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tv   U.S. Senate Confirms Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State  CSPAN  February 1, 2017 11:59am-2:00pm EST

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medical necessity that require providers to complete now before they can prescribe compounded medications and that appears to have had some effect on the cost of compounding drugs. but we are -- this is a very big risk that we are concerned about and we are also concerned about the fact that the fica program didn't see this coming until very recently. >> okay, maybe this is an example of what you're talking about. this apparently tube of cream paint dirty to -- $32,000 but the compound that isn't even approved by the fda. you want to comment on that? >> in our investigation -- >> will leave the hearing at
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this point. the u.s. senate is about to dabble in. to top agenda item is consideration of the nomination of rex tillerson to be the next secretary of state. set 42:30 eastern. other cabinet nominations could also see debate today. and not to live coverage of the u.s. senate. -- now live coverage of the u.s, senate. will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. merciful god, enthroned above all other powers, thank you for the opportunity to be called your children. lord, our hearts ache because of the pain and pessimism in our world, so use our lawmakers to
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bring hope where there is despair. remind our senators that your power is far above any conceivable command, authority, or control. empower them to protect and defend the constitution of this great land against all enemies foreign and domestic. our father, inspire our senators, through the decisions they make, to build monuments of courage and moral excellence. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting
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the pledge of allegiance to our 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 senate will receive a message from the president of the united states. >> madam president, a message from the president of the united states. >> madam president. the presiding officer: mr. secretary. >> i'm directed by the president to deliver a message in writing. the presiding officer: the message will be received and appropriately referred. the clerk will report the
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unfinished business. the clerk: nomination, department of state, rex w. tellson of texas to be -- tillerson of texas to be secretary. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the remaining postcloture time will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees mes. -- designees. the presiding officer: the majority mcconnell: l gorsuch was announced as the supreme court nominee. while he has a significant legacy to live up to by the loss of justice scalia, i'm confident that his impressive background and long record of service will prepare him well for the task at hand. like justice scalia, judge gorsuch understands the constitutional limits of his authority. he understands that a judge's
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duty is to apply the law evenhandedly without bias to one party or another. he understands that his role as a judge is to interpret the law, not impose his own viewpoint or political leanings. he has been recognized by people on both sides of the aisle as a consistent, principled, and fair jurist. judge gorsuch has a stel ar represent -- stellar representation with degrees from harvard, colombia, and just about every honor, award and scholarship you can possibly imagine. when he graduated from law school, judge gorsuch didn't just clerk for one supreme court justice, he clerked for two. they were justices nominated by presidents of different political parties, anthony kennedy, a reagan appointee, and
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baron white, nominated by j.f.k. judge gorsuch received a unanimously well-qualified approval. he was confirmed without any votes in opposition. that's right, madam president, not a single democrat opposed judge gorsuch's confirmation -- not senator barack obama, not senator hillary clinton, not senators joe biden or ted kennedy. not a single 1 of the democrats who still serve with us opposed him, including senator feinstein and the democratic leader himself, senator schumer. in the coming days i hope an expect that all senate colleagues will give him fair consideration just as we did for the nominees of newly elected presidents clinton and obama. this is a judge who is known for
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deciding cases based on how the law is actually written, not how he wishes it were written. even when it leads to results that conflict with his own political beliefs. he understands that his role as a judge is to interpret the law, not impose his own viewpoint. here's how judge gorsuch put it himself: a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge. reaching for results he prefers rather than for those the law compels. now some of our colleagues and some others on the left see the role of a journal very differently. in last year -- last year's presidential debates, our former colleague, secretary clinton, stated her view that a supreme court justice -- now listen to this -- ought to look for favorably on certain political constituencies than others.
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that it was the job of the supreme court to, quote, "stand on the side," end quote, of one group over another. some of our colleagues seem to share this view. the assistant democratic leader said what's important to him are the political views of a supreme court nominee. what or perhaps who they are going to stand for. the problem with that approach, madam president, is that it's great if you happen to be the party in the case who the judge likes. it's not so great if your you're the other -- if you're the other guy. justice scalia believed this to his very core. he was an eloquent champion of the constitution who was guided by certain principles like applying the law equally to all, giving every litigant a fair shake, rulings on the -- based on the actual meaning of the
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constitution and our laws, not what you or your preferred political constituency wish they meant. these principles helped guide justice scalia for many years and the record of judge gorsuch indicates that he will continue this legacy of fair and impartial justice. now, of course, that doesn't much matter to some over here on the far left. despite his sterling credentials and bipartisan support, some on the far left have decided to oppose judge gorsuch before he was even nominated. we already know what they'll say about him as well. it's the same things they've been saying about every republican nominee for more than four decades. they said gerald ford's nominee, john paul stevens, quote, "revealed an extraordinary lack of sensitivity to the problems
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women faced." they said reagan's nominee knee, anthony kennedy, was a sexist who would be a disaster wore tpeupl. and they said george h.w. bush's nominee, david souter was a threat to women, minorities, dissenters and other disadvantaged groups. so it's not terribly surprising that they would say it again this time. what is disappointing is that leading democrats in the senate would adopt the same rhetoric. the ink was not dry on judge gorsuch's tphoeuplgts when the democratic leader -- nomination when the democratic leader had, you guessed it -- judge gorsuch, had, you guessed it, demonstrated a hostility toward women's rights. we know that justice scalia's
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seat on the court does not belong to any president or any political party. it belongs to the american people. when it became vacant in the middle of a contentious presidential election, we followed the rules set down by vice president joe biden and democratic leader schumer which says that supreme court vacancies arising in the midst of a presidential election should not be considered until the campaign ends. it's the same rule, by the way, that president obama's own legal counsel would recommend had the show had been on the other foot. i've been consistent all along that the next president, democrat or republican, should
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select the next nominee for the supreme court. i maintained that view even when many thought that particular president would be hillary clinton. but now the election season is over and we have a new president who has nominated a superbly qualified candidate. i expect democrats who insist we need nine to follow through on giving that advice by giving the new nominee a fair consideration and up-or-down vote just as we did for past presidents of both parties.
