Floor Updates

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mar 13 2012 10:00 AM

The Senate Convened.

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Mar 13 2012 10:39 AM

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will proceed to a period of Morning Business for 1 hour, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Thereafter, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1813, the Highway bill.
    • At 12:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      • (1) DeMint amendment #1756 (state authority); and
      • (2) Bingaman amendment #1759 (privatized highways).
    • Following the ROLL CALL VOTE on the Bingaman amendment, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume a series of ROLL CALL VOTES on the remaining 20 amendments to S. 1813, the Highway bill:
      • Roberts amendment #1826, as modified (side-by-side to Stabenow amendment #1812, as modified) (60 votes required);
      • Stabenow amendment #1812, as modified (energy tax credits) (60 votes required);
      • DeMint amendment #1589 (repeal certain energy tax subsidies) (60 votes required);
      • Menendez/Burr amendment #1782 (Natural Gas Act) (60 votes required);
      • Coats amendment #1517 (make percentage of gas taxes equal to percentage of apportioned funds);
      • Brown-OH amendment #1819 (Buy America provisions);
      • Blunt amendment #1540 (off-system bridges);
      • Merkley amendment #1814 (farm vehicle exemptions);
      • Portman amendment #1736 (state transportation spending flexibility);
      • Klobuchar amendment #1617 (transportation of agricultural commodities and farm supplies);
      • Corker amendment #1785, as modified (adjust FY13 discretionary spending cap);
      • Shaheen amendment #1678 (increase funding for public transportation systems with less than 50 buses);
      • Portman amendment #1742 (non-highway uses in rest areas);
      • Corker amendment #1810 (limit expenditures to amount in Highway Trust Fund);
      • Carper amendment #1670 (removal of federal program limitations);
      • Hutchison amendment #1568 (prohibit new tolls);
      • McCain amendment #1669, as modified (noise abatement over Grand Canyon);
      • Alexander amendment #1779 (overflights of national parks);
      • Boxer amendment #1816 (sense of Senate re: expeditious environmental reviews); and
      • Paul amendment #1556 (emergency exemptions).
  • A managers' package will also be in order, along with applicable budget points of order and applicable motions to waive. Upon disposition of all amendments, the Senate will VOTE on passage of the bill, as amended.

  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today we resume consideration of the most important piece of jobs legislation we've had here in a long time, and that's the highway bill but it's more than a highway bill. It's a surface transportation bill. It deals with all aspects of helping our failing bridges - there are 70,000 of those. We have 20% of our highways in non-safe condition. We have problems with our mass transportation system, rails, and other such things. So we have to move forward building this nation's infrastructure with this legislation alone. It will save or create 2.8 million jobs. This is an effort to build a world-class transportation system that was started during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower and every President since then has recognized the need to go forward with the vision that General Eisenhower had."
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "We have a small business jobs bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the House and supported by President Obama and we are - I had a conversation on the floor publicly here last night with the Republican Whip, Senator keel of Arizona, and we talked about the need to get this done and we're going to move forward with this expeditiously. There are obviously bumps in the road and I hope there will be very few bumps in the road We need to move forward. I think you kind of get the message when there's about 390 vote for a bill and 20 against it. So I think we have to move forward on this. The one thing I am going to do is have a perfecting amendment prepared that will allow us to move forward on reauthorizing ex-im bank It's an important piece of legislation, and I hope that we can add that to the small business jobs bill. If we can't, I understand that but it would be a shame to miss that opportunity to do that. We are interested in this IPO bill that has been supported by the House and the President of the United States. I'm convinced it'll spur small business growth. It's not going to create the jobs that we have in the highway bill, but it's good for job growth. It will bring more capital into the business world and that's what we've needed for several years now and it would streamline the way companies sell stock."
  • Spoke on GOP obstructionism of judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "With the length of time that judges are reported out of committee, Clinton a few days, Bush a few days and of course now we're talking about many months with Obama's nominations. That's not fair. They should all be entitled to up-or-down votes, especially when they came out of the committee so overwhelmingly with rare exception. There's no reason that we should eat up one day of precious time that the senate has to pass these commonsense measures. The Senate wants to confirm 18 of President Bush - the Senate once confirmed 18 of President Bush's nominations in a single day. There's too much to do. The Senate doesn't have the luxury to waste anymore time."

