tv House Session CSPAN November 21, 2013 6:00pm-8:01pm EST
by what is happening in the defensee stand by our of israel completely, and we do not believe that anything is with names that challenge everybody's sense of propriety and justice and rectitude. we have been through this before. you have heard we heard disturbing assertions regarding the holocaust and so forth. away from that. our hope is the process of the next months and years will unable us to do that. thank you, chairman menendez, for convening our second hearing to consider the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. think you, secretary kerry, for your ongoing leadership. protecting the rights of disabled persons has historically garnered the support of all americans.
ratification would solidify the strong u.s. commitment to equal opportunity for disabled persons, protection for disabled americans abroad, wounded veterans. greatear we missed a opportunity. it's my hope that we don't make the same mistake again. mr. secretary, this entire hearing strikes me as revisiting important fundamental issues that need to be asked and answered to reassure those of my constituents who have not heard yes yet. in your view, what is the response to critics who charge the sea rpd that would violate u.s. sovereignty, and the disabilities committee would be empowered under this treaty to dictate how the iron states treat people with disabilities here at home. sovereignty,ct to there is absolutely no ability
whatsoever for any country or treatyity through this to gain any legal redress or to compel the u.s. to do anything. there is no oversight, there is a committee that works on issues. the most they can do is make a suggestion. there are 18 members elected on a global basis. they issue a report, but they cannot repel us to do -- compel us to do a thing. there is zero give up or loss of any sovereignty of the united states. we are deciding whether or not towant the rest of the world be importunate by us over the next years as a member of this party to rise to our standards, lower than come to a
standard. gains entirely from this. on the disabilities committee, the disabilities committee has zero power to change the law, to order the change of law, compel a change of law. there is no power in this treaty and also in the committee. the committee has no ability to create and a customary international law, no decision, memo, anything they utter can and whatmpact on u.s. we reserve to ourselves through our constitution, and even through our declarations and understandings and reservations in this treaty. as you haveeve and asserted, the treaty does not compel us to do anything except to continue to follow our own law in our own way. why then ratify it? what harm is being done to our ability to advocate for
disability rights by being the empty seat at the table, or observer status of the committee for the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities? how does this harm our advocacy for how we should treat citizens with disabilities around the world? >> there are a whole series of this treaty does require other countries to do. we have already done them. that is why it does not have an impact on us. we are meeting those standards. it does compel other countries to provide accessibility, to provide nondiscrimination in things they do, such as a birth certificate for kids. deny somebody a birth certificate because they are disabled. it creates a set of rights about standards for education,
transportation, all the things that mattered to us under the ada. it takes each of those legalents and gives a obligation to other countries to live up to that standard, our standard. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i think this convention is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the high standards the u.s. has made is the gold standard for treatment of our citizens with disabilities. >> senator kaine. andefore i have a comment question for secretary kerry, i want to do an introduction. gail pollock is here with us today. the first woman nonphysician commander of the u.s. army medical command, enacting sermon -- surgeon general of the army with an $8 billion annual budget in 2007. she has extensive experience in the military, but she was challenged by senator anyway -- he made comments
about care for blinded troopers. following her experience in a program at harvard, she established a sole source information solution provider for anybody concerned about .ision loss we're very happy she's here today and for all the work she has done around the world. thank you, general pollock, and secretary kerry. in the a lot going on world today, and that you have chosen to be here with us is a important you, to how you view this priority. i was reminded of the great senator william crotts meyer who believed so deeply in the united states's need to ratify the genocide treaty that every day in session he took to the floor of the senate then advocated that the u.n. genocide treaty which had been ratified by the
u.n. and activated in 1951, it was not ratified by the u.s. until 1986 -- he gave over 3200 floor speeches over 19 years until the u.s. ratified the genocide treaty. i hope you're not here that often. i hope we do a quicker than 48 years. before the that came u.n. was ratified in 2006. i have one question for you. the last time you were before us, we were debating a very difficult issue, syria and whether to authorize use of military force in syria. the committee voted to do that authorization. shortly thereafter, in your discussion, diplomatic discussion with syria and others, syria agreed to do something it had not done, it agreed to become a signatory to the u.n. chemical weapons convention. what moral leverage would the u.s. have had to insist that
if theecome a member u.s. had not been a signatory to the convention? thank you for your reflections on senator proxmire. i remember listening to many of those comments. your question answers itself. we never could have achieved it. there would've been no standing to try to argue it. >> can we talk about something in addition to the obvious benefits that will flow to people with disabilities? that is that which will flow to we have businesses if
an international standard. there's about 56 million people in the u.s. with disabilities, but there are about a billion people in the world with disabilities. a we just take something like u.s. law, standard that says all these devices have to be accessible to the deaf and blind , and you multiply that by the thousands of companies in the u.s. but now have a part of this communications revolution, what could it mean for american business if the standards are adopted? what could it mean in terms of practical benefits for the u.s. economy if we join the rest of the world in ratifying a treater -- treaty that they are ready to go on? >> you at the nail on the head. i mentioned in my opening comment about benefit to business and why the american electronics association and ibm
are supportive of this. a billion people is a big market . the market that drove the wealth creation of the 1990's where every quintile of american income saw their incomes go up, and the greatest wealth in the history armor nation was created. that market was a one billion person market. it actually grew quickly into a $1 trillion market. this market is just waiting us -- for us to tap into. we have assisted devices that help people to speak, that can print. there are extraordinary gains through technology. wheelchairinds of
accessibility's, lifts, all kinds of benefits in communications and transportation. benefits fore companies. it means jobs, not a small number of jobs. maybe hundreds of thousands of jobs in the u.s. directly related to a standard being established across the rest of the world. >> i agree with you that it doesn't require any change in u.s. law. it's really going to be a benefit for the disabled around the world, and for businesses here in the u.s. to be able to service that new market that has been created, and we can be the leader in distributing those technologies as well all profiting here in the u.s. >> mr. secretary, i know there that would like to
engage with you. i think the challenge is there are procedures about to take place on the floor that will probably take about an hour of time. i assume that your schedule would not permit you to have time.eriod of >> i regret that it doesn't. keep the record open extensively so that questions and may beitted, working with you, if there are in anotherc members setting that have some specific questions so maybe in the future we can work towards you getting -- >> i want to be as helpful as we can at the department.