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mr. schumer: madam president, are we why a quorum -- are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: no, we are not.
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mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the senate select committee on intelligence hav cn meet after -- meet today. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. schumer: madam president, that's -- okay. whatever. it's leftover remarks from yesterday. madam president, i rise today on a matter of great importance to everyone in in body -- in this body and everyone in america, the future of the supreme court. last night the president nominated judge neil gorsuch. we in the senate have a constitutional duty to examine his record robustly, exhaus exhaustively and comprehensively and advise and consent if we see
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fit. we have a responsibility to reject if we do not. we democrats will insist on a rigorous but fair process. there will be 60 votes for confirmation. any one member can require it. many democrats already have, and it is the right thing to do. on a subject as important as a supreme court nomination, bipartisan support should be a prerequisite, it should be essential. that's what 60 votes does. this is nothing new. it was a bar met by each of president obama's nominations. in my mind 60 votes is the appropriate way to go whether there is a democratic president or republican president, democratic senate or republican senate. madam president, because a 60-vote threshold is essential, those who say at the end of this
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process there are only two possible results, that the senate will confirm this nominee or the republicans will use the nuclear options to change the rules of the senate are dead wrong. that is a false choice. if this nominee cannot meet the same standard that republicans insisted upon for president obama's supreme court nominees, 60 votes in the senate, then the problem lies not with the senate but with the nominee. the answer should not be to change the rules of the senate, but to change the nominee to someone who can earn 60 votes. 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate, and the need for a mainstream consensus candidate now is greater now than ever before because we are a new territory in two ways. first, because the court under
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chief justice roberts has shown increasing drift to become a more and more pro-business, pro-special interest court, siding more with corporations and employers and special interests over working and average americans. this in an environment where starkly unequal concentrations of wealth and ever-increasing corporate power, aided and abetted by the citizens united decision has skewed the playing field even more decisively toward special interests and away from the american citizen. a mainstream nominee would help reverse that trend, not exacerbate. and second, another important reason that we're in a new world here and making a 60-vote margin even more important as than it was before -- as important as it was before, and that is this.
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this administration, at least at its outset, seems to have less respect for the rule of law than any in recent memory, and is challenging the constitution in unprecedented fashion. so there's a special burden on this nominee to be an independent jurist. let's go over each point. first, we have a special responsibility to judge whether or not this nominee will further tip the scales on the court in favor of big business and powerful special interests instead of the average american. because over two decades, this court has shifted dangerously in the direction of big business and powerful special interests. according to a study by the minnesota law review, the roberts court has been the most business-friendly supreme court since world war ii. it is the most corporate court in over 70 years.
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it was pro-corporate when it frequently favored forced arbitration as a way to settle disputes, a process that limits the ability for individuals to form a class and collectively go after large corporate interests. it was pro-corporate when it repeatedly refused to hear legitimate cases where individuals have been harmed by faulty products, discriminatory practices or fraud. and it was pro-corporate when it came down with one of the worst decisions in the history of the court, citizens united, by equating money with speech, the citizens united decision cut right at the heart of the most sacred power in our democracy, the franchise of our citizens. it has poisoned our politics by allowing dark money to cascade into the system entirely undisclosed, with absolutely no
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precedent, the roberts court came up with the theory that money necessarily equals speech, and under the first amendment, you're allowed to put your ad on tv 11,000 times to drown out all others, especially average americans. that dampens the power of their voices, dilutes the power of their votes. the citizens united decision was the worst decision in 100 years and is the embodiment of this new era of the corporate special interest court. at a time when massive inequality plagues our economy, dark money floods our politics and faith in institutions is low, this right ward shift in the court is an existential threat to our democracy. now more than ever, we require a justice toll move the court back in the direction of the people, not only because that's what the
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law requires but because that's what our system of government requires. summed up, of course, by president lincoln's declaration that it is a government of, by and for the people. and second, mr. president -- madam president, we must insist upon a strong mainstream consensus candidate because this supreme court will be tried in ways that few courts have been tested since the earliest days of the republic when constitutional questions abounded. because again, this administration seems to have little regard for the rule of law and is likely to test the constitution in ways it hasn't been challenged for decades. just two weeks in, the new administration has violated our core values, challenged the separation of powers, stretched the bounds of statute and tested the very fabric of our constitution in an unprecedented
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fashion. the president has questioned the integrity of our elections without evidence, issued legally and constitutionally dubious executive actions, such as the one on immigration and refugees, and fired his acting attorney general for maintaining her fidelity to the law rather than pledging obedience to the president. for that, the white house accused her of betrayal. acting attorney general sally yates offered her professional legal opinion, but because it contradicted the administration's position, she was fired, even though the very purpose of the department of justice is to be an independent check on any administration. we are just 13 days into this new administration. how many more of these dismissals will take place over the next four years? this is not even close to normal. many of us have lived through the first few weeks of several
