tv [untitled] CSPAN June 9, 2009 2:00pm-2:30pm EDT
that's right. okay. well, if there are no additional questions, let me just thank all of you, again, for coming. we'll be available for a few minutes if you'd like to ask any of us any questions, but just know that the tri-caucus is very clear on what our bottom lines are, and our bottom lines are included in this bill. we've communicated very clearly with the white house and with the president, and we're convinced that they, too, understand that health care disparities must be part of this debate in our leadership, and we look forward to working with -- >> are you going to be participating in the meeting at the white house at noon? >> we have today our staff will be participating today, and it's my understanding that members of congress will be called together at another meeting on health care disparities, but i'm very delighted that the white house is holding this meeting today and several members of our staff will be participating in it. >> [inaudible] >> i don't, we don't know, but we're just delighted that
they're doing it. >> right. we're also meeting with nancy and linda parl to discuss the last national report on health disparities and the response, and i suspect this meeting is being called in part as a response to the national report, but also as a follow-up to the initial summit. >> and, i'm sorry, this bill will be introduced, has been introduced? >> it will be introduced. we have the final print, we're just going through it to make sure it does exactly what we want it to do and -- >> do you have a date, guess? next week? >> i expect by the end of this week. >> end of this week, i think. >> okay. >> just one last comment. >> mike, uh-huh. >> if you note that the -- >> [inaudible] >> you'll note that the members were here speaking to health disparities and the gaps that we identify are from the communities of color. and if you think about all the policies that have been authored
in the past, we were not part of that. so the reason why this is so important is that we take our own experiences and our understanding of our own communities and translate those experiences into statutes so that the policy becomes more on point, more focused. and, if you will, a little bit more elegant in addressing the gaps that we see on a daily basis. so any reform that comes out without our material will be incomplete, and so it's our intent that our experiences be placed into this whole policy process. >> thank you very much. >> thank you.
the sake of my colleagues, i the sake of my colleagues, i >> for the sake of my colleagues, i want to talk about the time of the hearing of the sotomayor, judge sotomayor nomination. i talked with the distinguished ranking member last week on this, on this schedule, and i would note the concerns he'd
raised. but i'm announcing today that the senate judiciary committee will hold the confirmation hearing on the nomination of judge sonia sotomayor to be an associate justice of the united states supreme court on july 13th. this is a reasonable schedule. it'll be the middle of next month. it's in line with past experience, it's going to allow several more weeks for committee members to prepare for the hearing, several more weeks that if i'd held the hearing this month, and there's no reason to unduly delay consideration of this well-qualified nominee. and she deserves the opportunity to go before the public and speak of her record, especially as some have mischaracterized her record, misstated her record. the only place she can speak, madam president, the only place she can speak and speak of her record is in a hearing.
but it's also a reasonable schedule that serves the many interests involved. of course, the first and foremost is the american people's stake in a process that's fair and thorough but not needlessly prolonged. it serves the purpose of the institution of the united states senate when we need sufficient time to prepare for confirmation hearing. and we have a full legislative plate of pressing business in the weeks and months ahead. it's of great importance to our constituents and to the nation. and then, of course, it serves the need of the third branch of government which depends on the other branches of government to fill court vacancies and the needs of the president who has nominated judge sotomayor. but lest we forget, serves the needs of the nominee herself who is a judge -- as a judge will only be able to speak publicly
about her record when the hearings are convened. madam president, this is an extremely important obligation, and we as members of the senate take on. there are only 101 people who get a direct say in the nomination and confirmation of a united states, of a justice of the united states supreme court. first and foremost, of course, the president of the unite, and in this case president obama consulted with numerous senators, republicans and democrats alike, prior to making his nomination. and then once a nomination is made, the 100 members of the united states senate have to stand in for 300 million americans in deciding who will get that lifetime appointment. i voted on every single member of the united states senate
currently as well as some in the past. and i know how important an obligation that is. the justice who takes justice souter's case that convenes october 5 also needs as possible to hire lawyers, set up an office, even a place to live here in washington and take part with the rest of the court in the preparatory work that presides the formal start of the session on the first monday in october. now, i mention that, madam president, because i have put together a schedule that tracks the process the senate followed by bipartisan agreement in considering president bush's nomination of john roberts to the supreme court in 2005. at that time i served as the ranking minority member of the judiciary committee. i met with our republican
