Senate Democrats

nominations confirmed; objections to consents with respect to H.R.4660, CJS Approps; now on the mtp to S.2363, Sportsman Act

The Aguilar nomination was confirmed by a vote of 54-38. The following nominations were confirmed by voice vote:

–          Executive Calendar #538 Brian A. Nichols, of Rhode Island, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Peru

–          Executive Calendar #766  J. Mark McWatters, of Texas, to be a Member of the National Credit Union Administration Board for a term expiring August 2, 2019, and

–          Executive Calendar #712 Christine E. Wormuth, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

 

This afternoon, Senator Reid asked the following consent with respect to H.R.4660, the vehicle for the CJS, THUD, and Agriculture Appropriations bill.

 

Senator Reid asked unanimous consent that the post-cloture time on the motion to proceed be considered expired, that the Senate proceed to vote on adoption of the motion to proceed and if the motion is agreed to, Senator Mikulski, or her designee, be recognized to offer the substitute amendment #3244, which consists of:

–          the text of Calendar #411, S.2437, as Division A (Senate-reported CJS Appropriations bill),

–          the text of Calendar #412, S.2438, as Division B (Senate-reported THUD Appropriations bill), and

–          the text of Calendar #390, S.2389, as Division C (Senate-reported Agriculture Appropriations bill);

further, that for the consideration of Division B, Calendar #430, H.R.4745 (House-passed THUD Appropriations bill), and for the consideration of Division C, H.R.4800, as reported by the House Committee on Appropriations (Agriculture bill), be deemed House-passed text in H.R.4660 for purposes of rule 16 and that the substitute amendment offered by Senator Mikulski, or her designee, be considered a committee amendment for the purposes of paragraph 1 of rule 16 and all amendments or motions to commit be subject to a 60 affirmative vote threshold.

 

Senator McConnell asked to modify the request by eliminating the 60 affirmative vote threshold.  Senator Reid did not agree to the modification and Senator McConnell objected to Senator Reid’s original request.

 

The unofficial transcript of their remarks is below.

 

Following their remarks, the Senate adopted the motion to proceed to H.R.4660, the CJS Appropriations bill and then Senator Reid moved to proceed to Calendar #384, S.2363, a bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting, and for other purposes.

 

14:17:13 NSP} (MR. REID) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. REID: SORRY ABOUT THAT. MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS

CONSENT THAT POSTCLOTURE TIME ON THE MOTION TO PROCEED BE

CONSIDERED EXPIRED, THE SENATE PROCEED TO VOTE ON ADOPTION OF

THE MOTION TO PROCEED, THAT IF A MOTION IS AGREED TO SENATOR

MIKULSKI OR HER DESIGNEE BE RECOGNIZED TO OFFER A SUBSTITUTE

AMENDMENT NUMBER 3244 WHICH CONSISTS OF THE TEXT OF — MR.

PRESIDENT, WE NEED TO HAVE ORDER.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATE WILL BE IN ORDER. PLEASE TAKE

YOUR CONVERSATIONS OUT OF THE WELL.

 

MR. REID: BE RECOGNIZED TO OFFER THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT 3244

WHICH CONSISTS OF TEXT OF S.2437 CALENDAR NUMBER 411. AS

DIVISION A, CALENDAR NUMBER 412 AS DIVISION B AND THE TEXT OF

S.2389 CALENDAR NUMBER 390 AS DIVISION C PROVIDED FURTHER THAT

THE DIVISION OF CONSIDERATION BA-3745 AND DIVISION C AS

REPORTED BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS BE DEEMED

HOUSE PASSED TEXT AND H.R.4660 FOR PURPOSES OF RULE 16.

FURTHER THAT THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT OFFERED BY SENATOR

MIKULSKI OR HER DESIGNEE BE CONSIDERED A COMMITTEE AMENDMENT

FOR PURPOSES OF PARAGRAPH 1 UNDER RULE 16. FURTHER ALL

AMENDMENTS OR MOTIONS TO COMMIT BE SUBJECT TO A 60 VOTE

AFFIRMATIVE THRESHOLD. MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME — BEFORE YOU CALL

FOR APPROVAL OF THIS CONSENT, LET ME SAY A FEW WORDS SO

EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS ALL THIS PROCEDURAL STUFF. IT’S A FAIRLY

SIMPLE MATTER. IT’S TAKEN US — MR. PRESIDENT —

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATE WILL BE IN ORDER. IF YOU

COULD PLEASE TAKE ALL YOUR CONVERSATIONS OUT OF THE WELL. THE

MAJORITY LEADER.

