tv U.S. Senate 11012017 CSPAN November 1, 2017 9:59am-12:00pm EDT
app. >> posted more content and people shared these posts, spreading them still further. many of these ads and posts are inflammatory, some are downright offensive. we know that much of this content is particularly hurtful to members of the facebook community that engaged with this content believing it was authentic. people should believe content on facebook is authentic and should not have to worry that they are being exploited in a cynical effort to prey on painful faultlines in our society in order to inflame discourse in this country. in aggregate, the ads and posts we're here to discuss-- >> again, that hearing live on c-span 3, also listen at c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. u.s. senate is about to gavel in to continue on work on judicial nominations. at noon senators will hold a
confirmation vote of joan larson to the 6th circuit court and debate on a 10th court nomination. live coverage 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. eternal and ever blessed god, thank you for waking us to see the light of this new day. lord, on
this all saint's day, we remember the unseen cloud of witnesses that surround us. we are grateful for all the saints who from their labors rest, but whose works follow. them. we thank you for the many lawmakers in our history whose integrity, creativity, and diligence have helped to keep us free. lord, we praise you for all of your gifts, the glimpses of beauty, the echoes of truth, and the kindness of friends. thank you for all those who lived and died for freedom. grant us in our day and
generation to live to honor our noble heritage. and lord, please remember the -- those affected by the violence in new york. bring a speedy recovery to the injured. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our beloved 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.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: yesterday's attack in manhattan was sickening, twisted, and heartbreaking. the suspect appears to have been inspired by isil. we know that in the days ahead our
intelligence community will make every effort to learn more about him and whether he had any connection to this terror group and its hateful ideology. but today we're thinking of everyone affected by the tragedy. we're praying for the victims
and their families. we're thinking of our fellow americans in new york. we're expressing our gratitude for the critical work of our first responders, and to them we say thank you for your courage. thank you for all you do, especially in the face of such a terrible tragedy like we witnessed yesterday. now, mr. president, on an entirely different subject, after eight years of sluggish growth and missed opportunities for the middle class under the obama administration, the american people elected a new president and a congress dedicated to getting our country moving again after so many years of failed left-wing policies. we're working hard on joint legislative initiatives like tax reform. also undertaking what has been described as the most ambitious regulatory rollback since reagan. the administration has the ability to take serious action
on its own, and it has. the congress has taken important action many times as well. we've used the tools contained in the congressional review act which allows us to overturn certain regulations with a majority vote in congress and the president's signature. the president signed all of the many c.r.a. resolutions we passed already which overturn regulations that threaten everything from job creation to economic growth. the president will sign another c.r.a. resolution today, one that will overturn a regulation that threatened to drive up costs for the millions of americans who carry a credit card. it's a regulation dreamed up by a government agency, the cfpb, that claims to protect consumers but seems to have found a way to actually harm them. the treasury department released a study showing how this regulation had little to do with consumer protection and everything to do with lining the pockets of trial lawyers. this unaccountable agency
ignored that study and issued its regulation anyway. we passed this congressional review act resolution to protect consumers from wrongdoing while avoiding frivolous lawsuits that will only drive up costs for the millions of americans who have a credit card. the cfpb continues to be one of the most unaccountable bureaucracies in washington, and this congress will continue to stand up for consumers even when the cfpb will not. now on the nominees we'll consider today, yesterday when the banking committee confirmed the nomination of -- yesterday when the senate confirmed the nomination of professor amy barrett to the seventh circuit court of appeals, we took another important step to ensure that the federal judiciary fulfills its role in our constitutional system. now we have the opportunity to confirm another well-qualified woman to the federal bench, michigan supreme court justice joan larsen.
president trump nominated her to serve on the sixth circuit and she'll be a strong addition to that court and a benefit to our nation. after graduating first in her class from northwestern's law school, justice larsen served as a law clerk for judge david cintell of the d.c. circuit court and then for justice antonin scalia. these clerkships honed her ability and respect for the rule of law preparing her for a distinguished career. joan larsen also served as deputy assistant attorney general in the department of justice office of legal counsel, former government officials from both republican and democratic administrations wrote in strong support of her nomination. each of them holding her in the highest regard. joan larsen later joined the law faculty at the university of michigan teaching there for many years. she excelled in academia earning the praise of her students and the esteem of her colleagues.
in fact, more than 30 of michigan's deans and law professors wrote to support her nomination. they wrote that justice larsen's commitment to the rule of law and her capacity for top-flight legal analysis are both of the first order and her personal integrity and decency are exceptional. even when they disagreed, her colleagues praised justice larsen's generous manner, her personal integrity as well as her legal acumen. in 2015, larsen was appointed to the michigan supreme court. the next year she won election to a full term winning every single county in the state. her fellow justices, even those with different ideologies, praised her intellect and her commitment to apply the law as it's written to every case before them. joan larsen's time on the michigan high court has shown a record of independence and of fairness. here's how one practitioner put it in a letter to the judiciary
committee. i'm not a republican, he wrote. justice larsen approaches cases with an open mind and an independence from party affiliation. i believe that justice larsen has had a very positive influence on the michigan supreme court. in my view, she would be a deserving addition to the sixth circuit court of appeals. another lawyer wrote the committee advising that he has practiced law in michigan for 39 years and is a past president of the michigan association for justice formerly the michigan trial lawyers association. he goes on to say that justice larsen has demonstrated on the bench that she is precisely who she is in person, a genuine, thoughtful individual who respects precedent, the common law and the role that lawyers and judges play in society. i have no hesitation in telling you that justice larsen will make an excellent judge on the sixth circuit court of appeals. in conclusion, president trump continues to nominate smart,
well-qualified, and impartial individuals to our nation's federal courts. justice larsen, like each of the other nominees before her, was nominated on the basis of her belief in the rule of law and her commitment to apply the law fairly to everyone who enters her courtroom. once again i'd also like to thank chairman chuck grassley for his leadership of the judiciary committee, tirelessly working to bring the president's nominees to the floor. i look forward to voting to confirm joan larsen today, and i urge all of my colleagues to join me.