chairman, we worked out a schedule that provided for chief justice roberts' hearing 48 days after he was named by president bush. i might say that that agreement on time was reached even before the committee received the answers to the bipartisan questionnaire. and while justice roberts had not, then judge roberts had not decided as many opinions as judge sotomayor, he had been in a policy, a political policy position, in republican administrations for years before, and there were 75,000 pages of documents. in fact, some arrived almost on the eve of the hearing itself. and, of course, that nomination
was to replace justice o'connor who was recognized as a pivotal vote on the supreme court. now, if something that significant required 48 days and republicans and democrats agreed it were sufficient to prepare for that hearing in accordance with our agreement in the initial schedule, certainly that is a precedent that says we have more than adequate time to prepare for the confirmation hearing for judge sotomayor. and in selecting the date, i'm trying to be fair to all concerned. i want to be fair to the nominee, allow her the earliest possible opportunity to respond to attacks made about her character. it's not fair for critics to be calling her racist, one even equating her with the head of the ku klux klan, an outrageous comment both republicans and democrats have said outrageous.
i'll ignore how outrageous it is, but she can't speak to it until she's in the hearing. in 2005 when president bush made his first nomination to the supreme court, senator mcconnell who was in the majority whip asserted that the senate should consider and confirm the nominations within 60-70 days. we've worked hard to achieve that. the nomination of judge sotomayor should more easily be considered within that time frame. we were still able to complete senate consideration, and the senate confirmed john roberts to be the chief justice of the united states 72 days after he was initially designated to be an associate justice. we did this despite the fact his initial nomination was withdrawn and only shortly before his hearing he was renominated to serve as the chief justice of the united states. and we did this despite the terrible aftermath of hurricane
katrina that where everybody, republicans and democrats alike, agreed that we should hold back a week on the hearings so that we could all concentrate the nation's resources on hurricane katrina. and so that required a week's delay. and then 72 days after if we follow the same schedule, 72 days after judge sotomayor was designated would be august 6th. and we're not ian having the week of katrina. now, the hearing's the opportunity for all senators on the judiciary committee. both republicans and democrats can ask questions, raise concerns, evaluate the nominee. our republican colleagues say they intend to ask her about her judicial philosophy. now, it doesn't take four months to prepare to ask these questions. in fact, most of them have
already raised their questions. they'll surely be prepared to ask them more than a month from now, and during that month we have a week's vacation from the senate. now, i intend to be using that week without the intrups of committee hearings, votes, regular senate business to prepare for the hearings. i would advise those senators who feel they have to have extra time, forgo your vacation. spend that week preparing for the hearing. because this is an historic nomination. this is an historic nomination. and i hope all senators will cooperate. it's a schedule that i think is both fair and adequate. fair to the nominee, but also adequate to the united states senate to prepare for the hearing and senate consideration.
there's no reason to indulge in needless and unrepublican delay. unreasonable delay. and i say it's an historic nomination, madam president, because it should unite and not divide the american people in the senate. hers is a distinctly american story. whether you're from the south bronx or the south side of chicago or south burlington, vermont, the american dream inspires all of us. her life story is the american dream. and so i might add is the journey of the president who nominated her. she deserves a fair hearing. not trial by attack and assaults about her character. and let us proceed to give her that fair hearing without an unnecessary delay. i have said over my 35 years here in the senate oftentimes on the floor of this great body
that we senators should be the conscious of the nation as we were called upon to do. and there have been occasions when this senate, republicans and democrats alike united, have shown they can be the conscious of the nation. i would say this is one time we should rise above partisanship and be that conscious. when i met with judge sotomayor last week, i asked her about her approach to the law. she answered that, of course, one's life experience shapes who you are. but ultimately and completely, her words, as a judge you follow the law. there is not one law for one race or another, it is not law for one color or another, there's not one law for rich and a different one for poor, there's not one law for those who wrong to one political -- belong to one political party or another.
