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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 7, 2013 2:30pm-4:31pm EST

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who are ready to turn off the my way or the highway politics and tone down the rhetoric and really focus on our number-one priority, at least what our number-one priority should be, and that is jobs and the economy, because if you -- if we didn't learn anything else from this shutdown and some of those high-wire act politics over the last few weeks, hopefully we learn that if we want to get anything done in washington, we need to work together. i think that's the bottom line, and that's what this package of bills, that's what this initiative is intending to do. so if we want to really create jobs and we really want to make a difference for the u.s. economy, we have to reach across the aisle. and, you know, there are many, many bright spots in the u.s. economy. we know that we have been through the wringer. we know how difficult this recession was. it was the hardest economic downturn of my lifetime and most of our lifetimes, the hardest economic downturn that we've
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ever seen since we have been alive. but we're coming out of it, and there are many, many bright spots in the economy. we get good economic news pretty much every day. we also get some mixed economic news pretty much every day, so it's not happening as fast as we would like it to. it's not happening in every sector of the economy and every sector of the economy like we would like it to, but it is happening, and one of those bright spots is manufacturing. last year, manufacturing contributed $1.87 trillion to our economy. $1.87 trillion in manufacturing, that's how much a difference it made in our economy. there are 17.2 million u.s. jobs, that's jobs in this country, one in six private sector jobs are tied to manufacturing. it also provides a very strong return on the investment we make. so if you invest a dollar in
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manufacturing, what it does is it adds $1.48 back into the economy. america is a powerhouse when it comes to manufacturing, and we need to keep it that way. everybody knows, you look at all the studies, the united states is the world's largest manufacturing economy. in fact, if you just took manufacturing and put everything else on the side, the u.s. would still be the tenth largest economy in the world, just based on our manufacturing. we're a powerhouse, but we can do more. we can do much more, and we should. and we need to fight hard to make sure that made in america remains the gold standard. we want it to be the thing that everybody wants to see in every market. made in america means something. it also means something here because the investment is here, the workers are here, the productivity is here. it's good for the g.d.p., et cetera, et cetera. we want to make that remain what it always has been. and so that's why today i want
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to offer my public support for this manufacturing jobs for america campaign, and it's why i have supported a lot of provisions in the past. most of those have been bipartisan efforts where i reach across the aisle to try to work with my republican colleagues on all kinds of things. one is the america competes act, the america reauthorization efforts. i think those are good initiatives. one of the things that we talked about is the national strategic plan for advanced manufacturing. advanced manufacturing is a little different than traditional manufacturing. we need to make sure we're strategic and we're focused and we know what we're talking about. just like angel investors. a lot of times people think this investment happens. a lot of times it does, but sometimes if you can give that little nudge to angel investors, they can invest and they can make a huge difference in those companies, and they can touch millions of people's lives. we have seen that even in our state of arkansas and some real
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success stories we have had there. and then if we can bring it back down to a really small scale, one of the initiatives i have had over the years is i have had the small business start-up savings account where you can take a certain amount of money from your paycheck, put it in a savings account tax free, kind of like an i.r.a., something like that, put it in your savings account tax free, and as long as you use it to start that business or somehow grow that business, you never get taxed on it. but you can cash it in at some point and use it to start the business. that's good for savings, it's good for the economy, and it's good to get these small businesses started. everybody knows as well as i do that when you walk into that lender, say, a bank and you have, say, $20,000, $30,000 that you have saved, that gives you a big advantage when you need a loan for the rest of the money. so that's a win-win across the board. so here again, i support in working on this commonsense package of bills that really accomplish four things.
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first, strengthening our manufacturing sector. second, leveling the playing field for american companies. third, helping start-ups get access to capital. and fourth, enhancing innovation , competitiveness and trade opportunities for businesses here at home. now, various senators in the chamber have different ideas on how we accomplish those things, but i think we can all agree on those goals, and if we work together, we really can make a great difference for our nation. you know, one of the reasons why coming out of this economy has been -- this sluggish economy has been a little more sluggish than we wanted it to is because we don't have as many manufacturing jobs as we used to. even though the numbers on the rebound, it's growing, we all know that we have lost a lot of manufacturing jobs in the last couple of decades, but we're back, and it's because of energy, it's because of the trained work force, it's because of our efficiencies, et cetera,
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et cetera, et cetera, we're back, and we need to push this advantage and keep it growing. our country has the work force, we have the infrastructure, we have the manufacturing base, the work ethic here. we just need to give our business that little extra boost to manufacture jobs for america. so, mr. president, with that, i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. tester: i rise today in protecting our nation's outdoor traditions, of opening up access to our public lands, of preserving some of the greatest places to hunt and fish and recreate, and of encouraging economic development and job creation in our great outdoors. last fall, i called pong congress to pass my bipartisan sportsman act. as the chairman of the congressional sportsman's caucus, i made it my goal to do something significant, something historic for this country's hunters and anglers. mr. president, we came very close to passing my bill twice, but politics got in the way both times. the common sense and widely supported measure failed to get across the minute line because some folks around here put self-interest before the interests of their constituents. i am optimistic that this time will be different and that we can work together to get this bill across the finish line.
