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tv   U.S. Senate Debates Neil Gorsuch Nomination to Supreme Court  CSPAN  April 4, 2017 9:59am-12:34pm EDT

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filibuster used equally here to ensure we work across the aisle. the framers of our constitution had the wisdom to create a senate with a strong minority to serve as a check on runaway power. if we were to eliminate thehe legislative filibuster, we would cease to be that jack and indeed the senate would cease to be the senate. madam president, we have a i before us. that is judge gorsuch. i encourage all of my colleagues to give him fair consideration and to advance his nomination to an up or down vote. i will be voting to confirm him and i urge my colleagues to do the same. >> u.s. senate is about to gavel and to get this tuesday started. lawmakers will begin at the nomination of the lane duke to be security under the secretary. that is at noon eastern today. after recessing for their weekly
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party caucus lunches is expected the senate will turn to the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to become the next supreme court justice replacing the late antonin scalia. now back to the senate floor here on the spin too. -- c-span2. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god, we rejoice because of your power. we are dependent upon you to rescue us from ourselves and from the unseen consequences of the challenges we face. guide and sustain our senators enabling them to know the joy of having you as their sure defense.
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may your unfailing love, o god, which is as vast as the heavens motivate our lawmakers to make faithfulness to you their top priority. use them to give justice a chance, to thrive in a threatening world. infuse them with the spirit of of hue -- humility that seeks to understand than to be understood. may they find their strength and confidence in you alone. we pray in your great name.
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amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. pra the majority leader -- the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: later today, due to the threat of an unpartisan filibuster, i will file cloture on judge neil gorsuch to be associate justice of the u.s. supreme court. it should be unsettling to everyone that our colleagues across the aisle have brought the senate to this new low, and with such an impressive nominee with such broad bipartisan -- support. judge is independent, fair, and one of the most impressive resumes you will ever see and has one of the highest ratings for the gold standard for rating judicial nominations. no one disputes his sterling credentials to serve on the
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court. and yet in the judiciary committee the democrats withheld support of him, the democrats said that they will filibuster against him, something that republicans have never done. no one in the senate republican conference -- no one -- has ever filibustered to a supreme court nominee. later today, colleagues will continue to debate the nomination of judge gorsuch. they'll discuss how completely unprecedented it would be for democrats to actually follow through on this filibuster threat, to actually block an up-or-down vote for this nominee and what the negative consequences would be for the senate if they succeed. i'll be listening with interest. hi hope senators -- i hope senators in both parties will
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listen as well. there has never been a successful partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee -- never -- in the history of our country. not once in the nearly 230-year history of the senate. the last time a republican president nominated someone to the supreme court, democrats tried to filibuster him too, that was samuel alito in 2006. fortunately cooler heads prevailed. even former president obama now admits he regrets joining the filibuster effort. the democrats are being pushed by far-left interest groups into doing something detrimental to this body and for our country.
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they seem determined to head into the abyss and taking the country with them. they need to reconsider. perhaps they need to listen to their own words. back then the top democrat on the judiciary committee said she opposed attempts to filibuster supreme court nominees just because the nominee is a man i might disagree with, she said. that doesn't mean he should be on the court, she said. the filibuster should be reserved for something truly outrageous, she said. yesterday, the top democrat on the judiciary committee announced her intention to filibuster the supreme court nominee before us because she disagreed with him, total opposite of what she said before. it is just the kind of thing a filibuster should not be used for. this is emblematic of what we have seen with democrats'
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strained rationale for their unprecedented filibuster threat. it seems they are opposed to judge gorsuch's nomination because far-left interest groups are upset about other things, the way the election turned out mostly. and threatening the careers of any democrat who opposes blind resistance to everything the president does. democrats have come up with all manner of excuses to justify opposing this outstanding nominee. they asked for personal questions on issues that they know he cannot answer. they cherry picked a few cases out of the thousands in which he has participated. they invent fake -- fake 60-vote standards that fact checkers call bogus. they are, to paraphrase the
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judiciary chairman, in search of no votes to vote that way. what they can't lay a glove on is the nominee's record and independence, the kind of things that should actually be swaying our vote, and that's really quite telling. if democrats follow through on this widely respected judge to filibuster this judge, i think there is a single nominee from this president they could ever support -- ever. after all, the democratic leader basically said as much before the nominations were even made. but, madam president, it's not too late for our friends to do the right thing. you know, we on this side of the aisle are no strangers to political pressure. we can emphasize what our democratic colleagues might be going through right now, but part of the job you sign up for
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here is to do what you know is right in the end. when president clinton nominated stephen breyer, i voted to confirm him. when president clinton nominated ruth bader ginsberg, i voted to confirm her. i thought it was the right thing to do. after all, he won the election. he was the president. the president gets to a point to nominate supreme court justices. when president obama nominated sonia sotomayor and elana kagan, i led my party to have an up-or-down. we were in the exact same circumstance as the democrats are today. no filibuster. no filibuster. we thought it was the right thing to do. it's not because we harbored illusions that we usually agree with these democratic
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presidents. certainly not. listen to this, madam president. we even protested when then-majority reid tried to file cloture on the kagan nomination. we talked him out of it. it wasn't necessary. jeff sessions, the current attorney general, talked harry reid out of filing cloture because it wasn't necessary. we didn't even want are the pretense of the possibility of a filibuster on the table. well, it's quite a different story from what we're seeing today but this is where our democratic colleagues have taken us. will the partisan minority prevent the pro gorsuch majority from confirming him?
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will they subject him to the first partisan filibuster in american history? americans will be watching. history will be watching and the future of the senate will hang on their choice.
