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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 8, 2018 2:29pm-6:44pm EDT

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we will bring you reaction from president rohani when it does come and again, prime minister benjamin netanyahu from israel saying that he will be speaking with president trump after the announcement. the agreement included that the west would end three decades of sanctions that happen before the agreement back in 2013 and iran agree to ship 97% of its nuclear fuel out of the country. a look here at "the new york times" saying they would withdraw from the iran deal and he told that with resident macron of france earlier on tuesday morning that he did plan to withdraw the united states and again the sunset clause was part of the problem but we take you life to the senate. they are gaveling in and you're watching live coverage here on
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c-span2. the presiding officer : the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires
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known, and from whom no secrets are hidden, continue to be our refuge and strength. guide our senators. let your peace rule in their hearts. may your spirit dwell in them richly, imparting heaven's wisdom. give them steadfast hearts, which no unworthy thoughts can drag downward. and lord, bless america. make her a channel of justice, peace, and goodness to our world. we pray in your strong name. amen.
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the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. the president pro tempore: i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., may 8, 2018. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i here by appoint the honorable rob portman, a senator from the state of ohio to perform the duties of the chair, signed orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order the
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senate will resume consideration of the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, kurt d. engelhardt to be united states circuit judge for the fifth circuit.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: an important tribute took place here in the capitol this morning, the fifth annual memorial service for the four united states capitol police officers who have died in the line of duty. sergeant christopher uni, officer jacob chestnut, detective john gibson, and sergeant clinton holts were rememberedded with a wreath laying in the capitol's visitor's center. this marks the anniversary of the shooting when officer chestnut and gibson were kimed. next week is national police week, and i will have more to say more about the heroism that the professionals who put themselves in harm's way every day to keep others safe. today the senate honors the
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memories of these four fallen heroes. now on another matter, mr. president, yesterday the senate advanced another nomination of this week's judicial nominees, kurt d. engelhardt. those who joined him on this latest slate for consideration are each well qualified. each has received thorough examination from the judiciary committee. each stands ready to serve on the federal bench while the confirmation of judge engelhardt, we will also look at mr. brennan's nomination. this comes as only the latest distinction in a career marked by truly impressive legal accomplishments. in both public service and private practice, this graduate of notre dame and northwestern law school has developed a represent fiergs a keen legal mind and unwavering commitment to the rule of law.
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according to current and former peers on the milwaukee county circuit court, mr. brennan has, quote, the mind, heart, and soul of a great jurist and a keen understanding of the legal issues and sophisticated and complex litigation. like judge engelhardt mr. brennan has my full support and i encourage my colleagues to vote to confirm another fine nominee this week. now, on another -- on a final matter, it seems that every day it brings another piece of good news for middle-class workers and families, and like clock work, another desperate attempt by my democratic colleagues to convince everyone that this growing tide of new prosperity is somehow a bad thing. in the last few weeks alone the percentage of americans who were unemployed, underemployed, or who have given up finding a job has dropped to a 17-year low.
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recently new jobless claims reached their lowest level since 1969. and the total number of americans receiving unemployment benefits is as small as it has been since, listen to this, 1973. let me put that another way. notwithstanding 45 years of population growth there are fewer total americans receiving unemployment benefits under president trump and this republican congress than at any other point under presidents ford, carter, reagan, bush, clinton, bush, or obama. now, we all know economic indicators can be volatile and washington is far from the only force behind them. in fact, getting the federal government out of the way is often the solution. the headwinds that blew in the face of american entrepreneurs
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and small businesses owners for eight years has died down. now the wind is at their backs. in december of 2017, after one year of republican policies, optimism among american manufacturers hit the highest level ever recorded. in large part that is because washington had gotten out of their way. back in 2013, more than 75% of manufacturers said an unfavorable business climate from taxes and regulations was a top concern. now fewer than 19% have that worry. this is real life experiment in two different governing philosophies. for eight years democrats operated from the left-wing premise that business needs to lose in order for workers to win. so they raise taxes, pass mammoth regulations like
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obamacare and dodd-frank and run roughshod over american businesses. that got us lackluster results year after year. fortunately republicans have taken a different approach, one that doesn't assume washington bureaucrats know best. we know that american businesses can thrive if they are raising wages. we worked to enact an opportunity agenda to bring greater prosperity to everyone and that is exactly what is beginning to happen. from florida to indiana, fifth third bank is raising its minimum wage for employees, kroger is raising pay, the data from the bureau's heroic image row of labor statistics shows that the amount employers spent on salary and benefits grew more in 2017 than in any calendar
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year under president obama. two different philosophies, mr. president, and just 16 months two very different outcomes for american workers and middle-class families. now, mr. president, i understand there is a bill at the desk due for a second reading. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, when i was a kid i used to like to read the comics and newspaper every day usually with some interesting charkt couture of --
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chark couture of real life that was really funny. the sort of things we have been seeing the past few days about the president's nominee to the c.i.a. are not funny nor are they comical at all. what we have seen is a gross caricature about this woman's career, and i'm talking about gina haspel. they are trying to tag her with some of the more controversial episodes during the aftermath of 9/11. the fact is that this is a chark tiewr of her -- kark tiewr of her three decades of hard work. she has opinion trying to keep america safe. they, of they of course need to keep their facts straight regarding the episodes they complain about. the fact of the matter is they
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have all been investigated, and gina haspel has been exonerated. it is wrong to ignore everything else she has done in her career, as well as the fact that she will be the first woman director of the central intelligence agency, someone enormously popular with the rank and file, having come from within their ranks. the particular episodes that we'll hear talked about tomorrow at the open hearing before the senate select committee on intelligence involves enhanced interrogation techniques that were used in isolated instances in the days immediately following 9/11. these programs were of course vetted by all appropriate legal advisors and depended upon in good faith by intelligence officers and the department of defense. congressional leaders were briefed on them and had no objection because the threat was immediately after 9/11 that al qaeda had been meeting with some pakistani nuclear
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scientists, perhaps with the object in mind of getting a nuclear device that they could use to kill more americans and more innocent people. so this was truly an emergency situation and policymakers were demanding, demanding that our military and intelligence community do everything they can to prevent another 9/11 attack. so it's fundamentally unfair for some to want to change the rules after the fact now that we're feeling safe and secure, and it's obscene to hold intelligence officials responsible for policy decisions that they did not make but which they were charged with executing. we expected them to be executed. that is, the policymakers in the executive and legislative branch. i mentioned yesterday the declassified 2011 michael morell memo which exonerates ms. haspel
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from this allegation she somehow played a part in destroying videotapes of enhanced interrogation. in the memo, morell, who was then acting director of the c.i.a., found no fault with miss haspel's performance and he indicated she acted appropriately in her role as related to carrying out her supervisors' orders. again, she was not the one who actually destroyed the tapes but rather acted at her supervisors' instructions to draft a cable which she expected to be vetted with the appropriate authorities and policymakers within the c.i.a. structure. mr. morell himself added a statement following the memo's release that ms. haspel did not destroy the enhanced interrogation techniques used on detainees. he said she did not oversee their destruction and she did not order their destruction. nevertheless, i bet you're going to hear a lot about this at tomorrow's hearing before the
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senate intelligence committee. and it's unfair to focus on an isolated event in an attempt to try to suggest that she acted inappropriately when her supervisors, including the acting director of the c.i.a., found no fault with her actions, and any allegations she bore personal responsibility for destroying the videotapes has been affirmatively disproven. we know from a career timeline produced by the c.i.a. that miss haspel spoke french, spanish prior to joining the c.i.a. and learned turkish and russian. that's interesting because in fact we can't know a lot in a public setting some of her classified activities as a member of the central intelligence agency. that's the nature of the work that intelligence officers willingly accept the responsibility to keep it secret , classified information secret so as not to expose sources and methods that would endanger lives and undermine our ability to get intelligence to
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our policymakers so they can make good decisions. but clearly she is a student of languages and cultures around the world. exactly the kind of person you would want to lead an agency that operates internationally like the central intelligence agency. we know from declassified documents she had field assignments in africa and europe in the late 1980's and 1990's, and then went on to become station chief at multiple locations before becoming the deputy director of the c.i.a. when she worked abroad in the 1980's, she encountered none other than mother teresa. helping her arrange a phone call with president reagan and then visiting the local orphanage with the famous nun. of course, as i said, we can't talk about all the details of her invaluable years of service here on the senate floor because much of that information remains classified. indeed, tomorrow we'll have an open, declassified setting and then a -- follow it on with a closed, classified setting so members of the committee can get
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answers to their questions. but we do know about some of the successes that the c.i.a. and the u.s. government achieved during the 30-plus years she served, and some of those are worth mentioning here. i'm talking first and foremost about killing al qaeda's key leaders and undermining the terrorist group's operations. we of course remember the raid that killed osama bin laden seven years ago, which was the culmination of many years of advanced intelligence operations by people just like gina haspel. the c.i.a. is responsible for collecting the dots and then connecting the dots so that policymakers could make important decisions like president obama's decision to take out osama bin laden once he was located. and the c.i.a. and gina haspel deserve tremendous credit for the indispensable role she and they play. there is also things like the disruption of nabjullah zazi's
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plot to bomb the subway in 2009. another major intelligence and law enforcement success. an al qaeda recruit, zazi trained with the group in pakistan and returned to the united states to build explosives from what could have been a devastating attack. according to news reports, it was through our intelligence collection efforts that we identified zazi and he was eventually arrested and convicted. but the c.i.a. is involved in far more than just counterterrorism operations. it deserves credit for all other equally important work as well, some of which ms. haspel and her colleagues undoubtedly participated in. we know the intelligence community targets all aspects of international criminal organizations, for example, and of course there are many more successes that will never see the light of day because those wins must be kept secret so that ongoing operations and sources
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supplying information and tact cal -- tactical methods are protected so they can remain useful in the future. as jane harmon, a nine-term former democratic member of the house of representatives wrote not long ago, she said the intelligence community has been the tip of america's spear for decades. selfless men and women who have put their lives on the line often doing work that their families are unaware of to keep us safe, and of course they have. and yes, there have been some tragic failures, but far more impressive successes. mr. president, that's one of our former democratic colleagues saying that, and her words, of course, apply to miss haspel's career as much as they do to any other intelligence professional. miss haspel has put her life on the line to keep us safe, not for the glory because most of what she has done has happened under cover in a way that does not reveal important sources and methods or expose other people to retaliation or attack.
