Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 25, 2018 11:59am-2:00pm EDT

11:59 am
increased funding as an opportunity to load up the bill with their own wasteful spending. but as the president said, he will never sign such a bill again, never. we will also continue our march to cut unneeded regulations. we look forward to working with heritage to get the united states to where it belongs, at the top of the economic freedom index. again, thank you for inviting me. me. it's a pleasure to be here, and i gather now we're going to have a little fireside chat. [applause] >> shortly we'll go live to the u.s. senate where lawmakers will resume consideration of the nomination of mike pompeo for secretary of state. he currently is the u.s. cia
12:00 pm
director. we are expecting a procedural vote tomorrow as well as a procedural vote tomorrow on the nominee to be u.s. ambassador to germany. live coverage now of the 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 father, strong to save,
12:01 pm
whose arm has bound the restless wave, we honor your name. forgive us our sins and deliver us from evil. we thank you for food, drink, clothing, friends, and family. today, give our lawmakers faith to meet every challenge, courage to live by your precepts, and humility to serve others in these grand and critical times. may a high sense of patriotism reinforce their commitment to integrity, as they remember their accountability to you.
12:02 pm
and, lord, we thank you for the life and contributions of matthew pollard, who worked on the intelligence committee. we pray in your merciful 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.
12:03 pm
the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
12:04 pm
12:05 pm
12:06 pm
12:07 pm
12:08 pm
12:09 pm
12:10 pm
12:11 pm
12:12 pm
12:13 pm
12:14 pm
12:15 pm
12:16 pm
a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not, senator. mr. wicker: madam president, i rise in strong support of the nomination of mike pompeo, our current c.i.a. director, to be the next secretary of state. and i must say i have watched with interest the proceedings day before yesterday in the foreign relations committee. the debate was interesting on both sides. i appreciate the fact that accommodations were made so that mike pompeo's nomination could be presented to the full senate with a positive vote. i am disappointed that so many of my democratic colleagues have stated that they will oppose
12:17 pm
this nomination, and i heed the admonition of one of the members of the democratic party at the -- at the confirmation vote before the committee when -- when this member asked that senators not question the motives of anyone who takes a position one way or the other with regard to the nomination of mr. pompeo. and so i will heed that admonition, madam president, and not question the motivation of any senator who votes either yes or no on this nomination. i will simply observe this. mike pompeo is a highly qualified nominee. a distinguished former member of the house of representatives, he served with -- with accomplishment and great dignity
12:18 pm
and ability as director of the c.i.a. he graduated first in his class from the united states military academy at west point and went on to serve -- to graduate with distinction at the harvard law school to serve as editor in chief of the harvard law review. so this is a man of great intellect, a man of great ability and great accomplishments. without impugning the motives of anyone who would vote no, i simply observe that they will be voting against a highly accomplished and qualified nominee. when the shoe was on the other foot during the obama administration, i along with members -- with the overwhelming, almost unanimous majority of members of my caucus voted yes in favor of the confirmation of hillary clinton
12:19 pm
to be secretary of state. i voted yes along, again, a virtually unanimous vote on both sides of the aisle for the nomination of our colleague, john kerry, to be the successor to hillary clinton, the secretary of state. and i would simply note to my doubting friends who are standing on their rights on the other side of the aisle that tht of public opinion from the news media has come down on the side of mr. pompeo. "the wall street journal" headline says that we need a secretary of state and that mike pompeo should be confirmed. the "chicago tribune" in an editorial states why the senate
12:20 pm
should confirm mike pompeo. "the washington post" headline on the editorial page proclaims confirm mike pompeo. the "new york daily news" says confirm mike pompeo. president trump needs a secretary of state. and i would add, madam president, that this country needs a secretary of state. because of international diplomacy, needs a secretary of state. because of human rights around the world, needs a secretary of state. "usa today" says confirm mike pompeo to fill the void at state. so i will not question the motives of any of my colleagues. my friends who i respect. i will only say that things are surely different around the united states senate nowadays than they were previously when
12:21 pm
we rose up almost unanimously and confirmed john kerry and hillary clinton and stood for the proposition that a president of the united states is entitled to his or her team and that that person needed strong support. i will only say that at a moment when our country needs to send a strong message of resolve to our allies and to the entire international community. we need to send a strong signal of unity that the vote we may take later this week in confirming mike pompeo might send a signal of excessive partisanship and division, and i regret that. we're going to have a great secretary of state at the end of this process. i think he will -- i think this
12:22 pm
unfortunate -- unfortunately narrow vote will come and go and perhaps not be the standard that we operate under in future times. i would only say that i -- for those colleagues who are still looking for an answer and still wrestling with how they should vote, i would commend to them the example of previous days and the example of sending a strong signal around the globe that this president is supported in his efforts in international diplomacy and that he's entitled to the team that he has chosen. and with that, madam president, i urge my colleagues to vote yes, and i appreciate the distinguished minority leader for indulging me and allowing me to go forward, and yield the
12:23 pm
floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of state, mike pompeo of kansas to be secretary. mr. schumer: before i begin, i want to welcome the president of france, emmanuel macron, who just finished his address before a joint session. his words were timely, particularly his admonition to reject the false idols of our time -- isolationism, cynicism. he argued that if we were to chance principles upon which
12:24 pm
both our nations were founded, as he would say, liberte, egalite, and fra ternite, he would say it better than me, of course, and secure the prosperity of our peoples in the future, we must seek further cooperation with our allies in the engagement in the world. i hope that everyone at both ends of pennsylvania avenue takes president macron's words to heart. now, madam president, the senate is considering the nomination of mike pompeo to be the next secretary of state. i must admit that even after his confirmation to the directorship of the c.i.a., i remained concerned about mr. pompeo when he was in the congress. i talked to him directly. i told him how deeply disappointed i was in how he handled the benghazi hearings, how partisan they were. i told him some of his comments
12:25 pm
about minority groups, muslims in particular, were way over the top. over the course of his tenure at langley, i met with him several times after that first meeting where i had given him my views on some of the things i disagreed with in what he did. and i have to say those meetings were good meetings. he was very candid with me. he is obviously very smart. he is obviously well informed about foreign policy, far more well informed than secretary tillerson was when he came before -- when he came to visit me before his nomination hearing. and what particularly gave me some good feeling was that mr. pompeo was particularly strong on russia sanctions, even showing some separation from the president as we met. so i began to think that mr. pompeo was better than my first impression, which has so been guided particularly by his
12:26 pm
performance, his very poor performance in the benghazi hearings. then he was nominated for secretary of state. now, that's a whole different ballgame. anyone nominated for such a critical position, security position, deserves the most careful and thoughtful scrutiny. with that in mind, i met with mr. pompeo privately where i interviewed him on foreign policy. frankly, on many issues, our views were not the same. he was far more hawkish than i would prefer our diplomat to be. frankly, my views were probably on this issue a little closer to the president's, who remembered, as i do, that iraq -- in iraq, we spent over a trillion dollars, we lost close to 5,000 of our bravest young men and women, and iraq doesn't seem much better off today than it was then. so my view was that he was too
