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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 24, 2013 5:00pm-8:00pm EST

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stealth, they -- in stealth, they oppose a bill, they don't come to the floor, they fail to defend why they don't even do that, why they won't even come to the floor and speak. instead, republican after republican has come to the floor and denounced what they claim are democratic efforts to eliminate the filibuster and to, in their words, -- quote -- "fundamentally change" -- end quote -- this body. well, the fact is they are attacking the wrong plan. the truth is under the reform proposed either by senator udall or merkley or the one they have together or even under my proposal, the filibuster would still be a tool. the filibuster would still be a tool. 60 votes would be needed to enact a measure or confirm a nominee. now, under their proposal, it would still require 60 votes. under my proposal, as i first laid out in this body in 1995, i
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said, you know, sure, okay, on the first vote after you got the cloture petition filed, the first vote would require 60 votes. if you didn't have 60 votes, you would have to wait three days, file another cloture petition. then you would need 57 votes. if you didn't get 57, you would have to file another cloture petition, wait three days, you would need 54 votes. if you didn't get that, you would file another cloture petition, wait three days, then you would need 51 votes. under this proposal that i have worked out with other groups and other people over the last almost 20 years, the fact is the filibuster would be used for what it was intended -- slow things down. i believe the senate ought to be a place where we slow things down, but it shouldn't be a place where just a few senators can kill a bill. for the filibuster is used not to slow things down but is
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absolutely used to kill a bill. what i have proposed would be a period of time, actually up to 16 days, where someone could slow a bill down, but eventually the majority would be able to act. what a revolutionary idea. the majority should be able to prevail. think about our own elections. i guess maybe you could extend further and say it's not enough to get 51%, the majority of the vote, you've got to get 60%. if you don't get that, you don't take office. what a revolutionary idea, that somehow the majority ought to be able to move legislation. but i also agree there ought to be the rights of the minority, the rights of the minority to debate, discuss, amend legislation. now, again -- again, the
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majority, after ample debate and deliberation, should have the power to govern, to enact the agenda the voters voted store and to be held accountable at the ballot box. i guess in other words, i guess i fun mentally believe in democrat -- fundamentally believe in democracy. maybe that's a failing on my part. i just fundamentally believe that the majority should rule with respect for the rights of the minority. now, as i've noted, a revolution has already occurred in the senate in recent years. never before, never before in the history of this senate was it accepted that a 60-vote threshold was required for everything. now, this did not occur through a constitutional amendment or through any great public debate. rather, because of the abuse of the filibuster, the minority party has assumed for itself absolute and virtually unchecked veto power over all legislation. over any executive branch nominee, no matter how insignificant the position; over all judges, no matter how
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uncontroversialmencontroversialw uncontroversial. in other words, because of the filibuster, even when a party has been resoundingly repudiated at the polls, that party retains the power to prevent the majority from governing and carrying out the agenda that the public elected it to implement. in this regard, over 380 filibusters is not some cold statistic. each filibuster represents a minority of senators -- sometimes just a mere handful -- preventing the majority of the people's representatives from governing. as just one example, republicans repeatedly filibustered motions to proceed to legislation that would require more disclosure of campaign donations. the disclose act is what it was called. a substantial majority of senators supported the bill. polling showed that 80% of the public believed the supreme court's decision in citizens united was wrong, that we needed
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to know more disclosure of campaign contributions. yet a small minority of senators were able to prevent the bill from even being debated on the floor of the senate, let alone receiving an up-or-down vote. that's just one example. in the last two congresses, consider just some of the measures blocked by the minority, measures that received majority support on a cloture vote: the dream act, bring jobs home act, small business jobs and tax relief act, paying fair share act of 2012, repeal big oil tax subsidies act, teachers and first responders back-to-work act, american jobs act of 2011, public safety employer-employee cooperation act, paycheck fairness act, creating american jobs and ending offshoring act. now, again -- again, it's not
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that the bill was filibustered. the right to even debate these bills and vote on them was filibustered. one thing, he go on the bill and they filibuster. no, we couldn't even debate it. even though a majority of senators voted for cloture. not 60 but a majority. so the majority thwarted from even bringing these up and debating them and even letting people offer amendments. now, it used to come that if a senator opposed a bill, he or she would engage in a spirited debate, try to change people's minds, attempt to persuade the public, offer amendments, vote "no," and then try to hold members who voted "yes" accountable at the ballot box. isn't that what it's about? in contrast, today, to quote former senator charles mathias, a republican, in 1994.
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here's what he said, 1994 -- quote -- "the filibuster has become an epidemic." that was 1994. "used whenever coalition can find 41 votes to oppose legislation. the distinction, senator" methias went on, "between voting against legislation and blocking a vote, between opposing and obstructing has nearly disappeared." now, when senator methias spoke and described it as an epidemic, in that congress there were 80 motions to end filibusters, a number that pales in comparison today when we say 380 motions to end filibusters. now, to grind this body to a halt, all the minority party has to do is resort to the filibuster, often in stealth, in order to block a motion to proceed. on critical jobs legislation, all the minority party had to do was motion to -- block the
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motion to proceed, then you turn around and blame the majority for failing to address the jobs crisis. when he jobs bills but we couldn't get them up. we had jobs bill but then what they do is they say, well, they blamed us for failing to address the jobs crisis. so it's no surprise that americans are fed up with the broken government. as those list of blocked bills demonstrates, the anger is fully justified. in too many critical areas, what people see as a dysfunctional congress, unable to respond effectively to the urgent challenges we face. as the "des moines register" recently noted -- quote -- "one message candidates heard from voters this election was contempt for partisan gridlock in congress. one of the biggest obstacles to congressional action is the profusion of filibusters in the united states senate." it's no surprise that editorials throughout the country have recognized that the use of the filibuster must be changed. "usa today" has noted that --
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quote -- "the filibuster has become destructively routine." the "roanoke times" noted that -- quote -- "filibuster reform alone will not fix everything that is wrong with washington but it would remove one of the chief impediments to governing." the minnesota star tribune stated that "most americans live under the impression that representative democracy's basic precept is that the majority will rule. sadly, that's no longer the case in the u.s. senate, where the minority party has so abused the filibuster that the minority now controls the action. or more accurately the inaction. this perverts the will of the voters and should not be allowed to stand." mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that copies of these editorials and others from around the country in support of filibuster reform be inserted into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: at issue in this debate is the principle at the heart of our representative democracy. hamilton, alexander hamilton,
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"the federalist paper" number 22, "the fundamental maxim of republican government requires that the sense of the majority should prevail." now, the framers, to be sure, put in place important checks to temper pure majority rule. for example, the bill of rights protects fundamental rights and liberties. the framers, moreover, imposed structural requirements -- structural requirements. for example, to become a law, a bill must pass both houses of congress identical, then it's subject to the president's veto power, and then, of course, there's always the courts and the supreme court to rule on the constitutionality of legislation. the senate itself is a check on pure majority rule. as james madison said again, the use -- and this is to quote madison -- "the use of the senate is to consist in its proceeding with more coolness, with more system, with more wisdom than the popular branch,"
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meaning the house of representatives. to achieve this person, sphrins the smallest states -- from the smallest states which the same number of representatives from the largest states, which i dmentd on earlier. further, senators are elected every six years, not every two years. these are ample to protect minority rights and to restrain pure majority rule. what is not necessary, what was never intended is an extra constitutional empowerment of the minority through a de facto requirement that a supermajority of senators be needed to even consider a bill or nominee, let alone enact a measure or confirm an individual for office. as i said earlier, the constitution was expressly framed and ratified to correct the glaring defects of the articles of confederation. the articles of confederation required a two-thirds supermajority to pass any law and unanimous consent of all states to ratify any amendment. but we know that the experience
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under the articles of confederation was a dismal failure, one that crippled the national government, and the framers were determined to remedy those defects under our new constitution. it is not surprising that the founders specifically the idea that more than a majority would be needed for most decisions. in fact, the framers were very clear, crystal coleagues, about whecrystal clear, about whena s. five times spelled out clearly in the constitution. ratification a treaty, the override of a veto, votes of impeachment, passage of a constitutional amendment, and the expulsion of a member. expressly pointed out in the constitution. it should be clear, i think especially to those who worship at the shrine of -- quote -- "original intent," that if the framers wanted a supermajority for moving legislation or
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confirming a nominee, they would have done so. they would have written it in there. yet not only did they not do so until 1806, the senate had a rule that allowed for a motion for the previous question. that goes back to the british parliament. it permitted a majority to stop debate and bring up an immediate vote. as aaron burr, vice president aaron burr, as he was leaving the senate and they were reforming the rules, said, you know, this is never used, we might as well do away with it because nobody ever uses it anyway, and so they did away with the motion for the previous question. but the point being that the first congresses and the first senate enacted that. they had that motion for the previous act. the founders i think were very clear why a supermajority requirement was not included. as hamill t hamilton explained,a supermajority requirement would mean that a small minority could -- quote -- "destroy the energy of government."
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that's what madison said. a supermajority would mean that a small minority could -- quote -- "destroy the energy of government." government would, in hamilton's words, be subject to -- quote -- "the priests or ortificess, or insignificant our corrupt junt junta." james madison, as i said, it would -- he said this: "it would no longer be the majority that would riewsm the power woul rul. the power could be transferred to the minority." "federalist paper" number 58. james madison, for the author of our constitution. whesdwhen he said no, you can'te a supermajority. if do you that, then the minority would rule. power would be transferred to the minority. unfortunately, madison's warning has come true. in the senate today, the united states senate, the minority, not the majority, controls.