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when we consider her nomination this week, we must see it in light of all the c.i.a.'s successes, not as a character tour and misrepresentation of a couple of events that occurred post-9/11. men and women like her do what they do not because of the notoriety. just the opposite. they do it because they love their country and want to prevent it from harm. ms. haspel is no exception, and she is deserving of our profound appreciation. and to demonstrate that appreciation, we need to get her confirmed. mr. president, one other thing on my mind today is prison reform. last week, my colleagues, congressman collins and jeffries, announced they had reached a bipartisan deal that will be marked up tomorrow in the house judiciary committee. i filed the same revised bill in the senate yesterday with senator white house, our democratic colleague from rhode island. i have been focused on this
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issue of prison reform for some time along with a number of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and now it has gotten some real traction thanks to president trump and a roundtable he hosted at the white house earlier this year. more than 11 million people go to jail each year in the u.s., and there are currently 2.3 million people in confinement. conservatives should be concerned by those statistics for multiple reasons. for starters, the vast majority of people who end up in prison of course eventually reenter society. that's something no matter where we stand on the ideological spectrum we should be concerned about because people in prison typically will get out of prison, and the question is will they be prepared for a life of crime or will they be prepared to reenter lawful society and contribute as law-abiding members. but for too long, our prisons have simply been warehouses. they just warehouse people and have not prepared them to help reenter society.
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by teaching them the skills and the training they need to become productive. these people leave prison and often return to a life of crime. many have drug or alcohol addictions. many of them are simply lacking basic education or skills they need in order to get a job in a lawful society, but we believe that the revolving door of recidivism, getting in prison, getting out of prison, ending back in prison must end. incarceration is expensive and separates offenders from their families. in other words, there is more than just the person behind bars that pays the price when someone goes to prison. we need to consider the families who are separated from their loved ones who suffer as well. this, of course, has stresses that we can only imagine. single parenthood for those left behind and the heightened challenges of raising children as a single parent in individual households. states like texas and others across the country have used
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prison reform to tackle their recidivism rates and have improved lives, lowered crime rates, and saved money, too. i'm glad that the legislation the house will mark up this week mirrors texas reforms. among its other provisions, the bill will increase the amount of good-time credits for good behavior in prison, a good incentive for people to cooperate and behave in prison. it will limit the use of restraints on pregnant female prisoners, which seems entirely appropriate and improve audits to reduce or eliminate prison rape. prison guards will be required to receive so-called de-escalation training and the federal prison industries will be able to sell products to private nonprofit organizations much more easily so that inmates can learn skills they can use productively while still in prison that they can use once they leave prison. so, president, in conclusion, i look forward to a broad bipartisan and bicameral bill
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that will be supported not only by the house but by the senate and accomplish this important goal. i would say, mr. president, some of the sentencing reform legislation that previously i and others have supported has proven to be so controversial that we have been unable to get it passed here in the united states senate because of a lack of support for that combination of sentencing reform and prison reform. so what we have tried to do in a way that i believe is entirely pragmatic and appropriate is take the first step on prison reform, get that passed by both houses and signed by the president, and then we can continue our work on other aspects of criminal justice reform following that success. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, we all have had sad news.
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while we were back in our districts last week, our assistant parliamentarian michael phillip beaver passed away unexpectedly at the very young age of 39. family and friends gathered this morning to celebrate his life. he was born in mount pleasant. he was the son of linda, susan beaver and william r. beaver. a graduate of st. vincent college where he studied political science with a minor in graphic design, and he earned his juris doctorate from the ohio state university ritz college of law. he was a member of the ohio and california state bars. more recently, he served here in this chamber as assistant parliamentarian. prior to that, he served as deputy legislative counsel for the state of california. aside from being a brilliant
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attorney, michael was passionate about hockey and music, a talented cook, an avid gardener, and a gifted artist. he was loving husband to his wife gilda and a caring, fun, and patient father to his two small boys, young boys, bradley dastin beaver, age 3, and connor milad beaver, age 2. it's hard to believe that an unexpected medical condition could end his life so soon at this age of 39 when he had -- was contributing so much to the united states, so much to his family. so we will greatly miss him here as i know he will be missed by a very wide expanse of family and friends of community.
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mr. president, i've come to the floor to address one aspect of our we the people nation. our forefathers in writing the constitution put those words we the people in supersize font. so even so when you're far enough away you can't read the fine print, you know the mission statement of our constitution. it was all about as president lincoln summarized, a government of the people by the people and for the people. always intended to be the opposite of governance by and for the powerful. and yet what have we seen in 2017? much of the year is spent on a health bill designed to destroy health care for some 22 million
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to 30 million americans. that's not government by the people or for the people. that's government by and for the powerful. we saw a tax bill that borrowed a trillion and a half dollars from the people of the united states that our children will have to repay and gave it to the wealthiest americans. that's not government by and for the people. that's government by and for the powerful. we saw the theft of a supreme court seat for the first time in our history, a supreme court seat sent when it was vacated by the death of anthony scalia from one presidency to the next, in order to sustain a 5-4 court decision called citizens united that allows powerful america to spend unlimited sums, contaminating our political
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system with hundreds of millions of dollars corrupting this nation. that's not government of, by, and for the people. that's government of, by, and for the powerful. and now we see the ongoing effort to pack the courts. we see that although i've heard complaints from some of my republican colleagues about the slow pace of nominees, that the pace is very fast compared to the pace that existed for president obama. for the first 14 circuit court nomination, they waited under president obama an average of 251 days. but under president trump, less than half of 251, 125 days. a breakneck pace. we have seen more nominees confirmed. if we compare from the start of
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the presidency to this far into a presidency under president obama, we had a total of 21 nominees, nine circuit court nominees, 11 district court nominees, and one supreme court nominee totaling 21. but we've seen under president trump 15 circuit court nominees confirmed, 17 district court nominees confirmed. throw in a supreme court seat, the stolen seat, and you have 33. more than 12 more, more than 50% faster. so the argument that anything is being slow walked is simply completely false. we see all kinds of efforts, though, to rush nominees through without proper consideration. last year we had cloture votes
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on four circuit nominees in a single week. we had cloture filed on three nominees within hours of being reported out of committee -- not reported out of committee unanimously but with divided votes. and we know that when something comes out of committee, there needs to be time for the rest of the body to be able to exercise their efforts to understand the background of that nominee. and often new information is turned up. for example, with brett tally, nominee for the district court. after he came out of committee, then it became known that he had written:controversial commentaries defending the k.k.k. that he had belittled the sandy hook tragedy where little children were slaughtered. found that out after it came out of committee. and yet cloture being filed
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right after nominations come out of committee. we even had an individual who was rated nonqualified by the american bar association. that, my colleagues, is rare. the tradition of bipartisanship and cooperation involving the blue slip goes back a long ways, to about 1917. so a little over a century. senator thomas hartwick objected to woodrow wilson's district court nominee, and he wrote on a slip of blue paper, he said, i object to this appointment. the same is personally offensive and objectionable to me, and i cannot consent to the confirmation of this nominee and, thus, the blue slip tradition began of courtesy and respect for the viewpoint of senators from a variety of states. now, under president obama, the blue slips were honored, whether
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they came from a democrat or came from a republican. in fact, 18 nominees from president obama were blocked by republican blue slips because they were honored by the democrats. and in 2009, we had a letter from my republican colleagues, and it said this. the practice of observing senatorial courtesy, we, as a conference, expect it to be observed even-handedly and regardless of party affiliation. well, isn't the sentiment expressed in 2009 appropriate for 2018? let me tell you this. in the history of these hundred years, not a single nominee has been approved over the objection of two senators from the relevant state.
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here's what the former republican chairman had to say, senator hatch. weakening or eliminating the blue slip process would sweep aside the last remaining check on the president's judicial appointment power. anyone serious about the senate's constitutional advice and consent rule knows how disastrous such a move would be. well, i'd like to know how many folks here in this chamber are still serious about the senate's constitutional advice and consent role. chairman grassley said in 2015, this tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus. i preesh yaifted value -- i appreciate the value of the blue slip process and intend to honor
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it. and he did honor it while president obama was in office. but now apparently the world's a different place. look what happened or is happening here on the floor this week. we have a nominee michael brennan whose views on women's rights, civil rights, education, criminal justice, sexual discrimination, judicial precedent are out of the mainstream. his nomination, yet, has moved forward despite the opposition and over the objection of a home state senator. this is a seat, by the way, that is open because the blue slip process was honored, the objection through a blue slip was honored under president
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obama. there are more extreme nominees coming through. so if we think back to that point that was made by senator grassley, the that decision is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus. we're seeing that the decision not to honor it is doing the reverse. there's kurt engelhardt, nominee for the fifth circuit. his record on the district court is deeply troubling, particularly when it comes to cases of sexual harassment, religious discrimination, civil rights and discrimination against women who schiews to have -- who choose to have children in the work force. yet this body last night voted for cloture and it's sending his nomination to a final vote. or we have joel carson, nominee for the tenth circuit who has spent most of his career deeply
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embedded in advocating for fossil fuel interests. that's a huge conflict of interest for being able to weigh in as a judge on any issue regarding energy. then we have the case from oregon, the chairman and judiciary committee has scheduled a hearing for him tomorrow, mr. ryan bounds despite the fact that senator wyden and i have not returned our blue slips. should this nomination come forward to this floor and be confirmed, this will be the first time in the history of the blue slips that the combined objection of both home state senators has been ignored. so you might ask why is it that senator wyden and i feel so strongly about this particular nominee.