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senator hagan is leading the charge on behalf of our sports men and women, and i know that she is ready to work with all of our colleagues to find a path forward. my friend from north carolina is the new chairman of the sportsman's caucus, hailing from a state with a rich hunting tradition. she knows the importance of protecting america's outdoor heritage. and representing a state that stretches from the atlantic ocean to the appalachian mountains, she knows that it's critical to preserve our wide range of treasured lands. senator hagan's legislation combines more than 15 bills that will increase access for recreational hunting and fishing, that support land and species conservation and that protect our hunting and fishing rights. most importantly, it takes ideas from both sides of the political aisle. ideas with support from all corners of the conservation and outdoors community. mr. president, when i was the
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chairman of the congressional sportsman's caucus, sports men and women would constantly tell me about the importance of access to our public lands. right now, there are 35 million acres of public land that sports men and women cannot access, and that is why this bill requires that 1.5% of the annual funding from the land and water conservation fund is set aside to increase public land access, ensuring sports men and women access to some of the best places to hunt and fish in the country. senator hagan's bill will reauthorize the north american wetlands conservation act. this voluntary initiative provides matching grants to landowners who set aside critical habitat for migratory birds like ducks. over the past 20 years, volunteers across america have completed more than 2,000 conservation projects and protected more than 26 million acres of habitat under this successful initiative. the north american wetlands
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conservation act is a smart investment in both our lands and our wildlife, and it needs to be reauthorized. senator hagan's bill and mine are not identical. most of the provisions are the same and the bill is a product of the same spirit of cooperation that drove my bill. now, just like last year, some folks around washington will ask why this legislation is important. after all, we need to be working together to create jobs and put this country on solid financial footing. but outdoor recreation is a job creator and an economic driver throughout this country. montana is no exception. in my state, one of the -- one in three montanans hunt big game and more than 50% fish. nationwide, outdoor recreation contributed nearly $650 billion in direct spending to the economy in 2012. hunting and fishing is just not -- is not just recreation. it is a critical part of our
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economy, and in montana, hunting and fishing brings in more than $1 billion a year to our economy, nearly as much as our state's cattle industry. strengthening our economy, creating jobs, preserving outdoor traditions of our treasured places, these all sound like no doubt about it ideas, but last year the sportsman's act ran into trouble right here in this senate. opposition to my bill didn't come from concerns about measures in the bill itself. instead, it was blocked by members of congress taking out frustrations with how other votes went that day. my bill was simply caught in the crossfire. sports men and women across the country who have been waiting for a bill like this for a generation watched in disbelief as my bill fell victim to politics. they won't stand for it again. this is a bill with widespread support that preserves our outdoor economy and secures our outdoor heritage for our kids and our grandkids. there's nothing controversial about it. thanks to the leadership of
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senator hagan, my colleagues have another chance to get it right. the senator -- as senator hagan's sportsman's bill comes to the floor, whether here or in committee, i urge you to support it, approve it as a vote for bipartisanship, approve it as a vote for common sense over political bickering, approve it as a vote for america's 90 million sports men and women and approve it as a vote to create jobs. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, yesterday senator harkin of ii, as -- senator harkin of iowa as chairman of the help committee joined me in reintroducing a bill. i'm pleased that support the education trust, the national association of college admissions counseling, military association of america and young invincibles. since 1992 congress has required for-profit schools to derive a portion of their revenue from non-federal sources. most people would be surprised to learn how these nonprofit schools are really totally upside down. they depend almost exclusively, almost on federal money. they are private schools, very profitable, and yet most of
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their money comes from the federal government. if you took this segment of our economy, for-profit schools, and made it a federal agency, it would be the ninth-largest federal agency. that's how much money we put into for-profit schools. who are these schools? young people, particularly high school age or college age, they know them by name. these are the ones that come bombarding you on the internet with solis stations to please -- with solicitation to please come join our for-profit school. you can't get it on an r.t.a. bus or c.t.a. bus in chicago or on the subway in new york without being inundated with all of these schools trying to sign up young people. and there are three numbers which everyone should understand when they take a look at the for-profit school industry. these three numbers tell you what you need to know. 12% of high school graduates go to for-profit colleges.
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12. for-profit colleges and universities receive 25% of all the federal aid to higher education. 12% of the students, 25% of the federal aid to higher education. student loans, pell grants. the third number is the most important. 47. 47% of the student loan defaults in america are students from for-profit schools. small segment of the population 12,%. 25% of the federal aid to higher education. 47% of the tkaults. -- 47% of the defaults. and they have cooked quite a deal with congress and our federal government. since 1992 we have said to these schools, the law said, you have to derive a portion of your revenues not from the federal government. it isn't a portion from the federal government. a portion not from the federal
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government. this was meant to keep for-profit schools in a situation where they wouldn't have to rely completely on federal dollars to survive. originally these schools had to come up with -- listen to this -- 15% of their revenue from nonfederal sources. 15%. in 1998 it was reduced to 10%. what it means is when the school signs up a student they only have to come up with 10% of the actualost in most circumstances from sources outside the federal government. these schools are channels federal dollars by the millions through these students into their own coffers. nine out of every $10 that these schools take in comes from the u.s. treasury and taxpayers. the for-profit college industry takes in most of its money directly from the federal government. in fiscal year 2012, we sent $32
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billion to for-profit schools. we spent more on for-profit schools than we did on the national institutes of health, nasa, the coast guard, customs and border patrol, the and the e.p.a. combined. we spend more on for-profits than we do keeping planes in the sky, protecting our borders, tracking down criminals, responding to disasters, researching cures for cancer, protecting the nation's food supply, making sure our air and water are safe and exploring the outer reaches of the universe. in 2009 and 2010, for-profits took in 25% of the department of education title 4 funds, enrolling only 12% of the students. they have quite an arrangement going on here. the largest? university of phoenix, the apollo group. you've heard about the university of phoenix. you can't escape them. they advertise all the time. in 2011 the apollo group which owns the university of phoenix
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counted 86% of its revenue from federal sources, title 4 funds. more than $5 billion to this one for-profit school. as long as they're educating students, why should we be concerned? the apollo group's profit last year was more than $400 million. in an era of spending cuts and austerity, what are federal taxpayers doing sending so much money to a private-sector company that's so profitable? particularly a sector of the education economy which has accounts for 47% of student loan defaults. last year a young woman received a b.a. in fine arts from the international academy of design and technology in chicago. and she contacted our office. she finished the undergraduate program, and she found no graduate programs outside that school would even consider her transcript. they didn't recognize a degree from her so-called international
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academy of design and technology, a for-profit school. four years later, with a worthless diploma, she was $58,000 in debt and had no real future in her chosen field. federal taxpayers gave the international academy of design and technology 89% of its revenue. it's a flow-through. the students apply. they then apply for pell grants if their income is low enough, student loans. the money flows through the student into the for-profit school. the student ends up with a debt. the for-profit school ends up with the money. in this case the student ends up with a worthless diploma and $58,000 in debt when it is all over. ash ford, university, i could go on for awhile about ashford in iowa currently being investigated by the california attorney general for its recruitment practices receives 87% of its revenue from the federal government. for such dependence on federal
