Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State, with the time until 12:00 p.m. equally divided.
  • At 12:00 p.m. tomorrow there will be four minutes of debate equally divided and then the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State.
  • If cloture is invoked, all time will be considered expired and the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State.
  • Following disposition of the Pompeo nomination, the Senate will resume consideration of the Grenell nomination with the time until 1:45 p.m. equally divided in the usual form and at 1:45 p.m. the Senate will VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #619, Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.
  • If cloture is invoked on the Grenell nomination, the Senate will immediately VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #619, Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

Senator Merkley: (6:52 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "We need to be able to work with neighbors around the world, with allies around the world exercising diplomacy in partnership with the strength of the United States. I come do the floor - I come to the floor to share that I have grave doubts that Mike Pompeo does not bring the right skills to this job. I'm concerned about his choice of military action over diplomacy in a position that is supposed to which are the art of diplomacy to its full execution. I'm concerned about his statements of disrespect and dishonor to the fundamental nature of our constitution under the first article that calls for Congress to be able to open the door to the exercise of military power, not the president."

 

Senator Blumenthal: (7:08 p.m.)

  • Spoke on dark money in politics.
    • "In fact, since his first bid for Congress in 2010, Pompeo has received $400,000 from Koch industries, $335,000 from employee contributions, and $65,000 from its corporate PAC, the Center for Responsive Politics. The Pompeo nomination is a poster boy for the impact of money and politics. The influence of the Koch brothers on this administration and the enduring effect of campaign contributions, of influence by and peddling in government. The Koch brothers are blatantly using their influence in the trump administration to advance an agenda based on their own self-interest at the expense of our democracy, and they have reached into the uppermost level, an echelon of this administration through individuals they have supported like Mike Pompeo over years and years."

Reed, Tillis (UC), Schatz, Wyden

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Senator Reed: (5:48 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "It is easier for those who wish to circumvent the laws protecting our democratic system to do so from behind a corporate mask. Thus, when the Supreme Court gave corporations the right to make unlimited independent expenditures in elections, it also opened the door for those who wished to hide their election spending to cover their cracks of shell companies and other entities that only exist on paper. Our nation historically has sought to safeguard our system of government from foreign influence. The Constitution requires the president to be a natural-born citizen. Early lobbying disclosure reforms were crafted with the threat of foreign propaganda in mind. And it remains a federal crime for a foreign national directly or indirectly to spend money to influence our elections."

 

Senator Tillis: (6:02 p.m)

  • Unanimous Consent –
    • That notwithstanding the provisions of Rule XXII, at 12:00 p.m. tomorrow there be four minutes of debate equally divided and the Senate then VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State.
    • If cloture is invoked, all time be considered expired and the Senate VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #788, Mike Pompeo, of Kansas, to be Secretary of State.
    • Further, following disposition of the Pompeo nomination, the Senate then resume consideration of the Grenell nomination with the time until 1:45 p.m. equally divided in the usual form and at 1:45 p.m. the Senate VOTE on cloture on Executive Calendar #619, Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.
    • Finally, if cloture is invoked on the Grenell nomination, all time be considered expired and the Senate then VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #619, Richard Grenell, of California, to be Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.
    • (Without Objection)

 

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

  • Spoke on climate change.
    • "I was pleased with President Macron's speech today. There was so much that he reminded us that we had in common, not just between America and France, but between Democrats and Republicans. As he reminded us of our great history together, as he reminded us of our cultural exchange, as he reminded us of our military cooperation, he also reminded us that our great democracies believe in science. We have to believe in science. We have to believe in expertise. And it is absolutely appropriate, I'm looking at the presiding officer, we do not share the same political philosophy, but we have to share the same set of facts. And that's what's so damaging about a so-called think tank like heartland."

 

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

  • Spoke on dark money in politics.
    • "Otherwise, if you're a typical American putting in on hard day's work, supporting your family, you just probably have a sense that the campaign finance laws are rigged for the big and the powerful. Now, there was an era when running for office was as simple as putting your name out for the public. You'd go and get a few local civic groups in your concern. You'd bring in a few modest donations to get your campaign off the ground. Certainly it's not that way anymore. It has now been well chronicled how a wave of money, particularly from a few secretive, powerful individuals like the Koch brothers have flooded American politics in the last few decades."

Murphy, Markey, Grassley, Van Hollen

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Senator Murphy: (4:35 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "But I tried to give Director Pompeo a way out of that overly broad answer. I said, could you identify for me one limiting factor, one limiting factor on this broad claim of Article II authority. He could not. He couldn't articulate one definable, articulated restraint on Article II military authority before the Foreign Relations Committee. And it speaks to what I think is a belief inside this administration that is now being buoyed by people like Director Pompeo and John Bolton that the president has virtually unlimited authority to begin military operations overseas. If you can attack the Syrian regime without any authorization from Congress, then why couldn't the president launch a military attack against North Korea without coming to Congress in the way that John Bolton has recommended in some of his writings before joining the administration?"

