Tuesday, Jun. 2, 2015

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Jun 02 2015 09:30 AM

The Senate convened.


Opening Remarks

Jun 02 2015 09:40 AM

Today –

  • 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.
  • Note: On Sunday, cloture was filed on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.


Senator McConnell: (9:32 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "One amendment would allow for more time for the construction and testing of a system that doesn't yet exist. Another amendment would ensure the director of national intelligence is charged with at least - at least - reviewing and certifying the readiness of the system. Another that would require simple notification if telephone providers, the entities charged withholding data under this bill, elect to change their data retention policies. Let me remind you that one provider has already said expressly and in writing that it would not commit to holding the data for any period of time under the House-passed bill unless compelled by law. So this amendment represents the least we can do to ensure we'll be able to know, especially in an emergency, whether the dots we need to connect have been actually wiped away. We'll also consider an amendment that would address concerns we've heard from the nonpartisan administrative office of the U.S. Courts. In other words, the lifetime federal judges who actually serve on the FISA court. In a recent letter, they wrote that the proposed amicus provision could "Impede the FISA court's role in protecting the civil liberties of Americans.""

Durbin, Collins, Leahy, Lee

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 10:38 AM

Senator Durbin: (10:10 AM)

  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "On January 29, 2013, Haidia Pendelton was gunned down in a park on the south side of Chicago. She was a beautiful, caring young woman with a bright future ahead of her. She was 15 years old, a sophomore honor student at King College Prep. Her family described her as a spectacular source of joy and pride for them. One week before her death Haidia was here with her school band. She was thrilled by that opportunity. A few days later she was gone. Murdered by men who mistook her and her friends for members of a rival gang. What a senseless tragedy to lose children to gun violence. And it happens every day in America. Overall, on average, 88 Americans are killed by gun violence every day. Today, June 2, 2015, would have been her 18th birthday. Today marks the first annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day."


Senator Collins: (10:13 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    •  "Last month during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, I asked the attorney general whether or not there have ever been any privacy violations regarding that telephone data. She replied "No." I am truly perplexed that anyone would argue that the telephone data are better protected in the hands of 1,400 telecom companies and 160 wireless carriers than in a secure N.S.A. data base that only 34 carefully vetted and trained federal employees are allowed to query under the supervision of a federal judge. Under the U.S.A. FREEDOM Act, the House bill, when we get the telephone number of an overseas terrorist, we potentially are going to have to go to each one of those 1,400 telecom companies, 160 wireless carriers, which potentially will involve thousands of people. The privacy implications are far greater if we have the telecoms control the data. Far greater. Moreover, we know that private-sector data is far more susceptible to hackers, to criminals."


Senator Leahy: (10:27 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "The original U.S.A. FREEDOM Act was introduced by Senator Lee, myself, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner in the other body. We all knew that section 215, the roving wiretap authority, the lone wolf provision, would expire on June 1. That's why we started working to change this. We're also well aware of the second circuit court of appeals decision that made part of the program illegal. I think what we've done is a bill carefully crafted by both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, why it passed 338-88 in the House. And now if we start amending it, we don't know how much longer it's going to take, and we end up with no protections. I think that is not a choice we want to take."


Senator Lee: (10:27 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Because of the fact that these provisions have now expired, it is incumbent upon us to move these things forward in all deliberate speed. Whatever the outcome of this vote, and of those votes that will follow later today, whatever the outcome of these votes, the American people deserve better than this. Vital national security programs that touch on our fundamental civil liberties deserve a full, open, honest, and unrushed debate. This should not be subject to cynical government by-cliff brinksmanship. If members of Congress, particularly Republican members of Congress, ever want to improve their standing among the American people, then we must abandon this habit of political gamesmanship. Finally, it's time for us to pass this bill, this bill that has been passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives, this bill that carefully balances important interests that the American people care deeply about. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation."

