Thursday, Jun. 18, 2015

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Jun 18 2015 09:32 AM

The Senate convened. 


Opening Remarks

Jun 18 2015 09:39 AM

Today –

  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business for one hour, with Republicans controlling the first half and Democrats controlling the second half.
  • Following morning business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • Note: Cloture has been filed on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2685, the Defense Appropriations bill.


Senator Reid: (9:33 AM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "The sanctity of a house of worship was violated as a gunman opened fire at a historically black Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We know now at least nine people are dead. Others, of course, hurt. I don't know how else to describe it. This individual was like a sheep in wolf's clothing. He sat among the congregation for a substantial amount of time before he pulled out a weapon and started firing at people. The thought of people who are in a house of worship being gunned down as they gathered to pray is heart wrenching, devastating and is the ultimate act of cowardice and hatred. As our good chaplain said, our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people who were gunned down in that church. It's hard for me to comprehend anything so awful. So on behalf of the senate family, we send our support, our sympathy to the Charleston law enforcement as they try to capture this murderer. I hope the perpetrator will be swiftly apprehended and brought to justice."

Cornyn, King, Markey, McCain

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 18 2015 11:15 AM

Senator Cornyn: (9:53 AM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "In light of the horrific news that we all woke up to this morning I want to just touch briefly on the tragic events that have unfolded overnight in Charleston, South Carolina. Though we don't know all the facts, by all appearances the gunman targeted worshipers while they were in church in a way that certainly shocks all of our conscious and sensibilities. And is the sort of act that I think we all find hard to understand and is truly unspeakable. But law enforcement is doing what it does best, which is conducting its investigation, including looking for the suspect, and I think it's appropriate that we all offer our thoughts and perhaps a private prayer for all of those who were affected by this senseless and horrific tragedy."


Senator King: (10:07 AM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "I want to express my profound sorrow, sympathy and condolences to the people of South Carolina and the people of Charleston for the tragedy which occurred last night. To my colleagues, Senator Scott and Senator Graham, and to all the people of South Carolina. These things are very hard to understand, very hard to fathom, and I think I speak for all of our colleagues when I say our heart goes out to the people of South Carolina this morning about - concerning this unspeakable tragedy."
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "I realize that we will have differences about how to solve this problem, we'll have differences about the exact exemptions of it, we'll have differences about what the resolution should be and the technology that we should use and how we should get there and transitions and all of those kinds of things. That's perfectly legitimate. But fundamentally we have to think of this as a moral and ethical issue. As a moral and ethical issue, the obligations that we owe to other people in this country, to other people in the world who have no voice, in the use of the resources that are being taken away from them, and particularly to the people that we don't yet know who are going to follow us on this wonderful home that we have been given to steward, to preserve, to use, but to pass on in as good or better shape than we found it."


Senator Markey: (10:20 AM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "First I want to begin by extending my deepest condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of those lost in the heinous church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Our hearts break for the people of Charleston, and especially for the congregation of this house of God, a place of refuge, a place of peace, a place of love. The perpetrator of this hate crime must be found and swiftly brought to justice."
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "Oh, yes, there is a national security incentive for us. Oh, yes. We can just tell the Middle East at least we don't need their oil any more than we need their sand. We're going to provide our own power and we're going to give other countries in the world the capacity to produce their own power. But we can do it as well because it's a moral imperative, because God's Earth, his creation is back now in jeopardy. We have to be the leaders. We have to answer this moral cause, and we can't say that we can't do it. We can't say that we can't invent our way out of this potential catastrophe for the entire planet. The Pope is calling upon us to be the world's leader, morally and economically. We can do it."


Senator McCain: (10:36 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Because anybody believes that ISIS would be content to remain in the Middle East and not export that terror to the United States of America has not listened to the director of the C.I.A. and the head of the F.B.I. and every other military expert. ISIS is bent on harming America. When Mr. Baghdady left cam Buka, Mr. Baghdady is the leader of ISIS, he spent four years in Iraq, when he left he said, "I'll see you in New York." He wasn't kidding. ISIS is bent on attacking us. Can they destroy us? No. But the ability of ISIS to be able to launch some attacks on the United States of America grows every time there are thousands of young men and some young women who go to Syria and Iraq, and are radicalized even more and return, sooner or later, to the country from which they came. So I would ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put aside the smaller differences that we have - and there are differences with my colleagues on this side of the aisle concerning, for example, the sage grouse. And considering on that side of the aisle a number of other provisions in this bill. I would urge my colleagues to put aside those differences, and they are in the view of many significant differences, and vote in favor of this legislation and send the message that at least on the issue of defending the nation and providing the men and women who are putting their lives on the line in our behalf."

