Wednesday, Jul. 11, 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 #686, Paul C. Ney, of Tennessee, to be Counsel of the Department of Defense, post-cloture.
  • At 1:30 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #686, Paul C. Ney, of Tennessee, to be Counsel of the Department of Defense.

 

Senator Rubio: (6:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Lake Okeechobee.
    • "It is about water quality, about water supply, it is about the value of property, it's about quality of life and it impacts millions of our residents and of our visitors, but we have to finish the projects. We have to stay focused. If we lose our eye - if we take our eye off the ball, if we divert attention somewhere else, if we interrupt the work of these projects, every one of these delays just makes more and more of it these - of these events likely. If congress in 2000 moved with the speed we are moving now, some of this would have been avoided and every year we delay in not acting, these are the real-world consequences, and it only gets worse, not better, unless we address it."

 

Senator Merkley: (6:19 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Since all the decisions from the lower courts can be appealed right on up to the very top. Today, Mr. President, there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court with Anthony Kennedy's announced retirement. On Monday night President Trump announced his nominee to fill that seat, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. A single vote can make all the difference in the world on the Supreme Court in protecting the freedoms that we hold dear. A single vote can tip the scales towards the vision of our Constitution, the "We the People" vision of our Constitution or can tip the scales away from that vision with a government by and for the powerful. We can see the impact of the single vote when we look at Justice Kennedy's own legacy, his own record of 5-4 decisions."

Hirono, Grassley, Cortez Masto

Executive Session (Ney Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

Senator Hirono: (5:11 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "The Supreme Court changed that. There was a time when gay people could be arrested for loving one another and when it was illegal for them to get married. The Supreme Court changed that. There was a time when thousands of women died seeking illegal, unsafe abortions, and the Supreme Court changed that. The justices on the Supreme Court matter to each and every one of us our lives. That's why there's so much concern over President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Right-wing groups like the Heritage Foundation and the federalist society have been working for decades setting the stage to pack our federal courts with ideologically driven conservatives."

 

Senator Grassley: (5:20 p.m.)

  • Spoke on DoD oversight.
    • "That happened in 1985 when I as a first-term senator began watch-dogging the Pentagon after a report uncovered the $640 toilet seat and a $400 hammer, I began asking very tough questions. Something like how could the bureaucrats possibly justify paying such exorbitant prices? I'm still waiting for a straight answer. A lot has changed since the 1980's. The internet, which was in its infancy in the 1980's, is now part of everyday life. Mobile phones back then were once the size of bricks. Now those mobile phones can fit in the palm of your hand and do a lot more work in helping you make telephone calls. But one thing hasn't changed in all those decades - wasteful Department of Defense procurement practices."

 

Senator Cortez Masto: (5:47 p.m.)

  • Spoke on U.S. immigration policy.
    • "I want to share with my colleagues and the American people what I witnessed on a couple of immigration facilities on our southern border and to share the stories of the people, children, infants being held there. On a visit to an adult detention facility, I sat down with a group of six mothers whose children have been taken from them. One of them, her name was Anna, and she had a five-year-old daughter she brought with her to the United States. After witnessing a brutal murder in her neighborhood and receiving death threats in her home country, she decided to leave that country to keep her five-year-old daughter safe."

Gillibrand, Nelson, Whitehouse, Hirono

Executive Session (Ney Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "So what does this have to do with the Supreme Court? President Trump has made it clear that one of his biggest goals as president is to destroy the Affordable Care Act. He's already tried hard to get Congress to repeal the law and luckily for us he failed. Because people don't want their health insurance taken away from them. It's really that simple. Millions of Americans raised their voices and told Congress that if the Affordable Care Act got repealed, they would lose their insurance. And that would be devastating for them and their families. And Congress listened. But now there's a new challenge to the law in federal court, and the Trump administration is refusing to defend the Affordable Care Act."

