Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Feb 28 2018 12:45 PM

The Senate convened.  


Opening Remarks

Feb 28 2018 01:01 PM

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 12:45 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #153, Russell Vought, of Virginia, to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, post-cloture.
  • At 4:30 p.m, the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #153, Russell Vought, of Virginia, to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Note: all time during recess, adjournment, morning business and leader remarks will count post-cloture on the Vought nomination.
  • Note: on Thursday, February 15, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #437, A. Marvin Quattlebaum, of South Carolina, to be United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina.
  • Note: on Thursday, February 15, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #438, Karen Gren Scholer, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas.
  • Note: on Thursday, February 15, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #439, Tilman Eugene Self III, of Georgia, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
  • Note: on Thursday, February 15, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #536, Terry A. Doughty, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana.


Senator Schumer: (12:49 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "I still ache for them and their parents. Parents who had presents stashed under the Christmas tree that were never opened. All of them, the students of Stoneman Douglas, parents from Newtown, the families of the victims of Orlando, Las Vegas and columbine and every day gun violence across the country, all of them are calling on us to act. The massacre of children must end. The time has come to make meaningful changes - meaningful changes - to our laws to keep Americans safe from the epidemic of gun violence. And let me tell you, the students of Stoneman Douglas won't stop until we achieve meaningful change."
  • Spoke on Russian election meddling.
    • "According to several reports Kremlin-linked bots continue to release misinformation on social media. Admiral Rogers said that President Putin has come to the conclusion there is little price to pay and there are he can continue this activity. Clearly what we have done, said Admiral Rogers, has not been enough. Unquote. He is absolutely right. It's extraordinary, confounding and dangerous how little the Trump Administration is doing about Putin's campaign to undermine our grand democracy. President Trump refused to punish Putin after he took office despite the consensus view of 17 American intelligence agencies that Putin interfered in our election."
  • Spoke on the nomination of A. Marvin Quattlebaum to be U.S District Judge for the District of South Carolina.
    • "Their blue slips were respected during the Obama Administration and think long and hard about continuing to ignore them. Second, the nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum speaks to the overall diversity of President Trump's selections for the judiciary. Mr. Quattlebaum does not replace one, but two scuttled Obama nominees who were African American. 83% of President Trump's were male, 92% were white. That represents the lowest share of nonwhite candidates in three decades. It is long past time that the judiciary starts looking more like the America it represents, having a diversity of views and experience on the federal bench is necessary for the equal administration of justice." 

Burr, Tillis, Murphy

Executive Session (Vought Nomination)

Feb 28 2018 01:21 PM

Senator Burr: (1:00 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Rev. Billy Graham.
    • "Reverend Graham preached almost 215 million in more than 185 countries and territories on six continents. He prayed with soldiers on the battlefield in Korea, in Vietnam he preached in poor villages and in Britain's Windsor castle and provided counsel for every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. He also stood up for what was right, denouncing segregation and oppression, preaching jointly with the Reverend Martin Luther king Jr. In the 1950's and lived a life of integrity and of honor. He spoke words of comfort and hope at the national cathedral following the September 11 terrorist attacks, reminding America that god is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."


Senator Tillis: (1:04 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Rev. Billy Graham.
    • "Earlier Senator Burr and I got an opportunity to offer our condolences to the graham family. What was remarkable in the faces of every one of them was maybe a hint of sorrow, but really just a fullness of joy knowing what their father did when he was on this Earth and now what he will do in the kingdom of heaven. So I think today is a day we should all look back and ask ourselves could we actually come anywhere close to living the kind of life that this man lived. Ministering in some 180 countries, over 200 million people actually attending some of his just unbelievable celebrations of the gospel, and then touching the lives of hundreds of millions of people, billions of people like me that are watching on TV."


Senator Murphy: (1:13 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "And unfortunately, Parkland will find that as Charleston did, as Orlando did, and so many before them. But we need to remember that while the country tends to pay attention to the epidemic of gun violence when there is a mass shooting, this is an epidemic that doesn't take a day off. Yesterday likely 80 to 90 people died from gunshot wounds. The majority of those were suicides. That is an epidemic in and of itself. A chunk of those were accidental shootings, another chunk of those were gun homicides. But the rate of gun death in this country has no parallel anywhere else in the world. There's not another first-world nation that has the rate of gun violence that we do. In fact, it's not even close."

