Wednesday, May. 9, 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 #609, Michael B. Brennan, of Wisconsin, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
  • At 12:00 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #609, Michael B. Brennan, of Wisconsin, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
  • Following disposition of the Brennan nomination, the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #729, Joel M. Carson, of New Mexico, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.
  • At 1:45 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #777, John B. Nalbandian, of Kentucky, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit.
  • If cloture is invoked on the Carson and Nalbandian nominations, the debate time will run concurrently.
  • 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 Shaheen: (5:04 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "But that level playing field is now in jeopardy because of the federal communications commission decision to end net neutrality. Last Thursday I convened a field hearing on small business and entrepreneurship at the University of New Hampshire. I wanted to hear concerns of our small business owners about what the net neutrality would mean to them. In particular, their concern that net neutrality will impede their ability to expand and create jobs. In conversations with small business owners and leaders across hi state - my state, they tell me that this roll back is - rollback is a direct threat to their businesses."

 

Senator Cortez-Masto: (5:12 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "In November of last year I received a letter from the las Vegas Clark county district opposing net neutrality. The library district is the largest in the state and serves over 1.6 million people. The letter reads, and I quote, many of our customers, even in the urban areas, are not able to afford access to the internet at their home and rely on public libraries to research information about starting small businesses and whatever else they need to do on the internet. Unquote. Limiting the ability of public libraries to provide fast, reliable internet service means limiting opportunities for Nevadans to thrive."

 

Senator Brown: (5:33 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Are my colleagues going to allow corporate special interests to shut down the free and open internet or for once is this body going to stand for the people we serve? Net neutrality keep the internet free from corporate interference. Protecting those rules is vital to protecting free speech and consumer choice and access to public information. Last December, the F.C.C., the Federal Communications Commission, on a party-line vote where there's a majority of Republicans on this commission, the F.C.C. voted to repeal those rules by one vote allowing internet providers to slow down internet speeds and offer better connectivity to the highest bidder."

Wyden, Cantwell, Hassan, Klobuchar

Executive Session (Brennan Nomination)

May 09 2018

Senator Wyden: (4:33 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "I know a lot of folks are following this debate and seeing folks in the gallery through this. What a free and open internet is all about is after you pay your internet access fee, you get to go where you want, when you want, and how you want. And everybody gets treated the same. A local florist selling roses out of their shop in Camden, Oregon, a kid in Roseburg who wants to learn about artificial intelligence, a mom in Pendleton who wants to find out about child care - all of them get treated the same. And they get treated just like the big guys, the people with the deep pockets. Now, the head of the federal communications commission, a gentleman named Mr. Pai, wants something very different."

 

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

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "In my state, Washington, they are always providing new innovations across many platforms and applications. As a result, 13% of our economy is based on innovation technology and economic activity that supports 250,000 jobs. So to say that the F.C.C.'s stymieing of the internet is acceptable is fighting words for the state of Washington. We know that increasing access to health care, whether it's telemedicine, making sure we find more affordable health care, reforestation after natural disasters - all of these are things that the internet is providing great tools and solutions for. "

 

Senator Hassan: (4:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "This could particularly impact those in rural communities. Last year several members of the rural and agriculture business community in new England wrote to the F.C.C. To say - and this is a quote - repealing net neutrality will have a crippling effect on rural economies, further restricting access to the internet for rural businesses at a point in time when we need to expand and speed up this access instead. This would also impact consumers by giving internet service providers the power to discriminate against certain web pages, apps and streaming and video services by slowing them down, blocking them, or favoring certain services while charging more - charging consumers more for other services."

