Senate Democrats

Sessions objects to S.Res.404, Cesar Estrada Chavez

Senator Menendez asked unanimous consent the Judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of S.Res.404, honoring the accomplishments and legacy of Cesar Estrada Chavez.

 

Senator Sessions asked to modify the request with a Vitter amendment at the desk. Senator Menendez did not accept the request to modify and Senator Sessions objected to the original request.

 

The unofficial transcript of the exchange is below.

 

MR. MENENDEZ: MR. PRESIDENT, I SHORTLY AM GOING TO MAKE A

UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST ON S.RES.404, A RESOLUTION THAT I

INTRODUCED HONORING THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF CESAR CHAVEZ. THIS

RESOLUTION HAS BEEN BLOCKED BY MY COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE

OF THE AISLE EVERY TIME IT HAS COME UP FOR THE LAST SEVEN

CONSECUTIVE YEARS. EVERY TIME. EVERY TIME. NOW, TODAY, ON WHAT

WOULD HAVE BEEN CESAR CHAVEZ’S.87th BIRTHDAY, I ASK MY

REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES TO FIND IT IN THEIR HEARTS TO HONOR A MAN

WHO REALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR COUNTRY. FRANKLY, I DON’T

UNDERSTAND THEIR RELUCTANCE. I DON’T UNDERSTAND THEIR

OBSTRUCTIONISM. I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THEY CAN LOOK BACK AT

THAT TIME IN HISTORY, AT THE SACRIFICES CESAR CHAVEZ MADE FOR

OUR COUNTRY, ASKING FOR NOTHING MORE THAN FAIR TREATMENT AND

JUSTICE. NOW, I REALIZE IT’S UNCOMMON TO MAKE A LIVE UNANIMOUS

CONSENT REQUEST FOR A COMMEMORATIVE RESOLUTION, BUT IF

REPUBLICANS ARE GOING TO OBJECT YET AGAIN FOR AN EIGHTH YEAR IN

A ROW TO HONORING A — IN MY VIEW, A GREAT AMERICAN HERO, I

REALLY WANT IT TO BE ON THE RECORD. I THINK REPUBLICANS NEED TO

ANSWER TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AS TO WHY AS A PARTY THEY CAN

AGREE TO PASSING RESOLUTIONS HONORING WORLD PLUMBING DAY OR

CONGRATULATING THE PENN STATE DANCE MARATHON — BOTH SENATE

RESOLUTIONS THAT WERE ADOPTED THIS MONTH BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT

— BUT INSIST ON STANDING IN THE WAY OF HONORING A CIVIL RIGHTS

TRAIL BLAZER WHO CHANGED THE COURSE OF OUR NATION’S HISTORY.

CESAR CHAVEZ WAS A MAN BEFORE HIS TIME AND HE DESERVES PROPER

RECOGNITION. HE DEDICATED HIS LIFE TO FIGHTING FOR EQUALITY,

JUSTICE AND DIGNITY. NOT ONLY FOR HISPANIC FARM WORKERS BUT FOR

ALL WORKERS IN THE UNITED STATES. YET OUR FRIENDS ON THE OTHER

SIDE CANNOT FIND IT IN THEIR HEARTS TO HONOR HIM, AND I HAVE TO

ASK WHY. WHY CAN’T THEY SIMPLY SAY “YES”?

IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN WHO GAVE OF HIMSELF FOR HIS CAUSE

AND DESERVES TO BE REMEMBERED AND HONORED BY THE UNITED STATES

SENATE. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES PROCLAIMED TODAY,

MARCH 31, 2014, AS CESAR CHAVEZ DAY. OVER TEN STATES HONOR HIS

LIFE AND LEGACY EACH YEAR ON THIS DAY. THE SECRETARY OF THE

INTERIOR ESTABLISHED A NATIONAL MONUMENT IN HIS HONOR. AND

ACROSS THE COUNTRY, YOU’LL FIND SCHOOLS AND PARKS, STREETS,

LIBRARIES AND OTHER PUBLIC FACILITIES NAMED AFTER CESAR CHAVEZ

AS WELL. SO I IMPLORE SENATE REPUBLICANS TO RECONSIDER DENYING

CESAR CHAVEZ’S LEGACY FOR AN EIGHTH YEAR IN A ROW. ADOPT THIS

COMMEMORATIVE RESOLUTION BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT. GIVE CESAR

CHAVEZ THE RECOGNITION HE SO DESERVES. THAT’S ALL WE ASK.

