mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i came to the floor yesterday to voice my serious concerns with some of the remarks made by the secretary of state nominee rex tillerson in his hearing. i was worried that his milk toast posture toward russia, especially his failure to support strong u.s. sanctions, the existing or the proposed, be spoke a fundamental misreading of the g.o.p. political climate and the true nature of our international security challenges. i was worried that as secretary of state he only promised to recuse himself from matters involving exon for periods of 12
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months -- for a period of 12 months. exxon's interests overseas aren't going iway after one year. that's not -- away after one year. that's not good enough to solve what's potentially a massive conflict of interest. and i'm worried, mr. president, that mr. tillerson as c.e.o. and chairman of exxonmobil conducted business with all three foreign state sponsors of terrorism through a foreign subsidiary in a way that allowed exxon to evade u.s. sanctions. as the head of exxon, mr. tillerson did business with the terrorism trifecta: iran, syria, the sudan. this raises serious questions that the man who is nominated to be the face of the united states to the world has so much experience doing business with our most prominent and concerning adversaries. at the hearing under questions
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from the senior senator from new jersey and the senator from oregon, mr. tillerson denied having knowledge of these dealings and directed senators to seek more information from exxonmobil itself. three times he told the committee that -- quote -- he did not recall any of the details. throughout the afternoon it sounded like he was following the dodge ball rules for confirmation hearings. dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge. in fact, he basically admitted it to the junior senator from virginia. now, i just read in "the washington post" that on three separate occasions the sec, the securities and exchange commission wrote letters directed to mr. tillerson himself seeking more information on these undisclosed dealings during his tenure as c.e.o. and chairman.
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once on january 6, 2006. once on may 4, 2006. and again on december 1, 2010. mr. president, in general i like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it gives me great concern that mr. tillerson says he has zero recollection of an s.e.c. inquiry into his company's business dealings with foreign state sponsors of terrorism. real concern. got three letters on the s.e.c. on a matter of major, major importance that would concern the health and effect of the whole corporation, the giant exxonmobil and he says he doesn't recall.
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this is the kind of matter that should be handled and approved by an organization's most senior leader. mr. tillerson presents himself as a hands on manager. it defies credibility to believe that he doesn't recall. now, this is extraordinary troubling because either one of two things is true. either mr. tillerson was aware of the s.e.c. letters and was familiar with these dealings but didn't want to answer the questions honestly or indeed he had no knowledge of consequential financial disclosures made by his own company. if you consider that in concert with all the other things he claimed to have -- quote -- no
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knowledge of, including the widely reported extrajudicial killings in the philippines, whether or not saudi arabia was a human rights violator. imagine he had no knowledge whether saudi arabia was a human rights violator. people in a fifth grade word history -- world history class would know that. whether or not his company was engaged in lobbying or perhaps for energy sanctions. then maybe tillerson does not have the necessary management skills or knowledge to be the chief diplomat of the united states of america running a department that is obviously worldwide, far flung with thousands and thousands and thousands of employees. mr. president, simply put, we need answers. what did mr. tillerson know and when did he know it? because the american people expect their secretary of state to be straightforward and honest with them, not coy, not
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dissellling, and most importantly, they expect him or her to have the interest of the american people and our friends and allies around the world at the forefront of his mind. unfortunately, for mr. tillerson and for this country, yesterday's hearings, today's reports raise more questions than answers. the american people deserve answers. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic whip. mr. durbin: mr. president, in eight days, just a short distance from this senate chamber, donald trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the united states. on that day, january 20, 2017, the fate of more than 750,000
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young american immigrants will hang in the balance. they will be waiting to learn if they have a place in america's future or whether they'll lose their legal status to stay in the united states. for many of them it's a period of the highest anxiety wondering what's going to happen next. it was seven years ago that i sent a letter to president obama. i'd introduced the dream act which said if you were brought to america as a child, an infant, toddler, lived here all your life, went to school and did well, had no criminal record of any consequence, we'd give you a chance to stay. and over a period of time you'd be able to become legal in america, a citizen in america. 16 years ago i introduced it. we passed it once in the senate, once in the house. never ever made it the law of the land. i asked president obama, i wrote him a letter with senator dick
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lugar, republican of indiana, and said, find some way if you can as president to help protect these young dreamers as we called them. and he did. it's called daca, deferred action for childhood arrivals. what it basically said if you qualify under the dream act, you can pay a filing fee of almost $500, go through a criminal background check and interview, and then if you qualify, you'll be given a two-year temporary protection from deportation and ability to work. so far over 750,000 young people have come forward. and they have made such a difference in their own lives and the lives of their family and even in our country. i've come to the floor over a hundred times to tell their stories and i'll tell another one today. i also want to announce that today we have a significant bipartisan breakthrough for this
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congress. senator lindsay graham, republican of south carolina and i have introduced the bridge act and the bridge act which has bipartisan sponsorship would say that even if we eliminated president obama's executive order, we would protect these young people from deportation and allow them to continue to work and study. i want to thank senator graham. he's been a terrific partner. this is an issue that weighs heavily on my mind. we believe this is a reasonable way to extend this protection and to say to congress in the meantime, get to work, roll up your sleeves, pass a comprehensive immigration. work with the president, work with both sides, democrats and republicans, and come up with an approach. i want to thank senator graham for joining me in the introduction of this bridge act. for the young people across america, i can just tell you, i understand your fears. i understand your anxiety.
