Monday, Jun. 1, 2015

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Jun 01 2015 12:01 PM

The Senate convened.


Opening Remarks

Jun 01 2015 12:11 PM

Today –

  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business for one hour, with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each.
  • Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.
  • Note: Cloture has been filed on H.R. 2048, and the amendment tree has been filled. 
  • Note: Cloture has also been filed on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.


Senator McConnell: (12:02 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "One amendment would ensure that there's adequate time to build and test a system that doesn't even exist yet. Another would require that once the new system is actually built, the director of national intelligence reviews it and certifies that it actually works. Let me say that again. The second amendment would require that once the new system is actually built, the director of national intelligence reviews the new system and certifies that it actually will work. Amendment number three would require simple notification if the providers decide to change their data retention policies. Three amendments to improve the bill. These fixes are commonsense and whatever one thinks of the proposed new system, there needs to be basic assurance that it will function as its proponents say that it will. The Senate should adopt these basic safeguards. Now, I'd hoped to see committees working hard to advance bipartisan compromise FISA legislation this week, which is why I had offered several temporary extensions of the existing program to allow the space for that to occur, but these proposed short-term extensions were either voted down or objected to, including a very narrow extension of some of the least controversial tools contained within the program that we're considering."

Nelson, Burr, McCain, Durbin

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 01 2015 02:02 PM

Senator Nelson: (1:05 PM)

  • Spoke on Beau Biden.
    • "I want to express what is on every one of our hearts, of our grieving with the Joe Biden family. That family has had more of its share of tragedy, but what it has produced is, in the case of Beau Biden, an extraordinary public servant who served his country not only by elected office but by serving in uniform as well. Most of us in this chamber know the Biden family and the dad and the now mom, Joe and Jill are extraordinary human beings that have contributed so much, and it's not necessarily easy to be in public service as long as the vice president has and still raise a family that is so extraordinarily accomplished and contributing so much. And then to have that eldest son taken from him just is like a dagger into our hearts."
  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "But one senator can withhold unanimous consent. And that has been done, so the 30 hours. Now, normally, that may be standard procedure for the Senate, but it's getting in the way of our national security because at midnight last night the law that allows our intelligence community to track the e-mails and the phone calls of the terrorists has evaporated, and it won't be reenacted until sometime later this week because of the lack of unanimous consent. But this senator from Florida is not putting it at the feet of just the one senator that is withholding the unanimous consent. This senator from Florida is saying that this should have been planned on over a week ago. And this senator is saying that we should have gone through the laborious procedures, not assuming that we were going to have the votes last night, not assuming there was going to be comity and unanimous consent."


Senator Burr: (1:13 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Now, I'm not sure how we have invaded anybody's privacy by getting a telephone that is de-identified. We don't know who it belongs to, and we would never know who it belongs to until it's turned over to law enforcement to investigate because it's now been connected to a known foreign terrorist telephone number. Stop and think about this. The CFPB government agency collects financial transactions on every American. There's nobody down here trying to eliminate the CFPB. I'd love to eliminate the CFPB tomorrow, but there's no outrage over it and they collect a ton more information and it's not de-identified. It's identified. Every American has a discount card for their grocery store. You go in and you get a discount every time you use it. Your grocery store collects 20 times the amount of data that the N.S.A. does, all identified with you, and there's a big difference between the N.S.A. and your grocery store. We don't sell our data at the N.S.A. your grocery store does. I'm for outrage, but let's make it equal. Let's understand that we're in a society where data is transferred automatically."


Senator McCain: (1:32 PM)

  • Spoke on Bob Schieffer.
    • "I wish to pay tribute today to CBS broadcaster Bob Schieffer who retired yesterday as the moderator of the most-watched Sunday news show "Face the Nation" after a career in journalism that lasted more than half a century. Bob reported from Dallas that terrible weekend President Kennedy was assassinated. At that time he was with the Fort Worth Star Telegram. He was a CBS Pentagon correspondent and congressional correspondent and White House correspondent and chief Washington correspondent. He anchored the "CBS Evening News" at a time of transition and turmoil at the network. For 24 years, he has moderated "Face the Nation" which has become more popular every year Bob ran the show. He tried to retire before several times. CBS begged him to stay. That's an impressive run by anyone's standards, all the more so considering Bob is probably the most respected and popular reporter in the country."


