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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  February 25, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EST

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quorum call: are you saying that he's not taking politics into account at all when thinking about the possibility of having a court that would have regular justices instead of five conservative justices? >> well look, as i acknowledged, when i answer your first question, politics are going to be part of this in a election-year. i don't think i dispute that. i don't think so. the president made clear he's not on the ballot and the
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president is interested in fulfilling his constitutional duty to appoint the person he believes is the best person in america to fill the vacancy on the supreme court and the president not going to be asking that person who they voted for in the 2008 or 2012 election. he's not going to ask that person party they are registered to vote in. the president will be asking them more relevant relevant questions about their legal qualifications and their view of the law and their belief in the importance of the rule of law. those are the kind of question the president will ask and those are the kind of questions that should take precedence in terms of who the president chooses to nominate but those are also the kind of questions that members of the united states senate should be asking the nominee when that individual sits down for a hearing before the senate judiciary committee. that's how the choice should be made. it's certainly how the president will make his decision and look, the president also acknowledged yesterday that the american people will have a view of this
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person and i think most americans will be interested in those persons legal views. their commitment to public service, their commitment to the rule of law, understanding exactly how they apply their legal training and how it informs their judgment about a range of issues that are important and have an impact on the day-to-day lives of the american people that's how the american people will decide and that's how they should provoke the question is are our senators going to say, or how many senators are going to say look, i'd rather put my partisan affiliation ahead of my constitutional duty pickup that would be an unfortunate choice and an unprecedented escalation of partisanship of a branch of government our founders intended to shield from partisan politics. >> the debate tonight, if you were advising establishment republicans who are concerned about the prospect of a challenge to the republican nominee, what would you advise? >> fortunately for them they got much more qualified people to consult for advice than me.
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i think the hindering has become public and ultimately i think what's clear is republican voters are going to decide who they want to leave their party and that will mean a fundamental question for the american people but also for leading republicans about what party they want to have you and i think what is true, the thing that has not worked is to essentially have the establishment republicans tried to adopt trump style rhetoric and prioritize trump style values to advance their campaigns. it hasn't played very well it hasn't worked . and i think the real question
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that will be on display in the general election is whether or not the american people either want to support mister trump or somebody who won an election by parroting mister trump's views or do they want somebody on the democratic side who is committed to building on the progress that our country has made over the last seven years with the emma obama administration and i guess the question i posed at the top was a pretty direct and simple one but the one that you are posing is a much more of an exit essential question for millions of republicans. michelle? >> is that person for the job for college in politics? the president is considering this person based on their likelihood of confirmation, right? >> well, the president is aware that anybody he chooses is someone that will have to go through a confirmation process.
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that means it will have to be somebody who is prepared to face the public spotlight, somebody who is going to have to spend several hours answering tough questions under oath on camera before the american people on a range of complicated legal issues. so this is going to require a rather unique individual with a good mix of qualifications and cool under fire to win, to essentially win the approval of the united states senate. but look, that's true of anybody that's been appointed to the supreme court in the last 30 or 40 years. there have been other tough supreme court bites also. both justices soto mayor and
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kagan had to withstand days of testimony before the judiciary committee. they didn't get a lot of softballs and they also had to withstand a lot of intense scrutiny from all of you for all of you did stories about justice sotomayor's tenure as a federal judge and spent a lot of time scrutinizing the arguments that then solicitor general kagan made before the supreme court. that's part of the process. we expect this to be a rigorous process and the president expects whoever he nominates her this job would be able to engage in that rigorous process and emerge from it having successfully described to the american people what their views are and why they actually are the best person for the job. >> in the republican senate, many of whom are opposed to even bringing this person up for hearing, the president has to consider politics to a large extent how likely these same republicans are going to even
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give this person consideration, right? can't we just say that goes without saying that he's going to have to consider that? >> i guess i would say two things about this. the first is both justice sotomayor and justice kagan when they were put forward as nominees by the president, they were confirmed with republicans first. tabletop republican votes so that was when democrats were in the majority in the united states senate so the president has a track record of choosing highly qualified individuals that deserve bipartisan support that's always been part of the president population here . that's always been part of the criteria but some of that is also a function of the question that senators face when they are considering a nominee for the supreme court. again, as i've mentioned, they are not close to base their vote solely on whether or not that person would have been there, to the supreme court. if they want to see their top pick ascend to the supreme court, they should run for
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president because that is a job the framers of our constitution gave to the united states. some of them aren't to be fair to those who aren't should be using criteria to evaluate whether or not this person is qualified and can serve the country with honor and distinction on the supreme court. >> without objection. mister president, tomorrow the people of iran will go to the polls to elect 285 members of the iranian parliament and 88 members of the so-called assembly of experts which is the body that will eventually choose the successor to the current supreme leader, ayatollah khomeini. last december, secretary of state john kerry cautioned that having an election does not of itself make a democracy. i think his words are equally fitting this week. iran's elections in the truth are neither free nor fair.
