tv U.S. Senate 11022017 CSPAN November 2, 2017 9:30am-11:31am EDT
confirmation votes for a judge on the 10th circuit followed by a vote to limit the debate of steph nanos to the 3rd circuit. confirmation expected later today and tomorrow. and both in party lines 11-9 votes, they would be the third and fourth judges confirmed to circuit courts this week. now to live coverage. u.s. 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. eternal king, you are great and marvelous. without your wondrous deeds, our
lawmakers, our nation, and our planet could not survive. lord, let the nations you have made acknowledge your sovereignty. continue to meet the needs of our senators, providing solutions to their most challenging problems. lord, teach them your precepts so that they may walk in your truth, experiencing the reverential awe that comes from your presence. make them wise and knowledgeable leaders. at their work, may they be diligent, every striving through their faithfulness to please you. in their dealing with each
other, may they be honest, courteous, and kind, never forgetting that you are the unseen guest in all of their deliberations. we pray in your strong name. 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.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the senate continues to press forward confirming president trump's outstanding nominations to the federal courts. already this week we've confirmed two smart, strong, and
talented women to serve on our nation's circuit courts. and today we'll consider two more well-qualified nominees: allison h. eid and stephanos bibas. first we'll confirm allison h. eid, whom the president has nominated to serve on the u.s.
court of appeals for the tenth circuit. justice eid has some big shoes to fill in taking that seat. it became vacant when neil gorsuch was sent into the supreme court. it's a hard act to follow, and yet i have every confidence she will excel in the role. you see, nominees like justice eid and professor bibas are more than just the sum of their credentials. though theirs are indeed impressive. and i'll expand on those credentials in just a moment. nominees like this also believe, like justice gorsuch, that the role of a judge is to apply the law equally to everyone, and to do so as the law is actually written, not as they wish it might be. as justice gorsuch said, a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stressing for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.
or put a different way, i don't think there are -- i don't think there are red judges, i don't think there are blue judges. all judges wear black. that's the view of neil gorsuch. that's the view of allison h. eid and stephanos bibas. this is just the kind of fair-minded judge you want serving on the bench. and just the kind of fair-minded judge we are confirming this week, including the exceptional nominees before us. allison eid graduated from the university of chicago lawl with high -- lieu school with high loorns. -- high honors. she clerked for justice clarence thomas before joining the faculty of the university of colorado school of law where she served as professor for our colleague, senator gardner. when he introduced his former professor before the judiciary committee, senator gardner noted how much she cared about robust debates and hearing the
views of others. justice eid, he said, was open to their views, engaging with them and was never biased against different perspectives. in rex w. -- in 2006 she voted e colorado supreme court. her time on the state's high court has been marked by clear and precise writing and judicial independence. one of justice eid's former clerks wrote a column in the "denver post" in support of her nomination. as a jurist, this clerk wrote, eid commits her full mental energy and attention to each case, carefully mastering every legal and factual detail in order to conduct a rigorous analysis dictated ultimately by the law. in addition, this former clerk added a personal touch to justice eid's incredible resume.
for women striving to achieve that elusive balance between family life and a successful career, it can be hard to find strong role models, but colorado's allison eid is a shining example. justice eid is clearly well qualified for the position to which she's been nominated. she's just the kind of fair-minded judge people would want hearing their case. i look forward to supporting her nomination today, and i ask each of my colleagues to join me in confirming the nomination of this extremely well-qualified jurist. i would ask them to join me in supporting professor bibas too. professor bibas has served as an assistant u.s. attorney. he has experience in private practice. he has clerked for a circuit court judge and for a supreme court justice anthony kennedy. today he's a professor at the university of pennsylvania school of law where, according to former dean of students, he enjoys the give and take of discussion and is very fair,
considerate, and encouraging. moreover, as a bipartisan group of more than 100 law professors put it in a letter to the judiciary committee, professor bibas' fair-mindedness, conscientiousness and personal integrity are beyond question, and in their view his judicial temperament will reflect those qualities and he'll faithfully discharge his duty to apply the law fairly and even handedly in all matters before him. professor bibas also reminded us that he, like justice gorsuch and justice eid believe in a fair-minded approach to the law. in his words, people need to know and believe that judges will apply the law impartially and even handedly to all litigants regardless of their wealth or power. he's right. let's join together in supporting him today. i'd like once again to thank judiciary committee chairman grassley for all this work to bring these impressive nominees to the floor.