NOTHING MORE. THIS YEAR, THERE IS A NEW MOVIE CHRONICLING THE

LIFE OF CESAR CHAVEZ, A LIFE LIVED WITH HONOR AND DIGNITY AND

DECENCY FOR THE BETTERMENT OF ALL OF US. THE FILM IS LONG

OVERDEUVMENT THAT LIFE, THAT DEDICATION, THAT SPIRIT WILL

ALWAYS BE MISSED. HE WAS BORN NEAR HIS FAMILY’S FARM IN YUMA,

ARIZONA. WHEN HE WAS 10 IN THE HARD TIMES OF THE DEPRESSION,

THE FAMILY LOST THEIR FARM, LIKE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS, AND

THEY BECAME MIGRANT FARM WORKERS, LABORING IN VINEYARDS ACROSS

THE SOUTHWEST, WHERE HE LEARNED OF THE INJUSTICE AND HARDSHIP

OF A FARM WORKER’S LIFE. HE NEVER LEFT THOSE FIELDS. HE NEVER

LEFT THE LAND. HE NEVER TURNED HIS BACK ON THE PEOPLE WHO

WORKED IT AND THE REST IS HISTORY. ROBERT KENNEDY CALLED HIM

ONE OF THE MOST HEROIC FIGURES OF OUR TIME. I THINK IT’S

BECAUSE CESAR CHAVEZ UNDERSTOOD AND BELIEVED IN ONE FUNDAMENTAL

TRUTH. HE ALWAYS SAID — QUOTE — “THE FIGHT IS NEVER ABOUT

GRAPES OR LETTUCE. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT PEOPLE.” HE WAS RIGHT AND

THAT FIGHT CONTINUES TODAY. THE STRUGGLE FOR FAIRNESS AND

DIGNITY FOR EVERY AMERICAN GOES ON AND CESAR CHAVEZ WAS AND IS

ITS INSPIRATION. HE CERTAINLY IS AN AMERICAN HERO BUT MOST

DEFINITELY A HERO TO THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY. HE PAVED THE WAY

FOR THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF HISPANIC-AMERICANS, FOR INNOVATIVE AND

SOCIAL IMPROVEMENTS. IF THERE’S ONE MAN THAT REDEFINED

LEADERSHIP, IT IS CESAR CHAVEZ. AND I THINK MY COLLEAGUES NEED

TO KNOW THAT THE COMMUNITY STANDS WITH ME TODAY AND STANDS

FIRMLY BEHIND MY RESOLUTION HONORING THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF

CESAR CHAVEZ. MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE A LIST AND IN THE INTEREST

OF TIME I WON’T READ IT BUT OF OVER 29 NATIONAL AND ACTUALLY 37

NATIONAL HISPANIC AND LABOR ORGANIZATIONS ALL WHICH SUPPORT THE

RESOLUTION THAT I’D ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO INCLUDE IN THE

RECORD.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

MR. MENENDEZ: WE ALL EAGERLY AAWAIT THE DAY WHEN POLITICS WILL

NO LONGER PRECLUDE ITS PASSAGE. CESAR CHAVEZ’S PROFOUND LEGACY

AND LASTING LEGACY CAN BE REDUCED TO THREE WORDS — THEY ECHO

FROM THE FIELDS OF DELANO, CALIFORNIA, ACROSS AMERICA ALL THE

WAY TO THE WITHOUT. CE SE QUEDA. THESE THREE WORDS, WHILE

SIMPLE IN NATURE, HARBORED THE POWER OF COMMUNITIES TO MOVE

FROM DARKNESS TO A BRIGHTER LIGHT OF HOPES. THESE THREE WORDS

REPRESENTED AS THE VERY CORE OF SPIRIT THAT BREATHES LIFE INTO

AMERICA’S STRUGGLE FOR A BETTER LIFE. AS THE LEADER OF THE

FIRST SUCCESSFUL FARM WORKER’S UNION IN THE UNITED STATES, HE

FOUGHT TO ENSURE THOSE WORKING TIRELESSLY TO PROVIDE AMERICANS

WITH FOOD RECEIVED THE BENEFITS THEY DESERVED. NONETHELESS, HIS

SERVICE EXTENDS FAR BEYOND OUR AGRICULTURAL FIELDS AND PROVIDES

INSPIRATIONS TO THOSE WORKING TO IMPROVE HUMAN RIGHTS,

EMPOWERING WORKERS, REGARDLESS OF RACE OR ETHNICITY. HIS

COUNTLESS EFFORTS TO ENSURE EQUALITY, JUSTICE AND DIGNITY FOR

ALL PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES ARE A TESTAMENT OF HIS