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well, the first is the white house didn't consult with us. they brought him in for an interview and decided they were going to nominate him without consulting the home state senators. this body who wants to stand up for consultation would stand against this nomination. oh, the white house says they consulted. they have a very strange definition of consultation. i think they mean it to say that they informed us about their decision. we asked the white house to stand aside until our committee back in oregon had completed its work. but they chose not to. that's not consultation. and then there are the inflammatory writings of this individual regarding the rights of workers and people of color and lgbtq community. as alliance for justice said in their report on this nominee,
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mr. ryan bounds, his, quote, writings reveal strong biases that call into question his ability to fairly apply the law and to maintain confidence in the justice system's ability to dispense even-handed justice to all. and yet shouldn't that be the heart of the nomination process that we make sure that we're sending forward individuals who add to the integrity of our judicial system, not individuals who take away from it? and then there's this. during his interviews with our committee out in oregon, this committee continued its work, even though the president nominated him without waiting for the committee to complete its work. this committee asked him if he had controversial writings or events in his life that he needed to disclose them, and he said he did not. and he did not disclose them. so this is not an ancient
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failure of integrity. this is an immediate, recent past failure of transparency and integrity. here is the letter that we received from the chair of oregon's federal judicial selection advisory committee. i am writing to you as chair of the oregon federal judicial selection advisory committee. i have reviewed a recent piece in "the wall street journal" titled, quote, give amnesty for college writings. the piece concerns ryan bound, candidate for the ninth circuit court of appeals vacancy and specifically states that our committee recommended him. the piece notes mr. bounds' writings but fails to point out he never disclosed those writings to the committee at any point in the interview process. since that time, i have heard from four members of the judicial selection committee, specifically with regard to this omission. i can say with confidence that those four committee members as well as myself would not have
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ranked mr. bounds as we did had we known about these deeply troubling writings. mr. bounds' writings themselves are objectionable not only for the views expressed but for the intemper rat and demeaning tone he used to express his opinion. equally if not more disturbing, he failed to disclose these writings when specifically asked by the committee about his views on equity and diversity. although he felt free to volunteer details about his life going back to childhood, he misled the committee in response to this important inquiry. for this reason, five of the seven committee members no longer recommend mr. bounds. that is what we heard from the oregon committee. we have a responsibility to the institutions of governance of the united states of america
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with the fundamental principle embedded in those three words, we the people, government of, by, and for the people. and we've seen a series of significant bills that were the exact opposite of this, bills designed to destroy health care for millions of americans, bills that put us deep in debt in ordered to deliver the proceeds to the richest americans, perhaps the biggest bank heist in the history of the world. but now we see an effort to sully the integrity, to damage the legitimacy of our courts. that is unacceptable, and we need to rethink our course and honor our responsibility to strengthen, not undermine, the beautiful architecture of our we
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the people nation. thank you, mr. president.
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mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democrat assistant leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: we're not in a quorum call. the senator is recognized. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. mr. president, i think we should be honest with ourselves, with the people around the world, and present the reality of what iran is today. iran pursues a host of dangerous activities around the world that threaten the united states, its interests and its allies.
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it is fomenting a proxy war in yemen. it supports hezbollah and hamas. it appears to be using its foot hold in syria to test israel's defenses, and in tragic irony, iran supports bashar al-assad who has stooped to using chemical weapons and barrel bombs to kill his own people. how a regime like the iranian regime whose own people suffered under heinous attacks from iraq during the iraq-iran war can stand behind assad and syria is incredible. but having said that, we entered into an agreement with iran to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. despite all these other challenges, all the differences that we've had, continue to have with iran, we said that gathering together with allies
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around the world, we wanted to make certain that iran had not developed a nuclear weapon. and so there were lengthy agreements, lengthy negotiations and agreements which led to the nuclear agreement with iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons. i think it was a critically important step forward not just because iran with a nuclear weapon would be a danger to israel and the middle east, but to the world. it was that agreement which i supported and was overwhelmingly supported by democrats in the senate when president obama negotiated it. republicans opposed it. the candidate for president on the republican side, mr. trump, said that it was a terrible agreement, and they thought we should never have entered into it and had all sorts of derogatory things to say about this iran nuclear agreement. but the fact of the matter is
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that agreement went in place and was implemented. international inspectors were sent into iran and those inspectors enforced that agreement and have reported to the united states and personally to members of the united states senate, including myself, repeatedly that iran is complying with the terms of this agreement and is not developing a nuclear weapon. for all of the differences which we have with iran, the facts and the evidence are clear. they were living up to the terms of this nuclear agreement so that they would not develop a nuclear weapon and threaten israel and that region of the world. despite that, despite the progress made by this agreement, today president trump has announced his decision to halt the waiver of sanctions related to iran and this nuclear agreement. in essence, to step away from this agreement and to say that
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the united states will no longer be party to it. that agreement, that nuclear agreement with iran, removed the threat of nuclear weapons being used to pursue destabilizing iranian activities. just imagine how hard and difficult it would be to push back on iranian aggression if in fact they had a nuclear weapon. the purpose of this agreement was to avoid that possibility, the very agreement which president trump walked away from today. instead, because of this agreement iran's nuclear weapon program has been stopped in its tracks. in fact, you have to go back over ten years to find any plans being made in iran in the past to even consider it, and this agreement was working. international inspectors have unprecedented access to iran to watch for cheating. and iran does not have a nuclear weapon or a quick breakout
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ability to make one. these are real accomplishments toward world peace. mr. president, we live in a dangerous world. president trump's decision today will make it more dangerous. by eliminating the united states participation in this agreement to stop the development of nuclear weapons in iran, we run the real possibility that terrible things will follow, terrible things that will cost human life and cause even more misery around this world. let's be clear, that agreement clearly states, and i quote, iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapon. end of quote. that is an unequivocal statement. and to ensure that iran never does, this agreement provided for ongoing inspections by the international atomic energy agency. they weren't just inspecting the obvious places. they were inspecting the entire
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supply chain that iran would have to turn to to develop a nuclear weapon. ernest moniz was secretary of energy under president obama. he's a physicist by training. he received global recognition for his expertise. he sat at the table because he knew what it takes to develop a nuclear weapon, and he put into this agreement which president trump is walking away from today, the kind of access for inspection that gives us the assurance that iran cannot cheat. and if they tried, we'd catch them. anyone arguing that iran is allowed to build a nuclear bomb under this agreement after a certain period is simply wrong and misleading the american people. i have met with the iaea's director general several times. each time i was very blunt and direct with him. tell me what your experience has been in iran. tell me if your inspectors wanted to go through a certain door, inspect a search
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installation, go inside a certain facility, were you stopped by iran. what he told me was if we were stopped and protested, they opened the door. we have never had a failure of access. that's what he told me repeatedly over and over again. he told me repeatedly, and he said the same thing to democratic senators that he spoke with, that iran was in compliance with this nuclear agreement and that the inspectors by iaea were able to resolve any areas where they contested and said we should have access, they were given access. i hope president trump will actually read this agreement. i wish he would have sat down and spent a tpaoupbts -- few minutes with inspector amato before making this decision today. i know it's good political theater for some to blast any agreement or related effort that was taken up by president obama, but let me remind my colleagues of other negotiations undertaken
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with troubling regimes that served our national security interest. it was president john kennedy who negotiate ped with the soviets during the cuban missile crisis, bringing us back from the brink of nuclear war. it was president richard nixon who negotiated with the chinese on normalizing relations, even while that communist regime was providing weapons to the north vietnamese who were -l fighting our soldiers. and of course who can forget that it was president ronald reagan who negotiated with the soviets while that communist nation had thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at the united states of america. they were occupying eastern europe, and they were supporting troubling regimes around the world, and yet president reagan sat down and negotiated with them. let us recall how many of the right of the political spectrum savaged then-president reagan for negotiating with the soviets on nuclear arms reduction. let me read an excerpt from the january 17, giant 88 -- 1988
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"new york times" about the opposition president ronald reagan faced in negotiating arms agreement with the soviets. criticism eerily familiar to what we've been hearing today from president trump. here's what they said about president reagan. already the right-wing groups have mounted a strong campaign against the i.m.f. treaty. they mailed out close to 300,000 letters opposing it. they've circulated 5,000 cassette recordings of general bernard rogers, former skpraoepl are commander of nato attacking it. they are prepared to run newspaper ads against president reagan savaging him as a new neville chamberlain for signing an accord with hitler of his day and gullibly predicting peace for our time. the conservative national review's may 22, 1987, edition had the following cover title: reagan's suicide pact.