MR. REID: SORRY, BUT IT’S TERRIBLY DISTRACTING TO HAVE

CONVERSATIONS GOING ON BEHIND YOU. OR AT LEAST IT IS FOR ME.

MR. PRESIDENT, WE’VE WAITED ALL WEEK TO GET A SIMPLE AGREEMENT

TO MOVE FORWARD ON APPROPRIATIONS BILLS THE WAY WE’VE ALWAYS

DONE IT. AND IF IT HAD BEEN JUST ONE APPROPRIATIONS BILL, WE

WOULDN’T NEED CONSENT. BUT WE PUT THREE OF THEM TOGETHER, AND

THAT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT WE

SPEND ALL WEEK DOING SO MUCH OF THE TIME NOTHING. SADLY, I’M

SORRY THAT’S THE NORM AROUND HERE. FOR EVERY SINGLE MATTER,

EVEN WILDLY POPULAR MATTERS LIKE AN APPROPRIATIONS BILL,

REQUIRES THE FULL PLAY OF THE CLOTURE RULE TO ADVANCE. THIS HAS

BEEN SO EVEN THOUGH ON TUESDAY WHEN CLOTURE WAS INVOKED ON

PROCEEDING, 95 SENATORS VOTED TO GET ON THE BILL. ONLY 3 VOTED

AGAINST IT. SENATORS ON BOTH SIDES SAID THEY WANT TO HAVE

AMENDMENTS, AND WE SHOULD HAVE AMENDMENT VOTES. AND I’M WILLING

TO HAVE AMENDMENT VOTES ON THIS AND OTHER THINGS, BUT LET’S

TALK ABOUT THIS TODAY. AND I WANT TO HAVE VOTES ON THE

CONDITIONS THAT SENATOR McCONNELL HAS SO FREQUENTLY STATED,

60-VOTE THRESHOLD. THE IDEA OF A 60-VOTE THRESHOLD WILL NOT

COME AS A SURPRISE TO ANYONE IN THIS CHAMBER, I DON’T THINK,

BECAUSE I’D LIKE TO TAKE JUST A MINUTE RESPONDING — I’M SORRY

— OUTLINING TO YOU DIRECT QUOTES FROM MY FRIEND, THE

REPUBLICAN LEADER. HERE’S ONE, “LOOK WE KNOW ON CONFIDENTIAL

MATTERS IN THE SENATE IT HAS FOR QUITE SOME TIME REQUIRED 60

VOTES.” NUMBER TWO, HE SAID REQUIRING 60 VOTES PARTICULARLY ON

MATTERS OF IMPORTANCE IS NOT AT ALL UNUSUAL. IT’S THE WAY THE

SENATE OPERATES.

THE NEXT QUOTE: MATTERS OF THIS LEVEL OF CONTROVERSY REQUIRES

60 VOTES. SO I WOULD ASK MY FRIEND — REFERRING TO ME — IF HE

WOULD MODIFY HIS CONSENT REQUEST TO SET THE THRESHOLD FOR THIS

VOTE AT 60. AGAIN, HE SAID — AND I QUOTE — “FOR HIM TO

SUGGEST THAT A MATTER OF THIS MAGNITUDE IN A BODY OF 60 VOTES

FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE DONE WITH 51 VOTES MAKES

NO SENSE AT ALL.” AND HE SAID, “SO IT IS NOT AT ALL UNUSUAL

THAT THE PRESIDENT’S PROPOSAL OF THIS CONSEQUENCE WOULD HAVE TO ACHIEVE 60 VOTES?

THAT IS THE WAY VIRTUALLY ALL BUSINESS IS DONE IN THE SENATE.

CERTAINLY NOT EXTRAORDINARILY UNUSUAL.” FINALLY HE SAID “MR.