Vote Results (Cloture)

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 11:07 AM

Invoked, 83-14:

Cloture on H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Cornyn, Leahy, Wyden, Blumenthal, Burr, Thune, Coats, Isakson, Recess

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 12:59 PM

Senator Cornyn: (11:07 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I know no member of the Senate and no member of the House, no American wants to look back on our hasty treatment of this underlying legislation and say if we were just a little more careful, if we just had taken a little bit more time, if we had just been a little more thoughtful, a little more deliberative and talked about the facts as they are and not some misrepresentation of the facts, we could have actually prevented a terrorist attack on our home soil. Unfortunately, by increasing the risk to the American people, as I believe this underlying legislation will do, we may not find out about that until it's too late. I hope and pray that is not the case. But why should we take the risk to the homeland, why should we risk anyone being injured or potentially killed as a result of a home-grown terrorist attack on our own soil because we have simply blinded ourselves in a significant way to the risk?"


Senator Leahy: (11:25 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I think the N.S.A. director probably is as knowledgeable about this subject as anybody in this chamber and he says we can go forward with it. I think all these amendments that are talked about would simply delay passing an excellent piece of legislation. One that's been worked on by Republicans and Democrats for months and months, some would say years. Let's go with it. You know, we hear about stopping terrorism attacks. We all want to do that. But I remember some of the statements made by a former N.S.A. director, well, to stop 52 or 54 terrorist attacks, I don't remember the exact number, but having to actually talk about that came out that it was important after the fact in one case."


Senator Wyden: (11:32 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Chairman Burr and I, the two of us feel so strongly about making sure secret operations are kept secret, because otherwise Americans are going to die. We can't have secret operations splayed all over in the public square. But the law always ought to be public. As Senator Leahy has pointed out for some time - and I warned about it here on the floor, what we would see is if you lived in Connecticut or Vermont, you read the PATRIOT Act, it talked about collecting information relevant to an investigation. Nobody thought that meant millions and millions of records on law-abiding people. That decision was made in secret."


Senator Blumenthal: (11:39 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "It's the kind of court that our founders would have found an anathema to their vision of democracy and freedom. We may need such a court now to authorize surveillance activities that must be kept secret, but we need to strike a balance that protects very precious constitutional rights and liberties. After all, what does our surveillance and intelligence system protect, if not these fundamental values and rights of privacy and liberties that have lasted and served us well because we respect them? And more than the physical structures that we seek to protect through this system, it's those values and rights that are fundamentally paramount in importance. So this FISA court reform goes to the core of the changes, constructive changes that we seek to make, and I hope that my colleagues will defeat amendment 1451, along with all the other amendments."


Senator Burr: (11:53 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "We're on the floor today talking about taking some of the tools away that have been effective at helping us. Wrong debate to have, but we're here. I would only ask my colleagues show some reason, extend by six months the transition period, make sure that it doesn't take longer to search these databases, make sure that we're ready for the telephone companies to carry out the searches because there's one certainty that I think I will find agreement from all my colleagues here. The terrorists aren't going away. America is still their target. No matter what we say on this floor, we're still in the crosshairs of their terrorist acts. Only through providing an intelligence community and a law enforcement community the tools to carry out their job can they actually fulfill their obligation of making sure that America is safe well into the future."


Senator Thune: (12:12 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I hope that everybody listens carefully because we are on the cusp of doing something that in my view does in fact weaken the very tools that have been used, the capabilities that have been used to prevent those terrorist attacks. And the ironic thing about it is if you frame that up, you look at the threats that are out there, the dangerous times in which we live and the success of these programs and how effective they have been in the past at preventing a terrorist attack, and what's being talked about are potential abuses, hypothetical examples of how these programs could be abused, but they haven't. The fact of the matter is they haven't. We have a long period of time now in which to examine the effectiveness of these tools relative to the arguments that are being made about their abuse, and they just don't exist."
  • Spoke on the economy.
    • "The U.S. Census Bureau reports more businesses are closing each year than are being opened. Think about that. More businesses are closing, there are more business deaths than business births in this country today. Millions of Americans are unemployed, millions more forced to work part-time because they can't full-time work. 40% of unemployed Americans have become so disillusioned at the lack of opportunity they've given up entirely looking for work. 40% … Senate Republicans have laid out a number of policies to help grow the economy and open up opportunities for low and middle-income Americans. We proposed energy policies that will expand domestic energy development and drive down energy prices. We're advancing trade policies that will help create more opportunities for American workers here at home by increasing the market for U.S. goods and services abroad. We've proposed tax reform that will simplify our outdated tax code and make our businesses more competitive which will hope he open up new jobs and opportunities for American workers."


Senator Coats: (12:24 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "The only allegation that holds true is that it has the potential to accomplish a breach of someone's privacy. Over the years, it's never been documented of - no abuse has been raised. No one's privacy has been breached. To shut down a program with that kind of record on the basis that something could happen, that government could abuse this, I know it resonates with a number of people in the United States. And I really don't blame them. This current administration, in particular, policies have created great distrust among the American people as to their leadership, as to their operation, as to their policies, and when we look at what's taking place with the I.R.S., definitely breaching people's privacy for political purposes, when we look at Benghazi, the cover-up that's taken place on Benghazi, with an administration refusing to stand up and take responsibility for not responding adequately to that understand a changing the narrative and rewriting the intelligence, when we look at fast and furious and what the agency responsible there, or the kind of policies that they have taken place, and on and on it goes - so I fully understand the, not just frustration but the anger that the American people have and the distrust that they have."


Senator Isakson: (12:53 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "(Speaking on Senator Coats) You have for the last six days tried to illuminate misconceptions. You provided great information to the Senate and to the people of the United States of America, and I think it's ironic - and I don't believe the senator from Indiana knows this - but today in the Finance Committee we had a hearing before the Mr. Koskinen who tried to explain that Social Security numbers were stolen from the I.R.S. Which included rents, payments, debts, obligations, the entire obligation to 104,000 American citizens. Nobody is talking about giving the I.R.S. to the phone companies. Nobody is talking about the amount of information the I.R.S. has and whether the government uses it or abuses it. And here we are worried about 41 individuals who have the ability to know two telephone numbers, the origination of the call and duration of that call, without its association to a name unless a judge says it's okay."


The Senate stands in recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons. 

Inhofe, Franken, Leahy

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 02:42 PM

Senator Inhofe: (2:15 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "You got to stop and think, it's a dangerous thing to stand on the floor and say we've formed this thing in this dangerous world and they haven't stopped any attacks on America and that's what we're faced with today. I voted against the program that the House passed that is going to be considered in just a few minutes, and I felt that it is better to leave it as we had it. Now that's gone and I look at it this way, I do support the amendments that are coming up, I do think the last opportunity we'll have will be the program that we'll be voting on in just a few minutes. So let's think about this, take a deep breath, go ahead and pass something so we'll have at least some capability to stop these attacks and to gather information from those who would perpetrate these attacks."


Senator Franken: (2:22 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "I rise today to urge prompt passage of the House-passed U.S.A. FREEDOM Act of 2015 and urge opposition to the amendments offered by the majority leader. Those amendments are unnecessary, they would weaken the bill in unacceptable ways, and they would only serve to prolong and deepen the uncertainty around the reform and continuation of important national security authorities. The House-passed U.S.A. FREEDOM Act is measured, compromise legislation that is the result of lengthy negotiations, it brings much-needed reforms to some of our surveillance authorities, ensuring that we safeguard Americans' rights while increasing the government's accountability. I'm proud to have worked with Senator Dean Heller of Nevada to craft the bill's transparency provisions which draw support from privacy advocates, the business community, and national security experts."


Senator Leahy: (2:31 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "This is a bill that brings much-needed reform to the government surveillance authorities. But it also ensures the intelligence community has the tools to keep us safe. The U.S.A. FREEDOM Act is milestone legislation that will enact the most significant reforms to government surveillance powers since the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act. I'm proud of the bipartisan and bicameral effort that led to this bill. Today we can pass important surveillance reform legislation and then work to build on these reforms in coming years. So I'd urge senators to oppose all amendments. Then vote to pass the U.S.A. FREEDOM Act, just as the House passed it. We don't need to inject anymore uncertainty and delay in the process. None of these amendments are worth causing further delay. Pass it."

Vote Results (McConnell Amendment)

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 03:05 PM

Not agreed to, 42-56:

McConnell Amendment #1451 to H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (McConnell Amendment)

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 03:26 PM

Not agreed to, 44-54:

McConnell Amendment #1450 to H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (McConnell Amendment)

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 03:48 PM

Not agreed to, 43-56:

McConnell Substitute Amendment #1449 to H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

McConnell (UC), Reid, Leahy

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 04:06 PM

Senator McConnell: (3:04 PM)

  • Unanimous Consent –
    • The cloture motion on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act, be withdrawn.
    • Wednesday, June 3 at 11:00 AM, the Senate proceed to the consideration of H.R. 1735, and Senator McCain be recognized to offer amendment #1463, the text of which is identical to S. 1376, the Armed Services Committee reported NDAA bill.
    • The time until 2:30 PM be for debate only and equally divided.
  • (Without objection)


Senator Reid: (3:05 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.  
    • "We want to help move things forward. But I also want to be clear. We're not going to require a vote to move forward on the defense authorization bill, but everyone should be aware the president said he will veto this bill. It's got all this strange funding in it, the OCO funding, funding which my Republican colleagues railed against on previous occasions and now they're using it. We have grave concerns about this bill. Unless it's changed, I repeat, the president will veto it, and I hope there is some significant changes in the bill while it's here on the floor so that we can help vote to get it off the floor. So based upon that, I do not object."


Senator Leahy: (3:48 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "We worked for two years across the aisle and across the Capitol. I don't know how many meetings Senator Lee and I and others have had. And now the Senate is finally poised to pass the U.S.A. FREEDOM Act and send it to the president for his signature. It is much-needed reform for government surveillance authority. It will end the bulk collection of America's phone records. It will increase transparency. It will improve oversight. Most importantly, help restore America's privacy, all the while ensuring the intelligence community has what they need. I'm proud to have done this. I have fought to protect the privacy and constitutional rights of Vermonters and all Americans."


Senator McConnell: (3:49 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "Today the Senate will vote on whether or not we should take one more tool away from those who defend this country every day. The ability of a trained analyst under exceedingly close supervision and only with the approval of the foreign intelligence surveillance court to query a database of call data records based on reasonable, articulable suspicion. No content, no names, no listening to phone calls of law-abiding citizens. None of that is going on. We're talking about call data records. And these are the providers' records, which is not what the fourth amendment speaks to. It speaks to the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects. But these records belong to the phone companies. Let me remind the Senate the standard for reasonable, articulable suspicion is that the terror suspect is associated with a, "Foreign terrorist organization" as determined by a court. Nobody's civil liberties are being violated here … I cannot support passage of the so-called U.S.A. FREEDOM Act. It does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens, and it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool from our war fighters, in my view, at exactly the wrong time."


Senator Reid: (4:00 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "My friend, the majority leader, he's concerned, as he should be, about why the country's less secure, especially in the last couple of weeks. He should look in the mirror. We have a situation where he's trying to divert attention from what has gone on here. It was as if there had been a big neon sign flashed saying you can't do highway reauthorization, you can't do FISA reauthorization and you can't do trade in four or five days. To do this right, you should have spent some time on FISA, and because of the mad rush to do trade, that didn't happen. So today to try to divert attention from what I believe has been a miscalculation by the majority leader, it's making this country less safe. Every day that goes by, with the FISA bill not being reauthorized, is a bad day for our country. It makes us less safe."

Vote Results (Passage)

USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 2048)

Jun 02 2015 04:30 PM

Passed, 67-32:

H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Whitehouse, Portman, Rounds, McConnell, Thune

Morning Business

Jun 02 2015 05:31 PM

Senator Whitehouse: (4:34 PM)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "June 10, I will introduce my carbon fee proposal at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. I hope that once my colleagues see the details, they will take seriously the promise of a free-market solution to climate change. For any senator who wants to engage on this issue, I'm interested. I'll gladly work with any Republican colleague. What we can't do is stay in denial. For both our environment and our economy and indeed our honor, we can't afford to keep sleepwalking."


