tv Senators Grassley Durbin and Hatch on Supreme Court Vacancy CSPAN February 28, 2016 11:55am-1:01pm EST
should make this nomination. that certainly is supported by precedent. you would have to go back to 1888 when grover cleveland was in the white house to find the last time a senate of a different party from the president confirmed a nominee for the supreme court in an election year. in 1988, justice kennedy was confirmed but that was a vacancy created before that which bork was nominated and was defeated and the vacancy existed quite some time prior to the presidential election. so the question is who should make the decision. and my view and i can confidently say the view shared by everybody in my conference is that the nomination should be made by the president. and the election under way right
senator cornyn: he was talking about his experience with justice scalia. he administered the oath of office to me on the texas supreme court. we have our own personal memories of this giant in the law and someone who transformed the supreme court and its jurisprudence and i think set a high standard for those who followed. today, the members of the senate judiciary committee on the republican side uanimously agreed. we wrote a letter to senator mcconnell saying there should not be a hearing in the judiciary committee for anyone that the president nominates. the reason for that is it's not about the personality but the principle. it's up to the american people in the next election no matter who they choose to make the and nomination for this
important seat on the supreme court. justice scalia served for 30 years and extends beyond president obama's term of office. it's that important. as senator mcconnell said we have some precedent. we have three things. we have the biden rule, we have the reid dictum and the schumer precedent. which they tore up the rule book. there isn't any rule book the way they have rewritten the rules and this is the path forward. senator thune: the president signed into law legislation that forbid the closing of guantanamo bay and transporting of detainees there anywhere in the united states. that was something that was sent to him by both republicans and democrats. and what he is now proposing to do is in direct contradiction
with the will of the american people. it's the will of the american people and their voices that need to be heard and that's the point we are making with respect to this supreme court vacancy as well. that a lame duck president should not be making a lifetime appointment to the speem court. the american people deserve to have their voices heard in this process and will have that opportunity in the election this year. as the leader pointed out is well under way. the next president of the united states be a democrat or a republican should be making that nomination. and we believe that's the way this process should proceed and as was pointed out earlier, that is the view of the republican senate and we think it's the view of the american people. >> i thank senator mcconnell for his leadership on the whole issue of justice scalia and the decision to be made by the
american people. the voters in november to make a lifetime appointment. specifically related to syria. when senator kerry came for his confirmation hearings three years ago, about 60,000 syrians had been murdered. here we are three years later. at the time he said the situation is getting worse. three years later, the number is 470,000 killed. in those three years, an average of 300 syrians killed every single day since senator kerry has taken over. the strategy of this administration is not working. what we are seeing is russia is involved on the ground in syria and say they are to fight terrorists. to them that is an elastic term.
we know who they are after and even though they announced a ceasefire, after announcing the ceasefire they destroyed two hospitals in aleppo, sending a message to those on the ground that it's time to get out. civilians are terrorized and terrified. they are leaving for people who want to stay as the resistance and see the price to pay is very high. the white house as well as the russians have announced a new ceasefire but not to take effect for a couple of weeks. i will tell you that is a smoke screen. it is time for a new strategy. the secretary of state today admitted in the committee that there are no consequences to be paid by russia when they violate the ceasefire again. >> the reason i'm part of this stakeout, i'm the elected representative of my colleagues in the senate re-election
campaigns this year. and in that respect, a number of you have asked me in the last day or two, what effect the supreme court nomination might have on our chances in november. senator wicker: we are very comfortable letting the american people speak on this issue. the american people will choose a president and will get a choice between a president that is likely to appoint someone in the tradition of justice scalia or a person who -- or a president that is likely to appoint the type of nominees we seen from president obama. elections have consequences and the election this november will have consequences as to the type of senate we have and as to our being disposed to confirm
nominees in the vein of justice scalia or the american pell could choose a senate that will be delighted to have overly liberal and ex pangsist justices. i think we really should be calm and matter of fact about this. we know from the statements made by our friends on the other side of the aisle that if they were in the position we hold today, the result would be exactly the same. the vice president said as much in 1992. the future democratic leader said as much in 2007 and clearly that would have been the attitude of senator reid also. we've got work to do. if the president sends us a nominee, i think it will be disposed of as the vice president would have disposed of that nominee had he been in the
leadership, had senator schumer been in the leadership and we need to get on with the many other legislative matters that we have to attend to this year. reporter: sounds like the president will still nominate someone. how far are you willing to go preventing this nominee going further? will you actually not meet with the nominee? senator mcconnell: i don't know how many times we have to say this. the judiciary committee has recommended to me there will be no hearings. i'm confident and the conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected. i don't know the purpose of such a visit. i would not be inclined to take one myself. reporter: will you not meet either with the nominee? senator cornyn: i don't see the point of going through the motions and create the impression of something else going on here.