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taxpayers for their operation, you'd think these schools must really be generating a great return on their investment. we have a deficit. why would we be sending so much money to these for-profit schools? some of these schools are good. make no mistake. but many are not. and the taxpayers pay either way. for-profit colleges spend less on student instruction than traditional schools. $3,500 roughly% student at the for-profit schools. over $7,000 at public institutions and $1 $15,000 per student at the not-for-profit schools. the students leave with more debt if they go to for-profit schools and they average at least $-6d,000 more debt than students that graduate from other schools. for-profit students are more likely to default. almost half defaults -- student loan defaults come from students at these schools. how are the c.e.o.'s of the top
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for-profit schools doing? they made an average -- an average in 2009, the last reported date, of $7.3 million a year. think about that. 80%-90% is coming from the students, encumbering the students with derkts and the c.e.o.'s are walking away over $7 million in income a year. this bill that i've introduced with senator harkin would change this. i would like to do more. but the stir first step is to ro the 80 85-15 ratio. it will also hold the schools accountable for breaking the threshold after a single year of noncompliance rather than the lenient three consecutive years currently in the law. that's only part of the story,
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thes.the dirtily little secret e 90-10 rule is it doesn't count g.i. benefits. hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue per year that flow to these schools and are exempt from the 90%-10% requirement. does anybody dispute the department of defense is part of the federal government? of course it is. whether planes or bombs or service members' education should come from u.s. taxpayers? nobody questions that. so when we limit how much of these schools' revenues can come from the effect, why coo we ignore the money coming through the department of defense? it is the federal taxpayers' money. according to the 2009 help committee report on for-profit schools, if all forms of federal funds are counted, the top 15 publicly traded for-profit companies received, on averages e6% of all their revenue from federal sources. the loopholes make service members and veterans prime
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targets of for-profit schools. they are all over these service members and veterans to sign them up because they're more profitable. it has led to well-documented horror stories about aggressive, predatory recruiting practices. i've been down on this floor telling these stories many, many times. i think they bear repeating. i told the story of two former military recruiters at a for-profit college in illinois. they contacted my office to tell me what happened. they were told their job was to, above all, put -- quote -- "butts in classes," that they should dig deep into the personal lives of their recruits to find their pain point. if a prospective student was out of work, recruiterrers were encouraged to say things like, "how do you think your wife feels about being married to somebody unemployed?" entrance requirements are very low at these schools, maybe none existent. it didn't matter how long a student stayed, as long as they came in, signed up, got the
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federal loan that went to the school and then he was stuck with the debt. there's no telling how many students have been lured by these practices and ripped off. one of these schools has the has the name "the american military university. a nephew of mine sesqui i mine e u.s. army, i said, take a look at school. there's no telling how many service members have been lured into these schools. there's james long who suffered a brain injury when an artillery shell hit his humvee in iraq. he used military benefit tongs roll at ashford university, one of the more notorious after he had been heavily recruited. he told bloomberg news that he can't remember the courses. remember, he suffered a head injury in iraq. christopher ford tell "the l.a. times" he used his g.i. bill benefits at the for-profit school only to find out no
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employer would accept his training, and he used up his benefits in pursuing it. of his for-profit education he said it was heavily marketed, so i took it. our bill, senator harkin's bill and my own, would protect service members and their families from preyed on by ending this loophole and counting these military and veterans benefits in the new 85% limit. this commonsense bill is a modest step forward, trying to reclaim some dignity when it comes to federal aid to education. we have opened up this amazing loophole, and 25% of all the federal money for higher education is going into these schools, many of which are just plain worthless. if athe students were just wasting time, that would be bad enough. but they are wasting opportunities for education and they are digging debt holes that they can never get out of. madam president, i got an e-mail
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this week from a family in illinois. it was a mom. she was so proud that her son had graduated from school. it was not a for-profit school. but he grad waited and she was very proud of him. but she told me she had a problem. he had incurred $130,000 in student loan debt. he had signed up for a lot of debt that couldn't be consolidated, couldn't refinanced. and she was begging me to do something to help her. there was one line in the e-mail. "senator, we just can't afford to pay more than $1,000 a month on this student loan." $1,000 a month on the student loan. that is not unusual. too many of these young people and their families get sucked into these student loans, many at these worthless for-profit schools. we have cases that are been reported of grandmothers who have had their social security checks garn issued because they signed on to guarantee their granddaughter's student loan.
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god bless grandma for wanting to hehelp her granddaughter but thn the granddaughter can't get a job and can't make the loan payment and they go after the grandmother. after her social security check. that is outrageous. surely this congress can come to a bipartisan agreement on how to cure this. i want to thank senator harkin for his partnership on this bill. there's more to come. this student loan crisis is a growing one and it affects some of the hardest-working families in america. they were shiewrp they were doing the right things for their kids. now they find themselves home homesly in debt, many times with worthless for-profit school did i ploy mass. we can do better and we should do better to give these young peopled and their families a chance. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska.
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mrs. fischer: thank you, madam president. i rise today on of about a of all nebraskans -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. fischer: sorry. i ask that the former call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. fischer: thank you. i rise today on behalf of all nebraskans to say to you all veterans. our nation has long been blessed with men and women with integrity who step forward and answer the call to serve. throughout times of ward and times of peace, our country has maintained a military that's been the envy of the world. each year veterans day is a time to thank and to honor the generations of patriots who have risked life and limb to protect our nation and defend the cause of freedom. these heroes leave their homes, their comfortable lives with loved ones for months and years at a time to fight wars in foreign lands. from the windy beaches of normandy to the snowy mountains of korea and the blistering
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deserts of the middle east, they have served fearlessly around the globe. others including members of the national guard have been stationed throughout the united states serving dutifully to protect the homeland. as a member of the armed services committee, i have the unique privilege of interacting directly with our service members. i've had the opportunity to meet soldiers, including many nebraskans, working to protect the hard-fought gains in afghanistan, and i have visited with troops stationed in germany, italy, and other allied nations. this past july i had the opportunity of a lifetime. celebrating independence day with our troops in afghanistan. i expressed my gratitude for their work and i assured them of my support in the senate for that work. while i am committed to ensuring
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our active duty service members have the training and the tools that they need to fulfill their missions, i am equally committed to keeping the faith with our nation's veterans. each time i speak with one of nebraska's many wonderful veterans, i'm reminded of the honor and the valor that decorate all of our men and women who have served. and each one has a unique and a very memorable story to tell. recently i was humbled to take part in the inspiring journey of 130 nebraska korean war veterans to washington, d.c., through the honor flight program. it was a privilege to help welcome them at the korean war memorial on the national mall. all of our veterans deserve our appreciation, but it was especially important to me to acknowledge the heroic efforts
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of those men and women who fought in what's referred to as "america's forgotten war." we are forever grateful to each and every american who has served. and we i salute those who have paid the highest price. another way to honor our fallen and missing service members is by showing our gratitude to those who are still with us today. as president lincoln stated, it is our great charge to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan. as a united states snorks i am dedicated to -- as a united states senator, i am dedicated to promoting policies that assist america's vents when they return home and to help ease that transition back into a normal life. many need care for their physical injuries as well as their emotional scars.