together with the president we'll continue working hard to put judges on the federal courts who will uphold the laws as written, not as they wish it was. another matter, the obama years were not easy for america's middle class. for many, steady work became harder to find. paychecks stagnated, opportunities faded, america's middle class deserves better after a decade of drift and we're working hard to deliver for them. tax reform is the single most important thing we can do today to get the economy reaching for its true potential again. that's why the senate recently passed the legislative tools to advance it. that's why the house recently did the same. and because we did, later today after months of hard work the house's tax writing committee will unveil its version of tax reform legislation. so i want to commend chairman
brady and the members of the ways and means committee for their hard work in unveiling this critical legislation today. this announcement is more positive momentum from our colleagues over in the house, and i look forward to continue working with them as we move forward. here in the senate, the finance committee will continue its work on tax reform legislation as well. both chambers are working on this at full steam because we're committed to achieving our mutual tax reform goals for the middle class, working families and small businesses. our main goal is this: we want to take money out of washington's pocket and put more in yours. this goal is shared by the american people. it is shared by the president and his team. it is shared by republicans in the house and here in the senate. the goals of tax reform used to be shared by our democratic colleagues as well. over many years multiple senate
democrats, including the democratic leader himself, have called on congress to pass reform, but then something changed. it was the president that changed, it seems. now we're reading reports that our friends across the aisle plan to oppose any tax reform bill at all, regardless of what's in it. it seems that democratic leadership is praying that this chance to put more money in the pockets of the middle class does not succeed. but why? protect incentives that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas? i thought they were against those. to prevent working families from keeping more of what they earn? i assumed we were all for that. according to recent news reporting, democrats apparently want to attack tax cuts for the middle class because it might give them a political leg up. in other words, it seems this is some kind of game to them. so i certainly hope what we read
is not true. i certainly hope democrats will take note of the fact that their latest false talking point about tax reform just got debunked today as well. this effort is way too important for any of that. i hope our friends will decide to work with their colleagues in a serious way instead. that's what their constituents sent them here to do. that's what their constituents deserve after the last decade of economic disappointment. so there's no reason for our democratic friends not to work across the aisle in a serious way to help shape this critically important effort. i want to thank chairman hatch and chairman brady for their commitment to tax reform and regular order. through the committee process, members on both sides of the aisle will have the opportunity to offer input as the tax reform effort advances. today's announcement is an important step forward for that process as well as for once in a generation this opportunity to fundamentally rethink our tax
mrs. capito: i ask that we vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. 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 eid nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary. allison h.eid of colorado to be united states circuit judge for the tenth circuit. the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. today i rise to give my fifth in a series of speeches addressing what i think will be a monumental achievement of the senate and house when we pass our tax reform bill. i've spoken previously about how i believe tax reform will be good in a lot of different ways. first of all, talked about how this tax reform bill will spur economic growth in our country. second, talked about how it will
grow jobs in small businesses. third, i talked about the benefits that working class families will have through policies such as the child tax credit. so today, i rise to talk about the importance of tax simplification. according to a publisher whoage i the issue, since 1913, since 1913, the federal tax code is 187 times longer than it was a century ago. on top of the tax code itself that spans thousands of pages, there are additional i.r.s. regulations that are complicate ed, and you need somebody not just to figure them out for you and interpret -- interpret them for you, but to figure out how that translates to your own tax return. taxpayers have to comply, of course, with all of these. beyond the code and the regulations, there are countless i.r.s. procedures, technical memorandums, and more.
