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  U.S. Senate Debates Mick Mulvaney Nomination  CSPAN  February 15, 2017 9:59am-12:42pm EST

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interests, the interests of the veteran, but you'd be the overseers you are, we want you to have the opportunity to do that. we will agree to this at some time and make sure that we can tell the va we want to see a progress state of where we are at and where communications are broken up with you. i say that with this committee that we will definitely move forward and do that again. thank you so much for being here today. the committee is adjourned. [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate is about to convene. do both at 10:30. one on mental health background checks in the second to advance the nomination of represented makeable day to head of the
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office of management and budget. a confirmation vote could occur sometime today or tomorrow. more cabinet nominations later this week as well as confirmation votes on those nominees. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. o god, who is the strength of our lives, let us live to tell of your wondrous works.
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how magnificent are your acts o lord. how deep are all your thoughts. bless our lawmakers. empower them to endure the challenges of these times. give them a humility that will make them willing to decrease, so that your spirit may increase in their lives. renew their minds with truth and sharpen their skills in each important area of living. bless the members of their staffs who labor so faithfully for freedom's cause. we pray in your sovereign name.
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amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting 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 majority leader.
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mr. mcconnell: let me begin by welcoming a true friend of the united states, israel prime minister bennet benjamin net nea rip guided by a clear-eyed view of the threats that face us. this relationship has grown closer and more valuable as terrorism has become the constant threat to our homeland, something that the israelis have known literally for decades. as iran sought to expand its spehr of influence in an effort to make the middle east. i value our friendship greatly and i know that president trump does as well. now is the time top strengthen this partnership as we move on from eight years -- the
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administration that chose one of its last actions in office to abandon israel and in so doing undermining any semblance after peace process by encouraging the palestinians to forgo direct negotiations. i will let the prime minister know about working with our new administration to achieve peace with the palestinians through a negotiated settlement in a way that protects israel's vital national security interests. our nation's face many common threats, strengthening this relationship makes each of us safer. i hope colleagues will join me in extending a warm welcome to the prime minister of israel during his visit to the capitol later today. on another matter. the senate has been acting to provide relief by utilizing the
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congressional review act which provides the legislative tools needed to repeal them. just yesterday the president signed the first of several regulation relief resolutions we hope to send him. later this week he'll sign a second, a resolution identical to the one i sponsored in the senate that can bring relief to thousands of mining families in kentucky and across the country by overturning the problematic stream buffer regulation. today we will send him another one. we will vote to protect the constitutional rights of americans with disabilities. the resolution will provide relief from an overly broad and legally deficient regulation that threatens the second-amendment rights of law-abiding americans with disabilities. in the waning day of the obama administration, the social security administration issued a rule that the aclu and
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disability groups across the country oppose because it unfairly treats many americans with disabilities. under this rule the social security administration must report to the national instant criminal background check system anyone who receives benefits for certain disabilities and who the social security administration believes needs a representative payee to help manage these benefits. as a result of being included on this list, many disabled social security beneficiaries are disbarred from lawfully purchasing a firearm even though there has been no adjudication that the beneficiary is mentally defective. which is the standard of the gun control act of 1986 and the knicks improvement act of -- nics improvement act of 2007. numerous disability rights group oppose it as unfairly stigmatizing the disabled, they
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agree with us on stopping this regulation. the substance of the regulation has compounded the group's note of any meaningful due process protections prior to the social security administration's transmittal of names to the nics database, the nonpartisan independent agency charged with opposes the regulation too. the council also urges us to use the congressional review act to repeal this 11th hour regulation because of the cons use ital right at stake -- constitutional right at stake and the stigma this traoul legitimate phaoeuz -- this rule legitimatizes. and the disability tkwreu rights groups across the country came to the floor yesterday to discuss this issue. like him, we are all deeply saddened by the senseless loss
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of life due to gun violence and its alarming indeed we have seen it increase in certain communities like chicago, but the way to address this problem is not to stigmatize the disabled or deprive law-abiding americans of their second-amendment rights without due process of law. the department of justice states that firearms violations should be aggressively used in prosecuting violent crime. the d.o.j. states that such violations are generally simple and quick to prove. under the obama administration, however, there was a 35% decrease -- decrease in gun prosecutions as compared to the bush administration when measured over a 10-year period. in fact, prosecutions decreased in almost every year of the obama administration. i'm hopeful that the new leadership at the justice department will reverse this alarming friend. what is not helpful, of course, is the assistant democratic's
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leader implication that the senate is addressing this regulation as some sort of pay back to a national rifle association. i would implore my friend that almost two dozen groups oppose this last-minute regulation, including nearly 20 -- 20 disability rights groups. does he surely think the opposition to this regulation from groups like the american civil liberties union, the national coalition for mental health recovery and the american association of people with disabilities is based on some kind of pay back? the reality is that, like us, they believe this regulation is simply bad policy, places an unfair stigma on those with disabilities and violates their constitutional rights which is why a wide array of groups oppose it. i'm glad the senate will now join the house in protecting the constitutional rights of americans with disabilities by voting to undo the unfair stigma
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this regulation imposes on them. i thank my colleague from iowa, senator grassley, who has been a leader in addressing this regulation. he introduced the senate companion of the bill we voted on yesterday with over 30 cosponsors. now, on one final matter our democratic friends are getting a lot of pressure from the far left to resist just about everything these days. reality for one. the responsible route for democrats would be to have some real talk with the far left about how it's past time to -- to come to grips with the outcome of the last election. instead, our democratic friends have allowed themselves to be pushed around by the fringes and to a strategy in search of a purpose. a strategy in search of a purpose. they'll really can't prevent the president's cabinet nominees from being confirmed yet they have undertaken the most
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unprecedented obstruction of cabinet nominees in history. they postponed hearings, boycotted committee meetings, they have delayed as long as possible. it's resulted in this president having the fewest number of cabinet secretaries confirmed on a percentage basis at this point in his presidency of any incoming president since george washington. since george washington. and to what end? it hadn't changed the results. what it has done is forced the american people to go on for an unprecedented length of time without leadership of some of their government's most important agencies. we recommend determined to work through this pointless obstruction. we'll take the next step in that process soon with a vote to advance the nominee that can help bring fiscal and regulatory senatey to our economy after eight years of stagnation. representative mulvaney knows
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making government more accountable is conducive to economic growth and getting our fiscal house in order goes hand in hand with compassion. as he put it, fixing the economy doesn't mean just taking a green eye shade approach to the budget. power government isn't just about numbers. ta strong, -- a strong, healthy economy helps us to protect our most vulnerable. that is the kind of attitude we need at the office of management and budget. it's good to finally see new economic leadership in place atop treasury and the small business administration. now we can chart a better direction for this important budgetary agency as well. and after we do, we'll continue working through this unprecedented obstruction to seat the rest of the cabinet. i urge our friends across the aisle to work with us finally in doing so. without cooperation, then, under the regular order we are going to end up working here well into the weekend.