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despite possessing valuable skills, veterans also have difficulty finding employment after their return. we need to encourage businesses and organizations to utilize those talents that our veterans have and to help them find employment in our local communities. it is not just the values but also the training and the discipline of our military personnel that make america's fighting force second-to-none. i'm pleased to report to nebraskans that this year's national defense authorization act, the ndaa, furthers the goal of helping service members better translate the skills they gaining in the military to a civilian job. specifically, it helps ensure that service members understand how their military skills effectively transfer to meet license or certification
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requirements for those civilian careers. it also requires the d.o.d. to make available as much information as possible on the content of military training to the civilian credentialing agencies. employers need to appreciate the vast array of skills and knowledge that our veterans acquired during their active duty service. my staff and i also stand ready to assist these men and women in navigating federal agencies to get that assistance that they may need. many of our states' veterans have contacted my office with a range of important needs that are not being met, promises that yet need to be kept. these requests range from acquiring important service treatment records to securing benefits for veterans' spouses and navigating the bureaucratic maze that plagues the department
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of veterans affairs. we have a great track record in securing the needed assistance. this year's nvaa also urges the secretary of defense to exspeediate efforts to integrate electronic health records between d.o.d. and the v.a. while it's fully implemented, this should greatly shorten the time it takes for these service members to have their information transferred to the v.a. and start receiving the benefits that they are due. we can never fully repay our men and women in uniform for those contributions that they have made to our country, for their noble acts of service. but we can continue to do our best to honor their legacy. the peace we enjoy was hard-earned. we owe our way of life to their service and their sacrifice.
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we will never forget and we are forever grateful. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. ms. klobuchar: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i come to the floor today because there are three extremely talented, well-qualified women nominees who are ready to get to work on the united states court of appeals for the d.c. circuit. it's time they are confirmed. i'll be joined this afternoon by several of our colleagues, senators hirono, cantwell, kaine, and blumenthal, because we all know that it's time for the senate to stop the needless blocking of these women. enough is enough. and i want to thank chairman leahy for his persistence and the fact that we are not giving up on these three qualified women for the bench. our courts need judges in order for the third branch of our government to function.
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the senate should not be shutting down another branch of government. some of my colleagues in the senate won't even allow an up-or-down vote on these nominees. i don't know if they've even met these nominees, but if they met these nominees, i don't know how they could come to this floor and not allow an up-or-down vote. president george w. bush's candidates to the d.c. circuit were confirmed so that the d.c. circuit could keep running and our current president's nominees should be considered in the same manner. you can't have justice with an empty courtroom. it's time to stop making excuses. it's time put judges in their courtrooms. and it's time to get these women on the bench. one of the very well-qualified nominees is nini pillard. she's a talented lawyer and professor. she's the kind of sensible, well-respected person who we need to fill one of those empty seats in that courtroom.
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actually, it's professor pillard, because these been a law professor at the georgetown university law center for the last 15 years. she graduated magna cum laude from yale college in 1983 and earned her j.d. from harvard law school in 1987, again graduating with honors. in addition to her academic career, miss pillard served in government. from 1998-2000 she was the deputy assistant attorney general for the justice department's office of legal counsel. prior to that, she served as an assistant to the solicitor general, a position held by some of our country's most talented lawyers. it should be no surprise that miss pillard is one of the most accomplished supreme court advocates in the nation. she has argued nine cases before our nation's highest court and has briefed 25 cases. outside the courtroom, she has spent her time teaching and mentoring young lawyers, serving as the faculty director for
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georgetown law school's supreme court institute. when the current supreme court justice alito was nominated by president bush to fill an open seat on the supreme court, miss pillard also donated her time to the committee to help review his writings and make a recommendation on his qualifications. why? she was the chair of the american bar association reading committee at georgetown law center which found justice alito well qualified to sit on the supreme court. people across the aisle think that miss pillard is well qualified to. the office of legal policy under president bush said that miss pillard is a patient and unbiased listen,, listener, a f great judgment and unquestioned integrity. the dean of 25 law schools, including the university of new hampshire, the university of arizona, and university of maine wrote that miss pillard has shown an appreciation of nuance
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and respect for opposing viewpoints. grounded in a profound commitment to fair process and fidelity to the law. 25 more former federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials said that miss pillard is unquestionably eminently qualified and is a sensible and fair-minded lawyer. and the nonpartisan american bar association -- this is no surprise -- the committee that reviews every federal judicial nominee unanimously gave miss pillard its highest possible rating. fair-minded, unquestionably qualified, unquestioned integrity -- these are the qualities the senate should be looking for in a person we entrust to decide cases in our federal courts. next week the senate should give miss pillard an up-or-down vote. my hope for progress next week is in contrast to the reality we saw just one week ago when the senate voted to block another eminently qualified woman to an
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up-or-down vote. as i stated last week on the floor, patty millett would also be an excellent person to fill one of the vacancies on the d.c. court. my colleagues have discussed the qualifications of miss millett at length. she's a talented lawyer with extensive appellate experience. 32 cases in front of the supreme court. i do not understand how anyone in good faith could vote to block an up-or-down vote of someone who has argued 32 cases in front of the u.s. supreme court, who has served as an assistant solicitor general, who spent 15 years as an attorney on the appellate staff of the u.s. department of justice, civil division, under both democratic and republican administrations. with all this experience, miss millett is also one of the most experienced supreme court advocates in the nation. just like miss pillard, miss millett also received the highest possible rating from the nonpartisan american bar association committee that
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reviews every federal judicial nominee. and she's done all of this, as we all have learned, while raising a family with a spouse serving in the military overseas. raising two children while her husband was serving our country overseas. while donating her time to help kids learn how to read, volunteering for the homeless. how can anyone not allow for a vote on this nominee? this is another woman of unquestioned ability. instead of confirming miss millett last week, sadly she was filibustered. another woman filibustered, stopped in her tracks. well, we are here today addition antoday -- andsigh some of my ce gotten to the floor. and before i talk about caitlyn halogen, i'm going to give them an opportunity to speak. but another woman stopped in her tracks. this has to end. we have been making so much progress for women in the judicial system for women in the
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united states senate. we are now 20 of a hundred senators. no one filibustered us. we got to get an up-or-down vote when we came before the american people, win or lose. well, how it works for judges is you should get an up-or-down vote, and that's what these women deserve. with that, i'm going to turn it over to senator hirono from the state of hawaii, also a member of the judiciary committee. ms. hirono: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i thank my colleague from minnesota. i rise to speak in support of the nomination ofnina pillard to be a circuit judge for the united states court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit. less than two weeks ago, my colleagues on the other side of the table blocked another nominee to the d.c. circuit, patty millett. earlier this year, they also blocked caitlyn halligan, yet
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another woman who had been nominated to the d.c. circuit. unfortunately miss halligan withdrew her nomination after over two years of obstruction. only five women have served as judges on the d.c. circuit in its entire 120-year history. the d.c. circuit is one of the most important circuits in our nation and it is shameful that female perspectives are so underrepresented. now the senate will consider the nomination of nina pillard, a truly outstanding nominee to the federal bench. miss pillard is currently a law professor at george you wan geon university law center and one of the leading appellate attorneys in this country. professor pillard has extensive litigation experience at all levels. she has argued nine cases in the supreme court and has briefed dozens more, including the historic united states v. virginia case that opened the virginia military institute to women.
