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tv   Senate Debate on Supreme Court Nominee  CSPAN  April 8, 2017 6:36am-7:50am EDT

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the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord god of hosts be with us yet. lest we forget that our work on
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capitol hill matters to your kingdom. lord with the military response against syria we are reminded again that eternal vigilance is the price for freedom. continue to provide our lawmakers with opportunities to serve your purposes on earth. may they take seriously the responsibilities entrusted to them in their stewardship of the legislative branch. remind them that you know the pressures they must confront as
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they strive to serve you and country. bestow upon them the blessing of your presence that will guard their hearts with your peace. lord give them the confidence that in following you they can be certain of ultimate triumph. we pray in your holy name. 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. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: last evening the vice president notified me of the president's decision to respond to the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against its own people through military action. the action was taken to deter the assad regime from using chemical weapons again. i support both the action and the objective. the planning of this operation was clearly well considered, it
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was taken against the sharad air field where chemical weapons had been stored and taken against assets against the regime and hardened shelters. in the days ahead i'm committed to work with the administration to have a counter isil strategy and establishes objectives for dealing with the assad regime in a manner that preserves the institutions of government in an effort to prevent a failed associate -- state. our appreciation goes out to the world's military which presented capabilities and plans to the commander in chief and executed a difficult mission. none of this occurs without sears -- years of training by our servicemembers. this was an action of
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consequence, it's a clear signal from america that bashar al-asad can no longer use chemical weapons against his people with no impugnity. attention to all senators, we will have a briefing on this matter later today. on another matter. yesterday was a cons convention one -- consequential one for the senate. we used a tool that democrats first employed in to 13. as a result we will move to the confirmation of judge gorsuch shortly. he's going to make an incredible addition to the court. he's going to make the american people proud. after all, at this point a few things about this man seem beyond dispute. he has sterling credentials an excellent record and an ideal
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judicial temperament. he has the independence of mind for fairness. president obama's former acting solicitor general lauded judge gorsuch as one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our nation over the last half century. while president obama's legal mentor called judge gorsuch a brilliant, terrific guy who would do the court's work with distinction. an appointee of president clinton, james robertson said that judge gorsuch is well -- well prepared and well qualified to serve as an associate justice of the supreme court. there's no real dispute about that. an appointee of president carter's judge john kaine said i'm not sure we can expect better than judge gorsuch or that better presently exists. in other words no one is
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better. and, of course, we all know what long-time democrat and board member the left-leaning constitution society david frederick, had to say about judge gorsuch, the senate should confirm him because there is no principle reason to vote no. no principle reason to vote no. there's a reason neil gorsuch enjoys the support of a bipartisan portion of the senate. there's a reason that a partisan majority stands ready to confirm him today. he's an exceptional choice and i'm very much looking forward to confirming him today. of course, i wish that important aspects of this process had played out differently. it didn't have to be this way. but today is a new day. i hope my democratic friends will take this moment to reflect and perhaps consider a turning point in their outlook going
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forward. the senate has a number of important issues to consider in the coming months. each member, if he or she chooses, can play a critical part in the process. i would urge colleagues to consider the role they can play and i ask them to consider what we've been able to achieve in years past by working together, including the numerous bipartisan accomplishments of the last congress. as we all know the senate does more than confirm supreme court nominees although i sure am looking forward to confirming this one. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the gorsuch nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, supreme court of the united states.
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neil gorsuch of colorado to be an associate justice. the presiding officer: under the previous order there will now be two hours of debate equally divided in the usual form. mr. mcconnell: mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: madam president first let me address the nomination of judge gorsuch which will soon proceed to a final vote over the objection of we democrats. even though democrats had principled reasons to oppose this judge even though we offered many times to meet with the majority to discuss a new nominee and a way forward the republicans chose to break the rules and erase the 60-vote threshold for all judicial nominees. they had many options and they chose, unfortunately the nuclear option. i believe it will make this body a more partisan place.
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it will make the cooling saucer of the senate considerably hotter and i believe it will make the supreme court a more partisan place. as a result, america's faith in the integrity of the court and their trust in the basic impartiality of the law will suffer. those are serious things for this republic. prior to yesterday's cloture vote i shared my views on this moment at length, and i will let those comments stand in the record. now, as i have said repeatedly over the last week, week and a half let us go no further down this road. i hope the republican leader and i can in the coming months find a way to build a firewall around the legislative filibuster, which is the most important distinction between the senate and the house. without the 60-vote threshold for legislation the senate becomes a majoritarian institution like the house much more subject to the whims of short-term electoral change.
