Monday, Jul. 30, 2012

Brown-OH (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Morning Business

Jul 30 2012

Senator Brown-OH: (6:49 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 10:00 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. The time until 12:30 PM will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first hour and the Republicans controlling the second hour.
    • Pending is S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • At a time to be determined this week, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 AM Tuesday, July 31st.

Reid (UC), Shaheen, Coburn, Brown-OH

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 30 2012

Senator Reid: (6:10 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Motion to Proceed to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, is Agreed to, and the time until 2:15 PM Tuesday is for debate only (without objection).

Senator Shaheen: (6:12 PM)
  • Spoke on the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness is based on two important premises that I've already spoken to in the chamber. First, that the American public desperately wants Congress to work together in a bipartisan way to address this nation's energy needs. And second, that energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest way to meet our energy challenges, and that not only does it help us develop a strategy around energy, but it's a strategy that can be supported whether you live in New England, as I do, whether you live in the west, whether you live in the south. It's a strategy that is important whether you support fossil fuels, oil and gas, whether you support nuclear, or whether you support wind and solar. We all benefit from energy efficiency. And it's also a strategy that creates thousands of good jobs The bill addresses three major areas of U.S. energy use - residential and commercial buildings which consume 40% of all energy use in the country, the industrial sector which consumes more energy than any other sector of the U.S. economy, and the federal government which is the country's single biggest user of energy. So highlights of the bill include establishing advanced building codes for voluntary residential and commercial buildings to cut energy use, and I would emphasize that those codes are voluntary and we've worked with the real estate and the building industry on those codes. Second, the legislation helps manufacturers finance and implement energy-efficient production technologies and practices because that's one of the biggest obstacles to retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency. And third, the legislation would require the federal government to adopt better building standards and smart metering technology."

Senator Coburn: (6:20 PM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "Magistrate Judge Bob Bacharach is a stellar individual, rated very highly qualified by the American Bar Association, and what has happened is we're in the position today because of the games that are being played, political games, and let me just put into the record what's really going on. There are three judges ahead of Bob Bacharach in line. We have had a Leahy-Thurmond rule for some 20 years. I have been quoted, I think it's a stupid rule, but the background is that protecting the prerogative of the Senate is one of the most important things the majority leader can do, and what we have seen happen with the lack of agreement this last holiday season over the moving forward of judges and their approval was the unconstitutional usurping of power by the president of the United States and the appointment during our pro forma sessions of three individuals, one to the Consumer Financial Protection Board and two to the NLRB. And quite frankly, if you look at what Madison wrote in Federalist 51, the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same branch of government consist to those administering each give the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. And so started the saga in January of this past year where the reaction of my colleagues on my side of the aisle was to shut down - in response to the president's move was to shut down all judicial confirmations. And I stood up in my caucus and fought that. I thought it was the wrong action then. I still think it would have been the wrong action. But I convinced my caucus not to go that direction, and to do that, I agreed that I would consent to the Leahy-Thurmond rule in this election cycle. But I hope this is the last election cycle we use the Leahy-Thurmond rule, because on the other side of the constitutional issues is that a duly elected president does have the right to have their nominees considered, whether I agree with them or not. And to prove this was really a stunt rather than anything other than that, and Bob Bacharach becomes the pawn in that, is that we had an agreement on judges and then we had cloture filed on regular Circuit Court judges on which there was no real controversy, and all of those Circuit Court judges after that cloture was filed on them and then withdrawn have henceforth been approved. So to the American public, the game is politics and not policy for our country, and to me, it saddens me, it frustrates me that we are at this stage, because it's not a whole lot different than what you see on the playground of the kindergarten."
  • Spoke on the debt.
    • SUMMARY "Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the greatest threat to this nation is its debt. We have done not one thing since January to address that problem. We're having spats over judges, we're having spats over all the small things, but the greatest imminent danger to our country we're doing nothing about. I believe we have less than two to five years to act, to make a significant change in our path. No one knows when this nation will cross the point of no return. And we may have already .... We don't want to take votes. We don't want to have to explain to our constituencies why we voted yea or nay on something. So the whole goal is to not vote. And ultimately, the whole goal is to not address the very pressing issues facing this country ... We've spent a larger amount of time in quorum calls, 37% of the time, this year, in nothing but quorum calls. And we've spent the same amount of time doing votes. So less than a third had of the time available to the Senate has actually been on the business associated with the country and most of the business that we've addressed isn't this critical risk that's in front of our country. Just last week, vanguard, the largest private owner of U.S. bonds, $186 billion they own of U.S. bonds, say we have until 2016 to act. If we don't act, we will go into a death spiral. Bond investors will revolt, they will drive up prices, drive up interest rates, and drop prices. We already know from CBO that the entitlement programs are on the brink of insolvency. Social security disability, we've added 3.2 million people to those rolls since January 1 of 2009. That system will be bankrupt in less than 18 months. Not a comment. 8.5 million people depend on those payments. Not a comment from the leadership in addressing a trust fund that will be out of money in less than 18 months. Our founders believed that that live beyond their means don't survive. They talked about it. History is full of examples. And Europe is reminding of those today. The euro and the Europe we know it is on its deathbed. Every month, every week there's a new set efforts that are not working. What's the real problem? The real problem is they spent money they didn't have on things they absolutely didn't need and the bill is due. So if you want to see what America is going to look like in two or three years, just look at Europe. Look at the demonstrations, look at the crying out of the masses to say how did we get here? And the pain of fixing it is too great. That's why we should be addressing our problems now. The reason America looks good, we're the least wilted rose in the bud vase. And the only reason we look good is because they look so bad."