reporter: [indiscernible] if you don't have meetings, voting down nominees and looks like republicans are trying to hide something. are you taking a political gamble? senator mcconnell: getting off message is not one of them. this nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the fall. i agree with the judiciary committee eel recommendation that we not have hearings, in short, there will not be action taken. [indiscernible] reporter: senator schumer said it doesn't matter what anybody else said in the past.
senator mcconnell: i know they say it doesn't matter. we know what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. we know what would happen. a nominee of a republican president would not be confirmed by a democratic senate when the vacancy was created in a presidential election year. that's a fact. and some of their statements in the past are very inconvenient now and would like to suggest they didn't really mean it. but let me try one more time. the judiciary committee has unanimously recommended there be no hearings. i agree with that. and number two, this nominee will be selected by the next president. reporter: every pending nominee over the last century has gotten a vote. what's the harm of the senate voting on a potential nominee? senator mcconnell: i'm going to
say the same thing again. reporter: are you committing that that president -- whoever that president is will get an up or down vote on that nominee? senator mcconnell: whoever the nominee is that comes up next year will be considered by the senate. the procedure, what the process would be -- i don't know. but at the beginning of a four-year term, the suggestion that either party wouldn't consider the nominee at all -- we are talking about an election already under way, a vacancy in a presidential election year. next year is not a presidential election year. this is a unique circumstance and you have to go back to 1888 when grover cleveland was president to find the last time a vacancy created in a
presidential election year was approved by a senate of a different party. i think you all understand where we are. reporter: when does the election season begin? people started campaigning in iowa last year. senator mcconnell: we are in the election year. it will occur this november. the vacancy occurred this election year. that's what we are talking about. thanks everybody. day, presidentg obama responded to senate republican comments on the supreme court nomination process. took questions from reporters during a white house visit with jordan's king abdullah.
this is 10 minutes. >> mr. president, can you respond to mitch mcconnell's comments yesterday about your supreme court choices and the fact that they're not planning on holding a hearing whatsoever? president obama: well, the constitution says that i nominate candidates for the supreme court when there's a vacancy, and that the senate exercises its constitutional role in advise and consent. i'm going to do my job. we are going to go through a process, as we have done in two previous supreme court vacancies, to identify an outstanding candidate that has impeccable legal credentials and would bring the kind of ability and compassion and objectivity and legal reasoning to the court that the highest court in the land demands.