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no senator would like to see this happen, so let's find a way to further protect stt 60-vote rule for legislation. now, madam president since he will soon become the ninth justice of the court i hope judge gorsuch has listened to our debate here in the senate, particularly about our concerns about the supreme court increasingly drifting towards becoming a more pro-corporate court that favors employers corporations and special interests over working americans. we all know there's an anger and sourness in the land because average people aren't getting a fair shake compared to the powerful. in many cases the supreme court is the last resort for everyday americans who are seeking fairness and justice against forces much larger than themselves. at a time when folks are
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struggling to stay in the middle class and are struggling as hard as ever to get into the middle class, we need a justice on the court who will help swing it back in the direction of the people so we are charging judge gorsuch to be the independent and fair-minded justice that america badly needs. if he is instead a justice for the federalist society and the heritage foundation, that will spell trouble for america. finally, mr. president -- madam president, on syria i salute the professionalism and skill of our armed forces who took action last night. the people of syria have suffered untold horrors and violence at the hands of bashar al-assad and his supporters in tehran and in putin's russia. making sure that assad knows when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do. it is now however incumbent on
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the trump administration to come up with a coherent strategy and consult with congress before implementing it. thank you madam president. i yield the floor. and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: will we suspend the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: madam president i want to talk about what we're doing today and how important it is and how unique it is in the history of the sun since 1789, 112 people have served on the supreme court. it's hard not to be reminded today as we vote for the replacement for justice scalia that he served on the court for 26 years after ronald reagan who left -- appointed him left the white house and 13 years after president reagan died, so clearly the impact of a supreme court appointment for a
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nomination for the president a confirmation for the senate is one of those things that has the potential to last long beyond either the service of those in the senate at the time or certainly beyond those of the president at the time, and so it's a significant decision. a federal court appointment generally an appointment for life is different than an appointment for someone who serves during the tenure of the president, and i think almost all of us look at judicial appointments differently than we look at cabinet appointments and other appointments that are concurrent with the president's term. this is an appointment that lasts for as long as the judge is willing to serve and able to serve, and at 49 years old judge gorsuch who's already been a judge for ten years so he should know whether he likes being a judge or not and it
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would appear and we would hope that he would have a long and healthy life to use his skills on the court. i think those skills are very obvious in the over 2,000 decisions he has been part of, of the 800 decisions he's written as a circuit judge a circuit judge the appeals judge above other federal judges and right below the supreme court so someone who comes to this job, understanding the job with a significant body of work, that the senate's had plenty of time to look at and the president had time to look at before this nomination was made, and that those 800 opinions judge gorsuch has written he has been overturned by the court he will now sit on the u.s. supreme court exactly one time. that's a pretty incredible
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decision making if one out of eight times that the court that is the court of appeals the supreme court in this case, decides that your decision did not meet your view. it doesn't mean your decision didn't meet your view of the law if you're judge gorsuch or your view of the constitution, and of course, after today his view of how you apply the law will go to the court with him. you know, the things that i said -- that judge gorsuch has said at the white house event when his nomination was announced. he said a good judge is not always happy with their opinions. what would that mean? i thought this was a reassuring sense in his job as a job. his job is to read the law look at the constitution and determine how the facts of the case meet the reality of the
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law. one of the things that makes this a great country to live in, a great country to work in, a great country to take a chance in is the one thing you can rely on hopefully is the rule of law. the one thing you can rely on is when good lawyers read the law that they all understand it to mean the same thing and you move forward with whatever decision you make on that. so what judge gorsuch was personal opinions aren't always satisfied by reading the law. what he also, i think reflects is the view that the law is what the law was intended to mean at the time. there are ways to change the law. if the country has changed if the circumstances have changed there are ways to change the law. that is our job. that is not the job of any federal judge anywhere, including on the supreme court. their job is to determine what the law was intended to mean
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when it was written. their job is to determine what the constitution was intended to mean when it was written. and everything the constitution intended wasn't what we want to live with today and that's why we have that long list of amendments starting with the bill of rights. even immediately the people who wrote the constitution said, we've got to add things to this because this doesn't mean what it really is meant to mean, but that's not the job of the court. that's the job of the congress to pass laws, the president to do his job of vetoing or sending those laws back and signing them into law, and the court's job is what judge gorsuch understands it to be. in his hearings he said i have one client and that client is the law. that client is not either party
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appearing before the court. that party is not the government -- that client is not the government. that client is the law. i think he also said judges are not politicians in robes. we have a job to do that's different than the job of the court, and i think as we send judge gorsuch to the court today to be the 113th person in the history of the country to serve on the court we send a person that takes an understanding of what a judge should do that most americans, when they think about what the court is supposed to do would clearly understand that is the job of the court. there are other jobs to be done and they are to be done other places. i think he would a -- he will be a great addition to the court. i think ten years of experience as a judge who is the judge that other federal judges' cases are appealed to, what great training
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he has had to be ready for the court. and then, of course, to get this job done, we had to return to the traditional standard that has always been the standard in the country until the last few years for how presidential nominations are dealt with. easy to confuse i think the unique role of the senate in having some barriers that the house doesn't have to advancing legislation and since basically 1789 that's been applied to legislation. the senate has always seen its job as we want to be sure that the minority is heard before we move forward but starting in 1789 there was never a -- a supermajority for presidential nominations whether it was to their cabinet or the court. it is impossible to find, even
