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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 21, 2013 8:00pm-10:01pm EST

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52-48 vote to do so and a complex series of interesting votes, actually, this morning, that happened i want harry reid to change the filibuster. we need that. they can do it they want to do. smoke dope. i think they need to be sat down. >> north carolina, independence line. i have three comments. i would like to comment on the click you played on the president's speech today. he talked about the obstruction in congress, which he means the republicans when he says that. hadthe last five years, he
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both houses. i would like to remind people of that. i forgot my second comment. my third comment will be my commentsow -- second now. i would like to thank god for the tea party. without the tea party there are no laws. >> one last week. -- tweet. chris murphy suggest that the rules changes should apply to bills as well. keeping in mind that just applies to executive and judicial nominees, not supreme court nominees. peggy in washington is our last caller on the republican line. ra, i would like to say that
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i think our country is in big trouble. paulnk ted cruz and ron are the ones keeping things together. the african-american, black beple, in our country will crazy surprised when obama comes out with a turban on his head. i believe that this man is not black. >> you believe he is not black? i guess we will not find out. thanks for your calls. next i will tell you about tomorrow morning on washington journal. we start the day with a look at the 50th anniversary of the assassination of president john f. kennedy in dallas. we start the day with david hawking's on the washington journal talking about how the white house prepared for kennedy's the funeral. richard rees will talk about the legacy of john kennedy 50 years
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after his death. and a family-friendly harvey oswald, the assassin, will be our guest tomorrow on "washington journal." the we take you to beginning of the debate on the senate floor over the change in senate old buster rules. -- senate filibuster rules. >> the american people believe that the senate is broken. i believe the american people are right. the united states has wasted unprecedented amount of time. as a result, the work of this country goes undone. congress should be passing legislation that strengthens our economy and protect american families. their wasted days between
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filibusters. we have wasted days and weeks between filibusters. the most basic duties have become completely unworkable. there has been an unbelievable, unprecedented abstraction for the first time in the history of our republic. they are attempting to prevent president obama from appointing or confirming judges. it is truly a troubling trend. republicans are willing to block , even when they have no objections to the qualifications of the nominee. they are blocking qualified nominees to circumvent the legislative rosses stop blocking entire
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executive branch departments. obamao not want president to appoint any judges to certain courts. the need for change is so very obvious. it is clearly visible. it is manifest. we have to do something to change things. in the history of our country, some 230 plus years, there've been 160 filibusters. half of them have occurred during the obama administration. 230 plus years. 50%. 50% have occurred. these nominees occur in up or down vote. yes or no. republican filibusters denying
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them. they deny the president and his team. gridlock have consequences and their terrible. it is not only bad for president obama, is bad for the united states senate. it is bad for the country. it is bad for national security and is bad for economic security. it is time to get the senate working again. not for the good of the democratic majority, or for some future republican majority, before the good of the united states of america. it is time to change. is time to change before this institution becomes obsolete. at the beginning of this the republican leader pledged that this congress should be more bipartisan than the last congress.
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we are told scripture, let's take for example the book of numbers. , pledges, valves, one does not break his word. republicans work with the majority to process legislation in a effective manner. later, three weeks republicans mounted a first in history filibuster. they were against a highly qualified nominee against the possible secretary of defense. despite the fact that he was a republican senator. fornomination was contested 34 days. remember, mr. president, our country was at war.
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republicans to block executive nominees like chuck hagel, they do not object to their qualifications. they seek to undermine the government under which they would serve. the leader of the consumer financial protection bureau, take his nomination. there was no doubt about his ability to do the job. but the consumer financial protection bureau went for more than two years if any leader. because republicans refuse to accept the law of the land. they wanted to roll back a law that protects consumers for the greed of wall street. you don't have to like the laws of the land, but you do have to respect those laws. you have to acknowledge them and abide by them. senate obstruction continued unabated for seven more months
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until democrats were able to change senate rules to allow for votes on executive nominations. in july, after obstructing dozens of nominees, and some for years, republicans once again promised that they would end the unprecedented obstruction. , nothingat the senate has changed since july. republicans have continued their deliberate obstruction. they have continued this is if no agreement had been reached. there are currently 75 executive branch nominations ready to be debated by the senate. the average is 140 days for confirmation. to the agency that safeguards the water that my children and grandchildren drink, they have
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waited almost 900 days for confirmation. july that the senate should be confirming nominees to ensure the proper functioning of government. consistent obstruction by the republican caucus has turned consent into denying abstract. been filibustering a nominee for the secretary of defense for the first time in history. they also blocked a member of congress for an administration position for the first time -- since 1843. a mistake that led to the housing crisis let him uniquely qualified to serve. denied apublicans
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fellow member of congress and a graduate of the yield school of law even the courtesy of an up or down vote. mr. president, in the last three weeks alone, the republicans --e blocked many nominated qualified nominees. this does not take into consideration that they have twice turned down the most qualified people in my 30 years of the senate that i have ever seen come in front of his body. we have more to add to that list. is considered by many to be the highest court of the land. it deals with complex cases. they come from federal agencies and other things within their jurisdiction. republicans have blocked for a president obama's nominees to the d.c. circuit. for ofts approved
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president bush's nominations. court,he d.c. circuit the second most important court in the land, has more than 25% vacancies. mr. president, i asked that this conversation that is over here that is quite distracting. the senate will be in order. the senator has a right to be heard. not a single legitimate objection to the qualifications of any of these nominees to the d.c. circuit court the president obama has put forward. republicans have to give them an up or down vote. if ingle yes or no vote. republicans do not want president obama to make any appointments at all. zero.
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only 23 district court nominations have been filibustered in the entire history of our country. 20 of them have been in the last 4.5 years. in 230 plus years. last or .5 years, 20. -- or .5 years, 20. that is not fair. one out of every 10 judgeships are bacon. -- they can -- vacant. more than half of the nation's population lives in parts of the country that have beaten -- been declared a judicial emergency. harder thanorked the presiding officer and judges. presiding officers and the chairman of the judicial committee. no one knows more than the
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presiding officer. mr. president, the american people are fed up with this kind of obstruction. the american people, democrats, , arelicans, independents fed up with this gridlock. the american people want washington to work. mr. president, i am on their side. i propose that we change the rules of the united states senate. the republican leader himself said, the senate has repeatedly changed rules as circumstances did kate. he is right. the senate has changed its rules 18 times. during the tenure
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care on the public that they assured them up and down that they wouldn't lose the plans
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they had, that they saved money instead of losing it, and that they would be able to use the doctors and hospitals they were already using. but of course we know that that rhetoric just doesn't match reality. and the stories we are hearing on a near daily basis are now ranging from heart breaking to comic. just yesterday, i saw a story about a guy getting a letter in the mail saying his dog, his dog had qualified for insurance under obamacare. so yeah, i would probably be running for the exit, too, if i had supported this law. i would be looking to change the subject, change the subject just as senate democrats have been doing with their threats of going nuclear and changing the senate rules on nominations. if i were a senator from oregon, for example, which hasn't
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enrolled a single person, a single person for the obamacare exchange, i'd probably want to talk about something else, too. but here's the problem with this latest distraction. it doesn't distract people from obamacare. it reminds them of obamacare. it reminds them of all the broken promises. it reminds them of the power grab. it reminds them of the way democrats set up one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else. one set of rules for them and another for everybody else. actually, this is all basically the same debate. and rather than distract people from obamacare, it only reinforces the narrative of a party that is willing to do and say just about anything to get
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its way. willing to do or say just about anything to get its way. because that's just what they're doing all over again. once again, senate democrats are threatening to break the rules of the senate, break the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the senate. and over what? over what? over a court that doesn't even have enough work to do? millions of americans are hurting because of a law washington democrats forced upon them, and what do they do about it? they cook up some fake fight over judges. a fake fight over judges that aren't even needed. look, i get it. as i indicated, i want to be talking about something else, too, if i had to defend dogs getting insurance while millions of americans lost theirs.
