[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 188 (Thursday, November 16, 2017)]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
Recognition of the Minority Leader
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Democratic leader is
Republican Tax Plan
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, as the Senate Finance Committee continues
to mark up the Senate Republican tax bill, the House will take a vote
this afternoon on their version of the bill.
There are plenty of reasons for House Republicans to vote against
this bill. For those who care about deficits, you should vote no
because the bill increases deficits by over $1.5 trillion, likely more.
Any deficit hawk should be against this increase.
Any defense hawk should be wary of this bill for the same reason.
High deficits make it harder to fund important priorities like the
military. This morning, three former Defense Secretaries--Leon Panetta,
Chuck Hagel, and Ash Carter--penned a letter warning that the
Republican tax plan could result, in their words, in a “hollowed-out
military force” wracked by cuts to training, maintenance, flight
missions, and other vital military programs.
I spoke to General Mattis yesterday. He is definitely afraid of a CR
because a CR is at sequestration levels. If we pass this tax bill with
its huge deficit, we will have no choice but to go back to
sequestration, and the fears of our defense leaders that they cannot
fund the military adequately will be very real. So my shout-out is to
all of those who care about defense, particularly our defense hawks: If
you vote for this bill, you are going to be voting for a “hollowed out
military force,” as three former defense secretaries have written to
us this morning.
For those House Republicans who represent middle and upper class
suburban districts, you should vote no because this bill will raise
taxes on a
high number of your constituents. Members of Congress from New York,
New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Virginia know that
State and local deductibility is crucial to working families in their
districts. Today, House Republicans in many districts will take a vote
to raise taxes on their constituents. And the compromise--the first
three-quarters of the break is rescinded even with the compromise over
in the House, but, second, the Senate, so desperate for money, has not
even included the compromise here. You can be sure when it comes back,
that compromise will not be in the bill--certainly not as generous as
it is now. It was not very generous to begin with.
According to the New York Times, the House bill would raise taxes on
a third of middle-class taxpayers next year and almost half by 2027.
The rich, meanwhile, will do just fine.
The Senate bill, similarly, would raise taxes on 20 million middle-
class Americans by 2027. Meanwhile, folks making over $1 million will
get an average cut of $50,000. People say: Well, they have more money;
they should get a bigger tax cut. No. The wealthy are doing great. They
don't need any tax cut. Give the money to the middle class.
The number of middle-class families who would lose money from this
bill may even be higher now, considering the 10-percent increase in
premiums that will occur as a result of the Republican plan to repeal
the individual mandate. That 10-percent increase in health premiums
could more than wipe out the tax cuts received by some folks in the
middle. All the while, 13 million fewer Americans get health insurance.
My friend, Senator Graham, recently said: “I hope every Republican
knows that when you pass a repeal of the individual mandate . . .
[healthcare] becomes your problem.” Lindsey Graham is very politically
pressured. He is telling his Republican colleagues that if they do
this, every problem in healthcare will be on their backs.
The whole idea of taking money from the pockets of hard-working
Americans, of taking money out of their healthcare and giving it to big
corporations and those at the very top is so backward, so wrong, that
the American people will reject it, and the blame will fall on
Republican shoulders. If the Republican tax bill should pass, it would
make our economy, so unfairly tilted toward the top as it already is,
even more unbalanced and unfair.
Over the past three decades, as technology has changed our economy
and our world has become ever more interdependent, our economy has
grown. Yes, it has grown; there is a lot of growth. But that growth,
more than at any time in history, has been captured entirely, almost,
by big corporations and the top 1 percent and particularly the top 0.1
percent of our country. We don't begrudge them. We are glad people work
hard. With new ideas and hard work, people should become wealthy, but
they don't need a tax break.
At the same time, middle-class families have muddled along. Median
income has barely nudged up in three decades. The costs of college,
healthcare, prescription drugs, cable, and the internet have
skyrocketed as corporations have consolidated in their industries,
reducing competition and driving up prices.
For the middle-class families in the suburbs, for the working parent
in the city, for the young millennials just setting off into the
workforce after college, for the single mom raising two children, it is
about as hard as ever to balance your income with ever-rising costs. In
such an economy, tax reform could really matter to those folks, but
only if it is done right.
Instead of focusing all their efforts on improving the condition of
those working Americans, Republicans have directed the lion's share of
the benefits to the already wealthy, the already powerful--corporate
America and the very rich.