Senator McConnell: (10:12 AM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "Once we finish the Highway bill, we ought to immediately turn to the bipartisan jobs bill that passed the House last Thursday. The vote was 390 to 23. Let me say that again. The vote in the House was 390 to 23. The President has also indicated he would sign the House bill, so it strikes me with the jobs emergency that we have in this bill with 8.3% unemployment, many more millions of Americans having given up trying to get into the workforce, the thing to do is to pocket this broad, bipartisan bill and rye to create jobs immediate - and try to create jobs immediately. I've heard my friend, the Majority leader, say he wants to re-craft it. All that will do is slow down the process and make it more difficult to get this important jobs legislation to the President's desk rapidly. So I hope the Majority leader will reconsider whether we need to kind of reinvent the wheel here. I mean, this is already broadly supported, bipartisan bill which the President has said he will sign as soon as we send it to him. I don't know why we would want to make something that is simple extraordinarily complicated. The Majority leader has indicated that instead we're going to turn to something contentious instead of trying to do something that almost all of us agree on, certainly in the house, and the president agrees on, that would focus us on jobs and actually do some good. The american people think we spend a lot of time spinning our wheels around here. I think they'd - rather than sort of try to manufacture gridlock and create the illusion of conflict where none should exist, why don't we demonstrate we can actually get something done together. In a moment when millions of Americans are looking for work and millions more are struggling with the high price of gas, we have an opportunity to do something together right now. As soon as we finish this Highway bill. We could send a small but important signal to job creators."
  • Unanimous Consent: Not withstanding any other rule of the Senate that immediately following the disposition of the pending Transportation bill the Senate proceed to consideration of H.R. 3606, a bill received from the House which would increase American job creation and economic growth by improving access to public capital markets or emerging growth companies (JOBS Act). I further ask consent that the bill remain the pending business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of. (Reid objected).

Senator Reid: (10:19 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I know when people talk, they're always afraid that people aren't listening. Maybe my friend, the Republican leader, didn't hear my presentation this morning. There's nothing to fight about. I just said we're going to move this bill as quickly as we can. I said that I've heard that the Ranking member of the Banking committee wants to take a look at this. I encourage him to do so, talk to Senator Johnson. I said that we're going to have an opportunity on a perfecting amendment to vote on something I thought everyone wanted. Republicans want it. Democrats want it. The business community wants it. The workers of this country need it and it's an Ex-Im bank, to reauthorize that which goes out of business at the end of may. That will take, it will slow this bill up maybe a half an hour, one half-hour. So, there is no - I've said many times, let's - if we're going to have a fight, make it over something worthwhile. There's nothing to fight about here. We're going to move through this as quickly as we can."

Senator McConnell: (10:21 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Not to continue the debate interminably, but it is a question of priorities. We do agree that we ought to pass this jobs bill. Certainly if it were called up, it would be open for amendment, and the Majority leader could offer the Ex--Im bank. It's a question of priorities. we've had some differences which I'll address later, not now but later, relating to the confirmation of judges and the responsibility of the Senate under the constitution of the united states, or do we want to turn immediately to a jobs bill that we overwhelmingly agree to as the Majority leader has just conceded in his remarks. So it's a question of priorities. Do you want to have the Senate in a big fight in procedure off we finish the highway bill or do you want to turn to an overwhelmingly bipartisan jobs bill supported by the President, passed by the House? It's a question of priorities. What do we want to do next for the American people?"