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there are many of us who are dedicated to make certain that this ends well for you and for your family. and there's pretty amazing young people who are in that category i've just addressed. one of them is jose espinosa. jose, at the age of 2, was brought here from mexico, grew up in the northwest suburbs of chicago, became an excellent student. in high school, a member of the national honor society, graduated in the top 3% of their class. elected to the student council every year in high school. president, vice president, mentored and taught physical education to the freshman class of 40 students. he was also captain of the varsity team and a member of the school orchestra. in his spare time, jose volunteered with the united way. and as a result of his academic record and volunteer service, he
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received a college scholarship from the united way. incidentally, dreamers, undocumented, don't qualify for any federal assistance for their education. so they've got find it in other places, and his work with the united way helped to pay his way into college. he went to the university of illinois at champagne urbana, received multiple academic awards, and continued his volunteer service with the alpha f.b.i. omega fraternity. he received the distinguished service key, the fraternity's highest award. he graduated with a batc bachelf science in kinesiology. in his last semester of graduate school, president obama announced the daca programming, which i described earlier. he applied, signed up, became part of the daca program. what is he doing today with his master's degree, with his opportunity to work in fields of public health and such? he signed up for teach for
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america. now, we know teach for america is a national nonprofit organization that places talented recent college graduates in urban schools where there is a shortage of teachers. jose is currently a public health teacher in the city of chicago. he wrote me a letter. "daca changed my life in more ways than i could ever explain. it has i have goin' me the power to help others, the freedom to travel and the right to work without fear of deportation. simply put, without daca, i wonk exist for my students and my community. if daca is eliminate l. eliminated, what will happen to jose? the day after daca, he won't be able to teach. he could be deported back to mexico, where he hasn't lived since he was a 2-year-old toddler. thafs that would be a tragedy, not just for jose and his family but for this nation. this is a fine young man who,
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against great odds, undocumented, has written this amazing record in his life. he is a giving person. he could be making a lot more money than his pay with teach for america in an inner city school. do we need jose in america's future? i think we dovment and that's why i'm happy that this bridge act would give him a chance and congress a chance to address this issue of dreamers. mr. president, i hope that president-elect trump will understand this and continue the daca program. if he decides to end the daca program, i hope his administration will work closely and rapidly with congress to pass the bridge act into law. mr. president, 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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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate majority leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i have no proceed to s. 84. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: motion to proceed to s. 84, a bill to provide for an exception if a limitation against appointment of persons as secretary of defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the armed forces. the presiding officer: the motion is non-debatable. question is on the motion. all knows favor say aye. all those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the bill. the clerk: calendar number 2, s. 84, a bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as secretary of defense within seven years of relief from active duty as regular
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commissioned officer of the armed forces. the presiding officer: under the provisions of h.r. 2028 in the 114th congress, there will now be up to 10 hours of debate equally divided between the two leaders h.r. their designees -- between the two leaders h.r. their designees. mr. mcconnell: so, mr. president, we're on the mattis waiver. anybody who would like to debate, please come oamplet in the meantime, 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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mr. blumenthal: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator? connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: i ask that i be permitted to speak in morning business for 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. the senate is holding hearings on each of president-elect trump's nominees to his cabinet. traditionally, presidents are given a high in assembling their team. they are accountable to the american people, too. no cabinet member is more powerful or has more impact on the day-to-day lives of americans than the attorney general of the united states, and i ask that the full transcript or recordin recordine transcript of my remarks be included in full, if there's no objection. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. blumenthal: the attorney general is indeed a general, in command of an army of thousands of lawyers whose words carry enormous weight and power, and it is the weight and power of the people of the united states. he speaks for us. he charges defendants in our name. he has sweeping authority to bring criminal charges in all federal owe fensz, enormous, unreviewable discretion in cases ranging from minor misdemeanors to felonies, in every sense that capital penalties can be sought. he wields the power of life and death. the attorne attorney general's s not open sweeping, it is independent of the president's cabinet. his decisions must supersede partisan politics. in most cases there's no recourse to overrule his decision, unless there is political interference.
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he is not just another government lawyer or even just another member of the president's cabinet. he is the nation's lawyer, and he must be the nation's legal counsel. -- and conscience. now, the job at stake here of united states attorney general is one that i know pretty well. like some of my colleagues in this body, i served as united states attorney, a chief federal prosecutor in connecticut. i reported to the united states attorney general, and for years afterward as a private litigator and then as attorney general for the state of connecticut for 20 years, i fought alongside and sometimes against the united states attorney general and the legal forces at his disposal. i have seen his power -- or hers -- firsthand.
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this attorney general's power are awesome, as is any attorneys general. and in the best of cases, they are inspiring, too. even as he protects the public from vicious and violent criminal offenders, his roll is also to protect the innocent from unfounded charges that could shatter their lives, even if they are acquitted. as justice robert jackson, a former attorney general said, his job is not to convict but to assure justice is done. so this job requires a singular level of intellect and integrity, nonpartisan but passionate devotion to the rule of law and an extraordinary sense of conscience. and that's because he is responsible for so much more
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than prosecuting and preventing crime and ensuring public safety. he is responsible for aggressively upholding our nation's sacred constitutional commitment to protecting individual rights and liberties and preventing infringement on them. , even by the government itself, maybe especially by the government. this responsibility for safeguarding equal justice under the law is particularly important today, at a time when those civil rights and freedoms are so much in peril. this historic moment demands a person whose life work and professional career and record show that he will make the guarantee under our constitution of equal justice under law a core mandate of his tenure.