There is perhaps no better example than President Trump and his
family, for whom this bill would be an express mail gift from Heaven:
Repealing the estate tax, they have a big one; repealing the
alternative minimum tax--the Trumps pay a lot of alternative minimum
tax; dropping the rate on passthrough entities like the Trump
Organization, a huge tax break for Donald Trump.
So scrapping middle-class deductions while maintaining loopholes for
real estate businesses, golf course owners--who do you think came up
with this plan? Not the average middle-class guy or gal. All of these
things contained in the House Republican bill would likely pile more on
top of President Trump's fortune while millions and millions of middle-
class families end up paying more.
I am not sure any family in America feels it is right to subsidize
tax cuts for folks like President Trump and his family, and their
voices will be heard during the debate on this bill and afterward.
This bill will be a huge burden for Republicans to carry on their
backs over the next year, make no mistake about it. So we hope they
will vote down the bill in the House and in the Senate. I want to
assure my friends in the Senate on the other side of the aisle that if
the bill goes down, Democrats are ready, willing, able, and eager to
work with Republicans on a bipartisan reform.
Mr. President, before I yield the floor, seeing my friend Senator
Durbin here, I would like to address one final issue--the Dreamers.
My dear friend Senator Durbin has an uncommon eloquence. He speaks
with eloquence and yet with Midwestern common sense. He speaks with
persuasiveness and ease on a great number of subjects. He is a great
asset to our Democratic caucus and to the Senate as a whole, but there
is no doubt that the Dreamers are at the top of his list. They are near
and dear to his heart. He is one of the chief architects of DACA and
has labored on their behalf for as long as I can remember.
Every Dreamer should thank Senator Durbin. He is their sponsor, their
champion, and their staunchest advocate.
This morning I would like to join him in recognizing the
contributions of a Dreamer in my State--a reminder of the glaring need
to pass the Dream Act, since President Trump so misguidedly terminated
the program a few months ago.
Zuleima Dominguez is a DACA recipient who lives in the Bronx. Zuleima
was brought to the United States from Mexico when she was 7 years old.
She has grown up in the United States and has gone to school here; she
went to her first dance in the United States and knows no other country
as her home.
Like so many other Americans, Zuleima is working her way through
college--Hunter College, part of City University on the Upper East
Side--but because of her legal status, she has been unable to access
enough help to afford her tuition. So what does Zuleima do? She works
45 hours a week at a homeless shelter, giving back to her fellow New
Yorkers while saving up for her next semester.
She is studying to be a social worker. Isn't Zuleima what we hope an
American citizen would be like? Wouldn't we all be proud to call her
our neighbor, our friend, our daughter?
She is someone who works hard and feels a calling to give back to her
community. Zuleima has the quintessential American spirit, as had
millions who came to this country before her, through the centuries.
She is part of that long and grand tradition of immigration in this
country, of folks coming from all over the world to find a better life
here, build strong families and communities, and make indelible
contributions to our society, our economy, and our culture.
Zuleima and her two children are part of that American tradition.
They, with all of us, are what makes America great.
There are many more Dreamers just like Zuleima who came to this
country through no fault of their own as very young kids. They study at
our schools; they work in our companies; they serve in our military.
They are American in every single way but one--their paperwork.
We must fix that now and forever by passing the Dream Act through
Congress and giving folks like Zuleima and her kids a chance to live
and thrive in the only country they have ever known.
I know my entire caucus supports the bill. I know how many of my
friends on the other side of the aisle support it as well. So what are
we waiting for? Let's put the bill on the floor and pass it.
I yield to my friend and colleague from Illinois, Senator Durbin.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The assistant Democratic leader.
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I want to thank the Democratic leader. His
strong support of the Dream Act encourages me but, more importantly,
gives hope to the Dreamers across America: young men and women, just
like the one he described, who are living in fear, fear that their time
in America is coming to an end.
This is the only country they have ever known. They have stood in
classroom after classroom and pledged allegiance to the American flag,
the only flag they have ever known. They sing the national anthem. They
believe they are part of America, but as Senator Schumer has reminded
us, they are missing the paperwork. Their parents brought them here as
infants, toddlers, children and never filed the paperwork, never made
them legal, and here they are in this country, searching for an answer,
searching for some hope.