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the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, i rise this morning to address the events of general flynn's resignation as national security advisor on phopb night and the -- monday night and the need for an impartial investigation into the facts of the case. it is now readily apparent that general flynn's resignation is not the end of the story, it is merely the beginning of a much longer story. the circumstances of general flynn's contact with the russian ambassador during the transiti transition, the recent reports of potential high-level contact between the trump campaign and
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russian intelligence, including general flynn, should raise hairs on the necks of everyone in this body and every american of goodwill, democrat, republican, conservative, liberal, independent. this is not a partisan issue. this is an issue about our country and how it is governed. it is also an issue about our security. we are now left with more questions than answers. and an imperative to find the truth. every hour that goes by more and more questions are raised. every white house press briefing and early morning tweet seemingly introduces new inconsistencies and contradictions that demand a full accounting. every report that suggests deeper ties between the trump campaign and the russian government needs to be followed up on and verified.
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we need to get all the facts. so in the days and weeks ahead, the trump administration needs to answer some serious questions. these questions must be asked by an independent and unbiased law enforcement authority. they must be answered truthfully by administration officials. any attempt to lie, to mislead must be countered with the full force of law. there needs to be an independent and transparent investigation on two fronts. one, in the legislative branch, where we have an obligation to conduct oversight. and one in the executive branch which has the responsibility for finding and prosecuting potential criminal liability. today i wish to address the investigation that must occur in the executive branch. the new attorney general jeff
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sessions cannot be the person to lead that investigation. in fact, justice department regulations specifically prohibit individuals who have political ties to the subjects of an investigation from leading that investigation. it is a clear conflict of interest. i want to read you the regulations of the department of justice. they're right here, and every american should see them because they're clear as could be. no department of justice employee may participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is subject of the investigation or prosecution or who would be directly affected by the outcome.
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no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or the prosecution. the regulations continue. they define political relationship. clear again, clear as a bell. political relationship means a close identification with an elected official, candidate, political party or campaign organization arising from service as a principal advisor or official. personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality. jeff sessions was chairman of the national security advisory committee alongside general michael flynn. he was a senior advisor in the trump campaign. the first senator to endorse the
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president's campaign and nominated him at the republican convention in cleveland. those facts and the department of justice's own rules disqualify attorney general sessions from running this investigation. the words are crystal clear. there is no wiggle room. if attorney general sessions were to conduct or in any way be involved with this investigation, he would be violating justice department guidelines. as bad a start as the trump administration is off to, it would make things dramatically worse to ignore these guidelines which were set up for the purpose of getting to the truth in a fair and impartial way. attorney general sessions must recuse himself immediately. any investigation headed, directed by or influenced by the
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attorney general will be jaundiced from the very start. because the rules are so clear, i expect the attorney general will recuse himself and allow an independent and thorough investigation to go forward. and, mr. president, we have an additional reason to seek an independent and transparent investigation because of how the white house treated this matter over the past few weeks. the white house knew for weeks that general flynn misled the vice president and let general flynn stay on the job. they knew for weeks that his discussion about sanctions with the russian government could potentially compromise our national security because he'd be subject to blackmail, and they let him stay on. the president knew for weeks about this and let general flynn stay on in his full capacity, present at and participating in the highest level of national
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security discussions until those reports were made public. if the reports of general flynn's incorrect statements to the vice president were never made public by "the washington post," would the president's trust ever have eroded? would general flynn ever have been fired? would he still be in his job today? we'll never know now. the answer is very troubling. if an investigation is not independent, nonpartisan, and, most of all, transparent, there is no guarantee this administration will take the decisive and immediate actions necessary to keep our country safe. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration
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of h.j. res. 40, which the clerk will report. the clerk: house joint resolution 40, providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, united states code so and so forth. the presiding officer: under the previous order there will now be ten minutes of debate equally divided. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: before we vote on the resolution of disapproval, i want to reiterate several very important facts. this resolution of disapproval is bipartisan. the resolution is also supported by 23 groups, mostly disability rights groups. the disability groups believe that this agency, the social security administration and its regulation, will unfairly stigmatize those with disabilities. and of course they're right. the american civil liberties union has said this, quote, we
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oppose this rule because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent and should not own a gun. there is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee to manage one's social security disability benefits and a propensity towards gun violence. end of quote. but they have also gone on to say, the aclu does, quote, here, the bill automatically conflicts one's disability character beingistic, that is -- characteristic, that is the disability to handle money with the ability to own a
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firearm. mainly the regulation does not require the agency to prove a person is dangerous or mentally ill. the regulation also provides no formal hearing or due process before a person is reported to the gun ban list. supporters of the gun ban lift has said that repeal of this regulation will interfere with the enforcement of the gun prohibition laws. i want it plain and simple, this is hogwash. we should not let baseless scare tactics confuse this important issue. important federal gun laws are still on the books, even if the agency rule is repealed. we aren't repealing any laws. the new regulation is inconsistent with these existing federal gun laws. the agency still has the duty to report anyone who was actually