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having reviewed the full record and recent testimony, regrettably and respectfully, i cannot support the president-elect's nominee, our colleague and friend jeff sessions for this job. at his confirmation hearing, senator sessions simply said that he would follow the law and he would obey it, but the attorney general of the united states must be more than a follower. he must be a leader in protecting the essential constitutional rights and liberties. he must be a champion, a zealous advocate. he must actively pursue justice, not just passively follow or obey the law. and senator sessions' record reflects a hostility and
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antipathy, downright opposition to civil rights and voting rights, women's health care and preserve rights, antidiscrimination measures and religious freedom safeguards. he has prided himself on vociferous opposition to immigration reform legislation, a measure that passed this body with 68 bipartisan votes and a criminal justice reform bill that has attracted a group of 25 cosponsors, democrats and republicans. he even split with the majority of his own party to vote against reauthorizing the violence against women act. he opposed hate crime prohibition. senator sessions' views on this and these positions and others that are critical to protecting and championing rights and liberties under our constitution are simply out of the mainstream. there is nothing in senator sessions' record, including his testimony before the judiciary
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committee this week, that indicates he will be a constitutional champion the nation needs at this point in its history. equally important, the attorney general must speak truth the power. he must be ready, willing and able to say no to the president of the united states and ensure that the president is never above the law. senator sessions' record and testimony give me no confidence that he will fulfill this core task. when i asked him about enforcement of cases against illegal conflicts of interest involving the president and his family, such as violations of the stock act, he equivocated. when i asked him about appointing a special counsel to investigate criminal wrongdoing at deutsche bank, owed more than $300 million by donald trump, he equivocated. when i asked him about be a takenning from voting on other presidential nominees that he
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will -- about abstaining from voting on other presidential nominees while he is in the senate, he equivocated. those answers give me no confidence that he will be the independent nonpolitical law enforcer against conflicts of interest and official self-enrichment that the nation needs now more than ever at a moment when the incoming administration faces ethical and legal controversies that are unprecedented in scope and scale. senator sessions' record over many years and his recent testimony fail to demonstrate the core commitments and conviction necessary in our next attorney general. back in 1986, the senate judiciary committee rejected senator sessions' nomination to a federal judgeship due to remarks he made and actions he took in a position of public trust as united states attorney
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in alabama. my nomination, my position on his nomination is primarily based on his record since those hearings, less on what was considered at that time. on voting rights, senator sessions has often condoned marriage to americans exercising their franchise. he has been a leading opponent of provisions in the voting rights act designed to ensure that african-americans can vote in places like his own home state of alabama which have a unique history of racial segregation, and he's advocated for needlessly restrictive and draconian voter i.d. laws, citing utterly debunked threats of rampant voter fraud as an excuse for curtailing the real and legitimate rights of entire groups of voters. on preserve, very, very
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importantly, senator sessions has passionately opposed this long-standing american right, which is enshrined in five decades of supreme court precedent. it protects women's health care and personal decisions involving reproductive rights. at a time when these rights are facing an unprecedented assault, he has continued to condemn roe v. wade and many court decisions upholding that case, and he is supported by extremist groups like operation rescue who defend the murder of doctors and the vilification and criminalization of women. with him as attorney general, american women would understandably feel less secure about those rights. on religious freedom, senator sessions has advocated for using a religious test to determine which immigrants can enter this country. when this issue arose in committee, senator sessions was
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the only senator, the only senator to argue forcefully for religious tests and against principles of religious liberty that have animated our public since its founding. with senator sessions as attorney general, a trump administration would enjoy a permanent green light for any racially or religiously discriminatory immigration policy that might appeal to him. on citizenship, senator sessions has called for abolishing a time-honored tradition that dates back to reconstruction. birthright citizenship is the distinctly american concept that anyone born on our soil is a citizen of our country. we do not exclude people from citizenship based on the nationality of their parents or grand parents. senator sessions disagreed.
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a position that most other republicans think is extreme. so with senator sessions as attorney general, the trump administration would be encouraged in attempting to deport american citizens who have raised families and spent their entire lives here from, te only country they have ever known. senator sessions declined at my -- declined my invitation at his nomination hearing to exercise the moral and legal leadership and demonstrate his resolve to serve as the nation's legal conscience. he refused to reject the possibility of using information voluntarily provided by daca applicants to deport them and their families. as a matter of fundamental fairness and due process. when a dreamer has provided information to our government after being invited to come out
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of the shadows, this information should never be used to deport that person. with senator sessions as attorney general, that sense of legal conscience would be lacking. on issues of discrimination and equal protection, senator sessions has publicly opposed marriage equality, claiming it -- quote -- weakens marriage -- end quote, and even tried to eliminate protections for lgbt americans contained in the runaway homeless youth and trafficking prevention act. he has repeatedly voted against steps to enhance enforcement against hate crimes, violent assaults involving bigotry or bias based on race, religion or sexual orientation. he even defended president-elect trump's shocking admission on video of his pattern of engaging in sexual assault.
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senator sessions himself has said that public officials can be judged by assessing who their supporters are. senator sessions is backed by groups with ties to white supremacists. he has accepted an reward and repeated campaign donations from groups whose founder openly promotes the goal of maintaining a -- quote -- european american society -- european american majority in our society. neither award nor many other important parts of nor sessions' record was reported in the questionnaire that he prepared for the judiciary committee, and i gave senator sessions an opportunity at the hearing earlier this week to repudiate these hate groups and racist individuals who have endorsed his nomination and supported him in the past instead. in effect he doubled down, saying that a man who accused
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african-americans of excessive crlt and american muslims of extensive ties to terrorism was -- quote -- a most bill ypsilanti individual. -- a most brilliant individual. so i reached this decision to oppose with regret because jeff sessions is a colleague and a friend to all of us. indeed, he and i have a rapport i have come to like and respect him through a number of shared experiences in this building, traveling abroad and outside, and we have common causes. he and i both support law enforcement professionals who serve our communities and nation with dedication and courage. they are never given sufficient thanks and appreciation. he and i both believe that individual corporate criminal culpability could be pursued more vigorously. individual corporate executives should be held accountable for
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the wrongdoing of corporations when they are criminally culpable. but this job, this decision, this responsibility are different. here my disagreements stem from bedrock constitutional principles. and while i could envision deferring to presidential authority and supporting him for other positions, my objections to his nominations here relate specifically to this particular all-essential, powerful job. at this historic moment, there must be no doubt about the attorney general of the united states' ironclad commitment to the bedrock principle of equal justice under law. his resolve to be an independent voice assuring that the president is never above the law, his determination to be a
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champion for all people in america and our constitutional principles that protect all people and to be a legal conscience for the nation. reviewing his record, i cannot assure the people of connecticut or the country that jeff sessions would be a vigorous champion of these rights and liberties, and therefore i stand in opposition to his nomination. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. 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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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york.