Senator Brown-OH: (6:43 PM)
  • Paid tribute to the victims of the Munich massacre.

Grassley, McConnell, Inhofe, Durbin, Sessions

Executive Session

Jul 30 2012

Senator Grassley: (4:42 PM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "For the last few weeks, it's been a routine practice here in the Senate that we vote on consensus district court nominees most Mondays. We've done so quite a number of times this Congress and we could have done so again tonight. Instead the Majority Leader has decided to pursue another course. Rather than confirm what would have been the 155th judge tonight, the majority will instead engage in political activity, make no mistake, it's pure and simple, a political posturing situation and it is unfortunate. It is well-known that the practice and tradition of the national is to stop confirming circuit nominees in the closing months of a presidential election year. That is what we have done during the last number of presidential election years The suggestion that we today are operating any differently than the democrats did in 2004 and 2008 is simply without merit. Democrats stalled and blocked numerous highly qualified circuit nominees during those presidential election years, including even nominees with bipartisan support. The Democratic leadership has invoked repeatedly what has been called the Thurmond rule to justify stalling nominees even those with bipartisan support. And now they don't want us to play by the same set of rules. The Democratic leadership doesn't want us to enforce the rule that they helped establish."

Senator McConnell: (5:07 PM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "Our Democratic colleagues . refuse to work with us to help the economy or to prevent a looming tax hike on nearly a million small businesses at the end of the year. Instead, they prefer to waste valuable time on a vote they have argued for many years shouldn't take place this close to a presidential election. Now that there is a Democrat in the White House, they refuse to follow past practice of postponing the consideration of circuit court nominations this late in a presidential election year so the American people can decide who they want to make these important appointments. This practice is known as the Leahy-Thurmond rule. It's a custom they vigorously defended when there was a republican in the White House ... The situation on our circuit courts is much better than it was in either 2004 or 2008. There are now fewer judicial emergencies. And in terms of what the Senate can do about it, as opposed to the president's failure to nominate people, we have confirmed, we have confirmed every nominee whom the president has submitted to fill a judicial emergency, save one, only one. That's right. The Senate has confirmed every nominee he has sent up to fill an emergency on our circuit courts, save one, and that one nominee isn't on the Senate floor. In fact, the Senate has already confirmed as many or more circuit court nominees this year than it did in 2004 or 2008. It has confirmed a much higher percentage of circuit court nominations. And it has confirmed these nominations faster than during the Bush administration. On the last point, although you won't hear our Democratic friends acknowledge it, the average time from nomination to confirmation, the average time from nomination to confirmation of a circuit court nominee for President Obama is over a month faster than it was for president bush in his first term. Time from nomination to confirmation for President Obama is over a month faster than in president bush's first term, and it is over 100 days faster than it was for President Bush's circuit court nominees overall Whether it's pro forma sessions to prevent recess appointments or judicial filibusters or the Leahy-Thurman rule, our friends don't want the practices they have pioneered - they don't want the practices that they have pioneered or been the biggest proponents of to apply to them. They don't want the practices that they've been the pioneers of and the biggest proponents of to apply to them. Now, it's pretty convenient for them, but that's not the way the Senate is supposed to work. In sum, on the subject of the Leahy-Thurman rule, we have been more responsible in deciding to invoke it this year than our Democratic colleagues were in either 2004 or 2008. I would urge my friends to oppose this double standard and to oppose cloture."