Roberts, Kaine, McCain (UC)

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 18 2015 12:15 PM

Senator Roberts: (11:41 AM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "I would like to express my deepest condolences to the victims of the shooting at the Emanuel Church in South Carolina as of last night. This was a senseless act of violence, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and all affected by this horrible tragedy. I know we all hope the perpetrator is swiftly brought to justice, and I pray for the safety of the entire Charleston community. This was an act of senseless violence, to be sure, but, as I understand it, the perpetrator saved one woman and told her, "I want you to tell everyone what happened here." That is beyond sinister. That is evil. And that evil must be stopped and must be dealt with."
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "Perhaps some can afford the rising premiums, but can you actually go see your doctor and receive treatment? Or is your deductible too high? And is your doctor still available to you? Will your doctor spend at least five minutes - five minutes -- with you or more time filling out forms or electronic medical records? And are those records secure? Any day now the Supreme Court will hand out its decision in King vs. Burwell. This is the case that will determine the legality of the administration's regulation extending health insurance subsidies to people in states that use the federal insurance exchange. And we will see - we will see - if the court decides that the law should be implemented as written by this Congress. Most of us on this side, well, all of us on this side of the aisle voting "No" or implemented as interpreted by the administration."


Senator Kaine: (11:55 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Senator Flake and I have introduced a bipartisan proposal to show that there's bipartisan support for this mission and we've been pushing to have this matter heard. Yesterday in a debate on the House floor, the chairman of the committee stated plainly that it's time that we, "Ought to have a real AUMF debate." So I'm here to support the good work that the chair and the ranking member have done. I'm here to point out that on day 313, if we're willing to deal with narrow, small issues, we should be willing to address the most important issue we have before us. I challenge my colleagues to do this and to bring the same amount of attention and bipartisanship to debating whether we should send American troops to war as we are willing to apply to barracks mold and vehicle rust."


Senator McCain: (12:05 PM)

Unanimous Consent –

  • At 1:45 PM, all post-cloture time on H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act, expire.
  • The time until 1:45 PM be equally divided and be for debate only.
  • (Without objection)


Note: At 1:45 PM, the Senate will VOTE on:

  1. Passage of H.R. 1735; and
  2. Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2685, the defense appropriations bill.

Cornyn, Heinrich, McConnell, Reed, McCain

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Jun 18 2015 01:47 PM

Senator Cornyn: (12:07 PM)

  • Spoke on the defense appropriations bill.
    • "I believe that to be consistent after such a big vote, as I anticipate we will have on the defense authorization bill, that any notion of blocking the appropriations bill that would actually pay for those policies to be carried out should simply evaporate. I hope our colleagues across the aisle, many of whom have said they actually support the policies behind this legislation, would defy their party's leadership and their misguided advice about blocking this legislation in order to extract a negotiation on more government spending and would decide instead to move this legislation forward. The brave men and women in Texas and throughout the country who are fighting on our behalf deserve nothing less. And I hope our colleagues who are even considering for a moment the idea of blocking the funding that would actually help pay our troops would reconsider and cast their vote in support of the troops and not cast their vote in favor of some cynical political strategy which will undermine our support for our troops."


Senator Heinrich: (12:34 PM)

  • Spoke on immigration.
    • "That bill would have modernized our immigration system to meet the needs of our economy, provided an accountable pathway to earned citizenship for the undocumented workers currently living in the shadows, including making the DREAM Act the law of the land, and it would have dramatically - dramatically -- strengthened security at our borders. Accountable immigration reform received 68 votes in this body and demonstrated the kind of legislation that we can pass when we do work together. As a nation, we value the twin promises of freedom and opportunity. Those ideals are important no matter where you were born. However, too many of my Republican colleagues don't see it that way. Several of them want to rescind or even defund DACA and to roll back the progress that we've seen made over the past three years. Why would we end such a successful program? What I would say to those who would do this is come back to the table. And work with us to pass immigration reform. We need pragmatic solutions to fix our broken immigration laws, and we need them now. Let's make the dream a reality after all.


Senator McConnell: (12:47 PM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "This is a true tragedy that something like this could occur at a house of worship makes it even worse. It's always awful when one of these things happens, but to happen at a house of worship makes it even worse. Churches should be a place of refuge, a place where people feel safe and secure, a place of mercy, a place of compassion. The depth of loss these families must be feeling is simply awful. So I want the American people to know the Senate is thinking of them today and the victims that they love. We're also thinking of the entire congregation at this historic church. We'll continue to do so as more about this - we'll continue to do so as more about this tragedy is learned in the hours and days to come. But our hearts go out to the families who have been affected by this awful tragedy."