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mrs. gillibrand: i suggest may we waive the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president, i rise to strongly oppose this legislation concerning a waiver for general mattis. i know that all of my colleagues in the armed services committee, we just left a hearing on this very topic with general mattis and this entire body, tat oversight -- take the oversight role of our committee very seriously. we take civilian control of the military as a fundamental founding fathers constitutional principle. even george washington put aside his commission five years before he became our commander in chief and became the president of the united states. when congress in 1947 debated the national security act to create the department of defense
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and create the secretary of defense, they decided to imbue this idea of civilian control into the secretary of defense by law by mandating he had to be separated from the military at least ten years before taking on the role of secretary of defense and trying getting this notion that civilian control is so important to our democracy and our american values. on tuesday the armed services committee had a very compelling hearing where we had two experts testify for the reasons for civilian control and why they are still so important today. the importance of having a secretary of defense who brings a civilian perspective to this position brings with him or her a breath of experience and those views coming from a civilian are very important. second, they said it's really important not to politicize our
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officer ranks meaning our senior top military advisors jockeying for the next job as a political appointee that undermines the functioning of the military and they testified to countries where it has had such dill tearous effects. the third reason is concern about bias towards one service or the other so arguably if you come from one service, you may have preferences innately for that service which could undermine the strength of our military. and the fourth reason which is really important in today's world is the desire to model civilian control for other countries around the world that are struggling to become more democratic, less autocratic, less military run. and so those are the reasons given. those are the four reasons given why civilian control of the military is so important. now, dr. cohn and dr. hicks both agreed despite those four reasons from their perspective it should be abrogated.
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dr. cohn said it was because of the characteristics of this incoming administration that gave him such concern that he needed to have someone like general mattis and thought the qualities of general mattis were important. and even dr. hicks said it was the qualities of general mattis that were so unique and important but she very importantly said never, though, should we say that it's time for a general to lead the secretary of -- to be the secretary of defense. in her perspective, it should never be that you need a general. so not exigencies of circumstances. for her it was specific characteristics of mattis. now, overwhelmingly the senators and the members of the armed services committee, me included, have expressed enormous gratitude for the extraordinary service of general mattis. that is not in debate. but if there is no civilian in all the world as of today at this moment who can meet the
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needs of the incoming administration, then who is to say that there will be no civilian in the future who can meet the needs of this administration should she need another secretary of defense or the next administration. so what we are doing today inadvertently because of the cherished notion we have towards this one nominee is that we are severitying the standard and this exception can now swallow the whole rule. if you're literally saying an exception can be made because of the nature of an administration and the nature of a nominee, you've literally swallowed the rule. i think it's a historic mistake i truly believe we're about to unwind something that has so served this country well for the past 50 years. we are about to unwind it. and interestingly, the last time the congress unwound it, they said never again.
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they didn't say if you have an urgency like we have now, which was the concern according to these experts that world war iii was looming, the concern that we needed a well known, well loved general because of all the foreign policy worries of the moment with north korea. they said never again. so i don't know why we're here. i really don't know why because it's not the standard. now, this is the world we're going to live in. president-elect trump will mainly now have his foreign policy input from two four-star generals and a three-star general. so where's the diversity of opinion coming from? where is that balance going to come from? the number one reasons the experts gave why you have civilian control of the military. tillerson?
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even general marshall if we remember history correctly, he had the experience of being a former secretary of state and head of the red cross so he brought with him civilian experience in addition to his military experience. so, again, civilian control has very important constitutional reasons based on our democratic values, the balance of power, and how our democracy runs. those principles are being gutted and ignored. so we are not using the right standards and i think it's a historic mistake. now, as i said before, this has nothing to do with our particular nominee. these principles exist for a reason, and it's enabled our country's success for decades and has kept our democracy safe. and if we take this change in our laws so lightly as we are about to do today, that when
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future congress look at this and want to make the same exception or even the same congress two or three years from now, it will be much easier to do. so i'll continue to oppose this waiver for any nominee who is not a civilian or is not -- has not met the waiting period that is required by law and i urge all of my colleagues to do the same. i urge them to vote no. with that i suggest an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, several years ago democrats in congress pulled out all the stops to pass the so-called affordable care act and force the system we now call obamacare on the american people. they passed the law hon a purely partisan basis and without any regard for public opinion. it was quite sumly one of the most -- it was quite simply one of the most blatant exercises in pure partisanship in our nation's history. it deepened partisan divides in washington and around the country and contributed to the cynicism many have about whether their government is actually paying attention to their needs. first of all, in the -- worst of all, in the years since the passage of obamacare, the american people have been paying the price in the form of skyrocketing costs, fewer choices, burdensome mandates,
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and unfair taxes. for seven years now, many of us in congress -- virtually all of us on the republican side -- have been working to right what has gone wrong under the affordable care act. we've pledged to our constituents, if given the opportunity, we would repeal obamacare and replace it with reforms more worthy of the american people. those promises are among the biggest reasons why we republicans are now fortunate enough to find ourselves in control of congress and very soon the white house. and last night we took a big step in the effort to repeal and replace obamacare. now, with the budget resolution passed, many in washington and in the media are talking about what happens next? we're hearing a lot of discussion about the timing of our repeal and replace efforts, with some arguing that we should hit the brakes and solve every problem in advance of taking another vote. mr. president, my view is this: the repeal of obamacare cannot
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wait. the american people need us to act now. while there is still some debate as to what our replacement plan should look like, a majority of senators voted last night to gives the tools to take the next steps to repeal and replace obamacare. and the american people have entrusted us with the power to do just that. we could spend the next several months coming up with more slogans and analogies, but this is not a campaign. the elections have been won, and in my view it is time to do what our constituents have sent us here to do. i am a note saying that -- i'm not saying that we need to put off the replacement effort. on the contrary, i think it's important that the legislation we graft pursuant to the budget reconciliation instructions includate as many sensible health reforms as possible, keeping in mind the limitations that exist with our rules and the necessary vote count.