Cornyn, Merkley, Blunt

Executive Session (Vought Nomination)

Feb 28 2018 02:06 PM

Senator Cornyn: (1:20 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "The pastor and his wife who lost their teenaged daughter were there. The wife was distraught, as you can imagine. The pastor summoned a power that is greater than human power to preach that day. And it was emotional, it was inspirational, but it's a terrible tragedy. And I told myself that day that I would never wish to look another family in the face and say that we failed to do everything that was - that was within our power to prohibit or to stop something like that from happening again, and fix NICS, as I think people who are familiar with it understand, basically takes the laws that currently exist and make sure that it's applied and people like this shooter at Sutherland springs can't lie their way out of it and get access to firearms and ruin people's lives in the process."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "According to the White House, more than 4.4 million workers have been positively affected. It's no wonder why the tax law is becoming more and more popular as people have learned more about it. And even the "New York Times" has had to agree that the public is learning to love the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act because of the positive impact on hardworking Americans' lives. I see the wide-ranging effect of the tax cuts and jobs act in my state thanks to a competitive tax system, for example, Fort Worth based companies like American Airlines paid large bonuses to their employees."


Senator Merkley: (1:37 p.m)

  • Spoke on Janus v. AFSCME.
    • "And now we see the Supreme Court is getting in on the act in this effort to undermine the ability of workers to organize, to get a fair share of the wealth that they create. Former President Jimmy Carter once said every advance in this half century - social security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education, one after another -- came with the support and leadership of American labor. Well, he was absolutely right. But I'd also add a few more things to the list. Eight-hour work days, the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, the minimum wage, family and sick leave, health and safety working standards. When workers organize, they have fought for better conditions for every American, better pay, better safety, better fair working conditions."


Senator Blunt: (1:55 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Rev. Billy Graham.
    • "Only three prior citizens have been granted that honor. Civil rights champion Rosa Parks and in 2005, two capitol police officers who died in the line of duty, Officer Chestnut Jr. And Detective John Gibson were there. Somebody observed this morning while we were in the rotunda of the Capitol that he's there surrounded by friends that he made during his life, President Eisenhower, President Ford, President Reagan, Dr. Martin Luther King all are memorized with - memorized with a statue and a bust in the capitol. And so Billy Graham is sort of right at home today with people he made friends with during his life, gave advice to during his life but never really seen uniquely as his ministry."

Thune, Isakson, Lankford

Executive Session (Vought Nomination)

Feb 28 2018 02:22 PM

Senator Thune: (2:06 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Rev. Billy Graham.
    • "Over a ministry that spanned more than 60 years, Billy Graham truly made disciples of all nations, preaching the gospel in the United States and around the world. In the days since his death, many have remembered Billy Graham as a spiritual advisor to several presidents, which he was. But neither his association with presidents, nor the famous of this world ever distracted him from his primary purpose, which was making sure that the good news of Christ reached everyone. From China to South Africa to Russia to Australia, to his home state of North Carolina and his countless appearances on television, video, and the internet, Billy Graham labored tirelessly for the Gospel. I think it's fair to say, Mr. President, that no one in our lifetime has lived a life of greater impact for the cause of Christ."


Senator Isakson: (2:09 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Rev. Billy Graham.
    • "In the sadness of the loss of Billy Graham, I'm reminded of the book of Thessalonians. Two of the shortest versions in the Bible, he says rejoice ever more and pray without ceasing. I think we're in that period of time right now in terms of Billy graham's life. We should rejoice for the great service that he gave to all of us, the great message he brought in his crusades around the world. We should pray without ceasing that the world will continue to be blessed by god and by people, great people like Billy graham and those who will follow him."