recognizing this difficulty on the floor, why don't we try to arrange a meeting at the state department for those senators who did answer some those questions. we would be happy to meet. we are prepared to answer questions for the record in short order. for those who want to have something on the record and for those who want to have a conversation about their concerns and how the administration would react to them, i think that's a fair offer. i appreciate your testimony here today. i think it has been substantive, very compelling. i want to share to final concerns. i know that we can try to create cannvironment in which we be as airtight as possible. i get that. congresses, onre
anything that the u.s. congress in taxes could be changed. it seems to me that a u.s. congress would have to change it. there would be full debate, and the opportunity to do so. i don't envision that. i would not expect this would be the first time ever in history that would take place. there has to be a balance here as to what expectations are, what one can guarantee about future congresses. that is just an observation for the record. department work with any of the members, at the end of the day i will have to be willing to support a set of rods . >> i just want to thank you for
this.eadership on there's a lot going on here too. i want to thank senator barrasso , who was an early supporter of this some time ago and stuck with it. we're very appreciative. >> we have a series of who have joined us in this effort trade senator mccain, senator barrasso, kirk.r ayotte, senator our goal is to get the type of strong bipartisan support that will pass the treaty. there are a few times i think in our lives in public service that you can affect the lives of millions of your fellow thatcans in a powerful way can make equality of opportunity
and access to that opportunity a reality, whether it is a 58 million americans who suffered disabilities or veteran to serve their country and now face some sort of disability, this is an opportunity to do that. thank you very much. the secretary is excused. i'm going to apologize to our next panel in terms of time. i hope you can hang in there with us. i'm not in control of what the time will be on the floor. it may be shorter. it's likely to take about an hour. reconvene upon the final vote that takes place on the senate floor. i believe it will be sometime within an hour. until that time, the committee stands in recess. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
>> american history tv looks back on the assassination of jfk. scenes from the president posture could texas, and commemorative events -- president's visit to texas, and commemorative events. 5:40 five, november 20 2,
ainsworth. hugh coverage continues sunday with lyndon johnson's november 27 address to congress, and your questions live with lbj biographer robert caro and presidential historian naftali. oflowed with coverage resident kennedy's state funeral. remembering jfk this weekend on c-span3. >> the senate earlier today voted to change the filibuster
rules concerning judicial and executive nominees. following that vote, we heard from the republican leaders just outside the senate floor. >> good afternoon. this is not a very proud day in the history of the senate. in order to detract attention away from obamacare, the senate has just broken the rules in order to change
the rules. we have had this thread for some time now. at the beginning of each of the last two congresses, we have had a discussion about rule changes are a dissenter alexander was right in the middle of those and will give you an update on what happened back in january to refresh your memory. after that, the majority leader said we had set the rules for this congress. well, obviously, that was a commitment not kept.
we thought he said if you like the senate rules, you can keep them. but, in fact, we ended up having another discussion in july with another threat of the so-called nuclear option. and then you have seen what they have done today. talk about a manufactured crisis. we have confirmed 215 judges and defeated two. and the problem with regard to the d.c circuit entirely related to the size of the court and the size of the docket. we took exactly the same view senate democrats took airing the -- during the bush administration that there was no rationale for extending and increasing the membership of the d.c. circuit. exactly the same rationale. a letter signed by schumer and others saying there was no need for an additional judge. we had emergencies in other parts of the country. this is nothing more than a power grab in order to try to
advance the obama administration's regulatory agenda and they just broke the senate rules in order to exercise the power grab. so i would sum it up by saying it is a sad day in the history of the senate. after today, advise and consent probably means to them 100% consent. senator alexander would give you statistics on how common the rejection of nominees has been in the past because i think it will be eye-opening for you. >> thank you. in my view, this is the most important and most dangerous restructuring of senate rules since thomas jefferson wrote them at the beginning of our country. it is really not about the filibuster. it is another raw exercise of political power to permit the majority to do anything it wants whenever it wants to do it. it is obamacare ii in that sense.
as senator levin said, after world war ii, a united states senate in which the majority can do anything it wants any time it wants is a senate without rules. it would be like the red sox falling behind in boston and saying to the cardinals, well, where the home team so we will add a few inning until we can score some runs. this is a senate without rules. it is based upon the flimsiest of excuses. the argument is that filibusters were used to deny seats to presidential nominees. in the history of the senate, the number of supreme court nominees denied their seat by a filibuster is zero. there was an lbj maneuver. the number of district judges denied their seat by filibuster is zero. the number of cabinet members
denied their seat by filibuster is zero. that is according to the congressional research service. the number of circuit judges denied their seat by filibuster is five democrats and five republicans, all because democrats for the first time in 2003, the time i was coming to the senate, filibustered 10 of president bush's judges and that was the first time in history. they also say it has taken too long for them to be there. the senate historian told me that president obama has been as well-treated with cabinet members as his last two presidents. you can pick the executive calendar up off every senator's desk and it shows this, it shows that of the people on the calendar who could be brought up to be confirmed, 54 of them have been there for less than three weeks. and most of them, the rest, for less than nine. what could the majority leader have done about that? under the rules changes made earlier, he could have taken 10 of these subcabinet members, put
them on the floor, and he could start voting wednesday morning, giveback four hours on each one, and have it by friday. the majority leader could have asked the senate to meet on monday, friday, and he could have confirmed anyone he wanted to. what the republicans have said is precisely what the democrats asked for in a letter sent in 2006 by all the democratic members of the senate judiciary committee in which they said under no circumstances should any judge be added to the d.c. circuit until we first consider the fact that it has less than half the average workload of the other circuits ago and the -- circuits and the republican president agreed with that. one of his nominees was not
confirmed. they reduce it by one. all we ask of the d.c. circuit was that we consider the grassley bill which has been in the senate for 10 years to put judges where they are needed the most and take them to where they -- from where they are needed the least, which is the d.c. circuit. in summary, this is a power grab. it is obama ii. it is another partisan political maneuver to permit the democratic majority to do whatever it wants to do. in this case might go to advance the president's regulatory agenda. -- it goes to advance the president's regulatory agenda. the only cure for it that i know is an election. >> [inaudible] how will republicans respond? >> i do not think this is a time to be talking about reprisals. i think it is a time to be sad about what has been done to the united states senate. the greatest deliberative body in the world, the only legislative body i am aware of
where a majority does not get to do anything it wants to at any point without confrontation with the minority. so i am not interested in discussing a possible reprisal. i do not think it is good for the senate. there is a lot of nervousness on the democratic side. they are in a panic about obamacare. the majority leader is desperately trying to change the subject. we want to get back on the subject. for most americans, what they are thinking about right now is they are losing their health insurance, their premiums are going up, jobs are being lost, and we need to focus on what the american people are most concerned about. i will take one more. >> if you guys win the majority and you are majority leader, will you abide by this ruling today or will you try to move to reinstate prior precedent? >> you guys know how much i love answering hypotheticals. obviously i am not going to answer that. but i will say this, the
american people are deeply disturbed by this administration and this senate. as senator alexander ended his remarks by saying, the solution to this problem is an election. the solution is in the ballot box. we look forward to having a great election in november 2014. thanks. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] harry reid said he expressed no reservations about the fact that the republicans would change the filibuster rules if they regain the majority. the vote lowering the threshold for the executive branch and most judicial nominees to a simple majority. >> this is not a time for celebration.
seriouse for being very . for too long, washington has .een in gridlock the american people are sick of this. we are sick of it. look any wonder how people at congress. as i said a little while ago, enough is enough. not here talking about how clean we are and how dirty they are and vice versa. comes to what has gone on on the senate floor, there's a lot of blame to go around. the obstruction we have seen from the republicans against president obama has reached new heights never dreamed of, never dreamed of, never even come close in the history of the country through all of the ups and downs we have had as a
country. remember, for the first 140 years as a country, there were no filibusters. the founding fathers were clear on what they thought. there should be super majorities. impeachments, and of course on trading. in the same paragraph as it deals with two thirds votes, the founding fathers did not mention at all things other than those two things that required a super majority. and the entire history of our country, there have been 100 68 -- 168 filibusters against nominations. for 230 years, half of them were accomplished. with obama as president, the other half.