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adjudicated as dangerously mentally ill to the gun ban list. this is also true of anyone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or involuntarily committing to a mental institution. the federal law requires this, quote, if a federal department or agency has any record of any person demonstrating that the person falls within one of the categories, shall provide the pertinent information contained in such record to the attorney general. this law remains in effect. repealing this regulation will merely ensure that disabled citizens' second amendment rights are in fact protected. those rights will no longer be able to be revoked without a hearing and without due process. it will take more than a personal opinion. just a personal opinion of a bureaucrat can abridge your
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second amendment rights and existing statute requires agencies to report the individuals to the gun bass -- gun ban list who are ineligible to possess firearms. the require remains intact even if this regulation is repealed. so it is plainly wrong to claim, as has been said, that if the regulation is disapproved, agencies will no longer have to report prohibited persons. if the supporters of this regulation want to take away people's gun rights, then they need to acknowledge the government must carry the burden to actually prove a person -- prove a person -- is dangerously mentally ill. and the government must provide due process in that process. they need to go back to the drawing board, in other words, because this rule is inconsistent with the very
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important second amendment rights to bear arms, own and possess guns, buy and possess guns. therefore, it must be repealed, and this resolution must be approved. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, whenever the discussion in the senate turns to gun violence, we often hear senators say we shouldn't be talking about guns. we ought to be talking about mental health. that is exactly what we are trying to make sure is the focus of this debate because this proposed rule is about mental health. it's about background checks. it is not about taking away anyone's constitutional rights. here's how the proposal works. if there is an individual with a
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severe mental impairment, that means that another person, perhaps a family member, is in charge of their social security benefits, then the background check is to be informed by social security that the person with a severe mental impairment is ineligible to buy a gun. now having listened to the debate yesterday, i think everybody is going to be a little confused about what happens then, because the reality is anyone who thinks that they have been unfairly affected can appeal, and the likelihood is substantial that they are going to win. if the appeal goes the other way and the individual believes the decision is wrong, then that person can take the matter to court. it is not true to say this rule deprives any american of due process. it is a rule aimed directly at
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the two areas in this debate -- mental health and background checks -- where there is enormous support from the american people. mr. president, the reality is you can talk to people in virtually any community. you can go to a town hall meeting in any part of the united states, and you will hear enormous support for background checks. one recent poll found that 92% of gun owners supported expanded background checks. 92% of gun owners supported background checks. so not only is the position i'm articulating not extreme, opposing background checks is the position that in fact has become increasingly out of the mainstream. and as the courts continue to interpret the language of the second amendment, one matter
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has been clear. background checks are a constitutional part of the exercise of those rights. now i've heard some saying that the rule can be improved. it ought to be tailored. and i'm very open to having a debate around those kinds of questions. that's not going to be possible if this resolution passes. this will preempt debate. the resolution doesn't just scrap the rule. it blocks any further step on this issue for years. in my view, that would be the wrong way to go, even if you have suggestions for improving the rule. so to wrap up the debate, i want colleagues to know that this rule ought to be proposed. this proposal that has been described on the floor, this resolution, and it ought to be opposed because for those who
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want improved mental health, for those who want background checks, for those who are just saying what we need to do in this area as it relates to gun violence is not about democrats, is not about republicans. it's about common sense. the common sense position today about background checks, a focus on mental health and most importantly common sense is to oppose the resolution and i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president, i yield back our unused time. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back. the clerk will read the title of the joint resolution for the third time. the clerk: house joint
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resolution 40 providing for congressional disapproval under the united states code and so forth. the presiding officer: the question is on the joint resolution. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to change his or her vote? if not, the ayes are 57, the nays are 43. the joint resolution is passed. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate recess from 12:30 until 2:00 p.m. today. further that the time during the recess count postcloture on the mulvaney nomination. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i yield back all the time on this side. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the motion top invoke cloture. the clerk: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22, do hereby bring to a close debate on mick
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mulvaney to be director of management and budget signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of mick mulvaney of south carolina to be be director of the office of management and budget shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: any senators in the chamber wishing to change their vote? if not, the yeas are 52, the nays are 48. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination --
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executive office of the president, mick muscle environmental protectiony of south carolina to be director of the -- mick mulvaney of south carolina to be the director of the office of management and budget. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i rise today as the united states senate considers the nomination of mick mulvaney of south carolina to be the director of the white house office of management and budget. that's o.m.b. we're long overdue in confirming mr. mulvaney to this key post because our nation has so many pressing budgetary issues requiring the attention of this new administration. first among them is the staggering $20 trillion debt burden now -- it now faces after eight years of anemic economic policy and growth and growing at the rate of half a trillion a year. confirming an o.m.b. director we can work with will put america
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on a more responsible fiscal path. with their unprecedented attempts to delay the new cabinet, senate democrats have ensured that the president has now been without an o.m.b. director longer than any other president in the past 40 years, and that's how long the budget act has been in place. according to senate records from president jimmy carter to president obama, the longest it has ever taken to approve a first budget director for a new president was one week. one week. we're now in week four. with little or no movement. as majority leader mcconnell said last week, this is the slowest time for a new cabinet to be up and running since president george washington. and that was last week. it's even slower than that. and we're still not done. it's vital that we fill this position as soon as possible because the director of the office of management and budget will help set the president's