Senator Inhofe: (5:17 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "First of all, let me say it's awkward one of the best nominees, Robert Bacharach, is the one that's the subject of this thing and I regret that's the case. The problem that you have is that this will be the latest confirmation of a circuit court nominee during an election year in 20 years. It was thinking just today that I cannot vote against this guy, but I sure can just vote present. If we have a 20-year precedent put in there by the Democrats and the Republicans alike I really wouldn't want to be the one to break that precedent. We're within four months of an election right now. I think it's very important what we do what we've done over the last 20 years and allow the new administration to come in. This Bacharach, by the way, he's been up there for two years before any action and I think you have to be a little suspicious why it is coming up right now. I may end up voting present on this."

Senator McConnell: (5:18 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I thank my friend from Oklahoma. He confirms this is not about the nominee who apparently is well qualified. This is about an approach that's developed, called the Leahy-Thurmond rule, over several decades, under which it's been the practice to kind of call a time-out within rather close proximity to the election. In 2008 the time-out was called in June. We are going to enter august the end of this week. By say also to my friend from Oklahoma we have confirmed for the president in this election year six circuit court nominees, President Bush in 2008 got four. President Bush in 2004 got five. We've not been unfair to the administration. And it's certainly no reflection on what is apparently an outstanding nominee from your state."

Senator Durbin: (5:19 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I hope the American people are witnessing this moment in the United States Senate. We are about to make history. We're going to make history in a few minutes when we have a roll call vote on U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. This fine man, who has been nominated to this high position in the federal judiciary has the support of both of the senators of his home state. They are both republicans. Listen to what Senator Tom Coburn said of Mr. Bacharach ... A stellar candidate. Listen to what Senator Inhofe said about this same nominee from his state. A great guy. I listened to these comments and then I reflect on the fact this man was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a voice vote. There was so little controversy because of his outstanding record, he was reported out on a voice vote. And the Democratic majority leader has offered to bring to the floor of the Senate a nominee approved by both Republican senators from Oklahoma, and now you hear Senator McConnell coming to the floor and explain why the Republicans will have to filibuster and stop this man from being appointed to the court. Is it something about him? No. It's all about politics. And it's all about the presidential campaign. If the Republicans sustain this filibuster and stop this good man from his service on the Circuit Court, it will be the first time in the history of the United States Senate that an appeals court nominee with bipartisan committee support has ever, ever been filibustered on the floor of the Senate. But how can we be surprised? This will be the 86th Republican filibuster. It is said that if the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If you happen to be a Republican leader in the Senate, every day looks likes another chance for a filibuster. 86 filibusters. Now they're filibustering judicial nominees unanimously approved by the committee and approved by both republican senators, the president is prepared to sign this man into this position, a critically important position in the judiciary, and who is stopping him? The Republicans in the Senate. No surprise. The 86th Republican filibuster, Senate filibuster in this Congress."

Senator Sessions: (5:26 PM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "I don't like to get involved in the back and forth on this issue. It just bothers me. Chairman Leahy goes into all these numbers, and they are distorted for the most part in connection with the reality. I've said that I simply will not, however, stand by and see the record misconstrued and the picture painted is something from what it is. President Bush's judicial nominees were filibustered extraordinarily. Unlike anything we'd ever seen before. And this is the way it happened. I was here, I remember it very distinctly. President Bush was elected president, and 2001, shortly after he was elected, the New York Times reported that a group of well known liberal law professors ... met with the Democratic senators in a retreat and they proposed to the Democratic conference, who were then in a minority in the United States Senate, they didn't have the majority, President Bush was the President, going to be nominating judges, and they decided to change the ground rules of judicial confirmation. That is the fact. After they took - after that, they were aggressively executing a plan of unprecedented obstruction of judicial nominees. In a totally unprecedented use of the filibuster, the Senate confirmed only six of 25 of President Bush's Circuit Court nominees. Six out of 25. And two of those six were prior Clinton nominees that President Bush as an act of good faith re-nominated. They were, of course, immediately confirmed. Yet the majority of President Bush's first nominees to the circuit court waited years for confirmation. Many were never confirmed ... Let me just say this, in the last 20 years, going back even before this dispute that began in 2000 when the Democrats changed the ground rules of confirmations and started filibustering systematically qualified nominees, not one circuit judge has been confirmed after this date. That's been the tradition of the Senate."