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and the nevada department of human resources v. hibbs case that sustained the family and medical leave act against a constitutional challenge and ensured that a primary caregiver could take leave in the case of a family illness, regardless of gender. and in this case, the family caregiver was a male. professor pilla dard has also hd an impressive 15-year tenure teaching constitutional law at georgetown. and the fact that that is my alma mater has nothing to do with my support of her. in addition, she serves as codirector of the georgetown supreme court institute, where she prepares lawyers for oral argument before the u.s. supreme court. on a pro bono basis, without regard to which side of the case they represent. in fact, under her leadership, the supreme court institute prepared lawyers on one or both sides of every case heard by the justices in the 2012 term.
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professor pillard has also twice served as the top attorney at the u.s. department of justice, and in those roles she advised and defended u.s. government agencies and officials on criminal law enforcement and national security matters. invaluable experience for a judge on the d.c. circuit, where such issues are routinely considered. i have been deeply impressed with her experience and record and have found her to be exceptionally qualified for this important position in the d.c. circuit. in addition to her extensive qualifications, professor pillard also has demonstrated a commitment to fair and impartial process throughout her career. as mentioned by my colleague, for example, when professor pillard chaired the a.b.a. reading committee that reviewed samuel alito turn his nomination process, her assessment of his legal record led the a.b.a. to
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apply their highest rating of well qualified. she deserves to be held to the same rigorous, fair standard. however, following patty millett and caitlyn halligan nina pillard is the third woman in a row to be nominated to the d.c. circuit only to face obstruction from my colleagues on the other side of the aislemen aisle -- a. the d.c. circuit is one of the most important courts in our nation, weighing key constitutional issues and other matters of federal law and regulation. but three of the 11 seats on this court stand vacant. given the complexity and far-reaching impact of the cases the court hears, it is critical we fill vacancies without delay. along with patty millett and nina pillard, president obama has nominated just robert wilkins to feel these important
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vacancies. -- to fill these important vacancies. unfortunately so far we have seen nothing but more obstruction of these extremely well qualified nominees. this is an opportunity to put exceptionally talented lawyers on a significant court that has vacancies needing to be filled. i am disappointed that our colleagues recently blocked a vote to confirm patty millett, not only a great lawyer but a military spouse who managed a successful career and the care of her children while her husband was deployed overseas. and when we talk about supporting our troops, it means supporting their very well-qualified spouses, such as patty millett. i was dismayed and saddened when obstruction caused caitlyn halligan to give up on her nomination after two years. it would be disgraceful to continue this obstruction of these qualified and impressive women. i urge senators to reconsider
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and support these nominations. i yield the floor. ms. klobuchar: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: we've also been joined by senator kaine of virginia who knows a little bit about one of these nominees and also is a strong advocate for more women in the legal profession. and that's one of the cases that we're making here today, that this is about the d.c. circuit, this is about the repeated gridlock that we're seeing in washington that i think the people of this country said they've had enough of, but it also is about the fact that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have now blocked not one, not two but three incredibly qualified women. and we are starting small here on a thursday afternoon, when -- well, maybe there's not a lot of people in the gallery, but this is just the beginning and we are not going to let this go. mr. kaine: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: madam president, i thank my colleagues, the senator
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from minnesota and the senator from hawaii, for joining me on the floor. this is a matter that i feel very strongly about and -- and i do want to offer a few words to basically just raise a question whether there is a double standard for appointment of women to this particular court, the d.c. circuit. before i tackle that question, i will just say one thing, knowing that i'm speaking to a law professor, i am concerned more broadly about what i consider sort of a pattern of nullification. if there's a law we don't like, well, maybe we -- and we can't get it overturned, there seems to be efforts to defund it or even shut down government, or in this case what i would call the decapitation strategy. if you don't like the national labor relations board, just don't appoint people to run the business. or the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. or in this case the d.c. circuit. the d.c. circuit has an allotted number of judicial positions. this isn't something that the president chooses. congress sets it on the advice
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of the judicial conference. the judicial conference has not suggested that the number should be shrunk. there are 11 judges and three are currently vacant. the strategy of blocking appointments is sort of a null -- as sort of a nullification of law which i think is troubling. but let me get to the question, madam president, of what i consider to be a double standard that is blocking some wonderful candidates from going on to this court. my legal practice for 17 years was in the civil rights area, and in the civil rights area, there's a legal notion called a pretext. when something bad happens, you don't get an apartment or you don't get a job or you don't get your bank loan or your homeowners insurance policy, and if a reason is asserted for that but the reason just falls apart, it's just completely illogical, it's not borne by the facts, and that's called a pretext. and i worry in this instance that there is a couple of pretexts going on. because the instances that have been cited by my colleagues, the
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filibustering of caitlin halligan, the filibustering of patty millett and now the filibuster of nina pillard regard really on two pretexts, and let me go after them. why are these candidates, caitlin halligan who practiced before the supreme court, was solicitor general for the state of new york, did such a good job, why block her, why block patty millett who worked in the solicitor general's office under both administrations, supported by both administrations, why block nina pillard? she was the appellate attorney before the united states supreme court who argued the need to admit women students to the virginia military institute in my state, which they have done and it's working very well. one of nina pillard's supporters was the superintendent of v.m.i. who was being sued. cy bunting has come forward and said pillard would be a great
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circuit justice. so what's the reason that is being asserted to blocking these women? the reason that is being asserted is there is not enough of a workload on this court. madam president, i think it's clear that the assertive lack of a workload is a pretext, it's nonexistent. it's a phantom argument that gets brought up whenever we want to but then abandoned whenever we want to. my evidence for that is pretty clear. there are two circuit courts, the eighth and the tenth circuit that have lower workload, lower caseload per judge than the d.c. circuit. but we have been approving nominees to that circuit this year without raising any question about workload. so we will put folks on the eighth and tenth circuit even though they have a lower workload and no one complains, the other side doesn't raise that. and i asked members why are you raising that here when you weren't raising it on other courts, and they said well, it's because the d.c. circuit is the second highest court in the land. it's a more important court. it's a court that has more
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juice. members on the d.c. circuit might be on the supreme court. so the workload isn't really the issue on the other courts. it's just an issue on this court apparently because the court is so important. well, let's now drill down on what's happened, madam president, just this year. you and i are freshmen together. we came in on january 3, 2013. we came in with a pending nomination of caitlin halligan for the court's sprewell qualified, bipartisan support on the legal profession for her. she was filibustered and one of the principal asserted reasons was there is not enough workload on the court. so she couldn't even get an up-or-down vote. within two months, we had another nominee, a superbly qualified nominee, i might add, who i introduced before the judiciary committee, sri srinivasin. we approved him, madam president, in the senate 93-0. now, he's a male. no one raised one question or
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mention of the workload on the d.c. circuit court. we had just turned down caitlin halligan because you don't get an up or down vote because there is not enough workload. within two months a 93-0 vote. i want to say, again, judge srinivasin very qualified to be on this court, but the workload rationale just disappeared, but it didn't go away, because as soon as patty millett is nominated, as was indicated, not only a superb appellate attorney who has argued more cases before the supreme court than all but a handful of women in the history of this country, who has argued cases before the d.c. circuit where we hope she will sit and other circuits as well, as soon as patty millett is nominated, well, the workload issue pops back up. the court doesn't have enough workload. and now nina pillard is being told that she is going to be blocked also because the court doesn't have enough workload. i assert that this workload
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issue is a complete pretext. it's not raised about other courts, and it's not raised about other nominees. even this year it hasn't been raised, but it has been raised with respect to three superbly qualified women, caitlin halligan, patty millett and nina pillard. and so that -- as i just watched that, and i have only been here 11 months, i don't know all the prehistory, but i just branch it, the women candidates are being treated differently on this court, the second highest court in the land, this court that has got kind of juice from which people may go to the supreme court. the women candidates are being treated differently. they are being blocked by concerns about workload that are not being applied in an evenhanded way. madam president, the last thing i will say is just another bit of evidence that i think it's fair to put on the table, and it's a question of whether there is a double standard for women. during the presidency of president obama, there has also been the nomination of two women to be on the united states supreme court. everyone knows this well.