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budget priorities and play an important role in working with congress onsetting the appropriate spending levels for the nation. this position is crucial to helping the federal government function in what is shaping up to be a very challenging fiscal environment that requires all of our attention. some may wonder why some are opposed to mick mulvaney, it could be because he was a vigilant budget hawk while in congress questioning how we stop the federal government from overpending while continuing to take care of the country's core priorities. he will be a voice for fiscal restraint, responsible budgets and for honest budgeting that avoids the use of gimmicks such as emergency funding designations for nonemergencies. i'm hopeful that mr. mulvaney
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and o.m.b. will ensure that taxes hard-working americans send to washington are spent in the most efficient and effective way. the federal government has not been currently focused on making sure hard-working taxpayers get the best deal for their money. a new o.m.b. director focused on responsible budgeting can help ensure that when duplicative agencies are discovered, it is addressed. this will make the government more accountable and effect *eufpl. g.a.o. -- effective. g.a.o. outlines tens of billions of dollars in savings that can be achieved. o.m.b. can play an important role in ensuring that spending programs do not duplicate each other while protecting hard-working taxpayers. additionally reforming and consolidating these programs can ensure that they focus on real needs and be managed with an eye
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on real results. the federal government has grown so large and complex that no one seems to know how many federal programs exist. even the executive branch can't tell us how much programs it administers. i directed a lot of questions to the past administration trying to find out exactly that. of course, i would like to not only know how many programs, i would like to know how many dollars are involved, how many people they employ, an how many customers they serve. there should be a relationship that makes a difference, but nobody is looking at it. several years ago congress passed a law requiring the administration to publish a list of all federal programs on a central government-wide web site, along with related budget and performance information. what i was just talking about. unfortunately when the program lists were put on-line, g.a.o. reviewed the information and
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discovered that the inventory, in their words, was quote -- listen to this carefully, quote, not a useful tool for decision making. what were they afraid of? but even if the government can't answer that question, we can find strong evidence that the numbers are on the rise and mr. mulvaney will be able to play a crucial role in taming uncheck growth of federal government. i also look forward to working with him on the urgent need to reform the broken budget process, which has contributed to the budgetary stalemate and recurrent continuing resolutions to which congress now routinely resorts in order to postpone hard decisions about spending and debt which delays agencies are from being able to plan. there is an urgent need for important reforms to the process, such as, implementing biannual budgeting so that they can plan two years at a time and the overhaul of outdated budget
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accounting concepts that have outlived their usefulness. my goal is to have congress work with the new administration to produce comprehensive and lasting budget process reform that can put our nation on a better fiscal path. the budget committee's been working on that for a year in a very bipartisan way. it's time for us to put some of those into place. despite its significance, the preparation of the president's annual budget mission is is only one of the responsibilities of o.m.b. as an entity within the executive office of the president, o.m.b. has numerous government-wide management responsibilities in addition to budgeting and spending that concern various activities carried out by federal agencies. these include agency rule maki making. agency contracting, agency grants management, agency financial management,
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information technology, program aassessment, personnel policy, property management. we don't have a list of property we have let alone when it needs to be replaced. that would be capital budgeting. i hope we can do that at some point. it is for these reasons and more that i encourage the senate to exercise its constitutional duties to prepare their advice and consent on this key cabinet level position and confirm mick mulvaney of south carolina as director of the white house office of managemenoffice of ma. i have talked to him extensively. i have known him for a long time and i know he will do a spectacular job of this and will provide the president good advice so we can do whatever we can do and bring as many people together in meeting the responsibilities of this government. i hope people will join me in supporting this outstanding
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nominee. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. nelson: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: are we in a quorum call. the presiding officer: yes. mr. nelson: i ask consent that
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the quorum kale be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, we're moving forward now on consideration of mick mulvaney to be the president's nominee to head the office of management and budget, which is an enormous responsibility and which often directs the traffic of what's going to happen in all of the agencies and directing traffic as to what legislation that the white house is going to be working on and working with the congress on. so this is an enormous responsibility and a very powerful position. when looking for someone to lead this agency, we have to carefully consider the person's record. the presiding officer is someone
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who is practical, who is a military officer, and who understands a lot about human nature as i hope this senator from florida is and what i suspect that both of us have found is that you can often tell where a fellow's going by where he's been. so let's look at congressman mulvaney's record on everything from things like social security and medicare. let's look at what his record is on climate change and sea-level rise. and, oh, by the way, of particular note to the gentleman presiding in the chair, what is his record on defense spending? now, office of management and budget is going to have a great
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deal to say about what's in the budget with regard to any kind of spending but let's see what he has said with regard to defense spending. okay. congressman murphy -- congressman mulvaney has advocated for raising the retirement age for social security to 70. he's also said that he wants to raise the medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, both of which would require senior citizen to work longer and even though they've worked a long time and
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paid into these programs in good faith, take, for example, medicare, people have tried to provide for health insurance if they have enough money or otherwise through the a.c.a. getting subsidies to afford health insurance, or if they don't have enough money, having medicaid and they are waiting for the day that they turn 65 to be eligible for medicare. it's the same thing with social security. social security, over time, has been raised from 65 to 67, but congressman mulvaney has talked about raising the eligibility for social security to age 70. i don't think this is going to go over too well with a
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population of senior citizen who have paid into social security, who have paid in to finance medicare and now are being told they are going to have to wait until later. now, i know how you can dress it up. you can say, oh, it's not going to affect anybody that's currently eligible, but what about all the young people that are paying in. well, time flies, and suddenly they find that they are approaching that age in their mid-60. -- mid-60s. i don't think people are going to take very well to congressman mulvaney's position, but let's see what else he has said. he calls social security a ponzu scheme.