Senator Durbin: (1:39 PM)

  • Spoke on Beau Biden.
    • "This life was cut short, a life which could have led to so many great things in public service beyond his service to the state of Delaware. But in a way, it's a moment to reflect on this family, this Biden family. I have been in politics for a long time and I have met a lot of great people in both political parties, extraordinary people. I never met someone quite like Vice President Joe Biden."
  • Spoke on Russia.
    • "Most recently last week he went so far as to make it illegal in Russia to report war deaths. Incredible. Yet while I was there as if anyone needed proof, two Russian soldiers were captured deep inside eastern Ukraine. They had killed at least one Ukrainian soldier and when it appeared they were about to be caught - listen to this -- when it appeared they were about to be captured by the Ukrainians they were fired upon by their own Russian forces. An effort to kill them before they could be captured. These soldiers have disclosed that they are in the Russian military and carried ample evidence on their persons to support the now obvious truth that Russia is squarely behind perpetuating this invasion and conflict. Mr. Putin, if you're going to drag your country into war to perpetuate your own power, you ought to at least have the honesty to tell the Russian people the truth about that war. Particularly those families of Russian soldiers most affected by this conflict. Going back to the old soviet playbook of lies and disinformation is an insult to the Russian families whose young men are being sent into your war. So it's clear the Minsk Agreement is in jeopardy."

King, Burr, Hoeven (UC), Cornyn, Burr

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 01 2015 03:10 PM

Senator King: (2:00 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "That's the hardest for us to counteract, and that's a situation where this ability to track numbers calling numbers can be extremely useful. In fact, it might be the only useful tool, because we're not going to have the kind of specific plotting that we've seen in the past. This is the most dangerous threat that I think that we face today, and to throw aside a protection, a safeguard that I believe passes constitutional or legal muster, that goes the extra mile to protect the privacy rights of Americans by getting this data out of the hands of the government, is one that is worthy of the support and the active work in this chamber to again find that balance, the balance between the imperative, the most solemn responsibility we have in this body to provide for the common defense and ensure domestic tranquility, to protect the safety and security of the people of this country."


Senator Burr: (2:14 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "For those who have claimed this program served no purpose prior to 9/11 here's the director of the F.B.I. saying it would have and the Boston Marathon which told us there was no terrorist link and then we come to the 2009 New York City subway bombing plot. In 2009 while monitoring the activities of Al Qaeda terrorist group in Pakistan, NSA noted contact from an individual in the United States, subsequently identified as a Colorado-based Zazzi under section 215, provided the information that helped thwart this plot. I want to say this one time again to my colleagues. This program works. It has worked, it has stopped attacks because we've been able to identify an individual before they carried out the attack. Now, if the threshold that my colleagues who say this has not served any useful purpose meaning you've got to have an attack to be able to prove you thwarted an attack, then, you know, that's not why we've got this program in place. We're trying to get ahead of the terrorist act and in the case of the subway bombings in New York we did that in 2009."


Senator Hoeven: (2:23 PM)

  • Unanimous Consent –
    • The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 184, the Native American Children's Safety Act, and S. 246, the Lyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act.
    • The committee-reported substitute amendment to S. 246 be agreed to.
    • The Senate pass S. 184 and S. 246, as amended.
  • (Without objection)
  • Spoke on the Native American Children's Safety Act.
    • "I rise today to speak about the Native American Children's Safety Act, S. 184. This legislation which I have introduced along with Senator Tester, is about one thing, making sure that foster children in Native American communities are placed in safe homes. Without this legislation, there will continue to be inconsistent rules guiding the placement of Native American children in foster care. At this time Native American tribes and their tribal courts use procedures and guidelines when placing a Native American child in a foster home that vary significantly from tribe to tribe. S. 184 creates a transparent pathway for the federal government and the tribes to partner together to establish safety standards and policies to ensure the safety of Native American foster care children. Moreover, this bill will strengthen the governance of the tribes and create safeguards for their foster care placement programs and the individuals that those programs serve."


Senator Cornyn: (2:29 PM)