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in today's senate, american democracy is turned on its head. the minority rules; the majority is blocked. the majority has responsibility and accountability but the majority lacks the power to govern. the minority has the power but lacks accountability and responsibility. this means that the minority can block bills and prevent confirmation of officials and then turn around around blame the majority for not solving the nation's problems. the minority can block popular legislation and accuse the majority of being ineffective. i firmly believe we need to restore the tradition of majority rule to the senate. elections, i believe, should have consequences. that's why i developed my plan, as i said, almost 20 years ago to amend the standing rules to permit a decreasing majority of senators over a period of days to invoke cloture on a given matter.
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again, i believe it's clear in our history the senate and of the framers of the constitution, there's the story of course that's been told many times -- maybe an apoo confir apocraphal- thomas jefferson, to the constitution, he was having breakfast with george washington. as the story goes, jefferson was upset about the senate. he looked upon it as another house of lords. so he asked washington why he allowed sufficient a thing to happen-- happen-- such a thing to happen, that the senate would be created. washington supposedly said to him, well, why did you pour your tea into the saucer? and jefferson said, why, to cool it down. and washington reportedly said, just so ... that's why we
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created the senate. to cool things down, to slow down legislation, apart from that popular body over there, so that there could be more sober, second look at things. what washington, as far as i know, did not say was, well, yeted the senate to be a trash -- we created the senate to be a trash can in which things can be killed and stopped. it was idea that things could be slowed down, we could deliberate. senator george hoard noted in 1897, the framers designed the senate to be a distributive form in which the sober, second thought of the people miter find expression." that's what the senate was supposed to be about. but at the end of ample debate and with the rights of the minority to offer amendments and have them voted on shall the 0 j-- the majority should be able to act. this way we can restore this body to one where government can actually function and where we
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can actually legislate. i think this plan also has another advantage. recently the minority leader defended the abuse of the filibuster on the grounds that it forces the majority to compromise and to -- quote -- "resolve the greatest issues of the moment in the middle." i strongly disagree with the minority leader. right now the fact is, because the abuse of the filibuster, the minority has no incentive to compromise. why should they? they can stop it. they have the power to block legislation without even coming to the moore to explain themselves -- without even coming to the floor to explain themselves. in such a world, as we have seen, why would the minority come to the table to cut a deal? i showed you a list of all the legislation that they blocked the last couple of years. there wasn't any overcure from the -- overture from the minority to compromise. they just said, we're going 0 kill it. the dream act, for example.
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all the other bills here, the dream act and the other ones that i showed that we wanted to bring up. here, here's the list again. the dream act. well, did the republicans say, we will stomp up and down, we want to compromise? no, they just killed it. the bringing jobs home act, just kill it. the paycheck fairness act, just kill it. creating american jobs and ending offshoring act -- just kill it. notifies real attempt to compromise. they didn't have -- there was no real attempt to compromise. they didn't have to compromise. now, in contrast, under my proposal where you would have 60 votes at the beginning and if you didn't have 60 votes, you would file another cloture petition, wait three days, have another vote, then you'd have 57 votes you'd need, and then if you didn't get 57, you could file another cloture petition and you'd wait three days and
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you'd get 54 votes. you didn't get that wait through more days, file another cloture petition, you only need 51 votes. now, this would be a period of about 16 days, plus 30 hours of debate that would be alander my proposal. -- allowed under my proposal. here's why that would be the true compromise: the minority wants the right to offer amendments, to be head on- to be heard on a bill. i understand that. they should have that right. the most important thing to the majority leader, whether republican or democrat, the most important thing the majority is time on the floor. so someone files -- gets the bill, it's filibustered by the minority, they have a cloture vote, and let's say there's eel- there's only 53 votes for t the minority knows that at some point this bill is going to come
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to the floor. we'll get a vote on it. the majority leader knows that, well, that'll happen but it'll charitable group a couple weeks s. time. the most important thing to the majority leader is time. so the majority leader would like to collapse that time the minority leader would like to have the right to offer amendments and therein is the compromise. the minority leader comes, says, we offer these amendments. if you don't accept these amendments, we'll charitable group a couple weeks s. 250eu78. when one side knows that with 41 votes they can absolutely trash can something, why should they compromise? if they've got the 41 votes. again, i want to emphasize another act about my proposal. republicans have stated that filibuster are necessary because democrats increasingly employ
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procedural mar maneuvers to pret them from offering amendments. i offered guarantee rights to offer amendments filed in advance of a cloture vote so everyone knows what's coming, the right -- the inherent right of the minority to offer those raiments. -- amendments. unfortunately, of course, every republican voted against my proposal and that is because republicans currently want the best of both worlds; the right to offer nongermane amendments and the right to obstruct. this doesn't make sense. again, no one should be fooled. the fact is that the radicals who now hold sway in the republican party are not concerned with make the government or senate function better. that's why the current use of the filibuster has nothing to do with ensuring minority rights to debate or the right to amend. otherwise they could support either one of these proposals, either mine or nor merkley's or
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senator udall's. nor have i ever heard one republican come to the floor and unequivocally state that if the majority leader stopped filling the amendment tree, they would routinely vote for cloture, even if they opposed the underlying bill. because the current use of the filibuster has nothing to do with minority rights. it has everything to do with obstruction, hijacking democracy and a pure power grab designed to nullify elections in which the republic has objected the minority's ideas and placed this emin the minority so that the majority couldage of the minority leader i must say has been frank about this approach in governing in a speech about the balanced budget he said this. this is our minority leader: "the time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces washington to balance its books. the constitution must be amended to keep the government in check.
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we've tried persuasion. we've tried negotiations. we've tried elections. nothing has worked." end quote. think about that. in other words, when elections -- when democracy doesn't work, what's the minority leader want? the ability to undermine the majority from acting in the united states senate. imagine that. we've tried elections. and elections didn't go their way. so they've tried elections -- oh, well, they don't do that then we've got to do something else. it seems to me the ballot box ought to be determinative of what kind of government we have. republicans have repeatedly filibustered motions to proceed. how can you offer amendments or try to improve a bill if you
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can't even bring it up? they filibuster executive and judicial branch nominees. of course nominations can't be amended. again, belipping th belying thet many republicans use that they're just filling the tree. there's no filling the tree when it comes to nominations. i want to emphasize something. i have been saying awl long the republicans and how they have been using the filibuster. i want to start unequivocally the democrats don't come to this with clean hands. it's been both sides. it depends who's in the majority and who's in the minority. that's all it depends on. and i -- as i said earlier, when i first brought this up in the 1990's, i warned them an escalating arms race. i have been in the senate long enough to have five different changes in the senate between
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majority and minority and every single time the number of filibusters goes up. every time. democrats say to republicans, oh, well you filibustered 30 times last congress. we're now in power; we'll filibuster you 60 times. the democrats get kicked out and the republicans come back, they did it to us 60 times, we'll do it to them 100 times. it's like an arms race. so any time i have used the word "republican" generically, you could just substitute "minority." i don't care which, democrats or republicans. doesn't make any difference. the minority in the senate should not have the absolute power to trash can something. it should have the power to slow things down, to debate, to amend, to deliberate, but eventually the majority, the people here who th who the peopt the ballot box have put in place to govern should be allowed to
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govern. all i want is the right to be able to debate, have my views heard, offer amendments amendmei might also say this, mr. president, the right of the minority is not to win. the minority doesn't have the right to win. but it sure has the right to offer amendments and to be heard. and to be able to ry try to sway peevment i have been here in the are senate when we've had amendments and amazingly enough you get some democrats and republicans in th to pass it. that rarely happens anymore today. so again, i have been talking mostly about republicans generically -- that's because they're in the minority nowvment i said the same thing about democrats when the democrats were in the minority. this is not a minority right.
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it's nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority. who said that? that was senator frist, the republican leader. again in november of 2004, when he was in the majority and we were in the minority, "this filibuster is nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority." you know what? he was right. again, it just depends who is in the minority and who is in the majority. that's why we've got to make a chaifnlgchange. it could be democrats, it could be republicans, even a bipartisan coalition, if there is a minority, a small minority. as i said, i don't think there's anything radical about what i've introduced. the filibuster is not in the constitution. it was rejectedly the founders. there was nothing sacred about requiring 60 votes to end debate. the senate has adopted rulesances thraws prevent the filibuster in numerous circumstances. get that. this senate has adopted rules
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that forbid the filibuster in certain cases. the budget cannot be filibustered. war powers cannot be filibustered. international trade acts -- imagine that, international trade acts cannot being filibustered. congressional review act, did approval of regulations, cannot be filibustered. so if a filibuster is so sacred, why have we carved out exceptions for international trade acts? moreover, article i, section 5, clause 2 of the constitution, thspecifies each house may determine the rules of its proceedings." again, my resolution, far from being unprecedented, stand squarely in to foster a more effective functioning legislation. beginning in 1-9d 17 the senate has passed four significant amendments to its standing
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riewcialtion the latest in 1975 to narrow or to shape the filibuster. in 1979, senator robert byrd made clear that the constitution are alouse a majority of the senate to change its rules. he said, "the constitution in article i, section 5, stays each house shall determine the rules of its proceedings." " now we are at the beginning of a congress. "this congress," senator byrd said, "is not obliged to the dead hand of the past. it is my belief that vice presidents of both parties and by votes of the senate, in essence upholding the power and the right of a majority of the senate to change the rules of the senate at the beginning of a new congress." this congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the
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past, "senator robert byrd. he said that. the power and right of a majority of the senate to change the rules of the senate at the beginning of a new congress. again, this was also the opinion of the republican party. as i mentioned, in 2005 the republican policy committee chaired by our former colleague senator kyl, stated -- and i quote -- "the senate has always had and repeatedly has exercised the constitutional power to change the senate's procedures through a majority vote." that's a statement from the republican policy committee, 2005. now, again, those who say this is some kind of nuclear option, blow up the senate, all these terms about nuclear option and stuff.
