Monday, Jul. 23, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill.
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.
  • Note: the following amendment is pending to H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill: Shelby Amendment #3399.
  • Note: the following amendment is pending to Shelby Amendment #3399 to H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill: Murkowski Amendment #3400.

 

Senator Shelby: (6:08 p.m)

  • Unanimous Consent –
    • That for the purpose of Rule XVI in relation to the substitute amendment #3399: 
      • Division A of H.R. 6147 serve as the basis for defense of germaneness for Division A of the amendment.
      • Division B of H.R. 6147 serve as the basis for defense of germaneness for Division B of the amendment.
      • H.R. 5961 as reported by the House Appropriations Committee serve as the basis for the defense of germaneness for Division C of the amendment.
      • H.R. 6072 as reported by the House Appropriations Committee serve as the basis for defense of germaneness for Division D of the amendment.
    • (Without Objection)

 

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

  • Spoke on the minibus appropriations bill.
    • "I will - I will defer to the chairman of the relevant subcommittees to discuss the specifics of each of their bills as we move through consideration of these appropriations - this appropriations package. But I wanted to take a little bit of time this evening to share some information about the interior appropriations bill for my colleagues. I also want to thank and acknowledge the good work of my ranking member on the committee, Senator Udall. He has been a good partner to work with. Both of us have recognized that this is not everything that we would have - we would have wanted it to be, but it was a good collaborative, well-worked process. Within interior, we've got a very broad scope of responsibilities."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "If I may beg your indulgence, sir, and ask for just a few more moments, I wanted to comment on the nomination of Robert Wilkie, if I may. Just about an hour ago or half an hour ago the Senate confirmed Robert Wilkie of North Carolina as our nation's tenth secretary of Veterans Affairs. He comes to this position after having served with great distinction as a Senate staffer. He was on the National Security Council, the assistant secretary of defense as well as under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness and interim secretary of the V.A. His father who just passed away last year was a U.S. Army veteran, Mr. Wilkie has served as a U.S. Naval Reserve intelligence officer."

 

Senator Udall: (6:38 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the minibus appropriations bill.
    • "We all know the interior bill is not an easy bill and we faced contentious issues putting it together, there's no doubt. Working together under her leadership, we produced a bill unanimously reported by the Appropriations Committee. I also want to recognize Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy for bringing this bill to the floor. Their shared commitment to re-establish regular order for the Appropriations Committee is why this bill is on the floor of the United States senate today. For the first time in nearly a decade I salute them as well. This bill funds the Bureau of Indian Affairs and provides new health resources for schools and tribes across the country trying to improve health and education outcomes."

Boozman, Tester, Isakson, Tillis

Executive Session (Wilkie Nomination)

Jul 23 2018

Senator Booznan: (5:01 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "Today this chamber will take an important step to ensure we have leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs to oversee the implementation of historical reforms that we passed in May to improve the V.A.'s health care delivery system and provide veterans with more choices and fewer barriers to care. We will vote on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to serve as secretary of the V.A. Having served our nation in uniform as well as experiencing military life as the son of a wounded combat soldier, Robert Wilkie's extensive career in a wide range of defense and veterans issues makes him uniquely qualified to serve as the next secretary of the V.A."

 

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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "Today we are going to fulfill our constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent on the president's nominee. This is a responsibility that I take very, very seriously and especially as my role as ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. And our committee, Chairman Isakson and I oversee the screening and confirmation of 12 nominees to serve veterans and I'm proud to say we confirmed them without dragging our feet. Recently we had Mr. Robert Wilkie before the committee for his confirmation hearing, members of our committee asked him tough questions about his vision for the V.A. We asked him about his plan to bring much needed stability to the nation's largest health care system."

 

Senator Isakson: (5:17 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "Now have the chance to be overridden and solved and we step forward on a new day for the V.A. We no longer want someone has going to make excuses for the V.A. We want someone who is going to make a difference. Robert Wilkie understands the needs of our veterans in rural areas. He understands the needs in large urban cities. He understands the threat of suicide and our need to get mental health accessible and available to our veterans at all times. He also knows that we've given him a quiver of arrows that he can use to root out the bad players and lift the good players. The V.A. Mission Act is absolutely rule number one."