My best basic question to the U.S. Senate and to my colleagues is:
Why do we make this so hard? Why is this so difficult? Don't we all
fundamentally agree on the premise that no young person should be held
responsible for the actions or decisions of their parents? That is what
is happening here. These young people didn't make the key decisions in
their lives; their parents did.
Let me quickly add, because many of the Dreamers say: Senator Durbin,
understand that our parents were doing everything they could to help
us. I couldn't agree more. From a moral viewpoint, their parents were
determined to help their children and were prepared to incur great
risk, even legal risk, to do it. I understand that. I would do the same
thing, and I am not being critical or negative. But the simple fact and
reality is that these young people, because they don't have the
paperwork, don't have a future in America.
The circumstances they face are bleak. Imagine, if you will, the
challenge of college, the challenge of going from high school on to an
education at a university, with no help whatsoever from the Federal
Government. You don't qualify for a penny in Pell grants; you don't
qualify for any help when it comes to government loans. Think about the
challenge of college and higher education without that help, without
the fundamental assistance that millions of young Americans count on.
Dreamers get no help--none. They have to fight their way forward on
their own, and they do it in remarkable and heroic ways.
Over the last break, I was down at Southern Illinois University at
Carbondale--deep southern Illinois, 300 miles or more away from the
city of Chicago--and I sat down with a group of these Dreamers who were
at the university. One young woman had worked so hard to get through
community college and now through the university at Carbondale and
still had two semesters left before graduation. She was telling me
about her struggles--taking time off to work a job, save the money, go
back to school, and here she was where she could see the finish line.
As she sat there and described it to me, she stopped and broke down in
tears. She said to me: Why am I doing this? Because of the announcement
by President Trump, I don't have any future in this country. After all
these years and all this effort, I really don't have a future here.
I don't believe that, and I begged her not to believe it either. She
has a future, an important future in the United States and in the State
of Illinois. She has proved through her determination and hard work
that she is an extraordinary young woman. She is going to get that
bachelor's degree, and I pray that we in the Senate and the House--with
the President--will give her a chance to be part of America.
President Obama did. He created DACA. I had introduced the DREAM Act
years and years ago--16 years ago--when President Obama was my
colleague in the Senate from Illinois. He was the cosponsor. I joined
with Senator Lugar, a Republican Senator from Indiana, writing to
President Obama, saying: Find a way, if you can. Find a way to protect
these Dreamers from deportation until we pass a law that needs to be
passed. And he did it. He created the DACA Program, where young people
could come forward, pay the fine and fee of almost $500 or $600, submit
themselves to a criminal background check to make sure there were no
problems in their background, show proof that they had graduated from
high school, and then--only then--would they be allowed to stay in the
United States for 2 years and not be deported and legally be allowed to
Well, President Obama created by executive order the DACA Program. At
the end of the day, 780,000 of these young people stepped forward. It
was a leap of faith on their part. Each and every one of them had been
raised in America by their parents and carefully schooled in this
belief: Don't raise your head. Don't let this government see us. As
long as we can live in the shadows, as long as we are not confronted
with the legal system, we have a chance to stay. They lived with that
looming over their heads every single day. Then, when President Obama
said to them: Come forward, tell us who you are, where you live; tell
us about your family; and we will give you a chance to stay here
legally under this Executive order, they did it. They trusted in their
leaders. They trusted in their government. They were prepared to make
that leap of faith, at great risk, on the chance that this might be the
ticket they were looking for to a life in America, to be part of
America's dream and America's future.
Then, on September 5, President Trump came forward and announced that
he would abolish this program created by President Obama and that it
would end on March 5, 2018. He established a standard and said: We will
allow those who have to renew during this period of time--their 2-year
DACA protection had expired, and they would have to renew--until
November 5 to file and to qualify for a renewal period. He picked
November 5. For many of them, it was a surprise and a challenge to come
up with the filing fee and to get the papers in on time so that their
protection would continue until March 5, 2018, or beyond. Some of them
did everything they could think of. Some went to attorneys, for
example, to make sure they got this renewal of DACA completed
successfully and accurately.
Now we have learned that something terrible happened in the meantime.
They relied on the Federal Government--particularly, they relied on our
Postal Service--to mail in their applications for renewal. Who would
have argued that that was not a responsible thing to do? I can tell my
colleagues that practicing attorneys across the United States use our
Postal Service regularly.
One attorney sent the renewal to Washington by certified mail so that
there would be proof that it was mailed. He mailed it on October 21.