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but it won't work. and the parallels between this latest skirmish and the original obamacare push are just too obvious to ignore. think about it. just think about it. the majority leader promised, he promised over and over again that he wouldn't break the rules of the senate in order to change them. this was not an ancient promise. july 14, on "meet the press," said we're not touching judges. this year, july 14, "meet the press," we're not touching judges. then there are the double standards. when democrats were in the minority, they argued strenuously for the very thing they now say we will have to do
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without. namely, the right to extend a debate on lifetime appointments -- to extended debate on lifetime appointments. in other words, they believe that one set of rules should apply to them, to them and another set to everybody else. he may have just as well have said if you like the rules of the senate, you can keep them. huh? if you like the rules of the senate, you can keep them. just the way so many democrats in the administration and congress now believe that obamacare is good enough for their constituents, but then when it comes to them, their political allies, their staff, well, of course, that's different. and let's not forget about the raw power, the raw power at play
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here. on this point, the similarities between the obamacare debate and the democratic threat to go nuclear on nominations are inescapable. inescapable. they muscled through obamacare on a party-line vote and didn't care about the views of the minority. didn't care one whit about the views of the minority. and that's just about what they're going to do here. the american people decided to give the democrats -- not to give the democrats the house or to restore the filibuster-proof majority they had in the senate back in 2009, and our democratic colleagues don't like that one bit. they just don't like it. the american people are getting in the way of what they'd like to do. so they're trying to change the rules of the game to get their way anyway. they said so themselves. earlier this year, the senior senator from new york said they
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want to fill up the d.c. circuit one way or the other. fill up the d.c. circuit one way or the other. and the reason is clear. as one liberal activist put it earlier this year, president bush's agenda runs through the -- president obama's agenda runs through the d.c. circuit. you can't get what you want through the congress because the american people in november, 2010, said they had had enough. they issued a national restraining order after watching two years of this administration unrestrained, so now it runs through the bureaucracy and the d.c. circuit. as i said, in short, unlike the first two years of the obama administration, there is now a legislative check on the president and the administration doesn't much like checks and balances. so it wants to circumvent the people's representatives with an aggressive regulatory agenda,
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and our democratic colleagues want to facilitate that by filling up a court that will rule on his agenda, a court that doesn't even have enough work to do, especially if it means changing the subject from obamacare for a few days. and get this -- they think they can change the rules of the senate in a way that benefits only them. they want to do it in such a way that president obama's agenda gets enacted but that a future republican agenda couldn't get his or her picks confirmed by the supreme court using the same precedent our democratic friends want to set. so they want to have it both ways. but this sort of gerrymandered vision of the nuclear option is really just wishful thinking. as the ranking member of the judiciary committee, senator grassley, pointed out yesterday. the majority leader changes the rules for some judicial nominees, he is effectively changing them for all judicial nominees, including the supreme
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court, as senator grassley pointed out just yesterday. so look, i realize this sort of wishful thinking might appeal to the uninitiated newcomers in the democratic conference who served exactly zero days in the minority, but the rest of you guys in the conference should know better. those of you who have been in the minority before should know better. let's remember how we got here. let's remember that it was senate democrats who pioneered, who literally pioneered the practice of filibustering circuit court nominees and who have been its biggest proponents in the very recent past. after president bush was elected, they even held a retreat in which they discussed the need to change the ground rules by which lifetime appointments are considered. the senior senator from new york put on a seminar, invited
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laurence tribe, cass sunstein. in the past the practice had been neither side had filibustered circuit tkphorplt niece. in fact -- nominees. in fact i can remember senator lott voting cloture on circuit court judges to the ninth circuit knowing full well once cloture is invoked they would be confirmed. this business of filibustering circuit court judges was entirely an invention of the guys over here on the other side, the ones you're looking at right over here. they made it up. they started it. and this is where we ended up. after president bush was elected, they held this retreat that i was just talking about. they made a big deal about it. it was all a prelude to what followed. the serial filibustering of several of president bush's circuit court nominees including
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miguel he is -- estrada whose nomination to the d.c. circuit was filibustered a record seven times. know they want to blow up the rules because republicans are following a precedent they themselves set and i might add are following that precedent in a much more modest way than democrats did. so how about this for a suggestion? how about instead of picking a fight with senate republicans by jamming through nominees through a court that doesn't even have enough work to do, how about taking yes for an answer and working with us on filling judicial emergencies that actually exist. yet, rather than learn from past precedents on judicial nominations that they themselves set, democrats now want to set another one. i have no doubt that if they do, they will come to regret that one as well. our colleagues evidently would
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rather live for the moment, satisfy the moment, live for the moment and try to establish a story line that republicans are intent on obstructing president obama's judicial nominees. that story line is patently ridiculous in light of the facts. an utterly absurd suggestion in light of the facts. before this current democratic gambit to fill up the d.c. circuit one way or the other, the senate had confirmed 215 -- 215 -- of the president's judicial nominees and rejected two. that's a 99% confirmation rate. 215 confirmed and 2 rejected. 99%. look, if advise and consent is to mean anything at all,
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occasionally consent is not given. but by any objective standard, senate republicans have been very, very fair to this president. we've been willing to confirm his nominees. in fact, speaking of the d.c. circuit, we just confirmed one a few months ago 97-0 to the d.c. circuit. so i suggest our colleagues take a time-out and stop trying to jam us, work with us instead to confirm vacancies that actually need to be filled, which we have been doing. this rules change charade has gone from being a biannual threat to an annual threat now to a quarterly threat. how many times have we be
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threatened my colleagues? do what i say or we'll break the rules to change the rules. confirm everybody 100%. anything less than that is obstructionism. that's what they're saying in effect. let me say we're not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer. you think this is in the best interest of the united states senate and the american people to make advise and consent in effect mean nothing, obviously you can break the rules to change the rules to achieve that. but some of us have been around here long enough to know the shoe is sometimes on the other foot. this strategy of distract, distract, distract is getting old. i don't think the american
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people are fooled about this. if our colleagues want to work with us to fill judicial vacancies like we've been doing all year, 99% of judges confirmed, obviously we're willing to do that. if you want to play games, set yet another precedent that you'll no doubt come to regret, i say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you'll regret this and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think. let me be clear, the democratic play book of broken promises, double standards and raw power, the same play book that got us obamacare, has to end. it may take the american people to end it, but it has to end. that's why republicans are going to keep their focus where it belongs, on the concerns of the american people.