23 district judges have been filibustered. 230 years, three. four and a half years, 20. under president obama, even his judicial nominees have had to wait longer than president bush. we have one nominee who deals with making sure the water we drink and the air we breathe is pure. he has been waiting almost 890 days because they do not like that agency, the environmental protection agency. it is an undeniable fact that the obstruction we have seen this year is new and very, very different. this is not just about republicans versus democrats. this is about doing what is right for this institution to involve and remain responsive to
-- evolve and remain responsive to the needs this country has, and we have not been doing that. the status quo of this gridlock has guaranteed that the middle class gets no attention whatsoever. the most important distinction today between those who are willing to solve this problem and those who defend the status quo, how can anyone in good conscience defend the status quo? for people to stand and say, you are breaking the rules to change the rules. since 1977, the rules have been changed 18 times. rules are changed all the time. senator byrd, the master of the senate, number two, he went forward and changed the rules. we have done it in recent years.
in today's vote, we declared we are on the side of the problem solvers. simple fairness. the changes we make today will apply equally to both parties. when a republican is in power, these changes will apply to them. that is simple fairness. it is something both sides should be willing to live with. that is also simple fairness. the republicans are defending what is going on here. how can you do that? the d.c. circuit. last night i got a call from one of my republican friends. he said, we have a deal for you. we will give you one for the
d.c. circuit and that way it will be 5-4. i cannot imagine. one of my friends, we have been in the house together and in the senate together. he came to me and said, what would you do? what would you do, i said. just the two of us. he said, i am not answering that question. everyone knows what is going on is absolutely unfair and wrong and i am glad to change it. it is a day of freshness for the our great country. senator durbin? >> there comes a tipping point. today was that tipping point for the united states senate. how did we reach this point? we tried to reach friendly agreements between the democrats and the republicans in the
senate. we tried several different times and several different ways. we said, no filibuster unless there are extraordinary circumstances. it turns out the extraordinary circumstance in the eyes of many republican senators was the reelection of barack obama. that gave them free license to oppose his nominees, not just for the court, but for many important executive agencies as well. a breakdown of an effort to try to solve this problem in a reasonable, commonsense fashion. there was another tipping point. that came about because of nominees to the d c circuit court. a woman from my home state, she argued 32 cases before the u.s.
supreme court. she was endorsed by both parties. when they were asked whether or not she could be bipartisan -- add to that a professor at georgetown university law school. and then robert wilkins. all of them stopped by filibuster. not a single person on the republican side stood up to criticize their qualifications for the job. it denied president obama the opportunity to fill the slots on the court. that is what it came down to. to add insult to injury, what they did to our colleagues, congressman mel watt. it has been since 1843. if you
listen to the speech given by senator mcconnell, the notion of filibustering judges was a democratic idea. they abused it and we did too. that is what he said. what we said in return was that this change in the rule will provide for no future abuse i -- by any political party. it solves the problem on a bipartisan basis. we are about to take a break for a couple of weeks. i want to come back and do some work. we have things to do. we have problems to solve. if we look at the last 12 weeks, you can count on one hand what we have achieved. we put the government back in business. the enda bill, which i am proud that we passed. but it fell off of the end of the earth when it went to speaker john boehner. we have got to come back here in washington and face the issues
that face american families back home. we took a step towards that goal with the change in the rules today. >> thank you. first i want to thank senator reid for his leadership. today is a sad day. things should never have gotten to this point. we have been forced here by an extreme group that has waged a successful war on government. we believe firmly that governments have to function to help average families out of their morass. there is a group on the hard right that wants to stop everything dead in its tracks. judicial nominees, executive nominees, and legislation. we have seen their success. the tea party wing of the republican party, which has been
running the show, the leaves any dysfunction in government helps their cause. when a judge is blocked, their goals are served. when a cabinet post goes on -- unfulfilled for months on end, they think they win. dysfunction is their goal and they have been achieving it a lot recently. many people look at the congressional approval ratings hovering in the single digits and assume it is a pox on both of our houses. the 9% rating is a cry by the american people to the congress: do something to help us. our incomes are declining. our lives are becoming more difficult. stop the gridlock. republicans are grinding the senate to a near standstill. they are using rules that were intended to bring people together to tear us apart. the age old rules of the senate are being used to paralyze us and the public is asking, is begging us to act. we are at 9% approval because
the rules give advantage to those who want to prevent the senate from achieving anything. mitch mcconnell says we tried to would -- we try to change the subject? i beg to differ. he does not want to address the filibusters, the rule changes. three quarters of his speech is dedicated to obamacare. we are not changing the subject. he is. he does not want to discuss the dysfunction and the way republicans have used the rules to tie this place in one big not. -- knot. if you have 2 sides, one that is for action and one that is opposed, the senate rules give the opposition a head start. republicans have abused that advantage for years now, refusing to confirm qualified judges, preventing executive agencies from having the leaders they deserve. it is a new world. people demand action. the old rules need to be modified.
that is what we have done today. we have not ripped them up. we have modified them in ways that can make things work. who in america does not think a president, democrat or republican, deserves his or her pick for who should run the agency? nobody. but there is a long list of cabinet and sub cabinet positions that have been opposed. we wish it had not come to this. but the american people deserve a functioning government, not gridlock. if our government continues to be gridlocked, people are going to lose total faith in government and it will be a different america.
it was an imperative to change the rules to help rake the gridlock and that is what we have done today. >> what is at issue here is our ability to have a functioning judiciary and government. after unprecedented obstruction, the step that was taken today simply allows us to exercise our duty to confirm justices and presidential appointees. earlier this year, we thought we would reach a deal that would avoid this. the majority leader did everything he could to make it clear he was open to compromise. but those on the other side of the aisle have shown time and again that they refuse to allow up or down votes. nobody comes to this decision easily. i served here in the majority and in the minority. i have been around long enough to know this is an entirely new level of obstruction. we have seen an abuse of rules that has wasted time and is intended to hurt our ability to work on behalf of the american people. this had to change. we have given republicans every opportunity to change this
unprecedented strategy. unfortunately, they gave us no choice but to act are refusing to give us up or down votes on qualified candidates who the american people deserve to have in place. >> senator, would any of these aftershocks have an impact on the prospects for a budget deal and moving the minimum wage? >> that is a lot of questions here. first of all, i will have senator murray answer that question. there was a terrific column written today. i think it was in the new york times.
times. she said that it is a wonder the way things are going on whether we will get through the prayer. that is what it has come to. i would not be surprised that since we have done this they do not start objecting to the prayer. >> chairman ryan and i are working closely together to find a path forward in good faith. >> to what extent did you weigh the potential long-term consequences if the public is take back the senate and they could push back roe v. wade an appeal -- repeal obamacare? >> as i mentioned earlier, this country did really well for 140 years. the first vote on ending a speech with a filibuster was in 1919. the country did great until then.
the filibuster was put in place to get ink done. -- get things done. now it is used to stop everything. the 4 of us have really tried extremely hard. i have been criticized for a lot of people for having gone through to congresses. i wanted to get along. rodney king, let's just get along. i tried that. as i tried to explain on the floor today, they have simply not told the truth. look what has happened. the thing about this is that they do not deny why they are doing it. we understand all of the considerations, but let's be realistic. what more could they
do to slow down the country? what more could they do then they have already done to stop the senate from legislating? we have all been in congress a long time. three of us served in the house. senator murray has been the senate a long time. we came here to get things done. there was a time when we used to do that. not anymore. all this talk coming from our republican friends, harry, we know you're right. and i say, why do you vote the way you do? they vote together on everything and it is only to disparage the president of the united states. >> you said if you're majority would change -- you're majority would change, you would -- your majority would change, you would
use the filibuster change. >> the country did pretty dam well for 140 years. we are far beyond saying who can out talk the other. let's get some work done on the senate floor. >> will this come back to bite you when you are in the minority ? >> the senate has changed. look at what has happened. if we have a republican president and we think he should not have the team he wants, one thing people do not understand and i want to try to explain this a little bit. a simple majority will not be a piece of cake in every instance. there is stuff on the calendar where a few democrats do not like the nominees president obama has put up. let's work together. i have no fear of this whatsoever.