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while opposed by some at the time, i doubt few in this chamber on either side of the aisle would look back today and say that president reagan's negotiations with the soviets are the eventual agreement wasn't in the best interest of america's national security. so here we are today, mr. president. president trump plunging us and our allies into uncertainty when it comes to the iranian nuclear weapon and the credibility of america's word around the world. it's not very good timing if we seriously hope to bring peace to the korean peninsula by putting the american signature and name on the line in the negotiation to stop the development of nuclear weapons in that area of the world. what will president trump do if iran restarts its nuclear weapon program? is he prepared to face the prospects of another war in the middle east, a war with nuclear weapons? certainly we'll have no inspectors there anymore if
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president trump has his way, and that can only set us back and open the door to the possibility of a nuclear iran in the future. does that make america safer? does that make the world safer? of course not. is this just about undoing what president obama did, keeping some campaign promise, which, frankly, doesn't serve the best interest of peace in the world or our own national security? so, mr. president and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who support this move and are unwilling to speak against it, the situation they are creating by walking away from this nuclear agreement with iran is now in your hands, on your watch. i hope something good can come from this. by all accounts, the american people overwhelmingly oppose what president trump did today. the american people know we live in a dangerous world. they've heard over and over again about the prospects of a
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nuclear attack from north korea. the notion that iran would now develop a nuclear weapon does not make america feel any safer. and by a margin of two to one, they tell president trump what you announced today was wrong. it does not make us any safer. mr. president, there have been many opportunities in this country to work together on a bipartisan basis with foreign policy. historically that was almost always the case, as it should be, but those days, sadly, are behind us. instead now it is strict bipartisanship. if president obama wanted it, president trump has to oppose it. look at the decision on the paris climate agreement. that was an agreement reached by every nation in the world that president trump stepped away from it saying when it comes to climate change the united states does not want to engage in this global conversation. when it came to health care in the united states, president trump said i want to eliminate
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obamacare, eliminate the affordable care act. we're seeing now across the united states dramatic increases in health care premiums because of those against the affordable care act. now we are walking into a new territory. is it is not just climate change, it is not health care, it is the safety of this world. it's the question about whether another nation will join the nuclear club, a nation which we have plenty of disagreements with. we had an agreement, a good one, it was brokered by a group of nations that were unlikely allies, china, russia, and it was an unusual grouping and they all agreed that iran should not have a nuclear weapon. it was working until this president came before the american people and said the united states is walking away
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from that agreement. sadly it is a reckless decision. it is a historic, tragic, reckless decision which runs the risk of having iran develop a nuclear weapon, threaten the region and threaten the world. we live in a dangerous world and we need a president who understands it. mr. president, i yield.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. ms. hirono: may i be recognized? the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. ms. hirono: mr. president, just before we left for last week's state work period, the majority leader filed nominations on six federal courts. over the past year and a half, the majority leader and the republicans in the senate have joined with donald trump to try to pack our federal courts with ideological judicial nominees who seek to change america law and match their partisan politics. to accomplish this goal, the majority leader and the senate republicans have ee eliminated
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procedural tricks to ensure a fair -- checks to ensure a fair judiciary. one is the blewship, a mechanism to ensure the senator's approval from their state. in the past when senators objected to a nomination in their home state, the judiciary committee, with almost no exceptions, took no further action on that nominee. this is because the constitution requires a president to get the advice and consent of the judges. the majority leader and his republican colleagues have largely abandoned this constitutional safeguard. the judiciary committee has, though very rarely, scheduled hearings for nominees that lack one loose lip and whose home state senators returned negative blue slips. and now tomorrow we'll have a hearing for a ninth circuit
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nominee for whom no blew slips have -- blue slips have every been returned -- ever been returned. this has never happened in the modern history of the senate and it is not a standard that the majority applied to president obama's nominees . it is possible for home state senators to confer with this administration and identify nominees acceptable to both parties. for example, the trump administration consulted with senator schatz and with me about nominees to fill hawaii vacancies on the district and of circuit courts. we worked together to identify nominees that would be qualified and appropriate for these lifetime ape pointments -- appointments. jill ataki for the district and mark bennet for the ninth circuit. we returned the blue ships
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and -- blue slips and the nominations are moving forward. abandoning this has nothing to do with obstruction of president trump's judicial nominees. this president has seen more circuit court nominees confirmed at a faster pace than any modern president. in fact, he has bragged about the pace of confirmation of his judges, including at the state of the union. instead, abandoning the blue slip process is about gutting checks and balances that would have president trump have ideological-driven judge as quickly as possible. this week we are considering one of those judges, michael brennan, whose nomination should not proceed. it has come to the senate without the traditional advice and consent from his home state senator, senator baldwin. in fact, in a particularly hypocritical twist, mr. brennan
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was nominated to fill a seat that has been kept open for over seven years because the senior senator from wisconsin, a republican, refused to return a blue slip for victoria norse, president obama's nominee for this very same seat. at that time mr. brennan, the nominee we're debating today, even wrote an op-ed in the "milwaukee sentinel" arguing using the blue slip on the north nomination saying, there are two senators from wisconsin from different political parties, and to exclude him would be a purely partisan move. further quoting, johnson represents millions of wisconsin citizens, just as senator herb cole does and feingold did. in the same way those senators
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had their say, johnson should have his say. he just wants to be heard and fulfill his constitutional duty of advice and consent. further quoting, why can't johnson, elected by the citizens of wisconsin, participate in the selection of a judge for a wisconsin seat on the sefnt circuit as kohl did, end quote? now that the shoe is on the other foot, mr. brennan is perfectly happy to have his nomination move forward over the objections of one of wisconsin's senators, senator tammy baldwin. this is a kind of hypocrisy we have come to expect from this administration, but i am also not surprised that senator baldwin did not approve michael brennan, considering his troubling views on the way the law works. he should not be confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the seventh circuit. in a 2001 op-ed for the national review online, mr. brennan
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expressed dangerous ideas that call into question the duty of federal judges to follow precedent. in his op-ed, mr. brennan cast doubt on whether judges have a responsibility to rely on how other judges before them interpreted laws, what lawyers call stare decisis. he wrote, quote, if after reexamination of a legal decision a court concludes that the ruling was incorrect, stare decisis does not require that the rule of that case be followed. bush-appointed judges cannot accurately be labeled as activists for reexamining the -- and following only correct precedent, end quote. i interpret this op-ed to mean that a judge is free to determine whether he or she will agree that the precedent is correct. that is not how the law works. so we in the judiciary committee
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asked mr. brennan about this article during his confirmation, and he came up with a clever explanation for it. he claimed that his article asserted that judges are not necessarily bound by decisions of their own district or their own circuit. his article, he claimed, did not argue that judges can disregard precedent of higher controlling courts. that is not what he wrote. it's a convenient explanation, i admit, but it doesn't really hold up if you read his op-ed where he clearly argues that president george w. bush's judicial nominees should receive a pass for not following the law. this is what used to be called a confirmation conversion. as with many of president trump's nominees, we are being told to ignore what we read or hear and set aside common sense. we are told by these nominees that what they talked about yesterday, think about today,
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wrote about yesterday, today, we are supposed to just ignore all of that. we are supposed to pretend that what someone has advocated for in the past, no matter how recent, will have no bearing on what they will do as a judge. but remember, judge brennan has said he doesn't feel bound, according to his op-ed piece, by precedent. judges, as former chief justice rehnquist said, do not come to their positions as blank slates. each of them brings their own ideas and perspectives to the bench. the majority leader recently said that his most consequential political act, political act was blocking judge merrick garland's nomination to the supreme court. this is the same majority leader complaining now that democrats are obstructing president trump's judicial nominees. what could be more obstruction ist than to totally
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ignore a nominee to the supreme court no less. the majority leader's unprecedented action prevented president obama's well-qualified, centrist nominee from even having a confirmation hearing let alone a vote, and it paved the way a year ago for senate republicans to jam through president trump's conservative ideological nominee neil gorsuch, a federalist society-backed nominee to provide a five-vote conservative majority on the court that will continue to roll back individual rights for decades. president trump put his stamp on this approach when he tweeted, quote, republicans must always, all in caps, participate, end quote. they are taking the same approach to all of our federal courts. i take the senate's qualification to advice and consent on judicial nominees
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very carefully. we should be carefully considering a nominee's record to be sure they understand that courts are supposed to protect the rights of nominees -- excuse me, the rights of minorities. the courts do not belong to democrats or republicans, despite of the fact that donald trump has said that republicans must always hoed the supreme court. he applies that, by the way, to the district courts as well as circuit courts. we must ensure that judges are lifetime appointments will treat all americans, all americans, and i will say particularly minorities and women fairly in court. this is what the blue slip requirement is really about. home state senators have a unique role in ensuring that the federal judges serving in their states are highly qualified, understand the importance of applying the law fairly, and meet the needs of their community. i urge senate republicans to reverse their ill-conceived decision to functionally eliminate the blue slip requirement. we must all stand together to
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respect senator baldwin's objections and oppose this nominee who to me is the height of being a hypocrite where all of us are at risk. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i ask the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. the senator is recognized. mr. leahy: mr. president, we new members don't think to look up at the lights. i apologize. i appreciate being recognized. let me be serious for a moment. i am the longest serving member of the senate. i'm a former chairman of the senate judiciary committee. i feel obligated to speak up about the steady erosion of the norms and traditions that protect the senate's unique constitutional role. there are only 100 senators.
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we should be the conscience of the nation. we have a unique role. but this week, we're witnessing a further degradation of the once-respected role of the blue slip in the judicial confirmation process. now, bipartisan basis value political expediency and argue that blue slips are mere slips of paper, but instead they represent and help preserve something far more meaningful. for much of this body's history, blue slips have given meaning to the constitutional requirement of advice and consent. they have protected the prerogatives of home state senators. they are the ones who have to vouch for somebody from their state, and they are the ones who have the most at stake.
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i remember when a dear friend of mine, then-senator from arizona, barry goldwater, he called and asked if he could drop by to see me. he had recommended a person to president reagan for the u.s. supreme court. sandra o'connor. he explained how they had looked at a number of people, and she was the best. i had enough respect for senator goldwater that i agreed and i supported her. but they have also ensured fairness and comity in the senate. in many ways, traditions like the blue slip have been central to what makes the senate the senate. all of us, whether democrat or republican, we should care about good-faith consultation when it comes to nominees from our own states. and the reasons are both principled but pragmatic. we know our states better than
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anybody else. we know who is qualified to fill a lifetime appointment to the bench, and critically we note the one constant in life is impermanence. that is precisely why traditions matter. when i became chairman of the judiciary committee at the start of the obama administration, every single senate republican signed a letter to me. they made the case for the importance of the tradition of the blue slip. they requested to be respected during the new administration. republicans said we are unified. we must follow the blue slip tradition. but i didn't need that reminder. under my chairmanship during both the bush and the obama administration, i respected the
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blue slip tradition without exception, even when it was not politically expedient, even when i was attacked for protecting a republican senator's prerogative. i faced pressure from my own party's leadership. hearings for president obama's nominees who had not received blue slips for republican -- from republican senators. i was criticized by advocacy groups, enthe editorial page of "the new york times." i resisted such pressure. i did so because i believed then and believe now that certain principles mattered more than party. it was certainly would every single republican, every single republican -- when president obama was president. now, not all judicial chairmen n follow of this blue slip idea. but chairman grassley did follow
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the same policy, at least when there was a democrat in the white house. but last congress, no judicial nominee received a hearing without both state senators returning positive blue slips. this congress coinciding with the change in the white house, there's been a change in the blue slip policy. it's sacred to the republicans but when a democrat it's not sacred with the republicans for a republican. the judicial committee will hold a hearing for a nominee to the ninth circuit ryan bounds. he's opposed by not just one but both of his home state senators. if mr. bounds is ultimately confirmed, it will mark the first time in the history of the united states senate a judicial nominee is confirmed with opposition from both home state senators. nothing we ever thought possible
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with republican or democratic presidents because it would have been too partisan. it would have destroyed, destroyed what is best of the senate, would destroy the comity of the senate, would descroich the ability for -- would destroy the ability for senators to represent their home state. also this week, the full senate will consider the nomination of michael brennan to the seventh circuit over the objection of home state senator tammy baldwin. mr. brennan's nomination was not even supported by the bipartisan wisconsin federal nominating commission. this is a nominating commission made up of republicans and democrats. they did not support this nomination. and for years this has been a long-standing requirement for potential nominees to the federal bench in wisconsin and because they couldn't -- the
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bipartisan commission couldn't support him, it's no wonder that senator baldwin could not in good conscience return her blue slip. now, many of us have established processes. i have. i have a bipartisan process in my state. many have established these processes to vet and recommend nominees in our home state. but yet somehow mr. brennan was nominated. he may be confirmed this week even though it ignores a bipartisan commission. and make no mistake, this kind of a confirmation would do lasting damage to the senate's tradition, would do lasting damage to the senate i love, would do lasting damage to the senate of which i've served for local 44 years. -- for almost 44 years. my concern is not about a mere piece of paper.
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my concern is we're failing to protect the fundamental rights of home state senators, republicans and democrats alike. and we're failing in our constitutional duty to provide our advice and consent. this is a unique, a unique requirement that united states senators have, advice and consent. the hundred of us, 435 house members don't have this. we do. mr. brennan's nomination makes a mockery of the blue slip process. it makes a mockery of the time tested process of home state senators that have abided by in wisconsin for decades, under both democratic and republican administrations, and that should concern all of us. now, i understand the pressure of my republican colleagues to
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help a president from their own party to fill judicial vacanci vacancies. even the president who attacks the very legitimacy, tweeted attacks against members of the federal judiciary. but the dilemma is yielding to such pressure undermining a senate tradition simply due to a change in the white house, that's going to do lasting damage to the integrity of it body. -- integrity of this body. the senate should never function as a mere rubber stamp for nominations -- nominees seeking lifetime appointments to our federal judiciary. now, some may dismiss these warnings. i've been part of the senate long enough knowing that partisan winds tend to change.