Senator Reid: (10:22 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I am stunned by our controversy over nothing. Under the rules of the Senate, we filed, because there's been stalling, obstruction on the lives 17 men. I didn't file on the appellate judges. Only the trial court judges. Each one of these men and women life has been brought to a standstill. They have the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to become a federal trial court judge. They shouldn't have to wait until October. I say to my friend, let's - we can approve these judges in one minute. Let's do that. It's not fair just to say that the lives these 17 men and women is unimportant, put it over until some later time. We have no problem with the IPO bill we got from the House. How could we? It got 390 votes in the House. The President of the United States supports it. We support it. We want to get this done, and we'll do it just as quickly as we can. It may not be ten minutes from now or 24 hours from now, but we'll move to it just as quickly as we can but we can move to it very quickly. As soon as we finish this Highway bill, we could move to those judges, get those disposed of. We could be on this - it might take an hour after the Highway bill, but that's about all."

Senator Reid: (10:28 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Before my friend leaves, how about a deal on that? We'll go to that as soon as we finish this Highway bill. We will move to the IPO bill, and as soon as we finish that, get it out of the Senate, we will then have up-or-down votes on those 17 judges. This does not include an agreement on the appellate judges. We'll deal with those at a subsequent time. How about that deal?"

Senator McConnell: (10:29 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "The point is this: we have been processing judges. It is highly unlikely any of these district judges are not going to be confirmed. We've done a number of them this year. We've done seven this year. District judges are almost never defeated. This is just a very transparent attempt to try to slam dunk the minority and make them look like they're obstructing things they aren't obstructing. We object to that. We don't think that meets the so any effort to make the minority look bad or slam dunk them that is manufactured as this is, is going to of course be greeted with resistance. It could be that is precisely what my friend the Majority leader has in mind, to try to make the Senate look like it's embroiled in controversy where no controversy exists. So my suggestion is, why don't we do first things first. First things first and it strikes me that an overwhelming bipartisan jobs bill cleared in the House would be something the American people would applaud, supported by the President. Why don't we take that up."

Senator Reid: (10:31 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "It is obvious that the jobs bill has nothing to do with the holding up of these judges, as has been articulated by my friend. It is just a case of stalling things, as has happened all this congress. We have, as indicated, more than half the American people are in areas where there's judicial emergencies The controversy on the IPO bill does not exist. I would suggest to my friend, though, I don't think we should have a - if this bill is so important - and I believe it is - though we have very many things to do - the post office, don't want it to go broke; we have the violence Americans women to get done; we have all these judges, of course; we have cyber security. So if we move quickly and I'm going to move quickly to this IPOD bill, I can't imagine why we would need any amendments. I can offer a perfecting amendment and that would be to find out if the body, who feels strongly about what they've said publicly, that the Ex-Im bank should be part of the deal. That takes about 15 minutes but in addition to that, we're not going to have a knock down, drag out on the IPO if everybody loves it so much, we should get to the desk just as fast as we can."

Leahy, Boxer, Alexander

Morning Business

Mar 13 2012 11:02 AM

Senator Leahy: (10:33 AM)
  • Spoke on GOP obstructionism of judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "He seeks to secure Senate votes for 17 highly qualified federal district court nominations, favorably reported by the Judiciary committee. They're being blocked by Senate Republicans and I wish that we should find a way to stop these damaging filibusters. They're totally unprecedented. It is damaging greatly the most respected court system in the world, our federal court system. That means that Americans are not getting the justice without delay that they are entitled to. I have been here 37 years. Republican presidents, Democratic presidents, Republican majorities, Democratic majorities - never in that 37 years have we seen district court nominees blocked for months, as we've seen since President Obama was elected. These kind of consensus nominees are normally taken up within a few days or a week after being voted out - after being nominated and voted out of our Judiciary committee. It was certainly the approach taken by Senate Democrats when President Bush sent his consensus nominees. As a result, we were able to reduce vacancies in the presidential election years of 2004 and 2008 to the lowest levels. We confirmed 205 of President Bush's judicial nominees in his first term and for those that want to understand where the partisanship it, those first 48 months of President Bush's first term, a little bit of history. 31 months of those 48, Republicans controlled the Senate. 17 months, Democrats controlled the Senate. To show that we wanted to set aside partisanship, in our 17 months that we were in control, we confirmed 100 of President Bush's nominees. Now, in the 31 months that Republicans were in charge, they did more. they did 105. So the fact is, we actually moved a lot faster on President Bush's nominees than the Republicans did. I was Chairman, and I tried to do that just to get us away from what we'd seen where Republicans had pocket-filibustered 60 of President Clinton's nominees. I wanted to get back to where we took the federal courts out of politics but we see now a complete reversal of this. Senate Republicans ensure that nominees from the past would be confirmed promptly by the Senate are now blocked for months. An unprecedented number of President Obama's highly qualified men and women to the district court have been targeted for obstruction while extreme outside groups tarnish their reputations with invented controversies. It is unprecedented. It hurts our system of justice in this country."