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iran is not a democracy. powerbrokers in iran have already rigged these elections and the results and even the results of a potential runoff in april will not tell us much we don't already know about the iranian regime or its foreign policy objectives in the middle east. for some observers hope that moderate voices will make some progress in iran and i agree that that is good to hope for but i remain deeply skeptical. in many ways, tomorrow's elections are nothing more than a rubberstamp because an unelected guardian council which vets all candidates for office has already prevented most moderates from even running. let me explain. aspiring candidates for iran's national parliament and the assembly of experts must be approved by the unelected guardian council before they can appear on any ballot. unless they make it truly
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multiple vetting process, unless they are deemed sufficiently loyal and conservative, these aspiring candidates won't get a chance to be candidates at all. that's why the candidate list for tomorrow's election has already told us more about iran's elections then it election results will. a willingness to allow reform minded or moderate americans to stand for election would have suggested some real hope for genuine reform, for real change in the iranian regime. sadly, the disqualification of both female and reformist candidates indicates iran instead is doubling down on its decision anto avoid long awaite and much needed democratic reforms and instead to continue to isolate itself from broader membership in the international community. 16 women applied to run to serve on the assembly of experts. all were prohibited from running. 3000 reform minded candidates sought to run for the and iranian parliament. only one percent of those three
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were approved. even hassan khomeini, the grandson of ayatollah khomeini who founded the public of around was projected as a candidate for being too moderate. these qualifications reject the regimes rejection of democratic wants and serve as a reminder of the urgency with which we have to continue to scrutinize iran's behavior. tomorrow's election won't change iran's aggressive behavior in the region or transform the political power structure within the islamic republic of iran which is still dominated by the supreme leader ayatollah khomeni. despite why some may hope, the supreme leader seems unwilling to allow even a modicum of dissent inside iran. these elections are likely nothing more than guys to give the international community the impression that iranians have a real voice in choosing their elected officials.
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while we should hope for future moderation, we should expect the status quo because e that i at its core, or animate a revolutionary regime that supports terrorism as a central tool of its national foreign-policy. us policymakers have to remain clear eyed about that reality as we seek to effectively and aggressively enforce the nuclear deal and push back against iranian aggression in the region. mister president, i urge my colleagues , the administration and the american people to play close attention not just to tomorrow's iranian elections but to iran's actions in the weeks, months and years to come. i commend the administration for one action this was indicted for individualism violated previously existing us sanctions against iran. this decision says another important signal that despite the nuclear deal, sanctions that remain on the books and companies who violate them remain a significant barrier and that companies should not rush to do business with iran. only by continuing to enforce
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existing sanctions, only by continuing to hold iran to its commitment to the nuclear agreement, only bypushing back against iran's support for terrorist proxies , its human rights abuses and illegal missile tests will we demonstrate that we are serious about holding the regime accountable for its actions. only by viewing iran through the right lens, a lens of wariness and suspicion, not trust can we continue to protect our national security and the safety of our regional allies, especially israel. nuclear deal with a nation like iran does not make that regime our ally or friend and having an election does not make a democracy. but it does make a statement. mister president, on monday i m had the privilege of serving as the first senator from the ea
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state of delaware to ever read george washington's farewell address on the senate floor on april 22. the appointed day, excuse me, on february 22. the appointed day every year. but we recognize washington's contributions to our country and its history by repeating his farewell address on this floor. in the more than two centuries since president washington wrote and delivered those words, i am struck by how relevant they still remain in warning americans of the dangers ofpartisanship , factionalism and division. today, the constitutional order which president washington and so many of our founding fathers and so many americans wrist and dedicated their lives and which has sustained our experiment in democracy for generations is threatened, not by one person or one political party but rather by the relentless division n and dysfunction that has come to define our current political discourse. just over two years ago, this
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discord led to an unprecedented shutdown of our whole federal government for 17 days. at stake today now is nothing less then the capability of the of the united states to continue to meaningfully function. if we reverse this trend, we won't be facing a series of undecided legal policy, we will also be looking at a direct threat to our constitutional order. the new normal in which supreme court vacancies remain just that for most upon multiple years. the last time that si e
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happened was in 1988 and that year justice kennedy was confirmed unanimously and by a democratically controlled senate. recently some of my colleagues have also pointed to a speech that vice president biden, then chairman of the senate judiciary committee, gave back in 1992 as evidence that there is some clear, strong precedent for the level of obstructionism that we're seeing today. but that reading of his remarks both misrepresents his remarks and obscures the real facts. it's easy to take much of what we say and do here on the floor of the senate out of context. in fact, i'm sure it's happened to each member of this chamber more than once but a full
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reading of then chairman biden's full remarks shows that at the end of his speech, senator biden promised to consider not just holding hearings, not just a vote but also supporting a consensus nominee. to quote directly, "i believe that so longs a the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course for both the white house and for the senate. therefore, then senator biden said, "i stand by my position. mr. president, if president bush consults and cooperates with the senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did justices kennedy and souter." so when it comes to setting senate precedent, i think it's important to get the vice president's words right but i also think it's important to pay attention to his actions which speak more loudly than his words. his record as chairman of the
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senate judiciary committee is unmistakable. in case after case he convened and held appropriate and timely hearings for judges of all backgrounds and experiences when nominated by president bush in an election year. even in a deeply contentious election year, he considered dozens of district and circuit court nominees all the way up to september, just two months before a presidential election. so today i echo then chairman biden's 1992 request. i urge president obama to nominate a moderate and eminently qualified jurist by whose record should clearly under normal circumstances be confirmed and who can become a consensus nominee in this chamber. you don't have to look very far to find a number of candidates who would easily fit this description. mr. president, i'm not asking my republican colleagues to commit to support such a nominee but i am asking for us to be able to fulfill the constitutional ob
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gaixes of advice -- obligations of advice and consent we are to uphold. since the formation of the senate judiciary committee, a century ago, every single supreme court nominee has received a vote, a hearing, or both. the only exceptions were candidates whose nominations were withdrawn before they could be considered or they proceeded directly to the floor for a confirmation vote. even nominees whose confirmations were voted down by the senate judiciary committee, ultimately received a vote by the full senate. that's the precedent that matters. the american people i think aren't deeply interested in what this senator said two years ago or what that senator said two decades ago. this back and forth he said, she said rhetoric is exactly what they've sadly come to expect from this congress but not why they sent us here. it's not just our constituents who are watching. around the world believers in a
