Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 12:00 p.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State.
  • Note: on Tuesday, April 24, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State.
  • Note: on Tuesday, April 24, cloture was filed on Executive Calendar #619, Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.


Senator Warren: (5:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on dark money in politics.
    • "But the truth is, the real battle is being fought out on the state and local level. Consider the State Policy Network, S.P.N. It's an umbrella alliance of over 60-member organizations covering nearly every state in the United States. Their member organizations hide behind deceptively a-political names like the Platt Institute for Economic Research or the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. But these organizations, they are anything but a-political. These groups are the propaganda arm of right-wing billionaires. The State Policy Network, for example, is bankrolled by the Koch brothers through organizations like donors trust, one of the Kochs' favorite investment arms. In 2016 alone, donors trust made $20.3 million in grants to State Policy Network members." 


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

  • Spoke on dark money in politics.
    • "Borrowing from a phrase from Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island, it is time to wake up to the threat of climate change. We must open our eyes to the insidious web of deceit that the Koch brothers, in alliance with the Trump administration, are weaving to promote an anti-science, anti-consumer, anti-renewable energy agenda. This web of deceit is something which the Koch brothers are proud of. Just last week they bragged to donors in a report that they were responsible for president trump's policy. Repealing the Clean Power Plan, check. Attacking public lands, check. Attempting to gut bedrock environmental laws for infrastructure projects, check. Leaving the Paris Climate Accord, check."


Senator Udall: (5:40 p.m.)

  • Spoke on dark money in politics.
    • "They receive funding directly and not so directly from the Koch brothers. Since 2008, one or the other has received funding from the Charles Koch Institute and antigovernment group formed from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Freedom Partners called the Koch brothers secret bank, a 501-c-6 organization that gives tens of millions of dollars to extreme causes. The Wellspring Committee, Inc, funded with Koch brothers' help, donors trust, a pass-through organization for the Koch brothers and other ultra-wealthy donors trying to hide contributions and many other like-minded, anti-renewable pro- fossil fuel groups that the Koch brothers fund or are tied to."


Senator Portman: (5:54 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Richard Grenell to be U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
    • "Rick is well qualified. I think it's urgent that we growth him confirmed. By the way, Rick Grenell was actually nominated last fall. He was reported out of the Foreign Relations Committee with a positive vote on October 26, 2017. So for six months, he has been in limbo even after getting reported out of committee. He has been blocked by just a couple of Democrats, maybe just one, and this body has not had the chance to vote on him. That's why I was pleased to see the majority leader filed cloture and that's why we will get a vote this week on Mr. Grenell. I think he is very qualified for the position."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "When you look at the job of the secretary of state, this body has been able to support people who they may not be able to agree on every policy issue, or agree with the president who appointed that person, but realize that the president should have his or her own person in that job, particularly the secretary of state. With regard to Senator Kerry, who was a colleague of ours here. When he was up for the confirmation vote, the vote was 94 senators out of 100 supporting him. With regard to Secretary Clinton, when she was nominated, she was confirmed by a vote of 94 senators - 94 out of 100 voted for her. Now, that's been more or less typical. Collin Powell was confirmed by a unanimous vote of this body. Condoleezza Rice was voted in with 80 votes. I don't think they can dispute the fact that he is qualified for this job. He is a man who has been successful in everything he has done."

Thune, Flake, Cortez Masto

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 24 2018

Senator Thune: (4:29 p.m.)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Mr. President, ask any business owner in the country and he or she will tell you it's a competitive labor market. Unemployment is at a 17-year low and in a tight, competitive labor market, employers have to work to keep their employees. Mr. President, our focus with last fall's tax reform was on making life better for ordinary Americans. So we set out to put more money in their pockets right away by cutting tax rates across the board nearly doubling the standard deduction, and doubling the child tax credit. As a result, for 2018, a family of four making $73,000 will see a tax cut of more than $2,000. But we knew that tax cuts, as helpful as they are, weren't enough. Americans also needed access to profitable careers, to the good jobs, the good wages, and the good opportunities. And we knew that the only way to guarantee access to good jobs, wages and opportunities, was to make sure that businesses were prosperous enough to create and maintain them. "
  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "I don't need to tell anyone how incredibly qualified he is for this job. First in his class at West Point, five years of active duty service in the Army achieving the rank of captain. Editor of the Harvard Law Review, elected to Congress four times by Kansas' Fourth Congressional District and serving on the House Intelligence Committee. And finally, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Clearly he has proven his dedication as a public servant and is an outstanding candidate for secretary of state. His nomination should be sailing through the Senate and normally it would be."