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no, not nuclear option. as senator byrd said and as senator kyl said, the senate has always had and repeatedly has exercised the constitutional power to change the senate's procedures through a majority vote. there are those now, i must admit some in my own party on this side of the aisle in the senate, who say that in order to change rules, we have to have a two-thirds vote. now why is that? well, because some senate in the past set down the rules. and they said in order to change these rules, you need two-thirds vote. are we bound by that dead hand of the past? not at all. not at all. each new congress, each time the senate convenes when a new congress forms, can by majority vote change its own rules. so it's not a nuclear option at all. now, to be very clear, i opposed
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the frist motion at that time in 2005, and i made it clear why. because they were attempting to change the rules in the middle of a congress. now, while i believe the -- let me see that byrd quote again. while i believe the that the congress has the power -- it was not byrd but the republican policy committee. you see, it's at the beginning of a congress, as senator byrd said. "it's my belief which has been supported by rulings of five presidents of both parties and votes of the senate, upholding the power and right of a majority of the senate to change the rules of a new senate at the
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beginning of the congress." you can't go changing the rules every other week. but at the beginning of a congress every two years the senate has a right by majority to set down the rules, and you operate by those rules for two years. what senator frist was trying to do was change it in the middle of the game. if you go down that pathway, my goodness, the majority could change the rules next week and the week after, do it one time one week and one week the next. how would you ever know what the rules of the road were? that's why the only reason i opposed the frist motion at that time is because it was changing it in the middle of a congress. mr. president, here's a letter from numerous constitutional scholars, including charles fried, solicitor general under president reagan; michael mcconnell, former judge nominated by george w. bush. at the beginning of a new congress a majority of the
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senators can change the rules. here's the letter in part. some have sought to elevate the debate to constitutional dimensions by suggesting that it is institutionally improper for a new senate to alter the senate's rules by skwroet srort because the internal procedures adopted by prior senates have required a two-third majority to allow a vote on a motion to alter the rules. with respect, such a concern confuses the power to change the senate rules during a session with the unquestioned constitutional power of each incoming senate to fix its own rules unencumbered by the decisions of past senates. the standing two-thirds requirement for altering the senate's rules is a sensible effort at preventing changes to the rules in the midst of the game. it cannot, however, prevent the senate at the beginning of a new game from adopting rules deemed
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necessary to permit the just, efficient and orderly operations of the 113th senate. we agree -- again, this is the letter from charles freed, solicitor general under president; michael mcconnell under george w. bush, we agree with the overwhelming sentiment of the academic community that no rule can limit the constitutional authority of each new senate to determine by majority vote its own rules of procedure. one more time. we agree with the overwhelming consensus of the academic community that no preexisting internal procedural rule can limit the constitutional authority of each new senate to determine by majority vote its own rules of procedure. that's very profound. so it's not just me as a
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democrat. here are two republicans, very prominent republicans, saying the same thing. the last significant rule change, i might point out, was in 1975, when the votes for cloture was set at 60. there's only one member of the senate today -- senator leahy -- who was in the senate in 1975 to vote on that current version of rule 22. no one else was here then. we have had how many different senates since that time? and yet, that dead hand of the past continues to rule. mr. president, i want to emphasize that i firmly believe that amending the standing rules is necessary and formal agreements are insufficient to return the senate to functionality. we had this last time, sort of a handshake and agreement to make the senate a better institution,
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through fewer filibusters and procedural delays, et cetera, et cetera. i think looking back over the last two years, i don't think the gentleman's agreement was very effective. mr. president, the minority leader recently stated that the reforms being advocated by me and others are being done with -- quote -- "the purpose of consolidating power and further marginalizing the minority voice." end quote. nothing, nothing can be further from the truth. i want to be clear. the reforms i advocate are not about one party or one agenda gaining an unfair advantage. it's about the senate as an institution operating more fairly, effectively and democratically. those of us who went to law school all remember that if you come into the court of equity, you have to come in with clean hands. well, i hope that i have clean hands since i first offered this when i was in the minority. when i was in the minority.
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and again, i would point out, it would be beyond belief that sometime in the future democrats won't be in the minority again. it's going to happen. no one party should rule for long periods of time. what we need is for those in the majority to be able to govern. that's what the people elected them to do. well, the truth is we do not function in the way that we were supposed to under the constitution. and something that both democrats and republicans should care about, what was never envisioned and what should not be allowed to continue is a system where bills are prevented from being debated or the idea that a small minority can block legislation or nominees without even coming to the floor to explain themselves. now finally, mr. president, i just want to -- just one other
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red herring that keeps coming up, and that is that somehow the reform that i'm proposing or any reform will somehow make the senate like the house. i hear that from members on my side of the aisle. oh, we'll just become like the house of representatives. i have to ask the question: since when did the senate become defined by rule 22, the cloture vote rule? why does that define the united states senate? it seems to me the senate was defined in the constitution where we have two senators from every state, small and large. where we're elected every six years, not every two. where the senate has certain functions on treaties, on nominations. and that the house of representatives doesn't have them. and where the constitution is very clear, there are five times
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when the senate must have a supermajority to act. again, i would point out that the senate will by its very nature, even under my reform proposal or that by mr. udall or mr. merkley would still operate based on unanimous consent. and each senator will continue to understand that maintaining good relationships with all senators, working hard to become experts on issues will remain the essence of what it means to be a senator. not the ability to filibuster. so to those who say we'll become more like the house, i say, no, that's not going to happen. you say well it could. well, sure it could. some future senate could wipe out all the rules. wipe out all the rules. they couldn't do away with the constitutional aspect. they couldn't make us elect every two years or take away the
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function of the senate in terms of treaties and impeachments and things like that. sure, any future congress can change the rules. but i think because of the nature of the senate, the way it's established, because of the way it is set in the constitution two from every state not popular elected every two years, means that senators will have to work with one another. they'll have to, again, exhibit that kind of comity, c-o-m-i-t-y. not comedy. comity. of recognizing that any senator should have the right to amend, to debate, to discuss, to question, to offer amendments. again, we're told that somehow the filibuster, this idea of the filibuster defines the senate, again, until 1970 there was approximately one filibuster per
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congress. did anyone ever suggest then that because there was not the rampant abuse of the filibuster that the senate was no different than the house? was the senate of clay, wagner vanderbilt, johnson and taft just another house of representatives? were the giants of the senates who came before us, the daniel websters, henry clays, robert tafts, the hubert humphreys, were they any less a senator because they were not defined by a de facto 60-vote supermajority requirement? mr. president, i believe the senate should embrace george washington's vision of this body if that story is true about him and jefferson and the saucer and the tea. the senate was set up to slow things down, to ensure proper debate and deliberation. that is what the founders intended. that's what we've advocated and that's what i advocate. we will not become the house.
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as one author has noted, however, the increasing use of the filibuster has converted the senate from the saucer george washington intended into a deep freeze and a dead weight. at the heart of this debate is the central question: do we believe in democracy? republicans and sadly many of my colleagues in my own caucus repeatedly warn about advancing these reforms because democrats will find themselves in the minority one day and may want to stop something. well, i'm sorry, i don't fear democracy. if the people of this country, at the ballot box put the republicans in charge of the senate, the republicans ought to have the right to govern. we should have the right to be able to offer amendments and debate and deliberate. but we should not have the right to absolutely obstruct what the majority is doing. issues of public policy should be decided at the ballot box,
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not by the manipulation of our procedural rules. the truth is neither party should be afraid of majority rules, afraid of allowing a majority of the people's representatives to work its will. after ample protections for minority rights, the majority in the senate, whether democratic or republican or a bipartisan coalition, duly elected by the american people, should be allowed to carry out its agenda to govern and to be held accountable at the ballot box. i want to conclude by noting that it's often said, and it is true, that the power of a senator comes not by what we can do but by what we can stop. and that's true. the senate is a body in which one individual senator has an enormous amount of power to stop things. and no one wants to give up that
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power. but i believe it's time for senators, for us to take a look at ourselves, for the good of the senate and more important for the good of the country, we need to give up a little bit of that power. not all of it, but a little bit of it. i'm willing to give it up. all senators should have fundamental confidence in democracy and the good sense of the american people. we must have confidence in our ability to make our case to the people and to prevail at the ballot box. we must not be afraid of democracy. i'm not afraid of it. i quite frankly believe that my idea, my support of certain measures is more widely supported by the american people than my friends on the other side of the aisle. they believe just the opposite. that's good. that's the way the -- that's the way that we should operate here in the mortar, grinding
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legislation out. at the end of the bloolt box every two years, healthy debates about the direction of the country and which way we should go. we should have the confidence, republicans should have their own confidence and we should have our own confidence in our ability to make our case to the people and to prevail at the ballot box. don't be afraid. don't be afraid of the american people and their inherent ability to make wise and just decisions. things may go awry one time or another time, but in the great history of our country, the american people as winston churchill once said, after we tried everything else, we always do the right thing. we do. the american people make the right decisions. sometimes i may not agree with it, but then it's my business to go out and try to convince my constituents and others that they made the wrong choice, that we should be going in a
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different direction. that's the essence of democracy, not the power of me, a senator from iowa, to be able to stop what the majority wants to do. not me just with a handful of other people saying i don't care what they want to do, we can stop it, put it in the trash can. all i want is the right to debate, to discuss, to be able to offer amendments that are germane to the legislation. so again, i'm not afraid of living with these reforms, both as a majority and as a member of the minority party which i am sure we will once again become at some point in the future. so, mr. president, as i have over the last -- i guess it makes 17 years now, come to the floor, i know that my proposal will not win. well, it hasn't thus far.