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it means we're going to keep pushing to get back to the drawing board on health care to replace obamacare with real reforms that do not punish the middle class, and we'll leave the political games to our friends on the other side of
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clean we are how dirty they are or vice versa. there is a lot of lame to go around. what we've seen from republicans has reached new heights. never dreamede of. we have never even come close in the history of the country. remember for the first hot 140
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years, there were no filibusters. the founding fathers were very clear. they thought there should be super majorities. impeachments, and of course trees. paragraph, that deals with votes, the founding fathers did not mention at all that those things required a super majority. in the entire history of our country, there've been 160 filibusters against our nation. them werears, half of accomplished. last 4.5 years, with obama as president. country,story of our judges have, 20
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been filibustered. -- 23 judges have been filibustered. in the last 4.5 years, 20. we had one nominee who deals with making sure that waterways are clean and in the air we breathe is pure. he has been waiting almost 890 days because they don't like that agency, the environmental protection agency. practice.ndesirable it is something altogether new and different. abouts not just republicans versus democrats. this is about what is right for this institution to evolve and remain was wanted to the need our country has. we have not been doing that.
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the status quo of this gridlock will guarantee that the middle class will get no attention whatsoever. the most important distinction today is between those who are willing to solve the problem and those who defend the low. status quo.e thateople to stand and say --y are breaking rules, since 1977, the rules have been changed dirty times -- 18 times. sorry about that, i got my numbers mixed up. one senator change the rules frequently. we have done in recent years.
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the side of the problem solvers. that is where we turn. the changes we make today will apply equally to both parties. when republicans are in power, these changes will apply to them. that is fairness. it is something both sides should be willing to live with to make washington work again. that is also simple fairness. >> the republicans are defending what is going on here. how can you do that? call.c. circuit, i got a from one of my republican friends saying harry, we have a deal for you. i was anxious to hear this so i said, what is this? he said, you want the d.c.
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circuit, you can have it right- or. -- and oneot imagine of my friends we were in the house together and we've been together a long time. do?said what would you i'm not answering that question. everyone knows that what is going on is unfair and wrong. >> there is a tipping point. today is the tipping point in the u.s. senate. we tried to reach friendly agreements in several different ways.
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we establish no filibusters unless there are extraordinary circumstances. that was the phrase, extraordinary circumstances. out that the extraordinary circumstance in the eyes of the republican senator was the election of barack obama. gave them free license to oppose his nominees. not just for the court over for many executive agencies as well. a complete breakdown in the effort to solve this problem in a common sense good-faith fashion. her with another tipping point that came about because of nominees to the d.c. circuit court. home state, in my and extraordinary well-qualified person, argued 32 cases before the u.s. supreme court and she was endorsed i both political parties. they were asked whether or not she could be bipartisan or nonpartisan. that, another woman, a professor at the georgetown university law school, and
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robert wilkins, he was nominated. they were all stop a filibuster. not a single person on the republican side stood up to criticize their qualifications for the job. it has nothing to do with their qualifications. it was to deny president obama on opportunity to fill the slots in the court. to add insult to injury, with the did to our friend and colleague, a congressman. 1843, the senate denied a member of congress the opportunity for an executive of i met. they did it to our friends, a congressman who had served in the house banking committee. he was stopped cold by the republican filibuster. if you listen, to the speech given by senator mcconnell, here is what you can sympathize and -- synthesize and condense it to. the notion of judges is a democratic idea.
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that is what he said. what we said in return to him was that this change in the role will provide for no future abuse by either political party when it comes to the use of the filibuster. it solves a problem on a bipartisan basis. the last point i want to make his bed, and we will take a break for a couple weeks. we have things to do and problems to solve. if i look at the last 12 weeks, i can count on one hand what we have achieved. we put the government back in and the strategic helium reform bill is the centerpiece. another bill that i was proud we passed, it was given to speaker boehner and fell off the ends of the earth. we have to come back here to washington and face the issues that american families face back home. we need to take a step toward that goal with a change in the
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rules today. >> thank you. today they saturday. we have been forced by an extreme group. we believe firmly that government has to function to help average families out of their morass. there is a group on the hard right who wants to stop everything dead in its tracks. judicial nominees, executive nominees, and legislation. we have seen their success. the republican party, which has been running the show, believes that any dysfunction in government helps their cause. when i judges balked, their goals are served. when i cap impose goes unfilled for months on end, they think
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they win. this function is their goal. they have been achieving it a lot recently. many people look at the congressional approval ratings hovering in the single digits and assumed that the pox is on both their houses. but the nine percent rating -- rating is a cry on the part of the american people to help us. they want us to stop the gridlock. republicans are grinding the senate to a near stand out. they are using rules that were intended to bring people together to tear us apart. the age-old rules of the senate are being used to paralyze us. the public is begging us to act. approval, it is giving advantage to those who want to prevent the senate from achieving anything.
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that theynnell says have tried to change the subject, but i beg to differ. he doesn't want to address the all about earth or the rule changes. the filibuster were the rule changes. he does not want to discuss the dysfunction and the way republicans have used the rules to tie this place in one big knot. sides, and one is opposed, give the opposition a head start. republicans have abuse that advantage for years now. they have refused to confirm or qualified judges. they are preventing executive agencies from having the leaders they deserve. it is a new world. people demand action. the rules will need to be modified and that is what we have done today.
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up, we not ripped them have modified them in ways that make things work. not thinkica does that a president, democrat or republican, deserves his artwork picks for who should run the agency. nobody. but there's a long list of cabinet and sub-cabinet positions. we wish it hadn't come to this. but the american people deserve a functioning government, not gridlock. if our government continues to be gridlocked, people will lose total faith in government and it will be a different america. there is an impaired if you change the rules to help break the gridlock. that is what we have done today. >> what is at issue here is our ability to have a unction in judiciary and government.
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,fter unprecedented obstruction the steps that were taken today simply allow us to exercise our and and to confirm justices presidential point sees. earlier this year, we thought we'd had reached a deal that would avoid this. newman majority leader did everything he could to make it clear that he was open to compromise. but those on the other side of the aisle have shown time and again that they refuse to allow up or down vote. nobody comes to this decision easily. i assert here in the majority and the minority. i have also been around long enough to know that this is an entirely new level of obstruction. we have seen abusive rules that i wasted time and that are intended to hurt our ability to work on behalf of the american people. we have given republicans every opportunity to change this unprecedented strategy. unfortunately, they give us no choice but to act by are using
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to give up or down votes on qualified candidates that the american people deserve to have. >> with any of these aftershocks have an impact on a budget deal? secondly, -- >> that is a lot of questions here. first of all, i will have the senator answer that question. i want to respond partially this way. has aw york times it is at that said wonder the way things have been going on that we get through the prayer every morning. that is what has come to.