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he further has said that he supports turning medicare into a voucher system that under any independent economist examination would lead to big cuts for seniors, many of whom of our senior citizen have no other options for health coverage. when the president was running for -- remember, he said exactly the opposite. then candidate trump said he promised that there would be no cuts to medicare and social security and yet the white house has nominated somebody that has taken positions contrary to that because it's clear from congressman mulvaney's past positions that we can't rely on
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him to keep this promise that the president said and, again, i remind our listeners that the head of the o.m.b. is like a chief aircraft traffic controller. he's directing a lot of the traffic of what the white house will bless and it is a position, need i remind you, that is also considered a member of the president's cabinet. well, the positions mull -- the position mulvaney has taken is opposite those stated by candidate trump. now, let's look at something else. you know the nation has debt and united states bonds are the strongest investments in the world because it's backed up by
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the full faith and credit of the united states government. so any kind of u.s. debt backed by the full faith and credit is the strongest investment in the world. but congressman mulvaney has taken an alarming position on our nation's debt advocating for shutting down the government and defaulting on the debt, all a part of a political game to gain leverage in budget battles. anybody who takes a position that you want our government to go into default on its financial obligations, that is a pretty extreme position. so this senator would merely say we can't have somebody in charge
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of our budget as the director of office of management and the budget who is willing to risk a default on our government to meet a personal ideological agenda. all right, let's look at something else. now, the presiding officer is in one area of the united states outside of the continental u.s. yours truly is in another part of the u.s., one near the arctic, the other near southern climes. our state and specifically south florida is ground zero for sea level rise. i think most people are familiar with the photographs that the --
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on the television showing seawater washing through the streets on the seasonal high tides of miami beach. most people have heard that some of the coastal cities, their oil fields they have had to relocate them further west because of sea level rise and the intrusion of saltwater which is heavier than freshwater into the interior, and florida sits on top of a honeycomb of limestone that is filled with water. well, that's what's happening in the southern part of the united states. a nasa scientist testified to the commerce committee that these are measurements, not forecasts, not projections. measurements over the last 40 years, the seas have risen in south florida five to eight
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inches. and of course you've heard the projections. this is something that we are getting ready for, the city of miami beach is spending millions of dollars in very expensive pumps. the other local governments in south florida are planning to do the same. it is not a forecast. it is happening. and so three quarters of our state's population of florida lives on the coast. look at the population in the united states. a lot of it lives on the coast, and those populations are going to bear the brunt of sea level rise from the flooded streets to the tainted drinking water, but during his confirmation meeting, the fellow who's being considered as head of the
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o.m.b., congressman mulvaney, he questioned the scientific fact of climate change. we can't muzzle scientists. we can't muzzle science. it's not going to go away. you can attempt to muzzle the scientist as some governors in the south have done. and alarmingly, as i have found in the last few weeks, some agencies of government are having implied threats that they stop using the words climate change. you can't muzzle this when the effects of scientifically proven climate change are posing a real threat to a lot of our people. mr. president, i specifically made this a point to question the fellow that we will vote on
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next week, not the instant one, a really good person, wilbur ross, who is going to be the -- he's going to be the secretary of commerce. he came out of our commerce committee with an overwhelming wrote, and i specifically said said -- and it's on the record, what do you think about climate change science? i said mr. ross, wilbur ross, do you know you have three nobel laureates as scientists that are employed in the department of commerce? do you know you have not only noaa and all of the intricate measurements that are so important for us to protect ourselves, read inbound hurricanes, tornadoes, all the
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rest, the amount of rain that's going to fall for our agricultural industry, but also we have got scientists over there in the department of commerce, i reminded him, that are doing the delicate measurements of science of standards and technology that are needing science to sniff the atmosphere for nuclear explosions by potential enemies. you don't want to muzzle these scientists. you want them to bring forth the best that they can come up with modern-day techniques. and so that's why i -- and i would ask the presiding officer to look at the bill that we have filed with a number of our fellow members of the commerce committee, the scientific integrity act, which would
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ensure that federal scientists can freely communicate their findings with the public and with, believe it or not, congress. it requires federal agencies to implement and enforce scientific integrity, scientific integrity policies and to ensure that adequate procedures are in place to report when those integrity policies are violated. that ought to be common sense. that ought to be the normal course of business around here. let people speak their minds, speak their expertise. that's what we want. and that bill requires federal agencies to implement and enforce those policies.
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all right. now, let's get to defense spending. the nominee for office of management and budget, congressman mulvaney's record on military spending is concerning. in 2011, on an interview of abc's "top line," congressman mulvaney said, quote, defense has to be cut, it has to be on the table, no question. he says, there's a group of republicans, myself included, meaning him, who think that we should be cutting defense. there's large portions of folks in our own party -- talking about the republican party -- who know that you can cut defense and not impact the ability of our troops in the field to be defending us. end of quote.