 

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

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Mr. Pompeo was okay characterizing an Indian American political opponent as, quote, just another turbine topper we don't need in this Congress or any political office that deals with the U.S. Constitution, Christianity, and the United States of America. With a viewpoint like that, how can he credibly represent the millions of Indian Americans in the United States? Equally important, how can the United States be viewed credibly by India's 1.3 billion people, the world's largest democracy, a critical American partner in promoting American values and ideals in Asia in the face of a rising and evermore aggressive China? Sadly, that display of intolerance wasn't Mr. Pompeo's only past offense."

 

Senator Grassley: (5:04 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "When I talk to our allies, they're anxious to see him on the job. Unfortunately, some on the other side of the aisle are now claiming that he's not suited for the post of secretary of state because of all things like positions he took as a member of Congress or his holding to traditional Christian teachings, just as if a person's religion ought to have something to say about their being in public office or public service. Others have spoken about that, and I don't have a whole lot more to add on that point. I would note the irony, though, that many of the senators who are most likely to vote against cabinet nominees are also rumored to have presidential ambitions. They should ask then themselves if they truly want to live with the precedent that they're setting."

 

Senator Van Hollen: (5:32 p.m.)

  • Spoke on nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Despite that consensus even among the president's current team, the president is talking about recklessly shredding the agreement. As President Macron of France warned us today, such a move would be very reckless, and it would be reckless to replace what we have today without having something to substitute for it. Now, Mr. Pompeo has weighed in on this issue over the years. It's not only that he's been a fierce opponent of the Iran deal, he has proposed military strikes against Iran, saying in 2014 that it would take, quote, under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task, he said, for the coalition forces. Unquote."

Cotton, Murray, Carper, Toomey

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

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

  • Spoke on the opioid epidemic.
    • "He was the joy of his parents' life and his sister's life. His sudden death was a shock to them. They got another shock when they found out he died of morphine intoxication. There was nothing in his apartment, no needles or pills, nothing. What had been found was a five-pound bag of poppy seeds. He ordered it on Amazon. It was determined that it was the source of the morphine that killed Steven. This resulted in part because of a dangerous gap in our nation's drug laws. It has been well known for ages that poppies are dangerous, both addictive and toxic, that's why it is illegal to grow or own any part of the poppy, but there's an exception, of course, for poppy seeds which many people enjoy on bagels, muffins and cakes."
  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "That's why presidents across the ages have filled the office of secretary of state with some of the most distinguished statesmen in our history, names like Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Clay, Webster, Marshall, Kissinger, and now we will add the name of Mike Pompeo. Very soon the Senate will confirm Mike to be our 70th secretary of state. I strongly support his nomination, as I have made known in recent days. Before we vote, I want to emphasize what a truly impressive nominee he is, a man of noble character whose name future generations, I suspect, will include on the roster of those great statesmen. Mike has succeeded at every stage of life."

 

Senator Murray: (3:24 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "This position is too important. The stakes are too high to let this nominee slide by without full consideration of what it would mean for Director Pompeo to be our nation's top diplomat. The person whose every word and action broadcast America's values to the rest of the world. Some of my opposition concerns Director Pompeo's harsh views on matters of war and peace, and his blatantly false accusations regarding members of the Muslim community. And some of my opposition surrounds my deep concern about director Pompeo's ability to stand strong against President Trump's erratic and uninformed foreign policy positions."

 

Senator Carper: (3:48 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the address of French President Macron.
    • "Really, if we work and live destroying the planet while sacrificing the future of our children. President Macron then said, he said, what is the meaning of our life if our conscience, the conscious decision is to reduce the opportunities for our children and for our grandchildren by polluting the oceans, not mitigating carbon dioxide emissions and destroying biodiversity, we are killing our planet. President Macron went on to say let's face it, there is no planet B. Think about that. There is no planet B. I turned to a colleague sitting next to me, and I said I am going to steal that line. There is no planet B."

 

Senator Toomey: (4:13 p.m.)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "This is how his business is better able to accumulate the capital that he describes as the lifeblood of his small business, and it is, in fact, capital that allows these small businesses like Cranston to take advantage of new growth opportunities and specifically he shared with us an example the tax savings that he is already enjoying have helped him to expand into a new product line, a product line he couldn't afford to but now he can. In order to launch this product line he needed to purchase new equipment, employ new training. He touched on another way that tax reform is helping his business, and that's the business optimism that he is seeing and that is encouraging his customers, primarily larger companies, to increase their own capital spending."