Senator Boxer: (10:42 AM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "I just thought I could give the senators and those who may be following this very elongated debate on the Highway bill an update as to where we are. We have a managers' package that we're hoping to approve momentarily. It is a bipartisan package. We continue to work across the aisle and under the consent, we want to move forward with that. we had a bit of a holdup yesterday. We're working to find out why, but we're very hopeful that that will move forward. Then we have a series of votes on amendments, beginning at about noon. So at 11:30 or so we'll be back on the bill and I just wanted to say to my friends on the other side of the aisle and my friends on this side of the aisle that we are making great progress. This is a jobs bill. This is a major jobs bill. This is the biggest jobs bill. Now, they passed an IPO bill over there in the House. Eric Cantor is saying it is a jobs bill. I don't know how many jobs it will create. It's an investor bill. It's good. I'm for it but it doesn't come anywhere close to the bill we're working on today. Because on March 31, if we do not act on this transportation bill, everything will come to a screeching halt, if I might use that analogy because there won't be a gas tax anymore going into the federal trust fund, highway trust fund; there won't be any funds going from the federal government to the various planning organizations in all of our states and communities."

Senator Alexander: (10:51 AM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "This is a little disagreement that we have here between the Majority leader and the Republican leader on the scheduling of votes on district judges. It's not a high constitutional matter. It's not even a high principle. It's not even a big disagreement. It's a little disagreement, because what's always happened is the back and forth of scheduling, they work it out and they have been working it out. I took a look at the last three years. In the first two years of President Obama's administration, he nominated 78 district judges and 76 of those judges were confirmed. They were confirmed. 76 of 78 in the first two years. He withdrew two. Then last year 61 more district judges were confirmed. What about this year? What about 2012? The President's made a few nominations, but they haven't been considered yet by the Judiciary committee. So where are we in 2012? We have 17 district court judgeships that have been recommended by the Judiciary committee. They could be brought up by the majority leader. He has the right to do that but of those 17, six of them - six of them - have been here for less than 30 days. They just got here, that leaves 11. How long have they been there? They came in October, November and December of last year and normally they would have been included in a year-end clearing but everybody knows what happens. The President decided to violate the Reid rule, which says that you don't make recess appointments during three-day pro forma sessions. That was invented by the Majority leader of the United States Senate, Senator Reid. President bush didn't like it but he respected it but President Obama violated it, and it blew up the year-end clearing of a number of nominees, including district judges. So we have some district judges who are waiting to be confirmed, but we don't have many."

Menendez, Hutchison, Boxer, Bingaman, DeMint

Morning Business/Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 12:03 PM

Senator Menendez: (11:14 AM)
  • Spoke on Menendez/Burr amendment #1782 (Natural Gas Act).
    • SUMMARY "Why aren't we all driving around in natural gas vehicles paying a little over $2 per gallon equivalent? The reason this inexpensive fuel is not widely used is because there are not many natural gas vehicles in the United States and there are also very few places to refuel. Currently there are nearly 14 million natural-gas vehicles in the world, but only about 117,000 in the United States. The car and truck manufacturers want to see that natural-gas utilities will invest in refueling infrastructure, and the natural-gas utilities want to see more natural-gas vehicles on the road. So it's a classic chicken or the egg problem. What both the manufacturers and the utilities need to see is a strong stance by the federal government to jump-start this market. The NAT Gas Act will do just that by jump starting the industry and in ten years add over 700,000 natural-gas vehicles to our roads and help incentivize the installation of refueling stations around the nation. in addition, it is estimated that the bill will displace over 20 billion gallons of petroleum fuel and create over one million direct and indirect jobs. I know that some of my colleagues are thinking isn't this just another handout to energy companies and the answer to that question is a resounding "no." this legislation is fully paid for with a small fee on natural gas used as a vehicle fuel. As I mentioned earlier, natural gas is over $1.50 cheaper than gasoline or diesel. This amendment would use some of those savings to help overcome the market barriers for natural gas vehicles and supporting infrastructure. The fee starts at 2.5 cents per gallon, equivalent in 2014, and grows to be 12.5 cents in 2020 and 2021 and in 2022 the fee is eliminated. In this way, we can still keep natural gas less expensive than other fuel options while investing in infrastructure to help grow the market, make natural gas vehicles cheaper."