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administrations of both parties. this is not even close to normal. so now more than ever, we need a supreme court justice who is independent, who he is chews i.d. -- who eschews ideology, who will preserve democracy, stand up for our rights and stand up to a president who has already shown willingness to bend the constitution. the supreme court is now the bulwark, standing between a president who in too many instances has a little regard for the law, for the separation of powers, for american ideals and for the power of the legislative branch and the sanctity of the nation. now more than ever, we require a justice who will fulfill the supreme court's role in our democracy as a check and balance on the other branches of government. madam president, because this president has started out in such a fundamentally undemocratic way, we have to
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examine this nominee closely. as to the nominee himself, i have serious concerns about how he measures up on these two great issues i just described. first, judge gorsuch has consistently favored corporate interests over the rights of working people. he repeatedly sided with insurance companies who want to deny disability benefits to employees. in employment discrimination cases, bloomberg found he has sided with employers the great majority of the time. in one of the few cases he sided with an employee, it was a republican woman who alleged she was fired for being a conservative. he wrote in an article in 2005 that securities class actions were just tools for plaintiff lawyers to get -- quote -- free rides to fast riches, ignoring the fact that these lawsuits often bring to justice thousands and thousands of people who have
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no power without the class action suit. and on money and politics, he seems to be in the same company as justices thomas and scalia, willing to restrict the most commonsense contribution limits. it seems that president trump, who has said he would be for the working man and woman, has not chosen someone who routinely sides with the average american. instead, it seems he has selected a nominee to the supreme court who sides with c.e.o.'s over citizens. and second, judge gorsuch lacks a record of demonstrating the kind of independence the court desperately needs right now. he has shown a tendency to let ideology influence his decisions, criticizing liberals for turning the courts to advance policy. the irony is this -- those who blame liberals for legislating
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through the courts are usually activist judges themselves. in recent years, conservative judges have proven to be the true activists, completely reimagining the scope of the first amendment through citizens united, gutting the key provision of the voting rights act that had lasted for decades and decades, and attempting to roll back the established law of the land, roe v. wade. mr. gorsuch, judge gorsuch has shown disdain for the use of the courtroom to vindicate fundamental rights, a viewpoint that should be anathema to anyone in the legal system but is particularly inappropriate for somebody who seeks a seat on the highest court in the land. because of this, women are duly worried about the preservation of their rights and equality, as is the lgbt community. with an administration that has already challenged fundamental american rights and will do so again, the courtroom must be a
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place where those rights can be vindicated. as senators, we are endowed with an awesome power to judge whether this man, judge gorsuch, has the right to a title that is higher than all the others in our judicial system, the title of justice. therefore, we must be absolutely certain that this person is a strong, mainstream candidate who has respect for rule of law in the application of basic constitutional rights to all americans, a deference to precedent, a nonideological approach to the court and the resolve to be a bulwark against the constitutional encroaches of this administration. judge neil gorsuch throughout his career has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility to women's rights and most
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troubling hughed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong and independent justice on the court. given that record, i have very serious doubts that judge neil gorsuch is up to the job. mr. president, -- madam president, the supreme court now rests in delicate balance. we cannot allow it to be further captured by corporate influence or bullied by executive overreach. the senate has a responsibility to weigh this nominee with the highest level of scrutiny, to have an exhaustive, rebus and comprehensive -- robust and comprehensive debate on judge gorsuch's fitness to be a supreme court justice. we democrats will ensure that it does. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent that the request in relation to the senate select committee on intelligence be vitiated. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: last evening, i had the pleasure of being at the white house when president trump introduced his nominee to be associate justice of the supreme court, judge neil gorsuch. who happens to be serving on the tenth circuit court of appeals, and it shouldn't surprise anybody that president trump delivered on a promise made during the campaign when he listed 21 people that he would choose from. everybody knew ahead of time what sort of a judge he would
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put on for this vacancy or any future vacancy. judge gorsuch's decade of service on the tenth circuit has earned him a reputation as a brilliant, principled and mainstream judge, just exactly the sort of mainstream that senator schumer just must have been thinking about when he said he wants a mainstream judge. it's already been widely reported that he was unanimously confirmed by a voice vote to the tenth circuit in 2006. there are still 31 senators in this body who voted for the judge at that particular time. 11 of them are democrats, and one of them is senator schumer.
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judge gorsuch was, of course, supported by both of his home state senators for the tenth circuit. one happened to be a republican, one a democrat. he has been recognized as a great jurist by members from both parties. for instance, when he was sworn in to the tenth circuit, senator salazar, then democrat senator from colorado, remarked that the judge -- quote -- has a sense of fairness and impartiality that is a keystone of being a judge -- end of quote. the judge happens to be fourth generation coloradan. he is eminently qualified to be the next associate justice of
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the supreme court. his decades of experience span many facets of our legal system. a graduate of columbia university and harvard law school, the judge was also a prestigious smarl scholar at oxford. he served aspirin pal deputy general at the department of justice. judge gorsuch also knows the supreme court well having clerked for supreme court justices byron white and now -- and also anthony kennedy who's still on that court. he currently serves with distinction on the tenth circuit where he has established himself as mainstream judge with a reputation as a fair and brilliant jurist.
