Tuesday, May. 8, 2018

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 #673, Kurt D. Engelhardt, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
  • At 12:00 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #673, Kurt D. Engelhardt, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #609, Michael B. Brennan, of Wisconsin, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #729, Joel M. Carson, of New Mexico, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #777, John B. Nalbandian, of Kentucky, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #780, Michael Y. Scudder, of Illinois, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #781, Amy J. St. Eve, of Illinois, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.

 

Senator Alexander: (5:52 p.m.)

  • Spoke on health care reform.
    • "Mr. President, the Democrats wrote the bill. They wrote Obamacare. They voted for Obamacare. Every single one of them. Not a single one of us voted for Obamacare. They wrote the bill. If they're looking for someone to blame, they should look in the mirror. Running around and pointing fingers and trying to find someone else to blame is a little like selling somebody a house with a leaky roof and then blaming the new owner for the leaky roof. Democrats built the house with the leaky roof. They built these insurance markets, the individual markets where no one can find insurance. They wrote the sloppy law and they failed to make the markets competitive, and they erased the ability of consumers to have choice. They didn't follow the law when they paid out cost-sharing payments that were designed to help low-income Americans pay for their out-of-pocket expenses."

 

Senator Baldwin: (6:11 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Michael Brennan to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
    • "By bringing Mr. Brennan's nomination forward without my support, Chairman Grassley and Leader McConnell are breaking with a long-standing Senate tradition that has guaranteed a voice for home state senators regardless of party in the consideration of judicial nominees. The blue slip is an important part of this institution, and its historic respect for the rights of each senator as well as the rights of the minority party. As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Grassley, himself wrote in 2015, this tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus between the White House and home state senators."
       

 

Senator Brown: (6:26 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the opioid epidemic.
    • "Last month at the Cleveland City Club, I called for a conference of coordinated sustained public health campaign to fight addiction through education, prevention, through treatment and recovery. We know from history that we cannot arrest or execute our way out of this crisis, whether in Montana or in Ohio. I met with law enforcement officers in every corner of my state. They shoulder a huge burden. They all tell me the same thing. They need resources to fight this. That's why I have joined Senator Portman and a bipartisan group of our colleagues on the power act to get state and local law enforcement the high-tech tools that they need to effectively screen for dangerous opioids like fentanyl."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Michael Brennan to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
    • "That's not a judge. That's someone who has ceased to be bound by any of the standards guiding a judge. Precedent is the backbone of our legal system. To say that judges can disregard it, if this feel it's incorrect would be a radical departure. Think about how this could work. In a Brennan court, it could be okay for a judge not to follow a Supreme Court decision like Brown v. Board of Education which desegregated schools as long as that judge, in this case I guess Judge Brennan, believes the case was incorrect. If you disregard precedent, the decades of legal progress could be rolled back. The well-established rights of so many Americans would be at risk."

Nelson, Whitehouse

Executive Session (Engelhardt Nomination)

May 08 2018

Senator Nelson: (4:39 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the Iran deal.
    • "The fact is, we need to keep pressure on Iran with additional economic sanctions to stop them from developing ICBM missiles. That was not part of the Iranian nuclear agreement. We need to ratchet up the pressure on Iran to do that. -- To stop their ICBM missile program. But by pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal, it is a tragic mistake. It will divide us from our European allies, and it will allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon, a nuclear bomb, within a year as compared to staying in the agreement, which would be at least seven to 12 years in the future."

 

Senator Whitehouse: (5:34 p.m.)

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "They come to see hundreds of species, of sharks, dolphins, fish, mollusks, whales, sea birds and other marine life thriving in nearly 133,000 square miles of coral reef. Some of these coral structures are thought to date back as long as 25 million years when Pope Francis spoke of the wonder world of the seas, this is the kind of beauty and bounty he had in mind. It is difficult to imagine something so expansive and ancient threatened so profoundly by one of Earth's more recent inhabitants, humans. Inhabitants, humans, but it's the oceans are taking the brunt of our modern carelessness. They're warming, acidifying, and literally suffocating under our carbon dioxide emissions."

Hirono, Leahy, Wyden

Executive Session (Engelhardt Nomination)

May 08 2018

Senator Hirono: (3:54 p.m.)

  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "Mr. President, just before we left for last week's state work period, the majority leader filed nominations on six federal courts. Over the past year and a half, the majority leader and the Republicans in the Senate have joined with Donald Trump to try to pack our federal courts with ideological judicial nominees who seek to change America law and match their partisan politics. To accomplish this goal, the majority leader and the Senate Republicans have eliminated procedural checks to ensure a fair judiciary. One is the blue slip, a mechanism to ensure the senator's approval from their state. In the past when senators objected to a nomination in their home state, the Judiciary Committee, with almost no exceptions, took no further action on that nominee."

 

Senator Leahy: (4:11 p.m.)