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the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. morning business to closed. the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the duke nomination. the clerk: nomination, elaine c. duke of virginia to be deputy secretary. the presiding officer: the time until 12 noon will be equally divided in the usual form. mr. durbin: madam president. the presiding officer: the minority whip. mr. durbin: i ask to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: there was a poem i recall and it went like this -- when i was going up the stair, i met a man who wasn't there, he wasn't there again today, i wish that man would go away. i thought about that poem when i listened to the majority leader's speech about how
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cooperative he has been when it comes to supreme court nominations. the name he forgot to mention was merrick garland, who was nominated by president obama to fill the vacancy of justice antonin scalia, merrick garland, the only presidential nominee to the supreme court in the history of the united states senate to be denied a hearing and a vote. merrick garland, whom senator mcconnell said i will not only refuse to give him a hearing and a vote, i refuse to even see him. merrick garland found unanimously well qualified by the bar association. merrick garland, a person who received bipartisan support for an appointment to the d.c. circuit court of appeals, the second-highest court in the hand. so when the majority leader comes to the floor to talk about
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how cooperative he's been with previous presidents when it came to supreme court nominees, he conveniently omits the most obvious reason for our problems this week. the unilateral decision by the majority leader to preclude any vote on merrick garland to fill the vacancy of justice scalia. i know judge garland. i met with him several times. he is a balanced, moderate, experienced jurist who should be on the u.s. supreme court. we shouldn't be entertaining neil gorsuch this week. we ought to be celebrating the first anniversary of merrick garland's service on the u.s. supreme court. the reason we're not -- senator mcconnell and the senate republicans refused us that opportunity. they said no, you can't vote on him. remember their logic? the logic was, wait a minute,
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this is the last year of president obama's presidency. why should he be able to fill a vacancy on the supreme court when we have an election coming soon? interesting argument. two things i'm troubled with. i do believe president obama was elected for four years in his second term, not three, which meant he has authority in the fourth year as he did in the third year. secondly, the republican argument ignores history. it ignores the obvious history when we had a situation with president ronald reagan in his last year in office with a vacancy on the supreme court and the democrats in charge of the senate and the democrats in charge of the senate judiciary committee. president ronald reagan, a lame-duck president in his last year, nominated anthony kennedy to serve on the court, sent the name to the democratic senate where there was a hearing before the senate judiciary committee
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and a vote that sent him to the court. you never hear that story, do you, from senator mcconnell because it doesn't fit into his play book as to why he would wait for a year and refuse to give merrick garland a hearing and a vote. the reasoning is obvious. clearly, he was banking on the possibility that the electorate would choose a republican president, and that's what happened. so that a republican president -- in this case, donald trump -- could fill the vacancy, not barack obama. so when i hear the speeches on the floor by senator mcconnell about his bipartisan cooperation, he leaves out an important chapter, the last chapter, the one that brought us to this moment in the united states senate. and i look at the situation before us today, and it's a sad situation for the senate, sad in that we have reached the point now where a supreme court nomination has become so
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political, more so than any time in history. where did the name neil gorsuch come from for the supreme court? well, it came from a list prepared by two organizations -- the federalist society and the heritage foundation. these are both republican advocacy groups representing special interests funded by special interests who came up with the names and gave them to presidential candidate donald trump. it was a list of 21 names. he issued them twice, in march and in september of the last campaign year, and neil gorsuch's name was on the list. the federalist society was created in 1982. it nominally is an organization that is committed to originalism. in other words, looked to the clear meaning of the constitution, what the founding fathers meant. they say that over and over again. well, just look to the
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constitution and read it, and then we'll know what we should do. that was in a speech that was given by edwin meese, then-attorney general, in 1985 explaining the federalist society credo. on its face, it sounds at least arguably defensible that there would be an organization that is so committed to the constitution that it wants supreme court nominees that will follow it as literally as possible, but as justice william brennan on the supreme court said, if they think they can find in those musty volumes back in the 18th century all the answers to all the questions on the issues that we face today, here's what he called it. that's arrogance posing as humility. arrogance posing as humility. but that's what they said the federalist society was all about. if that were all that the federalist society was about, then i guess you could argue they ought to have their day in
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court, their day in choosing someone for the supreme court. but it's more than that. when you look at those who finance the federalist society -- and it's a short list because they refuse to disclose their donors. when you look at those who support the federalist society, the classic names in republican support, the koch brothers, the mercer family, the richard melon scape family foundation, the ones who pop up over and over again. why would these organizations be so determined to pick the next nominee to fill the vacancy on the supreme court? because there is so much at stake. my colleagues showed the white house at a judiciary committee hearing went through the box score when it came to the supreme court and how they ruled when given a choice between special interests and corporate elites, average workers and consumers and families, and as senator whitehouse has pointed
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out, graphically in detail, overwhelmingly this court has ruled for the special interests. 69% of their rulings in favor of the u.s. chamber of commerce position on issues. so why would a special interest organization like the federalist society care? they want to keep a good thing going from their point of view, and that's why this is a different supreme court nominee. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: first, i sat in the back of the room to listen to my illinois. i know he got up because he wanted very much to respond to the majority leader, and i thought he did a great job. it was a pleasure to be listen as always to one of the most articulate members that i have ever served with in any legislative body, as well as his many other good traits. now, mr. president, today's equal pay day. unlike many holidays on our calendar -- i'll get to gorsuch in a minute. don't worry.
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unlike many holidays on our calendar, equal pay day is not actually a commemoration of some achievement. equal pay for women is still not close to a reality. women still make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same position. african american women are making 64 cents on the dollar. latina women are making 54 cents on the dollar. that's not right. it's holding the american dream out of reach for too many women in this country. so equal pay day is not a commemoration. it's a reminder that class ceilings are everywhere, that there are hugely consequential tangential barriers that women face every single day that men do not. in 2007, the supreme court in a 5-4 decision by the conservative majority in led better v. -- ledbetter v. goodyear ruled that
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lilly ledbetter could not pursue her claim that she was entitled to equal pay. the lilly ledbetter act was the first bill president obama signed into law in 2009. and that leads me to the supreme court. it's just one of so many examples of what is at stake in the nomination of judge gorsuch to the supreme court which we now debate here on the floor of the senate. i was listening to the majority leader earlier this morning, and i cannot believe he can stand here on the floor of the united states senate and with a straight face say that democrats are launching the first partisan filibuster of the supreme court nominee. what the majority leader did to merrick garland by denying him even a hearing and a vote is even worse than a filibuster. for him to accuse democrats of the first partisan filibuster on the supreme court belies the facts, belies the history,
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belies the basic truth. as my friend, representative adam schiff has said, when mcconnell deprived president obama of a vote on garland, it was a nuclear option. the rest is fallout. let me repeat that. adam schiff put it better than i could ever. when mcconnell deprived president obama of a vote on garland, it was a nuclear option. the rest is fallout. now, even though my friend, the majority leader, keeps insisting that there is no principled reason to vote against judge gorsuch, we democrats disagree. first, he instinctively favored corporate interests over average americans. second, he hasn't shown a scintilla of independence by president trump. and third, as my colleague from illinois elaborated on, he was hand-picked by hard-right special interest groups, not
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because he calls balls and strikes. they wouldn't put all that effort and money into a call of balls and strikes. these are ideologues who want to move america far to the right. he was picked by hard-right special interest groups because his views are outside the mainstream. according to analyses of his record on the tenth circuit conducted by "the new york times" and "the washington post," by experts on the court, judge gorsuch would be one of the most conservative voices ever on the supreme court should he achieve that. "the washington post" said that, quote, gorsuch's actual voting behavior suggests he is to the right of both alito and thomas and by a substantial margin. that would make him the most conservative justice on the court in recent memory. that's why the heritage foundation and the federalist society put judge gorsuch on their list for president trump. as emily basillon of the "new york times" put it in a
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brilliant article that i would urge all my colleagues to read, the reality is that judge gorsuch embraces a judicial philosophy that would do nothing less than undermine the structure of modern government, including the rules that keep our water clean, regulate financial markets and protect workers and women. and i ask unanimous consent that that article be added into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, there are clearly principled reasons to oppose judge gorsuch, and enough of we democrats have reasons to be prevent his nomination from moving forward on thursday's cloture vote. so the question is no longer whether judge gorsuch will get enough votes on the cloture motion. the question is now will the majority leader and our friends on the other side break the rules of the senate to approve judge gorsuch on a majority vote?