12:27 pm
quick to recommend strong military action when diplomacy might do. but at the same time, i believe that the president should get to pick his team, so president trump wanted a more hawkish secretary of state, it would be concerning to me but it is his decision. and mr. pompeo answered my questions with the same candor and forthrightness as our previous meetings. and so i thought i would wait for his hearing because speaking in public is different than speaking privately to a member of the senate before making the decision. mr. pompeo's hearing -- at mr. pompeo's hearing, i became very disappointed. first the president has shown in word and deed that he often directs foreign policy by impulse ee ratically and consistent -- erratically and inconsistently. the fact that we were dealing with several hot spots in the world, north korea, iran, syria,
12:28 pm
venezuela, russia, means we need someone at the state department who not only values diplomacy but is willing to check the president's worst instincts. unfortunately, mr. pompeo's testimony and of course public testimony is the real test, it did little to convince me that he would be a strong tempering influence on an often erratic president. he didn't convince me that he would be the kind of secretary that most of us believe secretary mattis is, who is able successfully to check the president when the president might go off base. but even more disappointing was mr. pompeo's tepid responses to questions about his commitment to bedrock principles like rule of law. as important and difficult as our foreign policy decisions are, the nation is facing a great test. the president seems to tempt rule of law in america when it comes to the investigation of
12:29 pm
whether there was collusion between his administration, his campaign, and russia. and an investigation to look into this, to look into russian interference in our elections and whether there was participation of the president or members of his campaign or administration is vital to the bedrock of america. even worse is if a president says i can undo this investigation one way or another. i can thwart it. he's already trying to intimidate it, but fortunately mr. mueller is not the type who is intimidated, and neither does mr. rosenstein seem to be. and these questions were crucial to me. at a key position like secretary of state -- and a key position like secretary of state should be able to speak out on this kind of issue because america is recognized throughout the world as the country that most prizes
12:30 pm
rule of law. so if our secretary doesn't speak out strongly against this, it's not only bad for our country but not good for his job, his ability to do his job around the world. unfortunately, i was deeply disappointed. mr. pompeo responded when put to the question as whether he would stand up to the president, would he resign or otherwise protest the president's actions that would undermine rule of law, his answers were weak. he did not say he would resign if the president fired mueller or rosenstein. to me, a cabinet officer should do that. he did not even unequivocally state that he would publicly urge the president not to fire mr. mueller. so that wasn't good enough. but i thought i owed again mr. pompeo a direct discussion
12:31 pm
because he is a talented man and the president does deserve the benefit of the doubt. so i called him into my office for one private meeting, one final meeting. i asked him pointly whether he'd be able to simply say publicly that the president should fire special counsel mueller before we voted on him. i asked him what he would do if the president fired the special counsel from mr. rosenstein. his answers were extremely insufficient. i also canned asked him if he would be willing to recant or undo some of what he said will request muslims and lgbtq and women's rights now that he was in line to be our secretary of state and had to deal with countries that might be affected by his remarks, again he demurrayed -- du -- demured.
12:32 pm
i concluded that a vote against mr. pompeo's nomination was the right thing to do. i still think that the president deserves his team. but i give mr. -- but i gave mre doubt and three chances to answer the questions that i thought were extremely important and to suage my broader concerns, and he did not answer those questions in any way that was satisfying. so, with a can clear conscience, i will voting against his nomination. let me be clear. this is not about politics. this is not about denying the president his team just for the sake of it. it's about the role of congress, and frankly, the cabinet to provide a check on the senate.
12:33 pm
sorry. this is the role about congress but also the cabinet to provide a check on a president who might go off the rails and undo the respect for rule of law, the tradition of rule of law that we have had in this country for so long. it is my view that the next secretary of state in this unique moment of history with a president who seems to behave erratically, and with little regard oftentimes for our nation's history, a president who tests our constitutional order, that secretary must be willing to put country first and stand up for our most sacred and fundamental values, for the rule of law, that nobody, not even the president, is above the rule of law.
12:34 pm
unfortunately, mr. pompeo in these very difficult times did not meet that test as much as i wish he did. i don't doubt that the president could nominate someone with the right experience, the right values and the right commitment to our core national principles to earn my vote to be secretary of state, but i do not believe mr.point has those qualities. so i -- mr. pompeo has those qualities. so i will be voting no on his nomination. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, madam president. i come here for the first time in what will be a weekly speech that i will give as long as we have somebody, in my opinion, who is improperly and unjustly being held in a turkish prison. as a matter of fact, this man, pastor brunson has been in a turkish prison for 5 of 65
12:35 pm
days -- 565 days. he was arrested in october of 2016. he didn't even receive charges until two months. so arrested without charges, a conspiracy to plot a coup attempt by the president of turkey. he, about a month ago, maybe about two or three months back, i heard from some people that pastor brunson was afraid with the charges levied against him, that the american people would read the charges and forget about him and turn his back. that's why i decided to travel to turkey and meet him in prison about a month ago to let him know that i have no intention of forgetting him, and i have every intention that everybody understands what is going on with this case and why it should be a lesson to anybody thinking about traveling to turkey from the united states today. now, before i start this, i've got to talk a little bit about
12:36 pm
turkey. they are a nato ally. they -- when i was a delegate in north carolina, i spent two weeks there, about seven years ago. because i wanted to build closer economic ties, cultural ties and an opportunity to strengthen a relationship with a very important nato ally. now i'm beginning to doubt whether or not if the turkey i visited six years ago is the turkey we are dealing with today. and pastor brunson, who is in the same church that reverend billy graham was a part of. the injustice i see displayed to him makes me wonder if people in the state of north carolina or people in this country should go to that country until we determine whether or not american citizens can be treated
12:37 pm
justly there. 535 days in a turkish prison. first he was in a cell that was designed for 28 people. the others have been charged with terrorism and conspiracy to start a coup. all he's guilty of is trying is bring a christian message to those who want to hear it. he has a small church there, there is about 120 people in it. they opened it up and worked with the police department to make sure that they were secure and they understand what they are saying. there is no nefarious purpose here except to do his job as a missionary in turkey for 20 years. now i will come back to this slide in a minute. now, it's also important to understand timing. the coup occurred in 2016.
12:38 pm
paston brunson -- pastor brunson and his wife noreen came back to the united states. the president of turkey was rounding up thousands of people and putting them in prison, even though who were loosey associated with the coup. pastor brunson were in north carolina at the time, but he and his wife went back to turkey at al time when people were rounded up. they rounded him up. why would any reasonable person, why on earth if they saw what was happening in turkey, why would they go back. that is one data point. there are a few more. after i went and visited turkey for 48 hours about a month ago, i wasn't back last week, and i actually spent 12 hours in a turkish courthouse listening to the charges against pastor brunson, and it was remarkable. it's a three-judge panel.