Senator Reed: (1:13 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "We had a very good debate, and I thank again the chairman for encouraging that debate, allowing it to take place and then coming to a vote. We lost 54-46. We had strong support on our side of the aisle, but it was a fair and full debate, and we lost. The result, though, is the problem remains. We are in a situation where if we continue down this pathway, we will see the O.C.O. account as an escape valve for defense where everyone else is subject to sequestration. And I don't think that's good. I don't think it's good to defense. It's certainly not good for these other agencies and it's not good for our national security. There are many that say don't worry about that. This is just an authorization bill, that the appropriations bill is where we'll have the appropriate discussion and debate. I think that's going to happen. But my view is that if authorization and appropriations are so closely related that we couldn't ignore one and we couldn't ignore this."


Senator McCain: (1:24 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "I would just remind my friend, however, the title of this legislation is to authorize appropriations. To authorize appropriations. Not to appropriate, but to authorize appropriations. That is the task of the appropriations committee. And so, the O.C.O. issue which he and I are largely in agreement with, should have been repeal of sequestration. That is an issue that should be addressed where the authority lies in appropriations. Not in authorization. We can't increase our decrease a single penny of authorization except what was given to us through the budget committee process which was votes and decisions made on this floor on the budget. So I say with respect and friendship, if there is a problem here, it's not with the authorization. It's not with the authorization. We don't spend a penny. We authorize the expenditure of money, and that is an issue that my friend from Rhode Island and I disagree with."

McConnell, Reid

Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2685)

Jun 18 2015 02:23 PM

Senator McConnell: (2:10 PM)

  • Spoke on the defense appropriations bill.
    • "Passing the legislation before us is a way to fulfill a promise that we just made 71-25. That's why nearly every Democrat voted to pass it in committee 27-3. That's why Democrats have hailed this bill as a win-win-win and a victory for each of their states. They know it gives President Obama the same level of funding he asked for. They know it adheres to a bipartisan spending level that both parties agreed to, that President Obama signed into law and that President Obama campaigned on in the last presidential election. So now our friends face the choice. Option one, option one, allow the promise just made to our troops to be fulfilled by voting for a bill they can't stop praising. Option two, break the promise they just made by killing a bill they claim to love, all in the service of some unrelated and completely incomprehensible partisan plan. It's the road to bipartisanship and support for our troops that brought us this far. We shouldn't let partisan politics trip us up now, and we don't have to, not if commonsense Democrats continue to prioritize pay raises and medical care for our troops over some unrelated gamut to funnel more cash to bureaucracies like the I.R.S. and the E.P.A."


Senator Reid: (2:15 PM)

  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • "The people in the armed services while their families are at home want to be protected at an airport, the T.S.A. needs to be funded, the F.B.I. needs to be funded, the drug enforcement administration, homeland security needs to be funded. In the process we need to fund education properly. We need to fund research for health. We need to make sure the National Institutes of Health are not whacked again. They lost $1.6 billion. They've never gotten the money back. Do we want to give them another sequestration? Of course we don't. We have until this fiscal year ends in the fall to work this out. And that's what we should do. We are legislators. I agree with the 52 Republicans that said we should fix sequestration because I agree also. So let's sit down and do what we as legislators are supposed to do. Legislation is the art of compromise. We're not going to get everything we want but the Republicans shouldn't get everything they want and we should not fund this government doing funny money on the defense and doing the really unfunny money on the rest of the government. It is unfair and above all, the Republican Party which used to stand for fiscal responsibility should get fiscally responsible."

Vote Results (Cloture on the MTP)

Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2685)

Jun 18 2015 02:39 PM

Not invoked, 50-45:

Cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2685, the defense appropriations bill.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Senator Cardin: (2:39 PM)

  • Spoke on World Refugee Day.
    • "I rise today to introduce a resolution to mark World Refugee Day, June 20, and to address the growing global crisis of people forcibly displaced by persecution and conflict. According to the united nations high commissioner for refugees, for the first time since World War II, over 60 million people have been forced from their homes and displaced in their own countries or forced to flee abroad. Yet last year alone, 14 million people were up-rooted by violence and persecution, most escaping conflicts in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Ukraine, Burma and Afghanistan. There are more and more protracted crises, and the result is an increase in humanitarian needs. The worldwide displacement from wars, conflicts, and persecution in 2014 was the highest level recorded and accelerating fast to 60 million last year from 52.1 million in 2013, a dramatic increase from the 37.5 million a decade ago. "


Senator Sullivan: (3:10 PM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "The Department of Defense, United States Army, should not even contemplate moving one single soldier out of America's arctic until all of this has been completed. And they should look hard at this bill that we hope the president will not veto with regard to the direction of the Congress on the importance of increasing U.S. military forces in the Asia pacific to add credibility to our rebound strategy. That means keeping appropriate troop levels in appropriate places like the Asia pacific, like the arctic and like Alaska as required by the bill that we just passed by an overwhelming majority. Alaska is the northern anchor of the pacific rebalance. It is the gateway to the arctic. It is what makes America an arctic nation. It is our only arctic state, and it probably is the single greatest repository of untapped energy resources that will power our nation's future."