Senator Flake: (4:41 p.m.)

  • Spoke on North Korea.
    • "However, I am concerned by the language used by the president today when discussing the North Korean regime. To say that Kim Jong-un has been very open or very honorable, as the president did, surpasses understanding. If this description of one of the world's strong man dictators was a singular event, a one-off statement, it could perhaps be excused as an aberration but unfortunately it's not. It's part of a larger pattern of excusing dictatorial behavior that we should not countenance. Mr. President, we need not sacrifice the truth and reject objective reality in pursuit of our goals. We cannot pretend that Kim Jong-un of today is somehow different from the authoritarian dictator who has ruled over one of the most violent and repressive regimes on Earth."


Senator Cortez Masto: (4:51 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the Koch brothers.
    • "Koch industry is one of the largest privately held companies in the nation with estimated annual revenues of over $100 billion. What does all this mean? It means that the Koch brothers are two very, very rich men, and there's nothing wrong with that. But what is wrong is the way the Koch brothers use their money -- to hijack our democracy for their own benefit. They are self-described radicals that believe that the government should play no role in Americans' lives. The Koch brothers leave in a world with no Medicare, no Social Security, no federal minimum wage, no public programs that support families when they fall on hard times, and no rules preventing Koch industries from polluting our air, drinking water, or our public lands."

Hassan, Menendez, Blumenthal, Kennedy

Executive Session (Duncan Nomination)

Apr 24 2018

Senator Hassan: (2:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "Mr. President, our founders established our court system to serve as an independent arbiter that would protect the rights of every American and ensure equal justice under the law. And for us to move forward, our democracy requires an independent and impartial judiciary. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has focused on nominating individuals to our courts who have extreme partisan agendas that would move us backward. This latest nomination is no different. Mr. Duncan has spent his career working to undermine the progress we've made toward building a more inclusive, more equal United States, rather than working to include more people in our democracy, Mr. Duncan's law practice has seemingly been devoted to restricting people's rights and make life more challenging for some of the most marginalized among us."


Senator Menendez: (2:37 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "Mr. Duncan makes these arguments despite overwhelming evidence that immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans. Numerous law enforcement entities have voiced their support for DAPA because the program actually advances public safety by encouraging cooperation and trust between immigrant communities and the police. A year after voicing his opposition to DAPA, Mr. Duncan submitted another amicus brief. This time he argued against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, climbing - claiming that it was unconstitutional. We know where Mr. Duncan stands in stereotyping immigrants."


Senator Blumenthal: (2:46 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "Courts of appeals make decisions that are binding on the district courts in that jurisdiction but also have impact on other judges and courts throughout the country at every level. The Trump Administration, from day one, has made attacking basic civil liberties a guiding principle of the policies it supports, including its judicial nominees. It is inexcusably seeking to turn back the clock on the progress that we've made and we fought back hard against these arcane and irrational policies but President Trump's attempts to stack courts with extremist judges may, in the end, have the most long-lasting and devastating impact on our nation. That's why I'm here today with many of my colleagues to sound the alarm on Kyle Duncan."


Senator Kennedy: (2:54 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "In a few minutes we're going to vote on the nomination of Mr. Kyle Duncan for a position on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Mr. Duncan was nominated by President Trump. He's been vetted, examined if you will, extensively by the White House. He has been vetted, examined if you will, by the Department of Justice. He has been vetted by the F.B.I. He's been vetted by the American Bar Association. And he has been vetted by the Senate's Judiciary Committee. And all of those entities have found that he is qualified. Indeed, more than qualified, to sit on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. If you look at his resume and his experience, Mr. President, you will understand why."