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as a mainstream jurist, judge gorsuch enjoys broad respect across the ideological spectrum. all the confirmation hearings for his current -- at the current confirmation hearings for his current judgeship on the tenth circuit, he was introduced by a republican senator allard from colorado, a democrat senator salazar from colorado. senator salazar, of course, isn't exactly a conservative fire brand having most recently served as head of the transition team of secretary clinton. at his hearing in 2006, william hughs, jr., a democratic candidate for the house of representatives, authored a strong letter of recommendation
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for judge gorsuch stating -- quote -- i have never found nor thought neil's views or opinions to be tainted or swayed by any partisan leanings. quite to the contrary. his approach to all things professional and personal has always been moderate and practical -- end of quote of mr. hughs' letter. there are plenty other examples of strong bipartisan support for judge gorsuch. even observers in the press recognize his reputation for fairness. just last week "the denver post" endorsed the judge saying he -- quote -- has applied the law fairly and consistently -- end of quote. judge john kaine, a colleague on
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the district court of colorado appointed by president carter says that judge gorsuch -- quote -- listens well and decides justly. his dissents are instructive rather than vitriolic. in sum, i think he's an excellent judicial craftsman, end of quote. after his nomination was announced last evening, the highest praise so far came from president obama's former solicitor general neil cotell who described him this way -- quote -- judge gorsuch is one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our nation over the last century. as a judge, he has always put
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aside his personal views to serve the rule of law. to boot, as those of us who have worked with him can attest, he is a wonderful, decent, and humane person. i strongly support his nomination for the supreme cou court. end of quote of president obama's former solicitor gener general. to me following the law wherever that law and case may lead is perhaps the most important attribute for a supreme court justice to possess. that principle guided justice scalia's decision making and it's also how judge gorsuch has said judges should approach the law.
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as the judge once wrote quoting justice scalia -- quote -- if you're going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the facts that you're not always going to like the conclusion you reach. if you like them all the time, you're probably doing something wrong. end of quote. that gets back to something very basic. a judge is supposed to be dispassionate. a judge is supposed to leave their personal views out of it. a judge looks at the law on one hand and the facts of the case on the other and make your decision just based on those two things. so what i have learned so far, the judge's judicial record reflects this philosophy of being dispassionate following the constitution and the laws
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passed by congress. i think he said last night something like a judge is supposed to judge and legislators are supposed to legislate and a judge should not be legislating. judge gorsuch doesn't legislate from the bench, nor does he impose his own beliefs on others. i want to quote from a speech at case western that the judge said judges should strive -- quote -- to apply the law as it is focusing backwards, not forward, and looking to the text, to the structure, and to history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be, not to decide cases based on their own moral
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convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best. end of quote. i believe it is this fundamental sense of fairness, sense of duty in upholding the constitution and the laws passed by congress that has led the judge to be a highly regarded jurist. after the tragic passing of justice scalia, we made it clear that the senate would wait for the american people to have a say in the future of the court. i said even before the election that no matter who won the presidential election, we would move forward with the new president's nominee. i maintained this position even on the eve of the election, and
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i maintain that position even when everyone seemed to believe that our next president would be secretary clinton. i've been consistent. unfortunately, some of my democrat colleagues, the very senators who held all those rallies chantin chanting "we ne" have already said they intend to do everything they can to stop this eminently qualified judge. that is very, very unfortunate. i hope and trust that approach won't be uniform on their side. so i look forward to moving forward with a hearing when we will learn a great deal more about judge gorsuch and i look forward to an up-or-down vote on his nomination. i thank the senate.
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i yield the floor. and 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. cornyn: . countermadam president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, finally on monday the senate moved forward with the nomination of rex tillerson to be the next secretary of state. his confirmation before this chamber to serve as our top diplomat should have been a no brainer, but we know our democratic colleagues are still trying to litigate the election of november aeut, -- november 8,
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and because their karn date lost, they -- candidate, lost, they are slow wa*ubging this nomination -- slow walking this nomination. while they think they may be hurting the president and his administration, what they are really doing is hurting the american people who the government serves, and i hope they would reconsider. it is really said that it has taken this long due to the foot dragging of our colleagues across the aisle who are sort of in a resistance mode. i believe it's like the stages of grief where the first one, of course, is denial, the second is anger and ultimately you get to acceptance, but they are a long way to acceptance and they are still in the anger phase of their grieving of the outcome of
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the november 8 election. when the shoe was on the other food, we confirmed seven of president obama's cabinet nominees on the day he was inaugurated, january 20, 2009, but apparently this is the new normal and i just hope our democratic colleagues realize that this is not serving the public interest and it's not, frankly, good politics, it doesn't strike me just to be so angry and throw a tempertant r rum -- temper tantrum, people talked about throwing a hissy fit, and this strikes me as throwing a hissy fit. much has been made of mr. tillerson's role as the lead of a global company.
