Floor Updates

Murray, Durbin, Boxer

Morning Business

Mar 06 2012

10:38 AM

Senator Murray: (10:03 AM)
  • Spoke in support of the Rice nomination.
    • SUMMARY "Some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have slowed down and delayed this vote. Mr. Rice's nomination was actually reported out of the Judiciary committee in October of last year. Unanimously, with strong bipartisan support, almost four months ago but his nomination has sat on the executive calendar because some senate Republicans refuse to consent to debate and vote on nominations just like his. Now I haven't heard any objections from Republicans about Mr. Rice's qualifications, nor have I heard any Republican claim that they have been unfairly blocked from any process. This delay is the result of an unprecedented effort by senate Republicans to delay and block all of President Obama's judicial nominees. There are now 20 judicial nominations reported favorably by the judiciary committee that are still sitting and waiting on a final senate vote. 14 of those nominations have been pending since last year, and should have been confirmed before the end of last year. 18 of those nominations received strong bipartisan support from the judiciary committee, and they deserve to move through this process in a fair way and get a vote here on the floor of the Senate, especially when both sides have agreed they're going to pass."

Senator Durbin: (10:10 AM)
  • Spoke in support of transparency and accountability for the Supreme Court.
    • SUMMARY "I think it's time for the Supreme Court to provide more transparency and accountability in two specific areas. First, the Supreme Court should allow live television cameras to broadcast open-court sessions so the general public can see firsthand how the court operates and arrives at critical decisions that literally change our lives. Second, the Supreme Court should formally adopt the judicial code of conduct which currently applies to all other federal judges, but for some inexplicable reason does not apply to justices at the Supreme Court. The court should also make public the other ethics rules it follows. The Supreme Court decisions impact the lives of every American, but access to open sessions of the court is incredibly limited. As a result, the court's proceedings and the way it arrives at decisions are a mystery. Most Americans will never see the Supreme Court at work unless they're willing and able to travel to Washington, D.C., wait in line for hours or sometimes sleep outside overnight on the pavement in an effort to secure one of 250 seats in the Supreme Court courtroom. In a democratic society that values transparency and openness, there is no valid justification for such a powerful element of our government to operate largely outside the view of American people. I'm pleased to have partnered with Senator Chuck Grassley, my Republican colleague from Iowa, the Cameras in the Courtroom Act, S. 1995. He and I continue the work of our former colleague, senator specter, on this important issue. Our bill would require televising of all open sessions of the court unless a majority of the justices determine that doing so would violate due process rights of one or more of the parties before the court. We give to the court the last word on any given argument or case as to whether or not it will be public and televised."
  • Spoke on the tornado storms in Illinois.
  • Spoke on energy and gas prices.
    • SUMMARY "Keystone pipeline could serve a valuable purpose but to believe that this is going to somehow have an immediate impact or any major impact on gasoline prices is not realistic. Currently the pipelines from Canada that export these oil sands to the United States are operating at less than 50% of capacity, so there is plenty of room for more oil sands to come to the united states for refinement. In fact, one of the pipelines goes directly to my state. This refinery has capacity that could be used to process these Canadian oil sands right now. So to argue this keystone pipeline is somehow holding back the export of Canadian oil sands that might have an impact on the price of gasoline is just not correct. I also note there has been an increase in the refining of oil in this nation. It's two years after the BP spill and I think time for us to reflect on the fact that we never, ever want that to happen again. The devastation caused to so many lives, to so many businesses, and so much in terms of wildlife will not be calculated. Perhaps it never will be. But we know that we can't allow that to happen again. We shouldn't exalt speed over safety. We've got to make sure that as we move forward to develop our energy resources - both oil and gas - we do it in a sense it-- we do it in a sensible way. I hope we agree that that is the way do it as long as we do it with the administration policy."

Senator Boxer: (10:27 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Is he aware that we are producing far more of this resource, oil, in this country than we have done since 2008; we have many more rigs out there? And is my colleague also aware that the oil companies are sitting on well over 50 million acres of leases that they're not drilling on when they could? And the last point, is my friend aware that we are exporting more than we ever had from America and that's also a very important point? Those who say "drill, baby, drill," that's not an answer if it's "export, baby, export." The fact is, we are drilling more and more is leaving America Is he aware of all these factors? And is he concerned about playing more politics with this because drill, baby, drill is not the answer. We only have 2% of the world's proven supply of oil."

Senator Durbin: (10:29 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I'd like consent of the chair to enter into the record the New York Times editorial of Monday March 5, 2012, entitled "Drill, Baby, Drill: Redux." I'd like read a portion. "Domestic crude oil production is actually up from 5.4 million barrels to 5.59 million now. Imports have dropped by who are than 10% in the same period despite a temporary slowdown in exploration in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil disaster. The number of rigs in American oilfields has quadrupled over three years. There have been new discoveries and the administration has promised to open up more offshore reserves. To say that Mr. Obama has denied industry access is nonsense. Equally nonsensical is the Republican claim that Mr. Obama has proposed the repeal of $4 billion in annual tax breaks for the oil and gas industry whose five biggest posted $137 billion in profits last year would drive prices upward. As is Newt Gingrich's claim that now taking shape in the EPA and fiercely opposed by refiners to lower sulfur content would add 25 cents to the cost of a gallon. Experts say it would add about a penny. Oil prices are set on the world market by forces largely beyond America's control. Chief among these is soaring demand in country's like China. Unrest in oil-producing countries is another factor. Gas could jump to $5 if the standoff with Iran disrupted world supply.â€? A country that consumes, as the senator noted, more than 20 percent of the world's oil supply but owns 2% of its reserves cannot drill its way out of high prices or dependence on exports from unstable countries. The only plausible strategy is to keep production up while cutting consumption and embarking on a serious program of alternative fuels."