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the majority becomes the minority. that's happened several times since i've been here. the white house changes hands. that's happened several times since i've been here. then the shoe is on the other foot, which is precisely why maintaining a single, consist sent policy is so critical. so i urge my fellow senators of both parties consider the damage we're doing to this body by abandoning one of the few remaining sources of bipartisan goodwill in our judicial confirmation process. a vote for mr. brennan is a vote to abandon our ability to serve as a check of not just this president but any future president of either party. chasing partisan expediency provides only fleeting advantage. but it inflicts lasting harm on this body. it's within our power to put a stop to it. so i'd urge all of my senate
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colleagues to ensure that home state senators are provided the same courtesies during the trump administration, that home state senators both republicans and democrats were provided during the obama administration. for that reason i ask my fellow senators to oppose mr. brennan's nomination unless he has that bipartisan support from his home state. mr. president, i do not see -- yes, i do see another senator so i would yield the floor and ask my whole statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: thank you, mr. president. first i want to thank the distinguished senator from vermont who has been such a role model to me since i came to the senate and we started working together on technology issues. and we have worked together on so many matters dealing with appropriations and finance. i just want to thank my good friend for all his counsel, not just on this but over the years. i thank him for the courtesy of being allowed to go next. mr. president, there is now a
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vitally important debate happening on the senate floor with respect to judicial nominations. what is clear to me is the majority is now chipping away at a century of bipartisan tradition that has protected the interests of those in our home state and served as a check on the power of the executive. now it is the senate bowing down to the white house derelict in its constitutional responsibility to provide or withhold advice and consent on nominees. in my view, this is a dangerous mistake that is going to have harmful consequences for decad decades.
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today the debate at hand is over the mishandling of the nomination of michael brennan to be the court of appeals for the seventh circuit. this could be the first time in decades that a judicial nominee is confirmed over the objection of a home state senator. tomorrow the senate judiciary committee is going to throw out the window a bipartisan practice that dates back more than a century when it holds a hearing on the nomination of ryan bounds to sit on the ninth circuit court of appeals. it goes without saying that individuals who are up for a lifetime seat on a powerful
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federal court must be forthcoming and truthful in the nomination process. my view is ryan bounds hasn't even cleared that low bar. mr. bounds misled the independent committee that considers potential nominees in oregon by withholding inflammatory writings that reveal disturbing views on sexual assault and on communities of people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. he's had ample opportunity to clean up this mess, express remorse, and explain how his views have changed, but i haven't seen it. the comments that i've seen suggest mr. bounds views this as a matter of poor word choice and
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youthful indiscretion, an issue that he can almost dismiss with a small wave of the hand. in my view, that's wrong. he's wrong. and an individual up for a lifetime seat on a federal bench has an obligation to do better than that. yet his nomination has moved forward anyway. this action by the majority, what will happen tomorrow unless common sense and goodwill and tradition prevail tonight, the majority is going to throw in the dust bin a century of bipartisan tradition. tomorrow will cheapen the advice and consent role of the united states senate, and this body
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will cede power to the executive branch. first to explain what i mean, i'm going to discuss the practice that we have maintained in oregon with respect to judges. when there are vacancies on the bench, oregon senators convene an independent committee of oregonians from all over the legal community to select and interview candidates for judicial nominations. the committee performs a thorough, statewide search. it conducts rigorous interviews and then recommendations are made to oregon's two senators. senator merkley and i review those recommendations and we submit a short list to the president for the president's consideration.
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for us this process is the core of what advice and consent is all about when it comes to judicial nominees. we even wrote to the current white house counsel very early on in the new administration, now more than a year ago, to make sure that they were up to date about this long-standing oregon practice. as part of the work the independent committee does in oregon, candidates are asked whether anything in their past would have a negative impact on their potential nomination. any lawyer who's read up on a hard-fought nomination in the past ought to know that inflammatory writings about women, people of color, lgbtq americans certainly qualify as
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potentially threatening to a nomination. mr. bounds, however, did not alert our oregon committee to his writings. he said there was nothing to worry about. in fact, he highlighted his precollege days in an effort to paint a picture of diversity and tolerance conveniently skipping over his later intolerant writings. my view is, mr. bounds misled the committee by this omission, and he was wrong to do so. it was not until after the committee finished its work that these writings came to light. that's why five of the seven
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members of the independent oregon judicial selection committee, including the chair, said that this would have changed their decision to include mr. bounds among their recommended candidates. yet the trump administration and the majority on the senate judiciary committee has moved forward with his nomination anyway in direct violation of our long-standing practices. here's the second thing that could be thrown out, and it goes back yet further. not once in more than a century has the senate held a hearing on a judicial nominee without input from either home-state senator. this tradition has stood for 101 years, benefiting both sides as a check on the power of the president.
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let me just briefly quote a letter that the entire senate republican conference sent to the last president at the beginning of his last term in 2009. they wrote that dating back to the nation's founding, the senate has, and i quote, a unique constitutional responsibility to provide or withhold its advice and consent on nominations. they continued, and i will quote further, democrats and republicans have acknowledged the importance of maintaining this principle which allows individual senators to provide valuable insights into their constituents' qualifications for federal service. so, in 2009, when a democrat was in the white house, my republican colleagues stood firm on maintaining this tradition, and democrats did. the last administration and democratic leaders whoer in the senate dominican republic and democratic leaders here in the senate respected the requests of our republican colleagues.
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there were no hearings on judicial nominations when neither home-state senator had consented. now the republican majority is on the verge of breaking that practice in lockstep with the white house to seat a nominee where there are, in my view, serious red flags. mr. president and colleagues in the senate, the white house might believe that providing advice and consent begins and ends with this body rubber-stamping whatever names are sent, and the majority in the senate might be happy to go along with that. i believe that is the wrong way to go. neither senator merkley nor i have given our approval for this nomination to go forward. as i have noted in conversations
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with the chairman of the committee, we are not stonewalling, we are not fishing around for any old reason to bring down a republican nominee. we are honoring the bipartisan tradition that has stood for more than a century, and we are fulfilling our constitutional duties. i have declined to give approval for a hearing because i believe mr. bounds purposefully misled the independent oregon committee that reviewed his candidacy. he omitted information that was vitally important at a critical time to the vetting process. that cannot be dismissed, ignored, or wished away. it is a fact, and in my view a fact that is a disqualifying
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one. 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:
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mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, i ask consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, the president just announced that he will withdraw the united states from the iranian nuclear deal. the president says he wants a better deal. well, so do a lot of us. the fact is, we need to keep pressure on iran with additional economic sanctions to stop them from developing icbm missiles.
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that was not part of the iranian nuclear agreement. we need to ratchet up the pressure on iran to do that. -- to stop their icbm missile program. but by pulling out of the iranian nuclear deal, it is a tragic mistake. it will divide us from our european allies, and it will allow iran to build a nuclear weapon, a nuclear bomb, within a year as compared to staying in the agreement, which would be at least seven to 12 years in the future. and keeping an atomic weapon out
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of a radical religious outfit like iran, headed by an ayatollah, i think it is clearly in the free world's interest to keep a nuclear weapon out of iran's hands. it certainly is for the free world. it is for the united states, clearly, and it's for all of our allies. and that's why we had such broad support adjoining the u.s. -- joining the u.s. in coming to an agreement that iran not build a nuclear weapon. pulling out -- pulling out of this agreement -- it risks all of the unprecedented restrictions on iran's nuclear program that are already in place right now.
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the hundreds of visits by the iaea, the international atomic energy agency; their ability to get in behind locked doors. before this agreement, we never had that kind of insight into iran. and right now is the time to continue ramping up the pressure on iran not to back off, as pulling out of the agreement is going to do. so first things first -- let's keep restrictions on iran's nuclear program. the lessened enriched uranium, the complete cementing over of the plutonium plant, the ability to inspect and to verify.
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and then what we ought to be doing is doubling down on iran's ballistic missile programming, on their regional aggression, on their support for terror, and on their human rights violations. it was the tough u.s. and international sanctions that brought iran to the table in the first place, and it was us in this congress that enacted many of those economic sanctions. and so, to sum up, we need to put more pressure on iran with additional economic sanctions to stop them from developing their icbm missiles. but pulling out of the iranian nuclear agreement now is a tragic mistake.
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it will divide us from our european allies, and it will cause iran to build a nuclear bomb within a year instead of preventing it from building one for at least 7 to 12 years. that seems to me to be a choice that we made at the time, that we agreed t. this agreement, it seems all the more clear today, that we ought to continue the agreement. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, is the senate presently in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent take the present quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent to speak for
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up to 15 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, situated off the northeast corner of australia lies one of the seven natural wonders of the world. a wonder that is visible from space, the great barrier reef. each year around two million visitors come if around the globe to experience the great barrier reef. they come to see hundreds of species, of sharks, dolphins, fish, mollusks, whales, sea birds and other marine life thriving in nearly 133,000 square miles of coral reef. some of these coral structures are thought to date back as long
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as 25 million years when pope francis spoke of the wonder world of the seas, this is the kind of beauty and bounty he had in mind. it is difficult to imagine something so expansive and ancient threatened so profoundly by one of earth's more recent inhabitantses, humans. inhabitants, humans, but it s. the oceans are taking the brunt of our modern carelessness. they're warming, acidifying, and literally suffocating under our carbon dioxide emissions. they're fouled with our plastic garbage and they're polluted with runoff from farming and storm water wash into the sea.
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i've come to the floor before to plead that my senate colleagues heed the warnings of our oceans. those warnings are loud and clear and measurable. measurable with thermometers and tide gauges and simple p.h. tests and chronicled by the testimony of fishermen and sailors. today i want to focus on that great barrier reef. a healthy coral reef is one of the most productive engines of life on earth. home to 25% of the word's fish biodiversity, the corals use calcium cash bon nature -- carbonate, a compound usually readily available in ocean water
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to build their hard skeletons. these hard shelters -- sorry, these hard structures shelter the living coral polyps and undergird the entire ecosystem that depends on the reef. without the corals, the whole thing collapses. the living corals have evolved a symbiotic relationship with tiny photosynthetic algae called zoe dan that lie. they live in the surface tissue of the corals. it is the algae that provide the color that you see healthy corals display. the corals' metabolic waste is converted by the algae back into food and oxygen for the corals. and in turn the corals shelter the algae.
