Floor Updates

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jul 28 2014 2:00 PM

The Senate convened. 


Opening Remarks

Jul 28 2014 2:16 PM

Today -
  • Following the Leaders' remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of Executive Calendar #929, Pamela Harris, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, equally divided.
  • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct up to five confirmation VOTES on:
  1. Executive Calendar #929;
  2. Executive Calendar #915, Elliot F. Kaye, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; 
  3. Executive Calendar #916, Elliot F. Kaye, to be Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission;
  4. Executive Calendar #913, Joseph P. Mohorovic, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and
  5. Executive Calendar #744, Brian P. McKeon, to be a Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense. 
Senator Reid: (2:03 PM)
  • Spoke on Israel.
    • SUMMARY "Last week Secretary of Defense requested Congress allocate millions in emergency funding to help Israel's defense system. After weeks of fighting, Israel needs these funds to replace the weaponry used to destroy Hamas' incoming rockets but there is no guarantee Israel won't need our help again. If this conflict continues for weeks or months, what this funding does do for the time being, though, is provide Israel with the resources to continue defending its people from these terrorist attacks. Last Thursday the Republican Leader urged the Senate to act quickly in approving the Defense Secretary request. I agree with my friend, the Republican Leader. We must pass legislation providing Israel with its critical aid. But in my opinion, the $225 million being requested is only temporary."
  • Spoke on wildfires.
    • SUMMARY "We should work here in the Senate and quickly putting together this funding. We have the request; it's certainly a good request. And we should get this emergency funding to the states so they can be protected. When I say to the states, we have, right now we have more than 4,000 firefighters out there. 4,000. There's an army out there fighting fires; very dangerous we know. Every year people are killed. We know what happened in Arizona just a year and a half ago where 21 people were fighting fires and were burned in a devastating fire, that they were dead in a matter of a few minutes. Americans living in these areas are in dire need of our help, the federal government's help. There is no reason to delay getting aid to our own people."

Nelson, Sessions, Whitehouse

Executive Session

Jul 28 2014 3:43 PM

Senator Nelson: (2:29 PM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "If we could have a greater percentage of those drugs interdicted, then we would seriously start to diminish all of this migration to the north through the rest of Central America and through Mexico to the Texas border. And let me just point out one thing in closing. Why are the children not coming from the other three countries  right there, Belize, Nicaragua , Panama, Costa Rica, a fourth country in Central America? The children are not coming from those. They're coming from the three are where all the drugs are. And where the drug lords have taken over."
  • Spoke on Chinese drywall.
    • SUMMARY "What does this say about our policy of letting Chinese manufacturers import pretty much any kind of consumer product that they want into this country without mandating any legal recourse if something goes wrong? We thought we had this in the Hague convention. Well, the fact that Chinese companies routinely ignore service of process under ratified international conventions. The reason for this speech is to call on Taishan and the Chinese government to do the right thing - stop hiding and finally help the homeowners who have had their lives turned upside-down at great financial and personal health loss by your defective product. And if they don't, then, I think it's time for the U.S. Senate to take action to make sure that the Chinese and other foreign manufacturers are held financially accountable for defective products."
Senator Sessions: (2:54 PM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "Every member of this Congress, republican or democrat, will place a time of choosing this week directly or indirectly. Every member would be asked to support and stop this legislation that would be asked by the President. It's not hard to do. It will be a simple choice and people will remember. The choice is clear. Do you support and approve the President's proposed actions? For those who cosponsored legislation to stop this illegality, their answer will be clear. For those who refuse to take simple action to stop it, they will have voted to enable what the national journal has rightly called explosive action by the President."
Senator Whitehouse: (3:31 PM)
  • Spoke on the highway trust fund.
    • SUMMARY "If you're really looking out for the ordinary American, if you're looking out for the ordinary American consumer, if you're really looking out for the ordinary American consumer's pocketbook, you will invest more in infrastructure so that our cars aren't being banged up and beaten up on bad roads, obsolete bridges and unfilled potholes. So I am going to hold my nose and vote for this House-passed bill because at this point the only alternative is a shutdown of the highway program. But let's be clear, this bill is a joke that does nothing on long-term investments in our infrastructure, nothing on a sustainable way to pay for them. We should not procrastinate until next may. We should start right now by building off of the bipartisan six-year bill the environment and public works committee passed to give our constituents the infrastructure investments they are counting on us for."