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we should definitely work on making the largest possible down payment on the obamacare replacement with the budget reconciliation bill. that down payment should include measures that give individuals and families more control over their health care decisions and empower states to do more of the heavy lifting when it comes to regulating health care. in addition, we need to provide for a smooth transition period so that we can maintain some stability in the health insurance markets and ensure that we're not leaving americans who have insurance under the current system out in the cold. as chairman of one of the primary committees with jurisdiction over these matters, i've been working closely with my house counterparts, chairman kevin brady of the house ways and means committee, and chairman gregg walden of the house energy and commerce committee, to develop proposals on the matters that fall within
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our purr views. we've been talking with the stakeholders throughout the country and working through the various problems that exist. and that work will continue unabated as we work on the immediate repeal effort and into the future. i'm quite certain that my friend who chairs the senate help committee has been similarly engaged in addressing the draconian insurance regulations that were imposed under obamacare as well as the other parts of the law that are within the committee's -- that committee's jurisdiction. in other words, mr. president, the work to replace obamacare is on-going, and we hope to have some initial elements ready to include in the budget reconciliation package. and that work will continue once the repeal has been passed and signed into law so that we can help ensure affordable health care options exist for
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americans. we do not need to wait until every single replacement measure is drafted and agreed upon before moving forward. instead, we need the incoming administration to add to our current efforts and work with us to produce a full replacement plan and then to execute it. and i look forward to continuing to work with president-elect trump and his team. the path forward on replacing obamacare could end up taking many forms. we could draft and pass a series of limited reforms to replace obamacare piece by piece or we could pull together a full and comprehensive replacement package that puts all the necessary changes into law at once. i think there are merits and potential pitfalls with either approach. that is something we need to consider as we move forward. but it is not a decision that needs to be made before we can keep the promises we all made to
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our constituents to repeal obamacare. replacing obamacare is to be sure going to be a difficult process. however, with a new and more cooperative administration in place, i have every confidence that we can accomplish these important objectives without imposing artificial deadlines or goalposts or putting the repeal process on hold. all of this is possible so long as we remain committed to the principles that have guided most of our efforts thus far. for example, in my view, the new reforms need to be patient-centered, not government-driven. they need to recognize the reality of the marketplace and the benefits of competition, and perhaps more importantly, any suitable reforms need to put the states back in charge of regulating and overseeing health care policy. if the obamacare experience has taught us anything, it is that when the federal government gets ahold of something as
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consequential as health care, it will overpromise results, overstep its authority, and overregulate the subject matter. as i've said a number of times, utah is not california or massachusetts, and california and massachusetts are not utah. all of our states face different challenges and have different needs. there is no reason to begin with the premise that any single approach to health care policy is what's best for the entire country. that is why i, along with several of my colleagues, have been engaging with stakeholders at the state level for quite sometime as we work to craft reforms and to put them in place. for example, next week the senate finance committee is hosting a round table discussion on medicaid with some of the most prominent governors in the country. i am pleased that energy and commerce chairman gregg walden will join us for the discussion as well. this meeting and others like it
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will give states the opportunity to detail their challenges -- the challenges they face and how we can empower them to meet those challenges instead of dick stating solutions from -- dictating solutions from offices here in washington, d.c. mr. president, i believe all of my colleagues want to be judicious and methodical with this undertaking. no one wants to act recklessly and do even more damage to our nation's health care system. discussions and debates over the substance of our obamacare replacement should continue. like i said, they've been going on for sometime now, and they're not going to stop. but after last night, we have the tools we need to take the first major step in this effort by repealing obamacare. in my view, we need to take that step now. republicans are united in our desire to repeal obamacare. we have the support of the american people to do just that. and i personally will do all that i can to deliver on that
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promise. i hope that our friends on the other side will work with us. if they will, i think we can come up with an approach towards health care that not only will work but will be better for our country but, most importantly, better for our citizens, better for the states who will manage it a lot better than we will here, and better for our citizens within those states. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reid: thank you, mr. president -- mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to discuss s. 184, a bill that would provide an exception that a military member be retired from the military for at least seven years before being appointed as secretary of defense. we are considering this today because the president-elect trump's nominee for secretary of defense has only been retired from the united states marine corps for three years. in considering the unique situation presented by this nomination, this week the armed
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services committee held two hearings. the first hearing on tuesday had a panel of two excellent outside witnesses who discussed the history of the retirement restriction law and the benefits and challenges of legislating an exception to that law. then this morning the committee held a nomination hearing with general mattis and examined his views hon a wide range of defense challenges facing our country and the defense department. general mattis has a long and distinguished military career, and he is recognized by his peers as a thoughtful and strategic thinker. however, since its passage in 1947, the statutory requirement designed to protect civilian control of the armed forces has only been waived one other time, and that was for general george c. marshall. therefore, i believe it is extremely important that we carefully consider the consequences of setting aside the law and the implications such as it may have on the future of civilian and military relations. civilian control of the military is enshrined in our constitution and dates back to george
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washington and the revolutionary war. this principle has distinguished our nation from many other countries around the world and has helped ensure that our democracy remains in the hands of the people. the national security act of 1947 which established the department of defense, included a provision prohibiting any individual within ten years of active duty as a commissioned officer and a regular component of the ampled services as being appointed as secretary of defense. in 1950, harry truman nominated former secretary of state and former chief of staff of the united states army, general george marshall, to serve as secretary of defense, necessitating congress to pass an extension to the statute. while congress ultimately waived the restriction for general marshall, the law included a nonbinding section that stated, and i quote, it is hereby expressed that the intent of the congress that the authority granted by this act is not to be construed as approved by the congress of continuing
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appointments of military men to the office of secretary of defense in the future. it is hereby expressed as the sense of the congress that after general marshall leaves the office of the secretary of defense, no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved. nearly 70 years later, congress again must make a determination if an exception should be made in the case of general mattis. let me remind my colleagues why making this change is so significant. during our committee hearings, dr. kathleen hicks astutely noted the defense secretary position is unique in our system. other than the president acting as commander in chief, the secretary of defense is the only civilian official in the operational chain of command to the armed forces. unlike the president, however, he or she is not an elected official. as i stated during the committee's consideration of the waiver legislation, we must be very cautious about any actions, including this legislation, that may inadvert tently politicize our armed forces.