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before 1968, any case where the senate came together and said, we're officially going to decide we're not going to have a vote on this judge. now, not every judge got a vote, but when every judge got a vote, a majority of senators determined whether that judge would go on the court or not. two members of the court today didn't get 60 votes. clarence thomas got 52 votes. i think judge alito got 58 votes, but two members didn't get 60 votes but nobody thought they needed 60 votes because that had never been part of the structure of how judges got to the court. so i think what we've done this week is returned the senate to essentially the practice on presidential nominees that for 214 years was the way nominees
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were always dealt with. in 2013, the senate, controlled by our friends on the other side of the aisle decided that there are roughly 1,250 nominations and they decided every nomination that was available to them every judge where there was a vacancy every person the president might have had a vacancy to fill would be determined by a simple majority. from that moment on everybody i think, should not have been surprised that when you eventually had a supreme court vacancy, and this is the first one since that happened, that whoever was in charge would extend that same majority to the supreme court. so now all presidential nominees are back to where they were for 214 years but i heard the majority leader -- i heard my
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friend mr. schumer -- talk about the importance of us recommitting ourselves to the protections for the minority in passing legislation. madam president i -- i think we can do that, and frankly i think this exercise of refreshing our -- our minds on how legislation has always been handled in that way i believe has probably created a greater commitment to that -- to the legislative supermajority to move forward with debate than we've had for a while. i think the leader of our friends on the other side -- certainly the leader on our side have both said nobody is willing to back down on the challenges that the senate faces when we're required to come together to get things done. you know, the senate, even if it
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was a majority vote in the senate -- the senate is unique in that the senate -- it takes six years for every senator to run for election after some new sense of the direction of the country occurs, voters basically have to say no, we really want to change the way the country has run up until now. and quick decisions are not necessarily the best decisions in a democracy and in our democracy, this institution , the senate is the legislative institution that determines that there is a necessary either coming together of the people who are here at the time or voters to say another time, no, you didn't get it the first time.
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we are sending different people because we really want to make this change. so i think that the vote today and the traditions of the country sends that 113th person in the history of america to serve a lifetime term on the court . i am confident that the president's nominee and the senate's decision to send se that nominee to the court sends a good person to the court with a good understanding of what the supreme court of the united states is supposed to be. their job is not to look at the law and try to determine what should have said or to look at the constitution and determine what it should have said look at the law and the constitution and determine what it says. judge gorsuch as well as any person who's ever appeared before the senate to stand available for that job understands that principle , will take that principle to the court, will work with his colleagues as he has in the 10th circuit to rally around what the law says and what
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people can rely on in a country where our freedom should be secure and we should know that the courts are there to determine what is right in any given case, not what the judges think would be there idea of what would be right. and i look forward to the vote later this morning and to see judge gorsuch sworn in as a member of the court sometime in the very, very near future and madame g president, i noticed the absence of a quorum >> clerk will call the role. >> i rise today to support the nomination and confirming judge neil gorsuch to the united states supreme court. i do so with mixed emotions because i believe that the action taken in order to ...
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the tape action taken in order to achieve this position will have lasting effects that are unfortunate on this body as far as committee is concerned but also the confirmation of future judges of the supreme court by 51 votes. rather than go back through the history of what majority leader reid did in regard to judges and what we are doing now, i am very concerned about the future it will end with only a 51 vote majority required. will lead to a polarization of the nominees as far as their philosophies are c concerned , when the majority does not have to consider the concerns and votes of the minority. and focus on the democrats unprecedented filibuster of judge gorsuch's nomination, the united states supreme court and sends regrettable
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action yesterday will invoke the nuclear option on supreme court nominees, i have been remiss in not taking the time to describe for the american people why i support strongly and without qualification confirming judge gorsuch to serve as an associate justice of the united states supreme court. why i do so is simple. rarely has this body seen a nominee to the supreme court so well-qualified, so well skilled with such a command of constitutional jurisprudence, with such an established record of independent and such judicial independence is judge gorsuch. it is for these very reasons that this very body unanimously voted in 2006 to confirm this very judge, the same judge to the us court of appeals for the 10th circuit. yet now the other side would have the american people believe this very same judge lies firmly outside the mainstream and is therefore
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otherwise unacceptable to serve in the nation's highest court. even by the standards of this body, this sophistry is breathtaking. let me take a moment to join the chorus of support among my colleagues and recount why judge gorsuch is so deserving to of this bodies support for confirmation to the supreme court. first and foremost, judge gorsuch is a world-class jurist. in the us appellate court , judge gorsuch is maintained the lowest rate of other judges dissenting from his opinion. indeed, according to the su congressional research service, only 1.5 percent of judge gorsuch's majority opinions were accompanied by dissent. the lowest of any judge in that study. notably the us supreme court has never overruled any of judge gorsuch's opinions, not ha a single one. furthermore in the more than 2700 cases, judge gorsuch participated in, 97 percent
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of them were decided unanimously and judge gorsuch was in the majority 99 percent of the time. these are facts. >> the in addition, the us supreme court overruled an opinion for gorsuch sat on the panel. only one time. >> while serving on the court, judge gorsuch built an exceptional reputation for his fair-minded articulate and sharp intellect. and for president michael s mcconnell who served with judge gorsuch on the 10th circuit characterized judge gorsuch as a quote, independent thinker, never a it party liner.", one of the best writers in the judiciary today. he sets forth all positions fairly and gives real reasons, not just conclusions for siding with one and rejecting the other. second, judge gorsuch has one of the most impressive professional and academic rounds this body has ever seen. he graduated from columbia
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university, allowed a and phi beta kappa and the capital from harvard law school. he obtained a doctorate degree in philosophy from oxford university and served as a truman and marshall's dollars. additionally he clerked for us circuit court david sentelle and to bring court justice byron white and anthony kennedy. judge gorsuch also served as principal deputy assistant attorney general at the department of justice . before serving as a judge on the us circuit court of appeals for the 10th circuit. >> for all of these achievements, judge gorsuch has earned the highest c possible rating from a group , the minority leader schumer calls the gold standard for evaluating judicial nominations. finally, judge gorsuch has established himself as an exceptional nominee. judge gorsuch's appearance before the senate judiciary was extraordinary .