The problem was that the Postal Service lost the application. It didn't
arrive until a day later, a day past the deadline established by the
That young person has lost the right to renew unless the Department
of Homeland Security comes up with a new ruling on the subject. That is
the complexity of the life of these young people who are simply asking
for a chance to be part of America's future. That is what that young
applicant faced. That is what hundreds of others faced. We believe that
some 8,000 were not able to renew in time and lost their protected
I can't tell you what their future is, but I pray that the Senate,
before we leave this year, will decide the right thing for their
I have come to the floor over 100 times to tell the personal stories
of these young people who are asking for a chance to have the Dream Act
become the law of the land. Some Republican Senators have joined me in
this effort. Notably, Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator from South
Carolina, has been a cosponsor. Three other Republican Senators have
joined in sponsoring the Dream Act, and more are interested in helping.
The conversations continue on the floor and give me some hope that, at
the end of the day, we will do the right thing, before the end of this
Let me add, too, that having served in the Senate--it has been my
honor to be here for some years--I know the calendar determines your
fate many times in the Senate. The calendar we face could determine the
fate of these Dreamers.
Here is what it boils down to. If we don't renew the Dream Act before
the end of this year, then it has to be done in January or February.
January and February are well known to be months of little activity in
the Senate and in the House. So if we wait until then, it is not likely
it is going to happen. That is why I am pleading with my colleagues and
the leadership of the Senate: We can't go home for the holidays until
we do this. We can't talk about dreaming of a white Christmas until we
face the Dreamers and the bleak Christmas they face if we fail to act.
I am begging my colleagues on both sides to roll up their sleeves and
join me, sit at the table, and let's get this job done.
There are specific reasons why we should, and I want to tell one of
those stories today, as I have done more than 100 times in the past.
This young lady's name is Priscilla Aguilar. Priscilla was 5 years
old when her family brought her to the United States from Mexico. She
grew up in Brownsville, TX. She was a great student. In high school she
joined a medical magnet program and graduated in the top 10 percent of
Priscilla was a member of the Health Occupations Students of America,
where she participated in regional and State competitions in biomedical
debate and medical reading. This experience sparked her love for
Priscilla went off to the University of Texas at Brownsville. She
graduated with honors in the winter of 2012 with a bachelor's degree in
biological sciences. Remember, as a Dreamer, she didn't qualify for any
Federal assistance going to school. She had to work at jobs and borrow
money from others to finish her education.
After graduation, Priscilla was accepted into Teach for America, a
national nonprofit organization that places talented college graduates
in urban and rural schools where there are special challenges and
shortages of teachers. It is interesting, isn't it, that this young
woman who was brought here at the age of 5 not only worked so hard for
her own education but was then willing to give 2 years of her life in
the schools of America to help less fortunate students. Do you think
you have an insight into who she is and what her values are?
Priscilla is not alone. Twenty thousand DACA Dreamers are currently
teaching across the United States of America, including 190 in the
Teach for America Program.
Priscilla now teaches biological and medical microbiology at Mercedes
High School in Mercedes, TX. She is the head of the Science Department.
She oversees a team of nine science teachers. She teaches students of
all grade levels and coaches the school's debate team. The team won the
district championship last year and participated in the State
In 2013, a tragedy struck Priscilla's family. Her mother died
unexpectedly. Currently, Priscilla is caring for her three younger
siblings, all of whom were born in the United States and are U.S.
citizens. In fact, almost 75 percent of Dreamers have a U.S. citizen
spouse, child, or sibling.
Priscilla wrote me a letter, which I will read into the Congressional
Science and learning are my biggest passions and I want to
keep pushing myself forward so that I can be better equipped
to serve my community and my students. I want to inspire and
encourage all students to pursue careers in science. I want
to be a role model and mentor to students by succeeding in a
science career myself. If I can do it, so can they!
But without DACA, and without the Dream Act, Priscilla and 20,000
other teachers just like her will lose their jobs in America. I am not
exaggerating. DACA gives Priscilla the legal right to work in America.
If she loses that DACA protection on the March 5 deadline, or whenever
her renewal comes up, at that point she can no longer work in the
This is not an isolated case. I have told the story many times about
28 students at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in
Chicago. They are all protected by DACA. They came to that medical
school in open competition--no quotas, no special slots. They are the
best and brightest. They came from all over the United States because
Loyola University--thank goodness--decided they deserved a chance.