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during the past presidential election cycle, both democrats and republicans came dangerously close to compromising the nonpartisan nature of our military with the nominating convention features speeches from recently retired general officers advocating candidate for president. i'm also concerned about the binding waiver for general mattis in light of the fact that he will join other recently retired senior military officers who have been selected for high-ranking national security positions in the trump administration. throughout our nation's history, retired general officers have often held positions at the highest level of government as civilians. in fact, a few have been elected president. what concerns me, however, is the total number of retired senior military officers chosen by the president-elect to lead organizations critical to our national security and the cumulative effect it may have on our overall national security policies. specifically, there may be unintended consequences having so many senior leaders with similar military backgrounds
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crafting policy and making decisions as weighty as those facing the next administration. in the course of our review of general mattis' nomination, the recent most -- reasons most often cited in support of a waiver allowing him to serve is that a war-time general known for his strategic judgment to lead the department of defense will counterbalance the president-elect's lack of defense and foreign policy experience. as tom ricks wrote recently in "the new york times," usually i would oppose having a general as secretary of defense because he could undermine our tradition of civilian control of the military, but these are not normal times. likewise, dr. elliott cohen testified before the senate armed services committee early this week, and he argued that if it weren't for his deep concern about the trump administration, he would oppose a waiver for general mattis. specifically, he stated there is no question in my mind that a secretary mattis would be a stabilizing and moderating force and over time helping to steer
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american foreign and security policy in a sound and sensible direction. if congress provides an exception for general mattis, we must be mindful of the precedent this action sets for such waivers in the future. the restriction was enacted into law for good reason and general george marshall is the only retired military officer to receive this exception. based on general mattis' testimony this morning, as well as his decades of distinguished service in the united states marine corps and weighing all of the other factors, i will support a waiver for him to serve as the secretary of defense. general mattis testified to the fact that the role of congress does not end with the passage of this legislation. as dr. hicks stated, the united states congress, the nation's statutes, the courts, the professionalism of our armed forces and the will of the people are critical safeguards against any attempts to fundamentally alter the quality of civilian control of the military in this country. any of us who support this bill have a profound duty to ensure
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that the department of defense and its leaders, both civilian and military, are following and protecting the principles upon which this country is founded. let me be very, very clear. i will not support a waiver for any future nominees under the incoming administration or future administrations. i view this as a generational exception as our bipartisan witnesses recommended. i would ask that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle make this same commitment. indeed, i intend to propose re-establishing the original ten-year ban which was in place when the defense department was established. restoring the threshold for the service to ten years would send a strong signal that this principle civilian control of military is central to our democratic system of government. at this point, mr. president, i would ask if the chairman might yield for a colloquy, and i do that first by thanking him for
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the extraordinarily fair, thoughtful and careful way that he has guided this nomination through the committee and here to the floor. but if the chairman could respond, i want to thank you for the thoughtful and thorough process we have had in considering the nomination of general mattis. i think one of the high points was a hearing on civilian-military relations with elliott cohen and kathleen hicks. both witnesses emphasized that while they supported this waiver, it should be a rare generational exception to ensure the integrity of the civilian control of the military, which is the bedrock of our democracy. i agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. i would ask the chairman if he also agrees with that assessment. mr. mccain: i say to my colleague, i also agree, and i want to thank him for his leadership. i want to thank him for setting the tenor and the environment that surrounds the armed
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services committee, which has resulted in a 24-3 vote today in the armed services committee. because of the relationship that we have but also because of his leadership, we have a very bipartisan committee, and it is vital that we do so because of the awesome responsibilities that we hold. but the senator from rhode island has displayed time after time a willingness to work together for the good of the country, and i think this is the latest example, even though he had significant reservations which are value i.d. concerning the transition, a short period of transition from wearing the uniform to holding down the highest civilian position as far as defense of the nation is concerned. and i know he didn't reach this conclusion without a lot of
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thought, a lot of study, a lot of, as he has displayed, references to history and reasons for the origination of this legislation which requires seven years before an individual is eligible to be secretary of defense after leaving the military. so i just wanted to thank the senator from rhode island and look forward to an overwhelming vote. and, mr. president, could i ask the parliamentary situation as it is right now? the presiding officer: the senate is considering s. 84. with ten hours equally divided. mr. mccain: has a time been set, mr. president, for the vote? the presiding officer: there is not yet an order for the vote. mr. reed: i believe i have the floor. mr. mccain: i yield to my friend from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. chairman, i believe you do concur with me
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with the fact that this is a rare and generational exception. i think that's fair to say. mr. mccain: so is it accurate to say that 2:45 is a time that is being seriously considered? mr. reed: we hope so, and i think if we recognize senator merkley for his comments and then i think you have comments, we would be on that schedule. mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed five minutes prior to the vote if the time of the vote is set and the senator from rhode island be given five minutes prior to that in case of the time of the vote being set. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. reed: mr. president, i
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believe i still retain the floor. i appreciate very much the senator from arizona allowing me five minutes, but i would -- i would yield that five minutes so that at the end, the senator from arizona would have five minutes and then i would -- i would suggest we recognize senator merkley so that we can conduct the vote at 2:45. mr. mccain: i have a unanimous consent request that i be allowed five minutes prior to the vote, but before i do that, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the time between -- until 2:45 be equally divided between the managers or their designees and that following the use or yielding back of that time, the bill be read a third time, the senate vote on passage of s. 84. further, that following the disposition of s. 84, the senate recess subject to the call of the chair for the all-members briefing. so i would ask the senator from oregon how much time would he need? mr. merkley: less than ten
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minutes. mr. mccain: good. mr. president, so i'm asking for unanimous consent for the request that i just made. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mccain: and i add to that unanimous consent request that i be given the final five minutes before the vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reed: no objection. i would yield ten minutes to the senator from oregon for the time on the democratic side. mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, we have a long-standing tradition in our country of civilian control of government and civilian control of the military. this was first symbolized by george washington, who through his act of resigning his commander in chief role for the continental army on december 23, 1783. it's a tradition or a moment in time that is preserved on the