having served in the house where it is majority rule, it is a different body. a majority vote is not so bad. >> you said had republicans made this move, it would have been a black chapter in the history of the senate. why isn't this a black chapter? >> back then, i gave speeches saying we cannot do this. it would be a bad day. we helped make it a bad day. i was part of that deal. do you realize with my consent, we allowed janice richards roberts -- rogers to go on that court? things have changed dramatically since 2005, dramatically. the last four and a half years, they have done everything they
can to deny the fact that obama was elected and reelected. during the last congress, republican leader mitch mcconnell said his number one goal was to defeat obama. it did not work. obama is president. he has been hit. -- reelected. i acknowledge on the floor that things change. i have said publicly. i do not know if there was a bigger advocate on the floor. i did not always feel that way. i have a right to change how i feel about things. >> we prefer the risk of up or down votes for majority rules. -- rules than the risk of continued obstruction. that is the bottom line no matter who is in power. >> this morning's proceedings, how will that affect what is on
the floor right now? >> we have wasted days and weeks and months. 30 hours. they should yield that back. my caucus would agree. let's vote cloture on the defense bill. that would allow senator levin to have a conference. their bill is not perfect. we need a defense bill, so that's what i have suggested republicans, -- suggested. republicans, i do not know what they will do. if there is this angst about the defense of the country, they should vote cloture. i ignored somebody. yes, you. do you realize i knew you when
you did not have gray hair? [laughter] >> given the logic of what you have just said about the filibuster, why leave it in place for supreme court justices? why not eviscerate it? >> we do not want to be jamming anybody on that. i think it is important. i would hope no one would ever use the fact that we tried years ago to pack the court. he really tried to do that. the supreme court, that's a separate part of our country and constitution. >> are you worried that they will filibuster nominees to the supreme court anyway?
>> let them do it. we were trying to protect everybody. all these threats about, we're going to change the rules more -- as senator schumer said, what is the choice? continue like we are or have democracy? >> if healthcare.gov is not fixed when you come back after thanksgiving, are you going to put the shaheen bill on the floor? or the mark udall bill on the floor? >> let's see what happens. i will visit with my five children and 16 grandchildren. 44 people for thanksgiving dinner. >> are you cooking? >> i'm cooking nothing. [laughter] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] we heard from a number of
senators both in favor and against the change. ,> i want to take a few minutes first to congratulate senator reid for leading the senate finally into the 21st century. that's the step we have taken today. take you very much, leader reid, for your courageous action in making sure that the senate can work and get our work done. i have waited 18 years for this moment. 1995, when we were in the minority, i proposed changing the rules on filibuster. i have been proposing it ever since. what has really happened is that this war has escalated. this war on both sides. 1995 that it was like
an arms race, if we did not do something about it, the senate would reach a point where we would not be able to function. perhaps at that time, i thought my words were apocalyptic. they were not at all. this is a bright day for the u.s. senate, and for our country , to finally be able to move ahead. nominations, so that any president, not just this president, any president can put together his executive branch under our constitution. a president should have the people that he or she wants to form their executive branch. every senator here gets to fix his or her own staff. we don't have to have the house voted honored -- vote on it or
anything else. the third branch of government, they can hire their clerks and their staff without coming to us. now i think it's appropriate that any president can now form their executive branch with only 51 votes needed in the u.s. senate, not a super majority. that is a huge step in the right direction. .ow we can confirm judges circuits and district court judges, again, with 51 votes without the super majority that has been filibustering for so long. i listen to the republican leader during the run-up to
these votes, and he said that we are somehow going to break the rules. break the rules to make a new rule. we did not break the rules. with the vote we just had, the senate broke no rules. vote,les provide for a 51 non-debatable motion to overturn the ruling of the chair. we have done it many times in the past, many times in the past. we have used the rules to make sure the senate could function. and that we can get our nominees through. i like what the writer gail thisns said in her column morning in the "new york times about these rule changes. she has had a lot of good things . she talked about how we were calling it the nuclear option.
she proffered that probably called that because something changing rules here is worse than nuclear war. but it's not. it's time we change these rules. the republican leader earlier said it was the democrats who started this, the democrats started this. of a schoolyard fight between a couple of adolescents, and the teacher is trying to break it up. this kid says, he hit me first. the other kid says, no, he hit me first. who cares who started it? it's time to stop it. even if i accept the fact that democrats started it, maybe they can prove that we did. it's possible way back when. it has escalated. it turned from a punch here and a perch -- punch their to almost extreme fighting.
he got to the point where we cannot function. just on nominations alone, we have had 168 nominations since 1949. i kind of picked the date because that's when all the filibuster stuff really started. been underthose have this president. 82. it's not worth it to talk about who started this. they want to say the democrats started it, fine. it has gone beyond all bounds, as i said in 1995, it is turned into an arms race. it's time to stop it. that's what we did this morning, with this vote. we took a step in the right direction. in 2008 in 2008, norman ornstein wrote about the broken senate, are broken senate, how we could not function. you can go back even beyond that. here, senator thomas eagleton
said that the senate is now in a state of incipient anarchy. i think we had something like 20 or 30 filibusters in the congress before that. so this has been escalating over a long period of time, and it was time to stop it. and that's what we did this morning. so i say this is a big step in the right direction, but now we need to take it another step further, and that is to change filibuster on legislation. we need to change it as it pertains to legislation. for example, we just had the spectacle of a bill that i reported out of our committee -- unanimous, republicans and democrats. passed the floor of the house unanimously. comes to the senate. one senator held it up for ten days. stopped everything for ten days.
and guess what? it finally passed by unanimous consent. should one senator be able to stop things around here like that? so it's time -- it's time to move ahead. to get rid of the legislature, at the same time to protect the right of the minority to offer amendments that are relevant and germane, to debate that and to have a vote on them -- not that they should win it, but the minority should be able to offer, debate, and have a vote on relevant and germane amendments. -- to the legislation. i proposed 18 years ago a formula that, quite frankly, was first proposed by senator dole many, many years before that. and that was on a cloture vote to end a filibuster, the first time had to be 60 votes.
then you could wait three days, file a new petition with the requisite signatures, and at that time you'd need 57 votes. and then if you didn't have 5e votes, you could -- if you didn't have 57 votes, you could wait three days, file a new petition on the same amendment and then it would require 54 votes. if you didn't have 54, then you would wait three days, file a pu apetition, then you would need 1 votes. so at some point the senate could act, the majority could act on legislation. but the minority would have the right to slow things down. to slow things down to, as george -- senator george horr said in 189 7, to give sober second thought to things here in the united states senate. not to stop strk stop it, not t.