one side made the nomination, and then leader mcconnell and all the members of the senate are going to make a decision about how do they fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. i recognize the politics are hard for them, because the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme voices within their party and stand pat and do nothing. but that's not our job. our job is to fulfill our constitutional duties. and so my hope and expectation is that once there is an actual nominee and once this is no longer an abstraction, that those on the judiciary committee recognize that their job is to give this person a hearing, to show the courtesy of meeting with them. they are then free to vote
whatever their conscience dictates as to whether this person is qualified or not. in the meantime, the american people are going to have the ability to gauge whether the person i've nominated is well within the mainstream, is a good jurist, is somebody who's worthy to sit on the supreme court. and i think it will be very difficult for mr. mcconnell to explain how, if the public concludes that this person is very well qualified, that the senate should stand in the way simply for political reasons. we'll see what happens. and i think the situation may evolve over time. i don't expect mitch mcconnell to say that is the case today. i don't expect any member of the republican caucus to stick their head out at the moment and say that. but let's see how the public responds to the nominee that we put forward. the one thing i think is important to dispel is any
notion that somehow this is some well-established tradition, or some constitutional principle that a president in his last year of office cannot fill the supreme court vacancy. it's not in the text of the constitution. ironically, these are republicans who say they believe in reading the text of the constitution and focusing on the intent of the constitution. but none of the founding fathers thought that when it comes to the president carrying out his duties, he should do it for three years and then on the last year stop doing it. there's an argument that, well, the president shouldn't do this because he is a lame duck. well, the truth of the matter is, is that traditionally the term lame duck refers to the two
or three months after an election has taken place in which a new president is about to be sworn in. i've got a year to go. i don't think they would approve of me abdicating on my duties as commander-in-chief and to stop doing all the other work that i got to do. well, this is part of my job. there's been arguments that for 80 years this has been the tradition. well, that's not the case. justice kennedy was approved after being nominated by ronald reagan in ronald reagan's last year of office. they say, well, that's different because he had been nominated in 1987, even if he was confirmed, or '85, even if he was confirmed in '86. well, the notion that there is some two-month period in which suddenly it all flips and
everything shuts down, that's not a credible argument. what other arguments are they making? they suggest that, well, there had been a couple of times where democrats said it would be wise for a president not to nominate someone. first of all, we know senators say stuff all the time. second of all, these were comments that were made where there was no actual nomination at stake. so it has no application to the actual situation that we have right now. i'm trying to think of any other reeds that they're grasping here as to why they would not carry out their duties. and i can't really think of one. i recognize that this is an
important issue for their constituencies, and it's particularly sensitive because this was justice scalia's seat that is now vacant and that a whole host of decisions on the supreme court could turn on this ninth justice and their vote. but that's how our democracy is supposed to work. and what i do, the last point i'll make, we have already seen a breakdown of the judicial appointment process that gets worse and worse each and every year, each and every congress. it becomes harder and harder to get any candidates for the judiciary confirmed. we saw senator reid have to employ the so-called nuclear option because there was such a
logjam in terms of getting judicial appointments through. if, in fact, the republicans in the senate take a posture that defies the constitution, defies logic, is not supported by tradition simply because of politics, then invariably what you're going to see is a further deterioration in the ability of any president to make any judicial appointments. and appointments to the supreme court as well as the federal bench suddenly become a complete extension of our polarized politics. and at that point, not only are you going to see more and more vacancies and the court systems
break down, but the credibility of the court itself begins to diminish because it's viewed simply as an extension of our politics, this is a republican judge or this is a democratic judge, as opposed to, this is a supreme court justice who is supposed to be standing above the day-to-day politics that take place. so i understand the posture that they're taking right now. i get the politics of it. i'm sure they're under enormous pressure from their base and their constituencies around this issue. i've talked to many of them, and i've told them i'm sympathetic. and, by the way, there's not a lot of vigor when they defend the position that they're taking, that they wouldn't even meet, for example, with a supreme court nominee. they're pretty sheepish about it when they make those comments. so we'll see how this plays itself out. but i'm going to do my job. i'm going to nominate somebody and let the american people decide as to whether that person is qualified.
and if they are qualified, let the american people decide whether there's enough time for the u.s. senate to hold hearings and have a vote. it's not as if, from what i see, the senate calendar is so full that we don't have time to get this done. dialogue over the supreme court vacancy continued on the senate floor when minority leader harry reid made remarks critical of judiciary chair, charles grassley, who responded the following day. their remarks are about 20 minutes starting with senator reid. the senior senator from iowa along with other republicans on this senate judiciary committee announced that they will not be holding a hearing for president obama's eventual nominee to the supreme court. they will not give the eventual nominee the common courtesy of even a meeting.