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that question should be the focus of the debate here on the floor, and it should weigh heavily on the conscience of every senator. unfortunately -- ultimately, my republican friends face a simple choice. they can fundamentally alter the rules and traditions of this great body or they can sit down with us democrats and the president to come up with a mainstream nominee who can earn bipartisan support and pass the senate. no one is making our republican colleagues change the rules. no one is forcing senator mcconnell to change the rules. he's doing it at his own volition, just as he prevented merrick garland from getting a vote at his own volition. senator mcconnell and my republican colleagues are completely free actors and making a choice, a very bad one, in our opinion. now, i know my friends on the other side of the aisle are uncomfortable with this choice,
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so they are scrambling for arguments to justify breaking the rules. let me go through a few of these justifications and explain why each doesn't hold up. first, many of my republican colleagues will argue that they can break the rules because, quote, democrats started it in 2013 when we lowered the bar for lower court nominees and cabinet appointments. well, let's talk about that. the reason majority leader reid changed the rules was because republicans had ramped up the use of the filibuster, the very filibuster they now decry, to historic proportions. they filibustered 79 nominees in the first five years of obama's presidency. let's put that in perspective. prior to president obama, there were 68 filibusters on nominations under all other presidents combined, from george washington to george bush.
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now we had 79. our colleague, leader mcconnell, the filibuster is wrong. 79. more than all the other presidents put together. the shoe was on a different foot. they deliberately kept open three seats on the second most important court in the land, the d.c. court of appeals, because it had such influence over decisions made by the government. these are the -- this is the court, other than the supreme, that the federalist society, the heritage foundation, hate the most. the deal that we made -- that a number of senators made in 2005 allowed several of the most conservative judges to be confirmed to that court. very conservative people. left a bad taste in my mouth and i'm sure in my colleagues' and in many others. but then when president obama came in, they insisted on not
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filing any -- filling any additional seats on the court, which of course would have been democratic seats, and eventually held open three of the 11 seats on that court. they said they would not allow those seats to be filled by president obama, an eerie precedent which the majority leader repeated with merrick garland. he didn't want democratic appointed nominees. he didn't want that on the supreme court so he blocked merrick garland. he didn't want it on the d.c. circuit so they wouldn't let any of president obama's nominees come to the floor. merrick garland's nomination was not the first time the majority leader held open a judicial seat because it wasn't the president of his party. and that was not during an election year. at the time i spoke to my good
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friend from tennessee, senator alexander. i asked him to go to senator mcconnell and say the pressure on our side to change these rules after all these unprecedented number of filibusters was going to be large. i said to senator alexander, let's try to avoid it. but senator mcconnell and republicans refused all our overtures to break the deadlock they imposed. to be clear democrats changed the rules after 1,776 days of obstruction on president obama's nominees. my republican friends are contemplating changing the rules after barely more than 70 days of president trump's administration. we move to change the rules after 79 cloture petitions had to be filed. they are talking about changing the rules after one nominee nails to meet the 60-vote
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threshold. so, yes, democrats changed the rules in 2013, but only to surmount an unprecedented slowdown that was crippling the federal judiciary. and we left the 60-vote threshold intact for the supreme court deliberately. we could have changed it. we had free will then just as senator mcconnell has it now, but we left the 60-vote threshold intact for the supreme court because we knew and know just as our republican friends know that the highest court in the land is different. unlike with lower courts, justices on the supreme court don't simply apply precedence of a higher court. they set the precedence. they have the ultimate authority under our constitutional government to interpret the law. justices on the supreme court should be mainstreamed enough to garner by a substantial
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bipartisan support. hence, why we didn't change the rules. hence, why we believe in the 60-vote threshold. hence, why 65 or 60% of americans agree with the threshold according to the most recent polls. to me and i think to most of my friends on the republican side, that's not a good enough reason to escalate the argument and break the rules for the supreme court. second, as i've mentioned, i've heard my republican friends complain that democrats are conducting the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee in history. so that's the reason they can justify breaking the rules because democrats are the ones taking it to a new level. again, i have just two words for my republican friends. merrick garland. the republican majority conducted the first partisan filibuster of a supreme court pick when their members refused to have hearings for merrick
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garland. in fact, what the republicans did was worse than a filibuster. the fact of the matter is, the republicans blocked merrick garland using the most unprecedented maneuvers. now we are likely to block judge gorsuch because we're insisting on a bar of 60-votes. we think a 60-vote bar is far more in keeping with tradition than what the republicans did to merrick garland. we don't think the two are equivalent, but nonetheless in the history of the scalia vacancy, both sides have lost. we didn't get merrick garland. we are -- they are not getting 60 votes on judge gorsuch. so we're back to square one right now. and the republicans have total freedom of choice in this situation. finally, republicans have started to argue that because democrats won't confirm judge gorsuch, we won't confirm anyone nominated by president trump.
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so they have to break the rules right now. that's an easy one. i'm the democratic leader. i can tell you myself that there are mainstream republican nominees who could earn adequate democratic support. and just look at recent history. justices roberts and alito, two conservative judges who many of us on the democratic side probably don't agree with, both earned over 60 votes. they got democratic votes. while there was a cloture vote on justice alito, he was able to earn enough bipartisan support that cloture was invoked with over 70 votes. he got only 58 when they voted for him but the key vote was the cloture vote. let's have the president consult members of both parties. he didn't. he didn't with gorsuch. and try to come up with a consensus nominee who could meet a 60-vote threshold.
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that's what president clinton did. with my friend, the senator from utah, in selecting justices ginsburg and breyer. it's what president obama did with merrick garland. of course, we realize a nominee selected this way would not agree with many of our views. that's true. but president trump was elected president and he's entitled by the constitution to nominate. but judge gorsuch is so far out of the mainstream that "the washington post" said his voting record would place him to the right of justice thomas. he was selected by the heritage foundation and the federalist society without an iota of input from the senate. there's a better way to do this. i know it sometimes may seem like a foreign concept in our hyper polarized politics these days, but there is always the option of actually consulting us democrats on a nominee and discussing a way forward that both parties can live with.