 

Senator Tillis: (5:25 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "He grew up on Fort Bragg, he is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He's done an extraordinary job serving our office and mentoring my staff, working for leaders in the Senate, leaders in the House, Secretary Gates, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and now General Mattis. He is going to do an extraordinary job because he understands what it's like to be the son of a veteran, to be a member of the armed services himself - he served in the Air Force to this day, the Army previously. He has attended the Army War College, has a law degree and a keen understanding of how this governing body works. He also has great relationships with people across the spectrum, the political spectrum."

Nelson, Schumer, Moran

Executive Session (Wilkie Nomination)

Jul 23 2018

Senator Nelson: (3:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke on U.S. immigration policy.
    • "As a matter of fact, there were 70 children there of the 1,300 children that had been separated from their parents. They would not let me speak to them. So I inquired about whether or not the children had been able to speak to their parents on the phone. I was told that of the 70, that 62 of the children had spoken to their parents. Well, it's recently clear why some of those families have been unable to connect. For so long - and that's because of a report just published. The administration, the Trump administration has been charging detained parents - get this -- as much as $8 a minute to call their children, and the children were separated from the parents because the administration separated them."

 

Senator Schumer: (4:37 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Brett Kavanaugh seems to have an imperial conception of the presidency, he ruled a president should not be subject to investigations while in office and on at least three separate instances Brett Kavanaugh has showed a willingness to openly question precedent relating to presidential power and presidential accountability. First, in his opinion in Seven-Sky vs. Holder, Kavanaugh wrote that the president does not have to enforce the law if he deems a statute unconstitutional regardless of whether or not a court has already held it constitutional. What the heck do we have a Supreme Court for?"
  • Spoke on the recent meeting between President Trump and President Putin.
    • "Something that the president's own director of national intelligence, Mr. Coats, was not made aware of. It is not hyperbolic to say that last week may have been one of the worst weeks in American foreign policy in recent memory. In the face of these stunning events, what have my Republican colleagues done to rein in the president? I'm sad to report virtually nothing. In the full week since the Helsinki summit, Republicans have failed to take meaningful action to hold the president accountable for his foreign policy blunders in Finland."

 

Senator Moran: (4:52 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "Of course, a large part of the task to ensure that veterans get the best our nation has to offer falls on the Department of Veterans Affairs. I want our veterans to receive the best care, the best attention possible from the veterans' affairs, and in just a few minutes the Senate will vote on the confirmation of Mr. Robert Wilkie to be the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I'm confident that Mr. Wilkie is focused on putting veterans first, changing the V.A. culture and ridding it of any complacency. Of course Mr. Wilkie has a huge, monumental task ahead of him. The Department of Veterans Affairs is a massive bureaucracy that has had a number of challenges in the past, and he will be charged with implementing the John McCain V.A. Mission Act."

Cornyn

Opening Remarks

Jul 23 2018

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 3:00 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and begin consideration of Executive Calendar #1000, Robert L. Wilkie, of North Carolina, to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, with the time until 5:30 p.m. equally divided in the usual form.
  • At 5:30 p.m., the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #1000, Robert L. Wilkie, of North Carolina, to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • Following disposition of the Wilkie nomination, the Senate will resume legislative session to begin consideration of H.R. 6147, the minibus appropriations bill.

 

Senator Cornyn: (3:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • "Last week he was referred to as the fill-in-the-blank opposition. So if you can come out with such certainty and such vigor against an unnamed nominee, well, looks to me like you really don't have an open mind in the first place. But now Judge Kavanaugh's name has been filled in, and the attacks have been more direct and more personal. They've attempted to attack his qualifications, but that sputtered out pretty quickly, given that Judge Kavanaugh's qualifications are unassailable. No one can argue that he's not impeccably well-suited for a seat on the nation's high of the court."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • "Mr. Wilke brings to this position a firsthand understanding of the mental and physical demands of military life. The son of an Army commander wounded in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, he said his father's recovery was at the forefront of his mind when he was offered the position at the Veterans Administration. He himself is an Air Force Reserve officer who spent three decades helping to shape military policy. In fact, he started out his career in this very chamber and worked most recently for our friend from North Carolina, Senator Tillis."