12:39 pm
imagine that they are sitting up in the dais and next to them, unlike our court where you have the defense and prosecutor sitting on equal terms, their prosecutor sits up on the dais and looks like a fourth judge. in turkey, you are -- in turkey you are guilty until you are proven innocent. it is a canning -- kangroo court. they are looking to convict him for 35 years. he is 55. this is effectively a death sentence for the kind of charges i'll tell you a little bit about. number one, it was clear to me after spending 12 hours in a courtroom that the turkish authorities believed that any religious organization is actually part of a broader plot to undermine the turkish
12:40 pm
government and promote terrorist activities. they review the christian religions in the united states, the missionaries, as some sort of coordinated plot to undermine the country of turkey. they view a missionary who risks life and limb to go into the syrian countryside to help people who are trying to flee the carnage occurring in syria to give them food, water, and comfort, as some way of perpetrating and being a member of the plot of the p.k.k., a terrorist organization focused on opposing turkey. that's what missionaries are subjected to. as a matter of fact, there was a part of the court where they suggested the mere fact that pastor brunson, who is a press by teern -- presbyterian had mormons enter his church -- the
12:41 pm
services are wide open to anyone, but the more mondays who -- the mormons who also do missionary work, they said that because they taught each other and and -- and the mormons also provide missions to the kurdish religion, then therefore they are ar part of the k. -- are part of the k.k.k. if you travel to this country, i can't guarantee your safety based on the facts as they exist today. i am trying to get somebody out who is guilty of being a christian missionary in turkey for 20 years. if you went through -- and i will not go through the details of this -- but when you invest 12 hours in a courtroom, it is an accelerated process. let me give you an idea of some of the things they say. we're not talking about any specific charge about something violent or damaging that occurred. what we're talking about, this
12:42 pm
is the level of evidence that was presented against pastor brunson. there's a dish cooked there, i don't know, i love turkish food. it's good food. well, there was this communication between the daughter and father about a good meal that they had. they suggested that communication, because it was a food that's apparently enjoyed by the kurds was a reason to suspect that somehow their conspirators in the p.k.k. plot. so i'm telling somebody traveling to turkey, be careful what you eat and what you like and don't put it on facebook because you too could find yourself in a turkish prison. that's the level of arguments they are using against this man who has been in prison for 565 days. i'm not making this up. you could not create a movie plot that would be more
12:43 pm
egregious in terms of the way that they treated this man for 565 days. now, after i went to the turkish prison, pastor brunson and i spent about an hour and a half together. to their credit, they gave me more time than they normally do. they told me i could spend the time that i wanted to and the discussion with pastor brunson was really heartwrenching. and the reason it was heartwrenching is he said that i firmly believe people will forget about me. i think the congress could read the 62-page bogus indictment and believe it is true. i told pastor brunson that the reason i was to tell him eye to eye that congress has his back and this will not go away until the turkish people release pastor brunson.
12:44 pm
i told him in that meeting that i will get members of the senate to sign on to a letter and i'm going to prove to you that the people in the senate, on a bipartisan basis, agree with my position that pastor brunson should be set free. now, i know, madam president, you know better than anybody that getting 66 senators to sign up on a letter if you spend three or four months doing it is uncommon, but to get 66 senators to sign this letter in a matter of a couple of weeks is extraordinary. they knew when they heard the argument they knew they needed to be a voice of the senate. there's no question that i wanted to get 60-plus votes. i wanted to send a message that we're sending a message from the senate that we are going to move forward things that i would prefer not to do, i would rather pg strengthen the relationship with turkey, our economic alliances and broader relationship. but we also need to send the
12:45 pm
clear message that we will take other steps if that's what's necessary to get the attention of the turkish administration and the president of turkey to do the right thing. i thank all of my colleagues to sign on to the letter. we have had other express interest. i think that is important. what does president erdogan say to that? he basically says if we're willing to trade someone in this country who he believes was involved in the plot he'll give us back -bz pastor brunson. we have an extradition process with turkey. if they go through the process where they can prove the person in this country should be extradited because he's guilty of laws broken in turkey, great. but to compare that pastor who's here or that religious leader who's here with a pastor who
12:46 pm
spent 20 years in turkey doing nothing but missionary work, i find objectionable. when i was in turkey, i had somebody ask me what do you think about the prisoner exchange. i think what's been offered is absurd, but i promise you this. if you know of a turkish person, a turkish national in a u.s. prison that was held for 19 months, 17 months without charges and then was convicted on circumstantial evidence for 5 years, 10 years, 35 years, count me in on getting them released without a concept of a trade because that is a miscarriage of justice. there is not somebody in a u.s. prison because there is no way that anybody in the united states would have been held overnight in jail for the charges that i saw demonstrated in that courthouse a week ago. president erdogan possibly doesn't know what i know.
12:47 pm
i have to believe he's a fair person and i have to believe he's hearing from people in his administration who are not telling him what they're trying to do with this man. i will be here every week to ask president erdogan to ask the time i've invested in to know it's a mischaracter of justice, going to hurt our relationship with turkey on every level. i will go from someone who is a strong advocate of a turkish alliance to someone who maybe has to think twice about where this relationship goes from here. so, madam president, this is the beginning of what i hope is a very short time of me coming to this floor and bringing in additional facts every week until pastor brunson is released. again, i warn anybody who's going to turkey to pay attention to what i've just said. pay attention to the fact that i may not as a u.s. senator -- and the presiding officer as a u.s. senator from iowa, we may not be
12:48 pm
able to guarantee your safety under the current emergency orders in turkey. you may actually just find a group of friendly people that you take a picture with and you proudly put it on facebook because you're reaching out to people, traveling to countries, trying to build friendships and relationships. but there may be some turkish bureaucrat who sees that picture and sees a few curves in it and suddenly you become a conspirator, you spend 565 days in a turkish prisoner, you have your senator coming over there to take you out. that's what's going on in turkey right now. pastor brunson just represents one of several people in turkey that we have to fight for. a nasa scientist who has been convicted on seven and a half years, he served one and a half years, he was guilty of doing nothing more than going to visit his family in turkey at roughly the time they started the coup attempt. now he's in prison, an american citizen, dual citizen, turkish
12:49 pm
american, nasa scientist in prison complicated of being a part of -- implicated of being a part of our intelligence agency. i am not making this up. i didn't want to pursue this if all i had was briefings from the state department and staff. i was willing to go there and look at the prison guards eye to eye and i'm convinced this is a risk to every single american. and every single one of you should put yourself in pastor brunson's place and go from here and make sure people know what's going on here and pastor brunson needs to know he has the backing of the u.s. senate. he'll have the backing of the house. my colleague mark walker and the deputy whip are working on a similar letter in the house, and we're going to continue to show that we're in shape and we're ready to run this marathon. hopefully they're going to sprint to a just decision on may 7. that's his next court date. but if he doesn't, you can expect me to be here.