slow things down, yes. maybe things shouldn't be rushed into. i understand that. maybe things ought to be amended. people ought to have that right to offer those amendments, not just spurious amendments, but amendments that are germane to the legislation. but ultimately 51 should decide in this senate on how we proceed, what we vote on, and the outcome of the vote. so i hope that the vote today leads the senate to adopt such an approach in january on, and the outcome of the vote. i hope the vote today leads the senate to adopt an -- islation legislation. so of the
on legislation. so, schie not fall, the oceans will not dry up, a plague of locust will not cover the earth and the vast majority of americans will go on with their lives as before. but i do predict that our government will work better, a president will be able to forelo form an executive branch, our judiciary will function better, and the u.s. senate will be able to move qualified nominees through the senate in a more responsible manner. so, mr. president, this is a good day for the senate, a good day for our nation. the senate now enters the 21st century. and, again, i congratulate leader reid for bringing the senate afford, a courageous action. i compliment all my fellow senators who upheld that vote,
upheld, overruling the ruling of the chair so that from now on we only need 51 votes to close debate and move nominations and judges through the united states senate. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i would just ask unanimous consent that after the senator from iowa is recognized -- and i believe he is going to be recognized -- that i then be recognized for up to 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: plap? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. grass dpras wmr. grassley: we da chance to debate the change in rules, and we should have had, so i'm going to speak now on some things that i think should have been said before we voted, not that it would have changed the outcome but because we ought know what we're doing before we vote rather than afterwards. so i'll spend a few minutes discussing what the majority leader called -- just did on the
so-called nuclear option. unfortunately, this wasn't a new threat. over the last several years, every time the minority leader has chosen to exercise his rights under the senate rules, the majority has threatened to change the rules. in fact, this is the third time in just the last year or so that the majority leader has said that he didn't get -- if he didn't get his way on nominations, he'd change the rules. ironically, that's about as many judicial nominees as our side has stopped through a filibuster. three or so. prior to the recent attempt by the president to simultaneously add three judges to the d.c. circuit that aren't needed, republicans had stopped a grand total of two of president obama's judicial nominees. not ten, as the democrats had
by president bush's fifth term in office, not 34 as one of my colleagues tried to suggest earlier this week. no, two have been stopped. and if you include the nominees for the d.c. circuit, we've stopped a grand total of five. again, not ten as the democrats had done in 2005, not 34 as one of my colleagues tried to argue earlier this week, but five. during the same time, we've confirmed 209 lower court article 3 judges, that's a record of 209 judges approved, to five that were not approved. so this threat isn't based on any crisis. there is no crisis. i'd note that today's "wall street journal" editorial
entitled "d.c. circuit breakers" -- quote --"the white house wants to pack a court whose judges are underworked" -- end of quote, lays out a caseload pretty clearly, and i'd ask that this editorial be made a part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: so this is about a naked power grab and nothing more than a power grab. this is about the other side not getting everything they want, when they want it. now, the other side claims that they were pushed to this point because our side objected to the president's plan to fill d.c. circuit with judges that that court does not need. but the other side tends to forget history, and i think history is something we ought to learn from, so let's review how we got here. after the president
simultaneously nominated three nominees for the d.c. circuit that aren't needed, a blatant power -- political power grab in its own right, what did the republicans do? we did something quite simple. we said that we want to go by the rules that the democrats set in 2006. we said we'd hold those democrats to the same standard they established in 2006 when they blocked a nominee of bush's by the name of peter keisler. so let's be clear about why the democrats are outraged. democrats are outraged because republicans actually had the temerity to hold the other political party to a standard that they established, and because we did, because we insisted that we all play by the same rules, they came right
back and said then we'll change the rules. the other side has said in effect, we don't want to be held to the standards that we established in 2006. and not only that, but if you don't give us what we want, we're willing to forever change the senate. and that's what happened today. now we hear a lot of ultimatums around here, but this ument maim is not run of the mill. it's very different. it's different because this threat is designed to hold the united states senate hostage. it's different because it's designed to hold hostage all of the senate's history and traditions and precedents. it's different because to be effective, it relies on the goodwill of senators who don't want to see the senate as we
know it destroyed, or as the constitution writers intended. now, i'd note that today's majority didn't always feel that way. the very way that we've seen expressed today. not too many years ago, my colleagues on the other side described their fight to preserve the filibuster with great pride. for instance, in 2006 one of my colleagues on the other side said this way -- quote -- "the nuclear option was the most important issue i've worked on in my public life. its rejection was my proudest moment as a minority leader. i emerged from the episode with a renewed appreciation for the majesty of senate rules. as majority leader, i intend to run the senate with respect witr the rules and for the minority
rights the rules protect" -- end of quote. in 2005 another of my democrat colleagues had this to say -- quote -- "today republicans, referring to when republicans were in the majority, so i'll start the quote again. "today republicans are threatening to take away one of the few remaining checks on the power of the executive branch by their use of what has become known as the nuclear option. this assault on our traditions of checks and balances and on the protection of minority rights in this senate and in our democracy should be abandoned. eliminating the filibuster by nuclear option would destroy the constitution's design of the senate as an effective check on the executive" -- end of quote. so you've had two quotes from democrats in 2005, 2006, very
strongly supporting the precedent -- or the senate using the filibuster to protect minority rights. but then they were in the minority. now they're in the majority, and the tradition of the senate doesn't mean much. i have another quote from late senator byrd, 2005. quote -- "and i detest this mention of a nuclear option. the constitutional option. there is nothing constitutional about it, nothing" -- end of quote. but, of course, that was way back then, just six, seven years ago. when today's majority was in the minority. and there was a republican in the white house. today the shoe is on the other foot. today the other side is willing to forever change the senate
because republicans have the audacity to hold them, the majority party of today, to their own standard. but why? why would the other side do this? there clearly isn't a crisis on the d.c. circuit. the judges themselves say that if we confirmed any more judges, there wouldn't be enough to go around. and it's not as if all of these nominees are mainstream, consensus picks, despite what the other side would have you believe that they are somewhat mainstream. take professor pillard, for instance. she has written this about motherhood -- quote -- "productive rights, including rights to contraception and abortion play a central role in freeing women from historically routine conscription into maternity" -- end of quote.
now, is that mainstream? she has also argued this about motherhood -- quote -- "antiabortion laws and other restraints on reproductive freedom not only enforce women's incould incubation of unwanted pregnancies but also prescribes a vision of a woman's role as mother and caretaker of children in a way that is at odds with equal protection" -- end of quote. is that mainstream? and what about her views on religious freedom? she argued that the supreme court of an evangelical liewt ral church which challenged the exception to employment discrimination represented a -- quote -- "substantial threat to american rule of law" -- end of quote. now, get this after she says that the supreme court rejected her view 9-0, and the court
held that -- quote -- "it is impermissible for the government to contradict a church's determination of who can act as its ministers" -- end of quote. do my colleagues really believe mainstream america thinks churches shouldn't be allowed to choose their own ministers? i could go on and on but i hope you get the picture. the point is this: voting to change the senate rules is voting to remove one of the last meaningful checks on the president, any president, and voting to put these views on this important court. so i ask again, why would the other side do this? it isn't anything short of -- it is nothing short of complete and total power grab. it is the type of thing that we've seen again and again out
of this administration and their senate allies. and you can sum it up this way: do whatever it takes. you can't get obamacare passed with republican support? do whatever it takes. pass it at 7:00 a.m. on christmas eve with just democrat votes. if you can't get all of your side to support obamacare, do whatever it takes. resort to things like the cornhusker kickback. you lose your 60th vote on obamacare, due to a special election, do whatever it takes, ram it through any way using reconciliation. the american people don't want to be taxed for not buying health care. do whatever it takes. tell the american people it isn't a tax and then you argue
in the court that it is a tax. the american people want to keep their health care. do whatever it takes, promise them -- quote -- "if you like your health care, you can keep it" -- end of quote and then issue regulations making it impossible. your labor allies want out from under obamacare. do whatever it takes. consider issuing them, labor, a waiver from the reinsurance tax. you can't find consensus nominees for the national labor relations board. do whatever it takes. recess appoint them when the senate isn't even in session. you can't convince congress to adopt your gun control agenda. do whatever it takes, issue some executive orders.