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that's all right. sometimes people say why do you offer it? you know you're going to lose. i offer it because i believe so deeply in this, and i believe that sometimes you just have got to stand up for what you believe in and you've got to make your case as forcefully, as intelligently as possible. i hope i have done that, both in my words and in my written statement and in the past debates that i have had on this senate floor that occur about every two years when the senate convenes. i don't carry this onioned the first day of legislative business. i don't think we should. i think we set the rules down on the first day. after that, i don't think we should be changing the rules in the middle of the game. but we're still in the first legislative day. i think now is the time to do this. now, mr. president, before i yield the floor, i know that our distinguished minority leader and the majority leader have been working hard on some
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reforms on the filibuster. i am not privy to all of that. i don't know exactly all of the details of it. it was discussed in our policy conference, caucus today. i will say this about at least what i understand to be the essence of the reforms that our majority leader has worked so hard on, and that is that it's better than what we have right now. from what i understand, i don't know all of the details, but from what i understand, it is a step in the right direction. i want to make it clear that i might vote for it, as soon as i find out exactly what it all is, i might vote for it because it's probably better than what we have got right now. but i just want to be clear that my vote for that does not signify that i prefer that overdoing away with this absolute 60-vote threshold,
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because under the reform rules that i understand that's being prom you promulgated by the majority leader and the minority leader, we still have a 60-vote threshold on anything. except for the motion to proceed. so any amendment, any bill, you still have 60 votes. a small group, a handful can still put bills and amendments and everything else in the trash can. i just fundamentally disagree with that. so if i do vote for that, like i said i probably will because it looks like it might be better than what we have got right now, and i know it's tough. i do not denigrate for one minute the effort and the work of the majority leader and the minority leader in trying to reach these agreements. these are tough things. i just -- i just think that we have to be more forthright and constantly every two years go
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after this idea that somehow this dead hand of the past that says we need two-thirds vote to change the rules, that somehow that controls us. it shouldn't. it doesn't control us. at some time we have to adhere to this 60-vote threshold forever. that shouldn't control us. every two years, according to the constitution, according to senator byrd, according to constitutional scholars of both parties, we have the constitutional right at the beginning of a congress to change our rules with a majority vote. that's what we ought to be about doing. so, mr. president, i look forward to seeing the proposed rules reform that the majority leader and minority leader have been working on. again, i know it's tough to work these things out, but i think this body has to move ahead and do away with that dead hand of
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the past and provide for rules changes that allow us to function, allow the majority to act with the right of the minority to debate, to slow things down, to amend. not the right to win. i have never said the minority had to have the right to win. the minority ought to have the right to make their voice and their votes heard in this body. that's what my proposal would do. again, as i said, i don't expect it to win, but i want people to be able to express themselves if they feel that we should move in that direction, and i offer it in that vein. but i know that there are those that feel that somehow that two-thirds vote we have to abide by this dead hand of the past. i just don't believe so. again, mr. president, with that,
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i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, first i ask unanimous consent that the period of morning business be extended until 6:30 p.m. today and that all provisions of the previous order remain in effect. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, first let me compliment senator harkin for his incredible leadership in bringing to the attention of this body something i think everyone understands, and that is the procedures of the united states senate, the way it's operating today, there's a problem. there's a very serious problem. all you need to do is turn on c-span and see the senate in a quorum call for hours to know that there's a better way for us to operate the united states senate. all you have to do is look at a week that goes by where there is very few recorded votes to know that there is opportunity for debate and action that's being lost in the united states senate. we can do better, and the procedures that we're following today, the way that it's being
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honored by the members of the senate, we need to change the rules and procedures of the united states senate. and i want to thank the majority leader and the republican leader on negotiating and getting together to understand the frustrations that are out there in both of our caucuses and to try to come up with reasonable changes in our rules. i see senator mccain is on the floor and i acknowledge his leadership with senator levin. i was honored to work with that group, along with senator pryor and senator schumer, with senator barrasso, senator alexander and our former colleague, senator kyl, and we sat for hours debating. it was very educational for me, mr. president, because i would listen to the concerns of my republican colleagues, and it was a lot different than what i heard in the democratic caucus, and i think we both learned a lot from each other but there was general agreement that there was a real problem in the operations of the united states
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senate, and that we owed an obligation to take a look at our rules and see whether we couldn't modify the rules so that we can do the type of deliberation, debate and voting that's expected of the united states senate. one of the problems that became very apparent to all of us is that individual senators are able to block the consideration of amendments and bills on the floor of the senate indefinitely, and that's wrong. my colleague from arizona pointed out that you could be in your home state and offer an objection, a bill could be brought to a standstill. that's not how the senate should operate. we should be able to consider legislation and individual senators shouldn't be able to block the consideration of legislation. i could give you hundreds of bills that have been reported out of our committees in the united states senate that have never reached the floor of the senate. quite frankly, the reason is that an individual senator has
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blocked the consideration and it would take the majority leader too much time to go through cloture motions in order to bring those issues to the floor of the senate. we also have seen an abuse on the 60-vote threshold. the 60-vote threshold shouldn't be the standard working majority of the senate. a simple majority should control our actions. and yet, in too many cases, we have used the 60-vote threshold in order to move legislation forward. we have also seen it very difficult to bring amendments up for consideration. it has been very difficult to get action on individual amendments on the floor of the senate. so we need to change the way we do our procedures. we need to be the great deliberative body which historically the united states senate has done. i want to compliment many of my colleagues. i have already mentioned a group that worked on some suggested rules changes and made those
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recommendations to the majority leader and the republican leader. i also want to thank my colleague, senator harkin, who just spoke for his leadership on this issue, senator merkley and senator tom udall who have been leaders on this. we have brought this to the attention not only of our colleagues but to the american people and they expect us to take action to improve the operations of the united states senate. so let me just talk a moment on the negotiated agreement between the democratic leader and the republican leader and the majority leader and the minority leader as to what i understand will be recommended to us very briefly, very shortly, and i hope we can act on it as early as this evening. first, one of the frustrations is that we have it difficult to bring a bill to the floor of the senate. it's the motion to proceed. and the threat of a filibuster on the motion to proceed has denied the opportunity for us to even start debating an issue. well, under the agreement that i
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expect will be brought forward, the majority leader will have two additional opportunities to start debate on an issue. first, if the republican leader is in agreement, they can bring that bill to the floor immediately, without any preconditions. that could particularly work well on institutional issues that need to be dealt with such as appropriation bills so that we can get on to appropriation bills a lot sooner than we can today. but then there's another opportunity that the majority leader could bring a bill to the floor without the fear of a filibuster, without having to file cloture by offering amendments that there would be a guaranteed right to offer up to four amendments, two by the minority, two by the majority. that gets us started on legislation. it's very interesting, if you look at the process that's been used where bills come to the floor and we're the most pleased
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by the way the processes work, if you look at the national defense authorization act, you look at postal reform, you look at the agricultural bill in the 112th congress, in each of those cases, the committees voted on the bills, they cape to the floor with the managers, they started on the bill and we completed the bill, and i think we're all pretty proud by the manner in which those issues were handled on the floor of the united states senate. under this process, the majority leader can get us started, the managers can get us started on legislation. once we start on legislation, once we start debating the issues, then we can see what amendments are out there, we can try to manage the time appropriately and we can get actual action and debate and votes on the floor of the senate, on amendments and on the final passage. i really do think this empowers our committees. we also spend a lot of time in our committees. we're there for the hearings. we want to see committee markups, but we also would like to see the products that we come up in the meet being the major
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work on the floor of the united states senate. now with the use of this ability of the leader to bring forward a bill that's come out of our committee, our committee products will be more respected, we will have a better legislative process because we're using the products that come out of our committee, we're respecting the work of our committee. we reward our -- our chairman and ranking member working together, bringing lookings to the floor of the united states senate. so i think that's a real major improvement and something that really will allow the senate to operate in the way that it should. we also allow for conference committees to be formed in a more expedited way. right now, it could take three cloture votes to get into conference. we contract that into one. i think that's going to be the recommendation. i had the honor in the 112th congress to serve on the conference committee that dealt with the payroll tax extension. we got our work done, brought a bill to the floor of the senate and house and got it enacted
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into law because we were able in a very open, transparent way to work with our colleagues on the other body, resolve our differences and bring legislation forward. i might bei think that's the only conference committee that operated in the 112th congress. there haven't been many. and i think most members of this body would be hard-pressed to remember when they last served on a conference committee. and yet we know there's significant differences between the products that come out of this body and the products that come out of the other body wet. need to reconcile those differences, i believe able to go into conference allows us the opportunity to let the legislative process work wait that it should. -- work the way that it should. one of the -- the procedures that the majority leader is going to talk about is that once cloture is invoarktscloture is e to use cloture, well, you have 30 hours. but you don't guarantee 30 hours. that 30 hours is the maximum. each member is entitled to only one hour to speak.