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we are willing to meet anywhere any time. mr. president, my friends on the other side can dredge up these old wounds an. if republicans want to conduct a partisan they started it exercise, i'm sure we could trace this all the way back to the hamilton hamilton-burr dual. but at the end of the day, they have to confront a simple choice. are they willing to break the rules of the senate or can they work with us on a way forward. i for one hope that we can find a way to compromise. justice gorsuch -- judge gorsuch was not a compromise. he was solely chosen without any consultation. so it's not that there's a merrick equivalency. as my friend, the majority leader, has said, quote, i think we can stipulate that in the senate it takes 60 votes on
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controversial matters. if anything is a controversial important matter, it's the selection of the supreme court. and senator mcconnell has repeatedly stood for the need, the rightness of 60 votes on important and controversial issues. if senator mcconnell wants to change his view on the 60 votes all of a sudden and republicans decide to go along with him, it won't be because democrats started it, because that's not true. it won't be because democrats won't confirm any president trump nominated justice because that's not true. it will be because they choose to do so and they will have to bear the unfortunate consequences. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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captain captain mr. president, i rise to express the urgent need for action to protect the
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retirement security of our nation's coal miners. because of bernankes that have -- bankruptcies that have decimated the coal industry, we have lost over 22,000 jobs in our state, with but more than 22,000 coal miners and their spouses are at risk of losing their health insurance at the end of april. i have visited with coal miners across west virginia about this issue. i visited the cabin creek community health center. it serves hundreds of coal miners and their family, they provide pulmonary services for those suffering from black lung. during my visit i met with several retired miner who would lose their health coverage if congress fails to act. these individuals are suffering from serious medical conditions
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and unsure how they would afford their health care if they were to lose their current coverage. two weeks ago i met with a dozen retired miners from west virginia who came to washington. mrs. capito: other groups of west virginia miners have come to washington over the past few months. all have carried one message to congress -- keep the promise of our lifetime health benefits. on march 1, thousands of miners received notice that their health insurance would be terminated in 60 days. you know what? most of these same people received that very same message just last october. as i listened to their stories, i found it hard to imagine their worry that this causes for the coal miners. congress included language in the continuing appropriations legislation that preserved health coverage for the retired
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miners for four months. while that provision kept mining families from losing health coverage, which is good, at the end of last year, a permanent solution is needed. the four-month provision from the c.r. expires at the end of this month. it is vital that congress takes action within the next few weeks to provide health care and peace of mind to these miners in west virginia, but also across coal country, they to serve our promise for health care coverage and should not have to receive another cancellation notice or another band-aid solution. you know what? we have bipartisan vehicle for action. i have worked closely with senator joe manchin, rob porter -- rob portman and others to help support health care and pension benefits for our miners. our bill passed the senate finance committee last year with
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a bipartisan vote of 18-8. i would also like to thank the majority leader, mitch mcconnell. he introduced legislation that would provide permanent health care solution for our miners. you know what, with all of us pulling together, working together, i'm confident that the senate will act before the end of this month to continue this critical health care benefit for our miners. i ask my colleagues for support in addressing this critical issue for our working families. thank you. mr. cornyn: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, yesterday the senate judiciary committee voted out the nomination of judge neil gorsuch
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to fill the vacancy on the supreme court left by the death of justice scalia. during the meeting, as the presiding officer knows, our democratic colleagues trotted out the same old tired arguments we've heard time and again about judge gorsuch. in the end, though, none of those arguments hold war and, of course, many of them aren't even about him. instead these arguments reveal how our colleagues across the aisle are grasping for reasons to justify an unprecedented partisan filibuster of a supreme court justice. now, some object to the nomination of judge gorsuch because they claim he refuses to answer specific questions, but i ask -- how would any of us feel if the judge before whom we might later appear had previously, in order to get a nomination of his -- how he
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would judge that case when presented at a future date? well, we would all feel a more than a little bit betrayed and cheated if the judge had prejudged our case before he even heard it. so the judge is simply engaging in a common practice for supreme court nominees. they steer clear of any questions that may pertain to cases they have to rule on later. it's a matter, as the presiding officer knows, of judicial ethics, and we wouldn't have it any other way. justice ruth bader ginsberg set this precedence early on. during her confirmation hearing in 1993 she didn't want to give hints or previews on how she might vote on an issue before her so she politely and respectfully declined. others followed her example and
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judge gorsuch, of course, is doing precisely the same. by any fair review, judge gorsuch has a history on 10 years as a judge sitting on the tenth circuit court of appeals out of denver, colorado. he has a history of interpreting the law fairly, basing his judgments on the law and the facts without regard to politics and without respect to persons, which brings me to this argument that somehow estrogens the little -- somehow brings me toe -- to this, that he is against the little guy. that is clearly not so but, again, what are judges supposed to perform? are they supposed to see the litigants, the parties to a lawsuit in their court to say, well, you've got a big guy and a little guy, i'm always going to render a judgment to the -- for
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the little guy without regard for the law or the facts. i realize our colleagues can weave a story that sounds sympathetic when it comes to the fact that not everybody is guaranteed a win in court. as a matter of fact, when there are two parties to a lawsuit, one of those parties is likely to be disappointed in the outcome, but that's what judges are for. that's what they are supposed to do. they are supposed to render judgments without regard to personal preferences or politics or without regard to their sympathies, let's say for one of the parties to the lawsuit. well, judge gorsuch even said this during his hearing -- he said no one will capture me. no one will capture me. meaning that no special interest group or faction will derail him from following the law wherever it may lead. that's why judge gorsuch is
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universally respected. that is why he was confirmed by a voice vote ten years ago to the tenth circuit court of appeals. no one objected to judge gorsuch's confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the tenth circuit court of appeals. again, as the presiding officer knows, the supreme court of the united states only hears about 80 cases, give or take, a year. most of the hard work gets done in our judicial system at the district court level and at the circuit court level, and almost all of the cases end in the circuit courts, like the tenth circuit court of appeals on which judge gorsuch served. that's not to say that the supreme court is not important, but it is, in resolving conflicts between the circuits or ruling on important questions of law to guide all of the judiciary and to settle these issues for our country at least for a time. and maybe even permanently when
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it comes to constitutional interpretation. well, judge gorsuch enjoys broad support from across the political spectrum, especially from his colleagues and members of the bar. you know, for 13 years i served on the state judiciary in texas, six years as a trial judge, seven years as a member of the texas supreme court. when i heard that judge gorsuch had participated in 2,700 cases on a three-judge panel and 97% of them were unanimous, that told me something special about this judge. it takes hard work to build consensus on a multijudge panel whether it's three or nine judges, like the supreme court. i think what we'ring if to see -- i think what we're going to see out of this court is not a judge who decides something in
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a knee-jerk fashion but someone who will try to bill consensus on the court. that is important to the supreme court's respect as an institution to our government. what causes disrespect for our judiciary is when judges act like politicians. they make pledges on how they will decide ahead of time when they campaign for votes based on ideological positions. judge gorsuch is the opposite of that and that's the kind of judge america needs right now in the supreme court and that's why later on this week, on friday, judge gorsuch will be confirmed. but in spite of all the evidence and support of the nominee's intellect and equal indications -- qualifications without regard to the bipartisan chorus urging his confirmation, the democratic leader has
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decided to do everything he can to prevent us from even having an up-or-down vote on his nomination. unfortunately he'll be making history in urging his democratic colleagues to engage in a partisan filibuster against a supreme court justice. there's never been in our nation's long, rich history a successful partisan filibuster of a supreme court nominee. now, some people want to talk about abe fortis in 1968, but that is different, but there has never been a filibuster of a supreme court justice nominee until this week. not one of my republican colleagues mounted a filibuster when president obama nominated justice sotomayor or justice
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kagan. they both received and up-or-down vote and that is because that's the way this chamber has treated supreme court nominees in the past. cloture has been filed but it was achieved because on a bipartisan basis enough votes were cast to allow the debate to end and allow an up-or-down vote on the nominee. to show you how new this weaponnization of the filibuster has become, back when clarence thomas was confirmed to the supreme court of the united states, he got 52 votes and was confirmed and now serves on the supreme court. so back when he was confirmed no one even dreamed of the use -- it was theoretically possible -- but no one dreamed of the idea to raise the threshold of the confirmation from 512, majority
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vote -- 51, a majority vote, to 60. our democratic friends have made it clear that they will not vote for this nominee or any nominee. i think what it boils down to is this -- our democratic colleagues haven't gotten over the fact that they lost the election. i think it is much more complicated than that. they adamantly resisted participating in the legislative process. they have drug their feet on every cabinet nomination, and now the supreme court nomination, and all they know is to obstruct because they haven't gotten over the fact that hillary clinton isn't president of the united states. they keep bringing up merrick garland's name. judge garland is a fine man, a good judge, serves on the d.c. circuit court of appeals. but you would have to go back to 1888 to find a time when someone
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was nominated in a presidential election year with divided government where that person was confirmed. 1888. and what we have decided to do, upon the death of justice scalia, is say, you know what, the supreme court is so important, we're going to have a referendum on who gets to nominate the next justice on the supreme court. our democratic friends thought for sure it would be hillary clinton when it turned out to be donald trump. well, all bets were off and they were in full opposition mode. but we would have respected the right of a president hillary clinton to fill that nomination because that's what we said was at stake in the election, and i think it had a big impact on who got elected on november 8, president of the united states, who would fill that vacant seat and any future vacant seats on the supreme court. so here's the problem.