and all of this adds to the length and complexity of our tax system. you could see it when you turn towards the april 15 date, the stress level in this country really rises, and a lot of it has to do with the complications of our tax system. the point is this -- when it comes to figuring out your taxes, it's just far too complex. that's why businesses and individuals spend six billion hours a year complying with the tax code. that's more than 18 hours for every man, woman, and child in this country. that's the equivalent to three million people working full time. three million people working full time to comply with the tax code and fill out your tax reforms. or another way of looking at it, $195 billion in lost productivity. again, our tax code is just too complicated, and that's also what tax reform is about,
simplifying and making it easier for americans to comply. according to the brookings institution, and i quote, the notions that taxes should be simpler is one of the very few propositions in tax policy that generates almost universal agreement. but despite years of bipartisan talks, we are now on the verge of major tax reform for the first time in 30 years. making our tax code simpler will benefit every single working family in this country. by roughly doubling the standard deduction, filing your taxes will be easier and more understandable. the higher standard deduction will let more middle-class americans benefit from not just lower taxes but also without the hassle of itemizing your tax return. lower rates and fewer deductions will help all americans spend less time and energy and worry
on tax compliance. our goal is for the overwhelming number of americans to be able to submit their tax forms on a single sheet of paper, without all those extra forms. and for many families in west virginia and around the country who already use the standard deduction, increasing it will reduce their taxes. now, 83% of west virginians last year -- or maybe it was the year before, 2015-2016, 83% filed a simple form. so simplicity in our tax code and middle-class families, those are the reasons why i offered a straightforward amendment to the senate's budget resolution. my amendment said that congress should focus on eliminating deductions that primarily benefit wealthier individuals in favor of tax policy that benefits the middle class. let me say that again. congress should focus on
eliminating deductions that primarily benefit wealthier individuals in favor of tax policy that benefit the middle class. that means a tax code that is simpler, with fewer deductions and lower rates. it won't just be individuals and families who benefit from a less complicated tax code. tax simplification will help our small businesses start, grow, and succeed. 95% of the businesses in my state of west virginia are small businesses, and they employ over half of west virginia's private sector workforce. so in addition to their high marginal tax rate, the complexity and compliance costs of their taxes impedes their economic growth, impedes their ability to grow their job, raise their wages, spur growth. a cnbc survey found that 22% of small business owners aren't sure what their effective tax rate really is. if congress can simplify the code just to cut compliance
costs in half, that would free up significant resources that could be used to grow the economy. given that 50% of u.s. job growth has occurred in just 2% of our country's counties, we need that growth. think about that. over the last several years, 50% of the u.s. job growth is only -- has only occurred in 2% of our country's counties. we need the rest of the country to be able to enjoy that growth. to do that, we need to help the small businesses that are the major economic drivers in our economy. simplifying the tax code will benefit so many across this country, through g.d.p. growth and higher wages. so i look forward to working with my colleagues to make tax reform and tax simplification a reality. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. i ask -- is there a quorum? the presiding officer: the clerk
hemming, hawing, delay, house republicans will finally release legislative details about their tax plan. it may not even include all the details. the on-again, off-again nature of these deliberations should concern every member of both chambers. that's not how you construct sound policy, especially with something as complicated and impactful as the tax code. each decision has enormous ramifications, last-minute changes, sloppy drafting could change the fate of entire industries. rushing it through in a hasty manner could have disastrous consequences. now, we know why my colleagues are doing this? they don't want the public to know what's in this bill. increases on the middle class, breaks for the wealthy, big corporations getting a huge tax break with no guarantee and very little likelihood they'll use the known create jobs. so i hope my -- that's why they don't want it to be public.
it's not popular. and when even on p.p.o. polls where it says, do you support tax reform they say yes, do you support cutting taxes on big corporations, overwhelming no. do you support increase taxes on the middle class? overwhelming no? do you support decreasing taxes on the wealthy? overwhelming no. i hope my colleagues are watching what's going on in the house, the problems they're have, the secrecy they need, and realize how difficult and dangerous it is to rewrite the tax code by the seat of your pants. looking at the tax code and real tax receipts, after all the loop tolls, the wealthy pays less, the middle class pays more. those statistics articulate a real problem with the basic fairness of our tax code that
tax reform could -- underline "could" -- could fix. this plan doesn't. instead what we're seeing stayed a plan that exacerbates the unfairness and inequality in our tax code. if the details of the republican tax plan are anything like we've seen in the press -- repeal the estate tax, create a huge, new loophole for wealthy individuals in the form of reduction in the pass-through rate, and lowering the big rates on corporations and the wealthy -- this sure doesn't fit the bill of helping the middle class. meanwhile, to pay for all the tax giveaways in their bill, the republicans are likely to make it worse for the middle class, not just not help them but hurt them. slash state and local deductibility, which is a bedrock middle-class and upper middle-class deduction, would hurt so many middle-class
taxpayers. nearly a third of all taxpayers claim it from all over the country. the vast majority of whom make under $200,000 a year. so today republicans will crow about reaching a compromise on state and local, whereby they don't eliminate the deduction; they just reduce its value by about 70%. that means the bulk of the deduction will go away for so many middle-class americans. i'd remind my republican colleagues over in the house, particularly those from states like new york and new jersey and california and pennsylvania and illinois and virginia and colorado, that this compromise will not solve your problem. you'll still pay the price with the voters. i've been in politics a long time. i know how this will affect people, this compromise. they won't look and say, oh, it could have been worse. maybe we would have lost the
entire deduction. they'll say, this year i have the whole deduction and the next year i have less than half of it. and they will take it out on our republican colleagues. -- who vote for it, particularly from states -- and they're throughout the country -- of we wil--of well-to-to do upper middle-class districts. so anyone who thinks this compromise is going to help them doesn't understand how politics works. it's not what it could have been. it is what it is and what it will be. what it is now -- complete deduction. what it will be -- you'll lose 70% of that deduction. nobody is going to breathe a sigh of relief and said, i could have lost 100%. taxpayers will see that the republicans have capped the amount of mortgage interest they can deduct from purchasing a new home now. that's the latest.
