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tv   Senate Debate on Filibuster Rules  CSPAN  April 2, 2017 6:34pm-7:05pm EDT

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arab regimes. >> tonight at eight eastern on c-span's q and a. week, the full senate will consider the nomination of neil gorsuch to serve on the supreme court. currently 60 yes votes are needed to move supreme court nominations to a final vote. if that threshold is not met, republicans might use the option come inar procedure that would require 51 rather than 60 votes to get final confirmation. the tactic was used back in 2013 with senate democrats. changed -- the american people believe congress is broken. people believe the senate is broken.
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i believe the american people are right. the 100 13th congress, the united states has wasted and on precedented -- an unprecedented amount of time on partisan obstruction. the work of this country goes undone. congress should be passing legislation that protects will bringmilies, waste hours and wasted days between filibusters. instead we are burning wasted days and wasted weeks between filibusters. even one of the senate's most basic duties, confirmation of presidential nominees has become completely unworkable. there has been an unbelievable and unprecedented struck jim come for the first time in the history of our republic. republicans have been tuning in to prevent president obama from
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tuning in. .ut confirming judges it is truly a troubling trend that republicans are willing to block executive branch they haves, even when no objection to the qualifications of the nominee. instead they bought -- they brought qualified nominees in the state process. they forced wholesale changes to laws. executiveht qualified branch nominees to restructure entire executive branch departments. the blocked judicial nominees because they don't want president obama to appoint any judges. the need for change is so very obvious. it is clearly visible. it's manifest to have to do something to change things. in the history of our country, some 230 plus years, there have
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been 100 68 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations. half of them occurred during the not that occurred during the obama administration. -- occurred during the obama administration. is there anything fair about that? these nominees deserve at least an up or down vote. yes or no. republican filibusters deny them a fair vote and deny the -- ident gridlock has consequences. it is not only that -- not only that for president obama, bad for the united states senate, it is bad for our ,
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it's time to change, it's time to change before this institution becomes obsolete. at the beginning of this congress, a republican leader pledged that this congress should be more bipartisan than the last congress. mr. president we are told in scripture, let's take for example old testament, the book of numbers. promises, pledges, a val, one must not break his word. to promise to work with the majority to process nominations in a timely manner by unanimous consent, except in extraordinary circumstances. latery three weeks republicans mounted a first in
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history filibuster of a highly qualified nominee for secretary of defense. despite being a former republican senator, a decorated war hero having saved his brother's life in vietnam, defense secretary chuck hagel's nomination was pending in the senate for a record 34 days, more than three times the previous average for secretary of defense. remember mr. president, our country was at war. republicans have blocked executive nominees like secretary hagel, not because they object to the qualifications, but simply because they seek to undermine the very government in which they were elected to serve. take the nomination of richard who leads the consumer financial protection bureau. there is no doubt about his ability to do the job. but the consumer financial protection bureau, the brainchild of elizabeth moran went for more than two years
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without a leader. because republicans refused to accept the law of the land, because they wanted to roll back the law to protect consumers from the greed of wall street. to my republican colleagues, you don't have to like the laws of the land, but you do have to respect those laws and abide by them. similar obstruction continued unabated for seven more months until democrats threatened to change senate rules on executive nominations. in july, after obstructing does of nominees for months and some for years, republicans once again promised they would end the unprecedented obstruction. at the senate's executive counter shows nothing has changed since july. apublicans have continued record of obstruction and no agreement had ever been reached.
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there are currently 75 executive branch nominations ready to be confirmed by the senate and have been waiting an average of 134 days of confirmation. to the agency that safeguards the water that my children and grandchildren drink. and the air they breathe has we denied hundred days for confirmation. beagreed the sum should ensuring the proper got function of government. it has turned advise and consent. senate republicans also blocked
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a sitting member of congress from an administration position for the first time since 1843. is a senior member of the house financial services committee, understanding the mistakes and housing prices made it uniquely qualified to serve as administrative federal house agency. so republicans don't like consumer protections. they denied a fellow member of congress and a graduate of the yale school of law even the courtesy of an up or down vote. mr. president in the last three weeks alone republicans have blocked up and down votes on three highly qualified nominees. they twice turned down one of the most qualified people in 30 years in the senate.
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three more to add to that list. is considered to be many the highest court of the land. these conference cases come from federal agencies and other things within their jurisdiction. fourlicans have blocked president obama's nominees in the bc circuit. approvedemocrats president bush's six nominations. the d.c. circuit court, at least the most -- at least the second most important court in the land, has 25% of vacancies. ask -- there is a conversation over here that is quite distraction. >> the senate will be in order. the senator has a right to be heard. >> thank you.