the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the larsen nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. joan louise larsen of michigan to be united states circuit judge for the sixth circuit.
mr. schumer: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: well, i rise this morning with a heavy heart. a city, my dear city of new york, no stranger to terrorism, was once again its victim yesterday. yesterday afternoon a man deliberately drove a rented truck into groups of pedestrians and cyclists, killing eight, injuring about a dozen more. some of the injured were schoolchildren. these people were biking or walking home, enjoying a brisk and beautiful new york autumn day. it's just tragic. it leaves a hole in your stomach. our hearts go out to the victims
and their families, and we wish all of the injured a full and speedy recovery. and we are also grateful, deeply grateful to the new york police department and the first responders, especially officer ryan nash, 29 years old, who was the first on the scene. he reacted quickly and decisively to bring down the attacker and bring him into custody. who knows how much worse the tragedy would have been without his actions. and, mr. president, as one of thousands of new yorkers who regularly ride on the path where this attack just placed, in the last month ivorieden on it -- i've ridden on it twice -- it hits close to home. my daughter went to the school near the scene, stuyvesant high school. and she used the bike path i don't know how many times. this is our territory, our home.
and the attacks are meant to confuse and terrorize. but as the world has learned after 9/11 and will learn again, new york doesn't scare easily. new yorkers are resilient. we always bounce back. we won't let these terrorists get their way or affect our way of life. we will never let terror prevail. true to form, something that made my heart swell with pride, the new york city halloween parade marched on last night. thousands of school kids went right into styvesant today. the terrorists can't stop us. they cannot change our way of life. we love new york. we love america. that bond holds us together. now, mr. president, i've seen the tweets from president trump. after september 11, the first thing that president bush did
was invite senator clinton and me to the white house where he pledged to do what was ever in his power to help our city. president bush, in a moment of national tragedy, understood the meaning of his high office and sought to bring our country together. president trump, where is your leadership? the contrast between president bush's actions after 9/11 and president trump's actions this morning could not be starker. again, mr. president, president trump, where is your leadership? i'd say in closing, i have always believed that immigration is good for america. i believe it today. president trump, instead of politicizing and dividing america, which he always seems to do at times of national
tragedy, should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution -- antiterrorism funding, which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget. so i am calling on president trump to rescind his proposed cuts to this vital antiterrorism funding immediately. our city relies on this funding to track potential terrorists, to snuff out attacks. the nypd who bravely and quickly responded to the scene yesterday and brought the mayhem to an end depends on this antiterrorism funding to keep our city safe day in and day out, so again, i am calling on the president to rescind his proposed cuts to this vital antiterrorism funding
mr. barrasso: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. this week, the senate is moving through a series of votes to fill vacancies in the federal appeals court. president trump has nominated highly qualified, mainstream judges and legal scholars to do these jobs. now, democrats have responded once again with delay and with
obstruction. it is clear to me that we need to change the rules in the senate that govern how we debate nominations in this body. all year, democrats have been putting up roadblocks to nominations. they have forced the majority leader to file cloture so that they -- we can confirm nominees like these four judges. president trump, as of last friday, as of last friday, democrats have forced the senate to file cloture 47 different times where we have had to have cloture votes on president trump's nominees. now, there were only six cloture votes at this point for the previous four presidents. five for obama, none for george w. bush, one for bill clinton and four under the presidency of george herbert walker bush. these are the kind of hoops that the democrats have been making the senate jump through in an effort to confirm president
trump's nominees. mr. president, this procedure had been set in place to allow for debate. well, debate is a good thing in the senate as long as debate is actually occurring. it's a chance for senators to stand up, to say what they like or what they don't like about a nominee. now, if no one wants to debate, we should just move things along and have the vote. there's one senate rule that allows for as much as 30 hours of debate time on presentation nominations after -- on presidential nominations after we have actually had the cloture vote. now, in reality, very little of that time which is spent on the senate floor actually has been being used for the debate. in the past, both sides would agree to waive the time requirements and to move on to other senate business, which is what we need to do to get the country continuing to move forward. but what's happening now is that democrats are insisting on
cloture votes, and then they are insisting that we use hour after hour after hour, even when there is no one here to debate what the issue -- what's the issue or the person in front of us. it's time to end this pointless spectacle. the united states senate used to be called the world's greatest deliberative body. democrats have turned it into the world's most paralyzed deliberative body. we have more than 125 nominees, mr. president, for various jobs who had hearings in committee, who have testified in committee, who committees have voted on, who have cleared through the entire committee vetting process and are now waiting for a vote on the senate floor, 125 of them. most of these people have bipartisan support. they will be confirmed easily and eventually. they should be confirmed immediately. there should be no reason for democrats' stalling tactics
except to once again slow down the pace of other progress in the senate on legislative issues. mr. president, look at what happened with one judge last week. it's a case you're very familiar with. scott palk was nominated by president trump to serve on the u.s. district court. now, he had bipartisan support in the judiciary committee. it went to the committee, hearing in the committee, bipartisan support, voted out of the committee. that was in june, more than four months ago. now, apparently, that's not good enough for the democrats, not at all. no, they are only interested in slowing down the work of the senate, so we had a cloture vote on the nominee. one of the 47 cloture votes that we talked about. we had to have a cloture vote. every republican and 27 democrats voted for him, so he had bipartisan support. we still had to allow all of this wasted time for the debate.
we couldn't conduct any of the other business of the senate during the time because the democrats insisted that we use all the debate time. now, they could have very easily agreed to waive the rules as we do and go straight to a vote. we wanted to do that. the democrats refused. now, so how much of that time, that 30 hours, mr. president, did the democrats actually spend on the floor debating this person's qualifications to be a federal judge? how many of those 30 hours did the democrats use? none. how many minutes did they use? none. not one democrat came to the floor of the united states senate to talk about that. not a single democrat even bothered to say a word against his nomination. it was less than 20 -- there were fewer than 20 minutes of total talk on the floor of the senate through hour after hour after hour of ongoing time, fewer than 20 minutes spent actually talking about the judge, and it was all spent in praise by the republicans.