no hearings. no meetings. this is all for the present has even sent a nominee to us. it is historically unbelievable and unprecedented. they have already decided they will not give the confirmation process a start. why? because the person was nominated by president obama. remember, republican leaders said many years ago. the number one: he had was to make sure that president obama was not reelected. that failed miserably. the president won by more than 5 million votes. and everything has been done. folks in theican ,enate to embarrass, obstruct
filibuster, anything that can be done to focus attention on president obama, all of which has helped the country. but senator grassley has surrendered every pretense of independence. committee judiciary -- into a narrow obstruction. they saw a partisan fact that the senator from iowa responded to a personal invitation from the present inviting him to the white house to discuss the vacancy. think about that. the president of the united states calls a very senior citizen -- senator. and doesn't even respond to the president. it is a sad day for one of the proudest committees in the united states senate. so i ask, is this the legacy that he wants? is this how he wants his committee to be remembered? as a chairman who refuse their duty and allow the republican leader to ride roughshod over
the judicial committee's storied history? the committee chairman in the united states senate have been legendary. majority, minority leader could tell a chair what to do with his committee. that was off bounds. it does not appear so now. dictating his responsibility -- abdicating his responsibility , the senate has always held republicans -- has always upheld republicans. every history of the country -- never in the history of the country has a senate and lee refused to meet with the person who has been nominated. the republicans are setting a dangerous precedent for future nominations. not only for the supreme court,
but for the senate itself as an institution. historian'se senate office reported that the denial of committee hearings for a supreme court nominee is unprecedented. if that's unprecedented, how about the fact that you will not even meet with the person that has been nominated? if that's unprecedented, how a member ofct that the u.s. senate will not even go to the white house to talk to the president about filling a supreme court seat? the senior senator from iowa will be the first judiciary chairman ever to refuse to hold a hearing on a supreme court nominee. that's quite an achievement. but not one that should make you very proud. the sort of wanton obstruction is not with the american people want. it's not what the people of iowa want. last week, no fewer than six iowa newspapers issued scathing editorials calling on senator grassley to change course and
give the nominated respect that year she deserves. for example, the globe-gazette wrote, we are especially disappointed that i was own chart grassley joined the crowd calling for delay. no constitutional or historical precedent for such a flagrant, outrageous, shameful, bald-faced partisanship. wrote,ar rapids gazette it's hard to conclude this is anything but political maneuvering at the expense of the supreme court, are constitutional process, and the common good. the des moines register read, senator grassley's supreme court stance is all about politics. mr. president, is that the legacy the chairman wants for iowa and our nation? i certainly hope not. does he want to be rendered as
the least productive judiciary chairman in history? his current page could be remembered as the most obstructive chairman in history. perhaps instead of studying what the vice president said a quarter of a century ago, he should take note of what senator biden did 25 years ago. generally as a member and chairman of that committee. 1992, the judiciary committee under senator biden's leadership confirmed 64 circuit and district court nominations. all of the judicial nominations were made by president from the opposite party, president george h.w. bush. grassley'snator judiciary committee confirmed 11 judicial nominations. that was the fewest judicial nominations confirmed ever.