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president, there isn't a single legitimate objection to the qualifications of any of these nominations in the d.c. circuit for president obama has put forward. republicans refused to give him an up or down vote, a simple yes or no vote. republicans to play don't want president obama to make any appointments at all. none, zero. further only 23 district nominations have been filibustered in the entire history of our country. 20 of them have been in the last 4.5 years. 230 plus years. the last 4.5 years, 20, that's not fair. federal out of every 10 americanss vacant,
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will rely and courts that are overworked and understaffed and being denied the justice they rightly deserved. mr. president, more than half of the nation's population lives in parts of the country that have been declared a judicial emergency. no one has worked harder than the presiding officer to move judges. no one knows the problem more than the presiding officer. the american people are fed up with this kind of obstruction. people, democrats, republicans, independents are fed up with this gridlock, this obstruction. wantmerican people washington to work for american families once again. i'm on their side, which is why i propose an important change to the rules in the united states senate.
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leader,ent republican and this is a direct quotes, the senate has repeatedly changed rules as circumstances dictate. right, infect the senate has changed 18 times by sustaining our ruling of a presetting officer in the last six years. the change we propose today will ensure executive and judicial nominations. , yes, no.own vote will make culture for all nominations other than the spring court. a majority threshold vote, yes or no. the senate is a living thing. as itvive it must change has over the history of this great country. average american, adapting rules to make the senate work again is just common sense.
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this is not about democrats versus republicans, this is about making washington work regardless of who's in the white house or who controls the senate. to remain relevant and effective, the senate must evolve to meet the challenges of this modern era. i have no doubt my republican colleagues argued the fault is ours, it is the democrats fault. thatsider from experience no one's hands are entirely clean on this issue. today the import distinction is not between democrats and republicans. it is between those who are held at -- those who are willing to help break the gridlock in washington and those who are willing to defend the status quo. senate is say the working now? i don't think so. democrats and independents are saying enough is enough.
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when republicans are in power, these changes will apply to them just as well. that is simple fairness. we should be willing to work with. >> clerk will call the roll. >> without objection. >> over the past several weeks the american people have been witness to one of the most rest of bigindictments
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government liberalism in memory. i'm not just talking about a website. was talking about the way obamacare was forced on the public by an administration and a democratic led congress that is willing to do and say any thing, anything to pass the law. the president and his democratic allies were so determined to force their vision of health care on the public that they assured them up and down that they wouldn't lose the plans they had they saved money instead of losing it, and they would be able to use the doctors and hospitals they were already using. we know that rhetoric just doesn't match. stories we are hearing on a daily basis range from heartbreaking to comic. just yesterday i saw a story about a guy getting a letter in the mail saying his dog had
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qualified for insurance. under obama care. probably be running for the exit to if i supported this law. i would be looking to change the subject. just as senate democrats have been doing with their threats of going nuclear and changing the senate rules on nominations. the senator for oregon, for example, which hasn't enrolled a single person for the obama person exchange, i would probably want to talk about something else. but here's the problem with this latest distraction. it doesn't distract people from obamacare, it reminds them of obama care. it reminds them of all the broken promises.
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it reminds them of the power grab. it reminds them of the way democrats set up one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else. them, and rules for another for everybody else. this is all basically the same debate. rather than distract people from obamacare it only reinforces the narrative of a party that is willing to do and say just about anything to get its way. do or say just about anything to get its way. that is just what they are doing all over again. democrats are threatening to break the rules of the senate , break the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the senate. over what?