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however, the range of p.h., temperature, salinity, and water clarity within this symbiotic magic takes place is fairly narrow. get outside that comfort range and the corals get stressed. and when they're stressed enough, they begin to evict their algae. this is what's called coral bleaching. the corals whiten as they shed their colorful algae. of course, without the algae, corals can't live for long. the algae can resettle and the corals can recover but if the algae don't resettle, the corals soon die. and that's what's happening in huge swaths of the great barrier reef. and here's why.
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as we have pumped massive quantities of waste, co2 in the atmosphere dramatically raising the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, the oceans have absorbed approximately 30% of all that excess carbon dioxide. we recently broke a dangerous new atmospheric record exceeding a monthly average of 410 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the cat moss fear for the first time -- in the atmosphere for the first time in human history. for comparison, at the start of the industrial revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide was around 280 parts per million. 280 not so long ago, 410 now. and 300 had been about the upper limit of carbon dioxide in the
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atmosphere for as long as human beings have been on this planet. well, about a third of all that added co2 gets absorbed by the ocean. and it is absorbed with a chemical reaction that makes the ocean more acidic. that's why we talk about ocean acidification. at the same time that the oceans have been soaking up all take excess co2, they've also been soaking up heat, lots of heat. roughly 90% of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere by these greenhouse gases. as a result of all that heat, the oceans are warming as they get more acidic knocking the corals more often out of the conditions they need for that
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sim crow sis -- symbiosis to thrive. we're only one year out from the bleaching that occurred from 2014 to 2017. no wa branded it -- and i quote here -- the longest, most widespread and possibly the most damaging coral bleaching event on record. end quote. this graphic shows how severe and pervasive the bleaching was. the light blue areas on the map which you really don't see any of represent the parts of the ocean that are under no stress. these are the continents. there's america and south america. over here is australia. there is asia. and the red parts are the oceans. the lighter red is alert level one. areas where heat stress led to
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significant coral bleaching. the deeper red is alert level two, areas that experienced not only widespread coral bleaching but also significant coral die-off. this white box right here marks the great barrier reef. you can see that severe coral bleaching in the northern edges of the great barrier reef. and this was new. these are areas where according to noaa, bleaching had never occurred before. in 2016 scientists with the australian research council's center of excellence for coral reef studies undertook extensive aerial and in-water surveys of the great barrier reef to estimate the extent of the damage. over 900 individual reefs were
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surveyed. only 7% of those reefs escaped bleaching. 93% were hit. in the northern portion of the great barrier reef, upwards of 80% of the corals were severely bleached. when the researchers returned, they found that up to two-thirds of those corals in the northern section had died. the central and southern sections fared better, but still saw corals dying. a recent paper in nature by australian and noaa researchers totaled the damage. dr. terry hughes, the paper's lead author, told the atlantic and i quote here, on average across the great barrier reef, one in three corals died in nine months. end quote. in the northern section of the reef, researchers found that some species like staghorn and table corals suffered what they call a catastrophic dieoff.
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in total, about one half of the northern range's corals died. dr. hughes went on to say the great barrier reef -- and i quote here -- has transformed into a completely new system that looks differently and behaves differently and functions differently. that's climate change. in an interview with ""huffington post"" the doctor said that the heat wave was so intense that some of the corals basically cooked and died quickly. usually if corals can't recover their algae after a bleaching event, they slowly starve to death. some of the less resilient species crashed by up to 90% in the recent bleaching. dr. hughes made clear to the atlantic that human-caused climate change was the driving force behind this coral bleaching.
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indeed, the title of his "nature" article is "global warming transforms coral reef assemblages." dr. john bruno, from the university of north carolina, said the loss of the great barriers corals is, quote, like clear-cutting a redwood forest. he went on, i quote him here, in ten years you're going to have a lot of stuff on the ground, but you're not going to have the old-growth forests back. some of these corals were 10, 30 years old, but a lot of them were centuries old. in 100 years, if there is no more warming, they could return. in 100 years they could return. dr. hughes and his colleagues, however, were less optimistic in their "nature" paper. they wrote, and i quote here, the most likely scenario is that coral reefs throughout the tropics will continue to degrade
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over the current century until climate change stabilizes, allowing remnant populations to reorganize into novel heat-tolerant reef assemblages. remnant populations are all they expect to survive. researchers are trying to understand the consequences of losing so much coral in our seas. obviously you harm the corals and you harm the reef. harm the reef and you destabilize life throughout the reef, and that is bad for oceans. a recent paper in "global change biology" found severe declines in the populations of the fish most connected with the corals hit hardest by the bleaching. so the cascade effect is already observed. the great barrier reef even sounds different.
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a study published last week in "the proceedings of the national academy of sciences" compared the lively underwater cacophony of a vibrant great barrier reef in 2012 with the quiet of bleached locations in 2016. the life that teems around a healthy reef decreased with the loss of the corals. there are actually some open-ocean species like juvenile clown fish or the nemos that actually rely on sound coming off these reefs from all the life and all the feeding and all the activity. they actually use that sound to find reefs to go settle on. so this quiet of dying reefs makes their job harder finding new homes.
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climate change makes the heat wave that spurs coral bleaching more intense and also more frequent, leaving corals less time to recover before the next heat wave hits. and we may see the more vu vulnerable corals fail to recover at all, as the waters warm too much for them to survive. a study published earlier this year in "science" looked at 100 tropical reefs and found that only six had avoided bleaching. bleaching events that occurred in the past once in a generation now occur around every six years. as the guardian summarized it, and i quote here, repeated lar large-scale coral bleaching events are the new normal, thanks to global warming. so what can we do about it? scientists are working to better understand what makes certain
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corals more resilient and to try to use these lessons to protect more vulnerable species, but that research nibbles at the fringes of this global die-off. there is some localized work on things like sun shields to help protect shallow corals during peek heat. senator mccain and i visited efforts to rebuild shattered coral reefs in indonesia. but these efforts can't offset the global on-set of climate change unless we move fast to address the real problem. australia announced last week in a it would invest around $400 million in a patchwork of efforts to protect the great barrier reef, increasing monitoring and enforcement, for instance. limiting pollution runoff from shore. trying to keep out certain invasive starfish, and helping to try to restore lost corals. but the plan did not address the
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main culprit behind coral bleaching, and that culprit is climate change. scientists noticed that omission, including the australian academy of sciences which pointed out the problem that the reef is, and i quote, highly vulnerable to climate change, end quote. and, quote, urged the government to address the cause of the problem, end quote. mr. president, the call of those scientists is a call that we, too, ought to heed. one of the great wonders of god's earth is on its way to turning into a sandy relic because we are unwilling to say no to the fossil fuel industry. it's that simple. and this coral die-off is one of
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innumerable consequences that our earth is already warning us with. it's not the only signal. it is one of many. but nothing that can't be monetized for an industry seems to get our attention. -- around here. so instead, it appears that we will have to look future generations in the eye and tell them that there was once a great barrier reef, that it was one of the wonders of the world, and that we let it die to keep the fossil fuel industry happy. mr. president, it's time we woke up. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i have five requests for committees to meet today during the session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders. the presiding officer: duly noted. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. well, mr. president, for the sixth consecutive year, obamacare insurance rates are going up, and democrats are already running around pointing fingers trying to find someone else to blame. about 10 days ago the distinguished democratic leader came to the floor and warned that very soon health insurance companies will be announcing higher rates for 2019. in each state across the country, he said. and when they do, many health insurance companies will propose rate increases. and today several democratic senators held a press conference saying, insurance rates are going to go up in 2019.
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well, mr. president, they're exactly right. insurance premiums are going to go up in 2019, just like they have for the five previous years of obamacare. but they're exactly wrong about who to blame. mr. president, the democrats wrote the bill. they wrote obamacare. they voted for obamacare. every single one of them. not a single one of us voted for obamacare. they wrote the bill. if they're looking for someone to blame, they should look in the mirror. running around and pointing fingers and trying to find someone else to blame is a little like selling somebody a house with a leaky roof and then blaming the new owner for the leaky roof. democrats built the house with the leaky roof. they built these insurance markets, the individual markets where no one can find insurance. they wrote the sloppy law and
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they failed to make the markets competitive, and they erased the ability of consumers to have choice. they didn't follow the law when they paid out cost-sharing payments that were designed to help low-income americans pay for their out-of-pocket expenses. and this is the very worst. when republicans were prepared one month ago to stabilize these markets -- and according the oliver wyman health care experts, to lower rates by over 40% over three years -- the democrats said no. president trump asked speaker ryan, he asked senator mcconnell to put that bipartisan proposal in the omnibus spending bill that passed. the republicans said yes and the democrats said no. and so the rates are going up. because democrats wrote the law and they said no to lowering the rates.
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what democrats don't say but that every american should know very well is that health insurance rates didn't start increasing when president trump took office 15 or 16 months ago. insurance rates have been increasing ever since obamacare took effect more than five years ago. mr. president, in 2010 there was a big discussion at the blair house. i was invited to make the republican case for president obama, who stayed there all day and listened. and i said, respectfully, mr. president, the affordable care act will not work. i said it directly to him. i said it directly to him that obamacare would send an unfunded medicaid mandate to states. it did. i said it will cut medicare by a half trillion dollars. it did. i said there will be new taxes
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in it. there were. i said it will mean that for millions of americans premiums will go up because when people pay those new taxes, premiums go up, and they will also go up because of the government mandates. and they have. for five years. and now the democrats are pointing out that their law, which they passed, will now cause rates to go up for the sixth consecutive year. back then in 20 soy said our -- back then in 23010, i said our country is too big, too complicated, too decentralized for washington, d.c., just a few of us here, to write a few rules about remaking 17% of the economy all at once. that's the size of the health care economy. that sort of thinking works in the classroom. it doesn't work very well in a big complicated country, which is the united states of america. since the obamacare exchanges opened in 2014, history has
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proven this -- what i said -- right. the affordable care act has not worked the way democrats promised. it hasn't worked that way for marty, a farmer in tennessee, who stopped me at the chic-fil-a last december. she wanted to tell me that before obamacare, her rates were $300 month. she is in the individual market. she doesn't get a subsidy. she pays for these rates herself. this year it's $1,300. next year it'll be more. rates in tennessee for people like marty went up 58% this past year. that's a lot of money. people can't afford that. she's one of thousands of others in tennessee who've seen their premiums increase 176% since 2013, the year before the obamacare marketplaces opened. the affordable care act hasn't worked for the nine million
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americans like marty who purchase their health insurance in the individual market. they receive no government subsidy. they've been hammered by skyrocketing insurance premiums and the democrats come to the floor and say, well, they're going up for the sixth straight year. if i were them, i'd want to keep that quiet. but, no, they're looking for somebody to blame. they don't want to look in the mirror. they wrote the bill. they're the reason the rates are going up. they've rejected any reasonable attempt to change the law. they won't even support changes that they're for, that they know aren't working. the affordable care act does not work because it is too washington, d.c.,-focused. it is made -- it has made insurance too expensive. it's hurting the american people. so last year republicans tried to repeal the law, to help make health insurance work again for people like marty the farmer who i met at chic-fil-a.