certainly in the last 50 or 75 years. that's quite a comparison. biden 64. grassley 11. it even gets worse than that for my friend from iowa. congresstire 102nd with joe as chair, the senate confirmed 120 nominees. 11 under chairman grassley. the difference is stunning. i encourage my friend from iowa to focus on biden's actions rather than cherry picking remarks from 25 years ago. the judiciary committee of joe its constitutional obligation by visiting with the nominees in a timely fashion. even though they were a republican president's nominees. i can't say the same about the
committee today. no one can. as chairman, joe biden did his constitutional duty and processed nominations from republican presidents to the supreme court. justice kennedy. was the last year of reagan 's presidency. souter and thomas. let's focus on thomas. thomas got 52 votes. he squeaked through the senate. any senator could have forced a cloture vote. anyone democrat could have done it. we didn't do that. it was never done until republicans showed up here in the last few years. , a very confidential person, received a long hearing before the committee and a long debate here in the senate. and he was voted down. that's how this is supposed to
work other nominees have been voted down. we did not say, we will not hold a hearing on board. we did not say, we will not take the committee's actions and just leave it. down by anrned overwhelming margin. in spite of that, we brought it to the senate floor and there was a debate and he won by two votes. he was defeated in the committee. we did not look for an excuse. that's the way it used to be done. now the republican leadership will not meet with the nominee even though they don't know who it will be. they will not hold a hearing. the chairman of the committee will not even go to the white house to visit with the president. chairman, senator biden did his constitutional duty and processed nominations even though they were republican
nominations. we don't have to go back to 1980 or 92 to prove the chairman's in it this. -- ineptness. just in the past year. there are too many cases for a judge to do the work. isacant judgeship automatically declared an emergency, as it should be. republicans who control the senate last year, there were 12 emergencies nationwide. today, a year later, that number has almost tripled to 31. by nearly every metric, the judiciary committee under grassley is failing dramatically , setting all records of failure in this great body. the committee is failing the people of iowa and the nation. , i stress, from iowa
do not continue down this path. reject this record-setting obstruction and simply do your job as the powerful chairman of the judiciary committee. the minority leader came to the floor to disparage the work of the senate judiciary committee and also disparage the work of the senate as a whole. he does from, as time to time, he launched into a personal attack against me. that's ok. i don't intend to return the favor. i love senator reid. then't want to talk about nuclear option and the tremendous damage that that did to the senate. over the years and years that the democrat senators had to endure his leadership without even being able to offer an amendment. we have the story about one democrat senator who was defeated in the last election. chance to get a
vote on an amendment of his during the whole six years that he was in the u.s. senate. we all know that's just how some people act when they don't get their way. but childish tantrums aren't appropriate for the senate. i think that if my friend, senator biden, had been in the chamber today, he would have said, as you heard him say so many times, that's a bunch of malarkey. i did not come to the floor today to talk about the minority leader. i did, however, want to follow-up on my remarks from earlier this week. rules. now, in fairness, senator in fairness, senator biden didn't just make these rules up out of an air. 2 went into great historical detail on the history and practice of vacancies in presidential election years sm years. he discuss how the
handled these vacancies and how presidents have and should handle them. based on that history are and a dose of good common sense, senator biden laid out the rules that govern supreme court vacancies arising during a presidential election year. and, of course, he delivered his remarks when we had divided government, as we have today, in that year 1992. now, the biden rules are very clear. my friend from delaware did a wonderful job of laying out the history and providing many of the very sound reasons for these biden rules, and they boil down simply to two fundamental points. first, the president should exercise restraint and -- quote
-- "not name a nominee until after the completednd of quote. and as i said on monday, president lincoln is a pretty good role model for this practice. or, stated differently, the president should let the people decide. but, if the president chooses not to follow president lincoln's model but instead, as chairman biden said -- quote -- "goes the way of fillmore and johnson and presses an election-year nomination" -- end of quote -- then the senate shouldn't consider the nomination and shouldn't hold hearings. it doesn't matter -- quote -- "how good a person is nominated by the president" -- end ofor, e principle, not the persohat matters. now, as i said on monday, vice
president biden is an honorable man, and he is loyal. those of us who know himw that . so i wasn't surprised on monday evening when he released a relatively short statement defending his remarks and, of course, as you might expect, defending the president's decision to press forward with a nominee. and under the constitution, the president can do that. predictee president biden is a loyal number two. but, the vice president had the so cogently in 1992 aren'te really his view. tough sell, and vice president biden did monday evening. but i must say, i think that
chairman biden would view vice presiden biden's comments the same way he'd view the minority leader's comments today. he'd call it like he sees it, as haveeard him say, that it's just a bunch of malarkey. here's part of what vice president biden said on monday -- quote -- fairly long quote. "some critics say one excerpt of a speech is evidence that i do not support filling a supreme court vacancy during an election year. this is not an accurate description of my views on the subject. in the same speech pointing to today, i urged the senate and the white house to overcome partisan differences and work together to ensure the court function as the founding fathers intended."