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but he was working for the shareholders of that corporation in that capacity. now his enormous experience and apptitude and talent are going to be put to work for the american nation and the american people, and i believe that not only is he a person of conviction and competence, he's also a man of character. he believes in putting this country first, and i have no doubt that he will serve the united states with great integrity and care. and it's none too early for us to transition to somebody of his great qualifications and experience. our country's no longer respected by many of our friends around the world because we have withdrawn from international leadership. we are no longer feared by our adversaries who are all too quick to fill the leadership vacuum around the
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world, russia being perhaps the most obvious example, not only in crimea and ukraine but ro*fblly in -- obviously in syria. i am pleased we will have a new secretary of state and new team. i think president trump has selected good people, from mike pens, rex tillerson as secretary of state, general john kelly at the department of homeland security. i think he has chosen very well, and i could go on and on with his cabinet members. and say the same thing about each one of them. but we'll vote on that confirmation of mr. tillerson shortly about -- between 2:00 and 2:30, in that time
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frame. but what i really wanted to talk about as well as the announcement that president trump made last night about his choice to fill the supreme court vacancy left open by the tragic death of justice scalia. i couldn't be more pleased with his nomination of judge neil gorsuch of the u.s. court of appeals of the tenth circuit. i can't imagine the president could have chosen a more qualified, more principled or more mainstream pick for the job of justice of the united states supreme court. we've all heard some of the details about his personal background, but he's -- that he's a colorado native, he served on the denver based tenth circuit court for a decade, and he's well known for his intellect, brilliant writing, and faithful interpretation of the constitution and laws passed by congress. in short, he's a tremendous
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jurist with an impeccable legal and academic record. he went to schools like columbia university, harvard law school, oxford as a marshall scholar. in addition to his decade on the bench, his professional experience includes many years practicing law. as a recovering lawyer and judge myself, i can say 1 of the things the supreme court needs is more people with practical experience serving as lawyers for clients in court. we've got some people with great academic credentials but very few people with any practical experience as practicing lawyers, and it's important because justices, one they get on the united states supreme court, they are totally isolated from the rest of the world by the nature of their job. so people need to come to that job with the experience of
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working with individuals, understanding the strengths and weaknesseses of the legal -- weaknesses of the legal system. he not only practiced law at a top law firm, he had prestigious clerkships. he actually clerked for two supreme court justices, justice byron white and justice anthony kennedy. there is absolutely no question that judge gorsuch is a qualified, high-kal better nominee -- high kal better nominee, and i have no doubt he will serve the nation well. the reason i say he's a high qualified nominee, when he was confirmed to the tenth circuit court of appeals, he was confirm by the senate on a voice vote. he was essentially voted unanimously, including people like senator schumer, the democratic leader who was here
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at the time, and others of our colleagues across the aisle. so i think it will be really important for the american people beings as they hear the inevitable criticism of this nomination, that they remember the senators who were here at the time judge gorsuch was confirmed to the tenth circuit, they expressed none of those concerns or reservations. i think most importantly, justice -- judge gorsuch will honor the legacy of justice skae scalia on the united states supreme court, but even more importantly, he'll honor the united states constitution and the unique role of our judiciary and our system of government. you know, i think one of the things that justice scalia made a point of during his professional lifetime was to point out how judges had unfortunately become policymakers rather than
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interpreters and appliers of the constitution and written law. the problem with that is that judges in the federal system don't stand for election, so you have lifetime tenured federal judges becoming, in effect, a trump card or superlegislator for our testimony of government. that certainly is not what james madison and the founders contemplated and justice scalia was a tribute to the role of respecting the limited, albeit important role, that judges play in our system of government. so to put it another way, judge gorsuch meets every test and passes all of them with flying colors. well, we've heard from the democratic leader that president trump needed to appoint a mainstream nominee.
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well, there is no doubt that if that's the litmus test for our friends on the other side of the aisle, that judge gorsuch meets that test. he is the respect -- he has the respect of even people who serve on the other side of him in litigation and people whose ideological views differ quite a bit. here is what a former solicitor general had to say about judge gorsuch. he said, quote, "judge gorsuch is one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our tphaeugts over the last -- nation over the last century. as a judge, he has always put aside his personal views to serve the rule of law." he goes on to say, i strongly support his nomination to the support. this is the sort of respect that judge gorsuch in his tenure as a judge has generated even from people who are on the opposite
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end of -- of the ideological spectrum. they know that judge gorsuch will be first and foremost somebody who enforces the rule of law, laws passed by the political branches of government and does not attempt to sub plant the agenda for those of the american people. i said before that republicans joined -- democrats joined republicans to confirm him unanimously to the tenth circuit. i mentioned that senator schumer was here at the time, senator durbin, several members of the judiciary committee, including the ranking member, senator feinstein from california and the senior senator from vermont, senator leahy. all of them were here, and because of the voice vote, they didn't note any dissent or disagreement. we would say that is essentially
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a unanimous vote of the u.s. senate. it will be interesting to hear from them about any reservations or concerns they now voice. i hope at least they will allow us to have an up o up-or-down vn the nomination of this outstanding nominee. to hear george -- judge gorsuch last night and to look at his biography and read his extensive record scholarship and rule of law, all of this is to see precisely the kind of person who who should be confirmed to the supreme court. i believe the american people will see that as clear as day. so i hope our colleagues across the aisle will resist the temptation to obstruct and drag their feet when it comes to this important nomination. i hope they won't kowtow to some of the extreme faks in their own
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party -- extreme factions in their own party. they have repeatedly argued the corns of having nine justices on the supreme court, and now that the american people have spoken, electing president trump, and he's now announced his kick, they should honor that selection, and that pick is superb, the kind of nominee who is supported unanimously by democrats in the past and is endorsed by president obama's own solicitor general. so let's move forward with an undeniably qualified nominee. madam president, -- mr. cornyn: madam president, i would ask that -- unanimous consent that all remaining quorum calls on the tillerson nomination be equally divided. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, i yield the floor and i'd note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: madam president, i am coming back to the floor to correct the record on my earlier comments. there i said republicans insisted on 60 votes for each of president obama's nominees. 60 votes is the bar that was met by each of president obama's nominees, but at the time there was no need for a cloture vote because we knew each of them would garner 60. it's important to clarify because i believe 60 votes is the right standard for this nominee, not because they did it to us, we did it to them, but because 60 votes, as i mentioned in my remarks, produces a mainstream candidate, and as i laid out earlier, the supreme court requires a mainstream candidate now more than ever. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. heinrich: madam president, i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. heinrich: madam president, since president trump was inaugurated, he has unveiled a series of damaging and truly un-american executive orders. in particular, the executive order banning refugees and individuals from muslim majority countries from entering our country. for president trump and his team, it is the projection of an inward-looking, isolationist vision for america. for many new mexicans, myself included, it is also seen as an attempt to fundamentally change our american values. we are not a country that