12:50 pm
and each and every time i'm going to add other cases for why we have to rethink our relationship with turkey until justice is done. thank you, madam president. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: madam president, i rise today to express my opposition to mike pompeo serving as the nation's top diplomat. as i said earlier this week in committee, i'm generally disappointed to be casting a vote against the secretary of state nominee. i believe the united states needs an effective leader on the global stage, but at the end of the day as i considered director pompeo's nomination, including his hearing, his past statements and recent revelations, i have lingering concerns along three broad themes. mr. pompeo failed to express any
12:51 pm
tangible diplomatic strategies for which he would advocate to advance american interests. he failed to be forthright with the committee. and finally, i don't have a satisfactory answer to the question which mike pompeo might ask to cast a vote on. unfortunately during his nomination process where he had an opportunity to address all of these concerns, director pompeo offered contradictory statements and was less than forthcoming when pressed on a number of issues. given the opportunity to outline the strategies he would advocate with the administration to deal with the challenges of russia, iran, north korea, china or venezuela, to mention a few, he failed to exhibit the depth of knowledge or thoughtfulness about what those strategies would be. now granted, he's under the constraints of this administration which has failed to offer a strategic vision for american diplomacy, a white house which has failed to effectively outline policies or
12:52 pm
strategies to achieve a series of ever changing goals and objectives. but i expect our chief diplomat to have a vision for diplomacy. a meeting is not a strategy. airstrikes are not a strategy. unilaterally walking away from an international agreement is not a strategy. beyond his lack of strategies, i fear mr. pompeo was less than transparent through his confirmation process. truthfulness and the willingness to be forthcoming to the senate foreign relations committee are essential in a secretary of state nominee. but in his refusal to answer questions about the russia investigation in which he was interviewed, a critical issue before the committee, and in his failure to disclose any information about his trip to north korea, which he could have disclosed even in a classified setting although we got to learn about it through the press, both
12:53 pm
critical issues before the committee, he exhibited that he was suited more to the clandestine nature of the c.i.a. director than the transparency of secretary of state. i don't expect that cabinet secretary to publicly disagree with the president. indeed its his or her duty to carry out the president's agenda. but his policies are being formulated, i remain skeptical of whether he will remain forthcoming with members of congress, how he will approach complex issues and what that means for our foreign policy. this lack of forthrightness ultimately leaves me wondering whether he would be willing to push back against the president's worst instincts, whether he would be willing to say no to advance a different course, or whether he would simply be a yes man. when the president blames russia's aggressive behavior on democrats -- pretty amazing on democrats -- will director pompeo remind him that russia's
12:54 pm
aggressive behavior is caused by russia and no one else? as our nation's top diplomat, would director pompeo, as he said in his confirmation hearing, value diversity and demand every employee be treated, quote, equally with dignity and respect? does he believe, as he said in his hearing, in, quote, promoting america's ideals, values, and priorities, including our collective identity as a nation of immigrants and refugees fleeing oppression who have made the united states a bastion of hope in the world? or will we be represented by congressman pompeo who voted against the violence against women's act, to deny support to victims of gender-based violence, and sponsored legislation to roll back marriage equality? or the congressman pompeo who has recently as 2016 sponsored legislation to immediately halt refugee resettlement to the
12:55 pm
united states until ill-advised reforms were made? these concerns are beyond policy disagreements which alone are not the basis for rejecting a nominee. rather, this legislative history paints a troubling picture of how the united states and our diplomatic efforts will be conducted and received by our allies and adversaries alike. will the department seek to roll back programs advancing women's access to health care and justice systems? programs that have significantly included the lives not only of women all over the world, but by extension improved stability, prosperity and governance reforms. when we talk about promoting universal human rights in countries who seek to oppress people based on their sexual orientation, what will our nation's top diplomat credibly say? and as we work with our allies who are absorbing literally millions of refugees from profoundly devastating crises all over the world and as
12:56 pm
families in my own state of new jersey and throughout the country open their hearts and their homes, what will he credibly say as this administration slashes our own refugee program once a crown jewel of our foreign policy both in establishing our moral leadership and in supporting our partner's globally? on our own border, we simply cannot address the threat of drug traffickers or opioids without productive collaboration with mexico. when the president wants to call mexicans drug traffickers and rapists, as our nation's top diplomat, who during his confirmation hearing insisted, quote, his record is exquisite with respect to treating people of each and every faith with the dignity they deserve, would mr. pompeo advise the president not to continue to call mexicans drug traffickers and rapists? or would it be the pompeo who once called an indian american political opponent a turban top
12:57 pm
per? how would he explain this kind of rhetoric to people of myriad different faiths who wear turbans, whether millions of sikhs, or those in indian, a critical ally or orthodox christians in the horn of africa or tribal leaders in afghanistan with whom we are prying to build constructive -- trying to build constructive relationships based on human rights? what impact that accusations that muslim leaders in the united states are somehow, quote, complicit and devastating terrorist attacks as he engages with muslim leaders and citizens around the world. nearly two billion people in the world adhere to the muslim faith. many in countries with whom we have relationships critical to protecting and promoting our national security, with citizens who have suffered the most from brutal terrorism. similarly, part of the exceptionalism of the united states comes from the power of
12:58 pm
our diaspora communities who serve as critical and public diplomats for the rest of the world. how can someone who has made such derogatory and uninformed remarks conduct effective diplomacy? as i said before, i believe it is imperative for the secretary of state to be forthright, to be someone in whom the american people and our allies can vest faith and trust, someone who will unequivocally champion our values to assert our global leadership. and our global leadership comes from our investment in diplomacy and development as our primary policy drivers abroad. unfortunately, i don't believe that director pompeo is someone who will always prioritize diplomacy over conflict particularly in the context of the aggressive foreign policy voices growing around him. and i'm particularly concerned by his past comments on regime change in north korea and iran. look, i abhor both regimes but
12:59 pm
our national security is a little different than that. while he said during his confirmation hearing that war is, quote, the last resort, mr. pompeo's past statements calling for military action and regime change in iran, for example, will surely follow him as we work with our allies to build on multinational agreements to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. his offhand remarks about regime change in north korea will be ever present as we pursue negotiations to roll back north korea's nuclear weapons program and seek dismantling. so, madam president, with all of these concerns of mine, ultimately i simply do not believe that director pompeo is someone who can genuinely represent all americans and best promote american foreign policy interests. it is for these reason, among others that i'll be voting against director pompeo. now let me be very clear, despite what some of my other colleagues may believe or tell the press, this is not a vote in
1:00 pm
the name of political resistance to the president. i have voted for members of this president's cabinet, from the secretary of defense to the former secretary of homeland security, now the president's chief of staff, to our ambassador to the united nations, to mention some. i will never hesitate to agree with a sound policy or criticize a misguided one, regardless of which party is in the white house. i think history would certainly prove that and judge it to be true. i will always put patriotism and our national security interests over partisanship. i also reject the notion that we should confirm a secretary of state based on world events outside of our control, whether that be a nato summit or a meeting with north korea. nobody forced the president to fire his former secretary of state at the time in which he did, and unless kim jong-un unis
1:01 pm