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i would be surprised if people were even objecting to the prayer. >> chairman ryan and i are working closely together to find a path forward in good faith. reid, are republicans going to push through judges who would overturn roe? >> as i mentioned earlier, this country did really well for 140 years. the first vote on ending a through filibuster was in 1919. the country did great up until then. the filibuster was put in place to get things done.
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it has been turned on its head and now it is used to stop everything. has triedster extremely hard. that is why i have been criticized by a lot of people for having gone through two congresses. i want to get along. let's just get along. i have tried that. as i have tried to explain on the floor today, they have simply not told the truth. look what has happened. is theyg about this don't deny that they are doing it. that is what is so interesting. we understand all the conciliation. but let's be realistic. what could they do more could country? the what can they do to stop the
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senate from legislating? we have all been in congress a long time. the three of us are in the house. senator murray has been in the senate a long time. we came here to get things done. there was a time when we used to do that. but not anymore. all of these happy thoughts coming for my republican friends, we know that they are right. but then why did they vote the way that they do then? they go together on everything and it is always against the president of the united states. >> if the majority were to change with the filibuster, -- >> let him do it. the country did dam well for 140 years.
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we are beyond seeing who can now talk the other. let's just get some work done on the senate floor. this is the way it has to be. the senate has changed. the senate has changed. we have a republican president. one thing that people don't understand and i want to try to explain this a little bit. the senate majority will not be a piece of cake. if you democrats don't like some of the nominees that president obama has but forward. that is good. we are working together. having served in the house with majority rule, and it is a
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different body, a bicameral legislature, the majority vote is not that bad. republicans made this move, would it be a black chapter in the history of the u.s.? approval ratings hovering i made some speeches saying that we could not do it. it would be a bad day. i took part of that deal. part of that deal, do you welize that with my consent are going to that court. things have changed dramatically since 2005, dramatically. the last four and a half years, they have done everything they can to deny the fact that obama was elected and reelected.
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during the last congress, republican leader mitch mcconnell said his number one goal was to defeat obama. it did not work. obama is president. he has been hit. i acknowledge on the floor that things change. i have said publicly. i do not know if there was a bigger advocate on the floor. i did not always feel that way. i have a right to change how i feel about things. >> we prefer the risk of up or down votes for majority rules. that is the bottom line no matter who is in power. >> this morning's proceedings, how will that affect what is on the floor right now? question >> we have wasted days and weeks and months.
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they should issue all of that back. let's vote closure on the defense bill. that would allow senator levin and senator in half -- ubg -- inhofe to have a conference. i do not know what they will do. if there is this angst about the defense of the country, they should vote cloture. i ignored somebody. yes, you. do you realize i knew you when you did not have gray hair?
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[laughter] >> given the logic of what you have just said about the filibuster, why leave it in place for supreme court justices? why not even straight -- even serve rate -- eviscerate it? >> we do not want to be jamming anybody on that. i think it is important. i would hope no one would ever use the fact that we tried years ago to pack the court. that is a separate part of our country and our cost to ship. >> are you worried that they will filibuster nominees to the supreme court anyway? >> let them do it. if they want the majority, fine.
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as senator schumer said, what is the choice? continue like we are or have democracy? >> if is not fixed when you come back after thanksgiving, are you going to put the shaheen bill on the floor? >> let's see what happens. i will visit with my five children and 16 grandchildren. >>? >> i am cooking nothing. now we will get reaction from mitch mcconnell on the senate move to change filibuster rules.
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good afternoon. is not a very crowded day in the history of the senate. in order to detract attention , the senateamacare has just broken the rules in order to change the rules. we had this threat for some time now. at the beginning of each of the last two congress is, we have had a discussion about rules changes. senator alexander was right in the middle of those and will give you an update on what happened back in january to refresh your memory. after that, the majority leader said we had set the rules for this congress. well, obviously, that was a commitment not kept. we thought he said if you like the senate rules, you can keep them. but, in fact, we ended up having another discussion in july with another threat of the so-called nuclear option. and then you have seen what they
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have done today. talk about a manufactured crisis. we have confirmed 215 judges and defeated two. and the problem with regard to the d.c circuit entirely related to the size of the court and the size of the docket. we took exactly the same view senate democrats took airing the bush administration that there was no rationale for extending and increasing the membership of the d.c. circuit. exactly the same rationale. a letter signed by schumer and others saying there was no need for an additional judge. we had emergencies in other parts of the country. this is nothing more than a power grab in order to try to advance the obama administration's regulatory agenda and they just broke the senate rules in order to exercise the power grab. so i would sum it up by saying it is a sad day in the history of the senate. after today, advise and consent probably means to them 100% consent.
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senator alexander would give you the gist -- will give you the statistics on how common the rejection of nominees has been in the past because i think it will be eye-opening for you. >> thank you. in my view, this is the most important and most dangerous restructuring of senate rules since thomas jefferson wrote them at the beginning of our country. it is really not about the filibuster. it is another raw exercise of political power to permit the majority to do anything it wants whenever it wants to do it. it is obamacare ii in that sense. as senator levin said, after world war ii, a united states senate in which the majority can do anything it wants any time it senator levin said, after world. war ii, the senate, the united states senate, in which the
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majority can do anything it wants, anytime it wants, is a senate without rules. it would be like the red sox falling behind boston and saying, the cardinals, we are the home team, so we will add innings until we can score runs. senate without rules. it is done based on the flimsiest of excuses. the ideas filibusters were used to deny seats to presidential seats. in the history of the senate, the number of supreme court nominees who have been denied their seat by a filibuster is zero. district judges denied their seat by filibuster is zero. the number of cabinet members denied their seat by filibuster is zero. that is according to the congressional research service. the number of circuit judges
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denied their seat by filibuster is five democrats and five publicans, all because democrats for the first time in 2003, the time i was coming to the senate, filibustered 10 of president bush's judges and that was the first time in history. they also say it has taken too long for them to be there. the senate historian told me that president obama has been as well-treated with cabinet members as his last two presidents. you can pick the executive calendar up off every senator's desk and it shows this, it shows that of the people on the calendar who could be brought up to be confirmed, 54 of them have been there for less than three weeks. and most of them, the rest, for less than nine. what could the majority leader have done about that? under the rules changes made earlier, he could have taken 10 of these subcabinet members, put them on the floor, and he could start voting wednesday morning, giveback four hours on each one, and have it by friday. the majority leader could have asked the senate -- what the
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republicans have said is precisely what the democrats asked for in a letter sent in 2006 by all the democratic members of the senate judiciary committee in which they said under no circumstances should any judge be added to the d.c. circuit until we first consider the fact that it has less than half the average workload of the other circuits ago and the republican president agreed with that. one of his nominees was not confirmed. they reduce it by one. all we ask of the d.c. circuit was that we consider the grassley bill which has been in the senate for 10 years to put judges where they are needed the most and take them to where they are needed the least which is the d.c. circuit. in summary, this is a power grab. it is obama ii. it is another partisan political maneuver to permit the democratic majority to do whatever it wants to do. in this case might go to advance the president's regulatory agenda.
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the only care for it that i know is an election. >> [inaudible] how will republicans respond? >> i do not think this is a time to be talking about reprisals. i think it is a time to be sad about what has been done to the united states senate. the greatest deliberative body in the world, the only legislative body i am aware of where a majority does not get to do anything it wants to at any point without confrontation with the minority. so i am not interested in discussing a possible reprisal. i do not think it is good for the senate. there is a lot of nervousness on the democratic side. they are in a panic about obamacare. the majority leader is desperately trying to change the subject. we want to get back on the
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subject. for most americans look for what they are thinking about right now is they are losing their health insurance, their premiums are going up, jobs are being lost, and we need to focus on what the american people are most concerned about. i will take one more. >> if you guys when the majority and you are majority leader, will you abide by this ruling today or will you try to move to reinstate prior precedent? >> you guys know how much i love answering hypotheticals.
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obviously i am not going to answer that. but i will say this, the american people are deeply disturbed by this administration and this senate. as senator alexander ended his remarks by saying, the solution to this problem is an election. the solution is in the ballot box. we look forward to having a great election in november 2014. thanks. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> good afternoon, everybody. it is no secret that the
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american people have probably never been more frustrated with washington. one of the reasons that is is that over the past five years, we have seen an unprecedented pattern of of structured in congress that has prevented too much of the american people's business from getting done. all too often we have seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to block bipartisan compromises, or to prevent well-qualified, patriotic americans from filling positions in our system of government. at a time when millions of americans have desperately searched for work, repeated abuse of these tactics have blocked legislation that might create jobs. they have defeated action that would help women fighting for equal pay. they have prevented more progress than we would have liked for striving young immigrants trying to earn their citizenship, or blocked efforts for companies. they are even being used to block widely important steps to protect americans from gun violence, even as families of victims sat in the senate
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chamber and watched. it invented americans from serving their country when their country needs your talent the most. it has harmed our economy and it has been harmful to our democracy. a simple majority vote no longer seems to be sufficient for anything, even routine business through what is supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body. neither party has been blameless for these tax ticks. -- tactics. they have developed over the years and it seems as if they have continually escalated.
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this pattern of obstruction is not normal. it is not what our founders envisioned. a deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything just to refight the results of an election is not normal. for the sake of future generations, we cannot let it become normal. i support the steps a majority of senators took to change the way washington is doing business, more specifically, the way the senate is doing business. a majority of senators determined that it would restore the long-standing tradition of considering judicial and public service nominations on a more routine basis. here is why this is important. one of the president's
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constitutional responsibilities is to nominate people. here's why this is important. one of the jobs of the president is to nominate positions. over the six decades before i took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome a filibuster. and just under five years since i have taken office, nearly 30 have been treated this way. these are all public servants to protect our national security, look out for americans, keep our air and water clean. for the first time, they filibuster the president's choice for a secretary of defense who used to be a former republican senator.
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they did everything the holdup are epa administrator. they blocked our nominee at a top housing regulator when we need more help for more families to afford a home and prevent what has caused the mortgage meltdowns from happening again. in each of these cases it has not been because they opposed the person. that there was some assessment they were unqualified, there was some scandal that had been unearthed. it was simply because they
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opposed the policies he american people voted for in the last election. this gets even worse when it comes to the judiciary. every president has exercised this power since george washington first name justices to the supreme court in 1789. my judicial nominees have waited two and a half times longer to receive yes or no votes than those of president bush. those are generally do get a vote are confirmed with little if any dissent. this is not obstruction on substance. this is just to gum up the works.
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this gridlock in congress causes gridlock in our criminal and justice systems. you see justices across the country including a bush appointed chief justice of the supreme court say these are vital vacancies that need to be filled and the gridlock has not serve the cause of justice. in fact, it has undermined today. over the past three weeks, senator public in the den -- again failed to pass these nominations even though they had the support of a majority of senators. four of resident bush's six nominees were confirmed. four of my five nominees have been instructed. the vote today, i think, is an
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indication that a majority of senators believe as i do that enough is enough. it american people's business is far too important to keep falling prey day after day to washington politics. i'm a former senator. so as my vice president. we both value any senate's duty to advise and consent. it's important and we take it very seriously. if you now refuse to treat that duty of advise and consent with respect that it deserves, it's no longer used in a responsible way to govern and it is used as
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a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt and that is not what the founders intended and not what our country needs. i just want to remind everyone what is at stake here is not my ability to the fill my constitutional duty. what is at stake is the ability of any president to for fill his or her constitutional duty. public service is not a game. it is a privilege. the consequences of action or inaction are very real. the american people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is and then devote their time in elected office to try to make government not work as often as possible. now, i want to be clear. the senate has done some good bipartisan work this year. the bipartisan majority has passed commonsense legislation to fix our broken immigration system and up radar courts -- ports. they have passed a farm bill to help rural communities and vulnerable americans and has legislation to prevent americans for being fired based on their sexual orientation. we know there are folks there, republican and democrat, who want to get things done. privately, they have expressed to me the recognition that the
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system in the senate had broken down. what used to be a sporadic exercise of a filibuster had gotten completely out of hand. i believe -- i'm confident -- that spirit will have a little bit more space now. i want us to make sure we can do more work together to grow the economy and create jobs. if there are differences in the senate, then bates should be had. people should vote their conscience. i should vote -- vote on behalf of their constituents -- but they should vote. that is what they are there to do. ultimately, if you have a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass. americans work hard. they do their jobs. they expect the same from everyone. as long as i have the privilege of being in this office, i will keep working as hard as i know how to make sure that the economy is growing, we are creating new jobs and widening prosperity for everybody. i know that as with the majority of people in the senate believe as well that the gears of government have to work. the stuff the majority of the senators said today i think will help make those gears work a little bit better. x very much, everybody. >> and now josh will answer all your questions. is the headline shortly after the president spoke -- that is from thosel check some of tweaks. first, reaction from senators and others members of the house --
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it includes a chart of some of the president posses nominees he says have been blocked. one more here -- independent line first. eastview, kentucky. first up. to say i believe democrats are using a bully tactic because they do not want the republicans to have equal opportunity. they are in the minority, it has been two thirds vote. nominations to move
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these nominations through, you think they should stay at 60 votes, that two thirds majority. >> i agree. fairems like it is more and it does not give one party total righted whatever they want. >> this is a facebook posting from adam who says -- it does regard judicial nominations and executive nominations, all those nominations, except supreme court justices. , she is in california on our democrats line. hi. >> hi. is that it ise very important to retain the 60 vote requirement for judicial
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and executive appointments because then, you have a consensus of not just the majority, but you also have the input of the minority. judges determine how the law will be applied. that affects everyone. believe it is unfair to have a simple majority responsible for all the judicial and executive appointments. it is not very what i would call democratic. >> the issue was brought to a head by the third and final. there were three different nominations for the u.s. court of appeals. the last one was on monday that failed to move forward. i think that was roger wilkins on monday. nina.ia and they did move forward today after the rules changed and invoked cloture. limiting the debate on the nomination of patricia.
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it is possible we could see the senate vote on that when they return. they have gaveled out for thanksgiving recess and are not asked at the back until december 9. florida, independent line. jason, good evening. >> thanks for taking my call. i have two comments. , i could taked be a piece of chicken out of my freezer, throw it on a friday and, and let it cook. the time the middle is done cooking, the outside will be burnt. it would be much better for me to take the time to thaw the meet. the expeditious way is not the always -- not always the best way to do things. that was basically what they were arguing. "we need to push things through." that is not always the best way to do so. my second comment is that there is a logical fallacy called appeal to majority, which means
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just because the majority agrees with you, it does not lend validity to your argument, and that is pretty much all i have to comment on. thank you. >> the rule dates back to world war i in 1970. here is a headline now. just ahead of the debate. it began shortly after the senate came in today. the -- this is the headline. it said, -- certainly led the effort today on the senate floor. james is in weaverville, north carolina, on the republican line. >> yes. i wanted to call in on this. i am not really surprise we have seen harry reid and the rest of the cowardly democrats. i will put it that way because they know their stance are not popular with people and not sufferthey will any scrutiny.
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but we have seen this before. they talk out of one side of their mouth in the past and then they turn around. it is very funny they claim they are ashamed of and discussed it with. nobody should be surprised at anything coming out of the white house, because that is their method of operation. go ahead. >> thank you in -- reflecting some of james fox's comments, this is a tweet from joe saying, democrats -- john is next up in rhode island. hello. quickly, if americans do thewake up and realize civil war is being raged and has been waged ever since this president took office, then we are doomed. we are doomed.
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that is all it is. waged againstwar a black president. >> what is this civil war over? >> it has to do with a black ,resident, and intelligent moderate, considerate, black president, trying to do the right thing for the country, which cannot happen. it has to be black. it has to be black. i said lack seriously. obstructionism is the word. that is where this is being fought. if you look at the senate lineup and who speaks against the president all the time, this everyent cannot be wrong single time on nominees, on policies, on laws. he cannot, but he is according to that minority. keep waging that civil war. we need to wake up. that ended a long time ago.
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it is time to move this country forward. i hope americans realize exactly what is going on. >> an account on changing filibuster rules today, 52-48. there were three democrats who did not support changing the rules. joe of west virginia, mark of arkansas, and senator carl levin of michigan. int's here from lois pennsylvania. >> thank you for taking my call. i just want to say back in 2005, the now president, barack obama, the vice president, and harry this.were all against they were on the senate floor saying how terrible this would be to happen. they'd -- they now turn around and do exactly what they said was terrible in 2005 because now it suits what they want to do. is intolerance. they are not doing what is good
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for our country. they want to change things so they can rule without any opposition from anybody else. >> i do not know if we have posted that video of then senator obama speaking on the senate floor but you can find that in our library. i know we have posted a lot of today's date -- debate from the senate floor right there. a link to some of the documents where the information was released by the majority leader's office shortly after the vote today, 52-48, changing the filibuster rules on judicial nominations, except supreme court and executive nominations. a couple of tweets. -- e says, as we mentioned, the rules change affects only nominations. ill says it is a sad day for america when the majority leader of the u.s. senate can go on this floor of the senate and change the rules.
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a couple more calls here to california. line.ce, independent >> yes. thank you for taking my call. i am an african american and i am glad you took my call behind the gentleman that spoke about president obama. this has nothing to do with about the senate being nothing like the house and the senate in the place where you slow down and cool off and consider things. senator reid and president obama have taken their wisdom and put it in place. it is a dark day for the united states when something like that >>pens in the senate. terrance, is it fair for a president to ask whether president obama or george w. us resident, to ask how slow is too slow? you said
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to slow things down and the senate is famously been called the cooling saucer. at what point does it get to slow? the democrats are making a case that they were saying it is gridlock in the senate. >> there are formulas. if you want to invoke the filibuster to come to the floor and continued to fight for what you believe in until the cows come home. override president is a dangerous procedure and the concern is when republicans get into office, they may decide if the majority vote, they could extend his rule beyond just the judges. that is the danger. i am sure the senator is turning over in his grade -- grave. >> terrance mentioned judges. there is a headline about ted cruz, a, teammate about the vote today. packid democrats want to the court with judges to protect obamacare.
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west virginia is next. on the democrats line. >> hello. i am calling about what happened today in the senate. joe voted against the filibuster. we have another senator named rockefeller. he is a very progressive senator but the other caller who just called, i agree with him. it is not over the race or anything. it is what he is doing to the country, the bills he has got. these judges are so liberal that they will do anything. our country is already towing downhill so fast. i have been a democrat for 40 years and i'm getting to the point where i would never ever vote for another democrat because of what is going on. harry reid is terrible. all of them. they do not understand what is going on. they think they are doing what is better for the country. they are not doing any good.
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they are just inviting everybody. >> a couple of more calls. melvin tweets it is a -- this is from a columnist -- joey is in augusta, georgia, independent line. just want to say i think white people and black people need to go back where they came from and give it back to the red man. you have done enough damage. >> here is cheryl in sullivan, missouri. republican line. hello. >> hello.
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i want to comment and commend the democratic senator from arkansas today. is not gettingy along, but i was very impressed by his demeanor and his speech. glad that he voted. -- against the filibuster. i am so proud. we could all learn a little bit from him. he gave a great speech today. i just wanted to say that. >> we will show you some of the speeches from the floor in just a moment. let's finish up a couple of calls. john is next in iowa. class i was calling. i hear all this whining. every time the republicans do not get their way, they cry like a bunch of babies. republicans have filibustered 82 times, a total of 86 filibuster since george washington. block and damage
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the united states. they are a bunch of windbags and do everything they can to hurt everybody. that is what i have to say. >> massachusetts, catherine on the democrats line. good evening. to say, bravo, senator harry reid. it is about time. we need something to change. i think it is a good change. >> i appreciate all your calls. more of them ahead tomorrow on washington journal. we will tell you we will spend much of the day tomorrow here on c-span focusing on the 60th anniversary of the assassination of president john f. kennedy. we will hear from david hawkins, how the talk about white house and washington d.c. prepared for jfk's funeral. after that, richard reeves talks about the legacy of john f. kennedy 50 years after his death. also, paul gregory, a family friend of the assassin, lee to my -- oswald, will be
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morning. it starts our all-day coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination here on c-span. next up, we will take you to some of the senate floor following change and filibuster rules. you will hear from senator chuck grassley and one of the three democrats who voted did not favor the filibuster rules changes. senator carl levin of michigan. -- that we've taken today. thank you very much, leader reid. for your courageous action in making sure that the senate can now work and get our work done. i've waited 18 years for this moment, from 1995 when we were in the minority, i proposed changing the rules on filibuster. i've been proposing it ever
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since. what's really happened is that this war has escalated, this war on both sides. i said at the time in 1995 that it was pliek an arms race, that if we didn't do something about it, the senate would reach a point where we wouldn't be able to function. well, i thought perhaps -- perhaps at that time i thought my words were a little apocalyptic. but as it turns out, they weren't at all. and so this is a bright day for the united states senate and for our country to finally be able to move ahead on nominations so that any present -- not just this president, any president -- can put together his executive branch under our constitution.
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a president should have the people he or she wanted to form their executive branch. every senator here gets to pick his or her own staff. we don't have to have the house vote on it or anybody else. it's true of every member of the house or senate. it's true of the judiciary, the third branch of government. they can hire their clerks, their staff without coming to us. and so now i think it's appropriate that any president can now form their executive branch with only 51 votes needed in the united states senate, not a supermajority. so that is a huge step in the right direction. and now we can confirm judges of all the courts less than the supreme court -- circuits and district court judges -- again, with 51 votes, without this
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supermajority that's been filibustering for so long. now, i listened to the republican leader during the run-up to these votes, and he said that we were somehow going to break the rules -- break the rules to make a new rule. well, we did not break the rules. with the vote that we just had, the senate broke no rules. the rules provide for a 51-vote nondebatable motion to overturn the ruling of the chair. we've done it many times in the past. many times. -- many times in the past. so we did not break the rules. we simply used the rules to make sure that the senate can function. and that we can get our nominees through.
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i like what the writer gail collins said in her column in "the new york times" this morning about these rules changes. she's had a lot of good things there, but she talked about how we are calling it the nuclear option, and she proffered that it is probably called that because some think changing the rules here is worse than nuclear war. but it's not. it's not. it's time that we changed these rules. and the republican leader earlier said it was the democrats who started this -- the democrats who started this. it reminds me of a schoolyard fight between a couple of adolescents and the teefn is --d the teacher is trying to break it up. and this kid says, he hit me first. no, he hit me first. he stepped on my toe first. who cares who started it. iterit's time to stop it.
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even if i accept the fact that democrats started it -- maybe they can prove that we did; it is possible ... way back when. but it turned from a punch here and a punch there to almost extreme fighting. it got to the point where we can't function. just on nominations alone, we've had 168 nominations since 1949. i kind of picked that date because that's when all this filibuster stuff kind of really started. 168. 82 of those have been under this president. 82. that's what i mean. i.t. not worth it to talk -- it's not worth it to talk about who started this. if they want to say that the democrats started it, fine. we'll say that we started it. as i said, since 1995, it's turned into an arms race. it's time to stop t that's what we did this morning with this vote. we took a step in the right
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direction. in 2008 norm ornstein, a congressional scholar, wrote about the broken senate, our broken senate, how we couldn't function. but you can go back even before that, in 1985, my first year here, senator thomas eagleton said that the senate is now in a state of incipient anarchy. i think we had something like 20 or 30 filibusters in the congress before that. so this has been escalating over a long period of time, and it was time to stop it. and that's what we did this morning. so i say this is a big step in the right direction, but now we need to take it another step further, and that is to change filibuster on legislation. we need to change it as it pertains to legislation. for example, we just had the
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spectacle of a bill that i reported out of our committee -- unanimous, republicans and democrats. passed the floor of the house unanimously. comes to the senate. one senator held it up for ten days. stopped everything for ten days. and guess what? it finally passed by unanimous consent. should one senator be able to stop things around here like that? so it's time -- it's time to move ahead. to get rid of the legislature, at the same time to protect the right of the minority to offer amendments that are relevant and germane, to debate that and to have a vote on them -- not that they should win it, but the minority should be able to offer, debate, and have a vote on relevant and germane amendments. -- to the legislation. i proposed 18 years ago a
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formula that, quite frankly, was first proposed by senator dole many, many years before that. and that was on a cloture vote to end a filibuster, the first time had to be 60 votes. then you could wait three days, file a new petition with the requisite signatures, and at that time you'd need 57 votes. and then if you didn't have 5e votes, you could -- if you didn't have 57 votes, you could wait three days, file a new petition on the same amendment and then it would require 54 votes. if you didn't have 54, then you would wait three days, file a pu apetition, then you would need 1 votes. so at some point the senate could act, the majority could act on legislation. but the minority would have the right to slow things down. to slow things down to, as george -- senator george horr
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said in 189 7, to give sober second thought to things here in the united states senate. not to stop strk stop it, not t. slow things down, yes. maybe things shouldn't be rushed into. i understand that. maybe things ought to be amended. people ought to have that right to offer those amendments, not just spurious amendments, but amendments that are germane to the legislation. but ultimately 51 should decide in this senate on how we proceed, what we vote on, and the outcome of the vote. so i hope that the vote today leads the senate to adopt such an approach in january of 2015 when the new senate comes in. there will be a new congress. i hope at that point that the senate -- i won't be here for it, but i hope the senate will then take that next step of
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cutting down on the blatant use of the filibuster on legislati legislation. so of the action just taken here today, here's what i predict clierntion i predic--i predict , the oceans will not dry up, a plague of locust will not cover the earth and the vast majority of americans will go on with their lives as before. but i do predict that our government will work better, a president will be able to forelo form an executive branch, our judiciary will function better, and the u.s. senate will be able to move qualified nominees through the senate in a more responsible manner. so, mr. president, this is a good day for the senate, a good
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day for our nation. the senate now enters the 21st century. and, again, i congratulate leader reid for bringing the senate afford, a courageous action. i compliment all my fellow senators who upheld that vote, upheld, overruling the ruling of the chair so that from now on we only need 51 votes to close debate and move nominations and judges through the united states senate. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i would just ask unanimous consent that after the senator from iowa is recognized -- and i believe he is going to be recognized -- that i then be recognized for up to 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: plap? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. grass dpras wmr. grassley: we da chance to debate the change in rules, and we should have had,
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so i'm going to speak now on some things that i think should have been said before we voted, not that it would have changed the outcome but because we ought know what we're doing before we vote rather than afterwards. so i'll spend a few minutes discussing what the majority leader called -- just did on the so-called nuclear option. unfortunately, this wasn't a new threat. over the last several years, every time the minority leader has chosen to exercise his rights under the senate rules, the majority has threatened to change the rules. in fact, this is the third time in just the last year or so that the majority leader has said that he didn't get -- if he didn't get his way on nominations, he'd change the rules. ironically, that's about as many judicial nominees as our side has stopped through a filibuster.
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three or so. prior to the recent attempt by the president to simultaneously add three judges to the d.c. circuit that aren't needed, republicans had stopped a grand total of two of president obama's judicial nominees. not ten, as the democrats had by president bush's fifth term in office, not 34 as one of my colleagues tried to suggest earlier this week. no, two have been stopped. and if you include the nominees for the d.c. circuit, we've stopped a grand total of five. again, not ten as the democrats had done in 2005, not 34 as one of my colleagues tried to argue earlier this week, but five. during the same time, we've confirmed 209 lower court article 3 judges, that's a
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record of 209 judges approved, to five that were not approved. so this threat isn't based on any crisis. there is no crisis. i'd note that today's "wall street journal" editorial entitled "d.c. circuit breakers" -- quote --"the white house wants to pack a court whose judges are underworked" -- end of quote, lays out a caseload pretty clearly, and i'd ask that this editorial be made a part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: so this is about a naked power grab and nothing more than a power grab. this is about the other side not getting everything they want, when they want it. now, the other side claims that they were pushed to this point because our side objected to the president's plan to fill d.c.