Senator Hutchison: (11:32 AM)
  • Spoke on Hutchison amendment #1568 (prohibit new tolls).
    • SUMMARY "I have an amendment that would basically say you cannot toll a federal highway unless it is for the production of another free lane. So it is an effort to curb a state from tolling every lane of a highway that has been built with federal dollars by federal taxpayers. When President Eisenhower established the policy that we would have a national highway system, it was really for national security that he made this monumental policy decision which has taken us years, tens of years to complete. It has had the added advantage of commerce, of course, having a national highway system where all of our states are connected with good quality federal highways has been a huge boon for our country. That has been funded through highway user fees. The gasoline tax that everyone pays at the pump in our country has funded our federal highway system. However, the highway system has now been completed. The federal highway system. For a state to come in and toll every lane of a federal highway is not only disingenuous but it really breaks the faith with the federal taxpayers who for over 50 years have paid into the highway trust fund so that we would have a federal highway system for all Americans and for the commerce among our states to use ... now we have - frankly, we have got three states that have been approved by the highway division, the Department of Transportation to do exactly what I would like to prohibit, and that is toll lanes of a federal highway that would prohibit the free use of that lane - that whole highway that has been built with federal dollars. So my amendment would keep us from going beyond the three. The amendment is two, I would extend it to three because there are three that the department of transportation has approved but I want to stop this practice. It is wrong. It is wrong for the federal government to allow it. It is wrong for the states to ask for it. we need to allow actually the opposite, and that is the opt out ability for a state to say we want to spend our highway dollars the way we believe the priority should be spent, and that's what we ought to be doing and I want to say that I don't disagree with tolls that are going to create a new free lane that would keep the faith of the people. It would expand the system and the people would be paying to expand the system. That can be done in an effective and frankly a responsible way."

Senator Boxer: (11:49 AM)
  • Unanimous Consent: The time until noon be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees, there be two minutes equally divided prior to each vote, and that all votes after the first vote following the recess be ten-minute votes.

Senator Bingaman: (11:49 AM)
  • Called up on Bingaman amendment #1759 (privatized highways)
  • Spoke on Bingaman amendment #1759 (privatized highways).
    • SUMMARY "When a state privatizes an existing toll road it shifts to the company all responsibilities for operations and maintenance in exchange for a cash payment essentially. Under existing law, privatized toll roads are still included in the calculation of how much state receives in federal highway funds. In my view, it does not make good sense for a state to be credited with federal highway funding needed to maintain that road once it has been shifted out of the public sphere to a private entity and the private entity has taken on the legal responsibility to operate and maintain the road. The amendment would simply remove these privatized toll roads from consideration when we allocate highway funds. The amendment is very narrow, it applies only when a state sells off an existing tell road. It does not apply at all to any new construction. Now, when I say it sells off an existing toll road, I mean that it enters into a lease in most cases a lease of 75 years or more to a private entity to operate a toll road and collect the tolls and maintain the road."