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and a quorum call during postcloture can be considered dilatory if we've already established a quorum. and the majority leader is going to talk and the minority leader is going to talk about the fact that postcloture, if you want to speak, come to the floor and speak. if you don't, the motion should be -- the -- the presiding officeofficer should put issue e membership for vote so we can expedite issues and not waste a full day letting the 30 hours expire. there also will be recommendations to deal with nominations. i'll tell you, we're extremely frustrated. i served on the judiciary committee. i've had the opportunity to recommend to the president several appointments to the federal bench. it took months for these noncontroversial nominees to be approved on the floor of the united states senate. it really affects our ability to recruit the very best to serve on our courts. the same thing's true for the
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president to have the people on his team. and there will be recommendations to shorten the time if a cloture is needed on a nomination and subcabinets to run eight hours. that allows the leader to be able to bring these issues to the floor without the threat that it would tie it up for weeks to take up just a couple of appointments. these are all major improvements. now, let me make it clear. if i were writing the rules of the united states senate, i would go a lot further. i'm one of those, and i know i might be in the minority in this body, i happen to believe in majority rule. i happen to bring that majorities should make the decisions. i think there should be adequate time for debate, et cetera, the senate is different than the house. i accept that. but at the end of the day, i'm in favor of majority rule. but i'm also in favor of trying to get our rules done in a bipartisan manner. because, quite frankly, the democrats may not be in the majority forever. if you look at the last -- since 1981 through the end of this congress, but for senator
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jeffords' decision in may of 2001 to become an independent and caucus with the democrats, the senate would have been divided as follows: 16 years under democratic control, 16 years under republican control, and two years split 50-50. so i think it's very important that we all understand that these rules need to work, with regardless of which party is in the majority. and that's why it's the right thing to do to negotiate between the democrats and republicans rules that can withstand the test of time and be fair to both the majority and the minority. so once again, i would have majority rule. that's what i believe. and i know there will be a chance to vote on that and i'll express my vote. but i do believe it's best for us to work together, democrats and republicans, and come together with a true compromise on the rules changes. i think that's exactly what leader reid and leader mcconnell has done. they've taken the recommendations of many of us, they've listened to a lot of us,
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they've listened to both caucuses and they'll come forward with recommendations that really will allow this body to carry out its responsibility in a more effective way, in a way that's better understandable to the american people, where we really can get on legislation a lot sooner, debate issues a lot quicker, take up amendments and actually vote on amendments, and be able to move legislation that comes out of our committee, approve nominations in a much more efficient way. to me, that gives us the opportunity for a new start in the united states senate as we start the 113th congress. let's hope that the -- that the cooperation that we see developing on the changes of the rules will allow us to work together to deal with the problems of the nation in a more collegial way, recognizing that compromise is how this country was formed, listen to each other and move legislation in the best traditions of the united states
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senate. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, before the senator from maryland leaves the floor, i'd like to tell him how much i appreciate the remarks that he just made. i think he gave a very accurate depiction of the agreement that we reached after many, many hours of always pleasant conversation. [laughter] and the fact is that we i think showed our colleagues and many others that it's still possible for a group of us to join together on a very difficult issue and a very complex one and the senator from maryland stated his preference just a minute ago that he is for majority rule. but he also understood that in order for us to come together
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that we had to move, each of us, in a more centrist direction. and without his input, in my view, and his efforts, it's very likely we would not have -- and his willingness to move towards the center on this issue, that we probably wouldn't have agre agreed. and i think the senator from maryland -- i ask unanimous consent the senator from maryland and i engage in a colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i think the senator from maryland would agree that even though this is not a headline-grabbing issue and a lot of people in america have no real idea what was at stake here, i think the senator from maryland would agree that if we hadn't reached this -- this agreement amongst us, that it could have really had repercussions for a very long period of time in the senate. would the senator agree with
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that? mr. cardin: sirntdly agree with my -- i certainly agree with my friend from arizona. i agree with you completely. they may not have understood what caused the problems, but when they see the type of gridlock where the senate can't take up amendments for a week or can't take up a bill for two weeks and are debating how to proceed on a motion to proceed, not only even on the substance, they wonder what's going on here. so the senator is absolutely right. also, we're going to be much better start to this -- to this senate, with democrats and republicans agreeing on the rules collectively. that's certainly a better place for us to start the work of this congress and it gives us the opportunity to work together in more confidence beyond just the rules but also dealing with th the -- the difficult issues this country faces. mr. mccain mccain: and wouldn'te senator from maryland agree that the whole purpose of this is not to block off, in fact, with our
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numerous meetings with the parliamentarians, i think we reached a greater and fuller understanding that if someone really, really wants to block progress here in the united states senate, given the incredible, if the word isn't arcane, it's certainly detailed rules of the senate, that the real outcome of this that the senator from maryland, senator kyl, senator barrasso, senator levin, senator schumer and senator pryor and we anticipate -- and i kno note i e presence of the senator from michigan on the floor, and i hope he would agree -- if i could have the attention of the senator from michigan -- i think he would agree that this fix -- this compromise that we have all now agreed to -- and hopefully we will agree to and pass shortly -- is also intended to change an attitude here in the senate, to change a -- instead
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of blocking everything moving forward and blocking amendments, that perhaps we could create a new environment here in the senate where we will let the minority have their amendments but also the minority party will also let the process move forward. and i think that's the tradeoff that was the fundamental aspect of the negotiations that we continued in the senator from michigan's office for many, many days and many hours. if someone wants to block -- i think the senator from michigan and the senator from maryland would agree. if someone wants to block the senator from moving forward, they can at least do it for some period of time. and what's happened here, look back 10, 15 years ago, the tree wasn't filled up. but at the same time, on the other side, amendments were wa t produced by the hundreds.
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there was -- there's got to b be -- i believe that the object and i believe the outcome of this hard-earned compromise will be that there will be a greater degree of comity in the senate which would allow us to achieve the legislative goals that all of us seek. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that -- that the senator from michigan join the senator from maryland and me in this colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, first let me thank my dear friend from arizona for helping to lead this bipartisan effort where eight of us spent weeks to try to come up with a bipartisan proposal to our leaders. senator cardin was one of the eight and i'm grateful to him and to all of the eight members, including one who's now left, senator kyl. but it -- its purpose was
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twofold. the first purpose was to address the specific hurdles that have created gridlock, the specific mechanisms which have been overused in this senate that have led to gridlock. now, there's a number of things that have led to gridlock, but the most significant problem that we have faced is the excessive use of the threat of the filibuster on the motion to proceed to a bill. now, the reason that it was us used, according to the many members of the minority, was because of a fear that the tree would be filled by the majority leader and then there would be no opportunity for notice offer amendments. -- for me to offer amendments. so what we strived to do, all eight of us, was to find a balance where we could protect the minority's right to offer some amendments at the same time
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that we finally got rid of a roadblock which was being abus abused, which was a threat to filibuster a motion to proceed. so we devised this approach which is now part of the leadership proposal to do exactly that. now, there were some -- and the other purpose is the one which my friend from arizona has just identified, that if we could come together, the eight of us -- four democrats, four republicans -- and senator schumer is now on the floor and he was one of the eight -- if we could come together and come up with a bipartisan proposal on this issue, we could begin hopefully to change the dynamic that has so divided this senate. and that is a very -- hopefully it's a very important important and a very i hope successful outcome of those discussions and of the leadership than coming
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together. because those two leaders which have to come together if this senate is to come together and be able to move legislation in the ordinary course. i agree with senator mccain's assessment as to the second goal that we had, which was to show that on the thorniest procedural issue that we face, that four democrats, four republicans meeting in a very thorough and personal way, without a lot of staff around, could find a way through this procedural thicket and then make recommendations to the majority and to the republican leader. so i do agree with the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: and i thank my -- ad i think my friend from maryland would also agree that we have found, for example, the defense authorization bill that once we get on to a bill and once we have some amendments -- in the
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case of our agreement, it was four -- that there's now the members are sort of invested in moving the process forward. the logjam has always appeared the bill, is never taken up for debate and amendments. now by expediting that process, without depriving members of their rights, but expediting that process, hopefully we get on the bill and some amendments that are already -- in one option -- are already agreed to, then we can moved forward. and i would like to may not point out one other thing. we're fairly well paid around here and we are really sometimes maybe should work a five-day workweek and maybe if absolutely necessary, god forbid, a six-day workweek. we could be take up legislation -- we should be taking up legislation and completing that legislation before the end of
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the week, or at -- depending on how massive the legislation is -- at least two weeks. but there should be dates certain -- it's funny how this body operates when there are deadlines as opposed to just extended periods of debate and amending. so i hope that that -- go ahead. mr. cardin: could i just respond. i want to use the two of you as the example. did you that on the defense authorization act. you were able to get the bill to the floor, you started on the bill and had a little rough start but you started on the bill and then you set up a series of votes that we were able to - -- we voted on i don't know how many amendments. but it is very interesting. if memory is correct, there was no requirement for a 60-vote threshold on any of those amendments. you voighted on all of them by majority. so there was really no need for a cloture vote because we started on it, people thought the process was fair. they had their opportunity, they
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got a chance to debate, and we had a full and open debate on many issues -- not defense authorization act opens up a whole host of issues which are very controversial. what did we do with detainees? what do we do with our civil liberty rights? and what do we do with our troop levels? there are a lot of issues that could have divided us and we had the type of debate that i think was in the best interest of the united states senate and cleated that bill in -- and we completed that bill in a timely way. i think the way the two of you were able to come forward, there are a lot of other committees -- i serve on the senate foreign relations committee, we talked today during -- yesterday during -- and senator mccain you're also on that committee -- we talked to secretary clinton. wouldn't it be nice to get a state department authorization bill on the floor of the united states senate? mr. mccain: it's a disgrace that we haven't, in how many years? mr. cardin: it's been a long tievmentime.
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i haven't been in the senate since that happened. we have a better opportunity now. if our committee can mark up a defense authorization -- maybe it'll take a week or two, and you're right, maybe we'll have to work on friday, saturday, over the weekend to get it done. we should do that. but we now have the opportunity for the leader to bring that to the floor immediately and allow the amount process to start and once it starts, normally we can get the type of consideration by all of us as to a reasonable number of amendments and we can get the bill hopefully through the united states senate. that's what i think is the real plus of the type of reforms we're talking about, that allows the right legislative process to work. as i said, doesn't cover everything i want it to cover. i would have gone further. but it does give us the chance to allow us to do our work in the way that we should. mr. mccain: i'd again like to express my appreciation to senator schumer and you, senator
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cardin, and senator pryor and my republican colleagues, senator kyl and senator barrasso and -- but i would especially like to thank senator levin. we've known each other and worked together now for many, many years, and we had very spirited and open and honest disagreements, but there's a level of trust and friendship there that allowed us to, when committed to the same goal, to be able to, i believe, and hopefully in a very short period of time, achieve it. and maybe i'm being a little bit too optimistic. hopefully because of this, we can start moving legislation through the united states senate. the record that we have achieved over the last two years is less than admirable.
