Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks on the Schedule

“Last week was difficult for the entire Senate community. When cooperation is lacking, as it was last week, completing the business before this body becomes much more difficult.”

“This week, the Senate has just as much to achieve as it did last week.  And without collaboration we will face another daunting vote schedule. But I am optimistic the same spirit of cooperation that made tonight’s votes possible will last all week.”

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the week’s schedule for considering nominations, the National Defense Authorization Act and the budget agreement passed by the House.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Last week was difficult for the entire Senate community. When cooperation is lacking, as it was last week, completing the business before this body becomes much more difficult.

Last week the Senate confirmed four district court judges, two D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges, an Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner, a secretary of the Air Force, a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board member and a deputy secretary of state. Although we accomplished a great deal, the process was neither easy nor pleasant.

This week, the Senate has just as much to achieve as it did last week.  And without collaboration we will face another daunting vote schedule. But I am optimistic the same spirit of cooperation that made tonight’s votes possible will last all week.

Tonight the Senate will vote on Anne Patterson’s nomination to be Assistant Secretary of State. We will also vote on cloture on the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. If cloture is invoked, this body will immediately vote on Mr. Johnson’s confirmation.

As General Counsel of the Defense Department from 2009 to 2012, Mr. Johnson has served as the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world. He oversaw the work of more than 10,000 military and civilian lawyers.   Prior to his work at the Defense Department, Mr. Johnson served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and spent nearly two decades in private legal practice. He is eminently qualified, and we all look forward to his confirmation.

Tomorrow the Senate will begin consideration of the budget measure passed by the House last week. Although neither side got everything it wanted from this agreement, this legislation should help break a terrible cycle of governing by crisis. And it rolls back the painful and arbitrary cuts of the sequester, protects Social Security and Medicare benefits and will help prevent another dangerous government shutdown in the New Year.

On Wednesday the Senate will turn to the Defense Authorization measure, crucial legislation that safeguards our nation, ensures our troops have the resources and training they need, and provides for the military families who support our fighting men and women.

The Senate must also confirm Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, Alejandro Mayorkas to be Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and John Koskinen to lead the Internal Revenue Service. The nominations of Judge Robert Wilkins’ to be a member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and of Brian Davis of Florida to be a district court judge are also priorities.  Mr. Davis’ nomination has been pending for two years. The Senate must also move quickly to confirm Sarah Sewall as under secretary of state, Jessica Wright to be under secretary for readiness at the Defense Department, Sarah Bloom Raskin to be the second in command at the Treasury Department, Mike Connor to be second in command at the Interior Department, Sloane Gibson to be deputy at the Veterans Affairs Department and Rick Engler to the Chemical Safety Board.

Christmas is one week from Wednesday. We have much to do.