Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018

Monday, April 23 -

  • The Senate will convene at 3:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #624, Stuart Kyle Duncan, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
  • At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #624, Stuart Kyle Duncan, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Note: on Thursday, April 19, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #624, Stuart Kyle Duncan, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.


Senator Perdue: (4:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the budget process.
    • "Mr. President, I rise today to talk about a milestone here that just happened about three weeks ago. We've had a couple of interesting dates coming. April 15 just passed. We called it tax day but it was another date. It was also a date that we were supposed to complete the Senate budget for fiscal year 2019 that starts in October 1 of this year. Well, April 15 came and the I.R.S. deadline did indeed hit, but there was no budget completed. And that's part of the dysfunction that people back home are so upset about. Today I want to talk about that, but first I want to talk about the derivative of that broken process. To date, Mr. President, in my office we have a debt clock. In that debt clock a few weeks ago it passed a milestone. $21 trillion."

Merkley, Reed, Sullivan

Executive Session (Duncan Nomination)

Apr 19 2018

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

  • Spoke on the situation in Burma.
    • "In just the first month of this crisis, doctors without borders says well over 6,000 Rohingya were killed, including hundreds of children under the age of 5. As one U.N. advisor on genocide prevention has said, the Rohingya have endured what no human beings should ever have to endure. Now we are seeing the brutality of the Burmese military followed by deliberate strategy of isolation and starvation. Several times in recent years, from "The New York Times" has reported on the Rohingya. He entered the country on a tourist visa. He was warned by the Burmese government not to do any reporting, but he did. He traveled to a total of five Rohingya villages working hard to be able to see these places in which everyone was banned from going."


Senator Reed: (3:05 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "Free and fair national elections are the foundation of our country. The framers created a unique system that has stood up for over 200 years and has served as a beacon around the world. Regrettably, Russian hybrid operations and maligned influence against the 2016 election has put the sanctity and security of our democracy in question. Our duty as citizens and as legislators is to recognize this crisis and take concrete steps to protect our democracy. We must force a climate of vigilance when it comes to election integrity. I want to take a moment to review what happened and offer some steps that we should take immediately. Now, some may say there was no interference in that talking about Russia's meddling against our democratic institution is fake news. I wish it were fake news, but the facts are very clear and acknowledged by experts of every political viewpoint."


Senator Sullivan: (3:32 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to the Alaskan of the Week.
    • "Those of you watching in the gallery or on TV, the wonderful mountains, oceans, how beautiful the state is the. Right now the sun is out again and shining high, snow is melting, the buds are coming up, birds are coming back, but it is a really good opportunity for me to talk not just about the natural wonders but the people, the people that make Alaska such a great place. And, Mr. President, while it doesn't get as much attention as deserves the incredibly fascinating and sometimes tragic history of my state, it is a good opportunity for me talk to my colleagues about that and the people who have worked hard and been part of that history and have helped to heal some of the scars that have been left from that the history."
  • Spoke on Coast Guard reauthorization.
    • "This body was unable to get the authorization bill that sets the policies and funding and spending for the coast guard, and that's, that was sad, in my view. A big disappointment. We have principled differences here in the senate, but on this we had been working hard. We had been working really hard across the aisle. I chair the committee, the subcommittee on the coast guard to try and make sure we had plenty of senators who would support this. So my team and I worked for months on accommodating my colleagues' concerns about the bill. Pretty much every request for an amendment, every request for fixing the bill, in certain ways we accommodated."
  • Spoke on Democrat obstructionism.
    • "The American people should care. Whether you voted for this president or not, once somebody wins an election and they start putting forward people, good Americans to serve in their government, what we should be doing here is holding hearings, seeing if they're qualified and then voting on whether or not to confirm them. Unfortunately what's happened -- and it's all out there, by any historical measure, my colleagues on the other side have filibustered and obstructed this administration's nominees to serve their country at a higher rate than has ever happened in U.S. History."

Burr, Gardner

Executive Session (Bridenstine Nomination)

Apr 19 2018

Senator Burr: (1:38 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Next week the Senate will consider the nomination from the president of his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. This is one of those times where I want to compliment the administration on a great pick. Mike Pompeo is a great leader. Mike as a teenager decided he wanted to go to west point. And not only did he graduate from West Point, he graduated from West Point top of his class and went into one of the least likely places, the Calvary and was a magnificent leader within the United States Army Calvary. He went on to Harvard Law School and he earned his law degree but he didn't just stop there. He was invited to be part of the Harvard Law Review which is a very special cadres of individuals."