we still had to run out the clock because that's the delay game the democrats are playing in the senate. the senate had to waste hours and hours when we could have finished debating in less than 20 minutes. the democrats have done this same thing time after time, day after day, wasting day after day. things take time in the senate, we understand that. that's what the founding fathers had in mind when they formed the two bodies of congress, the house and the senate. there is no excuse, though, mr. president, for democrats abusing the process to make things take even longer. democrats aren't using the rules for debate. they're not using the rules for deliberation. it is only for delay. it hasn't always been this way, and there is no reason it should continue to be this way. the senate had a different standard for nominations a few years ago, mr. president. that was in the 113th
congress. years 2013 and 2014, the senate allowed just two hours of debate after cloture was invoked on nominations for district court judges. that's two hours more than the democrats actually spent debating this judge's nomination last week. the rules said we have up to eight hours to debate executive branch nominations below the cabinet level and then for cabinet secretaries, nor -- for judges on the supreme court, for circuit courts, it was the full 30 hours of debate. 30 hours now is what we allow every nomination today, and democrats have shown that in most cases, it is far too much time because even though we have to spend all the time, they use very little of it talking about the nominees. mr. president, we need a fair debate on every nomination. the procedure from 2013 and 2014, fair debate on nominations, is one that was
fair. now, the way that the democrats are wasting time today to keep us from doing our work is not fair. i believe it is time to return to the rules for debating nominees that the senate used three years ago. there will still be plenty of time for senators to debate the nominees, to raise objections if there are any, and then every senator could be on the record that they just have a lot of hours that we could avoid that are being wasted today that could be used to do the people's business of this country. a president's nomination of qualified people to important jobs was never meant to be a tool for delay in the senate or to be an obstruction to the way democrats have been using it. now, these rules that we used in 2013 and 2014, mr. president, were the result of a compromise. democrats controlled the senate at the time. democrat barack obama was in the white house making the nominations, and republicans agreed to make these changes to
the rules. it was part of a bipartisan group, and i was part of that group. there were eight senators. they worked on this compromise, four republicans, four democrats. senator mccain and senator alexander were part of this group. senator schumer, who is now the democrat leader, he was part of this group. and there was overwhelming support for these changes on both sides of the aisle. mr. president, it's time to do it again. let's change the senate rules and go back to the process that senator schumer supported in 2013 and 2014. today the schedule allows us to do one or two nominations in a typical week. we go back to the 2014 standard, we could clear multiple nominations in a day. the republican senate has been busy this year, and we made progress on behalf of the american people. we have passed resolutions, 15 resolutions rolling back
destructive obamacare regulations, using the congressional review act signed into law by the president. we passed a budget that will help give us, as americans -- give americans at home a raise by cutting their taxes, giving us an opportunity to do the kind of tax relief, tax reform, tax reductions, tax cuts that the american people are looking for. we need to do morement it is time for democrats to stop abusing the rules just to delay the process. it is time to go back to the previous standard of debating nominations. it is time to big pick -- it is time to pick up the pace and do the job the american people expect us to do. if the democrats don't want to accept the standard of debate that was set in a previous congress, then i believe, mr. president, it is time for us to force that change. if democrats maintain their lock step opposition to real progress on judicial vacancies and other nominees, we should give them the chance to vote on their
continued obstruction. we can vote on these nominees in a straightforward and efficient way or we can vote to return to the precedent of the 113th congress. that's the choice. either way, mr. president, it is time to vote. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, the magnitude of this moment should be apparent to all. a sitting united states president's campaign chief and his protege have been indicted for conspiring against the united states. another campaign advisor has
pleaded guilty for lying to the f.b.i. about meetings with russians. at those meetings, he illegally discussed obtaining dirt on the president's political opponent and e-mails that had been stolen two points need to be underscored for the american people. first, these indictments and conviction are a sober, shattering moment in american history. second, all of us on both sides of the aisle should come together to support the work of the special counsel and assure that he is able to follow the facts and the law and all of the evidence wherever they may lead.
this moment will stand as a landmark in american history just as many of the moments in watergate did as well. this investigation has proceeded more quickly than watergate did. john mitchell was indicted in 1974 of conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice, and convicted a year later. that indictment took a year and a half of investigation. these indictments have occurred just 11 months after the election and barely six months after the beginning of the investigation. we know that the president's campaign hired two alleged criminals and one admitted
criminal. two of them were foreign agents. and the campaign was run by a russian agent unregistered now charged with conspiring against the united states who was supported by another russian foreign agent also charged with the same 12 criminal counts. these two individuals, paul manafort and rick gates, were significant people in the trump campaign. in the case of gates, his influence continued through the early months of the new administration. manafort ran trump's campaign at its most critical point. and he organized and directed the 2016 republican national committee convention, including the critical delegate corralling
effort against a potential never trump insurrection, securing the republican nomination for donald trump. under manafort's leadership of the trump campaign, the republican party stripped language from their platform that would have called for arming ukraine against russian aggression. ahead of convention, manafort also offered a brief -- offered to brief a russian billionaire on the state of the 2016 race. the convention he helped organize became a venue for a meeting between attorney general sessions and the russian ambassador, which the attorney general misled congress, implying, indeed stating that it never took place. the trump campaign also worked
extensively with george papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor whose actions constitute the most significant indication of possible collusion, so far between the trump campaign and russian officials. papadopoulos was named a foreign policy advisor in march 2016 and began communicating with russian nationals the next month. he met with a professor for breakfast in london to discuss stolen e-mails from hillary clinton and subsequently shuttled messages to the kremlin and back for the trump campaign. he worked with officials at the highest level of the trump campaign. his direct boss in fact was jeff sessions, who was then the head of trump's national security advisory committee. and he is now of course the attorney general. he communicated extensively with
the campaign manager and members of the national security team. president trump tweeted today that he's a young, low-level volunteer. but the president sang his praises at a meeting with the "washington post" editorial board in march 2016, calling him an energy, an oil consultant, an excellent guy. end quote. these revelations are stunning. and now the president is at a critical juncture. he can choose the course of cooperation or confrontation. he is literally teetering at the brink of that decision which could prove disastrous for himself and for america.