LEADERSHIP AND SUCCESS, A SUCCESS THAT CAN ONLY BE MEASURED BY

THE LASTING IMPACT HE’S MADE TOWARD ENDING WORKPLACE

DISCRIMINATION, UNSAFE AND UNFAIR WORKING CONDITIONS, LOW

WAGES, AND CHILD LABOR. HE WAS MORE THAN JUST A FARMER WITH A

VISION. HE WAS A CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER THAT EMBODIED THE PURSUIT

OF JUSTICE THAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS

TODAY. SO I COME TO THE FLOOR TODAY TO HONOR THE LIFE AND

ACHIEVEMENTS OF CESAR CHAVEZ, TO ASK MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES

TO PUT ASIDE THEIR POLITICS AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT BY A MAN WHOSE

LIFE AND LEGACY DESERVE THE RECOGNITION OF THIS NATION, ONE

NATION, AND ONE CONGRESS. LET US STAND TOGETHER AND RECOGNIZE

THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF A GREAT AMERICAN HERO, BUT MOST

IMPORTANTLY, LET US HONOR THE VALUES THAT MAKE OUR COUNTRY

GREAT, THE VALUES OF TOLERANCE, HOPE AND FREEDOM UPON WHICH

THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED. LET US ALWAYS REMEMBER, AS CHAVEZ

SAID, THE FIGHT IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE PEOPLE. WITH THAT, MR.

PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

BE DISCHARGED FROM FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF S.RES.404, THE

RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, AND THE

MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE LAID UPON THE TABLE WITH NO INTERVENING

ACTION OR DEBATE.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION?

 

MR. SESSIONS: MR. PRESIDENT?

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM ALABAMA.

MR. SESSIONS: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT. I WOULD NOTE THAT

THE RESOLUTION HAS NOT COME OUT OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND

THAT SENATOR VITTER, WHO HAS FILED AN AMENDMENT TO THE

RESOLUTION, ASKS THAT THAT AMENDMENT BE ACCEPTED OR VOTED ON,

WHICH HAS BEEN NOT AGREED TO. THE AMENDMENT WOULD SAY A COUPLE

OF THINGS. ONE, WHEREAS CESAR ESTRADA CHAVEZ STRONGLY BELIEVED

IN ENFORCING IMMIGRATION LAWS, THEREBY REDUCING THE DELETERIOUS

EFFECTS OF INEXPENSIVE LABOR ON THE WAGES OF FARM WORKERS IN

THE UNITED STATES AND WHICH WAS RECOGNIZED BY THE CONGRESSIONAL

BUDGET OFFICE IN JUNE OF 2013 IN THEIR REPORT ENTITLED

“ECONOMIC IMPACT OF S.744, THE BORDER SECURITY AND ECONOMIC

OPPORTUNITY AND MODERNIZATION ACT.” AND HE OFFERS THIS

“WHEREAS,” A SECOND ONE. “WHEREAS, CESAR ESTRADA CHAVEZ

RECOGNIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF A SECURE SOUTHERN BORDER WITH

MEXICO THROUGH CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF

IMMIGRATION LAWS BY ENCOURAGING MEMBERS OF THE UNITED FARM

WORKERS OF AMERICA TO CONTACT THE IMMIGRATION AND

SO THOSE WERE — THAT NOT HAVING BEEN ACCEPTED, I GUESS I WOULD

ASK THAT THAT WOULD BE ACCEPTED. IT’S AT THE DESK, BE AGREED TO

PRIOR TO THE ADOPTION OF THIS RESOLUTION. WELL, MR. PRESIDENT

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: DOES THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY SO

MODIFIED HIS REQUEST.