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in the course of the three rounds of questioning by the committee, each member had the opportunity to quiz judge gorsuch for over an hour each on just about every aspect of constitutional law and answering about 1200 questions from the panel he demonstrated almost peerless mastery over that field. furthermore, judge gorsuch's nomination with the help of my friend and former member of this body ellie ayotte, was exemplary in its transparency. before his hearing and in response to the judiciary's request, judge gorsuch provide over 70 pages of written answers about his personal record and over 75,000 pages of documents including speeches , case briefs and opinions which by the way, makes you wonder why he wanted the job but anyway, white house archives and the doctor of justice similarly produced over 1800 pages ,
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180,000 pages of documents related to judge gorsuch's time at the doj. by department of justice moral will provide access to reams of documents that would ordinarily be subjected to claims of privilege, however in the spirit of cooperation and hope of truly bipartisan consideration, the department of justice provided my friends on the other side of the aisle access to the records anyway. additionally in response to almost 300 separate questions posed by democrats on the committee, judge gorsuch provided another 70 pages of written responses and did so within a week of receiving them to give my friends efficient time to review the answers before the committee vote and before consideration of his nomination. despite all i said, despite everything i just said my friends on the other side would have the american people believe that judge gorsuch lies firmly out of the mainstream and hopefully obfuscated this judicial philosophy.
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my friends, and you do that, to the man , an individual that qualified, you lose t credibility. for all the reasons i went through that is simply untrue. moreover, many of my friends on the other side had the opportunity to question judge gorsuch over 20 hours they had during his confirmation hearing, they contented themselves with asking judge gorsuch for his personal opinions on issues for him if he is confirmed to the court reedit in addition, they pass hypotheticals they knew before ethical and prudential reasons would not possibly be expected to answer. >> your some straight talk. the real reason why most of my friends on the other side oppose judge gorsuch's confirmation is the president trump nominated him. because their base of support and related special interests on the far left have been upset about president trump's
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election in november. the fact is, that if most of my colleagues , my friends on the other side of the aisle were opposed to this nominee, they will oppose any nominee put forward by this president or any republican president for that matter. the president's record is clear, judge gorsuch's qualifications, knowledge, skill, judicial record and record of independence are exceptional. he has earned my strong and unqualified support for his confirmation to this good nation's highest court. could i just make one additional comments, i know my friend from utah is waiting. when president obama and presidents before them were elected in both parties, it was pretty much the standard procedure here in the united
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states senate to give the incoming president the benefit of the doubt. in other words, the american people by electing the president of the united states had also basically endorsed that his responsibility and his right to nominate judges to the soup courts. that's just sort of a given because the american people spoke and their selection of the president of the united states, taking into consideration those responsibilities that the president would have. therefore, for those reasons i voted for most of president obama's nominees as i did most of president clinton's we are in a position where we are so polarized that even a man of the qualifications of judge gorsuch is now opposed by our he friends on the other side of the aisle. >> i say to my friends on the w other side of the aisle and i say to my friends on this side of the aisle , that's not the way the senate was
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designed to work. the united states senate was designed for us to communicate, to work together, understand the result and repercussions of a free and fair election. and it's about time that we sat down together and tried to do some things for the american people in a bipartisan fashion. this near historical opposition that i see from my friends on the other side of the aisle was not boding well for what we know we need to do. madam president, i recognize the presence of the distinguished center from utah and i say distinguished because both he and of advanced age. the senator, i yield the floor. >> madam president. >> i really appreciate my colleagues from arizona, he's one of the great senators o here and we all pay attention to what he has to say, especially on foreign policy and military affairs but on
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so many other things, is probably listening to what he saying with regard to this judgeship. i have great respect for senator mccain, always will. he's one of the truly great senators in this body. and i just wish my colleagues sa on the other side would pay more attention to what he has to say here today so thank you senator. >> . >> madam president, i rise today in strong support of the confirmation of heather wilson. being the 24th secretary of the air force, i've had the privilege of . >> in my interaction with doctor wilson on the intelligence committee, that quickly became apparent she is the first of an exceptional character. but this should come as no surprise since she has always achieved a level of excellence in each of her endeavors. doctor wilson knew success from an early age, she made history as one of the first female graduate of the air force academy.