if he chooses a constitutional confrontation. we are at a moment very much like the one that occurred in watergate. memorable still too many of us in this chamber, although we were not here at the time. our nation could be careening towards a constitutional crisis. some of the actions the president has already taken such as firing jim comey as f.b.i. director may be evidence of obstruction of justice in the investigation by the special counsel. the judiciary committee must continue its work in investigating that firing and other actions that may constitution obstruction of justice as part of our oversight responsibility. but firing the special counsel
himself is something only the president could try to do. it would be the ultimate act of contempt for the rule of law. rightly seen as the actions of someone with something to hide. at stake is more than just this president or this special counsel. it is literally the rule of law. to this president, the rule of law may be meaningless, a facade or a fiction. but that's exactly why congress must give the judicial branch specific enforceable power to stop the president from firing the special counsel. that is the purpose of legislation that i've introduced along with colleagues, and i am here to call on this body to
support and pass the special counsel integrity protection act. i called for the special counsel to be established in february of this year and was joined by ten of my colleagues in that call. it was based on credible allegations that the trump team colluded with the russian government, and the special counsel independence protection act, which i cosponsored along with colleagues, seeks to forestall that kind of potential constitutional crisis that is raised by the president's threats no so long ago and his
labeling the investigation a hoax and a witch hunt. "the washington post" reported only today that advisors close to the president are urging that in fact he take more aggressive action against the special counsel. the specter of presidential action against robert mueller designed to stop or stymie a virtually unavoidable and necessary criminal investigation of the president himself makes safeguarding the special counsel more urgent and necessary now than ever before. rather than encouraging presidential abuse of power by inaction, the congress must move forward right away to check potential malfeasance and abuse
before it occurs. even the threat of such political interference constituting potential obstruction of justice undermines the special counsel investigation. it makes witnesses less likely to cooperate. it discourages the agents and investigators working for the special counsel. it creates unnecessary confusion in the american public. only judicial review can provide the check against such abuse and ensure confidence that the special counsel will proceed methodically and systematically to uphold the rule of law and follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead. that is what the american people want him to do. that is what we should guarantee that he will do. make no mistake, this
investigation will continue and conclude fairly and fully. the only question is how much turmoil and how much damage is done in the course of that investigation. clearly, like any investigation, and prosecution, this one samoa say i can consisting of many different diverse pieces and already it is coming together on the trump campaign's contacts with russian officials. they include, for example, campaign advisor claim he had dirt on the clinton and campaign aides trump tower meeting to
obtain information on clinton, jared ciewsher in's meetings with sanctioned v.e.b. russian bank c.e.o. certificate guy gorkov, sessions meeting with the russian ambassador, the cambridge analytic c.e.o.'s outreach to wick i leak to obtain hillary clinton's missing e-mails, and former national security advisor michael flynn's dining with president putin in moscow. those pieces of the mosaic are only the beginning. we are at a critical stage, the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. as a former prosecutor, i know that investigations take time. the best investigations are done without deadline. in an important case like this one and a complex and challenging one, we must allow
all the time necessary to assemble that full mosaic and put together the pieces of this puzzle. the watergate scandal took two years to unravel, from bob woodward and carl bernstein's first piece in "the washington post" in june of 1972 to nixon's resignation in august of 1974. we are less than a year into the trump presidency, and fewer than ten months into this investigation. the first individuals to be indicted in the watergate scandal were considered to be generally outside the president's inner circle. they were e. howard hunt and g. gordon liddy and watergate burglars in september of 1972. no one knew, and many denied the
conspiracy that involved the president and his top lieutenant at the time of those first indictments in these cases, too, in these first indictments and convictions, a lot more is to come. we cannot wait until the president potentially shuts down the special counsel to come to his defense. already the rule of law is under threat. on sunday, a day before the indictments were handed down, the president tweeted do something, in quotes, do something with regard to the russian investigation. although his reference was unclear exactly what he meant and who the message was targeting, it certainly was an
indication that some kind of action might be taken to thwart the investigation. any interference in this investigation will be a red line for me and for others in this chamber. let the president hear that message loud and clear. there is a red line that cannot be crossed. it is political interference or intrusion in the special counsel's investigation, and it will be met with a firestorm. i hope on both sides of the aisle. my conversations with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle indicate that they would share our outrage and outcry if there is an effort to stop and stymie this investigation, or if there is any other kind of political interference in it.