 

Senator Klobuchar: (4:53 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "People who have never had that opportunity if we didn't have net neutrality. Today we took a major step forward on this issue by forcing the Senate to hold a vote on legislation to save net neutrality. I believe in the end we will have the votes to get this done. It will send an important message that the internet should remain free, open, and equal to all who use it. It will then be considered, we would hope, by the House because our goal is to actually get this done. Why? Because net neutrality is the bedrock of a fair, fast, open, and global internet."
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "The blue slip is a key check and balance and it is in view that it has promoted cooperation as well as resulted in better decision making for judges across party lines. Senators have a solemn obligation to advise and consent on the president's nominees to the federal courts and I take that obligation very seriously. I know that my colleague, Senator Baldwin, also takes that responsibility very seriously, and that is why she had a bipartisan process in place through which she worked with Senator Johnson in an effort to produce consensus nominees."
  • Spoke on the Iran deal.
    • "In 2015, I supported the Iran agreement, although I may have negotiated differently, but we had the agreement before us, and I supported it because I believed it was the best available option for putting the brakes on a nuclear weapon for Iran. I still believe that today. We cannot allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and as we had this critical into negotiations of North Korea's nuclear weapons, we cannot be backing away from international agreements and nuclear inspections."

Blunt, Cornyn, Markey, King

Executive Session (Brennan Nomination)

May 09 2018

Senator Blunt: (3:10 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Democrat obstructionism.
    • "If you're going to reject one of your colleagues in the Senate, that was probably a pretty debatable moment, maybe justified the 20 hours or 30 hours that is now initially insisted on by everybody, and many of them take a portion of that. And what really is lost is the other work that could happen in the course of the week. That's why in 2013 and 2014 when Democrats were in control of the senate, a bipartisan group of senators got together and said, let's eliminate a lot of these confirmations that we really -- really - isn't worthy of Senate time. Let's - let's take that when there are only one or two in the whole government in 1882 might have been worthy of a Senate debate and Senate vote, but let's take them off the list now that there are 210 of them to be confirmed. Let's take them off the list. Of course, neither of those numbers are numbers from the debate, but that's what we did."

 

Senator Cornyn: (3:47 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "She exemplified the core attributes we've come to know about her since she was nominated. Professional integrity, innate sense, and a drive to work hard, not just for the advancement of her individual career but to protect Americans and put our national security first. The fact that she is here today as President Trump's nominee to him about the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency is a testament to both her character and her exceptional decades-long career as an intelligence professional. All the while she's endeared herself to her colleagues in the intelligence community who have an immense amount of respect for her and her work. In fact, in addition to being the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Miss Haspel would be the first operations officer in perhaps 40 years or more."
  • Spoke on prison reform.
    • "The committee's passage of this bipartisan legislation advances prison reforms tried out and proven in states like Texas, Rhode Island, and Georgia and elsewhere, which if successfully implemented rehabilitate low-risk offenders and save taxpayer dollars while reducing the crime rate and helping people reestablish themselves as productive members of society. This is not true across the board. I'm not naive enough to think that people that go prison will be able to salvage and save every single one who comes out. But I do believe we can do much better if we give people the opportunity, those who have the will and the determination to take advantage of the opportunity to turn their lives around, to deal with their addiction, to deal with their lack of skills and education, and if when given the opportunity to do so decide they want to take advantage of that to turn their lives around."

 

Senator Markey: (4:09 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "We are speaking out because the American people know that it the internet is the most powerful platform for commerce and communications in the history of the planet. They know that the internet is for everyone and was invented with the guiding principle of nondiscrimination. The internet is designed to democratize access to in fact everything to opportunity. They know that the health of our economy, our civic life, our educational system and so many other parts of today's American experience all depend on the internet being free and open to everyone, not just those who can afford big telecom's price of admission.  They know that strong, clear, and enforceable net neutrality rules are the only way to protect the internet as we know it."

 

Senator King: (4:21 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "This is exactly what we're worried about with the internet. It could come roaring back if we don't re-impose net neutrality rules. It's not hard to imagine that if paid prioritization which would have a customer on the pipes of the internet be able to get a faster speed, it will cement the companies - but it will stifle the development of smaller competitors who can't afford the access fees. One of the great things about the internet is low barriers to entry. If indeed the major internet providers are able to impose barriers to entry, it will by definition stifle small businesses across the country. That's been the glory of the internet, is the enabling of the development of small businesses throughout the length and breadth of this country."