  • Spoke on Texas flooding.
    • "FEMA is just one example that has rapidly deployed resources to help assess the damage done in local communities, and we were both glad to see the president quickly grant Governor Abbott's request for major disaster declaration on Friday night which will help Texans get the resources that they need. I promised Nim and others that I spoke to that I would continue to work with Governor Abbott and our state's congressional delegation to make sure that the federal government provides all the help Texans deserve during this difficult time. So to those suffering today, I want to offer my deepest condolences and prayers. We'll continue to do everything we can here in Washington and in Austin and local communities who have been severely affected to give Texans the help that they need."
  • Spoke on human trafficking.
    • "This is for the women like Melissa Woodward who I have met and she is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. At just 12 years old, Melissa was sold into the sex trade by a family member, as hard as that is to conceive of. Her life became a prison. She was chained to a bed in a warehouse and endured regular beatings and rapes. She was forced to sexually serve between five and 30 men every day. Melissa said at one point she wished she was dead. So as heart breaking as her story is - and it is heart breaking - it is good to know that strong people like Melissa, along with what help we can give and others who wear for them can give, can help them from living a life of victim hood and be transformed by their experience and to regain a new and productive life. So with this law, we begin to provide for people like Melissa the help they need to heal and importantly treat her and others and the victims they are not as criminals."
  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "We plan to make minor improvements in the House-passed bill and I think they make a lot of sense, things like actually getting a certification by the director of National Intelligence that this plan to let the telecoms continue to hold this information and then after a court order is provided to then allow that search, but certainly we should want to know whether this actually will work in a way that's consistent with our national security. And so there's essentially the House provisions will be the base bill, are the base bill here but I think the chairman, Chairman Burr, and others on the Intelligence Community, have recommended some really positive commonsense improvements which will make this bill better and working together with the Senate and the House, I think we can make sure these necessary authorities are restored."


Senator Burr: (2:49 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "When the government obtains those records from a third-party telecommunications provider, a search has not taken place for constitutional purposes and, therefore, a warrant is not required. This program has been approved over 40 times by FISA Court to exist. The program was instituted by the executive branch. The executive branch could end the program today. Why don't they? They don't because this program is effective. This program has thwarted attacks here and abroad. And I know that individuals have come on the floor and they've said, there's absolutely nothing that shows that section 215 has contributed to the safety of America. And I could only say that they are factually challenged in that. You would not have the majority of the Intelligence Committee on the floor lobbying for this program to continue in its current form, and now we know that that's not going to happen, so we're trying to reach a modification of the current language so in fact we have a greater comfort level that the Intelligence Community can be in front of attacks and not behind them."

McConnell (UC), Paul

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 01 2015 03:54 PM

Senator McConnell: (3:42 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "It's time to get go the job done on FISA. It's time to get the job done. From the beginning of this debate, I had aimed to give senators a chance to advance bipartisan compromise legislation through the regular order. That's why I offered extension proposals that sought to create the space needed to do that. But as we all know, by now every effort to temporarily extend important counterterrorism tools, even noncontroversial ones, was either voted down or objected to. So here's where we are. Ourselves in a circumstance where important tools have already lapsed. We need to work quickly to remedy this situation. Everyone has had ample opportunity to say their piece at this point. Now is the time for action. That's why in just a moment I'll ask for a consent to allow the Senate to consider cloture on the House-passed FISA bill, along with amendments to improve it today not tomorrow, but today."
  • Unanimous Consent –
    • At 6:00 PM, the Senate VOTE on the motion to invoke cloture on H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.
    • If cloture is invoked, the Senate immediately VOTE on the pending amendments.
    • Upon disposition of the amendments, the Senate VOTE on passage of H.R. 2048, as amended, if amended.
  • (Senator Paul objects)


Senator Paul: (3:44 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I would be happy to agree to dispensing with the time and having a vote at the soonest possibility, if we were allowed to accommodate amendments for those of us who object to the bill. I think the bill could be made much better with amendments. And if we could come to an arrangement to allow amendments to be voted on, I would be happy to allow consent. But at this point I object."


Senator McConnell: (3:44 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Without consent to speed things up, a cloture vote will occur an hour after the Senate convenes tomorrow on Tuesday. Therefore, senators should expect the cloture vote at 11:00 AM tomorrow."

Burr, Mikulski, Coats, Brown

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 01 2015 05:05 PM

Senator Burr: (3:45 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Myth number five: the FISA court is a rubber stamp. Despite all the claims, the FISA court approves 99% of the government's applications, the FISA court often returns or demands modifications to about 25% of the applications before they're even filed with the court. According to the FISA court chief judge, the 99% figure does not reflect - does not reflect - the fact that many applications are altered prior to the final submission or even withheld from final submission entirely, often after an indication that a judge would not approve them. Now, let me put this in perspective. 25% more of the wiretap applications are approved than of FISA. I mean that says enough right there. Comparison to federal court documents which include a wiretap application is instructive. Of the 13,593 wiretap applications filed from 2008 to 2012, the federal district court approved 99.6. And the only reason that FISA is at 99% is because when the government sees that they're not going to be approved, they withdraw the application. That seldom happens in wiretap applications. Myth number six: there is no oversight in the N.S.A. The N.S.A. conducts these programs under the strict oversight of three branches of government, including a judicial process overseen by Senate-confirmed judges appointed to the FISA court and a chief judge of the United States. Republicans and Democrats in Congress together review, audit and authorize all activities under the FISA, and there are few issues that garner more oversight attention by congressional intelligence committees other than this program."


