From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.]
The nominations were confirmed en bloc.
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.