senators graham, booker, whitehouse, coons and i have cosponsored measures that will help protect the special counsel. there are two measures now, but they are so closely similar that they should be brought together, and conversations are under way to do so. i expect that we will have a single bill in the very near future. but we should stand with one voice against obstruction of this investigation. i ask that my colleagues go on the record now to state that they will absolutely resist and oppose any interference by the executive branch into this investigation or investigations that are under way by our
congressional committee. on the house side, the intelligence committee, and in the senate, the judiciary committee, along with our intelligence committee. the congressional committees have separate purposes. in the judiciary committee, we uniquely have the responsibility of oversight over the department of justice and the f.b.i. we have the unique responsibility to prevent the obstruction of justice and to uncover it that's indicated by the firing of jim comey. my hope that that investigation investigation -- is that that investigation will proceed and that it will be bipartisan so that we will have hearings and subpoena witnesses with public testimony under oath and eventually some report to the american people. that is my hope, and that will
be our decision here. the decision that we cannot and should not make is what the outcome will be of the special counsel's investigation. we must guarantee, and we have this responsibility in the congress that there is adequate funding and authority for the security council that there is no effort either to cut resources or limit the per view of the special counsel, or place constraints on the time that it may take for this probe to con clued. there should be no firing and no
(, and we should speak out and stand up to assure that that message reaches the white house loud and clear. this moment is one of historic magnitude. i cannot emphasize how strongly i feel but also how deeply my colleagues have expressed to me their own feelings about our responsibility in this moment. the grand jury that is bringing these indictments is an arm of the courts, which should be independent of both the executive and legislative branches. that independence gives the special counsel some new measure of permanence and protection,
but the president can still try to fire the security council. he cannot fire the grand jury or the united states district court judge who impaneled the grand jury. judicial review of any firing of the special counsel, which is the core principle of our measure, the special counsel integrity protection act, would add a highly significant protection, not just to deter misguided and deeply mistaken action throwing our nation into turmoil, but also assuring that confidence in trust remains with the special counsel, and he can follow the facts and the law with full support of the american people. the american people can put
their trust and faith in him and in our courts. we should ensure that we uphold that faith and trust. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. you know, since day one, the president of the united states has made it clear his top priority when it comes to health care in our country is to score political points by attacking obamacare. he has even said repeatedly that health care in our country will, quote, implode. but this was not just a prediction that president trump made. it was his goal. and he's tried virtually everything he can do to make that implosion a reality. in january, he abruptly pulled
funding for outreach days before the end of the 2017 open enroll ment period without any analysis of how that might impact patients and families, and he signed executive orders specifically designed to inject uncertainty and increased costs in the health care system. president trump then dedicated the spring and summer to attempting to jam partisan, extraordinarily destructive legislation through the house and senate to repeal the affordable care act, despite one independent analysis after another showing that each version of trumpcare would cause premiums to spike, take coverage away from millions of people, rip protections away from patients with preexisting conditions and gut medicaid. this fall, after trumpcare failed another time in the senate, he slashed the investments that help inform families about their coverage
options by 90% and followed through on his year-long threat to discontinue payments designed to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income enrollees. mr. president, this is a scenario that health care experts said would cause mass consumer confusion and anxiety. one that insurance companies plan for by shifting that burden of uncertainty to patients and taxpayers in the form of higher premiums and fewer options in state marketplaces. now, this is by no means the fullest of ways president trump has attempted to -- his health care sabotage, but it does explain why we are here now. today is the first day of the open enrollment period for 2018, and it's a direct result of this president's actions, families are going to see higher premiums, more out-of-pocket costs, and fewer coverage options. many families will have to change their coverage if they
want to avoid paying hundreds of dollars more in premiums. and at a time when we continue to need to do more to bend the health care cost curve in the right direction, taxpayers are being burdened with higher health care costs to the federal government, not because of any improvement in quality or comprehensiveness. just because of the chaos this administration has caused. in fact, this past week the trump administration proposed a rule to double down on this sabotage in 2019 that would let insurers cover fewer services in addition to raising costs. i have to say, i just truly never imagined a president of the united states would so openly and uncaringly root for the people of this country to be worse o but that is exactly what president trump is doing. it needs to be said and it needs to be stopped. what makes this even more frustrate something that a lot of it could have been stopped,
months ago, if republican leaders hadn't insisted on trying to help this administration carry out its partisan wrecking ball health care strategy. back in september chairman alexander and were i very near agreement on a bipartisan bill to stabilize the health care markets and protect families from higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. we found ground through regular order, through a process that actually engaged over half the senate. we were on the verge of reaching an agreement when republican leaders froze our negotiations. why? in order to jam trumpcare through the senate one more time. let me repeat that. republican leaders hit the pause button on a bipartisan process that could have lowered premiums and stabilized markets, exposing our patients and our families to the full impact of president trump's sabotage. that is the bad news, mr. president. but the good news is that the
legislation chairman alexander and i ultimately agreed on can and will still have an impact, not just a few years from now but in 2018, if republican leaders don't stand in the way again. our bill would, among other priorities, continue out-of-pocket cost reduction payments and make sure that patients and families, not insurance companies, see the benefit of that certainty in the form of rebates next year. mr. president, the legislation that chairman alexander and i have proposed with 12 democratic cosponsors and 12 republican cosponsors would do a lot to help us get things back on track. it would tie president trump's hands on sabotage, and it would send a very powerful message that elected officials in congress can work together to get things done when we focus on common ground rather than scoring political points. so i would once again urge the majority leader, allow our legislation to get a vote.
it has the support of 60-plus senators, and it is growing. the nonpartisan congressional budget office has said it provides billions in savings and would stabilize the markets this year and lower premiums in 2019. and the president told chairman alexander he supports this process moving forward. there is no reason to wait. there's absolutely no excuse for inaction. and i'm going to continue doing everything i can to make clear until republican leaders finally listen to the patients and families they serve and we move this legislation. now, mr. president, while i'm here today, i also want to speak on another way that president trump and republicans, i believe, are taking our country in a direction that is deeply harmful, and that's by stacking our courts with extreme conservative judges. the senate this week is going to vote on four judicial nominees who each have the far right-wing seal of approval. two are on president trump's
short list for supreme court justices, meaning, by the way, that they would automatically vote to overturn roe v. wade. unfortunately, their views on many thing, from lgbtq rights and corporate interests are just as deeply truck. one of the nominees we are considering advocated for using electroshock for criminal punishment. and, two, amy barrett and stephanos bibas were nominated only after republicans block the nominations of two other african american women to the respected benches. mr. president, it is clear that republican leaders' list of legislative failures grow longer. their stacking of the courts is only going to accelerate. to might appeal to extreme conservatives. in fact i'm pretty sure it does. but the truth is that whether it is health care or infrastructure
or taxes, most people across the country really want to see congress working together. so i'm going to continuing to everything i can to speak out and fight back against extreme, harmful steps that are being taken by this administration and allowed by republican leaders here and also show there is a better way to get things done, by working under regular order, across the aisle, and putting people -- people, not politics -- first. that is what our families rightfully expect, and that's what we all should be focused on. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. hassan: thank you, mr. president. i just would like to start my remarks this morning by offering my thoughts to the victims in new york city from yesterday's
horrendous act of terror. my thanks to the first responders and just note the resiliency of the people of new york. once again they are going forward with their lives today, showing the world and showing anyone who would do us harm that americans stand together and we move forward regardless of what our foes may try to do. mr. president, i also rise today to encourage granite staters, as my colleague from washington did, and people across the country to take advantage of the health insurance open enrollment period which begins today and runs through december 15. mr. president, every citizen deserves quality, affordable health insurance coverage to help them live healthy and productive lives. access to health care is critical to the freedom, dignity, and well-being of our citizens, and it also contributes to a productive
workforce and a thriving economy. i still remember meeting with a constituent named joe about a year or two ago who has a chronic health condition and when she lost her job in 2009 and lost her health insurance with it, her condition deteriorated to the point where she couldn't work and a downward spiral ensued. she lost her home, she couldn't get health care because she had no resources. because of the affordable care act's medicaid expansion, she was eventually able to get health care, to get the surgery she needed, the therapy she needed, and now she is working again. so health care is not only for the benefit of the individual who receives it, it helps that individual become a productive member of our workforce. and the importance of
affordable, quality care is also critically important to those who are working but may not otherwise be able to afford health insurance, even if employed. it's something i have heard often this year from citizens of my state, as my republican colleagues attempted to pass trumpcare legislation that would have led to higher health care costs for less care. at an emergency field hearing in june that i held with senator shaheen, we heard from a woman named enna, from exiter, new hampshire. enna, who is self-employed, said that prior to the affordable care act, her family was unable to maintain insurance consistently and even when she did have it, her previous policy didn't cover critical preventive care that she needed. as a result of the a.c.a., enna has been able to purchase affordable health insurance through the marketplace in new hampshire for herself and her family of four, giving them the
peace of mind that comes with having health insurance while continuing to grow her own business. enna's story is the story of so many people in new hampshire, and it represents why it is essential for people across the country to take advantage of this open enrollment period. from today through december 15, granite staters and all americans have an opportunity to sign up for a health care plan at www.coverincovering new hampshire.org or www www.healthcare.gov. it is also foreig foreign -- ito important to see what other plans are available and see if other plans offer more savings than your current one does. and, mr. president, it is critical to educate our friends and neighbors about these
options, given the trump administration's attempts to sabotage our nation's health care system. these sabotage attempts include the department of health and human services slashing the affordable care act's outreach and advertising budgets ahead of open enrollment, which provide key information and resources for those who need to sign up for care. it's clear that the trump administration doesn't want people to know that they can enroll. but that doesn't change the fact that the affordable care act is the law of the land. people can still get covered, and financial assistance is available for many on the health care exchange. mr. president, we must end this sabotage and continue to work together on efforts to lower costs and build on and improve the affordable care act, and that's exactly what i'm focused on. i was proud to join help committee leaders, senators alexander and murray, to
cosponsor bipartisan legislation that would stabilize health insurance markets and lower costs for hardworking americans. and this bill includes a provision that the new hampshire insurance department could use to support its proposal to create a reinsurance pool to help reduce premiums in our state's individual health insurance market. this legislation proves that it is possible to work across party lines to make progress in our health care system. it's clear that it has the votes to pass. we need republican leadership to bring it up for a vote. mr. president, it is up to all of us to come together and make sure that health care is truly available and affordable to all of our people and to encourage our fellow citizens to sign up for the care that they need to help their families thrive. the enrollment period is a critical time for the health and
well-being our citizens -- for the health and well-being of our citizens, for our productive as well as a country. i encourage granite staters to take advantage of this opportunity and receive the benefits that come with affordable health care. now, mr. president, i also want to take a moment to address the continued efforts this week from president trump and my republican colleagues to push through nominees who will truly reshape our federal judiciary. mr. president, an independent and impartial judiciary is critical is democracy and to our march toward progress. our founders established our court system to serve as an independent arbiter that would protect the rights of all americans and ensure equal justice under the laws. unfortunately, the nominees who have been selected by the president and who've been voted on throughout this year have been handpicked by far-right
groups to serve a conservative agenda p. we've seen judicial nominees who have not committed to upholding the precedent of roe v. wade and protecting a woman's right to make her own health care decisions and control her own destiny in doing so. nominees who have stood against basic rights and freedoms for lgbtq americans and who have opposed protections for workers' rights. this is unacceptable. mr. president, we are voting on lifetime appointments that require a commitment to equal justice, to objectivity, and sound judgment. i will continue to oppose judicial nominees who do not live up to those standards. and i urge my colleagues to do the same. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president?
the presiding officer: under the previous order, there is now 30 minutes of postcloture time remaining equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to a vote on confirmation of the larsen nomination. mr. grassley: it is my understanding, mr. president, that i have 25 minutes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized, the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: okay. my first set of remarks dealing with government i ask to be included in morning business and my second set would be for justice larsen that we're going to be voting on, and i'd like to have that with the rest of the debate on justice larsen. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: last month the environmental protection agency, e.p.a. as we know it, their administrator scott pruitt issued a directive to all agency
employees that prohibits the so-called sue-and-settle process. this is good news for good government. most of us here are familiar with the term "sue and settle." these are tactics whereby the e.p.a. has spent -- has in the past resolved certain lawsuits against it through agreements negotiated behind closed doors with politically favored interest groups. as we saw under the obama administration, some of these agreements committed the e.p.a. to take far-reaching regulatory action all without an adequate opportunity for those people most impacted to have a seat at the table as would normally be done through the regulatory
process. today i come to the floor to applaud administrator pruitt's leadership in working to end these tactics which make a mockery of laws that congress put in place to ensure transparent and accountable regulatory process. the commonsense reforms outlined in administrator pruitt's directive will, no doubt, help restore transparency and accountability, and these reforms should stand as a prime example for all federal agencies to follow. accordingly, i call upon president trump to use his full authority through executive order to ensure that similar reforms are adopted across the
entire bureaucracy. regulatory decisions that affect key parts of our economy should be made in an open, transparent, and consequently, accountable manner. but as we've seen in sue and settle, washington bureaucrats, and for the special interests that special interests have, these bureaucrats and their interest group pals would prefer to do things their own way has been done through sue and settle. it works like this. first an interest group sues a federal agency claiming that the agency has failed to take regulatory action required by law. through the lawsuit the interest groups seeks to compel the agency to take action by a new,
often rushed, deadline. these plaintiff interest groups often share a common regulatory agenda with the agency they sue, such as when an environmental group sues the e.p.a. or the fish and wildlife service. instead of challenging the law, the agency and the interest group enter into negotiations behind closed doors to produce either a settlement agreement or a consent decree committing the agency to take regulatory action. no transparency, no accountability that you get through normal regulation writing. knotsably absent from -- noticeably absent from these
negotiations are the very parties that will be impacted, such as farmers, manufacturers, or even our 50 states themselves that will be charged with enforcing some of these regulations. in 2010, for example, an environmental interest group sued the obama administration e.p.a. to force the agency to revise certain wastewater regulations. wouldn't it be nice to have the people that are affected by those regulations to be involved in the process in an open way the way the administration procedures act is designed for? oddly enough the same day that the lawsuit was filed the plaintiff's interest group committed a consent decree, already signed by the e.p.a., which committed that agency to
take prompt regulatory action. now, such a scenario should raise serious questions about how truly adversarial these lawsuits and negotiations really are. so add insult to injury, regulations that have resulted from sue and settle tactics impose tremendous costs on the american economy. according to the american action forum from 2005 to 2016, 23 sue and settle regulations resulted in cost burden of $67.9 billion with $16.5 billion in actual cost, the paperwork burdens on job creators of more than eight
million hours. think about that. nearly $70 billion in regulatory costs were imposed on american business owners, manufacturers, farmers, and probably taxpayers, all without due regard for transparency and the normal rule-making process required by the administrative procedures act. decades ago congress enacted that administrative procedures act for the sole purpose to ensure transparency, accountability, and more importantly, public participation in federal rule making. the e.p.a. has been described as the citizens regulatory bill of rights. a pillar of the administrative procedures act is a notice and comment process requiring
agencies to notify the public of proposed regulations and respond to comments submitted, transparency, in other words. rule making driven by sue and settle tactics frequently result in reprioritized agency agendas and rushed deadlines for regulatory action. this renders the a.p.a.'s notice and comment process a mere formality. it deprives regulated entities. it deprives the states. and most importantly, it deprives the american public of sufficient time to have any meaningful input on final rules. the resulting regulatory action is driven not by the public's interest but by the special
interest priorities. sue and settle tactics also help agencies avoid accountability for their actions. instead of having to answer to the public for controversial regulatory decisions, agency officials will simply point to the fact, well, the court ordered us to do it. and they will say that their hands are tied when really they welcome that process. the american people deserve better, but don't take my word for it. the environmental council of states, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders adopted a resolution in 2013 entitled, quote, the need for reform and state participation in e.p.a.'s
consent decree which settle citizens suits. end of quote. it provides, and i quote, the rationale behind it, quote, state environmental agencies are not always notified of citizens' suits that allege e.p.a.'s failure to perform its not discretionary duties are often not party to these citizen suits and are usually not provided with an opportunity to participate in the negotiations of agreements to settle the suits. end of quote. the environmental council of the states further resolved that, quote, greater transparency of citizen suit settlement agreements is needed for the public to understand the impact of these agreements on the administration of environmental programs. end of quote.
obviously i agree. we need more transparency, more accountability, and more voices at the table. in other words, the public's business ought to be public, not some new regulation agreed to behind closed doors. i'm happy to say that this administration is working to accomplish that thanks to administrator pruitt. in his own words, quote, the days of this regulation through litigation are terminated. end quote. this directive puts a swift end to sue and settle tactics by this one agency, the e.p.a. it does so by adopting commonsense reforms to promote transparency and the resulting accountability, and most importantly, public participation in the regulatory process.
it requires the publication outline -- it requires the publication to be online of notices of lawsuits filed against the e.p.a. it requires the e.p.a. to reach out and notify any states or regulated entities who will be affected by the lawsuit. it requires the e.p.a. to seek the agreement of any affected state or regulatory entities before the agency can enter into a consent decree or settlement agreement. further, it prohibits the e.p.a. from entering into any consent decree or settlement that converts a discretionary duty of the agency into a mandatory duty to issue revise and amend a regulation. most importantly, it requires
the e.p.a. to post online for public comment any preposed consent decrease or settlement agreements before they are entered into by the court. these and other reforms in administrator pruitt's directive mark a very strong step toward ensuring that states and american job creators and the public at-large have a seat at the table when regulatory decisions are made as exactly why congress passed the administrative procedures act. before i close, i'd add just one more thing. earlier this year i introduced the sunshine for regulatory decrease and settlements act. this bill would make permanent the very types of reforms outlined in administrator
pruitt's directive. so if it becomes law, it can't be changed at some later date. in other words, it would ensure that future administrations can't simply roll back the great work of administrator pruitt -- of what administrator pruitt is doing through this directive of his. i'm pleased to hear that the house of representatives just passed the companion bill introduced by congressman doug collins. we'll continue our work to build bipartisan support here in the senate for this commonsense decree, but today i urge president trump to move forward with an example set by administrator pruitt because administrator pruitt is draining the swamp through this process
and the president loves to sign executive orders. he'd probably do more good draining the swamp, producing an executive order like this than almost any executive order he could do. there's simply no reason then why these reforms should be limited to just the e.p.a. transparency and public participation are core elements of a more accountable government. pretty simply stated, they are part of the process of representative government where people make the laws and where administrators carry out the laws and not where something's done behind closed doors because some special interest wants something or because the agency is begging to do something that maybe somebody doesn't want them to do to get it done and get it
behind closed doors. just work it out the way we want it, not necessarily the way it would be done if people were participating. i applaud pruitt's directive. i urge the president to promptly see to it that similar reforms are implemented across the administration. so a third time today, president trump issue an executive order to all departments to do what administrator pruitt has done at the e.p.a. now, mr. president, i would like to address the issue that we're voting on in a few minutes. the senate will vote on the nomination of michigan supreme court justice joan larsen to serve on the sixth circuit court of appeals. though she currently lives in michigan, justice larsen was
born in and hails from my state of iowa. in fact, she and i share the same university, the university of northern iowa, for our bachelor's degrees. i've also learned since meeting justice larsen that her father was long time c.e.o. of lutheran services of iowa. now retired but during the time he was c.e.o., he was the very same person i often met with for breakfast when he would come to washington to tell us about the concerns of lutheran services of iowa. at that time i never knew that i might be speaking in favor of his daughter. didn't even know of the daughter at that time. so i'm proud to see a fellow iowan and such an eminently
qualified nominee be nominated for the sixth circuit court of appeals. for those who may not be familiar with her career and accomplishments, a few minutes will give me an opportunity to share with you about those. i think you'll find, as i have, that justice larsen is particularly well suited to serve as a federal appellate judge. justice larsen has an outstanding academic record having received numerous awards during her undergraduate and law school careers. justice larsen was a presidential scholar at the university of northern iowa and graduated with the highest honors. she graduated first in her class at northwestern university law school where she won the john paul stevens award for academic excellence and served as editor of the northwestern law review.
she began her legal career as a clerk no judge seentell on the d.c. circuit court of appeals and clerked for justice scalia on the supreme court. following her clerkships, justice larsen joined the d.c. firm of sydney, austin, one of the largest law firms in the united states. justice larsen spent two years as deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel where she provided legal advice to the president and executive agencies on difficult issues of constitutional and statutory interpretation. justice larsen has taught constitutional law and criminal law at the university of michigan law school since 1998 where she had earned the respect -- has earned the respect of faculty members and students alike. she won the l. hart wright award
for excellence in teaching early in her teaching career. in addition to these teaching responsibilities, justice larsen ran michigan's clerkship program helping hundreds of students and alumni pursue clerkships at the federal and state level. as an adjunct professor, she continues to run the law school's moot court program. her colleagues at the university of michigan praised justice larsen's writing, quote, even among the talented and evicious lawyers at an elite law school, joan stands out for her ability to make the penetrating insight that untangles some knotty problems of statutory interpretation or judicial doctrine, especially distinctive
moreover is the rigor and even-handedness she brings to her analysis. end of quote. i'll share one more example from that letter because i think it addresses some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that they may be concerned with her approach to the law. her colleagues wrote this. quote, for those of us who have found ourselves on the opposite side of a debate with joan about a case, a statute, or some broader issue of constitutional history, she has demonstrated time and again that she is both a gracious and intellectually honest partner in the collaborative project of figuring things out. what matters for joan is not winning but working out the right answer. and then i bring emphasis to the
last sentence. even when you disagree with her, it is impossible not to respect her and to take pleasure in the process of refining the issues actually in dispute. end of quote. in other words, as i see it, justice larsen is and will be a jurist who seeks to find the right answer, never simply one that she prefers as a matter of policy. we can already see from her time on the michigan supreme court that justice larsen is a principled jurist on that court since she was appointed in 2015. it happens that she was elected to the position in her own right in 2016. and by a resounding majority, winning every county in michigan, colleagues on the
court have praised her sharp legal analysis, her clear and crisp writing, and most importantly, her work ethic. outside of the courtroom, justice larsen is actively involved in volunteer efforts to serve disadvantaged children, and she works with michigan's veterans, drug sobriety and mental health court programs. now, some of my colleagues have said that they won't support the nomination because justice larsen was included on president trump's short list for the supreme court. is there anything wrong with the president's suggesting who he's going to put on the supreme court if he's elected president? if you look at her background, it should be no surprise that she was included on that list. she's an accomplished legal academic, a mainstream jurist,
and well respected on a bipartisan basis throughout the legal community. because my colleagues have been concerned about everyone on that list at her hearing, i asked justice larsen when she learned that her name was on that list. she replied, quote, the day it was announced it was a complete surprise to me. end of quote. i also asked her about judicial independence and whether she could rule against the president that nominated her. she replied, quote, i would have no trouble ruling against the president who appointed me or any successor president as well. judicial independence means one thing, one very simple thing. and at this point i want to emphasize -- those are my words -- that is, putting the law
above everything else the statutes passed by this body and the constitution of the united states. so i would have absolutely no trouble indeed, that would be my duty. end of quote. and here's the most outrageous reason i've heard for voting against justice larsen. this should surprise a lot of people. some in the minority have suggested that she somehow is responsible for outside groups running ads supporting her nomination in michigan. the claim that she is responsible for the action of an outside group is ridiculous. and the allegation that these ads are in some way a guarantee of how she will rule in the future is the most absurdly thing that i've heard based upon her answers to my questions. i find it interesting that my colleagues who are can being about conservative groups don't seem to have the same concern
for groups on the left that are spending money in opposition to these nominees. once such group, alliance for justice, routinely issues reports and press releases on judicial nominees. oftentimes these so-called reports put forward incendiary and false criticisms of these nominees. and my colleagues even make the same insend-year attacks -- incendiary attacks. in other words, they use the same talking points. so i don't hear my colleagues on the other side up in arms about the other side spending millions of dollars to oppose nominees. and, of course, some of you may remember last year groups on the left coordinated attacks on this center. i was followed all over iowa by
these groups and their members. they ran ads against me and put up billboards opposing my election. and that had something to do with the supreme court, as you might recall. i don't remember hearing any of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle complain about all the money that these groups are spending at that time. as i've said before, i expect outside groups on the left and on the right want to have their voices heard in the nomination process. isn't that something to do with what we call democracy, representative government, freedom of speech, freedom of association? so simply there's nothing wrong with that, whether it's done by the right or the left. but i take issue with complaints from the other side that don't acknowledge that all sides have interest groups that are spending and engaging in the judicial nomination process. it was completely appropriate for justice larsen not to wade
into the political debate regarding those political ads. her answers to those questions are exactly what i would expect, an independent nominee to say, particularly if they want to stick by that they're going to be independent of any president who appoints them when they become on the bench. justice larsen's nomination is supported by a broad and diverse coalition of lawyers, judges, and academic colleagues. it's easy to see why because she's an accomplished and well respected academic. she is a brilliant and independent jurist. her careful and well reasoned legal analysis put her squarely within the mainstream of legal thought. so i urge my colleagues in a few minutes to vote for her nomination.
i yield the floor and i -- you want the floor? i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask that the calling of the quorum be