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democratic system of government, in a system of separation of powers in our constitutional framework, some of whom have risked life and limb to bring democracy to their countries are watching. those who believe democracy can't work and who advance that argument around the world are watching, too. mr. president, at stake in this debate is not just a key vote on the supreme court but more importantly a key indicator of whether our american experiment can still function. over the past two-plus centuries, our experiment in democracy has not just survived but even thrived but in recent years members of congress have been playing a risky game employing increasingly obstructionist tactics that probe the very boundaries of our system of government. how the senate conducts itself in the weeks and perhaps even months to come i think will set a strong precedent for how future supreme court vacancies will be filled and more importantly about whether our
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constitutional order can still function. we have an opportunity to show the world that even in the midst of a strikingly divisive presidential campaign, our democratic system can still work. president washington's farewell address of 220 years ago warned of the many threats to that full and fair experiment that is american democracy. one of the threats he highlighted most pointedly was that of partisanship and division. the issues facing our senate today represent nothing less than a direct and serious challenge to the vibrancy of that very democratic experiment for which so many suffered, struggled and died. it is my prayer, mr. president, that we will find a way forward through this together. thank you. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. a senator: mr. president, i rise today in recognition of national eating disorders awareness week
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and bring attention to the millions of americans struggling with eating disorders. ms. klobuchar eating disorders, not something we always talk about on this floor, but in fact eating disorders are more common in our country than breast cancer or arizona and does -- alwaysize hers and does not discriminate. it tags the lives of 23 americans every day, that's nearly one life every hour. one life every hour. our understanding of how eating disorders develop and progress is constantly evolving. we know that there are between and again because we don't have good statistics except for when people die between 15 and 30 million people across the country struggling with an eating disorder. we know that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. listen to that. any mental health disorder that you can think of, anorexia has the highest mortality rate.
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and we know that eating disorders affect women two and a half times more than men. making this the important women's mental health issue. unfortunately far too few of these people are getting the help they need. only one in ten people with an eating disorder will receive treatment for that disease and for those who don't receive any treatment, the rate of recovery sharply declines with the likelihood they'll be hospitalized rises. too many americans are suffering in silence unable to access the treatment they need to conquer their eating disorder and to go on to live healthy lives. to help the millions of people suffering from eating disorders get the treatment they need, i have introduced the anna weston act with senators ayotte, senator capito and senator balanced win. we're very proud that this is a bipartisan bill that is
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supported by both democrats and republicans. the fact that it is led by all women senators, maybe our time has come given that again women are two and a half times more likely than men to suffer from this disorder. we remember in the early days whether it was the women senator whos united to do something about breast cancer research or when it was women senators who said why are we just studying men when it comes to various drugs and various diseases and cancer. women have different interactions. women have different problems. and in fact these eating disorders affect women two and a half times more than men, yet not literally hardly anything is going on with this in terms of help and funding. the number one mental health disorder that leads to death. highest mortality rate is anorexia. the bill is named in honor of anna weston of minnesota who was
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diagnosed with anorexia when she was 16 years old. her health started deteriorating quickly after she completed her sophomore year at the university of oregon. she began suffering from liver malfunctions and dangerously low body temperatures and blood pressure. even though her condition was urgent, anna was told she had to wait until the insurance company certified her treatment. this ultimately delayed and severely limited the treatment is that she received. after struggling with the disease for five years, she committed suicide at the age of 21. my colleagues, we have a moral obligation to help people like anna and families like the westons and we cannot afford to wait any longer. last week marked 16 years since anna's death and yet people with eating disorders are still not guaranteed coverage for life-saving residential treatment by insurance
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companies. the bipartisan anna weston act fixes this problem by clarifying that the mental health parody and addiction equality act specifies that residential treatment for eating disorders must be covered. we are's talking about when a doctor diagnoses an eating disorder and believes after trying different treatments or believes there's an immediate emergency situation that there should be coverage for residential treatment, which has been found to be really helpful with eating disorders because it helps to change how someone is eating and what they're doing and how they're interacting and what they are going on with their day-to-day life. my friend, the late senator from minnesota, paul wellstone fought hard for that mental health parody law. as paul always insisted a mental health parody bill is about equality and fairness. it is time that patients who are struggling with an eating
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disorder receive that equality and fairness. it is time that so many of these women who suffer from this disease, that it's much more particular to women than men, get to receive that treatment that you get for other kind of mental health disorders. this bill would ensure that patients like anna weston aren't prevented from getting the treatment they need simply because their insurance doesn't cover it. eating disorders become life threatening when left untreated making early detection absolutely critical. that's why this bill would also use existing funds to create grant programs to train school employees, primary care physicians, and mental health and public health professionals on how to identify eating disorders as well as intervene when behaviors associated with an eating disorder have been identified. i think most young people today know someone that has an eating
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disorder. i remember in college a number of young women that had eating disorders but they were hiding it. no one did anything about it. i have no idea how they're doing now. making this investment is a no brainer. by drawing on existing funds for the training programs, this bipartisan bill is designed to have no costs associated with it. these common sense and long overdue actions will help give those suffering from eating disorders the tools they need to overcome these diseases and prevent more tragedies like anna's. we wish that anna was still with us. we wish that she could have graduated from college, started a career, and had children of her own. well, it may be too late for anna. we know she would want us to do everything we can to create a world where eating disorders are acknowledged, are recognized, are treated, and are prevented. i am so proud this bill has been out there for a few years and this is the first time this last
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year where it's been a partisan bill led by four women senators, two democrats and two republicans. the time has come. with affected families in every corner of our country, i invite all of my colleagues to join us in support of this bipartisan bill. we must act now to give the millions of americans struggling with eating disorders the help they need. doing so will not just prevent suffering, it will help save lives. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you, mr. president. it's my understanding that it's morning business, and i ask -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. pine fine i ask thamrs. feinstee quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: i ask
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unanimous consent to speak in morning business for approximately 15 minutes, probably less. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. mr. president, at noon today a group of us on this side of the aisle went to the supreme court, stood in front of it, and spoke about what was happening with the republican decision not to proceed with the advice and consent provisions of the united states constitution. and i've been a member of the judiciary committee, mr. president, for 23 years. i have sat on six supreme court cases. and in those 23 years as a nonlawyer, i really became infused with great respect for the american system of justice, for the trial courts, for the appeal courts, and for the supreme courts. on the state level as well as on the national level.