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but the academy she thrived as a student eventually earning a rhodes scholarship to attend oxford university where she earned a phd in international relations. doctor wilson wrote a well-received book entitled international law and the use of force by the national liberation movement. as a lawyer i was particularly embarrassed by doctor wilson's analysis of international law . what is all the more impressive his book was published as she was serving as a director of defense policy and arms-control to the national security council. doctor wilson's commitment to national security was evident when she served in the house of representatives in 1998 to 2009. when she left the house after more than a decade of service. congress has lost south dakota's gain and in 2013 she became the president of the south dakota school of mines
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science and technology and showed extraordinary skill creating a large institution. madam president, in sum, doctor heather wilson is a person of great intellect, strong management skills and superlatives character. i believe she will be an outstanding secretary of the air force which is why i strongly encourage my colleagues to confirm her without delay. madam president, confirming doctor wilson was the stretch necessary to address the challenges facing our military. after all, there are fundamental issues regarding the readiness of our armed services, especially the air force must be confronted and resolved. the lack of proper investment in training is evident in each of the departments, i'm concerned about air force unique responsibilities. they describe each set of problems facing our air force , as too few.
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to view aircraft, too few personnel including pilots, too few flight training hours , regarding the shortage of aircraft as the aircraft speaker of staff recently testified , readiness to the subcommittee. less than 50 percent of the service aircraft are ready to perform all of the combat missions to which they are assigned. the average age of the service aircraft is 27 years old. many other aircraft including the b-52 and kc 135 have decades of wear and tear . the aging aircraft of the 1950s and 60s will be retained as a force for the foreseeable future. the current number of 55 fighters for our squadron fell short of the number needed to fulfill our war fighters requirement. as wilson testified during her confirmation hearing, the air force is not fully ready
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to fight against a near. competitor. such as china or russia. to view aircraft indeed , of course the number of aircraft is one of the multiple issues facing the air force. we also have too few personnel including pilots , eric aircraft no matter how advanced cannot fly without experience and highly trained maintenance personnel and we need 400 more before the service can effectively accomplish its mission. we are also running short of the men and women who fly these aircraft. er in a recent testament before the airlines subcommittee senior air force officers testified that the service has a deficit of 1555 pilots and that number we require more than 750 additional fighter pilots. there is concern that those
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pilots that remain are receiving very few flight training hours. much less than needed. madam president, these are enormous challenges. it's a herculean task in front of us and doctor wilson will develop the strategies required to restore our air force to a full state of readiness. madam president, i hope the senate will speed the confirmation of doctor wilson to become the 24th secretary of the air force. madam president , on the other subject, i'm very concerned with the way neil gorsuch has been treated. we could not have a finer n, person , more ready person, more knowledgeable person , a more legal expert type of person then neil gorsuch. to this very, very important calling on the supreme court.
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it's amazing to me how some of my colleagues on the other side have ignored all of the facts, all the evidence, all the experience , all the goodness of this man. and i hope they will not vote against him but it looks to me as if many of them will vote against him. if you can't support neil gorsuch, who can you support? are you going to support people who do your bidding? are you going to support people who can do the nations bidding? and do the things this country needs? neil gorsuch is this type of person. he had that type of ability. he has that type of experience. he's a terrific human being and whether you agree or disagree with them, you walk away saying well, he certainly makes a lot of good points.
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and you walk away saying i like the guy . he's somebody i can work with and somebody that loves his country. he's somebody who sets an exemplary example . in every way. i have to say that i've seen in my years of service here, i've seen a number of supreme court nominations, i've seen a number of people put on the court area and they've all been exceptional people. but there's none of them that exceeds neil gorsuch. and it's kind of a shame that we can't in a bipartisan way vote his selection. i suspect there's more to it than just judge gorsuch. i think our colleagues on the
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other side know that this is early in president trumps rain as president of the united states. that he might very well have another one, two, maybe three or four nominees to the court. and i don't blame my colleagues on the other side for being concerned because let's face it, he is unlikely to put people on the court with whom they agree. on the other hand, he is very likely to put them on the court for great lawyers who have had great experience , who will bring great distinction to the court and who will without telling us how they're going to vote and how they're going to rule do the job that we all count on the supreme court doing. the supreme court to me is a sacred institution. we've had great justices on both sides, on all sides as a matter of fact. we've had great democrat justices, we've had great republican justices .