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if judge gorsuch is an unacceptable nominee, can you imagine any nominee by this president being acceptable to our democratic colleagues? i can't, because judge gorsuch is about as good as you get when it comes to a nominee. he's exactly the type of person we should hope to see nominated to the supreme court. so it's time for our democratic colleagues to accept reality, not to live in some sort of fantasy land and not to try to punish good people like judge gorsuch who has done an outstanding job because they are disappointed in the outcome of the election so here's the bottom line. our democratic friends will determine how we get to an up-or-down vote on judge gorsuch. if they are genuinely concerned about the institution of the senate, they will provide eight
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votes to get cloture to close off debate, and they will decline to filibuster the judge and they will allow an up-or-down vote on this imminently qualified nominee. i'm holding out hope that more thoughtful and independent democrats will think better of the democratic leader's strategy. several already have, and i commend them for it. i hope more will come around to that idea, but as i and others have said before, regardless of whether they do, judge gorsuch will be confirmed, but it's up to the democrats to determine just how we get that done. mr. president, i see a friend from -- my friend from vermont here, and i won't take much longer, but i want to take three or four minutes, maybe five minutes to debunk some of the myths about how we got here. i have in front of me an article written by neil lewis, dated may
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1, 2001. the title of this "new york times" story is "washington talk, democrats readying for judicial fight." it's dated may 1, twun. that was, of course, in the early days of the george w. bush administration. and what it says is that 42 of the senate's 50 democrats attended a private retreat in farmington, pennsylvania, where the principal topic was forging a unified party strategy to combat the white house on judicial nominees. mr. lewis goes on to quote one of the people there that said they said it was important for the senate to change the ground rules by which judicial nominees were confirmed, and they did. as a result of that meeting, which was led by laurence tribe at harvard law school, caste
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sunstein at the university of chicago and marcia greenberger, codirector of the national women's law center, senator schumer, the present democratic leader, and others cooked up a new procedural hurdle for judge -- or senator -- president george w. bush's judicial nominees, and we remember what happened after that. it became almost routine for our democratic colleagues to filibuster president bush's nominees. ultimately, there came a -- a meeting of a group called the gang of 14 where there was a deal worked out that some of president bush's judicial nominees were confirmed and others were returned and not confirmed. there was a decision made at that time by the gang of 14, a bipartisan group, that there would be no filibuster of judicial nominees absent
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exceptional circumstances. that was the language that they used. absent exceptional circumstances. well, that let us get by that obstacle and those filibusters for a time, but the next major development occurred in 2013 when president obama really wanted to see the d.c. circuit court of appeals, the primary circuit court that reviewed administrative decisions, he really wanted to see more of his democratic nominees on that court, and so in a new and unprecedented fashion, senator harry reid changed the cloture rules once again, so-called the reid rule. for what purpose? well, it was a naked power grab. it was to pack the d.c. circuit court of appeals, one of the least busy circuit courts in the
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country, in order to have judges confirmed by 51 democratic votes that would rubber stamp president obama's administrative actions during his administration, and sadly it worked. they did just that. so in a way, mr. president, we are coming full circle, back to what the tradition in the senate was before the year 2000, before democrats went to this retreat led by liberal legal activists who cooked up this idea that you could filibuster judges and tried to impose a requirement of 60 votes for confirmation when in fact the constitution contemplates a majority vote, 51 votes for confirmation. so some have said that this represents the end of comity in the senate. i don't believe that. some have said this threatens
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the end of the legislative filibuster or cloture requirement. i don't believe that either. there is a big difference between a nominee by a president that is an up-or-down vote, confirm or don't confirm. there is a big difference between that and legislation, which by definition is a consensus-building process, by offering an amendment, by offering other suggestions to build that consensus and get it passed. you can't amend a nominee. all you can do is vote up or down. and so i don't believe restoring the status quo ante, going back to 2000 and restoring the 200-year-plus tradition of the united states senate where you don't filibuster judges, i don't see that as a bad thing. i don't see it as the end of a legislative filibuster. completely apples and oranges.
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it is true that 51 senators will be able to close off debate and confirm judge gorsuch, and we'll see that happen later this week. it also means the next democratic president can nominate a supreme court nominee, and that person will be confirmed by 51 votes. again, this has been the 200-plus-year tradition of the united states senate. i don't see that as the end of the senate. i don't see this as somehow damaging our country. restoration of the status quo before 2000 when our democratic colleagues decided to weaponize the filibuster and use it to block judges based on this trumped up idea that 60 votes would be required rather than 51. so, mr. president, i look forward to confirming judge gorsuch later this week. he is a fine man and a very good judge and has exactly the sort
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of record we would want to serve on the court. no, he's not a liberal activist. clearly, president hillary clinton if she had been elected would nominate somebody different, but that's one reason why we choose who we choose for our president, because of the kinds of nominations they will make, and i must say president trump has chosen well in neil gorsuch. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, i rise today to oppose the nomination of judge neil gorsuch to the supreme court of the united states. after meeting with judge gorsuch and having a long and pleasant conversation, after hearing his testimony before the judiciary committee and after carefully reviewing his record, i have
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concluded that i cannot support a man with his views for a lifetime seat on the supreme court. the supreme court is the most important judicial body in this country. the decisions that it reaches even on a 5-4 vote have a profound impact on all americans, on our environment and on our way of life. as we decide this week as to how we are going to cast our votes regarding judge gorsuch, it is important to understand how that vote for judge gorsuch for or against him will impact the lives of the people of our country. let me give you just a few examples as to what is at stake.
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seven years ago, in a 5-4 decision, the supreme court ruled in a case called citizens united, and in that case by a 5- 4 decision, the court said that billionaires and corporations could spend as much money as they wanted on the political process. this decision, as all americans know, opened the floodgates of corporate money, of money from the billionaire class, such that the wealthiest people in our country today can now elect candidates who represent their interests and not the interests of ordinary americans.