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wall of the rotunda where a mural depicts washington's noble and insightful act. our early days were full of the warnings of a standing army and of ongoing military control at high levels, and those comments came from thomas jefferson, they came from alexander hamilton, they came from samuel adams. when we came to the point in our history where we realized that a continuing military force was necessary, we preserved the importance of civilian control, and we did so for a host of foreign reasons which others have pointed out on this floor but i think are worth restating. it's important to have a
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secretary of defense who brings a broad world view that includes a civilian perspective to the position. second, it is important not to politicize our officer ranks and have them essentially competing to position themselves to hold this position of secretary of defense. third, we do not want the services competing against each other in order to hold this position. this is why the joint chiefs of staff position is rotated on a specific schedule, and if you have the secretary of defense come from one military service, then another branch of the service is going to say next time it should be our turn. the marine corps today, the air force tomorrow, the army after that and the navy. that is not the position we want to end up in, and we also know
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that across the world, countries wrestle with preserving civilian control. that is, preserving democratic republics in the face of the power of military machinery in their country, military organizations. and we see military coups and we see massive military influence. and so it's been the desire of our country to model a republic that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. not a nation that becomes controlled by the massive concentration of power in the military. now my colleagues, many of whom are very learned in the history of our country, have arisen to say that there is a set of special circumstances, a unique set of circumstances that merit an exception, and they note
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that there was an exception once before in our history. that exception was the appointment of george c. marshall to become secretary of defense in the time following world war ii. but think about how many circumstances we face in the world can be put forward to be an exceptional time. it was exceptional when terrorists used planes to attack the twin towers in new york city and our pentagon and had not one plane gone down, the additional target may have been the capitol or may have been the white house. that was an exceptional moment. it's an exceptional moment when we're fighting al qaeda. it's an exceptional moment when we're fighting disies. -- fighting isis. it is an exceptional moment when
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russia invades the ukraine and takes over crimea. it is an exceptional moment almost continuously in the face of a complex and changing world. so i stand on the side of maintaining the principle of civilian control. each time we violate this principle, it's easier next time to say it's been done before, but the conversation will not be we did it once half a century ago, and so we should do it again. it will be we did it twice, once quite recently, when we weren't facing a world crisis. nobody had invaded the u.s. we had not just lost a couplehundred thousand folks fighting for our country in a world war. the conversation will get easier and more fragile, and that is not the direction we should go.
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it's eisenhower who warned about the overreach of a military enterprise. the military industrial complex, as he referred to it. but one piece of our structure of government that has held back is to maintain that principle of civilian control. can anyone in this room rise up and say out of the thousands of experienced individuals who have both national security experience and civilian experience, that there isn't one who currently meets even the ten- or seven-year standard of separation? i'm sure there are hundreds that could meet that standard. so here we are. if we could send a message to the president-elect, we reject your effort to eviscerate
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civilian control. send us someone who's qualified. and if that person we feel is so far out of the reach of reason, which is what i've been hearing from my colleagues in private conversations, terrified that this president-elect will nominate somebody who basically is unhinged, that we have to seize on this moment to take this individual because this body won't have the courage to turn down and reject an unhinged individual nominated by this president-elect. that is a sad commentary on the leadership of this body. it's a sad commentary on what has become of the u.s. senate that we wouldn't have the courage under our advice and consent power to turn down someone we saw as unfit. that is in fact how we're charged under this constitution, under the advice and consent clause, it was
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hamilton who laid it out that it's our responsibility to determine if an individual is a fit character or unfit character. and we would retain that power for any nomination that in the collective judgment of this body did not meet that standard. so let's sustain the principle of civilian control and reject this change. thank you, mr. president. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: in response to the senator from oregon, who asked if there was not many people who are qualified to serve as secretary of defense, i am absolutely certain there is. is there anyone as qualified as general mattis is? my answer to the senator from oregon is, no. i have watched general mattis for years. i have seen the way that enlisted an officer reacted to his leadership. i have seen the scholarlily
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approach he has taken to war and to conflict. and i hope that the senator from oregon would have at some point a chance to get to know him, and he would then appreciate the unique qualities of leadership that are much-needed in time. and these times, where the outgoing president of the united states has left the world in a state of chaos because of an absolute failure of leadership which is disgraceful, we now see an outgoing president of the united states who in 2009 inherited a world that was not being torn apart in the middle east, that the chinese were not acting assertively in the south china sea, that the members had not dismembered ukraine and taken crimea in gross violation of international law. all of those things have come about because of his president. and so now he comes to the floor
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and objects to one of the most highly qualified individuals and leaders in military history. i say to the senator from oregon, you are wrong. and i believe that the overwhelming majority of this body will repudiate and cancel out his uninformed remarks. so, mr. president, in a few minutes we will vote on an historic piece of legislation for just the second time in seven decades, the legislation before us would provide an exception to the law, preventing any person from serving as secretary of defense within seven years of active duty service as a regular commissioned officer of the armed forces. this legislation would allow general james mattis, the president-elect's selection for secretary of defense, who retired from the marine corps three years ago, to serve in
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that office. earlier today the senate armed services committee received testimony from general mattis. once again he demonstrated exceptional command of the issues confronting the united states, the department of defense and our military service members. and he's also showed something else. that his understanding of civil military relations is deep and that his commitment to civilian control of the armed forces is ironclad. general mattis' character, judgment and commitment to defending our nation and its constitution have earned him the trust of our next commander in chief, members of congress on both sides of the aisle and so many that are serving in our armed forces. general mattis is an exceptional public servant worthy of exceptional consideration. that's why directly following the conclusion of today's hearing, the senate armed services committee reported this
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legislation to the senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 24-3. i repeat, with an overwhelming vote of 24-3. now i'm not saying, mr. president, that members of the armed services committee are smarter than the senator from oregon, but i am saying that members of the armed services have scrutinized both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat, including the ranking member, have looked at general mattis. many of us have known him for years and years and years as he has shown the outstanding characteristics of leadership that he has had the opportunity in his service to this country. and by an overwhelming vote of 24-3. so obviously there's 24 people on the armed services committee that believe in general mattis and believe that this exception should be made as opposed to three who share the view of the senator from oregon.