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and i don't think there is any system of justice that affords an individual, a company, an organization a fairer way to proceed to litigate a case than the american justice system. so, as i stood there and heard some of my colleagues speaking, i began to think of the enormity of what is happening. we all know that the constitution is clear, that the president's role is to nominate and the senate's role is to advise and consent on the nominee -- nothing less, nothing more. so i strongly believe that we should proceed to render a president's nominee to the highest court of the land and proceed to consider that advice and consent with a hearing in the judiciary committee. to do anything less, in my view,
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is to default on our responsibility as a united states senator. there has been this process, no matter how controversial a nomination. that's been the process even when the president and the senate are of different parties. and, yes, that's been the process during presidential election years. that's what happened when anthony kennedy was confirmed in the last year of president reagan's term, when democrats actually held the senate majority. in fact, a total of 14 justices have been confirmed in the final year of a president's term. now, why is this important? the supreme court is a coequal branch of our federal government. it is a vital part of the separation of powers. it's the final arbiter of the law of the land, and one of our
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important jobs as senators is to ensure the court has the justices it needs to decide cases. it's impossible to overstate the importance of a functioning supreme court. brown v. board of education desegregated our schools. loving v. virginia struck down laws ha that made interracial marriage illegal. roe v. wade ruled on the constitutionality of state limits on women's access to reproductive health care. -- which has been upheld as precedent for over 40 years. bush v. gore even decided who would move into the white house as president of the united states. more recently, the supreme court struck down limits on campaign money, nullified a key part of the voting rights act of 1965, upheld obamacare, and legalized
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same-sex marriage. now what does a 4-4 court mean? the prospect of having more than a year -- as a matter of fact, some are saying it's up to two years -- of tie votes on the court in major controversial issues would be terrible for our system of justice. justice scalia wrote about the prospect of a split court in 2004. in responding to a request to recuse himself, he declined. he said, if he were to recuse himself -- quote -- "the court proceeds with eight justices, raising the possibility that by reason of a tie vote it will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case" -- end quote. that's justice scalia. he continued, quoting the
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court's own recusal policy. quote -- "even one unnecessary recusal impairs the functioning of the court" -- end quote. so that's what we are doing. we are impairing the functioning of the supreme court of the united states. what the republicans are doing will affect cases for, we think, at least two years, cases left from this year and those to be heard next year. if republicans are successful in blocking a hearing and a vote on the president's nominee, the court will find itself unable to resolve important legal questions for a lengthy period of time. imagine, mr. president, that you are a plaintiff, someone who has been wrongly terminated from a business or a business in a legal dispute, or imagine you are a person or a business held
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liable as a defendant for millions of dollars in a civil case, or someone who has been charged with or request unanimous consented of a crime -- or convicted of a crime. you might spend years of your life in prison or even be subjected to the death penalty, even though there may be a legal problem with your conviction or sentence. in all of these instances, as justice scalia pointed out, the court -- quote -- "will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case" -- end quote. and that will mean that individuals and businesses, as well as the american people itself, will be denied the full system of justice guaranteed by this constitution. our people should not stand for this. there are major issues pending before the supreme court.
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there are important measures to help stop climate change, immigration issues, race in college admissions, the fundamental concept of one person, one vote; the ability of unions representing public employees to function. the point is this: important issues are before the court or will be, and there should be a full court to hear them. there's absolutely no reason -- none -- that the senate should refuse to do its job and conduct full and fair hearings and hold a vote on the nominee. just a bit of history: the senate has not left a supreme court seat vacant for a year or longer since the middle of the civil war. that's fact. since the middle of the civil war. that would be about 1863.
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even as the nominations process has become more contentious, the senate has still considered supreme court nominees in a timely manner. this has happened regardless of who sat in the white house or which party controlled the congress. so here are a few historic facts to consider: since the judiciary committee began holding hearings in 1916 for supreme court nominees, a pending nominee to the supreme court vacancy has never been denied a timely hearing -- never denied a timely hearing, even in the final year of a president's term. since 1975, the average time between a supreme court nomination and a vote by the full senate has been 67 days
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only, about two months. and i would remind my clean colleagues -- remind my republican colleagues that this includes justice anthony kennedy's confirmation, which took place in february of 1988, a california judge in the final year of president reagan's presidency and before a democratic senate. so a democratic senate took a republican president's nominee in the final year, who was a republican, and made him a justice of the united states supreme court. this has held true even for controversial nominees. robert bork and clarence thomas both failed to win a majority vote by the judiciary committee, but their nominations still advanced to a full senate vote. that was even the case for
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justice thomas, a very conservative jurist, who replaced justice thurgood marshall, a very liberal jurist. and, again, this took place in a democratic-controlled senate. many of my republican colleagues have voiced their own support for a president's right to have his nominee considered. someone i consider a friend who is chairman of the judiciary committee -- who was chairman of the judiciary committee during periods of my tenure, senator orrin hatch, who voted in favor of justice ginsburg, said at the time -- and i know i noted it, because i was sitting right there and heard it -- said that he believed a president deserves some deference on supreme court appointments. he said he would not vote against a nominee simply because he would have chosen someone else. senator grassley, now chairman
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of the judiciary committee, made similar comments, saying congress must not forget its advice and consent responsibilities. well, those responsibilities don't cease with the death of a jurist. as a matter of fact, that's the clear intent of the constitution, that the advice and consent responsibility is mandated, no matter what. so to refuse to hold hearings before a nominee is even announced, to me, is shocking, and it makes me think, you know, to what extent is the partisanship inherent in this body going, when it's willing to deny the supreme court a vital member? it would be like denying a baseball team a pitcher.