 

Senator Nelson: (4:28 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Lake Okeechobee.
    • "Mr. President, very good us in for Florida. This morning the army corps of engineers signed off on a long-awaited report that will allow congress to authorize a new reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee in the upcoming water resources development act. What we refer to as the water bill. We, many of us in Florida have been pushing the army corps and the trump administration to approve this project for months and months, and last week when I was in the area of lake Okeechobee visiting with folks affected by the algae blooms on the west coast over in fort Meyers on the Caloosahatchee river and on the east coast with the St. St. The St. Lucie River, they're facing a problem that steams to repeat itself almost every year."

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "So let's look at the prospects for not just a carbon bubble but a carbon crash. There are several elements in the run-up to a crash. Some of these we witnessed in the crash of the housing bubble back in 2008. When these conditions exist, we should take warning. One condition is whether you can trust the players. In the housing crash, the rating agencies were in bed with the banks, and you couldn't trust their risk evaluations. The whole thing was cooked. The big fees, the rating agencies were taking also took their eye off the ball and they gave wildly erroneous ratings to high-risk investments."

 

Senator Hirono: (5:11 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "The Supreme Court changed that. There was a time when gay people could be arrested for loving one another and when it was illegal for them to get married. The Supreme Court changed that. There was a time when thousands of women died seeking illegal, unsafe abortions, and the Supreme Court changed that. The justices on the Supreme Court matter to each and every one of us our lives. That's why there's so much concern over President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Right-wing groups like the Heritage Foundation and the federalist society have been working for decades setting the stage to pack our federal courts with ideologically driven conservatives."

Blumenthal, Blunt, Lankford

Executive Session (Ney Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

Senator Blumenthal: (3:08 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "But we are at an extraordinary decision point for the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, a branch of government that can shape the law and culture of this country for generations to come. When we are called upon to consider a Supreme Court nominee, ordinarily we have to read tea leaves. Ordinarily we have no way to know with certainty the values and beliefs that someone will bring to the court. Ordinarily presidents make every effort to persuade us that their nominees were picked on the basis of merit, not ideology. And so ordinarily we look forward to hearing what nominees tell us about their beliefs and values since they are unknown when we first hear their name. Mr. President, we live in times that are the opposite of ordinary."

 

Senator Blunt: (3:30 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "But I do know that the job that Judge Kavanaugh currently has is often cited as the second-most significant court in the country, the D.C. Court of Appeals. I do know that his 100 most often cited opinions have been cited by more than 210 judges around the country. I do know that the Supreme Court has endorsed his opinions of the law at least a dozen times and adopted them as the opinions of the Supreme Court. Remember the way this works. The judge that - the job that Brett Kavanaugh currently has is a job that, like all other circuit judges, the court of appeals before the court. But unlike all others, it is a court that often is the court that has the real jurisdiction over a constitutional case. So lots of cases, 12 years of looking at what he has done as a judge."

 

Senator Lankford: (3:44 p.m.)

  • Spoke on U.S. immigration policy.
    • "My encouragement to this body is to stop pointing the finger at the president and to ask a very simple question. Why is there conversation about a zero tolerance policy and what does this really mean? Well, in it's most simple form, I think we could agree if someone illegally crosses the American border into this country they should at least be stopped and asked, who are you? Why are you here? Because in the last year 1.1 million people became legal citizens of the United States. They made legal application, worked through that process, received a green card, were evaluated with background checks, and became citizens of the United States."

 

Capito, Barrasso, Sanders, Coons

Executive Session (Benczkowski Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

Senator Capito: (1:05 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "He's been very effective. As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court - this Supreme Court has adopt his reasoning in their opinions on 11 separate occasions, and the 300 opinions that he has written are frequently cited by federal judges all across the country. But perhaps Judge Kavanaugh's most qualifying characteristic is something I heard him say at the White House on Monday evening. When the president announced his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh committed to being open-minded in the cases that come before him as a Supreme Court justice. Open-minded. I think that's critical. And his record backs up that commitment. He has a long and clear record of fairly applying the text of our constitution and our laws."