Harkin, Sanders, Inhofe

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 30 2012

Senator Harkin: (2:39 PM)
  • Spoke on for-profit schools.
    • SUMMARY "There are four things that we need to do. First, we need to know how every student enrolled in college is doing. Not just first-time, full-time students. And this is a flaw in our system. The Department of Education only tracks first-time full-time students. Most of the students that go to our for-profit schools are not first-time, full-time students. They're part-time students. So what we need to do is any student that gets a Pell grant and/or Stafford loan, we need to know how that student's doing and how they do later on. Secondly, we need to be very clear that federal education money has to be spent on education, not on advertising, not recruiting, not lobbying. That's just common sense. I challenge anyone to stand up here and say, no, no, no, they should use taxpayer dollars to lobby here, they should use taxpayer dollars to advertise or pay recruiters. No. We have to be very clear. They can spend it on education but not advertising, recruiting or lobbying. Third, we need to make sure these schools are providing at least a basic level of student services that would give the at-risk students they enroll a fair shot at completing. If there is one thing that distinguishes good for-profit schools from the bad ones, this is it, a genuine commitment to providing a network of student supports. As I mentioned, mentoring, tutoring, employer partnerships, genuine career counseling. Not just in the beginning but all the way through the program. The good schools that are doing that are turning out quality products. Fourth, we have to think seriously about outcome-based thresholds, particularly for colleges that get a very high proportion of their revenues from taxpayers. We need to build on the gainful employment rule to ensure students are not being loaded up with debt that they just can't repay. I am confident that the record that we are laying out today will make some of these reforms inevitable as we move forward."

Senator Sanders: (3:11 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "Senator Inhofe has some very radical views regarding global warming and I believe he is dead wrong and dangerously wrong on this issue. Not only is he wrong, but because he is the leading Republican on the Environment Committee, his views hold great influence over other Republicans in the Senate, in the House, and across the country. And because many Republicans follow Senator Inhofe's lead, it means we are making very little progress here in Congress in combating what most of the scientific community sees as a global environmental crisis. I am on the floor today to ask Senator Inhofe to rethink his views on this enormously important issue and to ask my Republican colleagues to do the same. I am asking them to join the overwhelming majority of scientists who have studied and written about this issue in understanding that, one, global warming is real. Global warming is real. Two, global warming is significantly caused by human activity. Three, global warming is already causing massive and costly destruction to the United States and around the world and it will only guess worse in years to come. I am also asking Senator Inhofe and my Republican colleagues to understand that the United States, with all of our knowledge, with all of our expertise, with all of our technology can and must lead the rest of the world who must follow our efforts in cutting back on carbon emissions and reverse global warming. And to understand that when we do this, when we transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and enter into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, when we do that over a period of years, we can create millions of good-paying jobs."

Senator Inhofe: (3:51 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "There were some statements that were made in the 30-year period, let's take the 30-year period from 1895-1925. That's 30 years. During that time, everyone feared that another ice age was coming, and they talked about another ice age and the world is coming to an end, they provided all this documentation during that 30-year period that that is what was happening. Well, anyway from 1925-1945, that 20-year period was a global warming. In fact, that's the first time you ever heard global warming was in that 20-year period that was from 1925-1945. So the world was going to come to an end again. It was going to be during that period of time due to global warming. Then came the 30-year period from 1945-1975 ... And during that time, they said another - it's a cold spell. That's when all these companies on the Senate floor here ... And during that time, I remember holding up the cover of TIME magazine who talked about how another ice age is coming. Then I held up a cover of the TIME magazine just 20 years later and they said no, it's global warming and they had the last polar bear stepping on the last cube of ice and we're all going to die. Anyway, so we went through this period between 1945 and 1975, clearly it was they declared a period of another ice age. Then 1975 to the turn of the century, that was another 35, 30-year period of time when it was global warming. We have gone back and forth. Here's the interesting thing about that. The assertion is always made that we're having catastrophic global warming, it's because of manmade gases, CO2, anthropogenic gases, methane, and yet the greatest surge in the history of CO2 right after World War II.... not a warming period but a cooling period I think the cap-and-trade was the Marquee bill at that time We were to pass it would it lower worldwide emissions of CO2? She said no, it wouldn't. This is the Obama appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency. No, it wouldn't because the problem isn't here. The problem isn't countries like - I don't remember what countries she named, probably China, India, Mexico, could be other countries. I'm not sure. But nonetheless she said no, it really wouldn't do that. What you're talking about is this tax on the American people of $300 billion to $400 billion."