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they couldn't conduct a game without a pitcher. and a case that has any controversy cannot be fairly held without nine justices. so that's not what we were sent to washington for. it's not how to do the people's business. to deny the american people full and fair senate consideration for a supreme court nominee would be unprecedented in our history and further undermine faith in the senate as an institution. i really deeply believe this, and i don't know why we would let this happen. if republicans follow through on this threat, the fairness of the process for the supreme court will forever be tarnished. the consequences could reverberate for generations, and
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it will be a serious gesture against the functioning of this great democracy. so all we ask, mr. president, is do your job. it's why we were sent here, after all. thank you very much. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence -- i do not note the absence of a quorum. thank you.
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mr. udall: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president, for the recognition. i just want to say to senator feinstein, i listened to much of her remarks and very much agree with what she said in terms of we should be doing our job in terms of this supreme court nominee. i mean this really is our job, advice and consent. the constitution talks about how we shall advice and consent when we get nominations. you know, ten years ago the senate faced a critical task to consider the nomination by president bush of samuel alito to the supreme court. it was a fierce debate. many opposed him. some passionately so. i won't argue that it was an easy road, but it was a road that was traveled because that is our job and because that is one of our most important
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duties. at the time the current majority leader was very clear on that duty that the senate has, and he said "we stand today on the brink of a new and reckless effort by a few to deny the rights of many to exercise our constitutional duty to advice and consent, to give this man the simple up-or-down vote he deserves. the senate should repudiate this tactic." and that's a direct quote from the majority leader. justice alito did get an up-or-down vote and was confirmed 58-42, including four democrats who voted in favor. mr. president, the majority leader was right. we do have a duty to advice and consent, and the constitution uses the word "shall."
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shall advice and consent. a president's nominee does deserve an up-or-down vote. that's true then and it's true now. i do not agree with many of justice alito's views, but i do believe that it was critical for the senate to do its job. now here we are, a new nomination to the supreme court by a different president, but the majority leader seems to have changed his mind. we're told that no nomination of anyone by this president will be considered. the current senate majority is refusing its constitutional mandate that it shall advice and consent, refusing to do its job for blatantly partisan and political purposes. this is misguided and it's without precedent. the full senate has always voted to fill a vacancy on every pending supreme court nominee. in election years and
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nonelection years, every single one for the last 100 years. but we cannot go back -- but we can go back even further than that, further back than 100 years. the senate judiciary committee was created 200 years ago. according to the congressional research service, the committee's usual practice has been to report every nominee to the full senate, even those nominees opposed by a majority of the committee. this is a bipartisan tradition, one that makes sense, one that we should follow. when senator leahy was judiciary chairman, he and ranking member hatch did just that. nominations, even those opposed by a majority of the committee, went to the full senate. in 2001, the republican leader, senator lott, said -- and i quote here -- "no matter what
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the vote in committee on a supreme court nominee, it is precedent of the senate that the individual nominated is given a vote by the whole senate. were those senators any less principled? i don't think so. were those senators any less passionate in their views? no. but they did their job. they knew how important this was to the country. they honored the senate tradition and they made sure that the highest court in the land was not running on empty. how did we get from there to here? if the majority leader has his way, there will be no hearing, no debate and there will be no vote. the confirmation of a supreme court justice is critical to a functioning democracy and it has become contentious only in recent years. it wasn't always so polarizing. take, for example, justice scalia who we just lost.
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justice scalia was confirmed 98-0. i'm not arguing that either side is 100% pure, but we know one thing. a fully functioning supreme court is vital to ensure justice in our system of government. and it depends on a fully functioning senate. mr. president, this obstruction is part of a bigger problem. we have seen before and we're seeing now that the senate is broken. the american people are frustrated, fed up with political games, obstruction in the senate, special deals for insiders, campaigns that are being sold to the highest bidder. they see this obstruction as just another example of how our democracy is being taken away. in this case, the hammer doing the damage is the filibuster. instead of debate, we have gridlock. instead of working together, we
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have obstruction. that's why i pushed for rules reform in the 112th congress, in the 113th congress. that is why i continue to push no matter which party is in the majority. we change the senate rules to allow majority votes for executive and judicial nominees to lower courts, but that does no good if they remain blocked. and that is what is happening in this congress. the line gets longer and longer of perfectly qualified nominees denied a vote, denied even to be heard. meanwhile, the backlog grows. 17 judges, three ambassadors, even the top official at the treasury department whose job is to go after the finances of terrorists. we are on track for the lowest number of confirmations in three decades. we now have 31 judicial
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districts with emergency levels of backlogs. a year ago we had 12. thousands of people wait for their day in court because there is no judge to hear the case. that is justice delayed and justice denied. just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. a seat on the supreme court is empty and the majority leader is actually arguing that it should stay empty for over a year. mr. president, i do not believe that the constitution gives me the right to block a qualified nominee, no matter who is in the white house. i say that today and i've said it many times before. now amazingly that obstruction may reach all the way to the supreme court and not just for a specific nominee, but for any nominee. mr. president, what we are
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seeing is bad going to worse. and what we are seeing is election year politics. the majority leader said that the voters should have a say in who the next supreme court justice is. they have their say. they overwhelmingly reelected president obama to a four-year term. not a three-year term. there's no logical end point to the majority majority's new pos. they say no president supreme court nominee should be considered in his last year. what if this were two months ago? what would their views be if it was december 2015? october? and i might add presidents aren't the only ones with limited terms in office. a number of sitting senators are retiring. do their constitutional duties and rights as senators expire now as well? of course not. and neither should a president's. nominees should be judged on
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their merits. they are public servants in the executive branch, on our courts. they serve the people of this country. they should not be judged on your feelings about a president you may not like. that's not governing. it's a temper tantrum. and let's be very clear. a presidential election year is no excuse. for example, justice kennedy was confirmed unanimously in the last year of president reagan's administration by a democratic-controlled senate. mr. president, our democracy works with three brarchtion of of -- three branches of got, not just two. this is without cause and it should be without support. the president will do his duty and will nominate a supreme court justice. any senator has the right to say no, but the american people have the right to hear why.