Senator DeMint: (11:54 AM)
  • Spoke on DeMint amendment #1756 (state authority).
    • SUMMARY "My amendment allows for states to keep their gas taxes and set their own priorities while avoiding an additional layer of Washington bureaucracy. We should devolve the federal highway program from Washington to the states. We can dramatically cut the federal gas tax to a few pennies which would be enough to fund the limited number of highway programs that serve a clear national purpose. In return, states could adjust their own gas taxes to make their own construction and repair decisions without costly rules such as Davis-Bacon regulations and without having to funnel the money through Washington's wasteful bureaucracy and some self-serving politicians. My amendment would free states from the wasteful and corrupt Davis-Bacon Act which needlessly focuses or forces the government to pay labor union wages for construction projects. Davis-Bacon harms workers who choose not to join unions and it raises the cost to taxpayers, last year by nearly $11 billion."

Vote Results (DeMint amendment #1756)

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 12:28 PM

Not Agreed to, 30-67:
DeMint amendment #1756 (state authority) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Mar 13 2012 12:51 PM

Agreed to, 50-47:
Bingaman amendment #1759 (privatized highways) to S. 1813, the #Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Mar 13 2012 2:48 PM

Not Agreed to, 41-57:
Roberts amendment #1826, as modified (energy tax credits, Keystone XL) (60 votes required) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

(Stabenow amendment #1812)

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 3:06 PM

Not Agreed to, 49-49:
Stabenow amendment #1812, as modified (energy tax credits) (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (DeMint amendment #1589)

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 3:26 PM

Not Agreed to, 26-72:
DeMint amendment #1589 (repeal certain energy tax subsidies) (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Mar 13 2012 3:45 PM

Not Agreed to, 51-47:
Menendez/Burr amendment #1782 (Natural Gas Act) (60 votes required) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Coats amendment #1517)

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 4:09 PM

Not Agreed to, 28-70:
Coats amendment #1517 (make percentage of gas taxes equal to percentage of apportioned funds) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Mar 13 2012 4:24 PM

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Brown-OH amendment #1819 (Buy America provisions) to S. 1813, the Highway bill;

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Blunt amendment #1540 (off-system bridges) to S. 1813, the Highway bill;

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Merkley amendment #1814 (farm vehicle exemptions) to S. 1813, the Highway bill; and

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Klobuchar amendment #1617 (transportation of agricultural commodities and farm supplies) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.

Mar 13 2012 4:41 PM

Not Agreed to, 30-68:
Portman amendment #1736 (state transportation spending flexibility) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Motion to Waive)

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 5:05 PM

Not Agreed to, 40-58:
The Motion to Waive the Budget Act with respect to Corker amendment #1785, as modified (adjust FY13 discretionary spending cap) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Mar 13 2012 5:28 PM

Not Agreed to, 12-86:
Portman amendment #1742 (non-highway uses in rest areas) to S. 1813, the Highway bill.
The vote results will be postedhere within one hour.

Grassley, Brown-OH

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Mar 13 2012 6:30 PM

Senator Grassley: (6:01 PM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "I want to take just a few minutes to set the record straight. Let me start by taking a brief look at the 17 cloture motions that the majority has filed. Seven of those nominees were reported out of the Judiciary Committee within the last month, and three of them were reported just last week. That is without precedent to our knowledge the majority, Republican or Democrat, has never filed cloture on district court nominees within a month of them being reported out of the Judiciary Committee. That accounts for seven of the 17. What about the other ten nominees? Well, what our colleagues fail to mention is that they could have gotten a majority of those nominees confirmed at the end of the last session just before recessing at Christmas time. Our side cleared quite a few nominees, and we offered to confirm them as a package at the end of last session. However, the President refused to offer assurances that he would not bypass the Senate and make so-called recess appointments. I just made a mistake when I said when the senate adjourned just prior to Christmas, or recessed just prior to session. We didn't do either of those. We stayed in session during the period of time from December 18 until January 24. In other words, the President wasn't in a position to make recess appointments because we weren't in recess, and also the President can't assume what the constitution doesn't allow him to assume. Only the Senate can make a determination on when we adjourn. The President of the United States can't do that, but he presumed that he could and he did and he made some recess appointments, so he shredded the constitution once again. Now, in regard to what we're talking about here, it was the President who chose not to confirm those nominees at the end of last session because he wouldn't tell us whether he would make recess appointments or not. If the President believes that we should have confirmed more nominees last fall, he should look to his own administration for that explanation."