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discriminates based on how you pray. we are not a nation that turns our back on the innocent victims of terrorism or the allies who have risked their own lives so that american soldiers might live. president trump's actions seek to turn us into the kind of authoritarian nation that we have always stood against. he has promoted this dark vision instead of asserting america's long-standing role as a voice for democracy, for freedom, human rights, the environment, tolerance and respect for women. values which extend far beyond our shores. in essence, this selfish and bully-like mentality abandon the values that we hold dear and which have defined our great nation as a global power. it should come as no surprise that trump's nominees to be our
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nation's top diplomats, nikki haley, rex tillerson, have no diplomatic experience. on nikki haley's first day on the job, president trump announced that he would be cutting united nations funding by 40%, and ambassador haley announced to the world that the united states is now -- quote -- taking names of those who disagree with us. in an attempt to show strength, the trump administration is actually creating weakness. by stepping away from multinational organizations that we helped establish, organizations like the u.n. and nato, and by presenting a hostile attitude to other countries and allies, the united states is walking away from its role as the indispensable nation. this morning, former c.i.a. director and retired general
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david petraeus warned that the united states global alliances are at risk, stating -- quote - "americans should not take the current international order for granted. it did not will itself into existence. we created it. likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. we have sustained it. if we stop doing so, it will fray and eventually collapse." end quote. just as i am not confident in president trump's nominee for ambassador to the united nations, i am equally concerned, if not more so, about his choice for secretary of state. during his senate confirmation hearing, rex tillerson, the former c.e.o. of exxonmobil, demonstrated that he is blatantly unaware of global affairs. he failed to recognize and condemn human rights violations
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around the world, including in saudi arabia and the philippines and declared dangerous policy positions without knowing what those policies would actually mean. in his hearing, mr. tillerson repeatedly avoided answering the most rudimentary questions about foreign policy by stating things like, i would need more information on that issue. for as long as i can remember throughout grade school and college, women in saudi arabia have lacked basic freedoms. and yet mr. tillerson either had no knowledge of women's issues in saudi arabia or fails to value the importance of that issue which i believe to be an american value. the united states faces an increasing number of global threats, including north korea, including russia, china, iran, and terrorist organizations
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across multiple continents. we face evolving threats from nonstate actors and terrorist organizations such as al qaeda and the islamic state. instability and civil war in the middle east have led to the greatest global refugee crisis since world war ii. russia and china are acting aggressively to assert their influence and challenge and provoke american interests in our allies. and global threats such as pandemic disease, nuclear proliferation, and climate change require international cooperation and responses. the next secretary of state will be diving head first into all of these incredibly daunting and gravely important foreign policy challenges. mr. tillerson's lack of foreign policy experience combined with a president who promotes an isolationist world view leaves me deeply concerned for the
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future of american foreign policy. the world looks to america to uphold human rights, to promote democratic values, to take the lead on many challenges we face as an international community, and the american people look to the white house and to the state department to represent our fundamental american values on that international stage. the american people expect their leaders to show that their only interest is in representing the public's best interest. americans have reason to doubt where rex tillerson's interests rest. his world view has been shaped through the lens of looking out for what's best for his company's profits, not what is best for the american people. nor not what is best toll address complex international challenges. just like negotiating a real
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estate deal does not prepare one to lead the nation. negotiating oil deals does not prepare you to be a diplomat whose primary interest is in advocating for american values. when mr. tillerson has worked with foreign governments to pursue lucrative oil deals and profits, he has been agnostic to human rights and to america's diplomatic and security interests as well. as exxon's c.e.o. during the iraq war, mr. tillerson undermined the state department's efforts to keep iraq cohesive as a nation and instead served the interest of his company's financial gain in direct conflict to the american interest. under mr. tillerson's guidance, exxonmobil signed a deal directly with the kurdish administration in the country's northern region, a move that fueled kurdish secession ambitions and undercut the legitimacy of iraq's central
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government. this deal was drawn despite the state's department recommendation that they wait until national legislation was passed because a law governing nationwide oil investments was being reviewed by parliament. in russia mr. tillerson worked closely with vladimir putin's government to fornlings deals to drill -- forge deals to drill for oil in the arctic, the black sea, siberia. mr. tillerson developed such a cozy relationship with the kremlin that in 2013 he was awarded the order of friendship by vladimir putin, the highest honor awarded to non-russians. after russia unlawfully invaded the ukraine and took crimea, the united states and the european union enacted sanctions against russia that mr. tillerson would be partly responsible for overseeing as secretary of state. right now when we are trying to
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hold russia accountable for its illegal aggression in eastern europe, for its war crimes in aleppo, and its interference in our own nation's election, how on earth can we trust someone with such a cozy relationship with the putin government to be our secretary of state? mr. tillerson's record also leads one to wonder how he will address the imperative to implement the paris climate agreement, especially since president trump is now exploring how to withdraw from it. at height of the debate on climate change legislation in congress, mr. tillerson spent tens of millions of dollars to kill a bill that would have reduced our carbon emissions sooner. it has also been reported that scientists at exxon have known about the relationship between carbon emissions and climate since the 1980's and that exxon even made business decisions about what resources to develop
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and how based on that knowledge. yet under mr. tillerson's leadership, they chose to with hold these findings and fund groups determined to se show confusion and doubt. how can we be confident that mr. tillerson will address the impacts of climate change, put america's security first as our top diplomat? those conflicts of interests are troubling enough, but the most troubling reason why i cannot support mr. tillerson's nomination is this. in just the first week and a half of the trump white house, we have seen numerous cases of trump nominees saying one thing during their confirmation hearings before this body, and then the administration turning around and doing something entirely different. after secretary mattis told us that he opposed the muslim
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travel ban and director pompeo stated his opposition in hearings to torture, we saw this administration move forward with both. i have seen nothing that shows me that rex tillerson will stand up to president trump's dangerous vision for american foreign policy. what will he do to stand up for nato? what indication do we have that he will call on the president to act in the interest of the american people and not the interest of president trump's business holdings in numerous nations around the world? the secretary of state sits on the national security council. will mr. tillerson stand up to steve bannon, president trump's political strategist who has been outrageously placed on the national security council while, i would add, the chairman of the joint chiefs and the director of national intelligence were demoted.