Young people like them all across America who had given up on a medical
education because they were undocumented finally had their chance under
DACA. Twenty-eight of them now are dedicated to becoming doctors.
They can't borrow money from our Federal Government, as I mentioned
before. The State of Illinois, under both a Democratic and Republican
Governor, have created loan programs for them in medical school with
one condition: For every year the State of Illinois helps to pay for
their medical education, they have to pledge 1 year when they finish
their medical degrees in service to our State, in areas where we have
shortages of doctors--medically underserved areas.
So 28 of them now have their fate hanging in the balance, depending
on the fate of the Dream Act. Why? Because to become a doctor, you need
a residency. A residency is a job. A residency means legally working.
If these young people lose the DACA and Dreamer protection, they have
to drop out of medical school. They cannot continue their residency and
pursue a specialty that they have had their heart set on.
That is the reality of our failure to act. That is the reality of
losing Priscilla Aguilar as an inspiring science teacher in Texas, of
losing 28 doctors who are on their way to graduation at Loyola
University, and of literally thousands of others who could make America
a better, more prosperous, and a more just Nation.
Why do we make this so hard? Why do we make it so difficult for these
young people? They have overcome the odds. They have shown their
determination. They have shown their love for this country. Many of
these DACA Dreamers are begging to serve in our military, to risk their
lives for America. Yet we have failed to act. The President draws a
deadline and says: After this point, there will be no more protection
for these young people. That isn't what America stands for. That does
not reflect our values.
I stand here today honored to be the son of an immigrant to this
country. My mother was brought here at the age of 2 from Lithuania.
That immigrant family fought hard when they arrived, as most immigrant
families do. By fate, my mother became a naturalized citizen and her
son became a U.S. Senator. That is my story. That is my family's story,
but it is America's story. It is a story that has been repeated
millions of times over and over. People come here begging for a
chance--a chance for a better life, a chance to make this a better
These young people and their parents, I might add, deserve that kind
of consideration. What we are considering today doesn't affect their
parents and the Dream Act, but certainly we should give these young
people a chance. I think their parents deserve it, too, but that is a
debate for another day, perhaps. We will see.
In the meantime, I beg my colleagues to join us. Let's do something
right this year, before the end of the year, that reflects our values
of who we are. Let's acknowledge the obvious. Justice demands us to
step up and stand behind these Dreamers.
The moment is about to arrive. Senator Lindsey Graham, my Republican
cosponsor of the bill, said that a moment of reckoning is coming. He is
right. It is a moment of reckoning as to who we are in the Senate and
in the Congress and in the White House. It is a reflection on our view
of America as a nation--a nation of immigrants that has embraced
diversity and become all the stronger because of it.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, unlike past occasions when I have
spoken on the topic of gun violence prevention, I am actually pleased
to talk about some good news. A powerful alliance across the aisle has
enabled us this morning to introduce a measure that will be a modest
but significant breakthrough. It is a breakthrough in
hopefully providing better data, more complete information for the
database that provides for background checks. It is essential that more
accurate and thorough data be provided in the database because
background checks are no better than the information provided to them,
as we have seen again and again, in Sutherland Springs most recently
but also Charleston and Blacksburg, where individuals legally barred
from accessing firearms were permitted to do so because of gaps in the
NICS system. Each of those killers walked out of a gun store having
purchased firearms from a federally licensed dealer, even though they
should have been ineligible, because of gaps in the reporting system;
that is, the information reported to the national system that collects
that data and provides the underpinning for this program.
We are a bipartisan group that says, in effect, enforcement must be
rigorous, as complete and effective as possible. New laws may be
sought, and we will continue to seek a broader background check law, as
well as a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We in
this coalition may be divided on those issues, but at the very least,
we can join arms and link together on this measure.
These provisions will help enforce public safety protections that
could mean the difference between life and death. Nonreporting now puts
people at lethal risk, riddling with gaping holes a system that should
keep guns away from killers. The Federal background check system is
only as good as the information provided to it.
I am proud to be part of this alliance. I look forward to the next
steps--the prompt passage of this legislation and other measures that
perhaps will evoke the same kind of bipartisan spirit across the aisle.
I am working with a number of my Republican colleagues on a measure
relating to military reporting, particularly as it concerns domestic
violence. All of us who have been attorneys general, as the Presiding
Officer has been, know the scourge of domestic violence and how much
more dangerous it is--five times more lethal--when there is a gun in
the house. More than half of the homicides in this country occur as a
result of domestic violence. More effective enforcement requires steps
that enable resources as well as awareness in the military and in our
Mr. President, on the topic of effective enforcement of the law, I
rise today on a related topic, which is the quality of our judiciary.
Our laws are only as effective as the judges who implement them.
I rise with regret because the administration is attempting to
radically reshape our judiciary, to remake the bench in the image of a
far-right dogma that basically contravenes what we are and where we are
as a nation.
This administration has proposed extreme nominees who will seek to
undo decades of critically important progress in recognizing and
protecting reproductive rights, LGBT rights, voting rights, workers'
rights, environmental protections, and more.
For the last 10 months, this administration has tried its level best
to move our country backward by implementing its destructive, deeply
unpopular agenda. They want to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. They
want to abandon LGBT Americans. They want to make it harder to vote,
harder to organize, harder to breathe clean air and drink clean water.
If they fall short in carrying out this cruel agenda through
Executive action and legislation, this administration has looked to the
courts to do its dirty work. The Trump administration seeks to flood
the Federal judiciary with judges--appointed for life--who will defend
their indefensible goals. This plot is not hidden. It is not secret. It
is out in the open. President Trump has made it clear. He claims to
have a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees--he will nominate someone
who will “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade. Just last month, the
Senate voted to confirm two circuit court nominees--Allison Eid and
Joan Larsen--who had been listed by then-Candidate Trump as potential
Supreme Court nominees, indicating that they have passed that litmus
test. When I asked both of these nominees whether their records would
lead someone to believe that they would “automatically” reverse Roe
v. Wade, they both demurred. They said they did not know why they were
selected for President Trump's Supreme Court short list--no idea. I
don't believe it. Then-Candidate Trump laid out his Supreme Court
selection criteria in clear, unambiguous terms.
Yesterday we heard testimony from a circuit court nominee, Justice
Don Willett, of the Texas Supreme Court, who proudly described himself
in 2012 as the “consensus, conservative choice from every corner of
the conservative movement: pro-life, pro-faith, pro-family, pro-
liberty, pro-Second Amendment, pro-private property rights, and pro-
limited government.” That is the way that he described himself.
When I asked him what he meant by tying himself to these labels, he
refused to give me a straight answer. In fact, he said, in effect, that
he was just pandering to the public for votes, that that was part of
his reelection pitch. Maybe he didn't believe it, but we have all been
around long enough to know what these terms mean to voters and what
they mean to the President of the United States. They aren't dog
whistles, literally, but they represent specific ideologies. They are
shorthand for specific dogma.
I have no confidence that Justice Willett will be an impartial and
objective implementer of the law and enforcer of the measures that we
Just last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Brett
Talley. He is someone who wrote that the solution to the Newtown
shooting--he wrote it 3 days after that massacre--is to “stop being a
society of pansies and man up.” He is someone who has written that the
country “overreacted” and that “the Second Amendment suffered”
after the murder of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown.
After one of the great tragedies of this country in recent years, his
reaction was that the Second Amendment suffered. He is someone who has
disingenuously written that Democrats want to take away everyone's
guns. Even setting aside the fact that he has never tried a case in his
career, he is someone who should be nowhere near the bench, at least
not as a judge.
I hope my Republican colleagues will revisit their decision to
I want to emphasize that the compromise that we have reached today
and that we are introducing in this bipartisan group takes away no
one's guns if one is law-abiding and otherwise complies with the law.
In fact, it provides incentives and rewards to States that do better
reporting. It makes sure that a robust reporting system prevents the
sales of firearms to people who are a danger to themselves or others,
including convicted domestic abusers.
This exaggeration, distortion, misinformation from Mr. Talley is, I
think, emblematic of what kind of judge he would be.
Let us not forget that we are, in fact, judged by the company that we
keep. President Trump is willing to nominate someone like Jeff Mateer
to a lifetime appointment on the Federal District Court for the Eastern
District of Texas. He was not on the docket this week, but he could
well come before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing in the
This is someone who has called transgender children “Satan's plan.”
He has proudly said: “On the basis of sexual orientation, we
discriminate.” He has advocated conversion therapy for LGBT children.
With these nominations, President Trump has shown the type of people
he is willing to propose for lifetime appointments on the district
court, as well as the court of appeals. As someone who has practiced in
the district courts of Connecticut and others around the country, as
well as in courts of appeals in the Second Circuit and elsewhere, these
appointments have a special meaning to me and to others who are well
versed in the way our justice system works.