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these were debates we followed and also these two women, justices sotomayor and kagen very qualified. justice sotomayor, when the vote was held, more than 75% of the senators voted against her confirmation on the supreme court. elena kagan, 88% voted against her nomination to be on the supreme court. we could look at courts that aren't the two highest in the land and see that there have been more appointments of women judges, and that's a good thing and i hope there are more still. when you get to the d.c. circuit and the supreme court it seems like there is a double standard. it seems like this phantom workload issue gets raised when it suits one side and then immediately dropped a couple months later only to be raised again to block women candidates,
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and i think that is a very, very serious concern. congress set the law that there is 11 judges on this court. the president is trying to comply with the mandate of congress in putting well-qualified women before this body, and we should debate their qualifications, and if folks have concerns about those, well, then, let's have that debate. but we shouldn't block them from being considered and assert reasons that don't stand the light of day. thank you, madam president. i reyield the floor. ms. klobuchar: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i thank my colleague from virginia for his well thought out argument and evidence he put out here before the president, a former law professor, who believes in evidence, and i think it's important that we look at the facts here, and i wanted to back up before i know the senator from washington is here, to back up some of the facts for why this workload argument really doesn't make sense, even when it's put out cloarl for the women nominees and it wasn't put out recently for the male
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nominees, but here's the facts. when george w. bush was president, the senate confirmed his nominees to fill four empty seats on the d.c. circuit. that wasn't that long ago. under president obama, there have been four vacant seats on the court. there were four under bush and four under obama. the difference, the president with his nominees, all of them, were confirmed by the united states senate. it's important to note that one of president obama's nominees as was pointed out by my colleague from virginia was confirmed by the senate, a guy. and i guess that means that one guy is confirmed and then these three seats are still open, for which women have been put forward. some people apparently think that there is a problem with this, with the numbers, but let's look at the actual numbers. the individuals have -- these same people have supported having more judges on another court that actually has fewer pending cases, and the reason we
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use that standard pending cases, that that is the active cases. they are not the pro forma orders that are issued quickly. these are the actual cases before the court where they have to make difficult decisions. the d.c. circuit has eight active judges, six partially retired senior judges and 1,479 pending cases. the tenth circuit has ten active judges, ten senior judges and 1,341 pending active cases. so the tenth circuit, which my colleagues have confirmed multiple nominees, has more judges but fewer pending cases per judge. why does the tenth circuit have more judges with fewer cases per judge than the d.c. circuit? well, to me, the answer is quite simple. earlier this year, the senate confirmed two judges to fill the empty seats on the tenth circuit, and the senate should do the same with the d.c. circuit by taking these three well-qualified nominees and confirming them. with that, i see the senator
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from washington has arrived. i know she has a few remarks about this as well. as i have pointed out to you, madam president, this is just the beginning, that we are going to continue the fight for these three women judges. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: thank you, madam chair. i thank the senator from minnesota for her leadership out here on the floor this afternoon, and it's great to join her and my other colleagues to come out and talk about the importance of judicial nominees, and particularly today because we are talking about the nomination of more female representation on the courts, which i think is incredibly important. i served my first two years here in the senate on the judiciary committee and i was struck to find that i -- i think at that time i might have been the fourth women in the history of our country to be on the judiciary committee, and now i am so proud that my colleague from minnesota serves on that
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committee and does an excellent job and that we have other representation as well. but the point is you have to ask yourself we need to get women elected -- do we have to get women elected to the united states senate to get women on the judiciary committee, to get women on the courts because our colleagues aren't going to help us do that? i'm rising today to support moving these nominations. president obama has nominated cornelia pillard and patricia millett, and we want to see these vacancies filled. we don't want the same dysfunction that led to a government shutdown to let us move towards a kind of a stopping of putting people on the court. nominating highly qualified individuals is what the president's job is, and filling seats on the court is not packing the court. it is simply doing the job. on october 31, 2013, many of my colleagues voted against a motion to end debate on patricia millett to be a judge on the
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u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia, and she is a very highly qualified attorney who has argued before the supreme court 32 times and is recognized both by democrats and republicans for her legal acumen. but despite her qualifications, her nomination is being blocked. she has been -- had she been confirmed, she would only be the sixth woman to sit on the d.c. district court of appeals, so i'm questioning why -- the place that we are now on this nomination. professor nina pillard is another filibustered nominee who has argued historic cases before the supreme court including a case to open up the virginia military institute to women for the first time in history and a case defending the family and medical leave law. the american people want to know why are these qualified female judges being blocked. just 32% of u.s. appeals court judges are women, so in my opinion it's time to move
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forward with more highly qualified nominees to add diversity to the courts. i have not heard any of my colleagues question the credentials of these nominees. in fact, miss millett has been called -- quote -- "a brilliant mind, a gift for clear persuasive writing and a genuine zeal for the rule of law." so this is not a quote that i just read by a democratic senator or a liberal think tank. that quote is from former special prosecutor kenneth starr in a letter with six other solicitor generals, top lawyers who have served in both george h. bush and george w. bush and clinton administrations, basically saying -- quote -- "equally important she is and unfailingly fair-minded, end quote. that is from mr. starr. the d.c. circuit court currently has four judges chosen by
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democratic presidents and four by republicans. there are three vacancies on the court, and republicans are arguing that to fill these vacant seats that we shouldn't do that just to eliminate them, and i think my colleague from minnesota just spoke to this. this is a proposal that is even opposed by justice -- chief justice john roberts who argues that the d.c. circuit court of appeals is like many of the federal courts and is operating in a state of crisis. so he said -- quote -- "based on our current caseload methods, the d.c. circuit court should continue to have 11 judgeships." so we need a court that is fully staffed, and the primary responsibility of this court is the handling of cases involving federal regulations on environmental safety, health care reform and insider trading. so to me, we should trust that our judicial branch can nominate and get justices on the court that basically will look at the
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law and not party affiliation and stop obstructing people who i believe are qualified to be on the court. so i hope that we can move forward. ms. mill set the second female nominee opposed by republicans after the nomination of georgetown professor nina pillard was filibustered. however, she joins a long list of unusually nominees who happen to be female who have been opposed not because of their qualifications but because they were nominated by this president. and i will submit that list for the record, madam president. so i hope that this discussion today points out the need that we need more women on the courts, and maybe we also need more women elected to the united states senate so we can make sure we get more women on the courts but this is about asking my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to look past this court, do not try to diminish it by narrowing its focus.