unilaterally dictating the terms of our relations, we should wait until we have the appropriate people and the dutiful preparation to achieve the success that we and the world needs. in closing, as we consider this nominee and the nominee that is also subject to cloture for germany, let me be clear. despite what the white house wants to claim, democrats are not obstructing nominees through this body. the facts are simply not on their side. of 1272 positions at the state department in usaid critical to advancing u.s. interests, the administration has failed to even nominate 77 of those positions, including 45 ambassadorial positions in critical countries, including south korea, saudi arabia, jordan, to mention a few. i could go on and on. unless we all forget,
1:02 pm
republicans control the votes on the senate floor. the republican leadership can bring up any nominee once they have passed the committee, at any time. that is their prerogative. now, the founders recognized that an effective democracy needs co-equal branches of government to operate in a system of checks and balances. the president has the right to nominate whomever he wants, but the congress has a responsibility to ensure that person is best suited for the job at hand. we have seen already challenges in that process to some of these nominees. and in the case of our secretary of state, one who will prioritize diplomacy instead of war and promote fundamental values. if and when he is confirmed as someone who has served on both the house and senate committees tasked with overseeing foreign policy administration, i'm more than willing to work alongside with the nominee if he is
1:03 pm
confirmed to provide advice and input as he and the president seek to advance american interests and values on the global stage. i will, of course, in my capacity as ranking member work alongside him in pursuit of comprehensive and coherent strategies that promote american interests. and despite my misgivings, i will always have an open door and seek opportunities to advance our shared objectives. we stand ready and willing to take any and all actions in the interest of peace, security, and of all americans. that has always been my north star, and it will always be. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. daines: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: i ask that following my remarks, senator brown, be allowed to make remarks for three to five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: mr. president, i stand here today to urge the very swift confirmation of my good friend, my former colleague, the current director of the c.i.a., mike pompeo, to
1:04 pm
serve as america's next secretary of state. you see, mike's reassume would put him at the top of any pile. speaking as someone who has hired a lot of folks over 28 years in the private sector and now spending time in public service, his resume shines. but let's talk about his record of results. you know, i just returned from a trip to china. i was with four other u.s. senators. we visited china, south korea. in fact, while in south korea, we went to the d.m.z. i met the premier of china while i was in beijing. in fact, the same week that i met with the premier of china, kim jong-un met with president xi in beijing. we spent time with the prime minister of south korea as well as time with many other leaders. their feedback was very clear, and perhaps this is the untold
1:05 pm
story that we're not hearing in the united states from our media, and it's this -- the administration's resolve and their diplomacy is what has brought kim jong-un to the negotiating table. the administration is moving forward toward a denuclearized north korea, and mike pompeo has played a critical role in those efforts. as secretary of state, mike would continue to defend and represent american interests abroad, protecting our national security, and making the world a safer place. you know, mike has not just excelled, he has been the best at everything he has put his mind to over the course of his life. he was first in his class at west point, a graduate of the harvard law school, editor of the harvard law review. he served our country in the military. he's run businesses before
1:06 pm
serving in the united states congress. and that's where my path crossed mike pompeo when we served as colleagues in the united states congress. mike has the resume, he has the character and the record of results to make him an exceptionally qualified leader for this job. and as we wait here in limbo without a secretary of state, lives are on the line, our national security is on the line, our freedom is on the line. i urge my colleagues across the aisle, please stop putting politics before america's national interest. for heaven sakes, this body passed hillary clinton through a secretary of state with 94 votes. i urge them to make the best decision for our country and their constituents back home and join me in confirming mike pompeo as our next secretary of state.
1:07 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i thank my friend from montana for that. thanks so much. this morning, mr. president, "the new york times" reported that mick mulvaney, the head of the consumer financial protection bureau, that's the bureau that saved $12 billion for 12 million american consumers who have been wronged, cheated, misled, deceived by banks and other financial service actors. $12 billion, 29 million consumers. that's what the consumer financial protection bureau is. now, think about that for a second. this morning, "the new york times" reported that mick mulvaney, the head of that bureau, the organization that looks out or at least used to look out for american bank
1:08 pm
customers, he made a speech to 1,300 bankers yesterday, and he told the banking industry to step up their lobbying efforts, so you have got a government official who takes an oath to represent the american public to the best of his ability and to carry out his job to the best of his ability, the consumer financial protection bureau. he is going in front of bankers in telling -- and telling them to step up their lobbying efforts to weaken the consumer financial protection bureau. the "times" reports this -- quote -- and there is a recording of this, so this isn'y mr. mulvaney might suggest or the president might suggest or somebody, this isn't fake news. this is a recording, a real recording. he told banking industry executives on tuesday that they should press lawmakers hard to pursue their agenda, and he revealed that as a congressman, he would meet only with lobbyists if they had contributed to his campaign. here's what he said.
1:09 pm
this is the director of the consumer bureau, mr. president. we had a hierarchy in my -- he was a member of congress. a far right tea party republican member of congress who took a lot of bank contributions, i would add, but put that aside for a minute, until he became the head of the office of management and budget and then the consumer bureau. he said we had a hierarchy in my office, in congress. that is, mr. president, when he served down the other end of the hall here the a the u.s. capitol in congress. we had a hierarchy in my office in congress, he told bankers and lending officials at the american bankers conference in washington, he said we had a hierarchy in my office in congress. if you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, i didn't talk to you. if you're a lobbyist who gave us money, i might talk to you. i guess -- i mean, i guess you can't call that bribery. i'm not suggesting exactly it's bribery, but you're saying -- you're saying if you didn't give me money, i wouldn't talk to you. if you gave me money, maybe i will talk to you. you know, again, i'm not a lawyer. i don't think that's under the classification of bribery, but i
1:10 pm
think it's pretty awful. it's pretty awful when the guy that appointed you to that said he is going to clear the swamp. it's pretty awful when you face the -- you have been elected by the people in his case of south carolina and you say if they gave me money -- if they didn't give me money, i wouldn't talk to you, if you gave me money, maybe i will talk to you. it really is -- can you believe that? that this is a high-ranked u.s. government official that was confirmed by the united states senate, at least for the first job at office of management and budget. deciding who you will meet with based on campaign contributions is the kind of pay to play that makes americans furious with washington, d.c. i mean, president trump got elected because he was going to drain the swamp. president trump got elected because he said the system was rigged. president trump got elected because he doesn't want this pay to play. president trump got elected because this place needs to be cleaned out. so you appoint somebody hothead of the underlying consumer financial protection bureau who only really wants to talk to you
1:11 pm
if you gave him campaign money. that's fundamentally what he's saying. if the policy from his congressional office has been his policy at o.m.b. and his policy at the consumer bureau, it's corrupted all of his work. it's hard to believe anything -- anything otherwise. mr. mulvaney should resign, mr. president. he should resign. he should release his schedule since he has been head of the consumer bureau. you know, one of the functions of the u.s. senate of either party, regardless of the president, is to oversee what exactly is happening in the executive branch of government, and i think it's important that we see mr. mulvaney's schedule. who is he meeting with? what kind of contributions did they make to him when he was a congressman? is he directing money to the senate majority or to the house majority members to help speaker ryan? is he sending money to political candidates that have been his allies in trying to -- trying to
1:12 pm
emasculate the consumer protection bureau? so mr. mulvaney should resign. he should release a schedule, and the white house should quickly nominate a permanent consumer director with bipartisan support, and may i suggest a moral compass. i'll say that again. the white house should quickly nominate a permanent director of the consumer bureau with bipartisan support and a moral compass. banks and payday lenders, banks and payday lenders already have armies of lobbyists on their side. mr. president, they don't need one more. i yield the floor.