Warren, Murray

Executive Session (Duncan Nomination)

Apr 24 2018

Senator Warren: (12:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "He sought to tilt the scales of justice against women, against LGBTQ Americans, against people of color and others. Mr. Duncan's record of supporting discrimination and injustice is quite lengthy, so I'll focus on just a few of the most disturbing examples. Let's start with his record on women's rights. Mr. Duncan has worked to make it harder for women to access contraceptive coverage and abortion services. He was the lead attorney to the arts and crafts company, hobby lobby, in the Supreme Court case Hobby Lobby v. Burwell. In that case, he argued that business owners should be allowed to refuse to provide female employees access to contraceptive care based on those employers' religious views."


Senator Murray: (12:19 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "A review of Mr. Duncan's record, his cases, his chosen causes, show he is a dangerous, ideological nominee who has consistently been on the wrong side of women's rights, LGBTQ rights and civil rights. Let's start with his record arguing against women's rights and reproductive freedom. When he served as lead counsel in the infamous Hobby Lobby case, he argued that an employer can interfere with a woman's personal health care choices. In Texas, he filed a brief in favor of abortion restrictions that would have shut down the vast majority of clinics in that state, restrictions the Supreme Court ultimately ruled an undue burden on women's constitutional right to safe, legal abortion."

Cantwell, Lankford, McConnell (UC), Hatch, Peters

Executive Session (Duncan Nomination)

Apr 24 2018

Senator Cantwell: (11:17 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "Mr. Duncan has, in many cases, tried to take away these very important reproductive rights. From 2012 to 2014 he was the lead counsel on the Hobby Lobby case. That flawed decision allowed closely held corporations to deny F.D.A. Contraceptive coverage if the company owners were against it. More than half the women in Washington State get their health coverage through their employers. They earn it through hard-worked wages and their employers should not be able to cherry pick what benefits they get because their owners have a self-professed religious objection. He tried to go after birth control access, and thanks to Washington pharmacist Jennifer Erickson, Washington State has a law on the books that all lawfully prescribed drugs be permitted."


Senator Lankford: (11:31 a.m.)

  • Spoke on Democrat obstructionism.
    • "Mr. President, earlier today, the minority leader came to the floor to talk about multiple issues. During that conversation, he called me out by name and a rules proposal that I have in front of the Rules Committee this week saying he vehemently disagrees with the rules proposal and mentioned even that he knows I came here in 2014 and I should study the history of the Senate a little bit more before I bring up a rules proposal. Well, I would only tell you I have studied the history a little bit and would like to get a little bit of context around those comments. The rules proposal that the minority leader is opposing is the exact same rules proposal that he actually voted for in 2013 when he was on the Rules Committee and then voted for again when it came to the floor of the Senate."


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

  • Unanimous Consent –
    • That notwithstanding Rule XXII, the post-cloture time on the Duncan nomination expire at 3:00 p.m. today.
    • (Without Objection)


Senator Hatch: (11:55 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Frankly, I am embarrassed by the naked partisanship that was on display during Director Pompeo's confirmation hearing. The director deserves better than this. That his nomination was nearly sent to the floor without recommendation is an utter disgrace. This is a graduate of West Point, a man who served our nation honorably as a cavalry officer in the United States Army. This is a talented litigator who graduated from Harvard Law School, where he served as editor of the law review. This is an accomplished businessman, a former member of Congress, and a current director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a man who is qualified to serve in every respect. And yet some of my colleagues wanted to block Director Pompeo's nomination on the grounds that he supports our president."


Senator Peters: (12:05 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "Mr. President, it completely baffles me that this administration continues to put forth nominees who are either clearly unqualified or intensely partisan and controversial. This body has historically worked together to confirm consensus nominees to serve on the appellate bench. Unfortunately, that has not been the case over this past year. We have seen contentious nominee after contentious nominee. Unfortunately, the Republican majority has abdicated its responsibility to instead choose a judicial person of integrity who is willing to find common ground. This afternoon's vote to confirm Stuart Kyle Duncan to the fifth circuit court is a perfect example of a divisive candidate. Mr. Duncan is an extreme nominee."

Cornyn, Schumer, Wyden

Executive Session (Duncan Nomination)

Apr 24 2018

Senator Cornyn: (10:17 a.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Director Pompeo was, in fact, first in his class at West Point, let the Harvard Law Review, served his country in the military and served the people of Kansas in Congress. Not to mention the fact that Mike Pompeo already serves in one of the most sensitive and important positions in the Trump Administration already, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I spoke yesterday about the confirmations of some of the most recent secretaries of state, not just Secretaries Clinton and Kerry. Secretary Kerry got all but three votes in the Senate. Secretary Clinton lost only two votes in the Senate, but I also spoke of Secretary Powell and Secretary Rice, all confirmed overwhelmingly because the Senate has always had a tradition up until now of some deference to the president when confirming nominees to positions like this that have national security importance."