again, right at the middle cla class. the mortgage deduction doesn't really affect the wealthiest. they have all their money in unearned income, capital gains and all of that is what affects them the most. but the mortgage deduction is one of the hearts of the middle class. to play with it, to reduce it, to cap it so they can do tax giveaways for the very witch? not going to fly, i don't think. not in the america most of us know. taxpayers in the big cities and small ones, in the ex-urbs and suburbs who commute to work will also notice if they never receive the critical transit benefit they receive. thousands of dollars a month a year to help pay when you transit to work. gone. why? help the wealthy. and while some working americans and middle-class taxpayers watch their taxes go up, they'll read about how republicans repeal the
estate tax, which benefits only 5,500 families whose estates are worth over $5 million. they'll learn how instead of keeping the estate tax or closing the egregious carried interest loophole, the republicans reached into their pockets, the middle-class pockets, to pay for a big corporate tax break that has no guarantee and very little likelihood of producing jobs. they'll learn that while the reduction to the corporate tax rate is permanent, the increase in the child tax rate is temporary. big, wealthy corporations count far more than kids in this bill. corporations get permanent benefits. families with kids get temporary and meager ones. the tax code is a reflection, mr. president, to fairness in our society. do we want to be in a country where everyone pays their fair share, including big corporations and the very
wealthy? i think so. i think most americans agree with that. yet, right now our tax code is slanted in favor of the rich and the powerful, and the republican plan makes it only worse. the republican tax plan would put two thumbs down on a scale already tipped towards the wealthy and powerful. it wouldn't create jobs. it wouldn't raise wages. the tax policy center, as we know, estimated that 80% of the benefits of the republican plan go to the top 1%. this bill doesn't change that a bit. while nearly a third of middle-class americans would see a tax increase. 80% of the benefits to the top of our country. 20% of the benefits to the other 99%. that is not a middle-class tax bill as president trump said it would be. surely we can do better. and if our colleagues, whether it be in the house or senate, our republican colleagues who are trying to go at it alone can't pass this bill, we would
mr. cotton: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. cotton: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. cotton: i ask unanimous consent to end the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cotton: today is an important day on our promise to deliver tax relief for america's working families and our businesses to create more jobs and grow our economy faster. the house ways and means committee is about to unveil their first draft of a tax cut bill. that's a good step forward after we both passed our budgets a couple weeks ago. as we move forward through this process, it's important that we all recognize that tax cuts are a way to let the american people and our businesses keep more of their money -- not the government's money, but their money. we also, though, have to be mindful of the impact it would have on our staggering national
debt of over $20 trillion and rising deficits. so we can expect the economy to grow at a much healthier rate than it has in recent years if we pass a good tax bill. but we also need to look for other ways to offset the costs of those tax cuts to a degree. there have been a lot of discussions around here of painful changes to our tax law. eliminating deductions, credits, they are popular and widespread. some people call that the spinach in addition to the ice cream of tax cuts. however, i have what i will call maybe a creative idea, a novel idea, but one that i think is gaining momentum in the senate and in the house. we can repeal the individual mandate of obamacare and save $300 billion to $400 billion for the federal government. and, therefore, deliver more tax relief to our families and
our workers and our businesses. that's not my math. that's the math of the congressional budget office, which has said repeatedly that eliminating the individual mandate of obamacare would save $300 billion to $400 billion. that is a lot of tax cuts. the individual mandate is also the most unpopular part of obamacare. more than two-thirds of americans want to see it repealed. the house has voted repeatedly to repeal it. the senate has voted to repeal it. even some democrats have said they want to repeal the individual mandate as well. the first time in our country's history after all that the federal government has said you must buy the product of a private company for the mere privilege of being an american citizen. now we also know that the individual mandate simply has not worked. it was designed to hold down premiums on the obamacare exchanges. that is not the case. the individual mandate has, despite being in place now for four years, we've continued to