Durbin, Barrasso, Portman, Johnson

Executive Session (Brennan Nomination)

May 09 2018

Senator Durbin: (2:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "The concept behind this is really pretty simple. It ensures that all content on the internet is treated equally so that the internet can remain openly accessible as a platform for users and an equal playing field for everyone. Unfortunately, some leaders at the Federal Communications Commission disagree. Despite being given the responsibility to make sure that they operate in the public interest, when it came to our nation's communications networks, the F.C.C. in December walked away from this important responsibility and decided to put the needs of companies ahead of customers. It appears with this administration that everything's for sale. That means public lands, our privacy, and in this case the pathway that American families use every single day to get on the internet."

 

Senator Barrasso: (2:07 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "Well, the unemployment rate is now down to 3.9%. It's the lowest it has been in 17 years. One analyst from the network CNBC said this is a wow number. The American economy has created three million jobs since President Trump took office. Three million Americans who are now earning a paycheck instead of waiting for a government check. Gotten 304,000 new manufacturing jobs since trump took office. 352,000 new construction jobs. 84,000 new jobs in mining and logging industries. Compare this, Mr. President, to when Democrats in congress and in the last administration launched an all-out war on coal. 84,000 new jobs in mining and logging. Look, Republicans ended the war on coal. We struck down a major Democrat regulation that would have crippled the mining industry."

 

Senator Portman: (2:24 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "And I say that with respect because the Bureau of Labor Standards does the best they can but they can't include the people who aren't trying to find work. Those people are outside of the workforce. What the economists call this is a low labor force participation rate. In other words, the low percentage of Americans who are even showing up. That concerns me a lot because, one, obviously it's hurting the economy. You have this huge pool of workers out there, 8.5 million men between the ages of 25 and 55, able bodied men who are in this category. Unemployed, yes, but not even looking for work so not showing up in these numbers."
  • Spoke the opioid epidemic.
    • "We're doing things we've never done before in terms of funding, recovery, treatment, also prevention and education. We need to do more. But we've begun the process of turning the tide I believe by some of this legislation. We need to do more on the law enforcement side. We have legislation called the stop act that simply says, with regard to the most difficult problem we now face in Ohio and around the country, which is synthetic opioids, think fentanyl or carfentanyl let's at least stop the post office for being a conduit for that coming in our country."

 

Senator Johnson: (2:49 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Michael Brennan to be United States Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit.
    • "I'd like to focus my remarks today on Mike's commitment to public service and his reputation as a jurist. Becoming a seventh circuit judge will not be a huge adjustments for Mike because he has spent nine years as a judge. Anyone who spends time with Mike will be struck not only by his intellect but by his humility and strong commitment to justice and the rule of law. This explains why attorney general the Wisconsin and the state's public defender, fierce adversaries in the courtroom, were able to come together to write a letter enthusiastically supporting his nomination. I have a sense those two don't often agree, but when it comes to who they want deciding their cases, they both point to Mike."

Blumenthal, Grassley

Executive Session (Brennan Nomination)

May 09 2018

Senator Blumenthal: (1:10 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
    • "The one-year anniversary of Jim Comey's firing might well be permitted to pass without notice. But little did we know at the time that it would be part of a relentless and repeated denunciation of professional law enforcement at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at the Department of Justice, even at the C.I.A. and law enforcement agencies all around the country. This concerted and coordinated attack on the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice is no accident. It is part of a strategy to undermine the credibility not only of the special counsel's investigation of conclusion by the Trump campaign with Russia in its meddling in the 2016 election and the potential obstruction of justice and cover-up by the president and his administration but also because it is deeply alarming as an attack on professional law enforcement."

 

Senator Grassley: (1:35 p.m.)