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president trump has shown that he trusts the former leader of the far right website breitbart news more than our leading generals and his appointed leader of the intelligence community. you could already see the influence of mr. bannon who has made a career out of selling hateful and divisive propaganda aimed at women, aimed at hispanics, african-americans, jews, and other minorities in the actions president trump has taken in his first days in office. during his first week in office, president trump floated the idea of bringing back the c.i.a.'s use of torture techniques, imposed a gag order on our federal agencies and renewed talk of a wall on our southern border, and all of this culminated with an executive order blocking refugees from around the world from entering the united states. this is not greatness. in fact, this is un-american.
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i will not stand aside as the values that created the greatest nation on earth are trampled upon. this dangerous executive action has already had a clear human impact. in new mexico, the albuquerque journal reports that our universities have issued an advisory to foreign students and faculty, don't leave the country if you want to come back. think about that. my office has already heard from new mexicans who fear for their safety and the safety of their families abroad as a direct result of this order. a man who moved to the united states as a refugee from iraq and settled in my hometown told me that his wife and two kids went to baghdad to attend his mother-in-law's funeral. they are currently in iraq and scheduled to return in february. they are all green card holders. they are part of our community.
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but president trump's executive order has left him and his family feeling in limbo. he said -- quote -- i am afraid about our destiny as a family. i am afraid i will lose them. end quote. the heartbreaking human impact we have already seen are only part of why the muslim travel ban was such an appalling action for the president to take. george washington once said -- quote -- i had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind to whatever nation they might belong. end quote. it's very clear that president trump is clearly no george washington. this executive order flies in the face of that sentiment and i believe the sentiment that we share as americans. i join my colleagues in sending
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a letter to president trump about this order. i am particularly outraged about the absurd and careless nature of the order which will have a profound effect on many iraqi men and women who risked their lives and the lives of their families on behalf of our soldiers, on behalf of american soldiers. late last summer i traveled to iraq, to kuwait, to the heart of africa, and i met with top military officials to discuss operations against isil, against al qaeda, and other terrorist organizations. in order to find a lasting solution in that volatile region, we must take a smart approach that provides training and resources and support to our regional allies like the iraqi security forces rather than putting tens of thousands of
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u.s. troops on the front lines there ourselves. alienating our regional allies, alienating muslims as a whole puts all of that at risk. former cabinet secretaries, senior government officials, diplomats, military service members, and intelligence community professionals who have served in the bush administration, the obama administration together have expressed their deep concern this week with president trump's executive order. in a letter they warned that this order not only jeopardizes tens of thousands of lives, it has caused a crisis right here in america and will do long-term damage to our national security. they go on to say in the middle of the night just as we were beginning to -- beginning our
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nation's commemoration of the holocaust, dozens of refugees on board flights to the united states and thousands of visitors were swept up in an order of unprecedented scope apparently with little to know oversight or imput from national security profession -- input from national security professionals. end quote. also, this week the iraqi parliament in direct response to president trump's muslim travel ban voted to implement an identical visa ban on americans. how can we possible think that this is in our national security interest? rex tillerson has not answered questions about president trump's muslim travel ban. mr. tillerson needs to tell us where he stands on this un-american policy. if we are going to move forward on his nomination, mr. tillerson needs to reassure the american people, he needs to reassure this body that he understands
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the repercussions of these kinds of appalling actions. he needs to show us that he will stand up for american values and against the president's dangerous impulses that will isolate our nation, alienate our allies, and abdicate our role as leader of the free world. mr. tillerson has not shown any of that to me, to this body, to the american public. thousands of new mexicans have flooded my office with letters and e-mails and phone calls urging me to oppose his nomination. i share new mexicans' well founded concerns about mr. tillerson's qualifications to lead the state department and to stand up for our nation's interests. i will not support his nomination, and i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stop and think carefully about this vote that
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we're about to take. our nation's future role in the world is at stake. mr. thune: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: madam president, last night, president trump announced the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to the supreme court. he will fill the spot left vacant by the death of justice antonin scalia. justice scalia left a profound mark on our judicial history. he had a brilliant mind, a ready wit and a vivid and colorful writing style that made reading his decisions not only
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illuminating but enjoyable. but most importantly, antonin scalia had a profound respect for the rule of law and the constitution. he knew that he was a judge, not a legislator, and that his job was not to make the law but to interpret the law, and that's exactly what he did. for 30 years, justice scalia ruled on the plain meaning of the laws and the constitution. his politics, his personal opinions, his own feelings about a case, none of those was allowed to play a role in his decision. he asked what the law said and what the constitution said, and he ruled accordingly. even when he didn't like the result. justice scalia once said, and i quote -- "if you're going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you're not always going to like the conclusions you reach. if you like them all the time, you're probably doing something wrong." end quote. well, madam president, needless to say, justice scalia left some