1:13 pm
mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, this afternoon, the house judiciary committee will begin to consider their version of a bill that i have introduced here in the senate with the junior senator from rhode island, senator white whitehouse, called the corrections act. this legislation addresses prison reform, an issue at the forefront of how justice is administered in this country, by focusing on reducing rates of recidivism or repeat offenders and ensuring those reentering society can become productive members of our communities without threatening the crime rate. our efforts here are important
1:14 pm
as reoffense rates in our country remain at high levels. in other words, our criminal justice system has become a revolving door with reoffense rates of more than 75% for state prisoners and nearly 50% for federal prisoners. so there is a 75% chance that somebody that goes to state prison will end up going back, and a 50% chance if you are going to prison that you are going to go back as a federal prisoner unless we do something else about it. in law school, students are taught that the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system are deterrents, retribution, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. but the reality is somewhere along the way, we forget about rerehabilitation and our prisons have literally become a warehouse for people who have been convicted of criminal
1:15 pm
offenses. that reality is part of the reason that my state, texas, and several other states have led the way, not just to be tough on crime but to be smart on crime, too. too texas implemented statewide prison reforms to help offenders learn the reasons they got in prison in the first place, whether it's a drug or alcohol habit or addiction, whether it's simply being unprepared to enter the workforce because they dropped out of school or perhaps have some sort of learning disability. so using recidivism reduction programs like job training and education programs, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, letting prisoners go to school to earn a
1:16 pm
g.e.d. or markable skill. by doing that texas has reduced its crime rate by double digits. let me say that again. we reduced our incarceration and rate and our crime rate by double digits at the same time. the end all be all, in my view, of our criminal justice system must be to reduce the crime rate. in other words, whatever else we do, if the crime rate doesn't go down, we're not getting it right. but here we've seen as a result of the state-based reforms that i'm talking about, we've actually been able to reduce incarceration rates and crime rates too. well, i must say that when we talk about rehabilitation of prisoners, we're not talking about something we do to them. they have to want it.
1:17 pm
they have to want to turn their lives around and they have to take advantage of the opportunities we provide them to do so because that sort of personal transformation requires extraordinary commitment. again, it's not something the government can do to somebody, they need to do it to themselves with the help we provide. by doing so we found that we could save billions of dollars for taxpayers and we spared countless victims from further criminal activity. you have to wonder from the time somebody comes out of prison to the time they reoffend and go back how many crimes have they committed? how many people's lives have changed forever? and then, finally, when they get apprehended for committing a crime, we tend to look at that in isolation, but the truth is people who live lives of
1:18 pm
criminalality, they do it a few times and commit crimes against property and people. if we can reduce the crime rate we can help them get back on their feet and save money at the same time. that strikes me as a pretty good deal. for years i tried to bring the successful state-based experiments and models to washington, d.c., and so that's why i felt it was important to reintroduce the bipartisan corrections act with the junior senator from rhode island. senator whitehouse, my cosponsor of this legislation from rhode island, he and i have very different perspective on the world. he's a democrat, i'm a republican. i'm a conservative, and he would say, maybe a liberal or a progressive. but the fact is we tried this and it works.
1:19 pm
rather than having the federal government and the entire country be a laboratory for experimentation, isn't it better to let the states doll what they have conceived for doing to be the laboratory for democracy and see if it works and then take the successful experiments and to scale them up so the whole nation can benefit. well, that's what this legislation does. this bill requires the department of justice to develop assessment tools to assess the recidivism risk on all eligible offenders. in other words, we're not going to give hard-wore offenders the benefit of these programs. what we're going to do is start at the low and moderate offenders and the tools and tests can make better decisions on who ought to be eligible and
1:20 pm
who should not. we also shift the federal prison resources to those most likely to commit future crimes. in other words, if we take low-level and mid-level offenders and give them a way out to turn their lives around and to become productive and reduce the crime rate, that gives us more opportunity to focus on the hardcore violent criminals that are the greatest threat to our communities across the board. so focusing on less restrictive conditions for lower-risk inmates and focusing on the hardcore violent criminals just gives us a chance to concentrate our ef forpt on the people -- effort on the people most likely to commit tiewrt crimes -- future crimes. we have partnered with private organizations, including ones that are not not for profit.
1:21 pm
we had successful programs in texas where religious organizations will go into the prisons and offer people a chance not only to learn the skills they need in order to succeed on the outside but to turn their lives around by recognizing a higher power in their life. this is the sort of experience that causes many people's lives to be transformed forever, again, not because of something the government does to them but because of what they've embraced and done for themselves. i'm more encouraged than ever that we'll see some positive momentum on prison reform as the president and some of his closest advisors see prison reform as a top priority. jared kushner has had a piece in the news and has made this a top
1:22 pm
priority as well as urging the president and attorney general to do so as well. so earlier this year the president held an important meeting on this subject after six months of exploring the issue with his team. attorney general sessions attended, as did my friend and fellow texan, brook roll inns, head of the foundation, and he has been on the leading edge of those prison reforms in texas and taking that message nationwide. that meeting was very productive with the president. and with my discussions with colleagues at the white house since time that, what we've repeatedly come back to is taking those success stories at state level and scaling them up into a federal reform package. our state began this effort back in 2007, and a number of states have done the same thing. over the last decade, we've closed or consolidated multiple
1:23 pm
prisons, saving significant taxpayer dollars. the crime rate has fallen statewide even while the state population exploded during that period of time. something is working back home in the lone star state and it has worked in places like north carolina where the presiding officer has played important roles in his state of north carolina and it has worked in places like rhode island. that's why prison reform has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. it unites all of us by successfully reintegrating our citizens into society upon release. i believe in the essential dignity of every human life, and if there is a human life we can help salvage by giving people access to some of these programs
1:24 pm
by changing the way we look at incarceration as not just a warehouse where we put people, but also by providing people who are -- who are willing to take advantage of these programs to turn their life around, it strikes me we are giving people a second chance and it seems to me like the right and just thing to do. are we going to be able to save everybody? well, i'm not naive enough to think we're going to be able to save everybody. some people are simply going to have to be incarcerated and kept off the streets so our communities can be safe, but that's not true for everybody. and so by looking at low-level and mid-level offenders doing the sort of risk assessments i'm talking about, giving them access to these programs where they themselves can turn their lives around while making our community safe, giving them an opportunity to -- for a second chance and to save money, it
1:25 pm
strikes me as something we need to do. every day we fail to act on these issues we allow our prisons to become more bloated, inefficient and wasteful. state and local governments spend more than $200 billion a year on criminal justice and a large fraction of that is spent on locking people up. i know there's some people who think we ought to lock them up and throw away the key, but that doesn't happen. people get out after a few years and the question is are they going to be prepared to reenter lawful society or will they go back to the same old lifestyle, reoffend and end up back in prison? but there are even more consequential but less tangible costs in our communities when people continue to reoffend when they don't find their way out of a life of crime on lost income and savings, on children who
1:26 pm
have to grow up without one or both parents. those are sort of the collateral damage of our criminal justice system when we don't take advantage of commonsense proven reform like i'm talking about. when people go to jail, the ripple impact affects all of us. it affects all of our families, all of our friends, and all of our neighborhoods, and some people need to go to jail and they need to stay there to pay for their crime and to be separated and segregated from a law-abiding society and keep our communities safe. again, if we can help address the problems by expanding programs like substance abuse, these programs can help break the program of the vicious cycle of imprisonment for people who want a better life but simply have not been able to find their way out of it by investing in programs that focus on job training, education, drug
1:27 pm
rehabilitation and mental health treatment, we can save taxpayer dollars, lower crime and incarceration rates and recidivism. more importantly, in the end, i think we can help people change their lives for the better. we can give them hope, give them some opportunity and let them accept the power of transforming their life and the promise that provides them and all of us. i applaud the administration and the attorney general's efforts to refocus our criminal justice reform on the criminal justice issue and i'm edge courage by speaker ryan's meeting with the meeting with the president's staff and by the house judiciary's action starting today, and i know it will not end today, but taking up legislation that closely mirrors the corrections act.