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i would suggest why don't we ask the people in ukraine that are fighting for their life against the projected arm of vladimir putin, trying to take over their territory just like he already did in taking over crimea. why don't we ask our nato allier troops in the hot, sandy regions of iraq and syria right now? yes, our u.s. troops in syria, as special operations forces advising the combined forces over there fighting isis. why don't we ask them if they want defense cut? why don't as we see the continuous projection of the ability of russia to move on the
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three baltic states, which are our nato partners, why don't we ask them if they would like our defense budget cut? why don't we ask our allies in the pacific region that are so concerned about the testing of these increasingly longer range intermediate range ballistic missiles by north korea, why don't we ask them if they want us to cut back on the assets that we have in the region to be able to protect them from the north koreans if that child dictator suddenly goes off on some crazy tangent and pushes the button. and so, mr. president, i will
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just summarize here and say that congressman mulvaney has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to face domestic and global realities, and for this senator, that raises serious concerns as to whether he can be trusted to responsibly oversee our nation's budget process, and for these reasons and others, i will be voting no on congressman mulvaney's nomination. 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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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: might i ask if we are in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. kaine: could i ask that the quorum call be suspended? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kaine: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to speak on the nomination of representative mulvaney to be director of the office of management and budget, the matter currently pending before us. i will vote against the nomination because of representative mulvaney's opposition to bipartisan budget accords, his targeting of federal employees and his willingness to use the full faith and credit of the united states as negotiating leverage. background. this is a really important position, and i'm on the budget committee that oversees o.m.b. and its opportunities. the o.m.b. director's the primary advisor to the president on budgetary matters.
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the o.m.b. director is in charge of preparing the annual presidential budget submission to congress. and the management function of the o.m.b. is a very important one in terms of the management of the federal workforce and the work of the executive. we have seen o.m.b. directors in the past deeply involved in fiscal negotiations of national importance. most notably in the time i've been here, on deals to address the across the board sequester and even the shut down of government in october of 2013. so it's very important that this position, the director have a proven record of certainly public service on one side or the other is fine, but there's got to be a recognition of the value of bipartisan compromise putting the country first, putting pragmatism ahead of ideology in a commitment that's rock solid to maintaining the fiscal credibility and integrity of the country. i worry about representative mulvaney on each of these areas. with respect to bipartisan compromise on budget matters, i
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was on a budget conferree in 2013 after the government shutdown. the senate and house each had a budget. there was a refusal to sit down to do a budget conference. that led to the absence of a budget and the shutdown of government for 13 days, the greatest government on earth. as we came out of the shutdown, there was a recognition and an agreement that we would sit down and try to hammer out a budget compromise. people didn't give us a lot of odds that we would do it. but because of the leadership of then-budget chairs, now the current speaker, paul ryan and patty mauri, the budget chairs enabled us to reach a compromise that was in the good of the country by the end of calendar year 2013. at that point the nominee was a member of congress and played a very active role in opposing the budget compromise. he voted against the deal that we needed to get following the shutdown of government and his quote was, it seems yet again that washington cannot wean itself from its spending
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addiction. indeed what we saw today is another example of how we got $17 trillion in debt. we can have lots of bipartisanship as long as we spend more money. the unwillingness to embrace a bipartisan compromise even after the government of the united states shut down troubles me significantly. i worry about his pragmatism on these matters. he has supported using government shutdown and the threat of government shutdown as a lever, as a lever to defund planned parenthood, as a lever on other matters that he thinks are important. and that's fine. but to use those as a lever to -- to use the shutdown of the federal government, that government that abraham lincoln says was a government by of and for the people and should not perish from the face of the earth, i view that as we should not shut the government of the united states down. but he has used debt ceiling and shutdown as a leverage to gain his way on points of lesser importance than whether the government stays open.
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he has continued to support the sequester which i believe is bad policy for the united states. quote, we want to keep the sequester in place and take the cuts we can get. there's also a significant issue that matters to me in my state. i asked him about it during the hearing that demonstrates an ideology over pragmatism which is does he accept the science behind climate change. why does that matter for an o.m.b. director? well, we're investing money in storm relief. we're investing money in emergency relief. we're investing money when we rewrite the flood insurance program. in hampton roads where i live, in the state where i am, 1.6 million people, biggest center of naval power in the country deeply affected by sea level rise, if you're a budget director some of what you do is make recommend oitions on how to spend money on things like resilience to sea level rise but
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if you do not believe in climate change that is not a priority. in questions before the committee he challenged the noition -- notion that humans are affecting climate change. i worry about his effect on the federal workforce. there's 107,000 federal workers in virginia. they do a great job. there's going to be challenging employees in any entity, whether it's in the senate or whether in a private entity but on balance or federal employees are people who deserve our thanks for the job that they do. the house took an action at the beginning of january. the senate did not take this action. but the house took an action reinstated something called the homan rule, a long-standing but for a long while unused doctrine that allows the house in an appropriations bill to target an individual employee and reduce their salary to as low as $1 a year. they couldn't fire someone without violating civil service rules, but the house voted to
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be able to target individual employees and reduce their salaries to $1 a year. this together with federal hiring freeze and other actions is causing a great deal of angst among the federal workforce. congressman mulvaney supported the notion of bringing back the rule so individual federal employees could be targeted. i asked him about that when he visited in the office. he did not have an answer that i found convincing or credible. finally, the debt ceiling. we're going to confront within a few months the debt ceiling of the united states. our willingness to honor the obligations in the debt thatas previously been incurred. the full faith and credit of the united states shall not be questioned is something that's very important. i think it's in the 14th amendment to the constitution, and certainly that's been our example that we've set around the world, that we have strong credit and no one can ever question whether the united
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states will stand behind its debts. but congressman be mulvaney has often taken the position that the u.s. could default on debt and then prioritize which debts it would pay. that happens in the commercial space some. sometimes it's an intentional tool and sometimes it's an accidental tool and we have bankruptcy laws to allow the prioritization of debts. but the united states does not repudiate its debts and we should not flirt with something like a debt ceiling and suggest that we're going to repudiate our debts. so in closing, i am troubled by the nominee's opposition to bipartisan budget efforts. i'm troubled by an ideological position that would say we could potentially default with our debts or flirt with shutting down the government. for those reasons i oppose him. i respect the fact that he's been returned to the body multiple times by his voters. that should be worthy of respect
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as well. but in terms of being the chief budget official for the united states, i do not think he's demonstrated the ability to do that, and to keep america's fiscal policy and reputation sound. for that, i will oppose him. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. president, i note 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 south dakota. mr. rounds: i would ask that the quorum call be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rounds: mr. president, i have six 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. mr. rounds: thank you,
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mr. president. mr. president, i would also ask to speak as if in morning business for the next five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rounds: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to commemorate the life and legacy of clint roberts who passed away in the early morning hours of february 18, 1982. he is a former member of the house of representatives, south dakota senate and a former south dakota secretary of agriculture. he helped give birth to the conservation reserve and conservation reserve enhancement programs which have been extremely beneficial to farmers, ranchers and landowners, not only in south dakota but across the country. these programs helped increase farm and ranch family incomes at a time of great economic turmoil, but more importantly, clint was a mentor and a hero to
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me and many others, and i'm proud to say a lifelong friend to me and jean. i have always looked up to clint and sought him out for advice. when i first met clint when i was an intern in the south dakota senate in 1976, he was serving in a leadership position. he taught me many valuable lessons over the years about politics, policy, family and public service, just to name a few. he also is credited with introducing me to that exquisite combination of water and scotch over 40 years ago at the king's inn in pierre. clint grew up on a ranch and never let go of his cowboy roots, his hat or his boots. he was an iconic symbol of a cowboy and of the wild west. so much so, he was one of the finalists to be the marlboro man in the mid 1970's. he also appeared in minor roles in films and even a super bowl
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commercial. but even off camera, he was a cowboy through and through. he was down to earth, a straight shooter and a practical conservative who believed in freedom and helping those in need. he was also a problem solver who fixed what was wrong instead of just talking about it. he was one of the true conservationists in south dakota, promoting wildlife and conservation on his operating farm and ranch. he taught many the importance of the c.r.p. or conservation reserve program and preserving our natural resources. during pheasant hunting season, he always opened his ranch to hunters and loved making his secret recipe for chili for all to enjoy. but most of all, he understood the importance of family. he was a great husband to bev, a
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father, a grandfather and great grandfather. and he was a great friend to all who knew him. he had a tremendously positive impact on the many thousands of people that he met and touched with his kindness, selflessness and generosity. south dakota is truly a better state, and we are a better people because of his hard work and dedication to making things better. with this, i welcome the opportunity to recognize and commemorate the life of this public servant and my friend, clint roberts. we will treasure his legacy for years to come. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the.
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the clerk: will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas.
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mr. moran: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i have the opportunity to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be able to express my entire remarks during this period of time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you. lad seaburg, his home is atchison, kansas, he passed away on kansas' 160th birthday. my state lost an individual who epitomizes all it means to be a kansan. throughout his life, lad was dedicated to serving his family, his friends, his colleagues and his hometown of atchison. atchison is along the missouri river, the kansas river, right on our border with our neighboring state. a long history in that community. and he and his family have had a long opportunity that they have taken advantage of to benefit the citizens of that community. he fought a courageous fight with a terrible progressive
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neurodegenerative disease, and he was laid to rest last week. as a stalwart figure of northeast kansas who worked at m.g.p. ingredients for 40 years, he will long be remembered for his character and his leadership. most everything good in atchison involved lad and his family. lad was not born a kansan. he was born in west texas and graduated from texas tech university where he met his wife karen cray during a national science fair put on by the u.s. air force. naturally, both won first place awards at the fair and later moved to karen's hometown of atchison where they made their life and raised their family. with a degree in chemical engineering and a mind of a true engineer, he had a passion for understanding the way things work on a mechanical level. his love of tinkering led him to a long-time hobby as an avid radio operator. upon moving to atchison, he
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began working at m.g.p. as a distillery production manager. during his first 11 years there, lad rose to become the company's president, later its c.e.o. and then its chairman of the board. he had an integral role in bringing the company public when it became lifted on 0 the -- on the exchange. lad and his wife were blessed with two daughters, six grandchildren who still live in kansas today. beyond his leadership at the company, m.g.p., where his intelligence and encouraging management style will long be remembered, lad contributed on numerous boards and even more organizations that improved the lives of those who live in the community and around the state. to name but just a few, he was the founding member of the international wheat gluten association, separately represented the u.s. grain commodities community at world trade organization meetings and was a board member of the kansas chamber of commerce and industry.
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he was also one of the original founders of the atchison area economic development council, a long-time member of the atchison county historical society and a former chairman of the atchison area chamber of commerce board. lad's leadership was indispensable on the amelia earhart bridge committee to construct a new bridge in 2012 across the missouri river, named for a fellow pilot, fellow kansan, amelia earhart, and one of our state's proudest daughters. and he cared deeply about education in his community as evidence by the recognition he and his wife received from benl dictine college. his faith played a significant role in his life having served as elder and deacon as the first presbyterian church of atchison. one can hardly overstate what he meant to northeast kansas as lad always sought opportunities to serve fellow kansans. he was a mentor to many and gave of himself to all who were
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fortunate enough to pass his way. my prayers have been with his wife and family, father and grandfather. it's sad that lad was laid to rest but may he rest in peace. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that my further remarks appear at a different place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. moran: there's a lot going on in the united states senate and i'm grateful for that. but what i want to highlight as we look at the agenda for the united states senate, when we look at the agenda for this congress and the federal government is the appropriations process. mr. president, one of my goals as a member of the united states senate -- i didn't expect this when i was elected, i didn't expect there to be a problem. what i want to see is the united states senate function. and all 100 united states senators, whether they're
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republican or democrat, ought to take a great deal of responsibility for seeing that this place, the united states senate, gives each senator the opportunity to present his or her ideas to represent his or her constituents and to make a difference on their behalf. one of the ways that we can do this is in the way that we appropriate money. the appropriations process is important, and at the moment we're operating under a continuing resolution that expires in a few months. and we've had lots of conversations about the first 200 days of this congress, the first 100 or 200 days of the administration. we've talked about the importance of confirming executive nominations. we talk about the importance of dealing with the consequences of the affordable care act. we've talked about the need, the desire to repeal regulations that are onerous and damaging to our ability to create jobs. we certainly talked about the need to do overhaul, overhaul in a comprehensive way the
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united states tax code. mr. president, i want to raise to my colleagues' attention and hopefully generate awareness about one of the things that seem to be missing in that discussion about what our agenda is or should be, is the necessity of doing appropriations bill. the way this place is supposed to work is by law, april 15 we are to have passed a budget and then 12 separate appropriations bills march their way through the appropriations committee, come to the senate floor where they are available for amendment, discussion, debate by every member of the united states senate. we ultimately pass each of those 12 appropriations bills and send them to the house or vice versa. and those 12 appropriations bills fill in the blanks. but unfortunately, what has happened way too often is we've gotten in the habit of passing something we call a continuing resolution. a continuing resolution means that we're going to fund the federal government, its agencies and departments at the same level of spending next year
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as we did this year. and that suggests that there is no ability to prioritize how we should spend money. that's poor government. and in fact if used continuing resolution -- if you've had continuing resolutions year after year, the priorities of spending that were in place two, three, four years ago become the priority of spending next year. and so it would, in my view, be a terrible mistake for us to reach the conclusion that we can do no better than a continuing resolution in the appropriations process this year that takes us to the end of the fiscal year. and it's not just about priorities. we need to get spending under control. and in fact the appropriations process has generally done that. it's a reasonably flat line in the growth of government spending on the discretionary side the things that the appropriations committee deals with, the things that we as senators deal with on an annual basis. but in addition to determining priorities and levels of spending, the other reason --
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another reason that this is important, it is our opportunity to influence decisions made by various agencies, departments, and bureaus of the federal government. in my view, the constitution of the united states created the congress congressional branch, the legislative branch for reasons of trying to restrain executive power. and when we do a continuing resolution, we leave so much discretion, so much power in the executive branch, and it doesn't matter whether it's a republican president or a democrat president, congress is here to protect the american people from an ever-encroaching desire on any administration to garner more power and to make more influence in the nation. congress has the ability, if we'll use that ability, to restrain executive action. we're going through a series of congressional review act procedures in which we are rejecting regulations made in the final days of the past
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administration. but a more effective long-term approach to dealing with the expansive nature of the bureaus, departments and agencies is to have an appropriation process in which the agency head, cabinet secretary, the bureau chief knows that his or her relationship with congress may determine how much money he or she has to spend within that agency. we do a continuing resolution; there is little reason for an agency head, cabinet secretary or bureau chief to pay attention to congress, and that's contrary to the constitutional provisions giving us the responsibility to appropriate money and continues the practice of an administration expanding their role in the lives of americans and its businesses. so we need an appropriations process different than just a continuing resolution. we need to have the opportunity for agency heads to know that the appropriations process is going to matter to them.
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it causes them to have conversations and discussions with us, gives us the ability to tell an executive branch official this doesn't work in my state. this is very damaging. this rule or regulation that you're proposing is harmful. can you go back and do it in a different way? do you understand what this means in this circumstance? and again, our leverage to have those conversations is often whether or not we're going to appropriate money and what that level of spending will be for that agency. the other aspect of this is in the absence of that dialogue and change of heart by that agency head, we then have the ability to say as a congress no money can be spent to implement this idea, this regulation, this rule. so why we focus attention rightfully so on congressional review act and its limitations, its ability to limit, in this case repeal and reject regulations, the long-term ability to rein in any administration that exceeds its authority and operates in a way
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that develops regulations that lack common sense or appreciation of how they might affect everyday americans is through the appropriations process and a continuing resolution will once again take away the constitutionally mandated, the constitutional responsibility we have in doing our jobs to protect the freedoms and liberties of the american people. so, mr. president, we've had a lot of conversations about what we're going to try to accomplish, and one of the things that i want to make sure is on the agenda, that when the time comes -- which is now -- the conversation is, well, i hope the conversation is not we've run out of time. we're just going to do another continuing resolution and fund the federal government for the next few months at the same level as we did last year. we need to exert our authorities to make sure that the american people are in, out of harm's way from what government can do. the constitution was created to protect americans from an ever expansive government and it only works when congress works.
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mr. president, the time is short. we hear that the administration is going to offer supplementals or amended requests for spending especially in the defense arena. we need to get our appropriations work completed so they have an opportunity to supplement, to make suggestions to congress about what that appropriations bill should finally look like, and we are close to failing in our responsibility to do that. congress needs to do its work. every 100 members of the united states senate can have their opportunity to have input on how money is spent. we can defend and protect the taxpayer. we can defend and protect the consumer. we can defend and protect the job creator. we can defend and protect the employee, but not if we don't do our work, not if we don't do appropriations bills and we rely once again on this technique of shrugging our shoulders, throwing our hands in the air and saying the best we can do is tell an agency their spending authority is the same next year
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as they were last year. we need attention. the appropriations process should begin and i ask my colleagues to give serious thought to helping accomplish that. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:00 p.m.
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a sponsor of the bill. again that from the hill. well, tomorrow the senate labor committee holds a confirmation hearing on the nomination of andy puzder to be labor secretary. c-span3 will have live coverage of that. you can watch on c-span.org or listen on the free c-span radio p.