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and no one knows how great the nominee is going to be until the nominee serves on the court and it does the job that is so difficult to do as a member of the united states supreme court. neil gorsuch, i have every confidence will be one of the all-time great justices for the court.he deserves confirmation , he deserves overwhelming confirmation. if we weren't in such a disputed to mood around here , if we didn't have so much problems with each other, he would be an easy person to support. is but i hope we can put our politics aside and look at the man, look at his experience , look at his genius , look at his decency, look at the fact that he graduated with the scholars
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in 99 percent of the cases that came before the court of appeals and most of those were democrats. look at these things and say my gosh, what are we about here? is this just become a politicized exercise every time we have a nomination ? one way or the other? i have to admit it looked as though hillary clinton was going to win. senator mcconnell decided that we should not put merrick garland on during his presidential election which i think was a good decision. it was a sincere decision. >> and it looked as if hillary clinton was going to win he ri might very well get a more liberal justice on the court . then merrick garland. the fact of the matter is that senator mcconnell knew the odds were against
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republicans winning the presidency this last election and to some, it was kind of miraculous for donald trump to win. it wasn't miraculous to me because last may, donald 't trump called me and asked me to support him. i said you know what , i'm the kiss of death. in the lab and he said what you mean the kiss of death? i said i reported jeb bush and i supported marco rubio. my colleague in the senate and he had to withdraw. i said, so i'm the kiss of death. he said, i want you anyway so i became one of two senators who supported this president, this now president of the united states. and was gratified to see him win that election. i thought he could.
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i knew there was a great chance because i was going all over the country and i found people were not willing to say who they were for. and i knew darn well they were for trump . they just didn't want to admit it. especially democrats , but he got an overwhelming number of blue-collar democrats and i understand that. i learned to trade as a young man. when i say i learned to trade, i was born not with the wealth of some of my colleagues. i was born in what some people would call poverty today. we were poverty-stricken but my parents were very solid, decent, honorable people but they were poor. and frankly, poor in the sense of monetary value. but they were good, honest, decent people. and i feel very blessed to have been raised by then. and all i can say is this. to allow the selection of the
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supreme court nominee to come down to a wide vote against that nominee , the quality of neil gorsuch, if that's what my colleagues on the other side in their wisdom decide to do , i think it's a disgrace. i think it flies in the face of years and years of people selected for the court. we all can differ, everybody has that right . all i can say is i wish we could work together as a body. i have great respect for my democratic colleagues as well as my republican colleagues and this is the greatest body in the world and in spite of our difficulties and our differences , we do a lot of really good things for the country. and we do it at its best in a bipartisan way when we can.
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>> i like to start by mentioning the chemical attack in syria earlier this week. it was nothing short of evil and i stand shoulder to shoulder with the administration in condemning this brutality. again, we see a side crossing a line, a line drawn and ignored by the obama administration. the united states and the world community simply can't stand idly while syria continues crimes against humanity. again, under russian protection. that's why last night the administration responded quickly and proportionately and i commend the president and his national security team for acting decisively in sending a clear message to
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assad and our allies and i'm sure a message that wasn't missed by the leaders of the iranian government , the russian federation and north korea. i agree with ambassador haley that russia's obstructionism that the un has enabled assad and prevented international action, resulting in at least 400,000 syrians dead in the civil war and millions other displaced as refugees not only internally but externally as well. i stand ready to work with the president and his administration on a unified strategy to defeat assad's barbarism and work toward greater stability in syria and throughout the region. madam president, on another subject, as we all know here in about 20 minutes we will
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start the boat to confirm neil gorsuch as the next justice of the united states supreme court. over the last few weeks, our colleagues and i have and the entire country have gotten to know judge neil gorsuch not only as a judge, but as a man. he is a good man. he has superb qualifications and incredible integrity. a colorado decision, judge gorsuch assured on the denver-based court of appeals for 10 years. he's known for his sharp intellect, his brilliant writing and his faithful interpretation of the constitution and laws passed by congress. he is in short a distinguished jurists with an impeccable legal and academic record. in addition to his decade on the bench is professional experience includes years practicing at a private law firm, is clerkships including the supreme court to the united states under two separate justices and servicing the department of justice. it is simply undeniable that
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judge gorsuch is a qualified, high-caliber nominee and i have no doubt that he will serve our nation well on the supreme court. but of course in spite of all this, his sterling background, his proven character, his broad bipartisan support seen an unprecedented attack on this good judge and good man in the form of a partisan political filibuster, the first ever lodged against a supreme court nominee . yesterday are democratic colleagues would have prevented an up and down vote that we are getting ready to have here at 11:30. for what? certainly it wasn't because of the judge, his character, his qualifications, his background and experience. it's more because so many of our colleagues across the aisle amply haven't gotten over the fact that donald trump won the presidential election and hillary clinton didn't.
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before judge gorsuch was nominated, the minority leader, our colleague enter schumer that they needed a mainstream nominee. after president trump, nominated a mainstream nominee, democrats look for other ways to make him out to be some sort of extremist or radical. but they failed because there is simply no evidence to justify those kind of characterizations. for one, judicial experts spanning the political spectrum including president obama's armor solicitor general voice their support and second, they had to deal with the facts of his record . during his time on the 10th circuit, judge gorsuch was involved in thousands of decisions, 2700 to be exact . and the vast majority of those panel decisions made by at least three judges , sometimes more on the panel, 97 percent of them were unanimous.