For many people in this country, the U.S. district court is the first
place they seek justice. They rely on Federal judges to be above
politics and to be above personal ideology and dogma of the right or
the left wing. The U.S. district court is the first place they seek
justice, and, for many, it is the last place. Adverse rulings for them
are often the end of the line because they lack the resources to pursue
the circuit court. Our district court judges are often the voices and
faces of justice that the people of the United States most trust and
What we see in these nominees is a pattern. They have clearly
demonstrated through their actions, their statements, their
temperaments, and their characters that they are, simply, unfit and
unable to serve as impartial judges, especially when it comes to our
Nation's most vulnerable communities. Our Nation's most vulnerable
communities are often the ones who rely the most on those Federal
There can be no benefit of the doubt for nominees when they
articulate the kinds of beliefs and dogma that these individuals have
in their pasts and that they refuse to disavow in the present. I will
oppose them, and I hope my colleagues will join me. I believe that on
both sides of the aisle, we share a commitment to the credibility and
trust of our judiciary.
As I have said before on the floor, our judges do not have armies;
they do not have police forces. The enforceability of their rulings
really depends on the credibility and trust that the people of our
Nation have in them as individuals who put on robes, because they are
supposed to put aside their personal prejudices and beliefs and fairly,
impartially, and objectively enforce the law.
I fear that these nominees lack these qualities, and that is a
tragedy for our Nation, whatever your politics. Someday, you will
likely be before a judge--maybe not all, but many of you will--and you
will want that judge to look at both sides of the courtroom and say
that they both have an equal chance to make their cases, not tilt one
way or the other because of the judge's personal beliefs. I hope that
my colleagues will send a message to the President of the United States
that one cannot politicize the American judiciary.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Young). Without objection, it is so
Mr. CRAPO. Mr. President, I rise to speak in support of the
nomination of Mr. Joseph Otting to be Comptroller of the Currency. The
OCC's mission is to ensure that the financial institutions it oversees
operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial
services, treat customers fairly, and comply with the applicable laws
The OCC is responsible for overseeing the supervision of all national
banks and Federal savings associations as well as Federal branches and
agencies of foreign banks. The OCC also plays an important role in
identifying and responding to emerging threats in our financial system.
Mr. Otting is exceptionally qualified to lead the OCC as its
comptroller. His unique expertise and understanding of the banking
sector has been shaped by over three decades of firsthand industry
experience. Mr. Otting has held positions at large regional and
community financial institutions, including key leadership positions.
In fact, he has touched virtually every segment of the industry,
working in consumer services, business services, human resources,
compliance, audit, and many others.
His understanding of how banks work and knowledge of the laws and
regulations governing the financial sector was evident throughout his
nomination hearings. I was also encouraged by Mr. Otting's statements
about the importance of ensuring that all Americans have access to
banking products and services. Mr. Otting also reaffirmed his
commitment to honor the OCC's mission and cooperating with the work of
I am confident Mr. Otting will bring strong leadership to the OCC,
given his extensive experience in the financial industry. I urge my
colleagues to support Mr. Otting's nomination today and vote for his
confirmation in the future.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Order of Procedure
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that,
notwithstanding rule XXII, at 1:30 p.m. today, the Senate proceed to
legislative session and the Chair lay before the Senate the conference
report to accompany H.R. 2810, as under the previous order, and that
there be 15 minutes of debate equally divided between the managers or
their designees prior to the vote on the adoption of the conference
report; further, that following disposition of the conference report,
the Senate resume executive session and all postcloture time on the
Coggins and Friedrich nominations be yielded back and the Senate vote
on confirmation of the Coggins nomination immediately, and that the
confirmation vote on the Friedrich nomination occur at 5:30 p.m. on
Monday, November 27; finally, that if the nominations are confirmed,
the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table
and the Senate be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the votes
following the first vote in this series be 10 minutes in length.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I yield back the time on the Otting
nomination, and I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Otting
The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk called the roll.
Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Booker),
the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Franken), and the Senator from New
Jersey (Mr. Menendez) are necessarily absent.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Fischer). Are there any other Senators in
the Chamber desiring to vote?
The result was announced--yeas 54, nays 43, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 277 Ex.]
The nomination was confirmed.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table and the President
will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.