  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • "I've heard from some of my colleagues, and especially those on the other side of the aisle, that they believe Judge Brennan shouldn't have received a hearing before the Judiciary Committee. They say this because one senator from Wisconsin didn't return the blue slip. But their opinions are based on an incorrect understanding of the blue slip's history. As I explained last year several times on the Senate floor and several times in committee, the blue slip courtesy is just that. A courtesy. It has a history going back to 1970. Since then the chairmen of the Judiciary Committee have distributed blue slips to home state senators to get feedback on nominees to the federal bench in their respective states. Chairmen have applied the blue slip courtesy differently in its 100-year history. For the first 39 years of its existence, the blue slip had no bearing on whether a nominee went through the committee process."

Hatch, Peters

Executive Session (Engelhardt Nomination)

May 09 2018

Senator Hatch: (11:27 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "I took to the floor just two weeks ago to speak on behalf of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. While I'm delighted that we were able to get behind his nomination, I am shocked and embarrassed by the scale of partisanship which marked his confirmation process. On the day of Miss Haspel's hearing, I'm once again focusing on how poorly a dedicated public servant has been treated by the press and by some in this chamber. This is someone who has served her organization faithfully for over three decades. She is one among a very small group who rose up through the ranks within the Directorate of Operations during the agency's transition from the Cold War to the War on Terror."
  • Spoke in tribute to Michael Beaver.
    • "I'm sure that I speak for all of us here in saying that our hearts go out to Michael's family, including his beloved wife, young children, and parents. Michael was known and admired by us all for his legal and parliamentary talents as well as his sharp wit and humor. Parliamentarians here in the senate work hard for the American people and often face long hours and extended debates. They are an integral part of the fabric that holds the senate in order and allows us to achieve results."

 

Senator Peters: (11:47 a.m.)

  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "We have seen large national internet service provider acquire a similarly large media company. We have recently seen the largest online retailer acquire one of our nation's most successful grocery chains. And now we're seeing two of the four largest wireless carriers making preparations to merge. Certainly consolidations and mergers are a part of our economy. But we need rules of the road to level the playing field, to help small businesses and start-ups compete and to drive innovation. This is exactly why we need net neutrality. Net neutrality protections prevented internet service providers from blocking, slowing or prioritizing web traffic for their own financial gain."

Schumer, Thune, Murphy

Executive Session (Engelhardt Nomination)

May 09 2018

Senator Schumer: (10:37 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Teacher Appreciation Week.
    • "I'll never forget Mrs. Roberts in Cunningham Junior High School who opened my eyes up to science. Miss Reilley who inspired a love of literature and I'll never forget Miss Wagman would kindled my interest in government and politics, an interest that never died. That's would great teachers do. They open doors previously thought closed. They work day and night to give every one of us the opportunity to succeed. What a noble calling. In my view, teaching in the 21st century should be the same kind of exalted profession that law or medicine was in the 20th century. It's such an important job. In terms of our future, our economy, competing with China, the education of our young people is number one and often around here we forget that."
  • Spoke on North Korea.
    • "We're all glad to see them returning home. Their families are delighted. We are all delighted. But let's not forget this is not some great give on North Korea's part. We cannot forget no regime has the right to hold American citizens in captivity without cause. And under no circumstances should American citizens be viewed as bargaining chips by foreign capital. I hope that President Trump and Secretary Pompeo are clear about that because the same goes for other country, wrongly detaining Americans."
  • Spoke on the pending judicial nominations.
    • "Next, in a few hours the Senate will vote to proceed to the nomination of Michael Brennan to the seventh circuit court of appeals. Mr. Brennan has not received a blue slip. That's a notice of approval that's been a tradition here in the Senate from one of his hometown senators, Senator Baldwin. So the vote today will be a slap in the face of the custom of senatorial courtesy. It will be a slap in the face to the bipartisanship that we hear so many on the other side of the aisle and so many more Americans talk about. It is blatant disrespect to every senator who wants to withhold his or her judgment on a judge, a tradition that's been respected by Democrats and Republicans until Leader McConnell abruptly changed this earlier this year for circuit court judges."
  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "When the Republican F.C.C. voted to repeal net neutrality, they handed the internet providers all the cards many they said do what you will with the internet, charge consumers more for faster service if you like or segment the internet into packages, forcing the average family to purchase faster times for their favorite websites. Let big corporations purchase faster internet service while startups and small businesses and consumers are left in the dust. Public schools, rural Americans, communities of color or anyone in a remote area or without substantial resources could be at a significant disadvantage if the I.S.P.'s start charging more for decent internet."