  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "There are only 100 senators. We should be the conscience of the nation. We have a unique role. But this week, we're witnessing a further degradation of the once-respected role of the blue slip in the judicial confirmation process. Now, partisans who value political expediency have argued that blue slips are archaic or mere slips of paper, but instead they represent and help preserve something far more meaningful. For much of this body's history, blue slips have given meaning to the constitutional requirement of advice and consent. They have protected the prerogatives of home state senators. They are the ones who have to vouch for somebody from their state, and they are the ones who have the most at stake."

 

Senator Wyden: (4:23 p.m.)

  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "Mr. President, there is now a vitally important debate happening on the senate floor with respect to judicial nominations. What is clear to me is the majority is now chipping away at a century of bipartisan tradition that has protected the interests of those in our home state and served as a check on the power of the executive. Now it is the Senate bowing down to the White House derelict in its constitutional responsibility to provide or withhold advice and consent on nominees. In my view, this is a dangerous mistake that is going to have harmful consequences decades. Today the debate at hand is over the mishandling of the nomination of Michael Brennan to be the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit."

Cornyn, Merkley, Durbin

Executive Session (Engelhardt Nomination)

May 08 2018

Senator Cornyn: (2:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "The fact of the matter is they have all been investigated, and Gina Haspel has been exonerated. It is wrong to ignore everything else she has done in her career, as well as the fact that she will be the first woman director of the Central Intelligence Agency, someone enormously popular with the rank and file, having come from within their ranks. The particular episodes that we'll hear talked about tomorrow at the open hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence involves enhanced interrogation techniques that were used in isolated instances in the days immediately following 9/11. These programs were of course vetted by all appropriate legal advisors and depended upon in good faith by intelligence officers and the Department of Defense."

 

Senator Merkley: (2:58 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to Michael Beaver.
    • "Family and friends gathered this morning to celebrate his life. He was born in Mount Pleasant. He was the son of Linda, Susan Beaver and William R. Beaver. A graduate of St. Vincent College where he studied political science with a minor in graphic design, and he earned his Juris doctorate from the Ohio State University Ritz College of Law. He was a member of the Ohio and California state bars. More recently, he served here in this chamber as assistant parliamentarian. Prior to that, he served as deputy legislative counsel for the state of California. Aside from being a brilliant attorney, Michael was passionate about hockey and music, a talented cook, an avid gardener, and a gifted artist."
  • Spoke on the pending judicial nominations.
    • "Throw in a Supreme Court seat, the stolen seat, and you have 33. More than 12 more, more than 50% faster. So the argument that anything is being slow walked is simply completely false. We see all kinds of efforts, though, to rush nominees through without proper consideration. Last year we had cloture votes on four circuit nominees in a single week. We had cloture filed on three nominees within hours of being reported out of committee - not reported out of committee unanimously but with divided votes. And we know that when something comes out of committee, there needs to be time for the rest of the body to be able to exercise their efforts to understand the background of that nominee. And often new information is turned up."

 

Senator Durbin: (3:33 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the Iran deal.
    • "But having said that, we entered into an agreement with Iran to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. Despite all these other challenges, all the differences that we've had, continue to have with Iran, we said that gathering together with allies around the world, we wanted to make certain that Iran had not developed a nuclear weapon. And so there were lengthy agreements, lengthy negotiations and agreements which led to the nuclear agreement with Iran to stop the development of nuclear weapons. I think it was a critically important step forward not just because Iran with a nuclear weapon would be a danger to Israel and the Middle East, but to the world."

McConnell

Opening Remarks

May 08 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 2:30 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #673, Kurt D. Engelhardt, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Note: all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, and leader remarks will count post-cloture on the Englehardt nomination.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #609, Michael B. Brennan, of Wisconsin, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #729, Joel M. Carson, of New Mexico, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #777, John B. Nalbandian, of Kentucky, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #780, Michael Y. Scudder, of Illinois, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 26, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #781, Amy J. St. Eve, of Illinois, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.

 

Senator McConnell: (2:38 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Capitol Police officers who have died in the line of duty.
    • "n important tribute took place here in the capitol this morning, the fifth annual memorial service for the four United States Capitol Police officers who have died in the line of duty. Sergeant Christopher Eney, Officer Jacob Chestnut, Detective John Gibson, and Sergeant Clinton Holtz were remembered with a wreath laying in the Capitol's Visitor's Center. This marks the anniversary of the shooting when Officer Chestnut and Detective Gibson were killed."
  • Spoke on the pending judicial nominations.
    • "Now on another matter, Mr. President, yesterday the Senate advanced another nomination of this week's judicial nominees, Kurt D. Engelhardt. Those who joined him on this latest slate for consideration are each well qualified. Each has received thorough examination from the Judiciary Committee. Each stands ready to serve on the federal bench. Following the confirmation of Judge Engelhardt, we will also look at Mr. Brennan's nomination."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policies.
    • "Notwithstanding 45 years of population growth there are fewer total Americans receiving unemployment benefits under President Trump and this Republican Congress than at any other point under Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Obama. Now, we all know economic indicators can be volatile and Washington is far from the only force behind them. In fact, getting the federal government out of the way is often the solution. The headwinds that blew in the face of American entrepreneurs and small businesses owners for eight years has died down. Now the wind is at their backs."