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get more people who will support qualified women so we can have the diversity in america that we need represented on our courts, even at the d.c. dirkt appeals level. i -- district appeals level. i thank my colleague from minnesota for arranging for all of us to be here today to share our views. ms. klobuchar: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: there are two interesting facts i didn't know, that the percentage of women on the federal courts, in the 30 range, and the second was justice robert's belief that we should have judges that fill this seat. and justice robert was on the d.c. circuit and i remember looking at the numbers when he was con foirmd serve on the d.c. circuit there was actually less pending cases per judge than there are now, even if these vacancies were filled. and, again, i keep bringing
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that up because it is the one and only argument we keep hearing against these three women that we talked about today. one, caitlin halligan who was already filibustered, stopped in her tracks, never giving up, the next year, the next year, having through the nomination process, and when we saw patty millet, eminently qualified, filibustered, never seen so many tweets about a judicial nominee. they're not always that well known but in her case she is a hero of military spouses across the country who cannot believe that my colleagues from across the aisle would again den her that right to serve on our courts and now we have a new nominee before us. nina pillard. someone as we noted who has unanimously suggested for this job by the nonpartisan american bar association, someone eminently qualified, nine supreme court arguments, someone who has so much respect from those that she mentors from
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her colleagues, both democratic and republican. i see that the senator from connecticut is here. another member of the judiciary committee. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. blumenthal: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague, an esteemed lawyer and prosecutor herself, for her service on the judiciary committee, her dedication to the quality of our courts and her bringing us together this afternoon to focus on a topic that i think perhaps is not uppermost on the minds of most americans, not something they worry about when they're bringing their kids to school or fixing dinner at night, but it shapes the quality of our society, it assures the rule of law, and it guarantees that the courts of our country look like the people of our country.
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we are here because there are too few women as judges on our federal courts. they've been denied that opportunity for so long they were denied the opportunity even to practice law. and so we're here because this situation is unacceptable. the senate cannot and should not continue to obstruct the appointment of qualified nominees in this instance, they happen to be women. and nina pillard, like patty millet, is eminently qualified. indeed, distinguished. a candidate who fits the ideal profile. if you were designing and writing in the abstract the resume of a circuit court judge for the united states of america, it would be nina
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pillard. one of the tragic results of the obstructionism that we see in the appointment of judges nominated by the president is that the senate is blocking women appointees to this court. the senate has only confirmed one woman to the d.c. court in the last 19 years. during the same time period, five men have been confirmed to the d.c. circuit court of appeals. in the court's entire history, only five women have been confirmed. these facts speak for themselves. thanks to the leadership of president obama and chairman leahy, the judiciary committee has been approving qualified women to take the men-only sign off the door at the d.c. circuit court of appeals. but those women have been
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blocked by a minority of this body. there ought to be common ground that senators better have a good reason to block an appointment to the judiciary made by the president of the united states, which is his constitutional responsibility, just as it is ours to advise and consent, not simply blindly block a woman appointee. in 2005, the bipartisan gang of 14 came together and they agreed that a senator should vote against a nominee only in -- quote -- "exceptional circumstances." extraordinary circumstances. the history of that agreement is pretty well known here, even though only a handful of the senators who joined in the agreement are still here. and its spirit and intent ought to guide us even if it's not
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binding in letter, its intent and purpose are as real now as they were then, to avoid the kind of nuclear approach -- and it's called i suppose the nuclear option for that reason because it would be so organically threatening to the civility and collegiality of this body if it is invoked -- the approach should be as a republican member of that gang of 14 said, that judges should be denied confirmation only in the event of -- quote -- "a character problem, an ethics problem, some allegation about the qualifications of a person, not an ideological bent."