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circuit with judges that that court does not need. but the other side tends to forget history, and i think history is something we ought to learn from, so let's review how we got here. after the president simultaneously nominated three nominees for the d.c. circuit that aren't needed, a blatant power -- political power grab in its own right, what did the republicans do? we did something quite simple. we said that we want to go by the rules that the democrats set in 2006. we said we'd hold those democrats to the same standard they established in 2006 when they blocked a nominee of bush's by the name of peter keisler. so let's be clear about why the democrats are outraged.
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democrats are outraged because republicans actually had the temerity to hold the other political party to a standard that they established, and because we did, because we insisted that we all play by the same rules, they came right back and said then we'll change the rules. the other side has said in effect, we don't want to be held to the standards that we established in 2006. and not only that, but if you don't give us what we want, we're willing to forever change the senate. and that's what happened today. now we hear a lot of ultimatums around here, but this ument maim is not run of the mill. it's very different. it's different because this threat is designed to hold the united states senate hostage.
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it's different because it's designed to hold hostage all of the senate's history and traditions and precedents. it's different because to be effective, it relies on the goodwill of senators who don't want to see the senate as we know it destroyed, or as the constitution writers intended. now, i'd note that today's majority didn't always feel that way. the very way that we've seen expressed today. not too many years ago, my colleagues on the other side described their fight to preserve the filibuster with great pride. for instance, in 2006 one of my colleagues on the other side said this way -- quote -- "the nuclear option was the most important issue i've worked on in my public life. its rejection was my proudest moment as a minority leader.
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i emerged from the episode with a renewed appreciation for the majesty of senate rules. as majority leader, i intend to run the senate with respect witr the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect" -- end of quote. in 2005 another of my democrat colleagues had this to say -- quote -- "today republicans, referring to when republicans were in the majority, so i'll start the quote again. "today republicans are threatening to take away one of the few remaining checks on the power of the executive branch by their use of what has become known as the nuclear option. this assault on our traditions of checks and balances and on the protection of minority rights in this senate and in our democracy should be abandoned. eliminating the filibuster by
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nuclear option would destroy the constitution's design of the senate as an effective check on the executive" -- end of quote. so you've had two quotes from democrats in 2005, 2006, very strongly supporting the precedent -- or the senate using the filibuster to protect minority rights. but then they were in the minority. now they're in the majority, and the tradition of the senate doesn't mean much. i have another quote from late senator byrd, 2005. quote -- "and i detest this mention of a nuclear option. the constitutional option. there is nothing constitutional about it, nothing" -- end of quote. but, of course, that was way back then, just six, seven
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years ago. when today's majority was in the minority. and there was a republican in the white house. today the shoe is on the other foot. today the other side is willing to forever change the senate because republicans have the audacity to hold them, the majority party of today, to their own standard. but why? why would the other side do this? there clearly isn't a crisis on the d.c. circuit. the judges themselves say that if we confirmed any more judges, there wouldn't be enough to go around. and it's not as if all of these nominees are mainstream, consensus picks, despite what the other side would have you believe that they are somewhat mainstream.
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take professor pillard, for instance. she has written this about motherhood -- quote -- "productive rights, including rights to contraception and abortion play a central role in freeing women from historically routine conscription into maternity" -- end of quote. now, is that mainstream? she has also argued this about motherhood -- quote -- "antiabortion laws and other restraints on reproductive freedom not only enforce women's incould incubation of unwanted pregnancies but also prescribes a vision of a woman's role as mother and caretaker of children in a way that is at odds with equal protection" -- end of quote. is that mainstream? and what about her views on religious freedom? she argued that the supreme court of an evangelical liewt ral church which challenged the
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exception to employment discrimination represented a -- quote -- "substantial threat to american rule of law" -- end of quote. now, get this after she says that the supreme court rejected her view 9-0, and the court held that -- quote -- "it is impermissible for the government to contradict a church's determination of who can act as its ministers" -- end of quote. do my colleagues really believe mainstream america thinks churches shouldn't be allowed to choose their own ministers? i could go on and on but i hope you get the picture. the point is this: voting to change the senate rules is voting to remove one of the last meaningful checks on the president, any president, and voting to put these views on this important court.
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so i ask again, why would the other side do this? it isn't anything short of -- it is nothing short of complete and total power grab. it is the type of thing that we've seen again and again out of this administration and their senate allies. and you can sum it up this way: do whatever it takes. you can't get obamacare passed with republican support? do whatever it takes. pass it at 7:00 a.m. on christmas eve with just democrat votes. if you can't get all of your side to support obamacare, do whatever it takes. resort to things like the cornhusker kickback. you lose your 60th vote on obamacare, due to a special
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election, do whatever it takes, ram it through any way using reconciliation. the american people don't want to be taxed for not buying health care. do whatever it takes. tell the american people it isn't a tax and then you argue in the court that it is a tax. the american people want to keep their health care. do whatever it takes, promise them -- quote -- "if you like your health care, you can keep it" -- end of quote and then issue regulations making it impossible. your labor allies want out from under obamacare. do whatever it takes. consider issuing them, labor, a waiver from the reinsurance tax. you can't find consensus nominees for the national labor relations board. do whatever it takes.
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recess appoint them when the senate isn't even in session. you can't convince congress to adopt your gun control agenda. do whatever it takes, issue some executive orders. you can't convince moderate democrats to support cap-and-trade fee increases. well, do whatever it takes. do the same thing through e.p.a. regulation. frustrated that conservative groups' political speech is protected under the first amendment, do whatever it takes, use the i.r.s. to harass and intimidate those same conservative groups. frustrated when the court stands up for religious freedom and issues a check on obamacare contraception mandate. do whatever it takes. stack the d.c. circuit court in
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your favor. frustrated when the court curbs your power on recess appointments. do whatever it takes. stack the d.c. circuit with your favorite appointees, people that will rule in your favor. worried that e.p.a.'s regulation on cap-and-trade fee increases might get challenged in the court. do whatever it takes, stack the d.c. circuit in your favor. frustrated because senate republicans have the nerve to hold you to the same standards you established during the last administration. do whatever it takes. change the rules of the united states senate. that's what we have witnessed today. nothing but an absolute power grab. the majority in the senate and their allies in the
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administration are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their partisan agenda. they know that there will be additional challenges to obamacare, they know that if they can stack the deck on the d.c. circuit, they can remove one of the last remaining checks on presidential power. but make no mistake. my friends on the other side will have to answer this question, why did you choose this moment to break the rules to change the rules? why now? why? when we're witnessing the collapse of this massive effort to centrally plan one-sixth of this wonderful nation's economy, why when millions of americans are losing their health care, why did you choose this moment over to the
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president, a president with less check on his authority. because the fact of the matter is this -- any vote to break the rules to change the rules is a vote to ensure obamacare remaining intact. so, mr. president, i'll conclude by saying this -- changing the rules of the senate in this way was a mistake. but if the last several years have taught us anything, it's that the majority won't stop making these demands. and if we can't give in -- if we can't give in to these constant threats, sooner or later you have to stand up and say, enough is enough. but if there's one thing that will always be true, it's thi this -- majorities are fickle, majorities are fleeting, here today, gone tomorrow