end of biden quote. well, mr. president, that doesn't sound consistent with all of those biden rules that i shared with my colleagues on monday. so we ask, is it really possible to square chairman biden's 1992 election-year statement with vice president biden's 2016 election-year statement? was chairman biden's 1992 statement really just all about greater cooperation between the senate and the white housenan bt if a vacancy suddenly arises -- quote -- "action on a supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over." was he simply calling for more cooperation when he called for
withholding consent -- quote -- "no matter how good a person is nominated by the president"? was he merely suggesting that the president and the senate work together a little bit more, when he said we shouldn't hold hearings until these circumstances, was that all about cooperation between the branches? well, since we're talking about filling justice scalia's seat, it seems problem to ask, how would he solve this puzzle? i suppose he'd start with the text, so let's begin there. in 1992, chairman biden discussed cooperation between the branches. yes, in fact, he did. so far, so good for vice president biden. but that can't be the end of the matter because that doesn't
explain the two vastly different interpretations of the same statement. let's look a little more closely at the text. here's what chairman biden said about cooperation between the branches -- quote -- "let me start with the nomination process and how the process might be changed in the next administration, whether it is a democrat or a republican. end of quote. again, emphasize that was during the 1992 election. well, mr. president, we didn't have to search very long to honor -- to unearth textual evidence regarding of meaning of chairman biden's words in 1992. yes, he shared some thoughts about how he believed the president and the senate might rk together, that cooperation was to occur -- quote -- "in the next
administration." in other words, after the presidential election of 1992, after the senate withheld consent on any nominee -- quote -- "no matter how good a person is nominated by the president." end of quote. so the text ist if you need more that this is an accurate understanding of what the biden rules mean, look no further than a lengthy "washington post" article one week later. in that interview, he made his views quite clear. he said -- quote -- "if someone steps down, i would highly recommend the president not name someone, not send a name up." end of quote. and if the president does send someone up -- quote -- "if the
president did send someone up, i would ask the senate to seriously consider not having a hearing on that nominee." end of quote. specifically, my friend, chairman biden, said -- quote -- "can you imagine dropping a nominee after the three or four or five decisions that are about to be made by the supreme court into that fight, into that caldron in the middle of a elec" end of quote. chairman biden went on -- quote -- "i believe there would be no bound of propriety that would be honored by either side, environment within which such a hearing would be held would be so super charged and so prone to be able to be distorted." end of quote. at the end of the day,
mr. president, the text oan bidt is very clear. so in 2016, when he's serving as president, vice president biden is forced to argue that the biden rules secretly mean the exact opposite of what they say. ironically, that's a trick justice scalia taught us all to recognize and to reject on sight. we know that we should look to the clear meaning of his text, as justice scalia taught us. this was not a one-off comment by senator biden. it was a 20,000-word floor speech laying out forcefully a
difficult and principled decision. it relied on historical precedent. it relied upon respect for democracy. it relied on respect for the integrity of the nomination process. there is no doubt what senator biden meant. mr. president, there is of course a broader point, and i hope that we in the next several months, we concentrate on this broader point, and that is that text matters. justice scalia devoted his adult life to these first principles. do the americanple want presideo nominate a justice in the mold of scalia to replace him? or do they want to elect a
president clinton or sanders who will nominate a justice who will move the courts in a more liberal decision? do they wantho wil the const when drilling down on the most diff constitutional questions? or do they want yet another on y tough cases bases a decision on what is in the judge's heart, as then-senator obama famously has said. it comes down to this. we've lost one of the great jurists. it's up to the american people to decide whether we preserve his legacy. more importantly, do you follow the text of the constitution?
do you follow the text of the law? or do you follow what's in the hearts justices on the supreme court? this is a debate we should have. this is a debate that i hope we will have. this is a debate that i hope will be in three or four national debates between president clinton -- or nominee clinton or nominee sanders on one side and whoever the republicans nominate on the other side. the american people should be involved. and then we should let the american people decide. >> today donald trump speaks at a campaign rally in huntsville, alabama. beginning at 5 p.m. eastern on c-span.