Senator Gardner: (1:43 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "I rise today to recommend and urge my colleagues to vote for Jim Bridenstine, director of NASA. We'll be voting on this nomination momentarily. Jim Bridenstine has incredible experience and incredible resume, incredible mission before NASA. We need somebody with a mission. We need somebody who actually has an idea of where we should take our great space mission. Somebody who has commercial experience, somebody who has government experience, somebody should has management service and, yes, somebody who has experience within the industry itself, and that is Jim Bridenstine."

Cornyn, Heller, Casey

Executive Session (Bridenstine Nomination)

Apr 19 2018

Senator Cornyn: (12:29 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "Madam President, the senate is expected to vote this afternoon to confirm Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma to be the next administrator of the national space administration. For more than 15 months, our national space agency has been without permanent leadership. Th -- this is far too long, especially considering the important work that NASA is undertaking. The agency is currently working within the commercial space industry to resume launches of American astronauts to the international space station rather than have to rely on the Russians to transport American astronauts into space."
  • Spoke on CFIUS.
    • "I've also been spending a lot of time looking at the long-term national security implications that China poses to our country, which is why I'm proud to join my colleague - our colleague, the senior senator from California, Senator Feinstein, who recently introduced legislation which will strengthen the process by which the committee on foreign investment in the United States, otherwise known as CFIUS, weighs profit risk. It wasn't originally designed to address today's rapidly involving technology as well as the threats to our technological edge, particularly when it comes to dual-use technology that is important for national security reasons, and the committee's current jurisdiction and the staffing is both too narrow and inadequate in order to address these evolving threats. China in particular has proven adept at circumventing the current CFIUS process."


Senator Heller: (12:40 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, USAF.
    • "Madam President, today I rise to honor major Steven Del Bagno, a U.S. Air Force pilot who was killed when his f-16 falcon crashed at the Nevada test and training range. At just 34, Major Del Bagno's life was cut too short. But his life I have leadership and service to our country will be preserved by all those who had the privilege of knowing him. I'd like to begin by saying that my wife Lynn and I offer our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We join the Thunderbirds, Nellis Air Force Base in mourning this loss."


Senator Casey: (12:59 p.m.)

  • Spoke on bringing infants onto the Senate floor.
    • "I was on the floor today to first and foremost congratulate Senator Duckworth on the new addition to her family, which we're anticipating seeing a new baby, and now we can be able to meet that child right here on the Senate floor, but we do want to commend and salute Senator Duckworth, of course, long before today on her life of service, remarkable courage and sacrifice, and our nation owes her a debt of gratitude, not just for this recent news about her resolution, but also about her great service to the country. But this resolution is an important step forward for the United States Senate in terms of the people who are permitted to be on the floor, and we're glad that we have such consensus to make this possible for the youngest among us to get to the floor."
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • "I rise to talk about Syria, all of the horrors that we've been seeing over not just months, but years. And I think as many people around this nation as well as people within the, or in the international community or whether they are in refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, they could also be in bombed-out neighborhoods in Damascus or Aleppo. So many people around the country or across the world are wondering what will President Trump do next in Syria. Are we any closer to a resolution of this terrible conflict that will allow the Syrian people to rebuild their lives."

Lankford, Inhofe, Klobuchar, Peters

Executive Session (Bridenstine Nomination)

Apr 19 2018

Senator Lankford: (11:50 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "He's months and months gone through process, gone through committee hearings, gone through all kinds of support. The committees he served in in the House of Representatives in a bipartisan letter with wide majorities to the senate saying we've worked with Jim Bridenstine. He's exceptionally knowledgeable about issues on space. He's a great choice and they sent that letter over from the House to the Senate. Multiple individuals have written letters in support of Jim Bridenstine, including Sean O'Keefe, who is the former NASA administrator, Buzz Aldren also sent extensive support for Jim including a remarkable op-ed and the support for him."


Senator Inhofe: (11:58 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "I was on the committee that went through confirmation. I've never heard so many things. One thing they all had in common was, none of them knew Jim Bridenstine. My associate talked about a smear campaign. I've never seen a smear campaign like that. I've never seen so much hatred and for no reason at all. I think the two of us know Jim Bridenstine well. In fact, he holds the first congressional district in the state of Oklahoma. That was my seat. I held that seat for eight years. And of course I've gotten to know him very well since that time and the things that have been said about him, I just -- again, the one thing they have in common, they just don't know him and haven't learned to -- didn't want to know him. So we have an administrator I think is going to do a good job."