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i began my speech with comments by the majority leader, but this really isn't about what the majority leader said ten years ago or what other majority leaders have said and what both sides say back and forth. it's about what the american people are saying now and what the constitution has always said. do your job. uphold your oath. move our country forward. so i say to my colleagues, let's get serious. let's stop these dangerous games. the president's nominee, whomever that is, deserves consideration, and the american people deserve a government that works. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that a quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, our nation is in the midst of a presidential election in which the american people are currently deciding who will be our next commander in chief. in my home state of north carolina, many voters have already submitted their absentee
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ballots and early voting will begin soon. this election year is especially important. in addition to electing our next president, the american people will have an opportunity to have their say in who should be our next supreme court justice. this is a rare opportunity to let people determine the composition of the highest court in the land, an institution that dramatically affects the lives of all of us. while the stakes weren't as high in 2014 as they are today, the voice of the american people was still heard loud and clear nonetheless. in 2014, the american people sent a message about their displeasure for the president's disregard for our nation's systems of checks and balances. the american people sent a message about their opposition to the president's misuse of executive orders, bypassing the will of the congress. and the american people sent a message by electing a new senate majority. perhaps the memo the nation sent
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to the president in 2014 is the reason the minority leadership is now attempting to deny the american people's full voice from being heard in this election. the minority doesn't want the people to decide the composition of the supreme court so they claim there is a constitutional requirement for the senate to give the president's supreme court nominee a vote. that couldn't be further from the truth. article 2, section 2, of the constitution makes this clear. while the president may nominate individuals to the supreme court, the senate holds the power to grant or withhold consent for those nominees. this is not difficult or unique in a constitutional sense. in fact, in 2005, the senior senator from nevada took to this very senate floor, and this is what he declared, and i quote -- "the duties of the senate are set forth in the u.s. constitution. nowhere in that document does it
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say that the senate has the duty to give the presidential nominees a vote. it says appointments shall be made with the advice and the consent of the senate. that is very different from saying that every nominee receives a vote." end quote. the senate is doing its job by withholding consent, and that's exactly why the rules of the senate provide further guidance on what happens when the senate exercises its authority not to advance the judicial nominee. senate rule 31 states nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon by any succeeding session without being again made to the senate by the president. the constitution states and the senate rules anticipate that the senate can exercise its clear authority to withhold consent on any nominee offered by the president. it's not a novel concept that
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the supreme court vacancy should not be filled during an election year. we can look back to 1992, back before these pages were even born, probably, when the senate judiciary committee then-chairman joe biden eloquently explained the need for the supreme court vacancy during a presidential election cycle and that it should be addressed after the american people had their say in the election. chairman biden, now vice president biden, said this, and i quote -- "the senate, too, mr. president, must consider how it would respond to a supreme court vacancy that would occur in the full throes of an election year. it is my view that if the president goes the way of presidents fillmore and johnson and presses the election year nomination, the senate judiciary committee should seriously consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the
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political campaign season is over." he went on to say -- "and i sadly predict, mr. president, that this is going to be one of the bitterest, dirtiest presidential campaigns we'll have seen in modern times." the vice president concludes by saying, -- "mr. president, i'm sure after having uttered these words some will criticize the situation and say it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in the hopes that a democrat would be permitted to fill it. but that would not be our intention, mr. president. if we -- if that were the course we were to choose as a senate to not consider holding the hearings until after the election, instead it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way -- and it is -- action on a supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. that is what is fair to the
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nominee and essential to the process. otherwise, it seems to me, mr. president, we will be in deep trouble as an institution." vice president biden's remarks may have been voiced in 1992 but they are entirely applicable in 2016. the campaign is already under way. it is essential to the institution of the senate and to the very health of our republic not to launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the american people are casting ballots to elect our next president. vice president biden -- and this is not something i've said very often. vice president biden was absolutely right. there should be no hearings. there should be no confirmation. the most pragmatic conclusion to draw in 2016 is to hold the
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supreme court vacancy until the american people's voices have been heard. thank you, mr. president. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk shall call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota.