>> how can we best get people to pay attention to wasteful spending? so that we can find things that different,ting, easy-to-understand. the government is so large, and organization like ours has to cut through a lot of the noise and other things going on. members of congress talking about how wonderful they are, make it more personal for the understanding of the impact on them and their families and their children and grandchildren. >> tonight on "q&a," thomas schaap talks about his organization's efforts to bring attention to wasteful federal spending. they also publish the pig book, which compiles the organizations list of unauthorized government programs. >> we work with a bipartisan .rganization in congress they came up with us with it -- came up with the definition of
porkbarrel spending, which eventually became the term in earmarks. we went through the appropriations bills and started the big book. the first year was about $3 billion. it went all the way to $29 billion in 2006. every year that we can find earmarks in the appropriations bills, we release the book around april or may. eastern on at 8 p.m. "q&a." >> tuesday, president obama announced his plan to close it guantanamo bay detention facility in cuba. in his remarks he stated the detention center does not isance national security and contrary to our values. the president also talked about the cost of the closure, as well as the process of transferring the remaining detainees. this is about 15 minutes.
in our fight against terrorists we're using l.a. -- every element of our national power. military, intelligence, diplomacy, homeland security. law enforcement, federal, state and local, as well as our ideals as a country committed to , including laws and human rights. in this fight we learn and we work to constantly improve. when we find something that works, we keep on doing it. when it becomes clear that something is not working as intended, when it does not advance our security, we have to change course.
for many years is been clear that the tension facility at once upon does not advance our national security. it undermines it. not just my opinion. this is the opinion of experts. this is the opinion of many in our military. it is counterproductive to our fight against terrorists because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit. it drains military resources. nearly 450 million dollars spent last year alone to keep it running. $200 million in additional cost to keep it open going forward. for less than 100 detainees. guantanamo harms our partnerships with our allies in other countries whose cooperation we need against terrorists. when i talk to other world leaders they bring up the fact that guantanamo is not resolved.
moreover, keeping this facility opened this contrary to our values. it undermines our standing in the world and is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of the rule of law. as americans we pride ourselves on being a beacon to other nations. a model of the rule of law. , 15 yearsfter 9/11 after the worst terrorist attack in american history, we are still having to defend the existence of a facility and a process were not a single verdict has been reached in those texts. not a single one. when i first ran for president, it was widely recognized that this facility needed to close. this was not just my opinion. this was not some radical, far
left view. there was a bipartisan support to close it. bush,decessor, president to his credit, said he wanted to close it. it was one of the few things that i and my republican opponent, senator john mccain, agreed on. so, in one of my first acts as president i took action to begin closing it. and because we had bipartisan , i wanted to make sure that we did it right. i indicated that we would need , to do it in ae systematic way, and that we had examined all the options. unfortunately, during that time when we were putting the pieces in place to close it, what had previously been bipartisan
support suddenly became a partisan issue. hadenly, many who previously said that it should be closed, backed off the cause were worried about the politics. was scared into thinking -- well, if we close it , somehow we will be less safe. since that time congress has repeatedly imposed restrictions aimed at preventing us from closing this facility. politics, wethe have made progress. the nearly 800 detainees once held at guantanamo, over 45% have been transferred to other countries. more than 500 of these transfers, by the way, occurred under president bush. since i took office, we have so far transferred 147 more. each under new and significant restrictions to keep them from returning to the battlefield.
as a result of these actions, today just 91 detainees remain. less then 100. department,fense thanks to the very hard work by the secretary of defense, ash carter, as well as his team working in concert with the office of management and budget, today the department is submitting to congress our plan for finally quit -- closing the facility at guantanamo once and for all. that reflects the hard work of my entire national security team. i especially wanted to thank ash and his team at dod, whose plan has my full support and it reflects our best thinking on how to best go after terrorists and deal with those who we may capture. it is a strategy with four main.
