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Congressional Record2017/03/21Senate | House | Extensions

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[Pages S1862-S1864]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO




                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 ______
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations en bloc, which the clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read the nominations of Charles R. Breyer, of California, to be a Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2021; and Danny C. Reeves, of Kentucky, to be a [[Page S1863]] Member of the United States Sentencing Commission for a term expiring October 31, 2019.

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, today the Senate will vote on two nominees to the U.S. Sentencing Commission who should have been confirmed last year. Judge Danny Reeves was nominated more than 1 year ago, and he was unanimously reported by the Judiciary Committee; yet Senate Republicans refused to approve him before the end of last year. Judge Charles Breyer was nominated last September for a reappointment, and despite overwhelming support, Republicans blocked him as well. These are not controversial nominees, and there is no good reason they were blocked last year. In fact, in ordinary times, these nominees would be unanimously confirmed during wrap-up on the Senate floor. richard boulware

Mr. President, one nominee we are not considering today is Judge Richard Boulware, whom President Obama nominated in 2015 to fill a seat on the Sentencing Commission previously held by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Judge Boulware was confirmed to serve as a district judge in June 2014, becoming the first African-American man to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. His nomination to the Sentencing Commission had the strong support of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which said that Judge Boulware would “bring a much needed and valuable perspective to the work of the Commission because of his experience.” Judge Boulware clerked in the Southern District of New York, served as a Federal public defender, and represented the Las Vegas branch of the NAACP on a range of issues, including voting rights, police cameras, and solitary confinement.

Despite his clear qualifications, Senate Republicans blocked Judge Boulware, and his nomination was returned to the White House at the end of last year. President Trump renominated Judge Reeves and Judge Breyer, but I am disappointed that he failed to do the same for Judge Boulware. The Sentencing Commission does not have a single person of Color serving as a commissioner; yet its work on criminal justice issues has a significant effect on communities of color. Judge Boulware should have been confirmed last year, along with Judge Reeves and Judge Breyer. While I support the two nominees before us today, I want the Record to note my deep disappointment and concern that Judge Boulware is not among them.

For nearly a decade, I have worked with Senators from both parties on bipartisan legislation to reform our criminal justice system. The Sentencing Commission has also studied the issue and brought about needed change to the sentencing guidelines. The Bureau of Prisons continues to consume nearly a quarter of the Justice Department's budget, even as violent crime rates have gone down; but instead of taking meaningful steps to reduce these costs, the Trump-Sessions Justice Department has signaled it intends to more aggressively charge low-level offenders with crimes carrying mandatory minimums. The Attorney General also lifted restrictions on the use of private prisons that serve only the interest of wealthy corporations. This is deeply troubling on moral grounds. Incarceration should not be a for-profit business. It is also troubling to me in my role as vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on private prisons, we should be directing our limited resources to train and protect officers on the streets and to reduce recidivism and crime.

The Sentencing Commission has brought much-needed fairness to the Guidelines in the past, and I hope it will continue to do so once its new members are confirmed, Although we should also be voting today on Judge Boulware's nomination to the commission--rather, we should have voted on it last year--I will support the nominations of Judge Breyer and Judge Reeves. breyer nomination

Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of Judge Charles Breyer's reappointment to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Judge Breyer earned his bachelor's degree cum laude from Harvard University in 1963 and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley Law School in 1966.

In 1997, Judge Breyer was nominated by President Clinton to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Breyer was confirmed by the U.S. Senate that same year by voice vote.

On the bench, Judge Breyer has served with distinction. He has done the hard work of sentencing individuals to prison terms. He has also focused on sentencing issues outside the courtroom, testifying before the Sentencing Commission in 2009 and serving as chair of a Ninth Circuit Committee evaluating the impact of the Supreme Court's decisions in Blakely v. Washington, 2004, and United States v. Booker, 2005, on sentencing.

In 2011, Judge Breyer took senior status, and the following year, he was nominated by President Obama to serve on the Sentencing Commission. Judge Breyer became the commission's vice chair in 2013.

The Sentencing Commission is an independent agency charged with establishing sentencing guidelines for the Federal court system. The commission's work is important. It is responsible for advising and assisting Congress and the Executive branch in the development of effective and efficient crime policy. The commission also collects, analyzes, researches, and distributes a broad array of information on Federal crime and sentencing issues and serves as a resource for Congress, the Executive branch, the Judiciary, practitioners, academics, and the public.

Since the start of the 115th Congress, the Sentencing Commission has been unable to do its work because it has been with only two commissioners. By statute, the commission requires a quorum of at least four commissioners.

For this reason, it is vitally important that Judge Breyer is confirmed once again to serve on the commission. Judge Breyer is a man of distinction and integrity. He has a long history of dedicated service to this country and an impeccable record of fairness. The commission really needs his continued leadership.

Today I urge my colleagues to support Judge Breyer's nomination.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the hour of 12 noon having arrived, the question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Breyer and Reeves nominations en bloc?

Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?

There appears to be a sufficient second.

The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant bill clerk called the roll.

Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: The Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Inhofe) and the Senator from Georgia (Mr. Isakson).

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cruz). Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote?

The result was announced--yeas 98, nays 0, as follows: [Rollcall Vote No. 91 Ex.] YEAS--98 Alexander Baldwin Barrasso Bennet Blumenthal Blunt Booker Boozman Brown Burr Cantwell Capito Cardin Carper Casey Cassidy Cochran Collins Coons Corker Cornyn Cortez Masto Cotton Crapo Cruz Daines Donnelly Duckworth Durbin Enzi Ernst Feinstein Fischer Flake Franken Gardner Gillibrand Graham Grassley Harris Hassan Hatch Heinrich Heitkamp Heller Hirono Hoeven Johnson Kaine Kennedy King Klobuchar Lankford Leahy Lee Manchin Markey McCain McCaskill McConnell Menendez Merkley Moran Murkowski Murphy Murray Nelson Paul Perdue Peters Portman Reed Risch Roberts Rounds Rubio Sanders Sasse Schatz Schumer Scott Shaheen Shelby Stabenow Strange Sullivan Tester Thune Tillis Toomey Udall Van Hollen Warner Warren Whitehouse Wicker Wyden Young NOT VOTING--2 Inhofe Isakson

The nominations were confirmed en bloc. [[Page S1864]]

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motions to reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table, and the President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

The Senator from Kansas. ____________________



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