Senator Mikulski: (4:16 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I don't want to kill time. I'm afraid Americans will be killed. We got to get this legislation and we got to get our act together and we've got to pass it. I want the people to know that we cannot let them down by our failure to act and act promptly. I come to the floor today to say let's pass the U.S.A. Freedom Act and let's do it as soon as we can. There is no reason - I know a vote has been set for 11:00 tomorrow. That that means that it will be almost 35 or 36 hours since the authority's expired. Then it has to go over to the House. So let's kind of move it and let's keep our country safe, and let's get our self-respect back."


Senator Coats: (4:32 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I hope a lot of the American people are listening because they need to understand that much of what they have heard is simply falsity. It's factually incorrect. I'm not going to go into why this has happened, why some members choose to say things like they're looking at every -- and I'm quoting here. It has been said on this floor. "Big government is looking at every Americans' records. All Americans' phone records, all of the time. The N.S.A. collects Americans' contacts from your address book, buddy lists, calling records, phone records, emails. And do you want to live in a world where the government has us under constant surveillance?" None of us want to live in that kind of world. That's why we live in America. That's why America is what it is. This is not Nazi Germany. This is not a communist regime. This is not a totalitarian society. We would not allow that here. Our constitution guarantees us that privacy, and we cherish that privacy and we protect that privacy. But to come down on this floor and make statements like that is - it's irresponsible and it talks about a narrative here that is just not the fact, just not the case."


Senator Brown: (4:55 PM)

  • Spoke on ex-im bank.
    • "According to the ex-im bank's estimates, supported $27 billion in exports, 160,000 American jobs. It reported supporting $250 million in deals in just Ohio alone. My state 60% of which went to small business. Opponents who like to talk about corporate welfare, the same people that by and large vote for trade agreements and tax cuts for the wealthy and trickle-down economics, those same people say this is corporate welfare. No, really it isn't. Our government makes money on this. It's aimed primarily at small businesses. The ex-im bank fills gaps in private export financing. It charges fees and interest on loan rate-related transactions. The ex-im bank covers its operating costs and loan costs. Last year ex-im returned $600-plus million to our Treasury so it doesn't cost taxpayers. It actually brings money to our country, money that otherwise might go to foreign imports, as if we don't have a big enough trade deficit, this would make it worse. We know that our competitors have their own export-import banks. There are some 60 of these around the world. Why should we disarm and put our manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage?"

Blumenthal, Heitkamp, Whitehouse

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 01 2015 05:50 PM

Senator Blumenthal: (5:03 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    •  "I have been dismayed by the divisions and delay that have prevented us from finally approving the USA FREEDOM Act before the existing law expires. We should move now. We should act decisively. We should adopt the USA FREEDOM Act without amendment 1451 which would simply further erode the trust and confidence, the legitimacy and credibility of the foreign intelligence surveillance court. I urge my colleagues to join me in voting against this amendment and passing USA FREEDOM Act in its current form, avoiding the delay of sending it back to the House and then potentially it coming back to the Senate so that we can tell the American people that we're protecting the strongest, greatest country in the history of the world from some of the most pernicious and perilous terrorist forces ever in the world's history."


Senator Heitkamp: (5:28 PM)

  • Spoke on Vietnam veterans.
    • "I can't tell you how proud him as their United States senator of the wonderful students of Bismarck High and the great teachers who have taken on this project, it has meant so much to me, it has meant so much to the families, and I think really meant so much to so many of the Vietnam veterans of my state who are still with us, who see this period of commemoration as dictated by the president as an important time to heal the wounds of Vietnam."


Senator Whitehouse: (5:45 PM)

  • Spoke on Senator Graham.
    • "I want to take one minute to recognize a significant milestone in the life of one of our colleagues here on the floor. That colleague is our friend, Senator Lindsey Graham, and that milestone is his retirement from the United States Air Force and Reserve, which he has served for more than 30 years. I think that 30 years' service, particularly 30 years' service overlapping with the responsibilities of being a United States senator, is something that is worth a kind word. The quality of Senator Graham's service was impeccable. He has been awarded a Bronze Star for his service, he has been recognized for his loyalty to the Air Force by being appointed to the United States Air Force Academy Board of Visitors. So clearly his contribution to the United States Air Force has been real."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Wrap Up

Jun 01 2015 05:55 PM

Tomorrow –

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act, with the time until 10:30 AM equally divided.
  • At 10:00 AM, there is a filing deadline for all second-degree amendments to H.R. 2048.
  • At 10:30 AM, the Senate will VOTE on the motion to invoke cloture on H.R. 2048.
  • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons.