Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2015

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Jun 16 2015 10:02 AM

The Senate convened.

McConnell, Reid

Opening Remarks

Jun 16 2015 10:27 AM

Today –

  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act, with the time until 11:30 AM equally divided.
  • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will VOTE on McCain-Feinstein amendment #1889 to H.R. 1735.
  • At 12:15 PM, there is a filing deadline for all second-degree amendments to both H.R. 1735, and McCain substitute amendment #1463.
  • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons.
  • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will conduct up to three VOTES on:
  1. Ernst amendment #1549 to H.R. 1735 (60-vote affirmative threshold);
  2. Gillibrand amendment #1578 to H.R. 1735 (60-vote affirmative threshold); and
  3. Motion to invoke cloture on McCain substitute amendment #1463 to H.R. 1735.


Senator McConnell: (10:03 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "One option is for senators to follow the bipartisan example of the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee, both of which passed defense authorization legislation with bipartisan backing. It means reaching across the aisle to support the men and women who support us every single day. It means voting to transform bureaucratic waste and to crucial investments for brave troops and their families, raises they've earned, quality of life programs they deserve and the kind of medical care and mental health support they should expect when injured on the battlefield or haunted by its memories at home. It means ensuring our military has the tools it needs to help America navigate a treacherous world beset by an ever-growing array of challenges. It means advancing a bill that contains ideas and priorities from both parties and one that gives President Obama the exact level of funding authorization he asked for in his own budget request. It also means endorsing the senate's return to considering defense authorization bills through the regular order, allowing real bipartisan debate and real bipartisan amendment process, as we have done this year."


Senator Reid: (10:09 AM)

  • Spoke on the Internal Revenue Service.
    • "165,000 people are working today because of export bank. It's an important function of our government. But a large number of the Republicans are trying to kill this program, as indicated at how unserious they are about doing something about it by focusing on the defense bill, an amendment that they filed and moved to table their own amendment just so they could check off the box. Well, we tried to do something on export-import bank. Cybersecurity. We are being hacked on a daily basis. They're not only hacking businesses, they're hacking our government, everything. And to show how unserious the Republicans are about this issue, which we have been trying to do something as Democrats for four years. The Republicans file an amendment on this bill knowing that the president has already said he is going to veto the bill."
  • Spoke on the Food Safety Modernization Act.
    • "By keeping sequestration in place Republicans are hampering efforts to stamp out food borne illness. Nobody should have to worry about dying from eating ice cream or being hospitalized from eating spinach. Congress must act to strengthen the food safety of our country and the Food Safety Modernization Act and we must do it now. Let's stop sequestration. Let's go ahead and authorize the bills but remember, we cannot fund them with funny money. I can't imagine my Republican friends - I said before my friend, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, allowing this bill to go forward with this deficit spending that they call O.C.O."

Klobuchar, McCain, Durbin, Grassley, Reed, Hatch, Reid, Feinstein

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 11:31 AM

Senator Klobuchar: (10:24 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "I rise today to discuss the Metal Theft Prevention Act which I filed as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. In a moment I'm going to ask unanimous consent to make this amendment pending but first I'd like to explain why this amendment is so important. I've been working on this legislation for years. Senator Schumer is a cosponsor. In the past I've had support for this bill as cosponsors in Senator Hatch, in Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Hoeven. Why has there been bipartisan support in the past for this bill? Well, I think we all know that this is a public safety issue. Metal thieves have targeted labs, power stations, and gas lines, causing blackouts, service disruptions and even dangerous explosions. In September of 2013, four people were injured in an explosion at a University of California Berkeley electrical station, officials blamed it on copper theft that occurred two hours before the explosion."


Senator McCain: (10:29 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • I would point out to the senator from Minnesota that we started on this legislation in the committee in May, we're now well into June, many weeks, we're two weeks into the consideration of this legislation, and the senator from Minnesota comes to the floor with a compelling amendment. I suggest that the next time around that the senator from Minnesota raise the issue with the authorization committee and also when the bill first comes to the floor rather than waiting two weeks before having a compelling interest in this very serious issue."


Senator Durbin: (10:34 AM)

  • Spoke on the Stanley Cup.
    • "It was a great night for Blackhawks fans and the culmination of a tremendous team effort. Antoine Vermet, acquired at the trade deadline, had two Stanley cup goals in the final. Goaltender Scott Darling stood tall in the net when his team needed him the most in relief of Corey Crawford when called upon against Nashville. Duncan Keith was an iron man, earning the Conn Smyth trophy for play-off M.V.P. while logging over seven hundred minutes of ice time in 23 games. I can't tell you how happy I am for those Blackhawks and all of their amazing fans and their Stanley Cup championship. It's been a thrill to watch this team throughout the years, and I look forward to seeing President Obama host the Stanley cup champion Blackhawks yet another time at the White House."


Senator Grassley: (10:40 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "In other words, the amendment would provide the government the ability to prosecute those who finance or otherwise provide material support for terrorists. Naturally, these are complex crimes that aren't committed by just one person. They involve entire networks that need to be stopped in their tracks. This provision will help do that by making sure that those who provide material support to terrorists don't escape justice. Third, the amendment would add these offenses to the list of those crimes that are predicates for wiretap applications. As the law now stands, prosecutors can't request a traditional criminal wiretap against a terrorist suspected of breaking these new laws. But at the same time they can get a wiretap to investigate a long-list of less serious offenses. Again, it doesn't make sense. In fact, this is a dangerous omission."


Senator Reed: (10:46 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "First, the senator is chairman of the committee which jurisdiction lies for this particular amendment, so he has complete, in fact, more than complete authority to bring it up in regular order and bring it forward to the floor. In addition we have been advised by the Department of Justice that these provisions are not necessary given the scope of existing law with respect to terrorists and with respect to anyone who conducts a terrorist act and perhaps an example of that is the Boston bombing where there is now someone condemned to death for terrorist activities, not involving a nuclear device but I hardly think he would get any less of a sentence regard less of the device he used. For all these reasons, I would object."


Senator Hatch: (10:49 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Political reality demands that's we reject partisan grand standing and work together on this must-pass bill. Over the last two weeks the majority leader and the chairman have led a debate on this bill that represents the Senate at its finest. We have considered the bill on time, a needed change from recent years when it restores the Senate's proper voice in national defense. We've held hours upon hours of debate on the floor. As part of the open amendment process the Senate considered an amendment from the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee that would condition the funding level on the domestic spending increases sought by our democratic colleagues. Despite my disagreements on the substance I want to commend the ranking member for his sincere advocacy and for his determination to put his plan before this body for an up-or-down vote. As that report shows, a majority strongly disagrees with the minority's alternative having voted on it, it is time for the senate to wrap up our debate and pass this bill."


Senator Reid: (10:57 AM)

  • Spoke on Kirk Kerkorian.
    • "He would not take a comp for anything. Everything he paid for. One of the last times he went to a fight, he also would not sit at ringside. He wanted to be up away from everybody. In 2008, he was worth $16 billion. I don't know how much he was worth when he died, but he's given huge amounts of his wealth away. His job for Tony Mandikicken and others to give the rest of his money away. It's a sad day for me and the people who knew Kirk Kerkorian. But he lived a full life. His two daughters. He has taken care of everybody that was always around him. He paid his help well. I just wish I had the ability to articulate what a wonderful human being Kirk Kerkorian was. I will always remember him, and I will always - when I talk about people who know something about business, I have to interject the name Kirk Kerkorian."


Senator Feinstein: (11:09 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "This amendment is still necessary because interrogation techniques were able to be used which were based on deeply flawed legal theory, and those techniques, it was said, did not constitute torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. These legal opinions could be written again. In 2009, President Obama's executive order settled the issue as former policy, and this amendment will codify a prohibition on a program that was already defunding at the end of the Bush administration. C.I.A. Director John Brennan has clearly stated that he agrees with the ban on interrogation techniques that are not in the army field manual."


Senator McCain: (11:16 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "We must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always, always be as right and honorable as the goals and ideals that we fight for. I believe past interrogation policies compromised our values, stained our national honor and did little practical good. I don't believe we should have employed such practices in the past and we should never permit them in the future. This amendment provides greater assurances that never again will the United States follow that dark path of sacrificing our values for our short-term security needs. I also know that such practices don't work. I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners does not produce good, reliable intelligence. Victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I firmly believe that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights which are protected by international standards often set by America's past leaders. Our enemies act without conscience. We must not."

Vote Results (Feinstein-McCain Amendment)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 12:02 PM

Agreed to, 78-21:

Feinstein-McCain Amendment #1889 to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Inhofe, Gillibrand, Grassley, McCaskill, McCain

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 12:42 PM

Senator Inhofe: (12:02 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Anyone who travels overseas and travels to these various areas knows that when they go through a commissary, they see - particularly in areas where there's not other opportunities out there; there's no competition - but they see it's almost like a club. The wives and husbands, the families, the kids, that's what they do. They go to the commissary. Taking that away would be taking aw tradition. And, again, the bill doesn't state it goes away, but it does temporarily privatize five major commissaries. Now, when that happens, you've started the ball rolling. And the bill also states - and we discussed this in the committee - that this gives us time to look and evaluate and see whether or not we want to privatize."


Senator Gillibrand: (12:10 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Every military victim of sexual assault deserve due process, professional treatment by a trained military official at each opportunity to seek and receive justice. Our military has promised improvement and has had adequate time in which to improve, but the numbers show that the military has failed to live up to its promise. The Department of Defense has admitted that it made no progress since 2012. It's time for the chain of command to be removed from decision-making in sexual assault cases and replaced by those trained, nonbiased military personnel, educated in the law and experienced in handling sexual assault cases. Further, MJAA specifically carves out sexual assault and other serious crimes with the remainder of military crimes being left in the chain of command. Please hold the military to a higher standard by voting "Yes" to an unbiased military system."


Senator Grassley: (12:17 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "We've tried reforming the current system and it didn't work. When we are talking about something as serious and life-altering as sexual assault, we cannot afford to wait any longer. So I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this amendment, but as we approach this from the outside, it gives me an opportunity to reiterate what I see so wrong in so many bureaucracies. We always promise change, but as I've looked back over a couple, three decades of this problem of the culture of various bureaucracies, nothing really happens from within. It's got to happen from without. And in this particular case of national defense being the number-one responsibility of the federal government, this change has to happen from without, because it hasn't happened from within regardless of the promises."


Senator McCaskill: (12:24 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "This is a cultural problem we have to get after. And I would stand ready to work with Senator Gillibrand, Senator Grassley and all of my colleagues to look and see what we have to do to get at this peer-to-peer retaliation. The Gillibrand amendment moves retaliation from article 29 to article 93 at the UCML, it would reduce the maximum punishment for this crime. And it finally prohibits the resources necessary to get at this problem. The amendment says we cannot add any additional resources to get after this. Historic reforms have been made. They are working based on data. And talking to dozens and dozens of prosecutors and untold victims, as a former sex prosecutor who cares about nothing more than taking care of victims and making sure they have due process and are respected and deferred to I must urge this body to reject the Gillibrand approach, which removes commanders from being held accountable where they must be held accountable."


Senator McCain: (12:35 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "This year's bill builds on that progress with 12 military justice provisions including every proposal that was offered by Senator Gillibrand during the committee's markup of this legislation. It is true that sexual assaults have been reduced. That's a fact. And so to somehow allege that nothing has been done, and that what her proposal is rejected by literally every member of the military that I know that has years of experience. We cannot remove the commanding officer from the chain of command. And that's what the Senator Gillibrand's amendment and effort has been, to remove the commanding officer from responsibility. And I will steadfastly oppose it. And I hope that at some point the senator from New York would acknowledge that we took in this bill every provision that she offered during the markup of the legislation."

Vote Results (Ernst Amendment)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 02:40 PM

Not agreed to, 54-45:

Ernst amendment #1549 to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Gillibrand Amendment)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 03:02 PM

Not agreed to, 50-49:

Gillibrand amendment #1578 to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Cloture on McCain Amendment)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 04:11 PM

Invoked, 83-15:

Cloture on McCain substitute amendment #1463 to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

McCain (UC)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 04:17 PM

Senator McCain: (4:10 PM)

Unanimous Consent –

  • At 5:00 PM, the Senate VOTE on Vitter amendment #1473, as amended, to H.R. 1735, the NDAA.  
  • (Without objection)

Cornyn, Ayotte, Wyden, Reed, McCain

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 05:01 PM

Senator Cornyn: (4:17 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "I hope our colleagues in light of this almost contemporaneous occurrence at the office of personnel management and the recurring daily stories about how cyber-attacks are stealing the personal property and represent an intelligence threat and stealing the money of the American people that our colleagues would work with us to do what the American people elected us to do, which is to work together to move forward sensible bipartisan legislation that's important to the country. So I hope our friends across the aisle will listen to the American people instead of their misguided leadership."


Senator Ayotte: (4:30 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "It's not right for a military family to rely on his family to help earn retirement benefits and then have that individual commit misconduct but the family is punished, too. My amendment would fix this problem by recognizing that military families serve, too. Remove disincentives to report misconduct and put the sentencing process back in balance. Juries can choose a punishment to fi crime without worry that an innocent family member will suffer as a result. My amendment has been endorsed by ten veteran service organizations and I urge my colleagues to support this important amendment that allows the military justice system to function properly but also makes sure that innocent family members do not suffer and that their service is recognized as well."


Senator Wyden: (4:38 PM)

  • Spoke on the Tax Freedom Act.
    • "You have at hand now two radically different pieces of legislation. The first has been on the books now for well over a decade and has been hugely valuable -- in terms of innovation, choice in consumers. That's the permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act in effect taking what we had for over a decade and making it permanent. And with the permanent approach, you've lowered costs for consumers and protect the internet as a bulwark for free speech and commerce promoting American companies and American ideals. So that's approach number one, making permanent something that has worked since 1998. The second approach is the Remote Transaction Parity Act which would raise costs for Americans, hurt small and rural businesses and punish states like Oregon that have kept taxes low. In my view, it would be legislative malpractice to tie these two approaches together. The path forward for the United States Senate should be very clear. That is to take the permanent internet tax freedom act that has sailed through the House and with the ball in our court pass it here."


Senator Reed: (4:46 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "This amendment would prevent the Army from managing its own force structure, from determining how many brigades it needs, how they are disposed in terms of active, reserve and regular forces. In addition, the way the amendment is paid for to maintain these additional brigades would be to mandate a 1% pay cut to all federal and civilian employees from 2016 to 2017. Not a pay freeze. A pay cut. The Army does not support this amendment. They need the flexibility to manage their forces to respond to the threats as they perceive them in the world, to determine where the forces are mechanized, whether they are located in the National Guard or located in the regular force."


Senator McCain: (4:50 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "The amendment is bad policy. Congress shouldn't attempt to manage forces. That's the job of the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff. Our job is to authorize and fund. The key is giving Army leadership the flexibility to manage the total Army force given the planned drawdown. In fiscal year 2016 the Army end strength is being reduced and funding adjusted accordingly. The cost to maintain the Army at 490,000 for one year is about $2.4 billion. Of course the senator's amendment does not have any indication where that $2.4 billion would come from. If enacted, the amendment could result in a regular army of tiered readiness. The Army would have a force of 490,000 with a budget for 475,000. We don't want a hollow army like the 1970's. So I would urge my colleague from Louisiana, the sponsor of this amendment, that he should devote his energies and efforts to the repeal of sequestration which is what is forcing these decisions to be made by the Army."

Vote Results (Vitter Amendment)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 16 2015 05:30 PM

Not agreed to, 26-73:

Vitter amendment #1473, as modified, to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Markey, Thune, Sanders, Durbin

Morning Business

Jun 16 2015 06:16 PM

Senator Markey: (5:30 PM)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Those who say that it is not Pope Francis' business to speak out on something which is obviously created by human beings, that can be solve by human beings, are wrong. It is his place. He challenges us to put on the books of the laws of this country the kinds of standards that unleash the green energy revolution, that create jobs by the millions, while ensuring that we reduce greenhouse gases are going up and endangering the planet. It is just an incredible moment when the Pope speaks on an issue of this importance, and I am not saying that the action will be easy. But if we harness the ambition of the moon landing, the scope of the Clean Air Act and the moral imperative of Pope Francis' Encyclical, we can leave the world a better place than we found it. We have the tools do it. Now we need to forge the political will."


Senator Thune: (5:40 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "At this very moment threats are multiplying around the world. Russian aggression is on the rise. ISIS fighters are carving a trail of slaughter across the Middle East. Iran is working to acquire a nuclear weapon. Now more than ever we cannot afford to be holding up funding for our military, especially for partisan political purposes. Democrats and Republicans have had a chance to make their voices heard on this bill, and our joint efforts have resulted in strong bipartisan legislation that will ensure our military is prepared to meet the threats of the 21st century. The Senate should pass this bill this week, and the president should sign it to make sure that our troops have the equipment and the resources that they need to do the most important thing that we can do as a nation, and that's defend our country."


Senator Sanders: (5:48 PM)

  • Spoke on senior food assistance.  
    • "If a senior is malnourished, that senior is more likely to fall, break a hip, end up at the hospital; a huge expense for Medicaid and Medicare. It makes sense to me, it seems, that we fund adequately this important program which keeps seniors healthy, independent, out of hospitals and nursing homes, and that that is what we should be doing. And that is why I sent a letter to my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee calling for a 12% increase in funding for the Older Americans Act programs such as the nutrition programs. 32 colleagues joined me on that letter, and I hope that when we see the funding level for the Older Americans Act this year we will see it increased for these important programs."


Senator Durbin: (6:02 PM)

  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "Now, if you eliminate the individual mandate you're back in the situation where people seeking out health insurance will be those who are the most vulnerable and sick. Those with preexisting conditions. That makes it tough to create an insurance pool that makes sense when it comes to risk. According to the American Academy of Actuaries, putting out a plan that eliminates the individual mandate will really be no help. That bill would only delay the onset of higher insurance premiums and loss of coverage for millions of Americans. The Affordable Care Act puts families in charge of their care instead of insurance companies, expands health care coverage, lowers health care costs, makes Medicare stronger, and lowers the deficit. I don't know why there's opposition to any of those elements. Before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, 15 million Americans didn't have health insurance. While health care costs for working families and small businesses were increasing out of sight. The Affordable Care Act changed that."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Wrap Up

Jun 16 2015 06:16 PM

Tomorrow –

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business for one hour, with Democrats controlling the first half and Republicans controlling the second half.