you can't convince moderate democrats to support cap-and-trade fee increases. well, do whatever it takes. do the same thing through e.p.a. regulation. frustrated that conservative groups' political speech is protected under the first amendment, do whatever it takes, use the i.r.s. to harass and intimidate those same conservative groups. frustrated when the court stands up for religious freedom and issues a check on obamacare contraception mandate. do whatever it takes. stack the d.c. circuit court in your favor. frustrated when the court curbs your power on recess appointments. do whatever it takes. stack the d.c. circuit with your favorite appointees, people that will rule in your favor.
worried that e.p.a.'s regulation on cap-and-trade fee increases might get challenged in the court. do whatever it takes, stack the d.c. circuit in your favor. frustrated because senate republicans have the nerve to hold you to the same standards you established during the last administration. do whatever it takes. change the rules of the united states senate. that's what we have witnessed today. nothing but an absolute power grab. the majority in the senate and their allies in the administration are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their partisan agenda. they know that there will be additional challenges to obamacare, they know that if they can stack the deck on the d.c. circuit, they can remove
one of the last remaining checks on presidential power. but make no mistake. my friends on the other side will have to answer this question, why did you choose this moment to break the rules to change the rules? why now? why? when we're witnessing the collapse of this massive effort to centrally plan one-sixth of this wonderful nation's economy, why when millions of americans are losing their health care, why did you choose this moment over to the president, a president with less check on his authority. because the fact of the matter is this -- any vote to break the rules to change the rules is a vote to ensure obamacare remaining intact.
so, mr. president, i'll conclude by saying this -- changing the rules of the senate in this way was a mistake. but if the last several years have taught us anything, it's that the majority won't stop making these demands. and if we can't give in -- if we can't give in to these constant threats, sooner or later you have to stand up and say, enough is enough. but if there's one thing that will always be true, it's thi this -- majorities are fickle, majorities are fleeting, here today, gone tomorrow. that's a lesson that sadly most of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle haven't learned for the simple reason that they've never really served a single day in the minority. so the majority has chosen to take us down this path.
the silver lining is that there will come a day when roles are reversed. when that happens, our side will likely nominate and confirm lower court and supreme court nominees with 51 votes, regardless of whether the democrats actually buy into this fanciful notion that they can demolish the filibuster on lower court nominees and still preserve it for supreme court nominees. i yield the floor. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: first i would ask unanimous consent that after my remarks, the senator from alabama be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, in the past, a few senate majorities, frustrated by their inability to get certain bills and nominations to a vote, have threatened to ignore the rules and to change them by fiat and
to change rules to a majority vote change. rule 22 of the senate requires two-thirds of the senate to amend our rules. a new precedent has thousand been set, which is that a majority -- a new precedent has now been set, which is that a majority can now change the rules. because that step will change the rule into a legislative body that the majority, whenever it wishes, can change the rules, it has been dubbed the nuclear option. arguments about the nuclear option are not new. senator arthur vandenberg, confronting the same question in 1949, senator vandenberg, who was a giant of the senate, one of my predecessors from michigan, said that if the majority can change the rules at will -- quote -- "there are no rules except the transient unregulated wishes of a majority of whatever quorum is
temporarily in control of the senate." now, senator vandenberg, when he took that position, was arguing against changing the rules by fiat, although he favored the rule change that was being considered. overruling the ruling of the chair, as we have now down, by a simple majority is not a one-time action. if a senate majority demonstrates it can make such a change once, there are no rules which binds a majority and all future majorities will feel free to exercise the same power, not just on judges and executive appointments but on legislation. we've avoided taking these steps in the past, these nuclear steps, but we've avoided them sometimes barely. i'm glad that we avoided the possible use of the nuclear
option again earlier this year when our leaders agreed on a path allowing the senate to proceed to a vote on the president's nominees for several unfilled vacancies in his administration. but today we are once again moving down a destructive path. the issue, mr. president, is not whether to change the rules. i support changing the rules to allow a president to get a vote on nominees to executive and to most judicial positions. buwhat this is all about is ends and means. pursuing the nuclear option in this manner removes an important check on majority overreach. as senator vandenberg said, if a senate majority decides to pursue its aims unrestrained by the rules, we will have sacrificed a professed, vital principle for the sake of
momentary convenience. republicans have filibustered three eminently qualified nominees to the circuit court of appeals for the district of columbia. they make no pretense of the argument that these nominees are unqualified. the mere nomination of qualified judges by this president, they say, qualifies as courtpacking. it is the latest attempt by republicans, having lost two presidential elections, to seek preventing the duly elected president from fulfilling his constitutional duties. the thin veneer of substance laid over this partisan obstruction is the claim that the d.c. circuit has too many judges. to be kind, this is a debatable proposition, one for which there is ample contrary evidence and surely one that falls far short of the need to provoke a constitutional battle. republicans know they cannot succeed in passing legislation to reduce the size of the court,
so presented with a statutory and constitutional reality they do not like, they have decided to ignore that reality and decided that they can obstruct the president's nominees for no substantive reason. so let nobody mistake my meaning. the actions of the senate republicans in these matters have been irresponsible. these actions put short-term partisan interest ahead of the good of the nation and the future of this senate as a unique institutionment and it is deeply dispiriting to see so many republican colleagues who have in the past pledged to filibuster judicial nominees only in extraordinary circumstance engaged in such partisan gamesmanship. whatever their motivations, the repercussions of their actions are clear. they are contributing to the destruction of an important
check against majority overreach and to the frustration of those willing to break the rules to change the rules. those of us who are unwilling to do that have now seen it occur before our eyes. the chair was overruled earlier today. so why do i not join my democratic colleagues in supporting the method by which they propose to change the rules. my opposition to the use of the nuclear option to change the rules of the senate is not a defense of the current abuse of the rules. my opposition to the nuclear option is not new and republicans threaten in 2005 -- threatened in 2005 to use the nuclear option in a dispute over judicial nominees. i strongly opposed the plans,
just as senator kennedy did, senator biden did, senator byrd did and just about every senate democrat did. including democrats still in the senate today. back then, senator kennedy called the republican plan -- quote -- "a preemptive nuclear strike." he said, neither the constitution snore senate rules nor senate precedence nor american history provide any justification for selectively nullifying the use of the filibuster. equally important, he said, neither the constitution nor the rules nor the precedence nor history provide any permissible means for a bare majority of the senate to take that radical step without breaking or ignoring three kids of applicable rules and unquestioned precedence. and here's what then-senator biden said during that 2005 fight -- quote -- "the nuclear option abandons america's sense of fair play.