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over a court that doesn't even have enough work to do. millions of americans are hurting because of a law washington democrats forced upon them. they cook up some fake fight over judges. a fake fight over judges. it.t as i indicated i want to be talking about something else to if i had to defend docs getting insurance while millions of americans lost theirs. but it won't work. and the parallels between this latest skirmish and the original obamacare push are just too obvious to ignore. think about it. just think about it. the majority leader promised, he agained over and over that he wouldn't break the rules
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of the senate. july the 14th on meet the press said we are not touching judges. july 14, meet the press, we are not touching judges. then there are the double standards. when democrats were in the minority they argued strenuously for the very thing they now say we will have to do without. the -- namely the right to extend did they -- extended debate on lifetime appointment. they believe once of rules and another to them set everybody else. he may as well just have as said
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if you like the senate rules you can keep them. if you like the rules of the senate you can keep them. just the way so many democrats in the ministry should encompass believe obamacare is good enough for their constituents, but then when it comes to political allies and their staff that is different. let us not forget about the raw power. the raw power at play here. this point the similarities between the obama care debate and the democratic threats to go nuclear on an -- nuclear on innovation are inescapable. they muscle through obamacare and didn't care about the views of the minority. that is just about what they are going to do here. the american people decided to give the democrats -- not to
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give the democrats the house or to restore filibuster proof to the senate back in 2009. and our democratic colleagues don't like that one bit. the american people are getting in the way. of what they would like to do. so they try to change the rules of the game to get their way anyway. they said so themselves. earlier this year they said they want to fill up the d.c. circuit one way or the other. philip the d.c. circuit one way or the other. and the reason is clear. obama's agenda runs through the d.c. circuit. can get what you want through the congress because the in 2010 people know they said they had enough, they
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issued a national restraining order after watching two years of this administration on restraint. run through the bureaucracy and d.c. circuit. as i said, among the first two years of the obama administration there is now legislative check on the president. and the administration doesn't much like checks and balances. our democratic colleagues want to facilitate that by filling up a court that will rule on his agenda. a court that doesn't even have enough work to do, especially if it means changing the subject --m obamacare 48 few days for a few days. they think they can change the rules of the senate in a way that benefits only them. they want to do it in such a way that president obama's picks get enacted.
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republican -- they want to have it both ways. this would've gerrymandered vision of the nuclear option is really just wishful thinking. the majority leaders change the rules for some judicial nominees and effectively changing them for all judicial nominees, including the supreme court. so what? the rest of you guys in the conference should know better. those of you who had been in the minority should know better. let us remember how we got here.
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letter member it was senate democrats who literally pioneered the process of filibustering circuit court nominees. -- his biggest proponents who've been its biggest proponents in the recent past. they even held a retreat in which they changed the rules by which lifetime appointments are considered. the senior center from new york in the past the practice had been these are filibuster circuit court nominations. remember voting on circuit judges to the ninth circuit, knowing full well that once it was invoked they would be confirmed. this business of filibustering circuit court judges was entirely an invention of the
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other side. they made it up. they started it. and this is where we ended up. electedesident bush was they held this retreat i was talking about. and made a big deal about it. a prelude to what followed, the serial filibustering of several of whoseent bush's nominees, nominations to the d.c. circuit was filibustered by senate democrats a record seven times. now they want to blow up the rules because republicans are following the precedents they themselves set and we are following the precedent in a much more modest way then democrats did. how about this for suggestion, how about instead of picking a
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to a core that doesn't even have enough work to do, how about taking yes for an answer and fulfilling emergencies that actually exist. democrats now want to set another one. i have no doubt they will come to regret that one as well. colleagues would rather live for the moment. satisfy the moment, live for the try to establish a storyline that republicans are intent on obstructing president obama's judicial nominees. that storyline is patently ridiculous in light of the facts, and an utterly absurd suggestion in light of the facts.
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before they philip the d.c. circuit one way or the other the of thehad confirmed 215 president's judicial nominees that is a 99%wo confirmation rate. 215 confirmed and to reject it. occasionally consent is not given. standard senate republicans have been very fair to this president. we have been willing to confirm we just confirmed one in the d.c. circuit.
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i suggest our colleagues take a stop trying to jam us, work with us instead to confirm vacancies that actually need to be filled. this exchange rate has gone from threat to anual annual threat, now to a quarterly threat. how many times have we been threatened? do what i say or we will break the rules to change the rules. confirm every body. 100%. anything less than that is obstructionism. that is what they are saying to us. not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer. you think this is in the best interest of the united states ?enate
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obviously you can break the rules to change the rules to achieve that. some of us have been around here -- thisugh to know that of distract, distract, distract, is getting old. i don't think the american people know about this. if our colleagues want to fill judicial baggins -- judicial vacancies, 99% of judges confirmed, obviously we're willing to do that. games, set to play yet another precedent that you will no doubt come to regret. you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.
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let me be clear, the democratic playbook of broken promises, ,ouble standards, and raw power the same playbook that got us obamacare has to end. it may take the american people to end it, but it has to end. why republicans are going to keep their focus where it on the concern of the american people. we are going to keep pushing to replace obamacare with real for -- real reforms and leave the political games to our friends. on the other side of the aisle. >> we didn't have the chance to debate the change in rules that we should have, some going to speak now on some things that should have s

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