Senator Klobuchar: (12:00 p.m.)

  • Spoke in tribute to Prince.
    • "Mr. President, I come to the senate floor today to remember a Minnesota icon, and that would be prince who we lost two years ago. Prince was a one-of- a-kind artist. I grew up with his music. I was our superstar next door. He made "Purple Rain" a household name and brought fame to Minnesota's music scene. Minnesota loved prince and prince loved Minnesota. He was born in Minneapolis in 1958 and developed an interest in music at an early age. He wrote his first song at 7 years old and recorded his Demo tapes at sound studio."
  • Spoke on bringing infants on the Senate floor.
    • "Madam President, I also rise today to discuss Senate resolution 463, a resolution passed by the senate yesterday that will allow senators to bring and their infant children on to the Senate floor. Several of my colleagues will join me to discuss the importance of passing this resolution, and I would like to take a moment to thank some of them because without their hard work and support this resolution would not pass."


Senator Peters: (12:07 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "I am concerned this administration does not respect science, especially science in government institutions. Let's look at the data. The office of Science and Technology Policy has four positions requiring political appointment, including the director who serves as the president's chief science advisor. The president has made zero nominations to OSTP and has taken significantly longer than any other modern president to name advisor. Let's look at it compares to past administrations on both sides of the aisle. Canada, Nixon, Clinton all named a science advisor before they took office. Carter and Reagan and George H.W. Bush chose one in the first year, and president bush chose one in June of his first year of presidency."

Schatz, Lee, Corker

Executive Session (Bridenstine Nomination)

Apr 19 2018

Senator Schatz: (11:13 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "Daniel Golden was a mechanical engineer who had previously been a vice president at a space and technology company. He was nominated by President George H.W. Bush and served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Richard truly served as vice admiral in the Navy before he became the first former astronaut to head the space agency under President George H.W. Bush. So the reason we are having a robust debate about Mr. James Bridenstine to lead NASA is that this is the first time in history that we have someone without similar qualifications to run such an important agency. Jim Bridenstine, the nominee that we are considering, served as a Navy pilot, and I thank him for his service. But that does not qualify him to run NASA. Just because you know how to fly a plane does not mean that you have the skills and experience to lead the federal government's space agency."


Senator Lee: (11:20 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "And he's still a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Following his military experience, Jim Bridenstine worked as the executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. He even owned a team in the ambitious but short-lived rocket racing league. Since his first term in Congress six years ago, Congressman Bridenstine has served on the house science, space, and technology committee. From that position, he's been a thoughtful leader on American space policy as it relates to national security, commerce, and weather forecasting. The name of his latest bill on these subjects speaks to Jim Bridenstine's ambitious vision for the future. The American Space Renaissance Act. If ever there were a need for a renaissance in space, it's now."


Senator Corker: (11:28 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "People who have typically who have served in the military have more respect for diplomacy than those who have not because they understand that their diplomatic efforts, if successful, is the thing that keeps our men and women out of harm's way. They know that. Pompeo's committed to that. He saw, by the way - he saw -- he was there at the iron curtain and understood what diplomacy did to free people and keep conflict from occurring. I know he's highly committed to that. We had cultural issues at the state department, there's no question. I think everyone understands that. We had a former secretary of state, someone who I had a good relationship with, you know, no doubt there were some things left undone at the State Department."

Schumer, Nelson, Rubio

Executive Session (Bridenstine Nomination)

Apr 19 2018

Senator Schumer: (10:22 a.m.)

  • Spoke on North Korea.
    • "Now, let me begin by addressing the administration's ongoing efforts to secure a diplomatic deal in North Korea. To achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. It's a worthy, ambitious goal. Indeed, we should all root for a diplomatic solution to the decades-long conflict. It is undeniable, however, that this meeting is fraught with peril. My primary concern is that the president and his penchant for spur of the moment decision-making could lead the United States into danger in one of two ways. My first concern is that the president, without a clear or coherent strategy, will buy a pile of magic beans, accepting an agreement, any agreement that allows him to declare victory."
  • Spoke on Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
    • "I have talked to members on both sides of the aisle who were worried of a constitutional crisis, and we all know the consequences of presidential interference in the Russian probe and how dire it would be for the rule of law fundamental to our democracy, and the constitutional crisis that it would create should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, there are substantial evidence that the president has thought about firing the special counsel more than once in the past and may do so well in the future."