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big shoes to fill, but after learning a little bit about judge gorsuch, i have to say that if anyone can come to fill them, i think judge gorsuch can. like justice scalia, judge gorsuch has a brilliant mind. he shares justice scalia's gift for the written word. "the washington post" noted that many people, and i quote, who have praised gorsuch's lucid and occasionally lyrical writing style. "slate" called judge gorsuch's writing, and i quote, superb, incisive, witty and accessible. but most important, madam president, like justice scalia, judge gorsuch understands the role of a supreme court justice. he knows that it's a justice's job to interpret the law, not write it. in a speech last year, judge gorsuch said the following -- "perhaps the greatest project of justice scalia's career was to
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remind us of the differences between judges and legislators." end quote. understanding those differences, madam president, is indispensable. brilliance, eloquence, learning, compassion. none of those things matter if you don't understand the proper role of the supreme court, and that role is to interpret the law, not make the law. to judge, not legislate. to call balls and strikes, not to try and rewrite the rules of the game. it's great to have strong opinions, it's great to have sympathy for causes or organizations, it's great to have plans for fixing society's problems, but none of those things has any business influencing your ruling when you sit on the supreme court. judge gorsuch understands this,
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and that is why i trust him to sit on the supreme court. madam president, when judge gorsuch was nominated to the tenth circuit court of appeals ten years ago, he was confirmed by unanimous vote here in the united states senate. you can't really get a more bipartisan confirmation than that. at the time, then-senator ken salazar, a colorado democrat who later became interior secretary under president obama, noted that judge gorsuch, and i quote -- "has a sense of fairness and impartiality that is a keystone of being a judge." well, madam president, given the wide respect in which judge gorsuch is held, his outstanding record and his previous overwhelmingly bipartisan confirmation, i am hopeful that his nomination will move quickly through the united states senate. senate democrats have spoken a lot about the need to fill the ninth seat on the supreme court. well, now is the chance.
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i congratulate judge gorsuch on his nomination, and i look forward, madam president, to seeing him confirmed to the supreme court. madam president, i yield the floor. and 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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ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that precedings under the call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. madam president, i come to the floor to announce a very difficult decision that i have made, and that is to vote against the confirmation of betsy devos to be our nation's next secretary of education. madam president, this is not a decision that i've made lightly. i have a great deal of respect for mrs. devos. i believe that she is a good person. i know that she cares deeply about the children of this nation. but for the reasons that i will explain, i simply cannot
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support her confirmation. madam president, later today the senate will vote on a motion to proceed to the devos nomination, and i will vote to proceed to the nomination because i believe that presidents are entitled to considerable deference in the selection of cabinet members, regardless of which political party is in power, and that each and every senator should have the right to cast his or her vote on nominees for the cabinet. that is why during president obama's administration, i voted for procedural motions, including cloture, to allow the president's nominees for secretary of defense and for secretary of labor to receive
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up-or-down votes by the full senate even though i ultimately voted against those two nominees on the senate floor. at the time, madam president, i stated that it is appropriate for every senator to have an opportunity to vote for or against an individual cabinet member, and i still believe that that is the right approach. now let me again make clear what i said at the beginning of my remarks and which explains why this has been a decision that i've not made lightly. i know that mrs. devos cares deeply about children. i recognize that she's devoted much time and resources to try to improve the education of
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at-risk children in cities whose public schools have failed them. and i commend her for those efforts. i wrote to mrs. devos seeking her assurances in writing that she would not support any federal legislation mandating that states adopt vouchers nor would she condition federal funding on the presence of voucher programs in states. she has provided that commitment, and i would ask unanimous consent that the exchange of correspondence with mrs. devos be entered into the record at the conclusion of my statement. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: nevertheless, madam president, like all of us, mrs. devos is the product of her experience.
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she appears to view education through the lens of her experience of promoting alternatives to public education in detroit and other cities where she has, no doubt, done valuable work. her concentration on charter schools and vouchers, however, raises the question about whether or not she fully appreciates that the secretary of education's primary focus must be on helping states and communities, parents, teachers, school board administrators, school board members and administrators strengthen our public schools. while it is unrealistic and unfair to expect a nominee to know the details of all the
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programs under the jurisdiction of the department of education, i am troubled and surprised by mrs. devos' apparently lack of if a mill -- lack of familiarity with the landmark law the individuals with disabilities act, known as idea, that guarantees a free and appropriation to children with special needs. the mission of the department of education is broad, but supporting public education is at its core. i'm concerned that mrs. devos' lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist with those
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challenges, particularly for our rural schools in states like maine. in keeping with my past practice, i will vote today to proceed to debate on mrs. devos' nomination, but, madam president, i will not, i cannot vote to confirm her as our nation's next secretary of education. madam president, i yield the floor.


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