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that decision, citizens united, is undermining american democracy and in my view is moving us toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of the wealthiest people in this country, the koch brothers and others, now have the power not only to control our economy but our political life as well. in my view, citizens united must be overturned, and we must move back to a nation where our political system is based on one person, one vote, not on the ability of billionaires who buy elections. based on my conversation with judge gorsuch and a review of his record, do i believe that he
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will vote to overturn citizens united? absolutely not. further, i suspect that he will vote to undermine our democracy even further by supporting the elimination of all restrictions on campaign finance, something which the republican leadership in this body wants. what the republican leadership is striving towards is eliminating all campaign finance restrictions such that billionaires can say to somebody i'm going to give you $500 million to run for united states senate from california, and you work for me. no independent expenditures. i will select your campaign manager, your speechwriter, your
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media writer, your pollster. you are my employee. that is what the republican leadership here wants. they want to undermine all campaign finance laws that -- on campaign finance, and i believe that judge gorsuch will move this country in that way, a more and more undemocratic way. further, when we talk about the political process, it's important to point out that in 2013, again by a 5-4 vote, the supreme court gutted the 1965 historic voting rights act, a law which was passed to combat racial discrimination in voting in a number of states. what the court said, finally, that in the united states you have the right to vote no matter what the color of your skin
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is -- a historic step forward in making this country the kind of country that it must become. well, as a result of that 5-4 supreme court decision in 2013, gutting the voting rights act, literally days after we had republican governors and republican legislators all over this country under the guise of fighting voter fraud, passing laws intentionally -- everybody knows this -- intentionally designed to make it harder for people of color, for young people, to vote in elections. in america in the year 2017 it is not too much to ask that all of our people who are eligible to vote be able to vote without
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harassment, without roadblocks, without barriers being placed in front of them. i know it is a radical idea, mr. president, but it's called democracy. it's called dmaccy. it says -- democracy. it says if you are eligible to vote, we want you to participate. it says in america, when we have one of the lowest voter turnout rates of any major country on earth, we want more people to be participating in the political process, not fewer people. mr. president, there is nothing that i have seen in judge gorsuch's record or in his recent statements to suggest to me that he is prepared to overturn this disasterous decision on the voting rights act. mr. president, in 1973, as we
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all know, the supreme court decided roe v. wade and declared that women have a constitutional right to control their own bodies. that decision has been subsequently affirmed by multiple cases as recently as last june. in his confirmation hearings, judge gorsuch refused to state if he believed roe v. wade was good law and should be upheld. based on his statements and general philosophy, i believe there is a strong likelihood that judge gorsuch would vote to overturn roe v. wade and deny the women of this country the constitutional right to control their own bodies. this would be an outrage and i do not want to be a party to allowing that to happen.
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in addition, under chief justice john roberts, the supreme court has time and time again voted in support of corporate interests and against the needs of the working people of our country. after reviewing judge gorsuch's record, i believe that he will continue that trend. in a case called transam trucking, judge gorsuch argued that a trucker was properly fired by his employer for abandoning his cargo at the side of his -- at the side of the road after his truck brock down and he -- broke down and he nearly president to to death -- nearly president to to death. judge gorsuch believes he should
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have chose between his life and job, and by choosing his job, not freezing to death, he decided to lose his job. in another case, judge gorsuch ruled that a university was correct to fire a professor battling cancer rather than grant her request to extend her sick leave. i find these decisions troubling. at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, when so many people working throughout this country feel powerless at the hands of the wealthy and the powerful and their employers, we need a supreme court justice who will protect workers' rights and not just worry about corporate profits. i fear very much that judge gorsuch is not that person. mr. president, i heard and
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listened carefully to what my friend, senator cornyn of texas, had to say about this entire process, and i have to say that in his remarks there was a whole lot of obfuscation because there is a simple reality that we are going to have to deal with here in the senate this week. everybody knows, and senator cornyn made the point, that under harry reid, former democratic leader, the rules, in fact, were change, and they were changed because of an unprecedented level of republican obstructionism, making it impossible for president obama to get almost any of his nominees appointed. but let us not forget that in the midst of that controversial decision -- and it was a controversial decision -- the democratic leader had the power
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to also say that we will waive the 60-vote rule regarding supreme court nominees. democrats had the power and they chose not to exercise that power in ending that rule, although, of course, they could have done that. and i think the reason was is that the democratic leadership appropriately and correctly believed that on an issue of such magnitude, the appointment of a supreme court justice, it is important that there be bipartisan support, but right now it appears that the republican leadership is going to do what the democratic leadership did not do, and that is waive that rule and get their judge appointed with 51 votes. so i would suggest to the
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republican leader that instead of trying to push this nominee through with 50-some-odd votes, it might make more sense, rather than changing the rule, change the nominee and bring forth somebody who, in fact, can get 60 votes. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: it is. mrs. shaheen: i introduced legislation to introduce transparency to advance the
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interest of foreign governments in -- in particular, our bill will give the department of justice new and necessary authority to investigate potential violations of the foreign agent's registration act by r.t. america, the u.s. branch much r.t. news or russia today news. this act was passed in the late 1930s in response to concerns about nazi propaganda being disseminated in the united states without people knowing what it was. well, this, i think, is absolutely appropriate today for us to take a look at what russia and other countries may be doing to our news. r.t. america, which broadcasts from studios here in washington and is available on cable tv across the united states and across the world for that matter, is one of the
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high-profile assets in vladimir putin's vast propaganda manages. according to the u.s. intelligence community, the kremlin closely supervises r.t.'s coverage including false news stories designed to undermined our democracy. so here we have a photo that shows exactly what i believe seems to be happening with r.t. this photo was taken from a declassified u.s. intelligence report and it shows r.t. editor in chief and former putin campaign staffer, by the way, briefing putin on r.t.'s facility. so he is clearly interested. well, i believe the american people have a right to know if a russian government entity is exploiting our first amendment freedoms to harm our country and
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it's galling that r.t. news has publicly boasted that it can dodge our laws by claiming to be financed by a nonprofit organization and not the russian government. well, what our bill would do is strengthen the foreign agent's registration act by giving the department of justice authority to compel foreign organizations to produce documentation to confirm funding sources and foreign connections. now this is investigative authority that has been recommended by the department of justice inspector general, the government accountability office and the project on government oversight. our bill would create transparency by giving justice the authority it needs to investigate r.t. america and publicly expose its ties to the kremlin. the audacity of russia's interference in western democracies, including extensive meddling in our 2016
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presidential election is deeply alarming, and we've learned that russia's influence campaign reaches tens of millions of unsuspecting americans. false news stories can end up on our facebook time lines, twitter feeds, and include conversations with friends at work. these are a few headlines from r.t. and this is from sputnik, and they show the extent to which these false news stories are being spread around. so this one talks about 1,000 turkish forces that surround nato's air base for inspection amid rumors of a coup attempt, which suggests that we were involved in that coup attempt. then we have f.b.i. wiretapped structure tosh in search of
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russian mobster. then spying on trump: c.i.a. whistle-blower points finger at clapper, brennan be, comeyortment. then we've ukraine su-25 fighter detected in close approach to mh-17 before crash. dozens of false narratives originated in russia. for instance, this one, that baseless story that the obama administration had launched a coup against the turkish government from the u.s. air base in that country, earlier russian r.t. news ran numerous reports on supposed u.s. election fraud and votin voting machine vulnerabilities claiming that the results of the u.s. elections could not be trusted and did not reflect the people's will. well, researchers have traced these and other stories to a common source: the kremlin's
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sophisticated multifaceted propaganda empire, which reaches some 600 million people acompromises 130 countries -- across 130 countries. r.t. news, if you watch it you will agree that it's not clear whether you're watching a u.s. news station or a russian station because it has slick production values and it is arguably the jewel in the crown of this propaganda empire. according to the u.s. intelligence community report declassified in january, the kremlin has committed significant resources to expanding r.t. news' reach, particularly its social media imprint. r.t. america has positioned itself as a domestic u.s. channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the russian government. a prime objective of this propaganda barrage is to influence u.s. and european public opinion, create
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confusion, and shape election outcomes. the associated press has identified a building in moscow where an estimated 400 internet trolls fluent in english and well-versed in american politics work 12-hour shifts creating false narratives and fake news stories. these stories are then seeded on the internet, they get validated and passed on by popular websites and eventually end up on our radios, our tv's and our smartphone screens. in an incident earlier this month, a discredited former c.i.a. employee went on r.t. news to charge that barack obama had asked british intelligence to spy on donald trump. well, this false news story was then spread by legal commentator anthony napolitano on the fox news show "fox & friends" which is regularly watched by the president. the claims were then cited by
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president trump and white house press secretary sean spicer to defend the president claims that his president certificates had wiretapped trump tower. we know that during testimony two weeksing a before congress, admiral rogers aagreed with our british allies that the original r.t. news story was utterly ridiculous. and at an arms services committee last month, retired general philip breedlove, the former supreme allied commander in europe, told us that when russian-backed forces showed down malaysia airlines nine in 2014, the russians put otofour stories within two news cycles, placing the blame on the ukrai ukrainian government and others. this is the headline that we see from r.t. the general said it took two years for the toast finally debunk these false news stories.