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

  • Spoke on Democrat obstructionism.
    • "Of course the majority can approve of the nominations on a party line vote for all nominees up to and now including the Supreme Court since Leader McConnell elected to change those rules last year. Why the need for further erosions to minority rights in the Senate? Republicans argue it's because their facing, quote, historic obstruction of the president's nominees. A few points on that. The Democrats have cooperated with the majority of noncontroversial nominees, like career ambassadorships and civil servants for a long time now. Before each recess there is a long list of names approved. Before the last recess, the senate confirmed as nearly as many nominations in 2018 as President Obama had confirmed in the analogous year, 2010."
  • Spoke on the Russia investigation.
    • "Over the last few months house Republicans have heaped enormous pressure on the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a transparent attempt to bullying into providing documents pertinent to an ongoing investigation, something we've hardly ever seen before, something that really gets in the way of law enforcement doing their job. Representative Nunes who has shown his partisanship repeatedly, and others, went so far to threaten Mr. Rosenstein with contempt of congress if he didn't hand over Comey's memos and other documents related to special counsel Mueller's investigation."


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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Stuart Jyle Duncan to be U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit.
    • "I accept that there are differences of opinion with respect to nominees, and I accept - I accept that I will not agree on every issue with every Trump nominee. I do expect that individuals who are up for lifetime judicial appointments have to demonstrate that above all else, above everything else, they will be guardians of the constitutional rights of the American people. If you want to be a judge in America, my view is you ought to have to show an Independence of thought and a respect for the rule of law. I regret to have to say this morning I believe this nominee has not met those important expectations. As I review Mr. Duncan's record, it seems to me that he has made a career out of fighting to restrict the rights and legal protections of the vulnerable and those who are powerless."


Opening Remarks

Apr 24 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 #624, Stuart Kyle Duncan, of Louisiana, to be United States Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Circuit, post-cloture.
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.
  • Note: all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, and leader remarks will count post-cloture on the Duncan nomination.


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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Later this week we'll take their advice and we'll vote to confirm him. We'll be lucky to have this capable public servant on the job. We know Mike Pompeo is up to the task. After all, we confirmed him with a comfortable and bipartisan majority to lead the C.I.A. In one of the most sensitive positions in our government, the quality of his leadership was directly linked to the security of the American people. West Point valedictorian, Harvard Law, U.S. Army officer, a successful businessman, three-term congressman, serving on the House Intelligence Committee. This is the resume that Mike Pompeo brought to the top job at the C.I.A. with the support of a bipartisan supermajority of the Senate and by all accounts his tenure there has been a big success."
  • Spoke on the opioid epidemic.
    • "Here in Congress, we're doing our best to support the health care and law enforcement professionals who are battling it every single day. Last week I introduced the Protecting Moms and Infants Act, a bipartisan effort to confront the heartbreaking cases of prenatal and infant opioid addiction. It builds on my 2015 bill, the Protecting our Infants Act, and Congress' other recent progress on this issue. In recent years Congress bolstered prevention and treatment efforts through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act and the recent government funding bill dedicated a record level of resources to saving lives from heroin and prescription drug abuse."
  • Spoke on Republican economic policy.
    • "Now, madam president, on one final matter, the passage of Republican's historic tax reform last December was just the latest illustration of the diverging paths Republicans and Democrats envision for our economy. For the better part of the last decade our Democratic colleagues' ideas ran their course. We were promised they'd help us recover from the financial crisis, but it wasn't a recovery for all Americans. In fact, the path put forward by our Democratic colleagues had two distinct lanes. The express lane was for major cities like New York and San Francisco. Urban areas with more than a million residents captured 90 -- 90% of the nation's population growth and nearly 75% of new jobs created between 2010 and 2016. 75% of new jobs created between 2010 and 2016 went to these large urban areas. Those select communities actually made up some ground. But working families and job creators in America's smaller cities, towns, and rural communities were stuck in the slow lane."