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we know that 23eu8in filling the has dramatically increased but we also know that the objections to moving forward. so i am not placing any responsibility on either side. i am placing the responsibility on both sides. maybe we can start a new day, tank some legislation, pass it, and do the people's will and maybe we would improve our favorability ratings to exceed that. i saw a poll the other day, that a colonoscopy is more favorable than members of congress of the i don't know whether you saw that or not. i hope we can raise to some level above that. and by getting things done around here, i think that will probably enhance our chances of regaining some more favorability amongst the american people. so again i just wanted to thank
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the senator from maryland and my friend from michigan and hopefully in a couple of hours we will have achieved something that in my view -- in my view -- could avert a fundamental change in the united states senate, which maybe could never have been repaired. i view it with that utmost seriousness. i have never been involved in an issue that impacted this body to the degree that the -- quote -- "nuclear option" would have caused and we would have regretted it for, i think, a long, long time, and hopefully in a few hours we will have avoided it. and i just with aens to remind my friend from -- i just want to remind my friend from maryland and others, this is going to be for two years. soawe are in an experimental phase. if we're unable to do the things woo a expire to i think you could see further draconian
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measures considered by the majority. so it is up to both sides to make it work. mr. levin: mr. president? first of all, let me comment on what senator cardin said about one of the purposes of this effort, which is to get a bill to the floor so the managers can work on it, as we have proven in the last couple months on a number of bills -- and the senator has pointed this out. if we can get the bill to the floor for the managers to be able to work with our colleagues on amendments, we can legislate. the problem has been that we've not been able to get bills to the floor because of this blockage, the blockage caused by the overuse of the filibuster and, more accurately, the threat of the filibuster on the motion to proceed, which in turn -- and my republican friends, think,
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feel this very keenly -- was caused by the use of filling the tree, which meant that they would not have the opportunity to offer amendments. and so they would then use that threat of a filibuster in order to try to gain assurance that they would be able to offer some amendments. and that is the heart of the compromise that we proposed. now, there were a lot of other aspects to it, including trying to get rid of these filibusters on going to conference, including these filibusters that tied up nominations with postcloture, 30 hours with the nominations passing by votes of 90-0. there were a lot of other parts to the recommendation and to what the leaders are recommending to us. but the key thing -- and senator reid has said this repeatedly, the could i thin key thing whics approach addresses, this is a bipartisan approach, is that
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trying to overcome that barrier to getting legislation to the floor because we know -- and the senator from maryland has pointed out and senator mccain knows it because we've lived it -- if you can get a bill to the floor with managers, they can work out amendments sometimes by the hundreds. i think senator mccain we probably had over 100 amendments filed to our bill. mr. mccain: i believe it was about 383. mr. levin: okay. i'm glad i exaggerated in the downward direction. in any event, we were able not to work through all of them but to deal with that challenge, to probably deal with about 100 of them as i remember. now, we did it in about three days. that doesn't mean we're magicians. it means that we're capable. all of us are capable. if we can get the bill to the floor, particularly when the bill has come oust committee with broad -- out of committee with broad, bipartisan support, we can get bills passed here. so the heart of what we have
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proposed to the leadership, this group of eight, and what they have adopted and incorporated in their bipartisan approach to the senate and to the country, is exactly what senator cardin has talked about; get bills to the floor; we can then watch the momentum work. i want to add one other thing here. and senator mccain just made reference to it. and that has to do with the s so-called nuclear option or the constitutional operation dependin-- or theconstitutionalg on what your view of it is. i have always felt that the threat of that option was troublesome. i was troubled by it because it is inconsistent with the rules of the senate, which require a two-thirds vote for the amendments to the rules. and because we are a continuing body, not just by our rules but by even a supreme court opinion, which so ruled. i believe that if the constitutional or the nuclear option was utilized here, if we
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ended up with the utilization of that option, that what we now have, which is gridlock, would have resulted instead in a meltdown. now, i want to remind my democratic friends and folks around the country that not too many years ago when the republicans threatened to use a constitutional option, the reaction on this side of the aisle was intense. the words of senator kennedy, senator wyden, senator byrd resonated through this chamber in strong opposition to the use of a nuclear option. senators, just a few examples of
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what our reaction was on this side of the aisle when there was a threat to use the nuclear option when it was threatened relative to judges. but i'm not going do tonight -- what i believe what i'm not goit is going through the history of the nuclear option, what happened over the century when it's been threatened, how it has not been adopted by the senate. it's a long, detailed history, which i'm going to put in the record. i don't think that that's the point now. i know some of my colleagues have argued that the constitutional option is based on the constitution. it's very much the opposite in terms of the history of this chamber of and the rejection of any idea that the constitution somehow requires that at the
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beginning of a session of the senate that rules can be amended by majority vote. it's a long history. i have a long statement on it, which i'm going to put in the record. i want to just quote, if i can find these quotes, what the reaction was on this side of the aisle when there was a threat on the republican side of the aisle to use this approach. -- of getting a ruling from the chair somehow that the rules, although they say that they can only be amended by two-thirds, can in fact be amended by a majority. mr. president, let me, while i'm looking for these quotes, ask
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unanimous consent that the petered of morning business be extended until 7:00 p.m. today and that all provisions of the previous order remain in effect. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: senator byrd has been quoted for an earlier statement that he had made. i want to just quote senator byrd as to what he said when the actual issue was before the senate, and this is what he said -- "if we go down this road" -- and that is the road of the saying that rules can be adopted by majority vote, even though the rules say it takes 67 votes, he said -- "if we go down this road, i can guarantee that every senator in this body will rue the day.
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senators, do we want to do it this way? if it is done today, it can be done any day. if it can be done on the constitutional question, it can be done on any other constitutional question. it can be done on any other point of order the chair wishes to refer to the senate for a decision. i believe there is a danger here that if senators will reflect upon it for but a little while, they could foresee a time when we would say that we went the wrong way to achieve an otherwise very notable purpose. put this power in the hands of the tyrannical leadership and a tyrannical majority of 51 senators, we're going to be sorry on both sides of the aisle." this is what senator inouye said. in his maiden speech in this chamber. they were discussing civil rights legislation. the question was whether or not there would be a ruling of the
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chair which would allow the rules to be changed by majority vote. this is a senator who had been discriminated against, probably in one of the most dramatic and massive ways that anyone could be discriminated against being denied freedom because of his japanese-american ancestry while he is fighting to defend this country. but what he said in this maiden speech is the senate needs to protect -- and these are his words -- protections from minority views, even though, even though those protections allowed a misguided minority to obstruct our nation's progress. he supported the civil rights legislation, but he would not allow it to be addressed in
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violation of the rights of the minority of this body. and this is what he said -- maiden speech of danny inouye. "the philosophy of the constitution and the bill of rights is not simply to grant the majority the power to rule, but it is also to set out limitation after limitation upon that power. free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, what are these but the recognition that at times when the majority of men would willingly destroy him, a descending man may have no friend but the law. this power given to the minority is the most sophisticated and the most vital power bestowed by our constitution. "he was not willing to end a grave injustice which the civil rights legislation would have achieved by a method that he felt ran
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roughshod over the rights of the minority. and he warned us against the attempts, in his words, to destroy the power of the minority in the name of another minority. mike mansfield, leader of the senate, supporting a modification in the rule to reduce the number of senators needed to end debate from 67 to 60, although he supported the change in the rules, opposed the use of the nuclear option or the constitutional option to achieve it. and this is what mike mansfield said.
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arguing for the reform, he said -- quote -- "the urgency or even wisdom of adopting the 3/5 resolution does not justify a path of destruction for the senate as an institution and its vital importance to our scheme of government, and this in my opinion is what the present motion to invoke cloture by simple majority would do." he added -- "i simply feel the protection of the minority transcends any rule of change, however desirable. the issue of limiting debate in this body is one of such monumental importance that it reaches, in my opinion, to the very essence of the senate as an institution. i believe it compels a decision by more than a majority j senator kennedy's words were
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extremely powerful in this regard. i quoted some of senator byrd's words, senator biden's words strongly opposing, vehemently opposing the effort to change the rules of this body by majority vote when the rules themselves provide it takes two-thirds vote to amend the rules. and so we have got to be consistent. the rules cannot just be simply what the majority want them to be, whatever the current majority is. this is a body that has continuity. it's one of the few bodies in this country that have couldn't newity. the only other -- that have continuity. the only other one is the supreme court. two-thirds of us were not elected last november. two-thirds of us continue from the last senate. over the centuries, this body has been looked to as a source
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of continuity where the rules can't just be changed at the will or whim of a majority but where the rules stay in place until amended. the rules don't end when a congress ends in terms of senate rules. house rules do because all the house members are elected every two years, but senate rules are permanent until amended or changed, and it's critically important that we not just say that those rules can be modified whenever the majority wishes to modify those rules or else we will lose not just a protection of the minority which is so critically important to the history and purpose of the united states senate, but it is critically important to the very continuity and stability of the united states senate, this unique position that we have
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that most of us, most of us, two-thirds of us stay from congress to congress to congress. it's not always the same two-thirds, but it's always two-thirds. that has created an institution which is unique, protecting minority rights as well as holding out to the american public that continuity. we have fallen terribly short of what we should be in the last few years for many reasons, and i won't go into all of them or any of them right at the moment. we have fallen terribly short. we have not carried out our duties, for lots of reasons again, most of which, frankly, are not acceptable to me. we talk about how the filibuster has been abused, and it has been, but in part it's been introduced because we in the majority have allowed it to be abused, because we have not made
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the filibusters filibuster. and as senator byrd put it, it's just a whiff of a threat of a filibuster which has tied up the united states senate. it doesn't have to be that way and it should not be that way. but now what's happened -- and i see senator alexander here, such an important part of this group of eight. what has happened here is that eight of us came together, we came together with a very specific purpose, four democrats, four republicans, and i have mentioned everybody who is in that group already, to try to see if we could get through this thicket where we have this thread -- threat of a filibuster and the motion to proceed which takes weeks to dispose of, and that means that it has been a huge problem in terms of getting things done in the united states senate. and so eight of us said let's just reason together, see if we
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can't get rid of the roadblock, the abuse of that threat of a filibuster but protect the rights of the minority at the same time to offer amendments, because as i said before, it was that which drove many republicans to use that threat, that fear that the tree would be filled and that there would be no opportunity to offer amendments, and unless there was some assurance that there could be amendments offered, they then stood their ground and said we're not going to proceed to that bill unless there is some assurance in terms of amendments. it's that balance that we struck, and that's where the two amendments on each side came from and where some of the other suggestions that we made to the majority came from. so, mr. president, at this time i will yield the floor, and again i note that senator alexander is here and i think he may wish to be recognized, but i
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just want to thank him and thank all the other members. and i'm going to repeat their names of this group that spent so many hours together to try to come together and to create a -- help not just to solve this problem of getting through this thicket, but also to help restore a climate in this senate which might help us be more fruitful in our work. and i again want to thank senators mccain, schumer, kyl, cardin, alexander, pryor and barrasso for all of the work that they put in on this bipartisan proposal to reform the state -- excuse me, to reform senate procedures. i would ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that the bipartisan proposal that we made to the leadership and which they have embraced in large measure in their own really extraordinarily important effort to offer the senate and the
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nation a bipartisan approach in getting through this rules more as -- morass. i would ask unanimous consent that our bipartisan proposal be made part of the record, and i would also ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that the balance of my statement giving the history of the so-called constitutional option be inserted in the record at this point as well. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: and i yield the floor. mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i want to thank senator levin for his leadership and senator mccain, senator schumer, cardin, pryor and senator kyl who is now retired from the senate and senator barrasso. we're hopeful that the leaders will be able to recommend to us a set of changes in our rules and procedures and practices that will help the senate operate in a fairer and more efficient way. that's what all of us want.