Senator Sanders: (4:23 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I do want to say a few things. First of all, I want to thank Senator Inhofe for his kind words and let me respond in the same way. He and I philosophically and politically come from very, very different places. I have never doubted for one moment the honesty or the sincerity from the senator from Oklahoma. He is saying what he believes. He has the courage to get up here and say it and I appreciate that. We are good friends and I hope we will continue to be good friends. And I think, frankly, it does the Senate and it does this country good when people here, very differences of opinion on an issue that I consider to be of enormous consequence. So what I would say to my friend, I hope, in fact, this is the beginning of a resurgence of discussion about this issue, and I look forward to engaging in that discussion with my friend from Oklahoma."


Opening Remarks

Jul 30 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, post-cloture.
    • At 4:30 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #759, Robert E. Bacharach, of Oklahoma, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on Executive Calendar #759, Robert E. Bacharach, of Oklahoma, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
      • If Cloture is Not Invoked, the Motion to Proceed to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, will be Agreed to, and the Senate will begin consideration of the bill.
      • If Cloture is Invoked, following disposition of the nomination, the Motion to Proceed to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, will be Agreed to, and the Senate will begin consideration of the bill.
    • At a time to be determined this week, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).

Senator Reid: (2:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "The nation is one vote away from avoiding the fiscal cliff for middle-class families. Every member of the House of Representatives should have the opportunity to show where they stand - with millionaires or with the middle class. They can support the Republican plan to hand out more tax breaks to millionaires or billionaires while increasing taxes for 25 million American families struggling to put kids through college or food on the table. The two approaches demonstrate the glaring difference in priorities. There is another difference between the two plans. The Democrats' proposal is the only one with the chance of becoming law. President Obama said he would sign it tomorrow. What he won't do is sign into law anymore wasteful to the wealthiest 2%. The Senate has already defeated the republican proposal on a bipartisan vote, so it is simply a waste of time for House Republicans to continue pursuing their middle-class tax hike. House Republicans should stop holding the middle class hostage to extract more tax cuts for the richest of the rich. They should pass our middle-class tax cut now. American families can't afford wait until the last moment to find how the bottom line will look come January 1. People are sitting around their kitchen tables now trying to figure out whether they can afford to buy a home or should they rent a home or should they send their kids to college or trade school or should they retire - or can they retire. Republicans shouldn't force 114 million families to guess whether they'll have $1,600-- less to spend next year. One simple vote can give them that security."
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today the Senate works to address this problem, a problem national security experts call the most urgent threat to our country. That is, weaknesses in our defense against a cybersecurity attack. It could affect our nuclear grid, energy pipelines, transportation communications equipment, financial systems ... In a report released last year, the American Chamber of Commerce said government and the private sector should work together to develop incentives for businesses to voluntarily act to protect our nation's critical infrastructure. The legislation that's before this body today does exactly that, establish a public-private partnership to make our nation safer and protect American jobs. I hope the chamber will join in our efforts to pass this important legislation. I personally believe this bill could go further to address threats to critical infrastructure, the networks operating our electric grid, our water supplies and other life-sustaining systems, but it is a tremendously important good first step. I applaud senators for their work on this legislation. The bill managers are compiling a list of relevant amendments for consideration. I hope we can cooperate to work through the list and pass this legislation this week."
  • Spoke on the Bacharach nomination.
    • SUMMARY "The Senate will vote on whether to end a filibuster on Judge Bacharach. This man is the type of noncontroversial nominee the Senate would routinely confirm with broad, bipartisan support. It was voted out of committee on a voice vote. Senator Coburn, the junior senator from Oklahoma, said Friday he is a stellar candidate. Yet Republicans have signaled they're going to block his nomination. If they hold up this consensus candidate, it will be the first time an Appeals Court nominee with bipartisan support has ever been filibustered on the floor. Why should we ever be surprised, though? We've already had 85 filibusters. Just add another one to it. I hope that they don't filibuster this good man. I have always said this will be our last Circuit Court Judge. It is too bad, but that's the case. If Senator Coburn and Senator Inhofe withdraw their support for this nominee, blatant partisanship would be to blame. I can't believe they would do that. Senator Coburn said Bacharach is an awfully good candidate caught in election-year politics. That's a direct quote."
The Senate is considering the nomination of Robert E. Bacharach, of Oklahoma, to be United States circuit judge for the 10th Circuit.  The Senate is also considering the motion to proceed to S. 3414, the cybersecurity bill.  Republican senators continue to focus on creating jobs, lowering the deficit, reducing gas prices, and replacing the Democrats' health care bill with reforms that will actually lower costs.