Senator Nelson: (10:30 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the situation in Puerto Rico.
    • "Tomorrow marks seven months since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, and yet Puerto Ricans are still dealing with constant setbacks and unreliable power. This is just simply unacceptable. Senator Rubio and I have asked the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to conduct an additional oversight hearing on the overall hurricane recovery and to get to the bottom of this. I understand that this hearing will likely take place next month. But in the meantime this is a widespread power outage. It is just the latest example of why so many people who were forced to leave the island after the storm, they haven't been able to return home even though they want to."
  • Spoke on the BP Oil Spill.
    • "Tomorrow marks another somber occasion as well because eight years ago the news ticker came across our television saying that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was on fire. The coast guard was on the scene and workers were missing. It was a Tuesday night. It was nearly midnight on April 20, 2010. By morning light we knew that 11 men would not be going home again. For 87 days oil gushed into one of the most productive marine environments in the world."


Senator Rubio: (10:51 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "I was not enthused about the nomination. Nothing personal about Mr. Bridenstine. NASA is an organization that needs to be led by a space professional. A few weeks ago the acting administrator resigned - or I should say retired, and his last day on the job is the 30th. So it leaves us with the prospect of this incredible agency with a vacancy in its top job and we're on our second acting administrator. If you do the math, even if Congressman Bridenstine were to withdraw, by the time it worked its way through the administration, the committee process, the floor, the way things are going, we could be into February of next year. There is no way NASA can go that long without a permanent administrator."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "And by the way, the most important thing you want in a secretary of state, is someone the president has confidence in. Mike Pompeo clearly has that. Yet we face the prospect of significant opposition to the point where there are questions about whether it will pass in the committee, although I think he will pass on the floor. And I just think that's something I hope people will recalibrate brought in their thinking. I don't think you have to agree with Mike Pompeo. You don't have to think that he's the person you would have picked. But you have to recognize that you are not president. None of us here are the president."
  • Spoke on the situation in Venezuela.
    • "I do want to take a moment to speak about something I have been speaking about for the better part of four years and one that I know that Director Pompeo knows well, we've talked about it extensively, and that is the growing catastrophe that is Venezuela. To begin, I want to say clearly that we should care about it simply because that catastrophe has become a threat to the United States and to the region. What do I mean by that? First, the regime in control is a state sponsor of drug trafficking."


Opening Remarks

Apr 19 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 #609, James Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • At 1:45 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #609, James Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Senator McConnell: (10:03 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the opioid epidemic.
    • "This epidemic has been especially severe in my moment state of Kentucky - in my home state of Kentucky, claiming lives at a record pace. In light of this urgent problem, many are proud Congress is fighting back. We've passed substantial bipartisan legislation to give communities the resources they need. The most recent government funding bill provided billions of dollars of additional support. But the work to end the suffering continues. One of the most heartbreaking facts is the skyrocketing number of infants who are born dependent on opioids. Defenseless children start their lives suffering from addiction. That's why in 2015 I sponsored, along with Senator Casey, the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act. As the first law to specifically address prenatal exposure."
  • Spoke on the nomination of James Bridenstine to be NASA Administrator.
    • "Jim is a decorated pilot and combat veteran. His tenure in the House of Representatives testifies to his understanding of the issues facing today's space program and to his advocacy of NASA modernization. But is as often the case, this well-qualified nominee has waited too long for a vote. NASA has been led by an acting administrator for a record 15 months. So I hope my completion will join me in voting - so I hope my colleagues will join me in voting to confirm Jim Bridenstine today."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "I'd like to say a few words this morning about Mike Pompeo, our C.I.A. director and the president's extraordinary choice to serve as secretary of state. In recent days, the world learned Director Pompeo had undertaken initial conversations with Kim Jong-un directly -- Easter weekend - to discuss denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. Obviously he has the confidence of the president, engaged in the most sensitive undertaking one could imagine in today's world, and yet so many on the other side are suggesting they have reservations about this outstanding nominee. Pursued with clear-eyed realism and clear objectives, this is a worthy effort."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "But the simple fact is that Democratic policies left the rest of the country behind. In small towns, smaller cities, and rural areas, opportunity dried up, paychecks stayed flat, hope for a more prosperous future began fading. That's what President Trump and this Republican Congress were elected to change. Our governing philosophy is very different. We think more of the American people's hard-earned money should be left in their own hands to spend or save as they see fit. We think government needs to give workers and job creators some breathing room."