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it's surprising how many of us want that. we all worked pretty hard to get here. we all understand we're political accidents. the senator from maine, the senator from arkansas, all of us know that. we're just very fortunate to be here. and while we're here, we'd like to contribute something. and that gets down really to just a couple of things. let's have a committee bill come to the floor, let's make it easy for it to come to the floor, and let us make it easy for senators from the various states and the various points of view to have their say, to offer their amendment, to have it voted up or down and to have a final vote. that's all, that's all. i often use the analogy of the grand ol' opry, you're lucky to be on the grand ol' opry if you're there, but you want to sing. and sometimes being in the senate is like joining the grand ol' opry and not being allowed to sing. so we have devolved into finger pointing. and the democrats, the majority, say you republicans are
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filibustering, you are blocking things, you are keeping things from happening. and we're saying, but your leader is using the gag rule 69 times. senator daschle only used it once, so we can all make our points. but what the eight of us found when we sat down a few weeks ago was that we very quickly in the first meeting found we were of the same mind, that we honored this institution, that we believe our country has serious problems, that we want to get to those problems and that we want to -- we want to serve our country well in the position that we have. and if we're from michigan, we want to be able to offer the voices of michigan on the floor of the united states senate, and we're from nashville or the mountains of tennessee or maine, we want to be able to do the same. we want our voices heard. not our voices, but the voices of the people that we represent. that's the importance of the discussion we're having today. so my hope is that the majority leader and the republican leader -- and i congratulate them for sort of sticking their
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necks out here in their respective conferences, and i hope they recommend us a way that we can do two things -- make it easier for bills to come to the floor and make it easier for senators to get their amendments. and i believe, mr. president, if that happens, this senate will see a new day. now, on this side of the aisle, we believe we really don't need rules changes, that we just need a change in behavior, and on the other side of the aisle, there are some who say let's just get rid of the filibuster, but i think once we get back into what we call the regular order here, all that talk will go away. i think senator mikulski and senator shelby are going to have ten, 11 or 12 appropriations bills ready to come to the floor within a few weeks and i think they are going to want them to be considered by that body. if they do, we will be busy for eight or ten weeks and we'll have dozens of amendments. i heard the chairman of the budget committee say that she intended to have a budget. if she does, we'll have dozens of amendments.
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and then the voices of the people of this country will be heard on the floor of united states senate. we'll have votes, we'll have amendments, we'll be doing our job, and -- and we'll be -- and all of this talk that we're having right now will be pushed into the background. there is a reason for a senate that is different from the house of representatives. it goes all the way back to the founding of our country. it was noticed by the first observers of our country. alexis de tocqueville in his fascinating view of america, the democracy in america that he wrote in the early part of the 19th seesht century said america, he said, faced two great challenges. one was russia, the other one was the tyranny of the majority. this is a democracy, this is a majority rules country, but he saw in a great, big, complex country the danger of the tyranny of the majority, and this institution, the united states senate, has from the beginning of the country protected the minority, protected the minority,
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protected the unpopular view. if he didn't like the vietnam war, you could stand up and say something here and maybe do something about it. or if you're on the other side, maybe you could do something about it. you could make people slow down and stop and think before the country rushes ahead. senators of both parties eloquently, as senator levin has pointed out, have defended that right. times as we republicans were in the bush administration, we were so upset about the democrats blocking of judges that we tried, we said we might use the nuclear option, that we might turn this in the majority body. now there are a number of democrats who feel the same way here. i hope we put that away and realize this is the body that stands up for minority views in this country and says don't run over minorities. stop and think, stop and think before you do that. and then we forge a consensus..
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just to conclude my remarks, because i see the senator from arkansas who's been an outstanding member who contribute and he has since he came to the senate, i came to the senate in 1967 -- that was a long time ago -- and i saw a little bit of how important it is to have a body that gains a consensus when you're talking about a big, difficult issue for the whole country. because in 1967, the issue was civil rights. the senator from maine knows about that early days of the senate. the senator from michigan does as well. there were a minority of republicans at that time. everett dirksen was the republican leader. but the civil rights bill of 1968 was written in the republican leader's office. why? because they had to get at that time 67 votes to pass it. well, you might say, well, that shows what's wrong with the senate because it slowed things down. but looking back over history, those last eight or ten years of civil rights laws, the voting
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rights act eventually, all the laws that changed our country and continue to change it, they were big steps. and what happened in 1968 once the senate gained a consensus on civil rights? senator russell, who led the opposition to the civil rights bill through his whole career, got on the airplane, went them to georgia, said it's now the law of the land, now we obey it. so the value of having a body in our government that respects the minority and forces a consensus is that once we reach that consensus, once we reach it, we then have a better chance of having the country behind what we do on the very controversial and difficult issues we face. so if -- if this works out, as i hope it does today, i pledge my part to work with the majority as one senator to help make sure bills come to the floor and to work with republican senators in the minority to help make sure they get their amendments.
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and if we do, i think we will do our job better, we'll gain more respect, the country will -- will -- will -- will have a stronger government and the rights of the minority will be protected. so i thank senator levin for his leadership as well as senator pryor and the others with whom i've worked. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. pryor: mr. president, thank you. and i do want to thank senator levin and senator alexander for their kind comments about me. senator alexander, the senator from tennessee and i, came to the u.s. senate at the same time and that was ten years ago. and one of the things that i think everyone would agree with is we've seen over the last ten years a waning of effectiveness in the senate. and a large part of that is th the -- the fact that this floor
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is not used like it should be. this floor has been used to block and obstruct. both parties are guilty of that. and this floor should be the marketplace of ideas. it should be where we come together and we work to resolve our differences. our differences may be partisan, they may be regional, they may be philosophical, may be generational, whatever, but our founding fathers set up our system of government where there would be one place where difficult, complex, thorny even sometimes politically treacherous issues can be resolved and that's on the floor of the united states senate. and when we -- again, democrats and republicans -- abuse the rules around here and we stymie the senate from acting, you get gridlock. and gridlock is not good for the
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country. and i firmly believe that one of the reasons that the american spub so disgustepublic is so die congress right now is because the things that are happening and not happening on this floor. we -- if you think about our system of government, when our founding fathers set it up, of course, we have the three branches. but as a practical matter, this floor right here is the only place in our government where the american people, the people we represent, can actually see their law being made. you don't see law being made at the white house. they go out there and they huddle up in their conference rooms and they come out to the rose garden and they make the announcement. you never see the process. you don't see the process in the u.s. supreme court or in the courts of appeals. what happens there is the lawyers and the parties come in and make their cases and then the justices and judges, they go back and conference and they talk about it back in their
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chambers and they come out with their decision, and, bam, that's what you have. you don't always know what the deliberations are, you don't know all the considerations. same for the u.s. house of representatives, with all due respect to our other chamber down the hall here. because of the way their rules operate, because of the rules committee and just the way it's structured and their history and, quite frankly, their d.n. d.n.a., it's a majority -- it's a majoritarian body. but not the united states senate. in the senate, we allow senators to amend and debate and to vote. and that's been one of the problems here in the last ten years, since the senator from tennessee -- and i see the senator from texas on the floor; we all came in together. this senate has lost a lot of that ability to do that. now, i'm firmly convinced that we have sufficient verbiage in
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rule 22 of the senate rules to require a talking filibuster. i think that's one of the things that is critically important about this is it's not a new interpretation but it's utilizing the existing interpretations, the long-standing history of the senate based on parliamentary decisions, based on decades of things that have happened here on the floor where we have the authority already in rule 22 but our two leaders, what we've asked them to do, is clarify and state and notify all of us how we're going to handle things during this congress. and the way we're going to handle things when it comes to -- to the talking filibuster is we are going to require senators to be here to object. no more phone-in filibusters. we're going to require senators to come down and state their objections, to come down and
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actually speak. if they have a problem with moving forward, they need to come and speak about it. if they want to start a filibuster, they should be here and speak on the floor. and what's going to happen is, the majority party, or the party -- the majority of senators who want to see legislation get done may have to do a little work and be here late nights, but that's part of it. that's what we signed up for. it's like the senator from tennessee said a few moments ago, we all worked very hard to get here and we came here to do things, to get things done for the country. if we're ever going to have a chance of resolving the big and difficult issues that face our nation, issues like our debt and deficit, you know, issues like the fiscal cliff -- whole set of issues -- tax reform, entitlement reform. you can bet your last dollar, those things are going to happen in the senate.