it's the one thing this country stands for: not tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field." and he said, "i say to my friends on the republican side, you may own the field right now but you won't own it forever." and he concluded, "i pray to god when the democrats take back control we don't make the same kind of naked power grab that you are doing." my position today is consistent with the position that i took then that every senate democrat took then and that's just back in 2005 and that was to preserve the rights of the senate minority. i can't ignore that nor can i ignore the fact that democrats have used the filibuster on many occasions to advance or protect policies that we believe in. when republicans controlled the white house, the senate and the
house of representatives from 2003-2006, it was a democratic minority in the senate that blocked a series of bills that would have severely restricted the reproductive rights of women. it was a democratic minority in the senate that beat back efforts to limit americans' rights to seek justice in our courts when they're harmed by corporate or medical wrongdoing. it was a democratic minority in the senate that stopped the nominations of some to the federal courts who we believed would not provide fair and unbiased judgment. without the protections afford afforded, the senate minority, total repeal of the estate tax would have passed the senate in 2006. and we don't have to go back to 2006 to find examples of senate democrats using the rules of the senate to stop passage of what many of us deemed bad legislation. just last year, these recollections prevented an adoption of an amendment that would have essentially prevented the e.p.a. from protecting
waters under the clean water act. we stopped an amendment to allow loaded and concealed weapons on lands managed by the army corps of engineers as a minority with minority votes. as minority votes, we stopped some -- we stopped legislation that would av allowed some individuals who were deemed mentally incompetent access to firearms. that's just the last year. removing these minority protections risks that in the future important civil and political rights might just disappear because a majority agree that they should. and let us not kid ourselves. the fact that we changed the rules today just to apply to judges and executive nominations does not mean the same precedent won't be used tomorrow or the next year or the year after to provide for the end of a filibuster on legislation, on bills that are before us, and on amendments.
just as i've implored my democratic colleagues to consider the implications of a nuclear option that would establish the precedent that a majority can change the rules at will is just as urgent for my republican colleagues to end the abuse of the rules which allow extended debate that were intended on rules that were intended to be invoked rarely. some of my democratic colleagues may rightfully ask, "if a democratic majority cannot initially muster a supermajority to end filibusters or change the rules, then what can the majority do?" the rules give us the path and that is to make the filibusters filibuster. let the majority leader bring nominations before the senate. let the senate majority force the filibusterers to come to the floor to force the filibuster. the current rules of the senate allow the presiding officer to put the pending question to a vote when no senator seeks recognition.
let us, as the senate majority, dedicate a week or a weekend or even a night to force the filibusterers to filibuster. in 2010, in testimony before the rules committee on this subject, this is what senator byrd said. "does the difficulty reside in the construction of our rules or does it reside in the ease of circumventing them? a true filibuster is a fight, not a threat, not a bluff." and then he said, "now, unbelievably, just the whisper of opposition brings the world's greatest deliberative body to a grinding halt." and then he said, "forceful confrontation to a threat to filibuster is undoubtedly the antidote to the malady. we have not used that antidote to the malady which besets this
body, allowing the mere threat of a filibuster to succeed without challenging that threat, without telling the filibusters, go ahead, filibuster. we've got rules that protect us. and when you pause and when there's no one else here, 3:00 on the fourth day or the fifth day or the sixth day, the chair can put the question. the am -- the american people will then see in a dramatic way the obstruction which has flanes in this body -- which has taken place in this body. but before a senate majority assumes a power that no senate majority before us has assumed to change the rules at the will of the majority, before we do something that cannot easily be undone -- and we have now done it -- before we discard the
uniqueness of this great institution, let us use the current rules and precedents of the senate to end the abuse of the filibuster. surely we owe that much to this great and unique institution. there was a conversation, which was a formal conversation, between the majority and the republican leaders just last january, and here's what the majority leader said. "in addition to the standing order," which is what we had adopted, "i will enforce existing rules to make the senate operate more efficiently. after reasonable notice, i will insist," he said, "that any senator who objects to consent requests or threatens to filibuster come to the floor and exercise his or her rights himself or herself. this will apply to all
objectionobjections and unanimot requests. senators should be required to come to the floor and participate in the legislative process, to voice objections, engage in debate, or offer amendments. and finally," he said, "we will also announce that when the majority leader or bill manager has reasonably alerted the body of the intention to do so, the senate is not in a quorum call and there's no order of the senate to the contrary, the presiding officer may ask if there's any further debate, and if no senator seeks recognition, the presiding officer may put the question to a vote." he said, our majority leader, that "this is consistent with the precedent of the senate and with ri riddick's senate procedure." what this showed again is that if we in the majority have the will power -- as much will power
as has been shown by some obstructionists in this body -- if we have an equal amount of will as they have shown, that the current rules before this change today can be used to force filibuster filibusterers o filibuster, to come to the floored and talk. all we need to do is to use the rules, to take the weekend off, to take the week that we hope for a recess and use it to come back here, to take the recess itself, if necessary, during the summer -- for a month, if necessary -- to try to preserve what is so essential to this body, its uniqueness; which is that the majority cannot change the rules whenever it wants. the house of representatives can change the rules whenever it wants. it's called a rules committee.
they can adopt and modify the rules at any time -- and they do. this body has not done that. we've resisted it. the we've attempted to do it. we've come close to doing it, but we've never done it -- until today. do i want to amend the rules? do i. i want to amend these rules with all my heart. i want to embody a principle that a president, regardless of party, should be able to get a vote on his or her nominees to executive positions and to district and circuit courts. i believe in that. i think most senators believe in that. we need to change the rules. but to change it in the way we changed it today means there are no rules except as the majority
wants them. it is a very major shift in the very nature of this institution if the majority can do whatever it wants by changing the rules whenever it wants, with a method that has not been used before in this body to change the very rules of this body. we should have avoid add nuclear option. we should have avoided violating our precedents. we should have avoided changing and creating a precedent, which can be used in the same way on legislation. it may give comfort to some today, but this is only on judges, this is only on executive appointments. this precedent can equally available to a majority that wants to change the rules relevanrelative to the legislate process.
madam president, those who have abused these rules -- mainly on the other side of the aisle -- whether they acknowledge it or not, are contributors to the loss of protections which we see today for the senate minority. given a tool of great power, requiring great responsibility, they have recklessly abused it. but now i am afraid that it won't just be them that will pay the price. in the short term, judges will be confirmed who should be confirmed. but when the precedent is set, the majority of this body can
change the rules at will -- which is what the majority did today. if it can be changed on judges or on other nominees, this precedent is going to be used, i fear, to change the rules on consideration of legislation, and down the road -- we don't know how far down the road; we never know that in a democracy -- but, down the road, the hard-won protections and benefits for our people's health and welfare will be lost. i yield the floor. >> president obama also weighed in. here is a look at his comments.