 

Senator Barrasso: (1:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "They're going to complain and have already that some of the cases he's decided in the past didn't work out the way that they wanted them to work out, not what the law said, not what was right but what they wanted. It's what Democrats and the Judiciary Committee did when Neil Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court last year. We've seen this movie before. We know the playbook. They've criticized him for some of his rulings that they didn't like, even though the rulings followed the law, they didn't like the ruling so they criticized the judge for following the law. They suggest he should have ignored the law, sided with the little guy, the sympathetic side in a case regardless of what the law had said."

 

Senator Sanders: (1:30 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Mr. President, today I rise to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. And this is an issue that I will return to in the coming weeks and months at greater length, but I did want to say a few words about why I am in opposition to Mr. Kavanaugh. I think many Americans have a pretty good sense of what the function of Congress is, what the president of the United States does, but in fact I think many Americans do not fully appreciate the role that the Supreme Court plays in our lives in the past decade alone, the Supreme Court has issued some incredibly controversial and, to my mind, disastrous decisions that have had a profound impact on the lives of the American people."

 

Senator Coons: (1:49 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brian Benczkowski to be an Assistant Attorney General.
    • "But Mr. Benckowski has never prosecuted a case. He's never supervised a criminal prosecution. In fact, he's not even ever appeared in federal court, by his own admission except for one or two limited occasions to address routine scheduling or other matters. Mr. Benckowski is here before us nominated to supervise the single largest, most complex, most sophisticated law firm in America for criminal matters on behalf of the people of the United States without relevant experience. In my view, that alone is disqualifying. That alone should lead us to pause in terms of whether we should confirm this man to lead the criminal division as an assistant A.G."
  • Spoke on NATO.
    • "There's a number I've been holding in my heart this week, 1,044. 1,044. That is the number of NATO troops who have died in combat in Afghanistan serving shoulder to shoulder with the United States. President Trump is correct to raise the issue of contributions to our mutual defense. President Trump has had a real impact. He's gotten our NATO allies to up the ante by more than $14 billion in the last year and a half, and I wish he had gone to Brussels and simply said thank you, folks, for increasing your contributions, and now let's focus on interoperability, deployability and on linking arm to arm and on facing our real adversary: Russia. The NATO alliance exists for mutual defense."

Cassidy, Alexander, Shelby

Executive Session (Benczkowski Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

Senator Cassidy: (11:45 a.m.)

  • Spoke on National Flood Insurance.
    • "The same time line in this motion was passed by the Senate a few weeks ago by unanimous consent during consideration of the farm bill. The National Flood Insurance Program insures programs in every state, insuring $1.12 trillion in assets if the NFIB is not extended, people will not be able to renew or purchase new flood insurance policies and more people would be without flood insurance during peak hurricane season. Given the - this is so kind of to the moment because given the series of emergency supplemental appropriations bills the senate has passed, and expiration of the NFIB puts the U.S. taxpayer in the very vulnerable position of funding more uninsured losses in emergency supplemental appropriations legislation."

 

Senator Alexander: (11:48 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus appropriations bill.
    • "In the next few minutes, the Senate will be taking the next steps on an appropriations process that is being conducted the way an appropriations process is supposed to be conducted. Boy Scouts shouldn't get a merit badge for telling the truth and senators shouldn't get a pat on the back for conducting an appropriations process the way it's supposed to be conducted, but it's worth noting that we're doing it since it's been a long time since we have done it. The right way means that we're moving ahead on three bills -- energy and water, legislative affairs, and military construction."

 

Senator Shelby: (11:53 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus appropriations bill.
    • "This broad agreement was facilitated by a concerted effort from both parties to prevent partisan riders from poisoning the well. Thus far, we've been able to translate bipartisan cooperation among members of the Appropriations Committee into success here on the Senate floor. But this time - at this point I want to recognize and to commend the continued efforts of the committee members in the process, especially the Republican and democratic managers of this package. In particular, I want to thank Vice Chairman Leahy for his strong partnership in this effort, and Senator Alexander, who's here on the floor, who has guided this process and will chair the conference complete."

