Floor Updates

Whitehouse, Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Apr 19 2012

09:52 AM

Senator Whitehouse: (9:33 AM)
  • Honored Reverend Rebecca Spencer, Pastor of the Central Congregational Church in Providence, Rhode Island.

Senator Reid
: (9:32 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, and conduct up to 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. The Motion to Invoke Cloture on Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000, as modified, to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and (if Cloture is Not Invoked)
      2. The Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.
    • All second degree amendments to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000, as modified, to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill must be filed at desk by 11:00 AM. The amendment tree has been filled.
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today the Postal Service handles nearly half the world's mail. 554 million pieces of day - every day. 6,400,000 peoples every second. That feat would be impossible without technology and world-class facilities and workers. But now technology is both a solution and a problem. In the last five years, the Postal Service has seen mail volume drop by more than 20%. That trend is expected to continue. Email and online bill payments has significantly contributed to this crisis. Today letters, orders, payments across the world happen with the click of a mouse. And the challenge facing the Postal Service is how to adapt to a decreasing volume of mail rather than how to deal with increasing demand. The bipartisan compromise before the senate will help the system do just that. It will build a leaner, smarter post office that offers new products and services while protecting its mission, delivering the mail six days a week to every corner of our great nation. The Postal Reform legislation before this body will sensibly restructure the system while preserving overnight and Saturday delivery and the legislation will save the Postal Service from insolvency and will reduce the work force and the number of facilities it maintains. But it wall also protect postal employees including 130,000 veterans of the armed forces. It will also safeguard the more than eight million jobs that depend on a vibrant postal system. And most importantly, look out for the needs of millions of seniors, people with disabilities, small business owners and rural Americans for whom the U.S. mail is an important life line to the outside world. Unlike the unacceptable bill Congressman Issa is pursuing in the House this bipartisan Senate bill preserves the Postal Service we know and rely on. The House bill by contrast would immediately eliminate Saturday delivery and set up commissions to unilaterally cut costs by closing post offices and processing plants. Voiding union contracts and laying off tens of thousands of workers when our economy can least afford it. That may be why Congressman Issa's bill has not come up for a vote."

Senator McConnell: (9:42 AM)
  • Spoke on the Svinicki re-nomination to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    • SUMMARY "Yesterday I called attention to Kristine Svinicki, a widely respected engineer who sits on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The federal agency charged with ensuring the nation of our nation's nuclear power plants. At the moment, commissioner Svinicki is in Africa at the request of the Obama administration which shouldn't surprise anybody since she is one of the world's leading experts on the topic. And since President Obama's own chief of staff signed a letter a few months ago expressing the administration's confidence in her commitment to the mission of the NRC, and her ability to fulfill it. I have the letter, it's dated December 12 Despite the administration's stated support for her work she has not been re-nominated. The White House alone has the power to re-nominate. For some reason, they haven't. Look, the only possible reason for this delay is the fact that she had the courage to blow the whistle on the commission's chairman, Gregory Jasko, a guy whose temper toward subordinates, particularly women, nearly cost him his job. Let's be clear about this. The only reason we're talking about Christine Svinicki is because she had the courage to stand up to a hostile work environment and the bully responsible for it. It's the only reason we're having this conversation. She should be applauded for that, not hung out to dry. Yet that's precisely what's been happening here. Commissioner Svinicki is one of the world's leading experts on nuclear safety. She was confirmed to her current term without a single dissenting vote. Not one. She enjoys the president of her colleagues, and as the letter I just shows of the Obama administration as well. Her re-nomination papers were completed more than a year ago, as was the FBI report that nominees have to complete ahead of being confirmed. If this nomination continues to be held up after she had the courage to take a the spine of every whistle-blower in Washington. Commissioner Svinicki spoke out against a guy that even a democratic commissioner say bullied employees and intimidated female works. Commissioner Svinicki did the right thing in raising the alarm. She shouldn't pay a price for it."