PRESIDENT, I CAN ONLY QUOTE MY GOOD FRIEND” AGAIN REFERRING TO

ME “WHO REPEATEDLY SAID MOST RECENTLY IN THE SENATE HAS BEEN

THE CASE WE REQUIRE 60 VOTES. IT REQUIRES 60 VOTES CERTAINLY ON

MEASURES THAT ARE CONTROVERSIAL.” LET’S JUST MAKE THIS PRETTY

SIMPLE. WE’RE GOING TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO OFFER GERMANE

AMENDMENTS AND WE WILL FOLLOW THE McCONNELL RULE AND HAVE 60

VOTES ON THEM. IT SEEMS FAIR. THAT’S MY CONSENT REQUEST. I

WOULD ASK THAT IT BE APPROVED.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION TO THE REQUEST?

 

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

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE REPUBLICAN LEADER.

MR. McCONNELL: WHAT I THINK I HEAR THE MAJORITY LEADER SAYING

IS THAT ANY AMENDMENT OFFERED BY ANY REPUBLICAN IS

CONTROVERSIAL AND, THUS, MUST REQUIRE 60 VOTES. IT WAS MY HOPE

WE COULD GET FORWARD ON THIS APPROPRIATIONS BILL WITH A FULL

AND OPEN AMENDMENT PROCESS AND A REASONABLE NUMBER OF

AMENDMENTS FROM BOTH SIDES. THE ONLY RESTRICTIONS ON AMENDMENTS

TO THIS BILL ARE THOSE IN THE STAND RULES OF THE SENATE WHICH

CREATE A REQUIREMENT THAT THE AMENDMENTS DEAL WITH

APPROPRIATIONS MATTER OR IF LEGISLATIVE IN NATURE, HAVE A

DEFENSE OF GERMANENESS TO ONE OF THE UNDERLYING HOUSE

APPROPRIATIONS BILL. CHAIRMAN MIKULSKI HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO

TRY TO GET US BACK TO REGULAR ORDER IN CONSIDERING

APPROPRIATIONS BILL. IN 2011, JUST A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, WE

CONSIDERED THIS SAME APPROPRIATION PACKAGE, THE VERY ONE THAT

WE’RE CONSIDERING NOW, UNDER THE REGULAR ORDER, AND ALL

SENATORS, DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN, WERE TREATED FAIRLY. JUST

THREE YEARS AGO. TODAY’S SENATE IS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT PLACE. A

TOTALLY DIFFERENT PLACE. THE MAJORITY LEADER HAS BLOCKED ALL

BUT NINE ROLL CALL VOTES ON REPUBLICAN AMENDMENTS SINCE JULY OF

LAST YEAR. THAT’S ABOUT A YEAR AGO. ALL BUT NINE REPUBLICAN

ROLL CALL VOTES. BY CONTRAST, DURING THAT SAME PERIOD, HOUSE

DEMOCRATS GOT 153 AMENDMENTS ROLL CALL VOTES OVER THAT SAME

PERIOD OF TIME. THAT’S IN THE HOUSE WHERE YOU WOULD THINK IT

WOULD BE HARD FOR THE MINORITY TO GET AMENDMENTS. IN FACT, ONE

MEMBER OF CONGRESS, SHEILA JACKSON LEE FROM HOUSTON, HAS HAD 15

AMENDMENTS HERSELF. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE HAS HAD MORE VOTES OVER

THE LAST YEAR TH SENATE REPUBLICANS. IN FACT, THE HOUSE SEEMS

TO HAVE TURNED INTO THE SENATE, AND THE SENATE SEEMS TO HAVE

TURNED INTO THE HOUSE. NOW THE GAG RULE, AS WAS POINTED OUT BY

SENATOR ALEXANDER AND OTHERS THIS MORNING, IN AN APPROPRIATION

MEETING SEEMS TO NOW APPLY TO COMMITTEE MEETINGS AS WELL. SO

NOT ONLY DO WE NOT GET VOTES ON THE FLOOR, WE DON’T GET VOTES

IN COMMITTEE EITHER. SO THEY CANCELED THE SCHEDULED MARKUP ON

THE ENERGY AND WATER BILL, I ASSUME OUT OF CONCERN THAT SOME

REPUBLICAN AMENDMENT MIGHT, MY GOODNESS, ACTUALLY PASS WITH

DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT. SO WE’RE BEING SHUT OUT OF AMENDMENTS IN

COMMITTEE AS WELL AS ON THE FLOOR. WHEN DO WE START LEGISLATING AGAIN?

WHAT’S HAPPENED TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE?