Senator Portman: (4:53 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Security Agency.
    • "And as currently practiced, I'm not aware of any phone companies that retain this data for the five years that our intelligence officials believe is the necessary time frame to provide the security that they would like to provide. There was another problem, it seems to me, with the U.S.A. FREEDOM Act, and that is it's entirely possible that the time period contemplated for establishing the software that will enable the government to query the many different private phone company databases, that that time frame won't be long enough. We don't know whether it's going to be long enough. We'll just find out, I suppose, when the time comes, but this is a complex exercise that has to be carried out in real time and the U.S.A. FREEDOM Act simply creates a deadline."


Senator Rounds: (5:05 PM)

  • Spoke on his maiden speech.
    • "The bipartisan legislation that we have introduced, Senate Concurrent Resolution 17, would create a joint select committee on regulatory reform whose purpose includes reviewing regulations currently on the books and proposing a new rules review process that includes the elected representatives of the American people. It's rooted in South Dakota common sense and the principles that have made this country great, making government work for Americans rather than against them. This committee would make several recommendations to Congress to rebalance this broken regulatory scheme. First, the committee would be tasked with exploring options for Congress to review regulations written by agencies before they are enacted, providing much-needed oversight through the possibility of a permanent joint rules review committee. This would be tasked with reviewing rules with a cost of $50 million or more."


Senator McConnell: (5:22 PM)

  • Spoke on Senator Rounds.
    • "Let me say to our new colleague from South Dakota how much all of us enjoyed his first major speech, and also congratulate him on focusing on what I think is the single biggest problem confronting our country, creating the slow growth rate that we've had throughout the Obama presidency. So the senator from South Dakota has focused on the biggest drag on our economy, the single biggest thing holding this country back from reaching its potential. So I would say to my friend from South Dakota you picked the perfect subject, and you've laid out a good solution to it, and I hope lots of colleagues on both sides of the aisle will rally around this excellent proposal as a good way forward to deal with the single biggest domestic problem we have retarding the future growth of our country."


Senator Thune: (5:23 PM)

  • Spoke on Senator Rounds.
    • "I congratulate the senator from South Dakota on his remarks and am grateful for his great service to our state in so many ways already and now adding to that here as a member of the United States Senate where we have big problems, big challenges, but he meets that with not only big enthusiasm, but big experience when it comes to knocking down these barriers and making it more possible for people in this country to live more prosperous lives, safer lives, and hopefully more fulfilled lives when they can get government out of the way and allow their greatest aspirations to surface and so I hope we have the opportunity to deal with a lot of those issues and do it in a way that creates greater prosperity for the people across South Dakota and across this country."

Inhofe, Wyden

Morning Business

Jun 02 2015 05:56 PM

Senator Inhofe: (5:26 PM)

  • Spoke on Senator Rounds.
    • "Over-regulations are the greatest problem. Single one out, endangered species, another one, the waters of the United States, the waters of the United States currently we're doing legislation and it's legislation that's going to get that burden off of the people from South Dakota and Oklahoma and right now, right now we're considering the most expensive of all the regulations, that's the ozone regulations. It would constitute the greatest single increase in expenditures or taxes of anything in the history of this country. So it's nice to know that we have someone who is so committed to the goals of this committee to be singling this out in a maiden speech as the greatest concern."


Senator Wyden: (5:40 PM)

  • Spoke on the Oregon wildfires.
    • "This is urgent business because the west has got to be in a position to clear these hazardous fuels and get out in front of these increasingly dangerous and ominous fires. We've got to end - we've got to end this cycle of catastrophic wildfires in the west. It is long past time for action here. And I urge colleagues to join Senator Crapo and I to work with us and our staff so that this body moves, and moves quickly to fix this problem. There's an awful lot of uncertainty when it comes to calculating the federal budget. But what we know for sure - for sure - is that this problem of wildfires in the west is getting increasingly serious. The fires are bigger, the fires are hotter, they last longer. And it's time to budget for reducing this problem in a sensible way."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Wrap Up

Jun 02 2015 06:36 PM

Tomorrow –

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business until 11:00 AM, with Republicans controlling the first half and Democrats controlling the second half.
  • At 11:00 AM, the Senate will proceed to the consideration of H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act, for debate only until 2:30 PM.