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>> i would like toe ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i would like to ask unanimous consent that olivia cox, intern in my office be granted floor privileges for the duration of the session today. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank ms. heitcamp: thank you, mr. president. today i join with senator hoeven to honor and to bear witness to a great north dakotan and a great officer of the police department, jason mosure, who lost his life in the line of duty. and i would like to begin by yielding the floor to my senior senator, senator hoeven. mr. hoeven: mr. president, i join my colleague from north dakota today to honor a brave young man, officer jason david mosure, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his community. jason mosure was an officer since 2009 with the fargo police
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department. died in the line of duty two weeks ago today while responding to a domestic violence report. it is a tragedy that he was torn from his family and his friends and torn from his life while protecting the lives of others. he dedicated himself to serving our state, and we are all grateful for his commitment to devoting his energy and talents to serve as a member of the fargo police department. while at his funeral earlier this week, i appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the person jason was and the life that he lived. from his youth, he led a life of continuous service, service with the national guard as a combat medic for eight years, service in bosnia, service in iraq, and until his passing, service to the people of fargo as a policeman. in 2012 he and fellow officer matthew slider was awarded the
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silver star medal for pulling two schirn from an apartment fire. even in death, he served by donating his organs to others in need. in dying, his organs and the tissue helped to save the lives of at least five other people. clearly officer mosure was a man committed to doing things for others. he was respected and admired by everyone who came in contact with him. hearing stories about the pranks he if you would, the friends he brought together and his love of camping and cooking all round ought the picture after among who touched the lives of coaming, a man who was loved by so many. we owe him and those who love him a tremendous debt to for their sacrifice. because his family and friends have paid a high price. we in north dakota pride ourselves on being a safe state, but incidents like this remind us that we are not immune to
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violent crime. they also remind us of the enormous debt we owe to all of the men and women in law enforcement who leave home every day and go to work to protect us and help make ours the wonderful state north dakotans are so proud of. mikey and i extend our heartfelt condolences to officer jason mosure's wife and children. it is difficult to lose a loved one and more so to lose one so young and under such circumstances. during this difficult time, we pray that the mosures are able to find comfort in the love of their family and he frnd friendd the warm memories that they have of jason. please know that you will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. one final note: senator heitkamp and i were at the funeral, and i think there were about 6,000
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people at the funeral, which is a testament to officer mosure and his life. he truly epitomizes a sacrifice in service to others. may god bless him and his family. with that, mr. president, i would turn the floor back to my colleague, senator heitkamp. ms. heitcamp: my great thanks to my colleague from north dakota, senator hoeven, who i know, as we sat quietly in the hockey areiarena that jason lovo etch, we felt the plain of so many, including literally the hundreds of thousands of north dakotans who watched the broadcast of the funeral but also listened on the radio. on the evening of wednesday, february 10, officer jason moszer did what so many police officers do on a daily basis. he went towards the danger.
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he answered the call to serve and protect the citizens of fargo, north dakota. jason and the other officers that responded to that initial call knew they were encountering a dangerous situation. the domestic violence call that brought them there that evening had mentioned that there might be a firearm involved. yet those officers did not hesitate. a short time later, shots rang out and then those words, those words that will never be forgotten by his fellow officers were heard, "officer down." yet even in the darkest of hours, the men and women of the fargo police department maintained their composure, they continued the critical work of securing the surrounding neighborhood, and trying to bring this dangerous situation to a resolution. later that night, the city of fargo, the state of north dakota, our neighboring
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community of moorhead, and certainly his home community of saben, lost one of its finest descension when officer moszer succumbed to his injuries. the loss of an officer in the line of duty is something that devastates an entire community, and in a small state like north dakota, it has taken a toll on every law enforcement officer and every resident throughout our entire state. i'm here this evening to honor officer moszer, and i'm here this evening to honor the brave men and women of the fargo police department. these officers wake up every morning, they put on a uniform that requires that they frequently place themselves in dangerous situations in order to protect and to serve the citizens of their state, their community, or their tribe. few among us know what it's like to make that choice. we have a proud history in north dakota of law enforcement
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officers serving their state and local community with distinction. i have had the privilege over the years to work with law enforcement officers in my state that span the spectrum, from highway patrol to state and local officers to various federal officers and the tribal police. and let me tell you, without any hesitation, these are some of the finest men and women i have ever met or worked with and the officers of the fargo police department have proven beyond a doubt that they are some of the finest law enforcement officers in the nation. the men and women of the fargo police department, led by their chief, chief david todd, performed admirablably, they performed who are rowically that -- heroically that night two weeks ago. the courage and strength and leadership displayed by chief todd during this incblably in--y
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difficult period has been nothing short of a miracle. and those qualities spread to etched and every officer under his charge. remember, these officers chose this path. they chose to selfishly put themselves in harm's way so they could make the city of fargo a safer place for each and every person that lives there, or who may have, by chance, been passing through. they chose to put the needs of others before their own. they chose a more difficult path to tread than most of us would ever be willing to follow. one of the stories that we heard was from one of his best friends, who said, jason, quite honestly, would have been embarrassed by the outpouring. he suggested that maybe what jason would like is just people to have a few beers and remember him quietly. well, jason's loss was a loss not only for all of the people of our state, imu it wa but it a
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tremendous, devastating loss for the fargo police department and the community of far goavmen fa. so those uniforms that put on -o those officers who put on this uniform are from a tight-knit group. i unfortunately have attended a number of funerals, two during my time as attorney general, of officers who were killed violently in the line of duty. and one of the most moving tributes to a fallen officer is when the radio dispatcher goes through the end of the watch roll call. this moving and emotional moment shows that even in death the men and women of the fargo police department stand shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues. they are reminded that they will support each other the way they support the city of fargo each and every day and that even when
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a colleague has fallen in the line of duty, they will always have his back. officer moszer, chief todd, and the men and women of the fargo police department, i thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service and for your sacrifice to the people of far goad and the state of north dakota. i want to end with the end of the watch. edward 1-4-3, status check. edward 1-4-3 status check, edward 1-4-3, status check. end of wax. february 11, 2016 at 12:45 hours. that was the final words that their comrades spoke to officer moszer and his family. without brave men and women willing to step up, willing to stand on the wall for every
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wurch us, we'd be a much lesser society. so my great thanks to my colleague, senator hoeven for joining me. it is in great north dakota spirit that we join together as colleagues in a bipartisan way to say thank you and say goodbye to a wonderful officer, officer moszer. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. hoeven: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hoeven: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 3:00 p.m. monday, february 29. following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. further that following the leader's remarks the senate be in a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. further that at 5:00 p.m. the senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to s. 524 with the time until 5:30 p.m. equally divided between the two managers or their designees. finally, that not withstanding the provisions of rule 22 the senate vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to s. 524 at 5:30 p.m.