Durbin, Barrasso, Lankford, McCaskill

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Senator Durbin: (2:17 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "He and I have met and had serious and challenging discussions before, notably when he was nominated to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. We met again a few weeks ago. It was a good and candid conversation. He seemed to understand the desperate situation at the State Department and that the State Department's top experts should be included in key administration discussions. This conversation left me in the same place, I believe, that Senator Menendez pondered at the end of Pompeo's Foreign Relations Committee hearing -- who is the real Mike Pompeo? You see, I find it hard to square the reasonable man I met the other day with some of his actions."
  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "When President Trump repealed DACA seven months ago, he set an arbitrary March 5 deadline of this year for Congress to act and replace it. We tried. We offered to this president six different bipartisan alternatives to continue the DACA program. He rejected every single one of them. He sent to Congress his own plan for dealing with immigration. It received 39 votes in the United States Senate. 39. Remember, there's a Republican majority of 51. The president struggled to get his own party to support his ideas on immigration."

 

Senator Barrasso: (2:33 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Our alliances spanned centuries because of diplomats, diplomats, Mr. President, who have cultivated the close relationship that the countries continue with today. It's a shame that we didn't have a secretary of state of the United States who could have helped us welcome the French president during his visit here. We have a nominee eminently qualified, Mike Pompeo, and Republicans are ready to confirm him right now. We're ready to confirm him last week. We were ready for him to get to work, get to work maintaining and strengthening relationships around the world. You know, Mr. President, under previous administrations, we could have brought that nomination to the floor of the Senate without needing to waste all of the time and the delays by the Democrats."

 

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

  • Spoke on Taxpayers' Right to Know.
    • "It's something Senator McCaskill and I have worked very, very hard on. It passed out of the committee unanimously. This is a very bipartisan bill. To show you how bipartisan this is, this passed in the House of Representatives last session 413-0. Not a single House member voted against this proposal, but it wasn't able to pass the Senate. So Senator McCaskill and I brought it up again this year. It came unanimously out of committee. It also has already been to the House of Representatives in January of 2017. It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives again. This is just not a controversial piece of legislation. What's interesting was Senator McCaskill and I did a lot of work before, working with President Obama's Office of Management and Budget to make sure that there were no concerns."

 

Senator McCaskill: (2:50 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Taxpayers' Right to Know.
    • "American taxpayers deserve a government that can tell them how their money is being spent, and that's all this bill is trying to do. It's not complicated. It's trying to get important information to the people who are paying the bills. Don't they have a right to know where all the money is going? It improves a publicly accessible online database with information about federal programs, including the funding for the program and the activities that it comprises, the authorizing statutes and relevant rules and regs, the individuals the program serves and the employees who work to administer it, and copies of recent evaluations or assessments provided by the agency, inspectors general, or the Government Accountability Office."

Capito, Blunt, Risch

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Senator Capito: (1:28 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "They were a result of the Senate's long tradition of confirming qualified nominees to represent the United States on the world stage and to give the president - to give the president on this very crucial position secretary of state, to give the president his voice or her voice in the future to around the world in the diplomatic realm. But when it comes to the confirmation of this nominee, Mike Pompeo, many of my colleagues have seemed way too ready to brush aside this long-held tradition. The reason for this? Well, I think, Mr. President, you would agree with me, it's pretty obvious the reason, and that's just flat out partisanship. Partisanship is the only explanation because it certainly could not be and is not and will not be the nominee's qualifications."

 

Senator Blunt: (1:44 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "It's a critically important time for the country. I think we heard this morning in the joint session from the president of France the importance of our country and those who agree with our defense of freedom and security to stand up for that. There are threats all over the globe, and certainly everybody realizes that Mike Pompeo, the current director of the C.I.A., would have the knowledge he needs to do the job. He clearly has the experience he needs to do the job, and he has the support of the president, who he would be representing. Historically, this body until recent years always dealt with foreign policy as if we were sure that bipartisanship starts at the water's edge, partisanship ends at the water's edge."
  • Spoke on Senate Rules and Procedure.
    • "But the other difference with President Obama's nominees is we didn't stop all the work in the Senate during the 60 days that we're having hearings, getting the nomination ready to the floor. You didn't do exactly what we're doing right now, which says we're going to fully take advantage of every right the minority has to insist on debate. The only thing missing in that debate is the debate. So at the rate we're going, it would take more than nine years to confirm all of the president's nominees. This would be nine years of his four-year term."

 

Senator Risch: (2:10 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Now, some of my colleagues who are opposed to Director Pompeo argue that he will not deliver tough messages to the president or outline all of the policy options. They argue that Director Pompeo is a hawk who would prefer armed conflict to diplomacy. I find these comments disappointing. That has not been my personal experience with Director Pompeo. In addition, military officers are frequently the last ones to seek a military solution to a foreign policy challenge because they know firsthand the cost of war. On the other hand, they also know that without strength, no amount of diplomacy will be able to stop an authoritarian dictator."