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we came up short. and while i hope that senators graham and cassidy can build a coalition to try again, there's still the urgent problem of skyrocketing obamacare premiums it did not have to be this way. the senator from washington, senator murray, and i -- she's the lead democrat on the senate help committee -- last year announced we would hold hearings to see if there were steps that congress could take to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance markets so that americans could buy insurance at affordable prices in 2019. president trump called me in august of 2018 -- no, 2017. president trump called me in august of last year, and he asked me to work with senator murray and try to come up with a temporary solution so people who were hurt by the skyrocketing obamacare prices would not be
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hurt while congress concluded what to do in the long term. so in september our committee hosted four bipartisan hearings. we invited all the senators to come to meetings before the hearings. and, mr. president, we had about half of the members of the united states senate involved in those meetings and hearings. and out of those meetings and hearings, we came up with three proposals that congress could pass that would temporarily lower rates over the next three years, according to ol -- oliver wyman, one of the most respected health care exerts is in the country by up to 40% in those three years. number one, our proposal, three years of grants at $10 billion a year so states could create funds to insure the needs of the
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very sick. you take the very sick out of the pool, care for them, and then you could lower the rates for everyone else in the individual market. three years at $10 billion a year. that was the first proposal. second, three years of cost-sharing reductions subsidies to help low-income americans pay out-of-pocket expenses. it's counter intuitive, but when you pay those expenses, you actually lower the deficit. you lower the cost of taxpayers because it lowers the premiums, and that lowers the subsidies. and so you actually save taxpayer money when you pay those three years of cost-sharing subsidies. and then, three, we took a provision that's in the affordable care act called the innovation waiver. it's already there. it wasn't working. so we agreed to streamline it so that it would work, so that a state might make an application
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and say we have a better idea. and we said you can't change the essential health benefits, or you can't change the prohibition on lifetime limits. you still have is to give people an offer of insurance if they have a preexisting condition. all of those provisions and protections were still in our bill, but that new flexibility would have allowed iowa and other states to increase their choices and lower premiums. it would have allowed new york, it would have allowed minnesota, it would have allowed new hampshire to do things their democratic senators said they badly wanted to do and their governors said they badly wanted to do. there was new authority for a catastrophic insurance policy with lower premiums, higher deductibles that people could choose. that was in there too. this is the package that the oliver wyman expert said if you're a contractor and you're making $60,000 and your
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insurance is $20,000, it would reduce your premium from $20,000 to $12,000 over three years. that was the package. almost all democrats liked those three ideas. the truth is a lot of republicans and conservative groups were skeptical of them because they said it would, quote, shore up obamacare. but the congressional budget office said that if the scoring reflect that cost-sharing payments being paid our proposal would actually save taxpayers dollars by lowering premiums and, therefore, lowering subsidies. so this would sound like a very good proposal, wouldn't it, something that at one point the democratic leader said every democrat could vote for, something that more than half the senate participated in. reinsurance, cost-sharing subsidies, and more flexibility without changing the basic guarantees of the affordable care act. that sounds very much like a
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proposal that might come from the other side of the aisle, not the republican side of the aisle. yet, on the saturday before we passed the omnibus spending billing -- bill, president trump called speaker ryan and he called senator mcconnell and he said would you please put that provision in the omnibus spending bill. they said yes. the democrats said no. so the democrats have ridden this obamacare -- written this obamacare bill which for six years has raised rates. and then we come up with a proposal that every democrat should like, and they say no. they won't even support changing one sentence of a law even if it changes parts that don't work that they're for. what was their reason? here's their reason. they would not apply to our proposal, the traditional hyde compromise language regarding federal funding for elective
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abortions. what that basically says is there may be no federal funding for elective abortions, but states may do what they want. that's been the compromise since 1976. since 1976, and every omnibus appropriations bill, democrats have voted for that. in this omnibus appropriations bill -- in fact, all those weren't omnibus bills. some of them were different appropriations bill. since 1976, in every appropriations bill democrats have voted for the hyde amendment. in the omnibus appropriations bill we passed last month, democrats voted for the hyde amendment more than 100 times, in other proposals. but they would not vote to lower health insurance rates by 40% over three years. i'll say that again. even though they voted for the hyde language every year since 1976, and they voted for it 100 times, 100 times, in the omnibus
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bill they would not vote for it -- they would not vote for our proposal to lower rates even though it was bipartisan, because they didn't want to apply that same compromise hyde amendment to health insurance. howard baker, the senate and majority leader once said that the essence of senate leadership is becoming an eloquent listener. that means hearing and understanding what people have to say, because what they are saying is not always what they mean. my conclusion is that by their words and by their actions, what democrats really were saying is we won't change one sentence of obamacare, even the parts that obviously are not working, and even when most of the democrats would support the policy and the changes. given the democrats' attitude, mr. president, i know of nothing that republicans and democrats can agree on to stabilize the individual health insurance market. i know of nothing. no one regrets congress' failure
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to reach an agreement on this more than i do. i ran for the united states senate because i want to achieve bipartisan results on important issues, and i've often been able to do that. but i literally struck out here. when democrats blocked these proposals from being included in the omnibus in march 1 and said now let's look down the road, insurance companies will announce rates for 2019. rates will go up instead of down. they're right about that. already in the last few days the rates have been announced that will go up in 2019. millions of americans will be hearing more about that. they could have worked with us, the democrats, to lower premiums by 40%. they instead chose to cling to an unworkable law, to skyrocketing rates, and to reject any change that would have temporarily even reduced rates even though the president and the republican leaders were willing to support ideas the
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democrats, as a matter of policy, almost unanimously support. so now, mr. president, for relief, we'll have to turn to the trump administration and to the states. i'm encouraged by labor secretary acosta's proposed rule on association health plans. it would help some self-employed americans like marty the farmer and employees of small companies to buy the same kind of insurance with the same lower cost and the same protections that roughly 160 million americans who work for large employers have today. in other words, if you work for i.b.m., you in effect get about a $5,000 average tax break because of the way the tax law applies to employer insurance. we'd like to give the same opportunity to the self-employed and to people in small businesses. the trump administration has also proposed a rule that would
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reaffirm the role of states in regulating short-term health insurance. this could provide a coverage option for americans who today are uninsured because plans in the affordable care act markets are too expensive. neither of these changes require the approval of congress. i'm talking about azar, the centers for medicaid and medicare services, about other administration actions they can take to give states more flexibility within the current law to help lower health insurance premiums, especially for the nine million americans who do not receive a federal subsidy in the individual market. those are the ones who are getting hammered. those are the ones whose rates we could have reduced by 40% over the next three years, but the democrats said no. i will be encouraging governors and state insurance commissioners to do everything they can to repair the damage caused by the affordable care act, but my own efforts as chairman of the help committee
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will turn to other health care issues including the opioid crisis, overall health care costs, electronic health care records, prescription drug prices, and the 340-b program. contrary to the democratic leader's speech, this is not a crisis of republican making. democrats should look in the mirror. the last five years and the upcoming six years of premium increases are the fault of a law designed, drafted and voted on exclusively by democrats. last year republicans freed americans from the individual mandate requirement which was a tax on the poor that forced many americans to buy insurance they couldn't afford or didn't meet their needs. we tried to provide even more freedom from this unworkable law, but of course, democrats said no. so if you have an insurance premium that's going up 40% next year on top of the more than 105% increases since 2013, you can thank the democrats.
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and if you like greater choice and an opportunity for lower premiums, you should support republicans. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. ms. baldwin: i rise this afternoon to urge my colleagues to oppose the confirmation of michael b. brennan in the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit. by bringing mr. brennan's nomination forward without my support, chairman grassley and leader mcconnell are breaking with a long-standing senate tradition that has guaranteed a voice for home state senators regardless of party in the consideration of judicial nominees. the blue slip is an important
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part of this institution, and its historic respect for the rights of each senator as well as the rights of the minority party. as the chairman of the judiciary committee, mr. grassley, himself wrote in 2015, this tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus between the white house and home state senators. over the years the judiciary committee and its chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process, including most recently senator patrick leahy of vermont, who steadfastly honored the tradition, even as some in his own party called for its demise. i appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also
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intend to honor it, he said. today respect for that time-honored blue slip comes to an end. not only is michael brennan being considered on the senate floor, but tomorrow the senate judiciary committee will hold a hearing for a nominee for a traditional oregon seat on the ninth circuit for whom neither oregon senator has returned a blue slip. i urge my colleagues to recognize that while today's action disrespects my role as the junior senator from wisconsin, tomorrow it may well be you. with the majority's choice to end this tradition, each of us is diminished in our own ability to represent the constituents who chose to send us here.
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i did not return a blue slip for michael brennan because his nomination does not reflect the consensus between the white house and home state senators. that the chairman of the judiciary committee, mr. grassley, praised in 2015. mr. brennan did not receive the requisite support from wisconsin's bipartisan judicial nominating commission which has been used in some form for nearly four decades to identify candidates for federal judgeships in my home state. senator johnson and i worked to continue this long-standing process during my tenure in the senate, and it has actually produced consensus nominees who have been confirmed to two vacancies in our district courts and two u.s. attorney positions.