Senator Lankford: (2:15 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Rev. Billy Graham.
    • "It's not a common day in the United States Senate and the House to be able to break in the middle of the day to be able to go to the rotunda and just contemplate this simple fact: There is a god that you can know who loves you. It's interesting to be able to think back on some of the legacy of Dr. Graham. He's been to Oklahoma many times. In 2003 I had the opportunity to be the chair for the youth night of that mission. It was a moving night and a lot of people there, as there were in all of his events. That night to the students over there - and there were thousands and thousands of teenagers there - that night Dr. Graham unpacked a message about Solomon, a person who had everything. And he challenged them for this person that had everything to say but he always came back to all these things were vanity."

Wyden, Reed, Kennedy

Executive Session (Vought Nomination)

Feb 28 2018 03:16 PM

Senator Wyden: (2:21 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "The benefits of the tax law are about as one-sided as it gets, and middle-class Americans come up on the losing end. It sure is one-sided when the price of admission for any middle-class tax relief is an investor handout big enough to pay Wall Street in gold. Democrats pushed for a tax cut that was centered on the middle class, but Republicans turned their one-sided wish list into law. It sure is one-sided to have a massive tax handout to multinational corporations, a lower top rate for the fortunate few, a massive tax cut in the estate tax that touches only the wealthiest while working families get handed only temporary relief."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Russell Vought to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
    • "But I also oppose Mr. Vought's nomination because of his extreme votes on the budget and refusal to reach across party lines. So we have an obligation, an obligation to look at his extreme views and especially his vitriolic comments that he made and to consider them among the recent examples of individuals who made similar comments and were deemed unfit for service. Carl Higby, a Trump surrogate during the 2016 campaign, was appointed as chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National Service. He resigned from his taxpayer-funded post in shame after his history of hateful and bigoted rhetoric was brought to light"


Senator Reed: (2:33 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russia.
    • "Money laundering and other financial crimes are among the tools deployed by Russia as part of the Kremlin's larger influence campaign which has been used against the United States and our allies and partners to advance the strategic political goals of Russia. These activities are being used as weapons which threaten U.S national security. The Kremlin's use of malign financial influence is subtle and is part of a larger coordinated operation of hybrid aggression biff the Kremlin -- by the Kremlin using a broad spectrum of military and nonmilitary tools at its disposal. Russia recognizes that for now, its military capabilities are limited relative to the United States and NATO. And it will seek to avoid a direct military conflict with the West."


Senator Kennedy: (3:04 p.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Sally Ann Roberts.
    • "The current one is a broadcasting legend named Don Alhart delivering the news in Rochester, New York, for 51 years. I'm happy for Mr. Alhart, but Sally Ann Roberts could have taken that title from him had she not decided it was time to pass the baton. After 41 years at WWL channel 4 TV in the great city of New Orleans, Sally Ann Roberts is embarking on a new chapter in her life. She is retiring today. If anybody is worthy of icon status, it's Sally Ann. And she's absolutely humble about it. If you talk to her about her career, she'll probably turn the conversation around to you. If you insist on talking about her career, she'll always give credit to her parents for instilling such a strong work ethic and love for her husband and children."

Barrasso, Gardner, Brown

Executive Session (Vought Nomination)

Feb 28 2018 04:32 PM

Senator Barrasso: (3:44 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "This is a report from the top economist at the White House, and according to the report, the tax relief law that we have passed, signed into law, is going to raise the average wages for working families across this country by over $4,000 over the long run. Now, that's a huge raise. This report said that more than four million workers are also getting one-time cash bonuses and other benefits. Mr. President, these one-time cash bonuses mean a great deal to American families. It says that so far, over $2 billion in cash bonuses have been given, and today in Wyoming, we hear another great report that taco John's, an establishment that when I was in the Wyoming legislature I frequently went to eat lunch, as did so many members of the Wyoming legislature, they are providing bonuses for employees."
  • Spoke on energy infrastructure.
    • "The important role that it has, and the fact that we can export our energy, not just to the Midwest or to the eastern parts of this country, but that we can take that gas produced in Wyoming and Colorado, and we can export it to Asia, we can export it to Europe, countries that want American energy, desire American resources, not energy resources from tyrants and dictators like Russia and other places that we may see around the globe."