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well, we know that russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election and we know that the russian influence campaign was one aspect of that influence. our intelligence community has concluded that r.t. america is an arm of the russian propaganda juggernaut, operating openly in our country and taking full advantage of our first amendment freedoms. now, i'm sure we would all agree that everyone in the united states and every organization has a right to speak, write, and broadcast freely. that's what our first amendment says. and we're confident that our values will prevail in the free marketplace of ideas. our constitution protects the right of individuals and organizations to spread those russian viewpoints, disinformation, and even outright lies. but the american people have a right to know if r.t. america is
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a russian propaganda organ that takes its direction from the kremlin. they have a right to know who's funding their operations. r.t. has publicly boasted that it uses a shell nonprofit corporation to dodge u.s. laws, and this legislation -- the foreign agents registration modernization and enforcement act -- would put an end to this charade. so the legislation that senator young and i have introduced recently. it would give the department of justice the authority it needs to request documentation from r.t. news on funding sources and foreign connections. and, as we see here, clearly the legislation has hit a nerve because kremlin spokesman dmitri peskov defended r.t. news and the russian state duma is
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considering measures to retaliate. what r.t. says about our legislation is that, we want to probe r.t. as a foreign agent. what's next, public excuses? well, that's ridiculous. the editor in chief at r.t. news has said that my relatio -- legn is a persecution of dissenting voices, quote, unquote. as i said, that's just none he sevenths. i -- that's just nonsense. i welcome dissenting voices. that's what our first amendment is all about. but it is not reasonable or acceptable for an individual or organization working in the u.s. on behalf of a hostile foreign government to conceal funding and direction that it receives from that government. vladimir putin is not going to stop us from enforcing our laws and protecting our country. we have a responsibility to expose r.t. news, r.t. america, and the entire panoply of
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tactics that russia has used to interfere in our 2016 election and that they currently -- continue to currently use to sow confusion and distrust and spread around news that is not -- stories that pretend to be news that are not accurate. make no mistake, the kremlin's influence campaign is an on-going enterprise, and to the extent that it is successful, that it can operate under the radar screen, it will become even more brazen and more aggressive in the future. in testimony before the senate armed services committee last december, dr. robert kagan of the brookings institution said that russia's broader objective is to subvert western democracies, and we see that going on now in europe. he said, for the united states to ignore this russian tactic, particularly now that it has been deployed against the united
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states, is to cede to moscow a powerful tool of modern geopolitical warfare. that was a direct quote. this is a profound test for our country. our democracy has been attacked and continues to be under attack from this kind of news that is being put out by a kremlin-funded organization who is a hostile foreign power. we need to understand the kremlin's tactics, and we need to expose this propaganda here in the united states, including r.t. america. so to that end, i urge my colleagues to support the foreign agents registration, modernization and enforcement act, and let's give the department of justice the tools it needs to investigate and expose r.t. america. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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mr. daines: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: mr. president, today i'm joining my colleagues on the floor with a bit of congress fusion, a bit of disappointment, frankly a lot of questions. i'm referring to the confirmation of neil gorsuch as the next supreme court justice. as a united states senator, one of the most consequential votes that i will cast is a vote to confirm a u.s. supreme court nominee. it is a lifetime appointment to our nation's highest court. i recently spoke with some students back in montana, some f.f.a. students, average age 17, 18 years old, and, god willing,
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neil gorsuch may serve on the court for 30 or more years. these f.f.a. students, children and perhaps even grandchildren, will be part of neil gorsuch's time on the court, given that he likely will serve for three decades or more. as it stands today, the united states senate is on the precipice of confirming neil gorsuch to be our next u.s. supreme court associate justice. however, as the news is reporting, as our twitter feeds are overflowing with information, it looks as though my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are caving -- they're caving to the pressures of the far left, and they're set to unleash and unprecedented filibuster. i've met with judge gorsuch. i've watched his confirmation hearings. and what i have seen and what most americans agree, judge neil
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gorsuch has been incredibly transparent, he's been accessible, he's the right man for the position. he is mainstream, he is a westerner, he's committed to judicial independence, he has a brilliant legal mind -- that's what dispute -- he's exceptionally qualified. in fact, the american bar association united states of americaly -- unanimously -- rated judge gorsuch as well-qualified. that's its highest rating. he's met with nearly 80 senators. prior to his hearing, he provided the judiciary committee over 70 pages of written answers about his personal record. he provided 75,000-plus pages of documents, including speeches, case briefs, opinions, and written works going as far back as his college days.
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the white house archives produced over 180,000 pages of e-mail and paper records related to judge gorsuch's time at the department of justice. judge gorsuch sat for three rounds of questioning, totaling nearly 20 hours in committee. and as the american people watched judge gorsuch before that committee, they saw an exceptionally qualified nominee for the highest court in the land. someone who is bright, who is kind. i would argue that judge gorsu gorsuch's mind, his intellectual capacities, are only exceeded by the size of his heart. this is a kind and independent jurist. it was the longest hearing. when he came before the judiciary committee, the longest hearing of any 20th century
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nominee. he answered nearly 1, 200 questions during his hearing, which is nearly twice as many questions posed to justices sotomayor, kagan, or ginsburg. he was given 299 questions for the record by democrats on the senate judiciary committee, the most in recent history of any supreme court nominee. judge gorsuch did all this with the utmost integrity, with transparency, and humility. yet here we are with democrats engaged in unprecedented obstruction, refusing to give neil gorsuch an up-and-down vote. the senate has only ever employed a cloture motion for a supreme court nominee four times in modern history. we voted on cloture when justice alito was nominated in 2006. we did the same in 196, 1971,
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and 1986. in 1991, clarence thomas was confirmed on a 52-48 vote, and in 2006, samuel alito was confirmed on a 58-42 vote. in fact, when president obama was in the white house, republicans did not filibuster a nominee. in fact, this body confirmed sonia sotomayor in 2009 by a vote of 68-31, confirmed justice kagan by a roll call vote of 63-37 in 2010. we did not filibuster. let me refind folks, cloture is in place to stop debate, not to stop a vote. cloture was put in place to speed the senate up, to end debate and move to a vote, not to stop a vote.