1:28 pm
i appreciate the leadership of my cosponsor senator whitehouse. i know other people have other ideas perhaps about sentencing reform and the like, but in this political environment i'm for doing what we can do rather than spinning our wheels being frustrated about what we can't do because there's simply not the political support in the house and the senate and the white house to get it done. so the prison reform bill, i believe the corrections act is the way to go, and i'm looking forward to working with all of my colleagues in the house and senate, as well as the president, to get this done. mr. president, i yield the floor and i note 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 west virginia.
1:29 pm
mrs. capito: mr. president, i ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. capito: thank you, mr. president. i'm here today to be on the senate floor to rise to urge my colleagues to confirm mike pompeo as our next secretary of state. you know, the united states senate is an institution built on history and tradition. we hear that quite a bit as we walk the halls, particularly when it comes to confirmations. confirming the president's cabinet, confirming judges, confirming supreme court judges i think is one of the greatest honors we enjoy as united states senators. recent secretary of states -- secretaries of state have enjoyed strong bipartisan support in this chamber during their confirmation process. hillary clinton was confirmed by a vote of 94-2. john kerry was confirmed by a vote of 9 had-3 -- 94-3. these are overwhelming bipartisan votes, and it is not
1:30 pm
because everybody in this chamber agreed with everything secretary clinton or secretary kerry would have done on most of the foreign policy questions. they were a result of the senate's long tradition of confirming qualified nominees to represent the united states on the world stage and to give the president -- to give the president on this very crucial position secretary of state, to give the president his voice or her voice in the future to around the world in the diplomatic realm. but when it comes to the confirmation of this nominee, mike pompeo, many of my colleagues have seemed way too ready to brush aside this long-held tradition. the reason for this? well, i think, mr. president, you would agree with me, it's pretty obvious the reason, and that's just flat out partisanship. partisanship is the only explanation because it certainly
1:31 pm
could not be and is not and will not be the nominee's qualifications. we've all heard mike pompeo's resume by now. his list of experience and accomplishments that make him more than qualified to serve as this nation's top diplomat. but you know what? i think some of his qualifications are worth repeating. he was first in his class at west point. he was a calvary officer in the united states army and served honorably. he is a graduate of harvard law school and was an editor of the harvard law review and harvard journal of law and public policy. after law school, mike worked at a very prestigious -- one of the country's top law firms before he cofounded a company where he served as c.e.o. and then joined another company where again he served as the c.e.o. that was all before mike was elected to serve four terms in the united states house of
1:32 pm
representatives where i was very fortunate in my years as a united states congresswoman to serve and work alongside him and to call him my colleague. during his time in congress, he served on the permanent select committee on intelligence. this committee is -- on the title just alone, permanent select, it's a select committee by the speaker and the minority leader. it is extremely important because it deals with all the nation's intelligence. we know after he left that position as the congressman to become president trump's director of the c.i.a. and by all accounts and by all reports, he has done an absolutely exceptional job revitalizing the morale within the c.i.a. and putting us on an even footing on one of our more core missions. i think that his -- it's an impressive list of
1:33 pm
qualifications that he has, especially when you can compare to some of our previous secretaries of state. so i would ask the question, what does it take for a military officer, a lawyer, a c.e.o., a congressman, and a former -- or now a present c.i.a. director to get one democrat vote out of committee? why is there such pushback on such a qualified nominee? and i believe it's because of a partisan campaign to obstruct. we see it on other nominations and certainly on this one. the sort of obstruction does not help our government function. it doesn't help the career folks over at the state department do their job and they're ready. it doesn't help our country lead on the global stage. and it certainly doesn't help the people that we serve. this is an important time in our nation's history, particularly around the world. i just heard the french
1:34 pm
president, chief executive talk about the needs of europe and his view on terrorism and america's place as a world leader. so now more than ever, we need a strong and qualified secretary of state. we need a leader to negotiate with north korea. these negotiations are coming up rapidly. and we know that mike pompeo has already developed a relationship. we need him to counter the russian aggression that we see cropping up in other areas all around this globe. we need a strong leader to address the chemical weapons situation in syria as tragic as it is. the list could go on and on. you know what? mike pompeo is up for this job. and we should give it to him. we should give it to him in this chamber by confirmation. the american people want washington to work. they want us to work together. they want us to work as a team. that's how we're set up.