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so you would basically have to slander the reputations of all those other judges with whom the judge agreed to claim that he is some sort of out of the mainstream extremist. that's truly an impressive record for a judge in a multi-judge court like the district , denver-based kent court of appeals and its simply rebuts any picture our ai trends across the aisle have invented the pain of him as some kind of extremist or radical. i would ask our friends this question, it judge gorsuch doesn't fit the bill for a qualified mainstream nominee , is there any nominee from this president or any other republican president that will meet the democrats arbitrary , flimsy standard? time and time again our friends across the aisle nailed to make any ll intellectually honest argument against this nominee and still, they determined to block him. that brought us to the
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cloture vote yesterday and the last ditch effort to block judge gorsuch. they didn't want to even give him the up and down vote are getting ready to have here in a few minutes. instead they wanted to kill his nomination by simply refusing an up or down vote and moving his nomination forward. in our nation's entire history, before yesterday, there had only been four cloture votes for supreme court nominees, only four. none of them had been cast as a partisan filibuster in determining to try to block the nomination. until yesterday. still, the minority leader cheered on by extreme groups on the left led this chamber to the first ever partisan filibuster of the supreme court nominee following a regrettable and recent trend of democratic obstruction when it came to judicial nominees. and that's where now that
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there's a republican in the white house again, that's what they want to do again is obstruct . this is a wholly concocted method that democrats started back when george w. bush was president to deny a republican president and opportunity to nominate the person of his choice, confirmed by a majority vote in the senate. before 2000, before senator schumer and a number of liberal legal academicians decided they wanted to raise threshold for confirmation to 60 votes instead of what the constitution requires which is a majority vote, no one would have ever dreamed that o the constitution would have allowed for a 60 vote requirement rather than an up or down vote. it's not that our friends across the aisle truly
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opposed judge gorsuch. the fact is they oppose president trump. that's what this is all about. but this boat isn't about president trump. it's about the man we've all learned so much about, judge neil gorsuch who has a record of faithfully interpreting the law. n a man was proven himself to possess an independent judicial mind, who simply follows the law wherever it may lead. someone who's one bipartisan approval. this boat is about delivering on a promise . e republicans promised to let the american people , to let their voice be heard in deciding who they will choose as president to select the next supreme court justice. the american people did that, they chose president trump and he chose judge gorsuch. he this hillary clinton, if she had been elected president today i have no doubt that her choice for the supreme court would be confirmed while majority vote in the
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same united states senate. but now it's time we deliver on the promise we made to the american people and confirm judge neil gorsuch to the supreme court.madam president, i'd yield the floor. >> madam president i have a plan to speak this morning but when my friend in texas decided to get his version of history i thought well, maybe i ought to have my version . it's slightly different. justice antonin scalia passed away february of last year. president barack obama, president of the united states of america had a constitutional responsibility under article 2, section 2 to nominate a person to fill the vacancy on the supreme court as every other president had, and he did. he came up with the name merrick garland, the chief judge on the dc circuit court of appeals, a man who was widely respected . the judge unanimously well-qualified be by the american bar association and
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president obama submitted his name to this congress, to the senate . a senate which is with a republican majority and a leader, senator mitch mcconnell of kentucky. senator mcconnell and the republican senators did he something that had never happened in the history of this chamber, not once. a denied to president obama's nominee the opportunity for hearing at a vote. in fact, senator mcconnell went further and said i won't even meet with the man. it had never happened before. and you say to yourself come on, this is beanbag, you're in washington, this is major-league politics. this sort of thing must happen all the time. never. if you go back and not that far in history to 1988 in the last year of president ronald reagan's presidency, his fourth year, some call it the lame-duck year, there was a vacancy on the supreme court. republican president ronald reagan that the name anthony kennedy to a democratically
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controlled senate . which had the power to do the same thing senator mcconnell did, denied hearing, deny the vote. what did the democrats do? they gave justice kennedy hearing, a vote and sent him to fill the vacancy on the supreme court. the republicans under senator mcconnell refused merrick garland the same opportunity and they said to president obama, you are in your fourth year, you're a lame-duck. your choices really don't count but there's more to it . really, the strategy was based on the premise and possibility that a republican would be elected in this last november election and if so, the republican president could fill the vacancy on the supreme court. that's exactly what happened. the election of donald trump gave him the opportunity to fill the vacancy of antonin ye scalia, a vacancy which
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should have been filled i believe by merrick garland, president obama's nominee. that's what led up to the vote yesterday but there was more. where did the name neil gorsuch come from? it's true he served on the 10th circuit for 10 years. he been approved by the united states senate. he said he had a strong resume but how did he get on the finalist list? most of the time you never know. presidents don't always disclose how they come up with names but in this case it was very open. cause during the course of his campaign, donald trump the candidate listed 21 names of people that he would appoint to the us supreme court. on that list of names, neil gorsuch of colorado. how did that namely the list? we know because president trump told us. he was the choice of the federalist society and heritage foundation. these two organizations, they are republican advocacy groups, conservative groups and they were going to pick the nominees that were approved by them and submit
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them to donald trump which he then publicized. we know that because of the end of the day donald trump thanked the federalist siding for nominating judge gorsuch. that's how his name came to us. i sent through the hearing as a member of the judiciary committee and i will tell you that most supreme court nominees don't go out of their way to volunteer information. they try to be respectful they don't try to say much of anything. they don't want to get in trouble. either as judges or as candidates to be a judge on the us supreme court. so there were gaps in his testimony and questions raised about him. what i don't want to dwell on him so much as i want to dwell on this process. what happened yesterday on the floor of the senate was unfortunate. the last four justices on the supreme court nominated by president obama , sonja soto
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mayor were nominated by george w. bush, john roberts as well as justice alito, all received 60 votes during the course of their consideration. that is not as the senator from texas alluded, rightly in the wall per se but it is written that until yesterday, in the rules of the senate, you needed 60 votes to overcome the possibility of a filibuster and to file cloture. that rule change yesterday to a majority. that's an unfortunate occurrence. a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land should be more than just a ce bare majority vote as far as i'm concerned. historically with very few exceptions, that has been the case . that is not the case here. we found yesterday a change in the rules which was under the power of the majority to do. a change in rules which lowered the standard for this judge for the first time officially in at least a century to a mere majority vote.