Coons, Grassley, Hatch, Wyden

Executive Session

Jul 28 2014 5:12 PM

Senator Coons: (4:02 PM)
  • Spoke on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
    • SUMMARY "The middle-class jobs of today and tomorrow require higher skill levels than ever before as the economy continues to evolve. America needs a system that emphasizes lifelong learning, learning on the job, constant adjustment. This is a challenge that members of both parties are well aware of and are dedicated to stepping up and meeting. And that's what the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is really all about. To put it in some context, by 2021, we're projected to have 11 million fewer workers with postsecondary educations than our economy will need. But the WIOA, by consolidating 15 outdated or redundant federal job training programs, by creating new board accountability standards, and by giving cities and states the flexibility to meet their economy's unique local needs, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will help us make up that shortfall."
  • Spoke on the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014.
    • SUMMARY "The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014. This bill will take on a simple but important challenge. Because today's manufacturing jobs require higher skill levels than ever, higher skill levels than yesterday's assembly line jobs, so our schools and in particular our universities need to be equipping students with those skills. And since innovation, research and development keeps leading to new materials and new technologies that are critical to keeping American manufacturing at the cutting edge of the global economy, we also need to connect our universities with our manufacturers. The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014 would create a competitive grant program that would ultimately designate 25 American universities as manufacturing universities."
Senator Grassley: (4:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the Harris nomination.
    • SUMMARY "This is a nominee who actually thinks the constitution embodies her personal left-wing philosophy and has said it this way - worst pretty close to where, "Pretty close to where I am." This is a nominee who suggested that a judicial nominee's religious faith is a valid consideration for service on the federal bench. This is a nominee who thinks partial-birth abortion is just, "Latish kind of abortion" and who criticizes state partial birth abortion laws as ginned up by fake controversies and bogus data. And I explained earlier a vote for this nominee is a vote in favor of ObamaCare. That's why she is being hurried onto the fourth circuit ahead of two other nominees to other courts of appeal. It's the Majority Leader's simple math. This is perhaps the most liberal judicial nominee we've seen from this President so far, which is why I'm going to vote no on this nominee and urge my colleagues to do likewise."
Senator Hatch: (4:32 PM)
  • Spoke on Senate rules and procedure.
    • SUMMARY "This body can again be the source of great legislative achievements borne out of thoughtful deliberation and inclusive consideration. But this Majority Leader's slash and burn tactics are not the path to achieve these worthy ends. They are a dead end, leading only to the destruction of this institution that has served our nation so well for so long. Instead, restoring the Senate will require us all, republicans and democrats alike, to stand up for the institution's rules, traditions and precedents and for our individual prerogatives as senators. The Majority Leader's my friend, but I have got to say these criticisms are valid, they are honorable, and it is about time that people on both sides of the floor start to realize that, hey, we can't keep going this way and still call this the greatest deliberative body in the world. It's pathetic. I think people on both sides know it's pathetic. And it's time for it to stop."
Senator Wyden: (4:59 PM)
  • Spoke on the highway trust fund.
    • SUMMARY "With respect to this transportation bill, if we can get it up tomorrow night so we can have a real debate, a real debate on this critical issue, we could have two bipartisan amendments, and two from the minority that will shape not only transportation policy but also policies in vital other areas, including taxes, pensions and trade. And if the votes on these amendments, bipartisan amendments, fairly structured so that both sides would have a chance to weigh in, if the votes on these amendments are going to be given full and fair consideration and not just be some kind of exercise in futility, they have to be held in the next day."
  • Spoke on Senate rules and procedure.
    • SUMMARY "I simply come this afternoon more than anything else what I sought to do, is to try to advance exactly what Senator Hatch has been talking about. Regular order, the chance for both sides to be heard on critical issues, and try to get beyond some of the polarizing, divisive kind of rhetoric that certainly you hear outside the capitol. I was home this weekend marching in parades, getting out across the state. That's what I heard continually, people coming up and saying. Ron, can't the Senate, can't the Congress find a way to come together? Senator Hatch and I did that on a bipartisan proposal. There are other bipartisan proposals, proposals that ensure the minority have a chance to be heard."

Vote Results (Confirmation)

Executive Session (Harris Nomination)

Jul 28 2014 6:09 PM

Confirmed, 50-43: 
Executive Calendar #929, Pamela Harris, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Cardin, Klobuchar (UC), Inhofe, Whitehouse

MTP to the Bring Jobs Home Act (S. 2569)