Senator Gardner: (3:57 p.m)

  • Spoke on the Bureau of Land Management.
    • "Unfortunately, in recent years, directives and management coming from the B.L.M headquarters in Washington, long ways away from the publicly held lands out west, the 200-plus million acres of federal land held by the B.L.M thousands of miles away from Washington, D.C, these decisions coming out of Washington, D.C have favored deep pocketed, radical special interests over field office decisions and the opinions of those who live near and who actually use this land. Whether it's the reduction of grazing permits, the concept of multiple use, something that was fundamental to the founding of our public land agencies has fallen out of favor with the Bureau of Land Management.


Senator Brown: (4:26 p.m)

  • Spoke on the Department of Labor.
    • "This administration's turned that upside down where the secretary of labor is advocating for employers and basically legalizing wage theft. Taking that money from tipped workers who work so hard. You know how hard everybody at a diner works? They are not making a lot of money. They rely on those tips. We're going to say the U.S government, the Department of Labor, the president of the United States is going to say, oh, it's all right to take some of these tip dollars and put them in my pocket as the employer or give it to the workers in the kitchen whom the company underpays because they're going to supplement their underpaid wages with tips. Mr. President, it's mean-spirited, it is legitimizing wage theft, and we should have no business doing it."

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #437, A. Marvin Quattlebaum, of South Carolina, to be United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina.
  • At 11:45 a.m, the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #437, A. Marvin Quattlebaum, of South Carolina, to be United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina.
  • Following disposition of the Quattlebaum nomination, the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #438, Karen Gren Scholer, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas and then Executive Calendar #439, Tilman Eugene Self III, of Georgia, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
  • Following the cloture vote on the Self nomination, the time until 1:00 p.m will be equally divided and the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #536, Terry A. Doughty, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana.
  • Note: the confirmation votes on the Scholer, Self, and Doughty nominations will take place at 5:30 p.m on Monday, March 5.


Senator Casey: (5:42 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "I rise this afternoon, and I know I'll be joined by a number of my colleagues on the floor, to talk about gun violence and to talk about what happened most recently and tragically in the state of Florida. I hope we can cover a number of, a number of aspects of this challenge, but I wanted to start, of course, with the victims who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14. I'll make reference to the individuals specifically more a little later. We're remembering them today. We're thinking of their families. Certainly thinking as well of the surviving students and praying for the families, the victims and the survivors. I can't imagine what these families are dealing with right now just days after this tragedy."


Senator Nelson: (5:57 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "Even a bullet coming from a handgun as reported by one of the trauma surgeons that tended to some of the victims in Broward county points out that a handgun bullet will go in and come out through a victim the same size as it went in, and if it goes through an organ like the liver, they can save that person, but that's in contrast to an assault rifle weapon, a bullet that has three times the speed of a handgun bullet, that has three times the energy when it hits the victim, so that if it goes into an organ such as the liver, it doesn't go through like a handgun bullet. It pulverizes the liver, and when it comes out on the other side of the body, it's as big as an Orange."


Senator Menendez: (6:05 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "Only we can do that by passing sensible, reasonable gun safety measures that limit the sale of deadly weapons and keep guns out of the wrong hands. After running for their lives on February 14, the students of Stoneman Douglas will March for their lives on March 24. It's inspiring to see that despite all the dysfunction in Washington, young Americans still believe in their power to make change. How tragic would it be if we in congress proved them wrong and once again let business as usual in Washington prevent us from taking action to save lives? For my part, that's not going to happen."


Senator Booker: (6:13 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "That the law can't make someone love me but it can stop them from lynching me, that the law can't change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. We know we have the power to make the change. Now, this is no panacea. These ideas won't solve all the problems, but they can make a difference and they can save lives. And the time to act is right now. To not act is to be complicit in the continued violence, levels of violence in our community. Every day that passes with not -- no action, every single day, we see on average 96 Americans in this country killed by a gun, including children."


Senator Hassan: (6:23 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "But, Mr. President, we cannot allow this vicious cycle to continue. Like many Americans, I've been inspired and touched by the bravery of the students of Stoneman Douglas and by their determination to create from this tragedy a legacy of positive change. They are looking to us to help ensure they are the last students who suffer through a mass shooting. They will hold us accountable as they should. I've been inspired by students like Sam who said he doesn't feel safe in his own country. And powerfully asked that the White House, quote, how did we not stop this after Columbine, after Sandy Hook?"