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the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. hoeven: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
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>> metadata is literally the
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outside of the envelope or electronic communication. as you said, american law enforcement traditional has been able to look at the outset of the envelope. the supreme court decided that the fact that the phone call, you called, wind, for how long also was essentially the outside of the envelope. >> watch booktv all weekend every weekend on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> fbi director james comey said today that the fbi is not seeking authority to unlock iphone to be on the one used in the san bernardino terrorist attack. apple defied a court order last week directing it to the fbi unlock an iphone used by one of the two shooters in the attack that left 14 people dead. here's his testimony before the house intelligence committee.
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this is one hour 20 minutes. >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> the committee will come to order today we will examine worldwide threats. i would like to welcome our witnesses, director of national intelligence director of national intelligence james clapper, director of the central intelligence agency john brennan, director of the fbi james comey, deputy director of the national scared agency richard leakey, director of defense intelligence agency lieutenant general stewart and director gresham counter terrorism center nick rasmussen. thank you all for being here today. i recognize the challenges so stay with discussing sensitive national to the issues in public i hope you agree this open forum is critical to help explain to the american people the serious threats we face and also to highlight the efforts of the brave men and women of the
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intelligence community to keep us safe. i speak fo for the entire commuy which i thank you for your service, sacrifice and dedication. director clapper, this is your last worldwide threats hearing with this committee. i like to especially thank you for your 55 years of service to this great nation. director clapper i recall from last year's testimony that you are concerned about a vast array of threats. remarkably the number seems to have grown since then. generally i share your assessment of current threat environment at the truth is united states cases the highest level since the 9/11 attacks. the american people don't need a security clearance to understand the threats that face in the western world. they only need to read the headlines out of paris, brussels, san bernardino and boston. al-qaeda, isis and others are rapidly expanding. with more access to safe havens, recruits and resources than ever before. without u.s. leadership this trend will continue. we have discussed syria and iraq
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with the link -- at length. i believe it is among the most mismanaged foreign policy blunders in recent history. after consistently failing to block isis expansion we have to accept the new reality, isis is now in dozens of countries and has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to reach our homeland. instead of focusing on isis as if it were confined to iraq and syria we urgently need an aggressive comprehensive and anti-terror strategy that stretches from morocco to southeast asia. at the same time our adversaries are becoming more diverse. throughout the next decade the us must be prepared to check chinese invasion in asia, counter a resurgent russia, defend against cyber threats and manage delicate geopolitical forces in the middle east including the growing schism between sunni and shia muslims. how does the president respond to these challenges? his homework policy is bound to
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strike a nuclear deal with iran that greatly relieve pressure on the iranian regime. the worlds biggest state sponsor of terrorism. he failed to prevent russia from propping up syrian dictator bashar assad, a man who the president himself must surrender power. meanwhile, some of our closest allies, the kurds from the israelis and egyptians often find themselves, their concerns downplayed or dismissed within the administration. our partners around the world want to work with us but they can't rally behind american leadership if they don't understand what our foreign policy is trying to accomplish. although i disagree with the president's policies, the committee will continue to drive the intelligence community with resources it needs to protect the nation. with particular emphasis of this year on preserving, capability for the next president. because the intelligence community is being stretched thin and is overwhelmed by a
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complex threat matrix we must prioritize investments throughout the entire intelligence community. our committee's mission is clear, to help the intelligence community to protect the american people by providing oversight and direction and resources to enable effective, efficient and constitutional intelligence activities. additionally, amid the growing threats we face it's critically important we ensure the intelligence community act as careful stewards of taxpayers dollars. over the next year our committee will focus on making progress in the following five key areas. first encouraging efficient investment in their such as space in which complex programming capability requirements routinely drive up costs and adopting new technology, including data analytics, encryption and technical training specifically intended to by projects like cloud computing, data security, and tool management.
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second memory assessing the effectiveness of the communities human intelligence enterprise and synchronizing communitywide resources especially a time when several intelligence community agencies are implementing we organizational plans. this particularly applies to the recruitment and training of the next generation of collectors, cyber expert and analyst operate in nontraditional areas and deliver intelligence on hard to reach targets. third, producing objective and unbiased intelligence analysis, particularly in the department of defense where there is a multi-committee effort to determine whether there are systematic problems across the intelligence enterprise, or any other pertinent intelligence organization. in this context it is vital that this committee protect and seriously consider the testimony of the many whistleblowers who provided information to us. for example, we have been made
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aware that both files and e-mails have been deleted by personal at centcom, and we expect the department of defense will provide these and all other relevant documents to the committee. fourth, improving the efficiency of intelligence support to combatant commands including efforts to curb facilities and personnel costs. it's alarming this committee identified up to $50 million in annual savings for the defense intelligence agency and more than $300 million of unneeded construction disguised as basic consolidation. in total this was $1.5 billion in savings for one project. the response we received from the administration can only be described as delay, denial and deception. this is let the chairman of the armed service committee, the chairman of the appropriations committee and me to ask the gao to conduct a full investigation. furthermore, whistleblowers have
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provided this committee with documentation showing the department of defense have provided false information to congress. this committee will now conduct another round of interviews and will turn over our findings to the house committee on oversight and government reform which award has an ongoing investigation into this matter and department -- the department of defense inspector general. finally, we've asked for data on all intelligence personnel and major support contractors at the combatant commands this request was made in december and this is information that should be readily available. ..


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