Senator Murphy: (3:35 PM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "First, let me say before turning to the topic at hand, those of us from Connecticut, especially those of us in and around Sandy Hook, Connecticut, our hearts go out to the community in Charleston, the grief and tragedy that they're working and sifting through today. It's hard for anyone to imagine. All I can say is I hope that they will find, as we did, in Newtown, Connecticut, that internal strength over time comes from unlikely spots, that friends arrive from far-off places. There is a community that is much bigger than one church or one city that is going to wrap its arms around the families and the friends of the victims during this terrible time."
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "I think it's important to say at the outset that most of us that have followed the Affordable Care Act and its legal interpretation think that this is a sham of a case. This is the political attack on the Affordable Care Act masked as a legal case. There is absolutely no question that the Affordable Care Act was built in a way to deliver subsidies to both state exchanges and federal exchanges. I won't go into all of the details as to why that's the clear case, but although we're talking about what might happen if King V. Burwell comes down for the plaintiffs, many of us think that that would be an absolutely ludicrous legal result, one that would be a stunning act of judicial overreach. Essentially the political substitution of the court for the legislature."


Senator Stabenow: (3:45 PM)

  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "If you're an American, then you deserve the opportunity to receive tax cuts that will make your health care affordable, whether you get your plan on an exchange run by the state or through This is about moms and dads in Michigan and across the country being able to go to bed at night without having to say a prayer that says please, God, don't let the kids get sick because what am I going to do? The Affordable Care Act has provided an answer and the peace of mind for millions of Americans. And we certainly hope that the Supreme Court will not take that away."


Senator Baldwin: (3:53 PM)

  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "We know that the Affordable Care Act is providing access, affordability and quality in the state of Wisconsin. We also know that in the United States of America, health care should be a right guaranteed to all and not just a privilege reserved for the few. That is what we have fought far and that's what we're going to continue to fight for as we move the Affordable Care Act forward. I want to once again thank my colleagues, Senator Stabenow, Senator Murphy, for joining me on the floor this afternoon. We have a case that's about to be decided by the United States supreme court. We have effort after effort in the Congress of the United States to repeal or defund all or part of the Affordable Care Act. But it is providing lifesaving coverage and good news to Wisconsinites and people across America."


Senator Sessions: (4:30 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "I think this country needs to go through a serious evaluation of that, number one. And secondly, we absolutely -- colleagues, absolutely we should not fast-track a movement to the establishment of an international commission or international union, and maybe creating two more of them, as part of two more trade agreements, the three trade agreements that will be part of fast-track, if it passes. And, of course, any number of other trade agreements for the next six years could be accelerated through this fast-track process, if it passes."


Senator Heitkamp: (5:49 PM)

  • Spoke on Vietnam veterans.
    • "I rise today again to speak about the North Dakotans who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in the Vietnam War. Since March I've had the honor of learning from families about the lives of their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and uncles who died during the Vietnam War."

Monday, June 22 –

  • The Senate will convene at 3:00 PM.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business until 5:00 PM, with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each.
  • At 4:00 PM, there is a filing deadline for all first-degree amendments to both H.R. 2146, the legislative vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority, and H.R. 1295, the preferences and Trade Adjustment Assistance bill.
  • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct up to two confirmation VOTES on:
  1. Executive Calendar #156, Peter V. Neffenger, to be an assistant secretary of Homeland Security; and
  2. Executive Calendar #124, Daniel R. Elliott III, to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board.
  • Note: Cloture has been filed on both H.R. 2146 and H.R. 1295.


Senator McConnell: (6:46 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "So here are the next steps. In the judgment of members of both parties in the House and in the Senate, our best way forward now is to consider T.P.A. and T.A.A. separately. That means T.A.A. will come second after T.P.A., but the votes will be there to pass it reluctantly, not happily, but they will be there if it means getting something far more important accomplished for the American people. To that end, I just filed cloture on the motion to concur with the House-passed T.P.A. bill. I then filed cloture on the AGOA and preferences bill with an amendment that adds to that bill T.A.A. This puts the Senate on a procedural glide path to consider and then pass the T.P.A. bill, the AGOA and preferences bill and T.A.A. And so assuming everyone has a little faith and votes the same way as they did just a few weeks ago, we'll be able to get all of those bills to the president soon. I know there's a fourth bill too, a customs bill. Given the complex and thorny procedural processes at work on that bill, we'll have to turn to that one as soon as we're able, but we will turn to it."