it is about 10 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. secret the american people have probably never been more frustrated with washington. one of the reasons why that is is that over the past five years, we have seen an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in congress that has prevented too much of american business from getting done. also often, we have seen a single senator or a handful of arcanes truce to abuse -- choose to abuse arcane tactics to block compromises or to prevent well-qualified patriotic americans from filling critical positions in public service in our government. at a time when millions of --ricans have death really
desperately searched for work, block creation that might create jobs, defeated actions that might help women fight for equal pay. they have prevented more progress than we would have liked for striving young immigrants trying to earn their citizenship, or blocked efforts for companies. they are even being used to block widely important steps to protect americans from gun violence, even as families of victims sat in the senate chamber and watched. it invented americans from serving their country when their country needs your talent the most. it has harmed our economy and it has been harmful to our
democracy. a simple majority vote no longer seems to be sufficient for anything, even routine business through what is supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body. neither party has been blameless for these tax ticks. -- tactics. they have developed over the years and it seems as if they have continually escalated. this pattern of obstruction is not normal. it is not what our founders envisioned. a deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything just to refight the results of an election is not normal. for the sake of future generations, we cannot let it become normal. i support the steps a majority of senators took to change the way washington is doing business, more specifically, the way the senate is doing business. a majority of senators
here's why this is important. one of the jobs of the president is to nominate positions. over the six decades before i took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome a filibuster. and just under five years since i have taken office, nearly 30 have been treated this way. these are all public servants to protect our national security, look out for americans, keep our air and water clean. for the first time, they filibuster the president's choice for a secretary of defense who used to be a former republican senator. they did everything the holdup are epa administrator. they blocked our nominee at a top housing regulator when we need more help for more families to afford a home and prevent what has caused the mortgage meltdowns from happening again. in each of these cases it has not been because they opposed the person. that there was some assessment they were unqualified, there was some scandal that had been unearthed. it was simply because they opposed the policies he american people voted for in the last election. this gets even worse when it comes to the judiciary. every president has exercised this power since george washington first name justices to the supreme court in 1789. my judicial nominees have waited two and a half times longer to receive yes or no votes than those of president bush. those are generally do get a vote are confirmed with little if any dissent. this is not obstruction on substance. this is just to gum up the
works. this gridlock in congress causes gridlock in our criminal and justice systems. you see justices across the country including a bush appointed chief justice of the supreme court say these are vital vacancies that need to be filled and the gridlock has not serve the cause of justice. in fact, it has undermined today. over the past three weeks, senator public in the den -- again failed to pass these nominations even though they had the support of a majority of senators. four of resident bush's six nominees were confirmed. four of my five nominees have been instructed. the vote today, i think, is an indication that a majority of senators believe as i do that enough is enough. it american people's business is far too important to keep falling prey day after day to washington politics. i'm a former senator. so as my vice president. we both value any senate's duty to advise and consent. it's important and we take it very seriously. if you now refuse to treat that duty of advise and consent with respect that it deserves, it's no longer used in a responsible way to govern and it is used as a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt and that is not what the founders intended and not what our country needs. i just want to remind everyone what is at stake here is not my ability to the fill my constitutional duty. what is at stake is the ability of any president to for fill his or her constitutional duty. public service is not a game. it is a privilege. the consequences of action or inaction are very real. the american people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is and then devote their time in elected office to try to make government not work as often as possible. now, i want to be clear. the senate has done some good bipartisan work this year. the bipartisan majority has passed commonsense legislation to fix our broken immigration system and up radar courts -- ports. they have passed a farm bill to help rural communities and vulnerable americans and has legislation to prevent americans for being fired based on their sexual orientation. we know there are folks there, republican and democrat, who want to get things done. privately, they have expressed to me the recognition that the system in the senate had broken down. what used to be a sporadic
exercise of a filibuster had gotten completely out of hand. i believe -- i'm confident -- that spirit will have a little bit more space now. i want us to make sure we can do more work together to grow the economy and create jobs. if there are differences in the senate, then bates should be had. people should vote their conscience. i should vote -- vote on behalf of their constituents -- but they should vote. that is what they are there to do. ultimately, if you have a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass. americans work hard. they do their jobs. they expect the same from everyone. as long as i have the privilege of being in this office, i will keep working as hard as i know how to make sure that the economy is growing, we are creating new jobs and widening prosperity for everybody. i know that as with the majority of people in the senate believe as well that the gears of government have to work. the stuff the majority of the
senators said today i think will help make those gears work a little bit better. x very much, everybody. >> and now josh will answer all your questions. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> president obama speaking at the white house not long after the vote in the senate to change the rules on filibusters, at least when it comes to traditional and executive nominations. everything except supreme court nominations. 52-48, the vote in the senate today. in fact, they employed the new to lemonadeeeing the debate on one of the nominees, the district court of dc.als for washington we will open up our phone lines and hear from you your thoughts on what has to be considered a historic day for the senate at least with the change in the filibuster rules. to join in conversation, we just
by phone -- #c-spanchat on twitter. today ofage of the day the senate will continue in 10 minutes when we show you the opening statements by the democratic and republican leaders. a quick check of facebook and some of the many postings we have had this afternoon, your thoughts on the change and senate rules. cleveland says -- cairo's go to tyrone in -- north carolina.
what do you think about the change in the senate? caller: i am calling because i am glad to see this get changed. >> what do you think the resort -- the result will be? noter: the president has enabled to do anything because of the filibuster. i am glad to see it get changed. here is the webpage at fox news.com this evening. their headline says -- amelia ohio is next. glenn is on our republican line. hello. i think it ought to go back to the way it was and nobody should have a right to change the constitution unless the constitution does it itself. peopleck and tired of
monitoring -- honoring the constitution of the united states of america. not likenybody who do it, should leave the country and get the hell out of it. thank you. >> let's check on what some of the senators tweeted today. this is tom of new mexico who tweeted, " -- we go to kimberling city, missouri. go ahead. democratshinking the whenever they
pushed the obama health care through the senate. they were willing to use their power than as the majority. what i saw on c-span looked like it was not even a fair vote here now, they are wanting to do away with the filibuster, which will mean the opportunity to pass more things through without getting a proper report from the minority. that is my comment. >> mary is on our democrats line. good evening. caller: good evening. what choice and at what point did the senate majority have? if you look at what is going on in the house of representatives, john boehner will not bring those to the floor. the government is shut down. we are talking about benghazi.
this is ridiculous. the entire constitution, our -- inacy, has never been my lifetime. i am ashamed to be from this country. people from other countries laugh at us. it is laughable. i think they needed to do everything they could. i think there is a lot more they could do, like expel ted cruz from the senate for his conspiracy to shut down the government. at the u.s. capitol, the senate has gaveled out. they are done not only for the week but will be back december 9. ony tried to come to a close the defense authorization bill. they could not do that. could not reach a closure on that. that will continue when they returned december 9. here is richard in florida. a republican caller. >> yes. thank you for taking my call.
i am a republican. there are times when i agree with the democrats. there are times when i do not agree with republicans. what i do not agree with is that this country should be railroaded by the democratic party for the democratic party and everything should be done to their pleasure. if you do not like it, hit the highway. you know, there is no bipartisanship anymore. according to reid and pelosi and the president, if you do not let my way, get out. this is supposed to be a bipartisan government. all it is now is a dictatorship. harry reid is a dictator. >> a headline from the hill online, their headline says -- a picture of majority leader harry reid. tim is in montana. on the independent line. i am doing fine, thank you. i am watching the filibuster thing all morning. all afternoon.
seen such a power grab by democrats. they absolutely do not care. what ever they have to do. they did it with obamacare. they will do it with anything else they want. they will assume power. harry reid is nothing but a person who is a puppet of the president. he is not there to make congress function or function right. thank you for listening. >> seeing video of the president and his reaction after the vote today, we will show you some of all coming up in just a bit here on c-span. --cking twitter, #c-spanchat
kim is in indianapolis on our democrats line. are you there? caller: yes. thank you for c-span. senator reed. i think it was important to get the country to move forward. i think we have to support our president. we have had all types of obstacles, from conservative parties. forward and to move get this country moving. thank you. >> the wall street journal reports on some of the possible nominations that could come up.
the senate rule change -- of a nomination has been stalled. -- up on thext republican line in north carolina. go ahead. >> i feel like if they start changing the constitution, and all it basically means is that we are moving forward on socialism, and there is absolutely -- harry reid is absolutely the worst. absolutely wrong. everything about this is wrong. there is no reason to change the constitution. i am sorry. that is how i feel. they give. class keep in mind this was not a change in the constitution today. was a change in senate rules, a
52-48 vote to do so and a complex series of interesting votes, actually, this morning, that happened i want harry reid to change the filibuster. we need that. they can do it they want to do. smoke dope. i think they need to be sat down. >> north carolina, independence line. i have three comments. i would like to comment on the click you played on the president's speech today. he talked about the obstruction in congress, which he means the republicans when he says that.