MR. MENENDEZ: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT, MR. PRESIDENT,

THIS IS NOT ABOUT CESAR CHAVEZ. THIS IS ABOUT IMMIGRATION. NOW,

I KNOW THAT MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE HAS A DIFFERENT VIEW

ABOUT IMMIGRATION THAN I DO. I KNOW THAT HE AND SENATOR VITTER,

ON WHO HE’S OFFERING THIS AMENDMENT BY, ALSO HAS A DIFFERENT

VIEW. THE SENATE HAS SPOKEN ON THE QUESTION OF IMMIGRATION. 67

SENATORS, TWO-THIRDS OF THE SENATE, HAS ALREADY SENT AN

IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. SO

WHILE WE MAY HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS, THAT’S NOT THE ISSUE OF

CESAR CHAVEZ. AND IN MY VIEW, IT IS AN INJUSTICE TO HIS MEMORY

TO OFFER SUCH AN AMENDMENT, AND THAT’S WHY I WILL HAVE TO

OBJECT. MR. SESSIONS: MR. PRESIDENT?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION TO THE ORIGINAL

REQUEST?

MR. SESSIONS: I WOULD OBJECT AND WOULD JUST NOTE THAT I DO HAVE

A DIFFERENT VIEW, AND ON THESE ISSUES WITH REGARD TO THE IMPACT

OF S.744, HAD IT PASSED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ADVERSE TO FARM

WORKERS WHO ARE IN THIS COUNTRY WORKING HARD, KNEES PAY RAISES,

AND NEED BETTER JOB OPPORTUNITIES, AND I THINK THESE ARE

IMPORTANT PARTS OF MR. CHAFF HE IS’S CAREER $CHAVEZ’S CAREER.

IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE SENATE WOULD BE PLEASED TO ACCEPT THEM.

I UNDERSTAND WE HAVE A DISAGREEMENT, AND I WOULD YIELD THE

FLOOR AND EXPRESS MY RESPECT FOR SENATOR MENENDEZ AND HIS

LEADERSHIP ON THE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, BUT WE DISAGREE

ON THIS SUBJECT.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: OBJECTION IS HEARD. MR. MENENDEZ: MR.

PRESIDENT?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

MR. MENENDEZ: MR. PRESIDENT, YOU KNOW, I HAVE DEEP RESPECT FOR

SENATOR SESSIONS, BUT I’LL JUST SIMPLY SAY, THIS IS THE EIGHTH

YEAR — THE EIGHTH YEAR — IN WHICH UNDER SOME FIG LEAF —

BEFORE THEY COULD HIDE THROUGH THEIR OBJECTION. THIS IS REALLY

A FIG LEAF. THE SENATE HAS EXPRESSED ITSELF ON IMMIGRATION

REFORM. THIS IS NOT ABOUT IMMIGRATION REFORM. THIS IS ABOUT

CESAR CHAVEZ. THIS IS ABOUT A MAN THAT LED BOYCOTTS ACROSS THE

COUNTRY TO BRING TO JUSTICE THE RIGHTS OF FARM WORKERS AND ALL

WORKERS ACROSS THE LAND. AND THERE IS NO BIGGER SUPPORTER BY

THE WAY OF IMMIGRATION REFORM THAN THE UNITED FARM WORKERS,

WHICH HE HELPED BUILD, CREATE, AND TODAY IS ONE OF THE

STRONGEST VOICES FOR THAT IMMIGRATION REFORM. SO IT’S REALLY

SHAMEFUL THAT WE CAN PASS, YOU KNOW, COMMEMORATIVE RESOLUTIONS

ON SOME OF THE MOST INSIGNIFICANT ISSUES, BUT ON THE LIFE OF

SOMEONE WHO CHANGED THE COURSE OF THIS COUNTRY FOR MILLIONS OF

LATINOS WHO UNDERSTAND THAT LIFE AND HISTORY AND WOULD WANT TO

SEE THAT LIFE COMMEMORATED THAT THERE CAN BE A CONTINUING

OBJECTION EIGHT YEARS, AND I WILL KEEP COMING EACH YEAR TO THE

FLOOR, MR. PRESIDENT, TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, BECAUSE AT SOME

POINT IT WILL. AND WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

Bookmark and Share