 

Senator Thune: (10:54 a.m.)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Republicans wanted to put more money in the pockets of hardworking Americans and we wanted to create the kind of economy that would give Americans access to economic security for the long term. To achieve the first goal, we cut tax rates across the board, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit. And Americans are already seeing this relief in their paychecks. To achieve the second goal, we reformed our tax code to make it easier for businesses to increase wages, expand their business."
  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Instead of working with Republicans to develop permanent net neutrality legislation, they decided to try to score political points with a partisan resolution that would do nothing to permanently secure net neutrality. Mr. President, for years the commercial internet flourished under a light touch regulatory regime, free of onerous, heavy-handed, offering customers steady benefits. During the Obama administration the federal communications commission, on a party-line vote decided to change the way in which the internet was regulated. Instead of the regulatory approach that had worked for years, the Obama F.C.C. decided that it should be regulated under a set of regulations that were developed over 80 years ago to manage monopoly telephone services."

 

Senator Murphy: (11:10 a.m.)

  • Spoke on health care reform.
    • "It starts on January 20. Within hours of being inaugurated, president trump issues an executive order in which he directs all of his federal agencies to use their administrative powers to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act, quote, to the maximum extent permitted by the law. This is before there is any proposal for what should substitute for a piece of legislation that insured 20 million people that didn't have insurance before the affordable care act. It was before we knew that that replacement would, in fact, un-insure not 20 million people but 30 million people and drive up rates by double digits. On the first day, President Trump tells his agencies to start dismantling and attacking the Affordable Care Act."

McConnell

Opening Remarks

May 09 2018

Today -

  • 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 McConnell: (10:03 a.m.)

  • Spoke on North Korea.
    • "This morning the world has learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way back from North Korea with three American prisoners after securing their release. Two were detained last year, one had been in captivity since 2015, and now following successful discussions, all three are on their way back to the U.S. with our secretary of state. I'm hopeful that by approaching our ongoing negotiations with clear eyes, we can build on this progress and pursue a verifiable agreement to dismantle North Korea's nuclear arms."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Gina Haspel to be C.I.A. Director.
    • "As we speak, our colleagues on the Intelligence Committee are hearing from one of President Trump's nominees to help us confront these challenges. Gina Haspel is an excellent choice. She will bring direct experience to the C.I.A. director. Ms. Haspel is eminently qualified, widely esteemed and absolutely the right person at the right moment for this position. First, her ample qualifications, raised in a military family, she had her sights on entering West Point until she found out women were not yet allowed to attend. It was the Army's loss but my alma mater was happy to have her. After that she joined the C.I.A."
  • Spoke on the pending judicial nominations.
    • "Given his impressive qualifications, his arrival on the bench won't come a moment too soon. Lawyers have described him as a wonderful judge with excellent legal ability who is very thoughtful and analytical. One said, quote, he would be great on the fifth circuit. After Judge Engelhardt, we'll vote to advance the nomination of Michael Brennan of Wisconsin, another nominee who has earned the A.B.A.'s highest rating, unanimously well qualified. Each nominee on the slate has been vetted by the Judiciary Committee and each stands ready to serve as a diligent caretaker of the rule of law."
  • Spoke in tribute to Kentucky State Historian Dr. James Clotter.
    • "At the end of the semester he will depart Georgetown College. He has dedicated his professional life to preserving and appreciating the commonwealth's history. He earned his Ph.D. From the University of Kentucky and studied a wide range of topics. As an author, coauthor or editor, Jim has completed about 20 books, some of them with his wife and frequent collaborator Greta. He worked to make Kentucky history accessible to students and readers of all ages."