Jul 28 2014 6:44 PM

Senator Cardin: (5:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the Harris nomination.
    • SUMMARY "If she's confirmed - and hopefully she will be in a few moments literally - to serve justice regardless of a person's wealth or poverty. As a private attorney, she helped develop a relationship with the public defender of Maryland to provide help to indigent individuals who needed additional services. She's committed to pro Bono. She's committed to equal access of justice, in addition to everything else she has done in her career. She has the talent, she has the commitment to all in our community, and she understands what the appropriate role is for a judge."
Senator Klobuchar: (6:16 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "So now we have scientists, business leaders, church groups, outdoor groups, all out in front on this issue and in fact a recent poll found that 63% of Americans believe that this is occurring. 63% of Americans believe it is occurring, yet where is the United States Senate? Where are we? Well, we have an opportunity today and that is to pass this simple resolution saying that it is the sense of the Senate that global climate change is occurring and will continue to pose ongoing risks, continue to pose those risks and challenges to the people and the government of the United States. This should not be that hard for this Congress to simply say that."
  • Unanimous Consent -
    • The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. Res. 524, Expressing the Sense of the Senate Regarding Global Warming. 
    • The Senate agree to S. Res. 524. 
  • (Senator Inhofe objects)
Senator Inhofe: (6:23 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "So the Australian people are thanking their Prime Minister and I believe that we will be able to protect the American people from the senseless global warming policies in the United States. It's something they've tried for 15 years now. Every time they stand up and say, oh, the science is settled and then we come up with more groups. I remember the first time they said the science is settle, 12 years ago. Look at my web site. I named a handful of scientists who had been intimidated by the IPCC - that's the United Nations - into saying yes, we want you to partnership but to do this, you've got to believe this stuff on global warming. And, of course, it didn't happen. So we started listing, we got several hundred and then several thousand scientists that we still have on the web site, you can access them. It's not just recently scientists have changed their mind on this because they started a long time ago."
Senator Whitehouse: (6:33 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change. 
    • SUMMARY "You look at the history of how this got to be the hottest decade on record, and over and over you can look at the graph and you see these steps. To pretend that each step is the last one runs completely against the science. So to say that we have no warming is just not factual. To say that the government - he used the word colluding. Is colluding together. That's a fairly tough word to use. Let me tell you some of the government agencies who are so-called colluding together. How about NASA? We trust them to send our astronauts into space. We trust them to deliver a rover the size of an SUV to the surface of Mars safely and drive it around, sending data and pictures back from Mars to us. You think these people know what they're talking about? We're talking about NOAA with our weather predicting and that's what they tell us. No one is saying they're incompetent; don't listen when people warn about storms. How about the United States Navy?  The commander in chief of our pacific command, Admiral Locklear has said the number one problem is from climate change. Is he colluding when he says that?"

Jul 28 2014 7:49 PM

Tomorrow -
  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 AM.
  • Following the Leaders' remarks, the Senate will be in a period of morning business until noon, with Republicans controlling the first half and Democrats controlling the second half.
  • At noon, the Senate will begin consideration of Executive Calendar #952, Robert Alan McDonald, to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 
  • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons. 
  • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of Executive Calendar #952, with the time until 2:45 PM equally divided.
  • At 2:45 PM, the Senate will conduct up to four confirmation VOTES on: 
  1. Executive Calendar #952;
  2. Executive Calendar #530, Larry Edward Andre, Jr., to be U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania; 
  3. Executive Calendar #543, Michael Stephen Hoza, to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon; and 
  4. Executive Calendar #899, Joan A. Polaschik, to be U.S. Ambassador to the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria. 
  • Note: Only Executive Calendar #952 is expected to be a roll call vote.
  • Following votes, the Senate will begin consideration of H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014.
  • Tomorrow evening, at a time to be determined, the Senate will conduct up to five VOTES on:
  1. Wyden amendment #3582 (replace title II with different $11 billion offset package reported by the Finance Committee);
  2. Carper/Corker/Boxer amendment #3593 (shorten extension from May 31, 2015 to December 19, 2014);
  3. Lee amendment #3584 (mirrors S. 1702; phase down the federal gas tax over five years from 18.4 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents and transfer highway authorities proportionally from the federal government to the states);
  4. Toomey amendment #3585 (streamline construction of bridges, roads, and highway damaged during disasters); and
  5. Passage of H.R. 5021, as amended, if amended. 
  • Note: All four amendments and passage of the bill are subject to a 60-vote affirmative threshold.
Monday, July 28 -
  • Cloture was filed on:
  1. S. 2569, the outsourcing bill (all first-degree amendments must be filed by 1:00 PM tomorrow and the amendment tree is filled); and
  2. S. 2648, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2014. 
Senator Boxer: (6:40 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "It acknowledges the top military leaders at the Pentagon have concluded the impacts of climate change are growing concern. Sometimes when the military makes a statement, it's hard to understand it. This one is really clear. You know what they say? They say that climate change is moving from a threat multiplier to a catalyst for conflict. Let me say that again. They used to think it was a threat multiplier. So if there was a problem, say in Syria where there's a horrific drought and some people think that whole conflict has a lot of roots in that drought, where it used to be a multiplier, now they are saying it could actually be the reason why there are conflicts. Now, I cannot believe that my republican friends would cast away the words of our military leaders and stand up here and object to this resolution. All it says is climate change is happening, these are the people who say it's happening, and it's a risk to the American people if we don't address it… He invited four former republican E.P.A. Administrators who served under the last four republican presidents - Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush. Listen to this. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush, all of these former administrators said climate change requires action now and it should not be a partisan issue."