Leahy, Perdue, Toomey, Corker, Flake

Executive Session (Benczkowski Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

Senator Leahy: (11:14 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brian Benczkowski to be an Assistant Attorney General.
    • "For years, they have studied the criminal division, and here it's an amazing, amazing nomination. I think it's enough to oppose Mr. Benczkowski's nomination because he is objectively unqualified for this important position. But there are also compelling reasons to believe that it would be uniquely reckless to confirm him to this position. Now speaking about Mr. Benczkowski's lack of qualifications to this role is not meant to denigrate him. Many of us know him, as I did from his service in the Judiciary Committee, as a staff director for the ranking member - the then-Ranking Member Jeff Sessions. But the fact is this nominee to head the criminal division has virtually no criminal law experience."

 

Senator Perdue: (11:24 a.m.)

  • Spoke on tariffs.
    • "Mr. President, I rise today to talk about my opposition to the Section 232 motion that will be voted on later today. I have utmost respect for my colleagues who are bringing this motion. I totally understand their logic, and I respect their point of view on this and many other issues. One of the great things about this deliberative body is that we deliberate. Unfortunately I just don't understand sometimes why this body continues to tie the hands of this president at every turn. We all know that enacting tariffs on imports is not the goal here. This president is committed to creating a more level playing field for our workers and our companies here at home to compete in an un-level playing field today that exists today in the trade word we know today."

 

Senator Toomey: (11:29 a.m.)

  • Spoke on tariffs.
    • "The United States has been the leader in promoting free trade around the world for many decades, and that is part of the reason that we are the most affluent society on the globe by far, outperforming the rest of the world consistently. What it does is it provides our consumers with many choices and lower costs, and, therefore, a more affordable standard of living. And it provides our workers with foreign markets. 95% of the world's population lives somewhere else. I want to be selling to them. And we do that through an environment of free trade. Take NAFTA for instance. Since NAFTA was enacted in 1994, Pennsylvanians have seen exports to Mexico increase by more than 500%. That's what happened because of the reduction in the barriers that existed, barriers to trade that existed prior to NAFTA."

 

Senator Corker: (11:36 a.m.)

  • Spoke on tariffs.
    • "As a matter of fact, the White House has said loosely on many occasions that they're only using Section 232 in order to try to create some kind of leverage on NAFTA. I don't understand how putting tariffs in place on our allies in Europe has anything to do with NAFTA. I don't understand how putting tariffs on our neighbors has anything to do with combating what China is doing and stealing our intellectual property. I know the presiding officer knows full well what's happening there. We do need to counter that kind of activity. I don't know if we're doing it in the best way now."

 

Senator Flake: (11:44 a.m.)

  • Spoke on tariffs.
    • "The president has abused Section 232 to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum impacting our allies like Canada, Mexico, countries of the E.U. Can you imagine being in Canada and being told that your steel and aluminum exports to the United States represent a national security threat. The Prime Minister Trudeau rightly called the president's recent tariffs an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States and he continued, kind of insulting. Canada is the United States' largest consumer. It buys more goods from the United States than China, Japan, and the U.K. Combined. Canadian companies operating in the United States directly employ 500,000 Americans. Canada and the United States share more than 5,500 miles of a peaceful border."

Durbin, Schumer, Tillis

Executive Session (Benczkowski Nomination)

Jul 11 2018

Senator Durbin: (10:12 a.m.)

  • Spoke on U.S. immigration policy.
    • "I'd like to reflect on the 3,000 children forcibly removed from their parents' arms at the borders of the United States of America over the last several months. These children were victims of the zero tolerance policy of the Trump administration, a policy which Attorney General Sessions announced that resulted in those who appeared at the border, whether they were there for legitimate claims of asylum or not, to be treated as criminals. And treated as criminals, their children were removed from them. I met with some of those children. It was two weeks ago in Chicago, it was at one of the agencies that the health and human services department has used for decades to provide safe care for children who are unaccompanied at our border."