THEREFORE, I WOULD ASK CONSENT THAT THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT BY

THE MAJORITY LEADER BE MODIFIED SO THAT ALL AMENDMENTS BE

CONSIDERED UNDER THE REGULAR ORDER. CHAIRMAN MIKULSKI AND

RANKING MEMBER SHELBY, AND MOVE THIS BILL ACROSS THE FLOOR IN A

BIPARTISAN MANNER EXACTLY LIKE WE DID IT ON THE VERY SAME BILL

BACK IN 2011.

MR. REID: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: DOES THE MAJORITY LEADER SO MODIFY HIS

REQUEST?

MR. REID: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT, MR. PRESIDENT. MY

FRIEND, THE REPUBLICAN LEADER, IS OBVIOUSLY NOT IN CONTACT WITH

WHAT’S GOING ON AROUND HERE. THIS DOESN’T APPLY TO REPUBLICAN

AMENDMENTS. IT APPLIES TO REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRATIC AMENDMENTS.

AS ALL HIS REQUESTS WHICH ARE IN THE RECORD AND I READ. A

REASONABLE NUMBER OF AMENDMENTS HE WANTS, FINE. THAT’S WHAT WE

WANT TO DO. WE WANT TO HAVE A REASONABLE NUMBER OF AMENDMENTS

ON THIS BILL AND MOVE IT FORWARD. IT’S IMPORTANT WE GET THIS

DONE. NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, I’VE SERVED IN THE HOUSE OF

REPRESENTATIVES. AND NOT WITHOUT GOING INTO A LOT OF DETAIL

HERE, AS THE PRESIDING OFFICER HAS SERVED IN THE HOUSE OF

REPRESENTATIVES, THE RULES THERE ARE TOTALLY DIFFERENT. OF

COURSE THERE ARE A LOT OF VOTES BECAUSE EVERY VOTE IS

PREDETERMINED IN THE HOUSE WITH RARE EXCEPTION, BECAUSE THEY

HAVE A RULES COMMITTEE THAT SETS THE BOUNDARIES OF WHAT

HAPPENS. AND SO OVER IN THE HOUSE THE MAJORITY NEVER LOSES.

HERE, MR. PRESIDENT, THE SENATE IS THE WAY IT IS. WE’RE WILLING

TO DO VOTES AS THE REPUBLICAN LEADER HAS STATED TIME AND TIME

AGAIN WE SHOULD DO IT. I DISAGREED. BUT AS HE HAS SAID, THIS IS

THE WAY THE SENATE OPERATES NOW. I WISH IT DIDN’T, BUT IT DOES.

AND THAT’S THE WAY WE SHOULD PROCEED. I’M WILLING TO MOVE

FORWARD ON THIS BILL. WE SHOULD HAVE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD, AND I

THINK THAT WOULD THAT WOULD BE THE APPROPRIATE THING TO DO.

THEREFORE, I OBJECT.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: OBJECTION IS HEARD. IS THERE OBJECTION

TO THE ORIGINAL REQUEST?

MR. McCONNELL: I OBJECT.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: OBJECTION IS HEARD.

MR. REID: MR. PRESIDENT, I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM. MR.

McCONNELL: MR. PRESIDENT?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL.

QUORUM CALL:

MR. McCONNELL: MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK CONSENT THAT THE QUORUM

CALL BE DISPENSED WITH.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE REPUBLICAN

LEADER.

MR. McCONNELL: MY FRIEND THE MAJORITY LEADER ALWAYS REMINDS ME

HE GETS LAST WORD AND I’M SURE HE’LL HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY

FURTHER. LET ME SAY DURING THIS LAST PERIOD GOING BACK TO LAST

JULY SENATE DEMOCRATS HAVE HAD SEVEN ROLL CALL VOTES.

CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON-LEE IN THE MINORITY IN THE HOUSE

HAS HAD 15 ROLL CALL VOTES OVER THE LAST YEAR. I YIELD THE

FLOOR.

MR. REID: THE HOUSE IS DIFFERENT THAN THE SENATE, MR.

PRESIDENT. THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. WE COULD HAVE ON

THIS BILL A LOT MORE THAN SEVEN VOTES. SO WE SHOULD DO THAT. I

WOULD NOW NOTE — IT’S MY UNDERSTANDING, MR. PRESIDENT, WOULD

THE CHAIR STATE THE BUSINESS THAT’S BEFORE THIS BODY.

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