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more troubling still is a fact made clear in mr. brennan's answers to the judiciary committee's questionnaire, namely that president trump never intended to respect that commission's work for this vacancy. the white house interviewed michael brennan for the job on the very day that our bipartisan nominating commission began to solicit candidates for its consideration. chairman grassley has made an argument that the white house engaged in meaningful consultation regarding this vacancy. it is true that white house counsel don mcgann called me to inform me that mr. brennan was the president's choice. i urged him instead to consider
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consensus nominees who could garner bipartisan support, including donald schott who earned the requisite support of wisconsin's nominating commission. he also garnered senator johnson and my blue slips in the last congress. as well as the support of a bipartisan majority of the senate judiciary committee. but sadly he didn't come up for a confirmation vote due to obstruction in setting the calendar, a choice by the majority leader. unfortunately, instead of -- instead of nominating a consensus candidate, president trump chose instead to move forward in a partisan manner on this vacancy. seven years ago, the united
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states senate respected the prerogative of my colleague and my senior senator, senator johnson, then a null elected senator from wisconsin when he objected to a nominee for this very vacancy whose selection he had not had a role in. mr. brennan himself at the time co-authored an op-ed in our state's largest newspaper, praising senator johnson's refusal to return a blue slip for that nominee, victoria norris. when president obama made a second nomination for this position in 2016, i am confident that senator leahy would not have allowed that committee -- that nominee, donald schott, to
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advance in the judiciary committee without my senior senator's blue slip. today i am not being accorded the same respect. today we send the message that neither this nor a future president needs to respect the role of home state senators in the selection of judicial nominees. i urge my colleagues to oppose this action and this nominee and this dispensing with a time-honored tradition of this institution. mr. president, i yield. i would note that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that pn-1884, the nomination of john lowry, iii, of illinois, to be assistant secretary of labor for veterans
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employment and training, sent to the senate by the president, be referred jointly to the help and veterans' affairs committees. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, the postcloture time on the engelhardt nomination expire at 12:00 noon tomorrow, may 9, the senate vote on the confirmation of the engelhardt nomination with no intervening action or debate. further, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate resume legislative session for a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there is a bill at the desk and due a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: h.r. 4, an act to reauthorize programs of the
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federal aviation administration, and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. wednesday, may 9. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, i ask that following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session and resume consideration of the engelhardt nomination under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator brown. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. brown: i thank the majority leader for his comments. first, mr. president, i'm asking unanimous consent that privileges of the floor be granted to rachel hartford of my staff for the remainder of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. everyone in this chamber knows how bad the opioid epidemic is. in my state, we have the second highest number of opioid deaths per capita in the country next to west virginia. we also in my state have more people die of opioid overdose than any state in the country. if averages hold, 11 people died yesterday, 11 will die today, 11 will die tomorrow, 11 will die on thursday in my state of ohio from opioid overdoses. last month at the cleveland city club, i called for a conference of coordinated sustained public
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health campaign to fight addiction through education, prevention, through treatment and recovery. we know from history that we cannot arrest or execute our way out of this crisis, whether in montana or in ohio. i met with law enforcement officers in every corner of my state. they shoulder a huge burden. they all tell me the same thing. they need resources to fight this. that's why i have joined senator portman and a bipartisan group of our colleagues on the power act to get state and local law enforcement the high-tech tools that they need to effectively screen for dangerous opioids like fentanyl. we also know from history that those enforcement tools are just one piece of this fight. we need a comprehensive approach. that means recognizing how important treatment and rehabilitation are. you don't write off thousands of ohioans struggling with addiction. you simply don't write off entire communities. that's where drug courts come in. these courts are partnerships between local law enforcement
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and treatment providers. they are spearheaded by judges who see the same people back in their courtrooms over and over again for drug offenses. these judges realize that traditional court proceedings simply why not working. they weren't curing people's addictions. fines and jail time don't cure a medical condition. but judging -- judges set up these special courts where participants agree to enter treatment programs and are strictly supervised by law enforcement. if they successfully complete the program instead of heading to prison, they hold a graduation ceremony. we have seen this model work successfully for veterans. hundreds of these courts across the country built around counseling and treatment. veterans who get into trouble with law often face unique issues like ptsd. my office recently visited the first federal veterans court in the southern district of ohio in dayton. we saw the difference it makes in the lives of men and women who served our country. the court was created by my friend judge michael newman with
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the support of chief judge ed sargas. it works with the v.a. to help address the issues veterans are struggling with. my staff met with paige lehman, a veterans justice outreach cord naturor who helps participants in the program. he talked about what participant had limited transportation options and lived in a rural area so mr. layman drove to meet him at the local library. he reports 49 veterans have graduated from the program with their charges dropped and are now leading healthier lives. we had the same opportunity with drug courts. the ohio office of criminal justice services evaluates and studies these courts. they found drug courts enhanced treatment, increased collaboration in their community, and saved taxpayers money. we met with judges across ohio who are helping people break the cycle of drug use and crime. earlier this year we talked with -- i talked with municipal court
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judge fred moses while he was in town as a state of the union guest. he started innovative drug court program just south of columbus in 2012, saw the opioid epidemic coming years before most folks in washington saw it. he started the first medication assisted drug program certified in my state. five years later his programs are reuniting families cutting down on repeat offenses, helping participants get jobs. he and his staff are improving the lives of people in southeast ohio and serving as a model for other drug courts around the state and country. more than 30 other judges have visited the county to learn about its success. now we're seeing similar success all over ohio. tuscarora county has two drug courts. cobra and the common police court and the new philadelphia municipal recovery court. judge elizabeth lehigh tamoxis
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runs a court which held its 25th graduation ceremonial. one grad yacht said when i couldn't get boundaries, you set them for me. you believed in me when i couldn't believe in myself. another, my daughter has her momma back, a healthy mom, motivated mom who smiles again and is grateful in all she does. by in program -- by this program shaping my future, it also shaped hers. the recovery court in new philadelphia is run by judge degarmo. she hears so many stories like that. she told the times reporter, the newspaper in tuscarora county, we try to give them and their families hope. the treatment works and people do recover. programs all over ohio and the country are offering families that hope. in cleveland the cuyahoga county court under david matai has graduated 300 people. that court operate under the stephanie tubbs jones.
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in miriam, ohio, common pleas judge jim slagle held a ceremony for eight graduates at the end of last month. one of the women who spoke, jennifer, talked about her granddaughter. the most challenging part was admitting i needed this. we -- when she found out her granddaughter was going to be placed in foster care, quote, i knew i had to do something. i needed to get myself together. i had to do it for her. she's now been clean for two years. she has custody over her 18-month-old granddaughter. these are the kind of success stories we hear all over the state, all over the country. if we're successful in this fight, hundreds of thousands fewer americans will use opioids. we'll also have hundreds of thousands more who have used opioids but whose lives are not lost or ruined. they're going to be living with and managing their addiction. that's why we need to expand and build on these approaches. i'm also working with my republican colleague, senator capito, of west virginia on
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bipartisan legislation, the care act, to combine existing resources for the departments of labor and health and human services to fund combined addiction treatment and work force training efforts. i hear the same thing from mayors from new philadelphia and middletown. employers can't fill openings because workers can't pass drug tests and ohioans struggling with addiction, even those who have completed successful programs can't find a job. our bill will help those americans continue their recovery with good jobs that provide stability. so the government is spending money on drug treatment, mostly through medicaid, government through the department of labor is spending money on job retraining. why not put them together so that work -- so that people while they get clean, while they get whole, they are ready to go to work because they'll have that job training. i hope my colleagues will join me in supporting the care act and finding ways to support successful drug programs around
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the country. mr. president, i ask that the remainder of my remarks be placed in a different place in the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. tomorrow the senate votes to move forward with the president's nominee to join the seventh circuit court of appeals. it's a new low that sets a dangerous standard for judges that have power to make critical decisions that impact the everyday lives of the people we serve. take a look at judge michael brennan's record. at his hearing he refused to acknowledge the ways our criminal justice system are biased against -- is biased against americans of color. he made statements condoning judicial ac activism. he arked that judges are justified in not following press dengts if they feel -- precedent if they feel it was incorrectly decided. i am not a lawyer but i understand this about our courts. a judge who feels no obligation to follow precedent laid out by higher courts. that's not a judge. that's someone who has ceased to
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be bound by any of the standards guiding a judge. precedent is the backbone of our legal system. to say that judges can disregard it, if this feel it's incorrect would be a radical departure. think about how this could work. in a brennan court, it could be okay for a judge not to follow a supreme court decision like brown v. board of education which desegregated schools as long as that judge, in this case i guess judge brennan, believes the case was incorrect. if you disregard precedent, the decades of legal progress could be rolled back. the well-established rights of so many americans would be at risk. during his hearing, brennan claimed he was only talking about precedent from the same circuit but the article where he originally made these arguments made no such distinction then and brennan even admitted that at the hearing. we simply cannot entrust the people we serve, the people that we serve to a judge who can't be trusted to follow settled law. brennan would also be the first
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judge in more than 35 years to be confirmed over the objection of a senator from his home state. think about that. that doesn't even count the background of this story, the backstory here i'm going to mention. first judge in 35 years to be confirmed over the objections of a senator from his home state. senator baldwin from wisconsin has not returned her blue slip on brennan. in a departure from senate tradition, republicans had aer haing -- had a hearing, are now allowing a vote on brennan's nomination despite not having a blue slip from senator baldwin. the seat brennan is nominated for has been vacant since 2010. why? because senator johnson, now the senior senator from wisconsin, did not return a blue slip on president obama's nominee, first nominee to fill this seat. this body honored senator johnson es blue slip, was not going to confirm that nominee because the blue slip had not been returned, was following the
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precedent of this senate, decades precedent. the nominee. the presiding officer: did not receive a hear eowe the nominee, denver, did -- therefore, did not receive a vote. we have the blue slip procedure in place, not out of courtesy to senators personally but to the americans we serve. mr. brown: senator baldwin represents the people who will be most affected by judge brennan's decision. she opposes his nomination. her blue slip should be respected. the people served by the seventh circuit, americans all over the country need judges who will follow the law to be sure judge brennan is not that judge. we can do better. we should do better. i ask my colleagues to oppose his nomination. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the
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>> you can imagine to married couples. they cannot be in the same bed and also when they set up the
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two separate households about a mile from each other and they would stick to this very rigid schedule where they would stay, live in one house for three days with his wife and during those three days chang who is basically the master of the house, he can do whatever he wants to and dn will give up his free will. and three days later he would go taking's house and he would be the master of the house and chang would give up his own free will. >> did it work? >> apparently. they had 21 children.
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earlier today senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and other g.o.p. leaders spoke to reporters on several issues including the cia director nomination, the president's decision to withdraw from the iranian nuclear deal in recent u.s. job numbers. this is 15 minutes. >> good afternoon everyone. obviously we are going to be concentrating on confirming circuit judges hear in the senate this week. that may carry over into early next week. gina haspel

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