-- elements. first, we will responsibly continue to transfer to other countries the 35 detainees out of the 91 that have been approved for transfer. in mind, this process involves expensive coordination across the federal government to make sure our national security interests are met when an individual is transferred to another country. for example, we insist that foreign countries institute strong security measures. forward, that means that we will have around 60, potentially even fewer date -- fewer detainees remaining. second, we will accelerate the periodic reviews of remaining to determine whether their continued detention is necessary. our review board, including representatives from across government, will continue to look at all relevant information
, including current intelligence. longerain detainees no pose significant threats, they may be eligible for transfer to another country as well. three, we will continue to use all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees still held in detention. in somey 10 of them are stage of the military commissions process. a process that we worked hard to reform i first year in office with bipartisan support from congress. but i have to say, with respect to these commissions, they are .ery calm they have resulted in years of litigation without any resolution. we are therefore outlining additional changes to improve these commissions that would require congressional action and we will be consulting with them in the near future on that issue.
i also want to point out that in contrast to the commission process, our article three federal courts have proven to have an outstanding record of convicting some of the most hardened terrorists. these prosecutions allow for the gathering of intelligence against terrorist groups. it proves that we can both prosecute terrorists and protect the american people. so, think about it. terrorists like richard reid, the shoe bomber. who tried to blow up an airplane over detroit. the car bomber in times square. and the man who bombed the boston marathon, they were all convicted in our article three courts and are behind bars here in the united states. so, we can capture terrorists,
protect the american people, and themdone right we can try and put them in our maximum-security prisons and it works just fine. and in this sense the plan that we are putting forward today is not just about closing facilities at guantanamo. it's not just about dealing with the current group of detainees. which is a complex piece of business, because of the manner in which they were originally apprehended and what happened. this is about closing a chapter in our history. it reflects the lessons we have learned since 9/11. we need to guide our nation going forward. so, even as we use military commissions to close out cases of some current detainees, which given the unique circumstances of their cases, make it
difficult for them to be tried in article three courts, this type of the use of a military commission should not set a precedent for the future. in past wars,een military commissions will continue to be an option when individuals are detained during battle. , the mostred option effective option for dealing with individuals detained outside military theaters must be our strong, proven federal courts. fourth and finally, we are going to work with congress to find a secure location in the united states to hold remaining detainees. these are detainees who are subject to military commissions. but it also includes those who cannot yet be transferred to other countries or who we have determined must continue to be detained because they pose a continuing significant threat to
the united states. identifying a specific facility today in this plan. we are outlining what options .ook like as congress has imposed restrictions a currently prevent transfer of detainees to the united states, we recognize that this is going to be a challenge. we will keep making the case to congress that we can do this in a responsible and secure way, keeping -- taking into account the competency of our maximum-security prisons. let me point out that the plan we are submitting today is not only the right thing to do for our security, it will also save money. the defense department estimates that this plan, compared to keeping guantanamo open, would lower costs by up to $85 million per year. over 10 years it would generate savings of over $300 million. over 20 years the savings would
be up to $1.7 billion. in other words, we can ensure our security, a our highest --ues around the world, uphold our highest value on the world, and save the american taxpayers a lot of money in the process. so, in closing, i want to say that i'm very clear eyed about the hurdles to finally closing guantanamo. the politics of this are tough. i think a lot of the american public are worried about terrorism and in their minds the notion of having terrorists held in the united states rather than in some distant place can be scary. but part of my message to the american people here is that we are already holding a really bunch of dangerous terrorists in
the united states because we threw the book at them. and there have been no incidents. we've managed it just fine. and in congress, i recognize in part because of some of the fears of the public that have by misinformation, there continues to be a fair amount of opposition to closing guantanamo. have were easy, it would happened years ago, as i wanted, as i have been working to try to get done. but there remains bipartisan support for closing it. stakes involved for our security, this plan deserves a fair hearing. even in our election year. we should be able to have an open, honest, good-faith dialogue about how to best ensure our national security.
and the fact that i am no longer running, joe is no longer running, we are not on the capacityt gives us the to not have to worry about the politics. let us do what is right for america. let us go ahead and close this .hapter and do it right do it carefully. do it in a way that makes sure we are safe. but that gives the next president and more importantly, future generations, the ability to apply the lessons we have learned against terrorism and doing it in a way that doesn't raise some of the problems that guantanamo has raised. that there is an opportunity here for progress. i believe we've got an obligation to try. president bush said that he ,anted to close guantanamo despite everything that he had invested in it. i give him c