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it was never intended to be a stall tactic or something to obstruct this body. this bears repeating. cloture was put in place to speed up the process to prevent obstruction. this chamber has never had a partisan filibuster to a supreme court nominee. let me say that again. this chamber has never had a partisan filibuster to a supreme court nominee. and so here we are today. with no other option but to invoke the so-called nuclear option to put an eminently qualified individual on the united states supreme court. judge gorsuch is the definition of a mainstream judge. in more than 2700 cases, he has participate -- in more than 2700 cases he has participated on in the tenth circuit, 97% of them
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have been decided unanimously. in fact, he was in the majority 99% of the time. yet senate democrats would rather play politics and place the demands of extreme liberal interests rather than ensuring regular order. but let's talk about what we are and what we aren't doing. we are in the senate i'm honored to serve and represent over one million montanans. we operate on a set of parliamentary criteria based on things which have happened before. therefore, we are going to establish a new precedent. we aren't changing the rules. this isn't happening for the first time. let us remember that in november of 2013, senate majority leader harry reid established a new precedent of how many votes are necessary on executive branch
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nominees with the exclusion of supreme court picks. what's even more shocking to me is that over the past few weeks through the hearing process, through the debate and discussions of judge gorsuch on the floor, and with support across my state of montana -- and let me just name some of those organizations and people in support of judge gorsuch. the montana chamber of commerce, four of montana's tribe, the crowe tribe, fort belknap and fort peculiar. the support of the montana farm bureau. the support of judge russell faag of the 13th judicial district. judge lankton, judge larson of the fourth judicial district. state senator wander, retired judge as endorsed gorsuch.
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the montana n.r.a. members, the montana grange association, the montana growers association, the montana stock growers association, our attorney general in montana, our auditor in montana, our speaker of the house. this is a very mainstream group of montanans, leaders back home that are in sup part of judge -- support of judge gorsuch. yet my colleagues are rejecting the will of the american people, rejecting the will of montanans, and filibustering this thom nation, -- this nomination, not even allowing for an up-or-down vote. the american people deserve a supreme court justice who uphold ses the -- upholds the rule of law and will follow the constitution. the american people deserve a supreme court justice who doesn't legislate from the bench. the american people deserve judge neil gorsuch to serve on
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the united states supreme court. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum o. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tester: i would ask to be allowed to speak for up to three minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
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mr. tester: mr. president, i rise today with a warning about senate joint resolution 34. this measure that undermines the privacy of all montanans and all americans, a measure that i strongly oppose because it takes the ref, off the field leaving consumers at the whim of internet service providers. it allows these companies to sell your data, to sell my data, and to snoop through your search history and to track the sites that you visit. in other words, it allows internet companies to make a profit by invading your privacy. it gives them the ability to collect and sell your physical location, information about your children, health, finances, your social security number, your web browsing history. in fact, this less even extends to apps in your social media accounts. following this vote that we had here on this floor, a republican state senator from buffalo, montana proposed an amendment to our state budget to try to push
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back against this irresponsible bill. in my home state of montana, folks from both sides of the aisle are deeply concerned about our right to privacy. now, folks who didn't even know you could have access to the websites you visit and they can have this access without your consent. this is another troubling step that folks in congress have taken this year to undermine rights of privacy of law abiding citizens. we already have a c.i.a. director that has advocated for the most intrusive aspects of the patriot act. we have a supreme court nominee before us who supports the government's ability to reach into private lives of law-abiding americans. and now congress is rolling out the red carpet for a may -- for major corporations to collect and sell our personal online information. enough is enough. i am here today to provide a voice for all montanans, all the americans who value their right to privacy, who expect their elected officials to defend our civil liberties to stand up for our constitutional rights, and who do not want private online
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information collected and shopped around like a used back on amazon. when the president decided to sign this bill last night, he ushered in the latest significant threat to our right to privacy. now it is the responsibility of service providers to protect our personal information online. i think folks in montana and across this country have the right to question the priorities of those who supported this bill. everyone has a fundamental right to privacy, and the government shouldn't be in the business of violating those individual rights, especially when doing the bidding of big companies looking to make more profits at the expense of your privacy. i want to be known that this body -- i want to be known in this body that montanans don't want anybody snooping around in their private lives, neither the government nor corporations. it's fundamental to our montana values. protecting on-line privacy is critical to the integrity of basic fundamental freedom, a fundamental civil liberty. i urge all my colleagues to make their voices heard on this critical issue.
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i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: thank you, president. i rise to speak about bipartisan legislation that i've introduced to promote new innovative solutions to better manage invasive species, to conserve wildlife and to limit illegal poaching. mr. barrasso: i will tell you, mr. president, i introduced this in a bipartisan way as the chairman of the environment and public works committee along with senator tom carper who is the ranking member of that committee and along with senator jim inhofe who is a former chairman of that committee. this legislation is called the wildlife innovation and longevity driver act, wild for short. i'm a supporter of both conceiving wildlife and technological innovation that we have before us. now, my home state of wyoming truly is one of the most beautiful places in the world. the people of wyoming have an incredible appreciation for our wildlife.
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we applaud the efforts of innovators to help us conserve and manage she shes much more -- species much more lower cost. we grapple where many challenges that innovators can actually help us solve. for example, poaching has been a major issue in wyoming. hundreds of animals are taken illegally each year in the state and that's what i hear from the wyoming game and fish department. peaching is a problem across the country. it's not just a case in wyoming. and it has become pandemic overseas. international poachers seeking to cash in on the ivory trade have reduced the population of african elephants by 75% over the last ten years. it's tragic. mr. president, invasive species also present a threat to native wildlife, to water resources, and to our landscape. invasive species clog pipes and they fuel catastrophic fires. in fact, invasive species have a
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role in 42% of the listings under the endangered species act. thation -- that's invasive species causing other species to become endangered. we need creative solutions to these threats to our wildlife. our nation's innovators and developers cutting edge technologies to help us more effectively fight poaching, manage wildlife, and control invasive species. the 2015 national geographic article outlined a number of innovative technologies that are being used today to promote conservation of many of the world's most endangered species. that includes d.n.a. analysis to identify the origin of illicit ivory supplies, using thermal imaging around protected areas to notify authorities of poachers, using mobile apps to assist wildlife law enforcement in carrying out their duties. in december the national invasive species counsel cohosted a summit which highlighted innovations that combat invasive species.
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a couple of examples. a fish passage that ought matally extracts invasive fish from streams. d.n.a. technologies to provide early detection of invasive species. the use of drones to gain specifically accurate high resolution imbegans -- images that could be used to detect and monitor specific invasive species. innovations like these are why we've introduced in a bipartisan way the wild act. this act provides technological and financial assistance to private land owners to improve fish and wildlife habitats. the legislation does these by reauthorizing the partners for fish and wildlife program. the wild act requires federal agencies to implement strategic programs to control invasive species. it also reauthorizes important laws to protect endangered and valuable species around the world, such as the african elephant, the asian elephant, the rhinoceros, the tiger, the
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great ape and the marine turtle. finally, this act creates incentives for new conservation innovation. the legislation establishes four separate cash prizes for technological innovation in the prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking, in the promotion of wildlife conservation, in the management of invasive species and in the protection of endangered species. the department of the interior will administer the prizes and a panel of relevant experts will award each prize. mr. president, innovation is one of the best tools in conserving endangered species and in keeping invasive species under control. the wild act will help stimulate that innovation and i want to thank senator carper and senator inhofe for cosponsoring this important piece of legislation. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the question is on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 85, the nays are 14. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action. the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president. pra the majority leader -- the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: later today, due to the threat of an unpartisan filibuster, i will


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