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if senators agree that only exceptional circumstances justify blocking a nominee, then clearly the three female nominees that have been nominated by the president ought to be confirmed by the senate. our country and the legal profession specifically has an unfortunate history when it comes to women. as i mentioned earlier, for generations women were not even allowed to practice law. only recently have they been afforded the opportunity to serve on the federal bench. despite their serving with extraordinary distinction when they were, in fact, appointed. and they are still woefully underrepresented. when women are denied an equal chance to serve on our courts, we are left with judicial bodies that fail to reflect the
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american people, fail to reflect their values and backgrounds, their aspirations and dreams, and, in fact, their talents and insight. an exclusionary federal judiciary makes a mockery of our nation's claim to equal justice under law. the excuse for blocking appointees is that the d.c. circuit court does not need more judges. i find this claim unpersuasive based on the workload of court. we can debate, in fact, the numbers, but statistics in this instance fail to reflect the complexity and difficulty of the cases that come before this court. and the same senators who say that the caseload fails to
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justify appointments now gladly voted to approve john roberts to the ninth seat on the court when the court had just 111 pending peels per judge. it now has 182 appeals per active judge. the history here is that the senate approved appointees nominated by george bush to fill the ninth, tenth, and 11th seats on the d.c. circuit, the three seats that are vacant today. but this issue should not be about partisan politics, it should not be about which president made the appointments. it ought to be about the principle, and that is if the workload is insufficient, the number of seats on the court should be reduced by
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legislation. the congress should not refuse to fill vacancies when they exist lawfully and, in fact, when there is strong evidence that the workload justifies filling those vacancies. nina pillard is a civil rights icon. she is a public servant of extraordinary distinction. ms. pillard led the integration of women into the virginia military institute, her work led the supreme court to uphold congress' ability to pass the family medical leave act, her academic work continues to identify common ground between liberals and conservatives that can allow for the protection of important rights. some have said that she is a
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feminist. well, the fact is professor pillard believes that a woman's right to choose is protected by the united states constitution. in other words, she believes in a judicial decision written by justice blackmun, for whom i clerked, which has been upheld repeatedly by the united states supreme court over four decades. it is embedded in our constitutional law as fundamental as the right of privacy is fundamental to our constitution. i think that her merits more than justify her confirmation. there's no question that she has the talent and temperament, the intellect and integrity, the experience and the sensitivity
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to serve as one of our great judges on this court of appeals. i urge my colleagues to put aside the extraneous and irrelevant considerations that may lead them to oppose confirmation. and very simply to give their approval to a woman who will be a mentor and a model to so many other women now in law school or beginning their careers, or even beginning their judgeships. and who one day will aspire to this kind of position and will see her example and ours in approving her as an inspiration to them in their careers. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. murphy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. i ask that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. we've been trying to figure out all day how to fit five numbers on this poster. i've been bringing it down nearly every week since the
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antigun bill failed due to republican filibuster. this is the first week this poster comes down to the floor of the house with five digits. 10,287 individuals -- americans -- have been killed by guns since december 14, the day of the sandy hook shooting. mr. president, what i've been endeavoring to do since the failure of that bill on the floor of the senate, despite the fact that 90% of americans supported the bill, is to bring to this floor the voices of victims because the statistics are numbing at this point. 10,000 people in this country died at the hands of gun violence since december 14. and that apparently has not been enough to move this place or the house of representatives to action. so my hope is that by coming down to this floor every week or so and starting to tell the real stories, the human stories about
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the individuals who have lost their lives and the absolutely catastrophic runoff of trauma that happens to a family in the neighborhood, in a community when you lose a loved one due to gun violence that maybe that, maybe that will move this place to do something. so i actually just want to tell three stories this morning, because it now is kind of routine. you just sort of wonder what day of the week is it going to be when you turn on cnn or look at your twitter feed and you see active shooting in progress. school lockdown. people fleeing airports. just kind of happens every week now. it's just become kind of a commonplace occurrence. almost raindrops in the background of news coverage on a daily basis. this week's shooting, next week's shooting. on october 21, a seventh grader
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named jose reyes, students sparks middle school opened fire with a handgun he took from his parents. he killed a teacher, killed himself and left two other students wounded at a middle school in nevada. the teacher he killed was named mike landsberry. boy, you don't get much more american than mike landsberry. he was an alabama native. he graduated from high school in reno which is right next door to sparks, in 1986. and he went and served in the marine corps. he joined the international guard after he got out of the marine corps and rose to the rank of master sergeant and served as a cargo specialist in kuwait and afghanistan. he fought for this country, put his life on the line to defend this nation. and as happens with thousands and thousands of veterans, when he came back he decided to continue his public service, in this case becoming an incredibly popular math teacher.
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his brother said of mike, he's the kind of person if somebody needed help, he would be there. he loved teaching. he loved the kids. he loved coaching them. he was just a good all-around individual. but mic is no longer because he is now one of the thousands of americans who died at the hands of a gun at a shooting. gerardo hernandez according to his wife was always excited to go to work. he was a joyful person who took pride in his duty for the american public. gerardo was the t.s.a. screener at los angeles airport who was gunned down when paul ciancia, troubled 23-year-old walked into l.a.x. with an salt -- assault
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weapon and with a grievance and grudge against the government opened fire killing gerardo hernandez. he was the youngest of four boys who had emigrated from he el salvador. he was 15 years old when they made the decision to come to america to seek better life, a more stable life. now the youngest of four boys is one of 10,287. and finally, mr. president, the story of maria flores who frankly didn't make headlines when she died over the summer along with her daughter elizabeth gomez. they died in las vegas when man well matta, her boyfriend, with a history of domestic violence shot and killed maria, his girlfriend, shot and killed his
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teenage daughter, and he wounded a four-year-old before turning the gun on himself. family members said that matta had financial troubles. he drank often, he displayed jealousy and constantly accused his girlfriend of cheating. his girlfriend, maria flores, who died that day threatened to move out weeks earlier but was convinced by matta to stay. the daughter who was killed was scheduled to graduate three days after the murder took place. i tell these three stories for this reason. first, in the wake of the t.s.a. shooting, a lot of people, a lot of folks from the gun lobby made the argument that the way to fix this problem was to disarm t.s.a. agents. just like people made the argument that the way to guarantee that another sandy
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hook happens is to just arm the teachers. some people actually had the audacity to argue that actually an even better way is to just arm the students too. and it speaks to this sort of new philosophy that has infested this place, the senate and the house, that i kind of describe as gun control darwinism, the idea that if everybody has a gun, the good guys and the bad guys, hopefully enough of the good guys will shoot the bad guys. you throw a whole mess load of guns out there and let them figure it out. and in the end we'll take care of the bad guys. we have some new data that tells us how backwards that philosophy is. common sense tells you that's not a good idea. but the data now tells you that that's not a good idea. the american journal of public health did the most comprehensive study ever done in this country looking at rates of
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gun ownership and rates of homicide by gun death. they looked at decades of data across every state in the nation and then they had the common sense to control for about every factor that you could think of -- gender, race, poverty, income, education, alcohol use, crime rates -- and what they found is pretty stunning and pretty straightforward. the american journal of public health said for every 1% increase in gun ownership in a particular state or locality or geographic region, there is a firearms homicide rate increase of 1%. a one to one ratio. gun ownership goes up by 1%. increases in gun homicides go up by 1%. and police chiefs in city after city across the country will verify that as they have taken guns off the street, as they have engaged in gun buy-back
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programs, guess what? miraculously gun deaths decreased. now that's not to say that the only thing that matters here is the number of guns that are on the street. clearly this young man who walked into sparks middle school and the 23-year-old who walked into l.a.x. had enormous issues that were going untreated. we're fooling ourselves if any of us are trying to perpetuate an argument that this is just about gun ownership. this is also about a very broken mental health system that we need to address. but a 1% increase in gun ownership leads to a 1% increase in gun violence. less guns, guess what? leads to less violence. the reason i tell maria's story is because this is domestic violence awareness month, and -- or maybe october. it was either completed or in that month. here's a stunning fact.
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in states that have comprehensive background checks, women are 38% less likely to die from domestic violence crimes. women are 38% less likely to die from domestic violence crimes if they are lucky enough to live in a state that says before you buy a gun, you have to prove to us that you aren't a domestic abuser. since 1998, 250,000 domestic abusers have been stopped from buying guns because of background check laws. and that's just the domestic abusers who were dumb enough to show up at a gun store and try to buy a firearm. that doesn't count the frankly millions of domestic abusers who never walked into the store to buy the fiewn in th gun in the e because they knew they were going to be denied. women

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