Senator Brown-OH: (6:20 PM)
  • Spoke on trade enforcement measures.
    • SUMMARY "Today President Obama signed into but a trade enforcement measure that last week passed this chamber by unanimous consent. A bipartisan legislation which I cosponsored with Senators Baucus and Thune primarily, gives the Commerce Department authority to impose what are called counter-veiling duties on imports from countries that are nonmarket economies. That means countries more sort of command and control economies like the People's Republic of China. Federal appeals court last year reviewed shield a ruling that hamstrings our nation's ability to fight back against illegal trade practices. Here's why Congress passed this bill. We know China doesn't play by the rules from direct export subsidies to currency manipulation, China does things that our country doesn't and many other countries don't. It gives its exporters an unfair advantage. American industries fight back by the Commerce Department to investigate these subsidies."
  • Spoke on China's hoarding of rare earth materials.
    • SUMMARY "President Obama announced his administration would pursue a case against China's hoarding of rare earth materials. Rare earth hording is one of the illegal practices that China employs to tilt the playing field in its favor. U.S. manufacturers rely on earth materials, air earth materials for the production of a number of products including wind turbines and electronics. China accounts for 97% of the world's supply of these materials. They impose quotas and deaf tariffs on their export putting American manufacturers at a severe disadvantage almost forcing countries to go to china to do the manufacturing because the materials - because of subsidies the Chinese give to themselves, their own companies and because of the tariffs they charge on - that they can extract from these companies for export, these raw material makers for exports our companies are at a severe disadvantage."

Mar 13 2012 7:05 PM

Senator Reid: (6:43 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and proceed to a period of Morning Business for 1 hour, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Thereafter, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1813, the Highway bill, with the time until 11:30 AM equally divided.
    • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will proceed to 3 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      • Boxer amendment #1816 (sense of Senate re: expeditious environmental reviews);
      • Paul amendment #1556 (emergency exemptions); and
      • Final passage of S. 1813, the Highway bill.
    • A managers' package has been agreed to (Amendment #1830). Allowed are applicable budget points of order and applicable motions to waive.
    • Upon disposition of S. 1813, the Highway bill, the Senate will proceed to a period of Morning Business until 2:00 PM, with the time equally divided and Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each.
    • At 2:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 30 minutes of debate, equally divided.
    • At 2:30 PM, the Senate will conduct up to 17 ROLL CALL VOTES on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on following nominations:
      • Executive Calendar #408, Gina Marie Groh, of West Virginia, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of West Virginia;
      • Executive Calendar #441, David Nuffer, of Utah, to be United States District Judge for the District of Utah;
      • Executive Calendar #461, Michael Walter Fitzgerald, of California, to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California;
      • Executive Calendar #462, Ronnie Abrams, of New York, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York;
      • Executive Calendar #463, Rudolph Contreras, of Virginia, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia;
      • Executive Calendar #464, Miranda Du, of Nevada, to be United States District Judge for the District of Nevada;
      • Executive Calendar #497, Susie Morgan, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana;
      • Executive Calendar #509, Gregg Jeffrey Costa, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas;
      • Executive Calendar #510, David Campos Guaderrama, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas;
      • Executive Calendar #528, Brian C. Wimes, of Missouri, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri;
      • Executive Calendar #568, Kristine Gerhard Baker, of Arkansas, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas;
      • Executive Calendar #569, John Z. Lee, of Illinois, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois;
      • Executive Calendar #570, George Levi Russell, III, of Maryland, to be United States District Judge for the District of Maryland;
      • Executive Calendar #571, John J. Tharp, Jr., of Illinois, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois;
      • Executive Calendar #610, Jeffrey J. Helmick, of Ohio, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio;
      • Executive Calendar #612, Mary Geiger Lewis, of South Carolina, to be United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina; and
      • Executive Calendar #613, Timothy S. Hillman, of Massachusetts, to be United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Wednesday, March 14th.