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that's why directly -- mr. merkley: i ask my colleague from arizona if he'll yield for a question. mr. mccain: -- the senate armed services committee reported this legislation to the senate with a vote of 24-3. i urge this body to follow suit. that said, it's important for future senators to understand the context of our action here today. civilian control of the armed forces has been a bedrock principle of american government since our revolution. a painting hanging in the capitol rotunda not far from this floor celebrates the legacy of george washington who voluntarily resigned his commission as commander of the continental army to the congress. and this principle is enshrined in our constitution which divides control of the armed forces among the president, his commander in chief and the congress as coequal branches of government. since then congress has adopted various provisions separating military and civilian positions.
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in the 19th century, for example, congress prohibited an army officer from accepting a civil office. and more recently, in the national security act of 1947 and subsequent revisions, congress, the seven-year cooling off period for any person to serve as secretary of defense. it was only three years later in 1950 that congress granted general george marshall an exemption to that law and the senate confirmed him to be secretary of defense. indeed the separation between civilian and military positions has not always been so clear. 12 of our nation's presidents, 12 of our nation's presidents previously served as generals in the armed forces. and over the years numerous high-ranking civilian officials in the department of defense have had long careers in military service. the basic responsibilities of civilian and military leaders
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are simple enough. for civilian leaders to seek the best professional military advice while under no obligation to follow it. for military leaders to provide candid counsel while recognizing civilians have the final say, or as general mattis once observed, insist on being heard and never insist on being obeyed. but the fact is that the relationship between civilian and military leaders is inherently and endlessly complex. it is a relationship of unequals who nonetheless share a responsibility for the defense of the nation. the stakes could not be higher. the gaps in mutual understanding are sometimes wide. personalities often clash, and the unique features of the profession of arms and the peculiarties of service cultures often prove daunting for civilians who never served in
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uniform. ultimately the key to healthy civil military relations and civilian control of the military is the oath that soldiers and statesmen share in common -- quote -- "to protect and defend the constitution." it's about the trust they have in one another to perform their respective duties in in accordance with our republican system of government. it is about the candid exchange of views engendered by that trust and which is vital to effective decision making. and it is about mutual respect and understanding. the proper balance in civil military relations is difficult to achieve and as history has taught us, achieving that balance requires different leaders at different times. i believe that in the dangerous times we live, general mattis is the leader our nation needs as secretary of defense. and that's why, though i believe we must maintain safeguards of civilian leadership at the department of
quote
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defense, i will support this legislation today and general mattis' nomination to serve this nation again as secretary of defense. and i want to assure my friend from rhode island, the ranking member of the armed services committee who has had very serious concerns, i want to assure you that this is a onetime deal. i know that the senator from rhode island had a deep concern about this whole process that we've been through. yet, i think he's put the interest of the nation and placed his confidence in general mattis as being so exceptional that the law that was passed back in 1947 can be made one single exception to. the presiding officer: the majority's time has expired. mr. merkley: mr. president? mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: as in leader time, i ask unanimous consent that at 4:15, tuesday, january
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17, the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs be discharged and the senate proceed to the consideration of h.r. 72. further, that there be 30 minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form and that upon the use or yielding back of time the bill be read a third time and the senate vote on passage of h.r. 72 with no intervening action or debate. finally, if passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. merkley: reserving the right to object. mr. president? mr. mccain: mr. president? mr. merkley: mr. president, i agreed -- the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: has time expired according to the previous u.c.? mr. merkley: mr. president, i believe i have the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i believe i have the floor. the presiding officer: the majority leader has the floor. mr. mcconnell: just to let everybody know, all i am doing is setting up a vote for tuesday
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afternoon at 4:15. that's what i was asking consent on. mr. merkley: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. merkley: i reserve the right to object, mr. president. i was very gracious in agreeing to a unanimous consent request that would grant me ten minutes. that was cut short by the filibuster of my colleague who repeatedly brought me into the conversation, refused to yield to my question, so i ask unanimous consent to have two minutes to close. the presiding officer: objection is heard. is there objection to the majority leader's request? mr. merkley: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i have five requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted.
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under the previous order, the clerk will read the title of the bill for a third time. the clerk: calendar number 2, s. 84, a bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as secretary of defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the armed forces. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question occurs on s. 84. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber who wish to vote or wish to change their vote? seeing none, the vote is 81 yeas and 17 nays. the bill is passed. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess subject to the call of the chair. to publicly make clear to everyone all helps to constrain
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iran. >> thank you. general, if you are to become the secretary of defense, you will be a critical component of the intelligence community. you produce intelligence so the defense intelligence agency and you consume it because it is the basis of almost every recommendation or decision that you would make. and we are in a very unique situation where we have the president-elect disparaging the intelligence community, questioning its conclusions and questioning its motivations. suggesting perhaps that there would be some actions taken, perhaps boredering on retribution, that is being done based on the trade craft and
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allegiance to the facts and the best judgment that they can make. do you believe if it if you observed disparaging at, undermining it, ignoring it collects again, i could go on. do you feel you have the constitution to inform the committee of those actions? >> senator, i can tell you thatt in my many years of involvement in the military i had a close relationship with the intelligence community. i could evaluate their effectiveness at times on a times onsis and i have very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community. >> and do you see that community being undercut, not debated about their conclusion but undercut or some out ignored or
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selectively being listened to or ignored? again, do you feel you have an e obligation to make us aware of this so that we can exercise our responsibilities? >> i will be completely o transparent with this committee, but i would not have taken this job if i didn't believe the president-elect would also be open to my input on this or any other matter spent during the hearing general mattis was asked about winning in the military. your support for nato and questions about russia. you can watch the entire hearing tonight at eight eastern on c-span. >> by a near partyline vote, 51-48 the republican-led senate approved a budget that approved a budget that eases the way to repeal the federal health care law. the house also controlled by republicans plans to work on the measure tomorrow. if both bodies of proof, committees would start writing legislation to do away with the current healthcare law and to replace it.

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