Daines, Brown, Cornyn

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Senator Daines: (1:03 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Their feedback was very clear, and perhaps this is the untold story that we're not hearing in the United States from our media, and it's this - the administration's resolve and their diplomacy is what has brought Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table. The administration is moving forward toward a denuclearized North Korea, and Mike Pompeo has played a critical role in those efforts. As secretary of state, Mike would continue to defend and represent American interests abroad, protecting our national security, and making the world a safer place. You know, Mike has not just excelled, he has been the best at everything he has put his mind to over the course of his life. He was first in his class at west point, a graduate of the Harvard law school, editor of the Harvard law review."

 

Senator Brown: (1:06 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Mick Mulvaney.
    • "That this is a high-ranked U.S. government official that was confirmed by the United States Senate, at least for the first job at Office of Management and Budget. Deciding who you will meet with based on campaign contributions is the kind of pay to play that makes Americans furious with Washington, D.C. I mean, President Trump got elected because he was going to drain the swamp. President Trump got elected because he said the system was rigged. President Trump got elected because he doesn't want this pay to play. President Trump got elected because this place needs to be cleaned out. So you appoint somebody hothead of the underlying Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who only really wants to talk to you if you gave him campaign money."

 

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

  • Spoke on prison reform.
    • "Mr. President, this afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee will begin to consider their version of a bill that I have introduced here in the senate with the junior senator from Rhode Island, Senator Whitehouse, called the Corrections Act. This legislation addresses prison reform, an issue at the forefront of how justice is administered in this country, by focusing on reducing rates of recidivism or repeat offenders and ensuring those reentering society can become productive members of our communities without threatening the crime rate. Our efforts here are important as re-offense rates in our country remain at high levels. In other words, our criminal justice system has become a revolving door with re-offense rates of more than 75% for state prisoners and nearly 50% for federal prisoners."

Schumer, Tillis, Menendez

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Senator Schumer: (12:23 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "He is obviously well informed about foreign policy, far more well informed than Secretary Tillerson was when he came before - when he came to visit me before his nomination hearing. And what particularly gave me some good feeling was that Mr. Pompeo was particularly strong on Russia sanctions, even showing some separation from the president as we met. So I began to think that Mr. Pompeo was better than my first impression, which has so been guided particularly by his performance, his very poor performance in the Benghazi hearings. Then he was nominated for secretary of state. Now, that's a whole different ballgame. Anyone nominated for such a critical position, security position, deserves the most careful and thoughtful scrutiny."

 

Senator Tillis: (12:33 p.m.)

  • Spoke on Pastor Andrew Brunson.
    • "I come here for the first time in what will be a weekly speech that I will give as long as we have somebody, in my opinion, who is improperly and unjustly being held in a Turkish prison. As a matter of fact, this man, Pastor Brunson has been in a Turkish prison for 565 days. He was arrested in October of 2016. He didn't even receive charges until two months. So arrested without charges, a conspiracy to plot a coup attempt by the president of Turkey. He, about a month ago, maybe about two or three months back, I heard from some people that Pastor Brunson was afraid with the charges levied against him, that the American people would read the charges and forget about him and turn his back."

 

Senator Menendez: (12:50 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "Unfortunately during his nomination process where he had an opportunity to address all of these concerns, Director Pompeo offered contradictory statements and was less than forthcoming when pressed on a number of issues. Given the opportunity to outline the strategies he would advocate with the administration to deal with the challenges of Russia, Iran, North Korea, China or Venezuela, to mention a few, he failed to exhibit the depth of knowledge or thoughtfulness about what those strategies would be. Now granted, he's under the constraints of this administration which has failed to offer a strategic vision for American diplomacy, a White House which has failed to effectively outline policies or strategies to achieve a series of ever changing goals and objectives. But I expect our chief diplomat to have a vision for diplomacy. A meeting is not a strategy. Airstrikes are not a strategy."

Wicker

Executive Session (Pompeo Nomination)

Apr 25 2018

Today -

  • 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 Wicker: (12:15 p.m.)

  • Spoke on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State.
    • "I appreciate the fact that accommodations were made so that Mike Pompeo's nomination could be presented to the full Senate with a positive vote. I am disappointed that so many of my Democratic colleagues have stated that they will oppose this nomination, and I heed the admonition of one of the members of the Democratic Party at the - at the confirmation vote before the committee when -- when this member asked that senators not question the motives of anyone who takes a position one way or the other with regard to the nomination of Mr. Pompeo. And so I will heed that admonition, Madam President, and not question the motivation of any senator who votes either yes or no on this nomination. I will simply observe this. Mike Pompeo is a highly qualified nominee."