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that's what he received, that's what brings his nomination to the floor today to be considered for the supreme court. te at the end of yesterday's session when the rule was changed, some senators were engaged in high-fives on the other side of the aisle. i'm not sure why. i don't think it was a time for any wedding celebration. i think it was an unfortunate moment. and the question is where will we go from here? we know what the outcome of the vote will be on judge gorsuch , that's preordained by the rules probably went through yesterday but where does the senate go? where should we go? i hope we will have a good sense to restore the 60 vote y margin when it comes to future supreme court nominees. it may mean justice gorsuch has anáby his name is the only one to be approved with a majority vote but i'm hoping even if he reaches the supreme court that will hold
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him back from serving this nation well. i know he's told us over and over again that's what he wants to do but i would hope the senate would restore the standard of 60 votes necessary for the supreme court. i really believe this is an extraordinary opportunity for person to serve this nation, and extraordinary responsibility and we should take it very seriously, it should be a majority decision, it should be a 60 vote position and i hope we get back to that very soon. i hope that the senate will not be the by this report nomination having happened so early in the session. this is a great institution, i've given a big part of my life to it and look forward to serving more in the senate , not as long as the senator from iowa who has retired the trophy in his state for his service. but i do believe that this is a great institution , an example is the senator from iowa in the opposite political faith, he and i have worked on important issues and we want to work together in the future and we
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can if we can restore what you and i remember as the glory days of this body, it's in the best interest of this nation so jan report nomination let's hope we can come together to make that happening. i know they are anxious to ic vote and i'm not going to hold the chamber. i'm just going to say that i think the presiding officer and my friend the chairman of the committee look forward to the vote, i yield the floor. >> senator from iowa. >> we are about to vote on the nomination of judge gorsuch. r so i would like to say to my colleagues why i am so pleased that we will soon be referring to him as justice gorsuch. i opened our judiciary committee hearing with this , as justice scalia said it is quote, a proud boast of our
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democracy that we have a government of law and not man. without a secure structure and the separated powers, our bill of rights would be worthless. end of scalia's quote. the separation of powers in our constitution is a guardian of our liberty. judge gorsuch understands that. his deep understanding of the separation of powers and livens his opinions. by faithfully enforcing the boundaries among the branches of government and the power of the federal government in our lives , this justice will ensure that the law protects our liberties. and here's the other thing that's important about a judge who respects the separation of powers. we know that he will be independent . he told us that he is his own
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man , that no person speaks for him. he's not beholden to the president who appointed him. and his testimony shows that he's not beholden to us in the congress either. he wouldn't compromise his independence to win confirmation votes. he passed the test . this is a man of integrity. and his qualifications for the bench are exceptional. you know the story. columbia university , vespers. harvard law school, doctorate. oxford university , partnership at a prestigious law firm and high level justice department service for the people of our country. most importantly, a decade-long record of faithfully applying the law
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on the federal bench in 2700 cases as a member of the 10th circuit court of appeals . so let me sum up this way. this brilliant, honest, humble man is a judges judge and he will make a superb justice . i yield the floor. >> mister president. >> majority leader. >> after further proceedings on the quorum call be dispensed with. >> without objection. >> we will take the balance he of time on this side. >> without objection all time is yielded back. the question occurs on the confirmation of neil m gorsuch of colorado to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the united states . >> is there a sufficient second?there is.
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the clerk will call the role. >> shortly thereafter, the senate went on to confirm judge gorsuch with a final vote of 54 to 45. senators joe donnelly, heidi heitkamp and neil were the only democrats to vote along with every republican except johnny isaacson who was not present for the vote. craig kaplan points out the democratic senator michael bennet voted against the nomination despite introducing judge gorsuch and his confirmation hearing last month. his actions are similar to former senator scott brown, frank wattenberg and evan by who did the same for justices elena kagan, daniel l ito and john roberts. after the vote, senate judiciary chair chuck grassley spoke wit


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