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that's where things get done. it's just like the fiscal cliff. with all due respect to the house, didn't happen in the house; happened in the senate. the minority leader and the vice president worked it out. and that's the way things have always gotten done, you know, for the most part in american history and that's the way we need to allow them to get done in this congress. because we have too many big issues to just block everything that's coming through on the senate floor. again, i want to thank senator levin and senator mccain for leading this effort. they were great leaders. senator kyl, senator barrasso, senator alexander, sitting in those meetings with my republican colleagues was a great experience, to sit down and listen to them and listen to their concerns, and i think it was an education for all the democrats to have that quality time where we did listen and then they listened to us. and i think that was very important. we need to do more of that around here. we'd get a lot more done if we do it. and also our democratic colleagues, of course led by
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senator levin, senator schumer and senator cardin. everybody contributed to this and i think it's something that we should be proud of and it's also a great victory for bipartisanship. great victory for bipartisanship. i think that's what the american people are screaming out -- you guys work together and get things done, and this is a good example of that. mr. president, i am about to ask unanimous consent that the period of morning business be extended until 7:15 p.m. today and that all provisions of the previous order remain in effect. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: mr. president, as i walked to the capitol, i hadn't intended to speak. but when i came in and started listening to senator pryor, senator levin, listened earlier in the day to senator mccain and now senator alexander, it made me want to come to the floor and just thank them for
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the effort they've made to hopefully make us a better working body in the next two years than we would have been otherwise preceding this agreement. when senator alexander made the remark about my predecessor, richard russer, and his statement when he came home to georgia after the rigorous debate and arduous debate that took place over the civi civil s act, it made me recognize the appreciation and respect our predecessors had for the result of the debating process. mr. isakson isakson: then as i d to senator pryor, i had a flashback to two weeks ago when a number of us attended the movie "lincoln." there was a screaming of the movie downstairs and george lucas was here. and i thought about those great scenes in the movie "lincoln" where the united states congress debated slavery and whether we were going to abolish it or not, we were fighting a civil war, a president staked his life on it. we came to a decision, we had a vote and committee debated it and the the abolition of slavery took place. all because politicians took the issues to the floor, they challenged one another and they worked hard for what they thought was best for country.
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i think tonight we adopted the changes that will be adopted. we've preserved the interest of the minority. we've preglerched the best heritage of -- preserved the best heritage of this body and we put ourselves in a state where we will debate on the floor of the senate, make decisions for the american people and the result will be a better country and a better product by the united states senate. so thank you, mr. alexander. thank you, senator pryor. thank you, senator mccain, wherever you might be, because you haven't been on the floor, and carl levin, a job well done. and i yield back. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. merkley: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. madam president, i'm rising to share a few comments on the votes that were -- we're about to take. in particular, i am struck at the enormous amount of conversation over the last few days over how we make this body, our beloved senate, work more effectively in addressing the big issues facing america. i think all of us have had the experience of our constituents back home recognizing that the last two years and many years before it were ones that we had
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a particular growing element of paralysis, that we had a responsibility to address. and tonight the senate is going to be speaking in a bipartisan fashion and saying that this cannot continue in the same way, that we need to make steps towards hav having a more functl senate. now, i don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone in this chamber that i had hoped we'd go a little further in addressing the silent filibuster that has been haunting us in this halls, but here is the important thing. important thing is that this chamber is speaking tonight in a bipartisan voice, in a strong voice, saying we must take steps for this deliberation to work better. and i think that that message reverberates with the american people who are looking at the many challenges we face as a nation. and who have been watching, through the courtesy of c-span, and seeing that often when they want us to be addressing these
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challenges, we're here in quorum callquorumcalls. well, a substantial amount of that can change. both with the modest steps we're taking tonight and hopefully in the collaboration between the two parties in the spirit of having a functioning legislature. i want to thank a number of groups who have worked very hard to bring to us the importance of making change: the communication workers of america, the sierra club, the alliance for justice, the entire fix the senate coalition, daily coast, and credo, the progressive campaign committee, and the nearly half million of americans who have signed petitions to say, please, dear senators, work hard on this, it matters. and i think that their voices were heard. so i extend my appreciation to the leadership of both sides who have been working so hard to figure out these steps forward,
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to try to have a series of tools on the motion to proceed to figure out how effectively we can get to conference committee with the house, how we can cut down on the number of hours that are often wasted after a cloture vote on a -- on a nomination. and so significant progress in a -- in a number of areas. and i certainly pledge to -- to my majority leader and to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to remain engaged in this conversation about the functioning of the senate. i appreciate the work they've done. i appreciate the steps we're taking tonight. and i appreciate the spirit in which many folks are saying, let's make these things work, we hope they work, and if they don't get us there, let's return to this conversation because we do have that underlying responsibility to the citizens of the nation to have a senate that can act on the words that the president said just outside here a few days ago, that it is time to act. he called upon the nation and he
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calls upon us and we make significant steps in that direction tonight. thank you, mr. president.
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of the following resolution en bloc: s. res. 5, s. res. 15, a resolution providing a stand order to improve procedures for the consideration of legislation and s. res. 16, a resolution amending the standing rules of the national relative to conference motions and bipartisan cloture motions on motions to proceed. the presiding officer: without objection, so order. mr. reid: further, mr. president, the time until 7:55 p.m. tonight be equally divided between the two leaders 0 their designees for the purposes of debating these resolutions concurrently, the ale ohm in order be the lee
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amendment, the senate proceed to vote in relation to s. res. 5. upon the disposition of the s. res. 5, the senate vote on the lee amendment to s. res. 15, upon disposition of the lee amendment, the senate proceed in relation to s. res. 15 if amend. that s. res. 15 be subject to a 60-vote threshold for adoption. further, that s. res. 16 be subject it a threshold of two-thirds of those voting for adoption. there be no further amendments, motions or point of order in order. finally, none of the resolutions be divisible. the presiding officer: without objection. the the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 5, amending the standing rules of the senate to foyer cloture petition to be invoked with less than a three-fifths majority after additional debate. senate resolution 15, to improve procedures for the consideration of legislation and nominations in the senate. senate resolution 16, amending
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the standing rules of the senate. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i yield the time on this side to the senator from utah. the presiding officer: the senator utah. mr. lee: mr. president, in just a moment i'll being offering an amendment to senate resolution 15. the purpose of this amendment is to protect this institution as the worldst greatest deliberative body. the hallmark characteristickistics of this body that make it both great and the deliberative include the fact that as individual senators we're supposed to have the right to participate in an open and robust debate that includes an open amendment process. this is historically one of the things that has defined this institution. it's naturally the outgrowth of the fact that pursuant to article 5 of the constitution, each state in the union is entitled to equal representation here in the senate. so as we're talking about things tonight, we have to remember that we're not talking about the
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rights of the minority or the majority. we're talking about the rights of each individual senator having been duly elected by the voters in his or her state. i have a concern, mr. president, that some of the implications of senate rule 15 could undermine this characteristic of the senate. in other words, senate resolution 15, while crafted with the very best of intentions, could be applied at spoinlts so as to undermine this right of each and every senator to offer an amendment. and so what my amendment does is to guarantee that once this procedure, the procedure under the standing order created by senate resolution 15, once it's been invehicled, every senator -- invoked, every senator in this body would have the right to file postcloture a germane amendment to the pending legislation. i this that the history, the custom, and the tradition of this body and all the things that have made this body great require nothing less than that. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment once we bring it up. i yield back my time,
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mr. president. mr. reid: the senator from iowa, senator harkin. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. hatch: mr. president, i have long felt that rule 22 does not define the u.s. senate. the u.s. national is defeithed in the senate and it does not mention rule 22 or filibusters. secondly, i do not believe that the dead hand of the past should control any senate now or in the future. third, i believe that the filibuster should be used to slow things down, to make sure that the minority has the right to offer amendments and to have them debated and voted on. it does not mean that the right that the minority -- that the minority has the right to win, but they have the right to debate and slow things down. the filibuster should not be used as a method to put things in the trash can. as george washington supposedly said to jefferson, it was to cool things down. i can understand that. but the filibuster has been used and will still be used even in
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the future so that the minority can stop the majority. i have long felt that the majority should have the right to enact legislation with due regard for the rights of the minority to be able to offer amendments and slow things down, but that is not are what is happening. and that's what my proposal that i first offered in 1995 and continue to offer today would do. yes, it would protect the filibuster as a means of slowing things down, but eventually the majority would be able to act, and that is, a as i think the founders and dreaforts of our constitution really meant it to be. -- and drafters of our constitution really meant it to be. mr. reid: mr. president, i believe i have no further requests for time on this side. if that is in fact the case, then the republican leader has no requests for time, i would yield back whatever time i have. mr. mcconnell: i yield back whatever time i have. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back.
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the question is on the senate resolution 5. all those in favor say signify by saying aye. those opposed, signify by saying no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. the noes do have it. the resolution is not agreed to. p the pending question is s. res. 15. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: mr. lee proposes an amendment numbered 3. at the end of the resolution, insert the following: "section: reform the filibuster rules. a, motion to proceed. paragraph 2 of rule 8 of the standing rules of the senate is amended by striking -- mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent that the reading be dispensedispensed.
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the presiding officer: without objection. question is on the amendment. those i in favor signify by sayg aye. those opposed, signify by saying no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have t the noes do have it. the question is now on senate resolution 15. the yeas and nays have been requested. is iis there a sufficient secon? there oops to be a sufficient second. there is a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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