there's one law for all americans, and she made it very emphatic: as a judge, you follow that one law. there is only one law, we all know that. she said, ultimately and completely, a judge has to follow the law no matter what their upbringing has been. that is the kind of fair and impartial judging that the american people expect. that is respect for the rule of law. that is the kind of judge she has been. judge sotomayor is extraordinarily well equipped to serve on the nation's highest court. to borrow the phrase that the first lady used last week, not only do i believe that judge sotomayor is prepared to serve all americans on the supreme court, i believe the country is more than ready to see this accomplished hispanic woman do just that. this is an historic nomination, and it's an occasion for the
senate and our great nation to come together. this is a time for us to come together. the process is another step toward the american people regaining confidence in their judiciary. our independent judiciary is considered to be the envy of the world. though less visible than the other two branches, the judiciary is a vital part of the infrastructure that knits our nation together under the rule of law. every time, every time i walk up the steps of the supreme court i look at the words engraved in marble from my native state of vermont over the entrance of the supreme court. those words say equal justice under law. the nomination of judge sotomayor keeps faith with that model. president obama is to be
commended for having consulted with senators on both sides of the aisle. i was with him on some of the occasions he did. i've had senators come up to me, republican senators tell me they'd never been called by a president of their own party to say nothing about a democratic president to talk about a supreme court nominee, but president obama did call and reach out. but now the senate's duty comes to the fore. and i hope all senators of both parties will work with me to move forward and consider this nomination in a fair and timely manner. >> back now live to the u.s. senate as members are returning following their weekly party caucus lunches. more work today on a bill regulating tobacco products, a vote offered by richard burr is set for about 4:20 eastern time. live senate coverage continues, now, on c-span2.
gregg mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mr. gregg: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. gregg: i want to rise to talk about two issues. i know senator burr wants to continue his discussion on the f.d.a. tobacco bill. there are two issues very significant to the american taxpayer, especially to those of us concerned about how much debt this administration is running up on our children.
the first is good news. the -- it looks like a number of banks are going to repay a fair percentage of the tarp money that's been put out by the administration, potentially $65 billion. now, when tarp was originally structured, the understanding was that we would buy assets in banks, or from banks, and that at some point we would get that money back as taxpayers. in fact, you would get it back with interest. and this is what's happening now. the money is coming back as these banks have restored their fiscal strength, and it's actually coming back with interest, about $4.5 billion on top of the money that we put out, is my understanding as to what would be paid back on the interest side relative to the preferred stock. so that's good news. first the financial system was stabilized during a cataclysmic
period in september and october, and the investments which were made in preferred stock with taxpayers' money is now being repaid. the issue becomes, however, what are we going to do with this money that's coming back into the treasury? well, it ought to go to reduce the debt. this administration in recent days has been giving at least lip service to the fact that the budget that they put in place of a $1 trillion deficit over the next ten years on average every year, $1 trillion every year for the next ten years, of doubling the debt in five years, tripling it in ten years. they have been giving lip service that they understand this is not a tenable situation. they have said that the budget they propose is not sustainable because the debt that's being run up on the american public cannot be afforded by our children. it goes from what has historically been 85% of gross
domestic product up to 82% of gross domestic product. the interest on the debt alone at the end of this budget will be $800 billion, just in interest payments. that's what the american people have to pay. that will actually exceed any other major item of discretionary spending in the budget. we'll be spending less than that on national defense. more on interest, in other words, than on national defense because of the debt being run up. well, if the administration is serious -- and i'm not sure they are. i think they're basically holding press conferences because they did something else today which implies that. but if they're actually serious about trying to address this debt issue, then they should immediately take the $65 billion that they're going to get back from the banks that were lent to by the american taxpayers, which is money which we put out as taxpayers and knew we would get back. they should immediately take that money and apply it to reducing the federal