 

Senator Schumer: (10:25 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "The next justice on the Supreme Court will have an ability to impact labor rights, women's reproductive rights, LGTBQ rights, voting rights, civil rights, environmental rights, and so much more for generations to come. We need to know how Judge Kavanaugh views those issues. On the issue of women's freedom to make her own health decisions, for example, yesterday, while shepherding Judge Kavanaugh around the Capitol, Vice President Pence said he wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned. This isn't some ancient belief that the country has pushed aside. There are people in high parts of the government, the vice president yesterday, the president constantly, and so many others who want to repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow."

 

Senator Tillis: (10:58 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Pastor Andrew Brunson.
    • "In 2016 Pastor Brunson was apprehended and been in prison ever since. He was in prison for almost 19 months without charges. For the vast majority of that time he was in a cell designed for eight people and it had 21 in. Without charges. And then back earlier this year there were charges levied against him that are just absolutely absurd. I know from firsthand experience. After the indictment was issued, I heard through channels and through his wife Noreen that Pastor Brunson was afraid that the American people were going to read this indictment, believe it, and turn their back on him. So it was important to me to go to Turkey and let him know that that's the last thing we were going to do, that I was going to bring this to the American people's attention until he was released."
  • Spoke on the abolition of ICE.
    • "It's this movement now called end I.C.E., Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We have people out there, we have a gubernatorial candidate in New York who said I.C.E. is a private organization. Not ISIS, which is a terrorist organization, but I.C.E. Men and women in uniform going out every day putting their life on the line to protect the American people. Let me tell you what people who are part of the end I.C.E. movement are for. This is what they're for if you're for ending I.C.E. You're for ending - this is 2017 numbers. You're for ending the arrest of some 143,000 people who have broken our laws."

McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jul 11 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 #639, Brian Allen Benczkowski, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Attorney General, post-cloture.
  • At 12:00 p.m., the Senate will proceed to legislative session and the chair will lay before the Senate the House message accompanying H.R. 5895, the minibus appropriations bill. The majority leader or his designee will then offer a compound motion to go to conference with respect to H.R. 5895, the minibus appropriations bill, and the Senate will immediately VOTE on the compound motion.
  • If the compound motion is agreed to, Senators Cassidy and Corker will be recognized to offer motions to instruct conferees with respect to the House message accompanying H.R. 5895, the minibus appropriations bill, with the Senate then VOTING on the motions in the order listed.
  • At 2:00 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #639, Brian Allen Benczkowski, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Attorney General.
  • Note: on Thursday, June 28, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #686, Paul C. Ney, of Tennessee, to be Counsel of the Department of Defense.

 

Senator McConnell: (10:06 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Yesterday I had an opportunity to meet with Judge Brett Kavanaugh as we begin preparations for his confirmation process to the Supreme Court. It's really impossible not to come away impressed. Judge Kavanaugh is the real deal. He has an all-star legal resume, topflight academic credentials. His extensive judicial record is defined by fairness, thoroughness and analytical precision. I was already confident the president had made an outstanding choice. Now I'm even more confident that my colleagues here and Americans around the country won't have to take my word for it. Just look at one of Judge Kavanaugh's former professors at Yale Law School."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Brian Benczkowski to be an Assistant Attorney General.
    • "His resume includes distinguished service in five different leadership positions at the Department of Justice under three attorneys general. His nomination has won praise from a number of former Justice Department officials who served under presidents of both parties. Their letter describes this nominee as a tireless worker, a fine leader and colleague, honest, and a straight shooter. I look forward to voting to confirm him later today and to continue to confirm more of the president's team."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "Economists tell us this is an important sign of a healthy job market because it indicates workers are moving upward, seeking better pay or superior benefits at a different employer. That number just hit its highest level in more than 17 years. More jobs, more opportunities, more Americans coming off the sidelines and getting back into the workforce, more Americans moving up the ladder to bigger and better things and opening up their current positions for other job seekers at the same time."