1:35 pm
so how can that happen if the president can't even get the opportunity to put his own team in place? well, i'm going to vote for mike pompeo to be our next secretary of state because i want the president to have his team. i want this nation to have a strong leader. i want our state department to be functioning as fully and as vibrantly and as aggressively as we can around the world in these dangerous times. so with that, mr. president, i would urge my colleagues to put partisanship aside and confirm mike pompeo as our next secretary of state. mr. president, i yield back. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:36 pm
1:37 pm
1:38 pm
1:39 pm
1:40 pm
1:41 pm
1:42 pm
1:43 pm
1:44 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. blunt: i move it be suspended or vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: i rise to join you
1:45 pm
and others that have been on the floor hoping that we move this week to support the confirmation of mike pompeo who's been nominated to be the secretary of state. it's a critically important time for the country. i think we heard this morning in the joint session from the president of france the importance of our country and those who agree with our defense of freedom and security to stand up for that. there are threats all over the globe, and certainly everybody realizes that mike pompeo, the current director of the c.i.a., would have the knowledge he needs to do the job. he clearly has the experience he needs to do the job, and he has the support of the president, who he would be representing. historically, this body until recent years always dealt with foreign policy as if we were sure that bipartisanship starts
1:46 pm
at the water's edge, partisanship ends at the water's edge. that long tradition was always evidenced, particularly in the secretary of state's job, of confirming people to important positions that relate to our national security. john kerry was confirmed as secretary of state by a vote of 94-3. hillary clinton was confirmed by a vote of 94-2. condoleezza rice received 85 votes when she was confirmed. and colin powell was confirmed unanimously. that's the tradition that the country has always set for this job. my colleague from new york, senator schumer, said in 2013, who in america -- this is an exact quote -- who in america doesn't think a president, democrat or republican, deserves his or her picks for who should
1:47 pm
run these agencies? nobody is the rest of that quote. that's the answer to his own question. partially that's -- apparently that's no longer the answer to that question, on the part of senator schumer and others. senator kerry, later secretary of state kerry, said in 2009, it's essential that we provide the president with the tools and resources he needs to effect change. that starts by making sure he has the national security team he's chosen in place as soon as possible. secretary kerry, secretary clinton were not confirmed because republicans agreed with every single one of their policy positions. they weren't confirmed because their colleagues in the senate agreed with every one of her to votes. -- every one of her to votes -- every one of their votes.
1:48 pm
the president mo had nominated them -- the president who had nominated them deserved to have his team in place to carry out the policies that he had been elected to carry out. now, the same standard should be extended to director pompeo. he's eminently qualified for the job. he graduated first in his class at the united states military academy at west point. in 1986 he served as a cavalry officer. after active duty -- after active duty, he graduated from harvard law school where he edited "the law review." this is a great accomplishment before he entered politics because in addition to those things he also ran two successful businesses before he was elected to the house of representatives in 2010. he served in the house from 2010 to 2017. he was a member of the
1:49 pm
intelligence committee. in that role, he was at the forefront of information that is important to national security, ranging from the iran nuclear accord to the patriot act. he understands these issues. he is a person of significant capacity and again, maybe most importantly of all the qualifications, he was picked by the president of the united states, who after this time working together with director pompeo as the director of the c.i.a., the president should know exactly what he's getting. and, frankly, we should, too. president trump decided to not only nominate director pompeo to be the director of national security, but when he was sworn in, when he was confirmed before he was sworn in, 66-32 was the vote. 14 senate democrats, most of
1:50 pm
them still here -- they may all still be here -- voted for mike pompeo to be the director of the c.i.a. i would say he's more qualified today to be secretary of state than he was then to be the director of the c.i.a. because not only has he done everything he'd done up till then, but he has understood from the unique perspective of the director of the c.i.a. the foreign policy and the intelligence challenges we face every day. he's taken the responsibilities seriously. he's briefed the president over and over again. and the president knows exactly what he's getting, and director pompeo should know exactly who he's working for. given the numerous challenges we face here and that we face around the globe, it's important that we swiftly confirm not just mike pompeo but the president's nominees. many of these positions still
1:51 pm
remain vacant because our colleagues across the aisle have, frankly, wasted hours and days obstructing the confirmation process. it's way beyond any normal way this has been approached. we're right now in the middle of a 30-hour debate. i don't see that many people debating. we in a big debate yesterday, at least time reserved at the insistence of the minority, and i think the debate was about 28 minutes out of the 20 hours between the time the nominee could have been voted on and would have gotten the same number of votes that they got almost 20 hours later after 28 minutes of debate, mr. president. president trump's nominees have faced 88 cloture votes -- that's the time we're in now where you have a cloture vote, then you have this long period of time for theoretical debate that doesn't occur -- have faced 28
1:52 pm
cloture votes compared to 24 total cloture votes in the first entire two years of the six previous presidents combined. so, an average -- so an average of four cloture votes for those presidents in their first two years. president trump's had 88 cloture votes in less than a year and a half. something is happening differently than has ever happened before. it takes an average of 85 days for the president's nominees to be confirmed once they get to the senate. 20 days longer than president obama's nominees. but the other difference with president obama's nominees is we didn't stop all the work in the senate during the 60 days that we're having hearings, getting the nomination ready to the floor. you didn't do exactly what we're doing right now, which says
1:53 pm
we're going to fully take advantage of every right the minority has to insist on debate. the only thing missing in that debate is the debate. so at the rate we're going, it would take more than nine years to confirm all of the president's nominees. this would be nine years of his four-year term. this would be longer than the president would have if he didn't nominate anybody else. it would be longer than the president would have if he was elected to two terms. it is unacceptable. it's ridiculous. it denies the president the counsel he needs of senior leaders. but it also denies the senate the floor time it needs to deal with the issues. you know, the first -- if you've watched the senate the last several years and particularly if you watched it the last several months, the quorum call
1:54 pm
that we so often have, the one that i suggested we remove ourselves from, is what you see when you turn on the senate because we're waiting for a vote to happen. the debate of which does not occur. so later today the rules committee that i chair will be considering senator lankford's legislation to address these delays in the confirmation process. all senator lankford's resolution does is to make permanent the same rules that senate democrats agreed to in 2013 when they were in the majority. and while they were in the majority, a majority of republicans and democrats all agreed that we would confirm president obama's nominees with debate that more nearly met the likely debate for that office. senator lankford's resolution would simply reduce debate for
1:55 pm
most executive branch offices from 30 hours down to eight hours and from district judges from 30 hours to two hours. and, by the way, we don't have to use those two hours or those eight hours either. if there's no debate, we should always move to the vote. but at least the debate still has -- the time still gives the minority the protection that traditionally they have had. but when you abuse the minority protections in the senate, that's when those protections tend to go away. the resolution still would have 30 hours of debate for the supreme court, for circuit courts -- that court of appeal from all the district courts -- and for cabinet-level nominees. we're not opposed to debating nominees that really get debated. i think the opposition here is we're opposed to not debating and using up time simply as a
1:56 pm
delay tactic where the result would be the same whether you voted in 30 minutes or 30 hours. now remember, this is the same framework the senate passed by a vote of 78-16 in 2013. 52 democrats voted in favor of this exact same resolution in 2013, including the current minority leader. senator lankford's proposal would make that framework permanent. it would allow the senate to expedite the confirmation process for the president's well-qualified nominees. it would also allow the senate to get to the other work that the american people expect the senate to do and have every reason to expect the senate to do. and so today and tomorrow we'll continue this process of waiting for the vote on the nominee to be secretary of state, again a
1:57 pm
vote that prior to recent times would have occurred right after the report was out and members knew what they were going to do. and so hopefully we'll begin to look at these rules and our work more seriously. mr. president, i also, as i close out quickly, i want to pay tribute to ted vandermeed, a longtime leadership member, who died of pancreatic cancer on march 19. for the ten years before ted left the congress, i worked with him every day the congress was in session. he was a great public servant and i'd ask that my remarks be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president, i have seven requests for
1:58 pm
committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. blunt: mr. president, i'd yield the floor.
1:59 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on