see premiums spiral out of control. so i think it's a pretty reasonable proposal to repeal the most hated part of obamacare to help pay for tax cuts the american people want rather than trying to eliminate popular, widely used deductions and credits, exemptions and exclusions. moreover, it allows us to make more of the tax cut bill permanent, because the $300 billion to $400 billion savings over a ten year period is just a ten year period but it will continue to save money after those ten years. and the crazy way that we do our budgeting around here that will allow us to make more of those tax cuts permanent so our families and our businesses can have greater predictability to save and invest and grow our economy. it's also a kind of tax cut for working-class americans in its own right. according to i.r.s. data more than five out of six households that paid the mandate fine last
year made less than the median income. they were in the bottom half of income earners. so what are we doing? we are imposing a fine on the working class and working poor because they can't afford the insurance that obamacare made unaffordable in the first place. that is crazy. and we can do so in a way that makes it easier to pass a tax bill. i know some of my colleagues around here, especially some of my republican colleagues say, oh no, we can't go back to health care. it's going to make a tax bill harder to pass. nonsense. it makes a tax bill easier to pass. easier to pass. because it helps make the fiscal picture balance. and it helps deliver more tax cuts to our families and our businesses back home. some of my democratic colleagues drawing on that same estimate
from the congressional budget office will say you're going to take health care away from 15 million people. nonsense. this bill doesn't cut a single dime out of obamacare. not one penny even. not one penny taken out of medicaid. not one penny taken out of the subsidies on the exchanges. not a single regulation change. it simply says the i.r.s. will not fine you if you cannot afford the insurance that obamacare made unaffordable. $300 billion to $400 billion, even in washington, that's a lot of money. and that's money that is better left in the pockets of america's workers and families and on the financial statements of businesses who are looking to expand their operations, increase their wages, and hire more workers. so, no, this hasn't been part of the tax debate for a long time. this chamber considered repealing a mandate as part of
our health care debate. but the obama administration called the individual mandate a tax. the supreme court in 2012 upheld its constitutionality saying it was a tax. the i.r.s. collects it. you pay it on your 1040. that's about the taxiest provision i can think of. so let's make a commonsense decision, even if it's a little late in the game here. repeal the individual mandate. pay for more tax cuts for families and businesses. make a tax bill easier to pass. deliver on the promise that we made to the american people to repeal the most unpopular part of obamacare. and have a very big victory for the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum.
a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. a senator: i ask unanimous consent it be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. flake: mr. president, we currently have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. businesses are moving from here overseas to seek a friendlier
tax environment. if we are going to compete globally -- and we are in a global economy -- we've got to have a conducive tax and regulatory environment to do so. we don't have a conducive tax environment now. we cannot compete globally with the second highest -- or the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. we also have a tax code that is far too complicated. taxpayers and companies alike spend about nine billion hours a year, nine billion hours a year complying with the i.r.s. requirements, and this costs the u.s. economy more than $400 billion a year. this is just compliance costs. the tax code is full of costly loopholes that allow businesses and millions of individuals to get away with paying no income tax or no corporate tax. after over 30 years, i'm pleased to see the congress finally
getting down to the work of doing a tax overhaul. a few weeks ago, we passed a budget that allows some cuts, about $1.5 trillion. i believe that when we do cut certain taxes, it does generate a greater economic activity, which does in turn mean additional revenue to government. there are limits to that model, however. we cannot simply assume that we can cut all taxes and realize additional revenue. it's important that tax reform comes as well. we have been hearing a lot about cuts, cuts, cuts. if we are going to do cuts, cuts, cuts, we have got to do wholesale reform. with the national debt exceeding $20 trillion, we have got to take this seriously.
rate reductions have to be accompanied by real reform. we cannot simply rely on rosy economic assumptions, rosy growth rates to fill in the gap. we have got to make tough decisions. we cannot have cuts today that assume that we will grow a backbone in the out-years in terms of the real reforms that we're going to need. we have seen this before. we make the cuts now. we rely on rosy economic assumptions, and then in the out-years, if those don't come about, then we forget what we were supposed to do in terms of reform. we can't do that today, not with the debt of $20 trillion, not with a deficit of over $600 billion a year adding to that total debt. so i welcome this opportunity to
do tax reform. it is needed. we have to have a -- as i mentioned, a conducive tax and regulatory environment in order to compete, but we have to be realistic as well about what we can achief, and we can't push off the reforms for cuts today. with that, i yield back. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: