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tv   Senate Rules Change Paves Way for Neil Gorsuchs Confirmation  CSPAN  April 6, 2017 5:52pm-7:08pm EDT

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him and his qualifications and i have been watching speeches all week and even headed to the committee hearing so much had been said about him. this is a mainstream candidate. this is a mainstream judge, someone who has voted with the majority 99% of the time. someone who 97% of the time in 2,700. he believes the constitution should be interpreted for its original intent, but he is not outside the mainstream and he is certainly qualified. it's interesting that you see a broad array of individuals come forward to talk about his qualifications. i thought it was interesting that there was no coherent reason to oppose him. there were a lot of opinions on the floor that he would not commit to certain decisions that they would like to see him make.
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that would be true of virtually everyone who was a nominee over the last quarter century. this is a nominee reflective of the president's party and that is what elections are about and the people that president obama pientd. -- there has been tremendous consternation about the change that would no longer require 60 votes to end debate. i think a lot of people have a misunderstanding of how we got here. i think it is important for the people of florida to know how i approached it. it is the no something that i am excited or happy about. i would say that is the sentiment of most of the people here in the senate and yet it happened anyway. i saw an editorial cartoon, and it had a picture of both sides
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saying this is terrible but we're going to do it anyway. the senate is unique. there is no other legislative body in the world like it. unlike most legislative institutions it does not function by majority rule. it actually requires supermajorities to move forward. that was by design. it was not an accident. the people, founders, framers, they had a branch of the legislation that would be representative of the people, represent districts, have two-year terms and then they had another chamber which is different in nature. amount the time the u.s. senate was designed, first of all, to represent the states. the house was the people's house, the senate was a place where the states were represented and they wanted another branch that was immune. they wanted a place where things would slow down, take a deep breath and make sure we're doing the right thing. it's a wise course.
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so republic isn't perfect, but it has survived for over two centuries and in the process gave us the most dynamic, vibrant and most exceptional nation in all of human history. while not perfect, the senate has been a big part of that endeavor. by the way, at the time the senators were elected by the legislature, not the people. that changed. that's the way it was. that said it was unique because it had unlimited debate. when a senator wanted to speak, he could debate as long as he wanted. at some point that began to get abused and then they required a rule that required a supermajority and that was further watered down and then we arrived here to the last four years. basically what happens now as a result of the procedure undertaken on the floor first by senator reid when he was the majority leader and now by the majority leader today is that on
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what's called the executive calendar, nominations, the cabinet for ambassadors, subcabinets, and now the supreme court, there are two ways to stop a debate. number one, by unanimous consent everybody agrees to it or, number two, there are 51 votes, the majority vote. i think that's problematic in the long term. not because of judge gorsuch who i believe in any other era or in any other time would not have just gotten 60 votes or unanimous consent to stop debate, i think he would have gotten maybe 60 or 70 votes to be on the court. i think it's problematic because we don't know who will be the president in 15 years nor the tate of our country. yet, by a simple majority without talking to a single person or getting a single vote from the other party or other point of view, we -- they are going to be able to nominate and confirm and place on the bench of the supreme court to a lifetime appointment to a
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coequal branch of government someone without even consulting with the other side. i think long term that is problematic. in the case of neil gorsuch, not so much. for tt future of -- for the future of congress, it could be problematic. you could say all this does is bring us back to where we once were. i think technically that is accurate. this is not where we were -- once were before. before there were people who worked here understood they had the power to do it, they understood they could force the 60 votes and they had the power to do it but they chose not to exercise it. they chose to be judicious because they understand with the power comes not just the power to act but sometimes the power not to act, to be responsible, to reserve certain powers for extraordinary moments where it is truly required. and over the years it's been
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abused. now, this is not going to be a speech where i stand up here and say and this is all the democrats, i certainly have quarrels with some of the decisions made on the other side of the aisle. i think it's a moment to say we've all brought us here to this point, both sides. the reason why i was ultimately able to vote for the change today is because i'm convinced that no matter who would have won the presidential election, no matter which party would have controlled this chamber, that vote was going to happen. both sides were going to do this because we have reached the point in our politics, in america, where what used to be done is no longer possible. than had is ultimately found its way on to the floor of the united states senate. now, rules are rules and ultimately the republic will survive the change we have seen here today. i think the more troubling aspect are the things that have brought us to this point. a couple of days ago at a lunch with my colleagues i said one of
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the things we have to accept are quite frankly the men and women who served in this chamber 20 and 30 years ago were better than us. they had deeply held beliefs. i don't know anyone in this chamber more progressive or liberal than hubert humphrey or ted kennedy or others, and yet somehow, despite their deeply held principles, these individuals were able to prevent what happened here today. the fact of the matter is for both sides is that not possible. today our politics requires us to use every measure possible even if it's for symbolic purposes. that's jerusalem the way it is. and -- that is just the way it is. that is more a reflection of the political process than it is of the senate. i have seen the articles written, it's the end of the
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senate, the death of the senate. it's a little bit of an exaggeration. i think is it reflective of the fact that this is how pom particulars have become -- politics have become that we are got able to have a debate on serious issues like we were once able to do. i think everyone's to blame. today, most articles on the issues before us are not about the issues before us. they are about the politics of the issues before us. today, most of the work that's done in this chamber and in the other chamber has more to do with the messaging behind it than it does with the end result that the world will lead us. that's just the honest fact. and before people start writing or blogging, look at all these other times when the senator from florida, when me, when i did some of these things, i admit it. i don't think there is a single person here with clean hands on any of this. i admit that i have been involved in efforts that looking back on some of these things
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perhaps if we knew then what we knew now we would have done differently. i think it's important in life to recognize and learn from those experiences and to adopt them to the moment before us. i think moving forward, the biggest challenge we will face as a country is that our issues are not going to solve themselves. they will require people from very different states, very different backgrounds, very different points of view to be able to come together and solve some pretty big deals. and it is ultimately not about silencing people or having them compromise the principles, but about acknowledging that in our system of government, we have no choice but to do so. we have no choice. i think it also requires us to take a step back and understand that the people who have a different point of view than ours actually believe what they are saying. they hold it deep and they represent people who believe what they are saying. and i say this to you as someone
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who will admit that my time in public service, perhaps i have not always applied that as much as i wish i had. i tried to. certainly live and learn when you get to travel the country and meet as many people as i did over the last couple of years, i certainly think that impacts you profoundly. i have a deeply held belief in limited government and free enterprise and strong national defense and the core principles that define someone as a conservative, but i have also grown to appreciate and understand people who share a different point of view. perhaps not as much as i hope to one day be able to understand it and respect it, but certainly more than i once did, simply because the more people you meet, the more you learn about them, the more you learn and understand where they're coming from. are we capable as a society to once again return to a moment where people who have different ideas can somehow try to figure out how to make things better even if they're not perfect? i hope so. because the fate of the most important country in human history is at stake.
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are we capable of once again having debates, not that aren't vibrant or not that from time to time people might say and do things they regret, but certainly ones at the end of the day are constructed for the purposes of solving a problem, not winning an election alone. i hope so, because if we don't, we have to explain to our children why we inherited the greatest country in human history and they inherited one that was in decline. i don't mean to exaggerate, but ultimately this is a rule change. we don't vote on the supreme court every day, every week, every month, sometimes we don't vote on it for long periods of time, but i think it exposes a more fundamental challenge that we face today in american politics, that we better confront sooner rather than later and that we should all confront with the understanding and the knowledge that none of us come to it with clean hands. i -- we're reminded again this week in the images that emerge
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from syria of what a dangerous world we live in and reminded that the threats remain, and i ask people tonight, no matter who you write for, who you blog for, what political party you're a member of, who you voted for in november, to ask yourself a question and to be honest about the answer. if god forbid, and i mean this, god forbid there were another 9/11-style attack on the united states, how would we honestly react? because september 11 was a scary day, and on that day, i remember there weren't democrats or republicans. everyone was equally frightened and everyone was equally angered and there was a sense of unity of purpose that we had not seen in a long time and have not seen since. i honestly believe sadly that if today there were another of that kind of attack on america, one of the first things you would see people do is blaming whose fault it was. you would have some people saying, well, this terrorist
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attack happened because president obama didn't do enough to defeat the terrorists. another group would say this attack happened because the republicans and the new president, president trump, has not done enough or has done things that have provoked them. i honestly believe that, i think that that is what the debate would look like. i hope i'm wrong. just think about how far we have come in almost 20 years or 15 years. that's the kind of debate i believe we would have. think about how destructive that is. i also think you would see a plethora of crazy, fake stories about what was behind it. and here's the craziest part. some very smart and educated people would believe those stories. because we have reached the point now where conspiracies are more interesting than facts. i know that, you know, people may see this and say oh, what a -- what are you -- i think you're exaggerating. maybe. i hope so.
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but i honestly think that we're headed in a direction that's actually making us -- not us the senate, us, americans, incapable of confronting problems. and i would just say this. what i really hope will happen soon is that we're going to get tired of fighting with other americans all the time, that we'll finally get fatigued with all of this fighting against other americans constantly. americans are not your enemies. quite frankly, i hope we have no enemies anywhere in the world other than vicious leaders that we hope to be a part of seeing them taken out of power at some point for the horrible things they do. i hope we'll reach a point where people are saying i'm just tired of constantly fighting with other americans. and we'll have differences, we'll debate them. thank god that we have been given a republic where we have elections every two years and we can have these debates, but in the interim, whether we like it or not, none of us is going
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anywhere. the vast and overwhelming majority of americans will live in this country for the rest of their lives. this is their home and this is their country, and we are going to have to figure out how to share and work together in this unique piece of land that we have been blessed with the opportunity to call home. and if we don't figure out a way to do that soon enough, then many of these issues that confront america will go unsolved, and not only will our people pay a price and our children pay a price, but the world will pay a price. and so i know that's a lot to say about a topic as simple as a rules change and ultimately a vote for the supreme court, but i really think it exposed something deeper about american politics that we better confront sooner rather than later, or we will all live to regret what it leads to. and that is the decline of the single greatest nation in all of human history. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: on a more upbeat note, the lady gamecocks are national champions. april 2, this past sunday, the university of south carolina women's basketball team beat mississippi state 67-5 to end a magical season and became the national champions. this is a magical year for the state of south carolina. we have clemson tigers are the national football champs. college of charleston are the world series title holders for baseball. we have the lady gamecocks, the national champs in women's basketball. and dustin johnson is the number-one golfer in america who hurt his back today and had to withdraw from the master's, so
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that was bad. so this is a great year. i went to the university of south carolina. i still have four years of eligibility in all sports for a reason. i was no good. my colleague here actually played college football, and we're both gamecock fans. coach don staley came to south carolina in 2008. she has been -- dawn staley came to south carolina in 2008. she has been on a national championship team as a player. she is now in the hall of fame for basketball, as one of two african american female coaches to win the national title of women's basketball. she is the real deal, she is a wonderful lady. asia wilson, our dominating junior forward, was the m.v.p. for the final four and s.c. player of the year and first-team all american. all the girls played really, really hard. the men's basketball team made it to the final four, lost in a very tough contest, and i could
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not be more proud of the university of south carolina women's basketball team. frank martin, the men's coach, is the national coach of the year. this is a special time in south carolina. if you're a gamecock fan, you have been long-suffering for a while, and our ship finally came in. so congratulations to the lady gamecocks. i can't wait until next year. we always say that with a sense of dread, but i can't wait until next year for south carolina, clemson and every other sports team in south carolina. we're doing something right. i don't know what it is, but we're all grateful in south carolina. with that, i would yield to my colleague who actually played college football. i don't think he has any eligibility left because he was good, tim scott. mr. scott: mr. president, just to fill in the very few spaces that are left after lindsey and his chatting about the great season our players have had.
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number one, coach frank martin, coach of the year. a fantastic person, a great communicator, a strong, disciplined coach. it is very hard to misunderstand what he is saying. coach staley, absolutely, positively, unequivocally the best basketball coach, women's basketball coach, in my opinion. i know, against uconn, in the country. dawn staley 20 years ago came within a single point of winning a national championship as a player. can you just imagine being a single point short? and this must feel like redemption for our coach. we are so proud of the fact that both our coaches are producing student athletes, learning academically, striving on courts, but prepared for life, for living. so we're excited about that. i want to know as well that there is only -- there has only
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been ten times in ncaa history, ten times that both the women's and the men's basketball teams from the same school were in the final four at the same time. it is a good time to be a south carolinian. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, i have a question for the senator from south carolina through the chair. are you aware, senator scott, that frank martin, an incredible coach for the men's basketball team -- mr. scott: i am aware of that. mr. rubio: is from miami, florida, born and raised. mr. scott: that is relevant to you how? mr. rubio: just wanted you to know. mr. scott: would you yield for a question? thank you, senator, rubio. what state are you from? mr. rubio: florida. mr. scott: what part? mr. rubio: south florida.
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mr. scott: have you had a relationship with the coach before? mr. rubio: i have, absolutely. coach martin is a good friend and i think a good testament to how much florida has to contribute to the state of south carolina. mr. scott: i beg to question. having been in south florida when you were in south florida, we made a big contribution to you, too. mr. rubio: i would say to the senator from south carolina, south carolina has gotten better results for frank martin than it did for me. we're very proud of coach martin. i would just add that given the litany of athletic success this year by the state of south carolina, i find that to be highly suspicious, and i know i just spoke about conspiracy theories, but i just statistically it's very unlikely that a state would have that many championships. i'm not calling for a congressional inquiry, but i think it would just topic of conversation. mr. scott: if my colleague will yield, i will note that senator graham did have clarity in his purpose of identifying the fact that a state with only 4.7 million people in a country of 330 million people, we have
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been able to secure the number-one golfer, that is true, number-one baseball team, and number-one football team in all of the nation, clemson university, that is true, and now the women's basketball champions, that is true as well. however, i would point out that we were able to show you a wonderful experience as well in the state of south carolina, and i hope that one day when you retire from politics, that you and your lovely wife will join us and become a south carolinian yourself, and perhaps then and only then you will be a successful football coach for the university of south carolina. you have a promising career in politics, but i know that you love and have passion for football, and perhaps when you retire, you, too, will be a national champion football coach. mr. rubio: that is highly unlikely. but in all seriousness, i again want to -- i do want to restate
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the -- frank martin is really an extraordinary person. much more -- senator scott and i both had a chance to interact with him on a number of occasions. i don't mean to just single him out because all the other suspicious athletic accomplishments from south carolina are certainly went noting, but i would say with frank one of the things that really impresses me is not what he does with these young men on the court but the kind of influence he is in their lives off the court. and the impact that he has. this is new. he was a high school coach in miami when he won state championships there, and comes from a hardworking family of cuban exiles that made their home in south florida. so we're very, very proud of what he's achieved. but what i'm most proud of is the way that coach martin has been able to influence those young men. i was very excited. he did defeat the florida gators to make it to the final four. i was not happy about that. but i would say this and i have said it to others. if the florida gators had to lose, i would want it to be to
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frank martin because of the extraordinary work that he does. and so i can't wait to see which florida university hires him away. thank you, mr. president. mr. scott: senator, before you walk off the floor, having had the opportunity to listen to you over a number of years, it's really you're eloquent, you're inspiring, sometimes you're just dead wrong. so the coach will be stay -- let me put all the suspicions to rest. the eality of it is -- reality of it is that good teams are made up of good recruiters. that is indicative of the fact that we have a lot of titles in our state. i will pray for your state to succeed in the hurricane season. thank you, sir. mr. rubio: what i was -- i am
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not going to invoke that rule about what -- that's right. we're not going to do that right now. i -- i think it's a good opportunity to say nothing, but congratulations and we'll be back.
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mr. lankford: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, i have listened over the last several weeks to accusations and a smear campaign, quite frankly, against a good judge and good main, neil gorsuch. it is remarkable that this has been more about character destruction than policy differences. i understand that there are policy differences, but why does it have to come to this? in the past few weeks i heard on this floor that neil gorsuch shouldn't be a justice on the supreme court because he has no independence from president
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trump. number two, i heard he was hand picked by far-right groups like the federalist society, a group of legal minds committed to the original interpretation of the constitution. clearly a kanlist -- scandallist group of radicals. i heard that judge gorsuch supports torture, against imriefs, hates -- against privacy, hates truckers, step on the little guy, will only help big corporations, and he's just not mainstream. and i heard he shouldn't be selected because he was not approved first by the democratic senate leadership. all of these reasons have been given for a historic change in the senate tradition, not to give a supreme court justice an up-or-down vote, block him on a procedural motion for the first time ever with a partisan vote. let me take these one at a time
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as i walk through this. number one, i heard that he is not independent enough for president trump. as far as i know he had never even met president trump before. this didn't seem to be a standard to be independent from the current sitting president. let me give you an example of this. -- an example of this. justice elana kagan qualified as a legal mind but there would be differences with her though justice kagan was allowed to have an up-or-down vote. this body did not have a standard that they had to be independent from the president. if they would have had a standard like that, justice kagan would never be on the bench. why do i say that? well, on may 10, 2010, president obama nominated elana kagan to be an associate justice of the supreme court. from 1997 to 1999 she served as the deputy assistant to the
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president for domestic policy and deputy director for domestic policy counsel for president clinton. in 2009 she was confirmed solicitor general of the united states for president obama. she worked for president obama in the obama white house as his solicitor general and then was taken directly out of the white house and put on to the supreme court. i would say that's not independent from the president. so this mythological new standard that any court justice nominee needs to be independent from the president clearly wasn't in place when elana kagan was being heard. it's also interesting to me that one of the most talked about decisions from judge gorsuch was a chevron decision that he put out. the whole crux of that decision was the independence of the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the
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judicial branch. let me just read a few paragraphs from that decision that he wrote. he wrote this -- for whatever the agency may be doing under chevron, the problem remains that courts are not fulfilling their duty to interpret the law and declare invalid agency actions inconsistent with those interpretations in the cases in controversies that come before them. a duty expressly assigned to them by the a.p.a., that's the administrative procedures act, and one often likely compelled by the constitution itself. that's a problem for the judiciary. and it's a problem for the people whose liberties may now be impaired not by an independent decision maker seeking to declare the law's meaning as fairly as possible, the decision maker promised to them by law, but by an avowtly administrative agent seeking to pursue whatever policy for the day. in other words, the judiciary needs to have oversight of the
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executive agency and what they put out as far as agency rulings not allowing the white house or any agency to just make any decision they like. he continued, maybe it's troubling, this line of reply invites a nest of questions even taken on its own terms. chevron said she should infer from any statutory ambiguity to the executive and to make reasonable policy choices. but where exactly has congress expressed this intent? trying to infer the intentions of an institution composed of 535 members is a notoriously doubtful business. in his statement and all the accusations that's he's not independent of the president in one of his most famous opinions, he declares that we absolutely need to have independence from the white house, of any white house, and have a clear separation of powers, judiciary,
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legislative, and executive. that absolutely just does not stand up to just simple muster. so the first thing falls, no independence from the president. the second issue that came up often was that he was hand picked by far-right groups. there were all of these groups that hand picked him and so somehow that made it horrible that these different groups would actually try to support him. well, it's interesting i go back again to justice kagan. that wasn't the standard at that time again. i could use numerous judges through ta process. -- through that process. elana kagan was supported by the afl-cio by wild earth guardian and sierra club, national organization for women. she had a lot of progressive groups outspoken in support of her nomination. there is nothing wrong with that. she was a nominee actively engaged in white house politics,
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engaged in democratic campaigns, before that, as far as working for the due contact -- dukakis campaign. that did not preclude her from getting an up-or-down vote for the supreme court because she is sitting on the supreme court today. there was no cloture vote mandate or requirement for a of -- for a 60 vote threshold as there was pushed by this minority. this issue of how you can be hand picked or that you would have some groups that would support you from the outside that somehow precludes you from being a serious consideration is not legitimate and everyone knows it. i've also heard the individuals out there saying he's for torture. estrogens privacy of. -- he's for torture, he's only for big corporations, he's not mainstream. here's the problem, when you actually look at the history, it is very different than that.
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of the 2,700 cases that judge gorsuch for the ten and a half years he has been on the tenth circuit, he has been overturned of his opinions once. 97% of the time his cases were settled unanimously, 99% of the time he voted with the majority and unless you don't know the tenth circuit like we know the tenth circuit in oklahoma because they are the circuit court for our state, the majority of the judges on the tenth circuit are judges selected by president carter, president clinton, and president obama. they hold the majority in the tenth circuit. so to say that he voted with them in the majority 99% of the time would be to say that the carter, clinton, obama appointees also apparently had these radical ideas.
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it's just not consistent with the facts. and then i've heard of late that the president should have engaged with senate leadership on both sides of the aisle to be asked approval of the nominee before that nominee was ever brought. well, i don't know that that's ever been a requirement. there have been times that presidents in the past have had conversations with people on both sides of the aisle. fine. but it's certainly not a requirement from the constitution and it certainly doesn't preclude. it is interesting to me that judge gorsuch came and offered to meet with 100 senators one-on-one face-to-face. only 80 of them accepted his offer. 20 of them refused to even meet with him face-to-face. he did four days of hearings in the judiciary committee -- four solid, long days where he answered every possible question he could answer.
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he's had extensive background checks. everyone has gone through every piece of everything that they could find that has ever been written. the latest accusation is they found a couple of -- places that what he wrote seemed strangely like what someone else wrote. when i saw the side by side, he forgot to do a footnote in the tens of thousands of an notations that he did, he didn't do a couple of them. somehow that doesn't rise to the level that he shouldn't be on the supreme court in the tens of thousands of annotations. i would challenge anyone serving that you could only serve that -- if you never missed a footnote. i would say those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. we've all had times like that.
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he's a solid jurist. i believe he'll do a good job. and in the time i sat down in his office and we looked at each other face-to-face and i went through multitudes of hard questions with him trying to determine his judicial philosophy, seeking one simple thing, will you interpret the law as the law? not with personal opinion, but as the law. this body is about opinions. this body is about listening to the voices all across our states and trying to make good policy. across the street at the supreme court, it's about one thing. what does the law say and what did it mean when it was written? the constitution and law were not living documents. now, they do live in the sense that if you want to change the constitution, you amend the constitution, and you make changes to it.
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but you can't suddenly say it meant one thing one day but culture has changed and now it means something new. if you need new law, this body passes new law. across the street, they redo law. they just say what does it mean? it's that straightforward. and i look forward to having a jurist on the supreme court as an associate justice that says i may not even like all my opinions and you may not like all my opinions, but i'm going to follow the law, and what the law says, that's what we're going to do. i think that's the best that we could ask from a supreme court justice, and i think it's a fair way to be able to get him an up-or-down vote. and i have to tell you i'm profoundly disappointed that the senate to get a simple up-or-down vote had to go through all of this just to be able to do what we've always done. regardless of background or
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preferences or policy or politics. this body has always said the president for his nomination should get an up-or-down vote when they go through the process. we're going to do that tomorrow. and we'll put judge gorsuch on the bench, and we're ready for him to go to work. with that, mr. president, i yield back. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. a senator: i would ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. perdue: it's humbling to be on the floor of the united states senate when colleagues like the senator -- with colleagues like the senator from
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oklahoma, mr. lankford. it's an honor to listen to his words, listen to his heart, on an issue like this. because this is, i believe, an historic day. on january 31 of this year, i had the great honor of being invited to the white house when president donald trump announced his nominee for associate justice for the united states supreme court, judge neil gorsuch. it was a professional rollout of this nomination, but it spoke, i think, more to the man, the individual, judge gorsuch, than it did to the circumstance surrounding it. today i want to again discuss judge gorsuch's nomination in the 200-plus years of historical precedent put on the line today. as an outsider in this political process, it's clear to me what's really going on here. it really has nothing to do with judge gorsuch. the minority party today
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abandoned 230 years of tradition because of politics, in my opinion. never before in the united states history has a purely partisan filibuster killed a supreme court nomination. never before in the history of our country has a partisan filibuster killed a district judge nomination. never before and until 2003, never before had a partisan filibuster killed a circuit judge nomination. 2003 was the first time in our history that the rules of the senate were used in a purely partisan way to stop a judicial nomination. in 2003, the democratic party threw out over 200 years of precedent when it comes to circuit judge nominees and killed a circuit judge nomination. today, they attempted to do the same thing when it comes to a nominee to the highest court in the united states.
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it should be noted republicans did not attempt to do this to either justice sotomayor or justice kagan when they were nominated by president obama just a few years ago. throughout our history, even the most controversial supreme court nominees have gotten an up-or-down vote, a simple majority vote, mr. president. on that note, i also would like to point out that there is no long-standing rule or tradition that a supreme court nominee must obtain 60 votes to be confirmed. judge clarence thomas was confirmed by a narrow 52-48 margin. even though a single senator, mr. president, could have required 60 votes to invoke cloture, none did. likewise, justice samuel alito was confirmed by a 58-42 margin. again, no senator required 60 votes to invoke cloture. neither of those nominees were filibustered to death. they got an up-or-down vote. mainstream media outlets have repeatedly fact checked the
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minority party on this. for example, last week, "the washington post" said once again there is no traditional 60-vote standard or rule for supreme court nominations, no matter how much or how often democrats claim otherwise, end quote. even politifact has repeatedly pointed out, and i quote, gorsuch, like all other supreme court justice nominees, needs only a simple majority to be confirmed by the senate. clearly, outside of this body, it's recognized in the media and on both sides of the aisle, for that matter, that there is no such thing as a 60-vote standard when it comes to the nomination of confirmation of supreme court justices. additionally, the notion that the minority party filibustering judge gorsuch's confirmation is the same as our not allowing a vote last year, that logic just doesn't hold up. last year, i joined many of my colleagues on the senate floor in explaining why we felt it best not to give advice or consent on the nomination of a
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justice to the supreme court during a presidential election year. the integrity of the process clearly outlined in article 2, section 2 of the constitution was at stake. it was about the principle, mr. president, not the individual. unlike the argument that it's tradition for a supreme court nominee to receive 60 votes, there is actual precedent for the position we took last year on president obama's supreme court nominee. former vice president biden, former minority leader reid and many other members of both parties have agreed that the political theater of a presidential election year should not influence the process. the last time a justice was nominated and confirmed by divided government in a presidential election year was 1888. clearly, there is more than 100 years of precedent. for the position we took last year in not giving advice and consent, we took a position that was consistent with more than
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100 years of actions and comments from members of both parties, so let's just get over that. this year stands on its own, independently. the time for debate on this issue has come and gone. furthermore, it's obvious that what's at issue here is not judge gorsuch's qualifications. in 2006, judge gorsuch was confirmed to the tenth circuit court of appeals by a voice vote in this body with no opposition. again, no opposition here on the floor of the united states senate. just ten years ago. then senator biden did not object. then senator reid did not object. then senator clinton did not object. and yes, then senator obama did not object. 12 current members of this body, including the current senior senator from new york, the senior senator from illinois, the senior senator from california, did not object to judge gorsuch's confirmation
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back in 2006. it's a simple fact. they had the opportunity to raise an objection, and they did not do it. it's obvious that what's going on here has nothing to do with judge gorsuch's qualifications. what's at issue here is nothing but pure, unadult rated -- unadulterated politics. mr. president, this is why i ran for the united states senate, having never been involved in politics. this is what makes people back home very nervous about the gridlock in this body. this is why president trump still cannot meet with his full cabinet today, months after he was confirmed -- or sworn in as our president. this is the very cause of gridlock that i believe is causing the dysfunction here in washington. as i said, judge gorsuch was confirmed unanimously by voice vote with no opposition in 2006. judge gorsuch is a principal jurist who is steadfast in his
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commitment to defending and upholding the constitution. in my private meetings with him, i have been very impressed that this is his starting and finishing point, is that he is there to interpret the law, not to be an activist for his own personal opinions. he boasts a unanimous seal of approval, the gold standard from the american bar association. throughout his extensive career in both the public and private sectors and through hour after hour after hour of testimony, judge gorsuch has demonstrated an impartial commitment to the rule of law. this is another area in which legal minds from both sides of the aisle agree. harvard law school professor noaa -- noah feldman called it himself a truly terrible idea to try to force judge gorsuch or any judge, for that matter, to base their disoigz on the -- decisions on the parties involved. beyond a shadow of a doubt, i know that judge gorsuch fully understands the job of a judge
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is to interpret not make the law. as he himself said, a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge. reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law proscribes. this commitment to impartially, regardless of those involved in further cases, is further evidence his nomination should be confirmed rather than filibustered to death like we have seen today. judge gorsuch's record is evidence enough that he is an impartial judge committed to the constitution. the opposition has said that he's outside the mainstream. that also doesn't hold up, mr. president. in 97% of his 2,700 cases, judges who also heard the cases unanimously ruled with judge gorsuch. in 99% of those cases, he was not a dissenting vote. but the other side is consistent in saying he's not mainstream. seriously? how much more mainstream does he have to be?
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to that point, judge gorsuch has drawn praise from both liberals and conservatives alike. former president obama's acting solicitor general called judge gorsuch, and i quote, an extraordinary judge and man, end quote. he is not alone in that assessment of judge gorsuch. mainstream media outlets across the country have praised this nominee to the supreme court. recently, "usa today," the editorial board, wrote, and i quote, gorsuch's credentials are impeccable. he might well show the independence the nation needs at this moment in its history. "the washington post" editorial board wrote, and i quote, we are likely to disagree with mr. gorsuch on a variety of major legal questions. that is different from saying he is unfit to serve, unquote. "the wall street journal" editorial board wrote, and i quote, no one can replace antonin scalia on the supreme court, but president trump has
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made an excellent attempt by nominating appellate judge neil gorsuch as the ninth justice, end quote. as i have noted, mr. president, the minority party's move to filibuster judge gorsuch is not rooted in any actual precedent of the united states senate. it also clearly has nothing to do with judge gorsuch himself. by any and all objective measure, he is a mainstream, well-qualified nominee to the united states supreme court. that is a point agreed upon by liberals and conservatives alike, yet here we are still today throwing out almost 230 years of tradition purely because of politics. this body must rise above the self-manufactured gridlock. our last president, according to constitutional law professor jonathan turley, created a constitutional crisis. it was caused by shutting down the senate and creating the
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fourth arm of government, the regulators, and threatening the very balance of our three-branch system. it allowed the former president through regulatory mandates and executive orders to basically fundamentally change the direction of the country without congress. given this threat to the constitution at this point in our history, we absolutely need a jurist on the supreme court who will bring a balanced view and impartial commitment to the rule of law. it is imperative that we confirm judge neil gorsuch tomorrow, a principled, thoughtful jurist, to the united states supreme court. if we can't confirm this individual, who is absolutely in the middle of a profile agreed to by past democrats and republicans alike, who in the world will we ever be able to confirm, seriously? given that, and one other issue. -- what other issue. if we can't get together on this individual, who is in the
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mainstream, in the middle of the profile, how in the world are we ever going to save social security, medicare, all the other critical issues that are before this body? bipartisan compromise is what this body was built on. i call on my colleagues to put self-interest and even party interest aside for the nation's interest. mr. president, i count it an honor to be in this body. it's a sobering responsibility. but i'm very optimistic when men or women of the character of a neil gorsuch are willing to go through this grueling exercise that we put them through in order to serve. because of that, i am proud tonight to be a part of a majority that stood up and precluded this from happening i'm so excited that tomorrow we will confirm judge neil gorsuch as the next associate justice to the united states supreme
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court. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i rise today to express my strong support again for judge neil gorsuch. i spoke on the floor the other day about judge gorsuch, and i just
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heard my colleague from georgia talk about him, and he did a terrific job. this guy, neil gorsuch, is the right person for the job. he's qualified, he's smart, he's fair. a bipartisan majority of the united states senate will vote for this worthy candidate tomorrow. let me underscore that. a bipartisan majority of the united states senate will vote for this worthy candidate tomorrow, and he'll end up getting on the court. i must tell you, i regret that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to provide him that up-or-down vote without going through the process we've had to go through today. as someone who's gone through two senate confirmations myself, i know they're not always easy, but i will tell you it's a whole lot better for this institution and for our country when we figure out ways to work together, and in this case to continue a senate tradition of allowing up-or-down votes. i like to work across the aisle. i've done that through my career. i can point to 50 bills that i authored or
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coauthored that have become law in the last six years, they were bipartisan by definition because they got through this body. they were signed into law by president obama. i have voted for the president's nominees, president obama's nominees before president trump. when president obama has a a well-qualified judge on the floor, i voted for that judge. i voted for loretta lynch. not an easy vote. i took heat for it back home but i thought she was qualified. i think that's what we ought to do in this body and i'm disappointed in the situation we're in. i think we could have followed more than 200 years of senate tradition and not allowed for a partisan filibuster to try to block this nomination. we chose not to do that in this body. never -- never in the history of this body has there been a successful partisan filibuster of a supreme court judge. never. some of my colleagues have said how about abe fortas?
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that was several decades ago and that was bipartisan. abe fortas with a a supreme court justice who had ethics issues. he dropped out of trying to get the nomination because of it. but never have we stood up as republicans or stood up as democrats and blocked a nominee by using the filibuster. it's just not been the tradition. instead it's been to allow an up-or-down vote, majority vote. there are two justices on the supreme court right now who got confirmed with less than 60 votes. one is clarence thomas, and probably the most controversial nominee in the last couple decades, i would say. i wasn't in the senate then, but i was watching it, as many of you were. it was certainly controversial, and yet he got to the court with 52 votes. justice alito was confirmed by 58 votes only ten years ago. so these nominees were not filibustered. and, by the way, president obama's nominees -- elena kagan, justice sotomayor --
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they were not filibustered by republicans. they were given an up-or-down vote. in the history of the senate, 12 nominations have been defeated on the floor, but, again, never a successful partisan filibuster. even judge robert bork -- some of you remember that nomination. very controversial. his nomination was defeated in 1987. he was a reagan appointee. but he wasn't filibustered. they had an up-or-down vote and he was voted down. so what are these objections to judge gorsuch that would rise to that level where we'd want to say over 200 years of senate tradition ought to be shunned to the side and we ought to stop this man? what are those objections? i must say i've listened to the floor debate and i've talked to some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and i've made my case, they made their case, but i just don't see why this man is not qualified. he was a law clerk for
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two supreme court justices. he served in the justice department, had a distinguished career there. he was also a successful lawyer in the private sector, and of course he's been a federal judge for a decade. we can look at his record. my colleague from georgia just talked about that record. it's why the american bar association, a group not known to be a conservative body, decided that he was well qualified. they unanimously declared him to get their highest rating of well qualified. this is what they said about him. they said based on the writings, introduce and analyses we scrutinize to reach our rating we believe judge gorsuch believes strongly in the independence of the judicial branch of government and we predict he will be a strong but respectful voice in protecting it. in protecting the independence of the judiciary. that's why the american bar association gave him their highest rating. not qualified? by the way, nobody
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objected. nobody, for any reason, to his nomination to serve as a federal judge, to be a circuit court judge, a level right below the supreme court, back in 2006. not a single senator objected. and, by the way, those senators included senator hillary clinton, senator barack obama, senator joe biden; a number of senators, of course, who are still here today with us. who chose to filibuster this nomination. so i don't know. i've heard some of my colleagues talk about some of his decisions. they have picked one or two of his decisions as a judge over the past ten years and said they didn't like the outcome and that's why he's not qualified to sit on the supreme court. i have a couple of concerns with that argument. one, judge gorsuch has decided over 2,700 cases. i'm sure we can all find one or two of these that
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we didn't like. that's true for any judge. as i said, i voted for a number of president obama's nominees and i voted against others, based on the merits and based on their qualifications. it didn't mean i agreed with them on everything, trust me, or that i disagreed with them on everything. but the odds are very good that you glea with judge gorsuch's -- that you agree with judge gorsuch's decisions a lot more than you disagree with them. you know why i say that? because the odds are really good that you agree with him, let's try 97% because 97% is the number of his decisions that were unanimous with the other judges on a three-judge panel. 97% of the time his decisions were unanimous. so who's on these three-judge panels? well, it's usually bipartisan in the sense that its nominees who have been nominated by different presidents of different parties. in the case of his
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circuit court there is judge paul kelly who was appointed by president george h.w. bush. but there have also been several of his colleagues nominated by president bill clinton. judge gorsuch even mentioned in his testimony that he was in judge panels and presiding with judge william holloway who was appointed by president lyndon b. johnson. these three-judge panels tend to have judges who were appointed by republicans and democrats alike. 97% of the time unanimous. 98% of the time his decisions were in the majority. so again, i think it's pretty good, the odds are pretty good that we're going to agree with judge gorsuch a lot of more than we disagree with him when we look at his cases. he's a consensus builder. he's a guy that figures out how to come to a decision that people agree with on different sides of the aisle and from different points of view. that's what his record is. actually that doesn't surprise me at all because he clerked in
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the supreme court for two justices. one was byron white and the other was justice anthony kennedy. those are two justice who get a lot of heat from both sides why? because they tend to be in the middle. they tend to be that fifth vote on a decision. that's who he clerked for. to note that somehow this guy shouldn't be confirmed for the supreme court because of one or two decisions, that just doesn't seem to be legitimate to me. this is a guy who had thousands of decisions, and the vast majority -- 98% in the majority, 97% unanimous -- he had one decision that went to the supreme court, that was appealed to the supreme court because the litigants must have thought he was wrong, so they took it to the supreme court to correct him. what happened? the supreme court affirmed it. they agreed with judge gorsuch. so, look, i don't know
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whowkd -- who you could find out there among judges who's got a stronger record. in every case somebody wins and somebody loses. but think about this, out of judge gorsuch's 180 written opinions only one has ever been appealed to the supreme court. wow. and they agreed with his ruling. he made it clear that he makes decisions not based on the outcome he likes, but based on what the law says. he thinks his job on the court for the last decade and going forward is to actually look at the law and decide what the law says and what the constitution provides, not what he wants. i think that's the kind of judge that we would want particularly those of us who are lawmakers. we are the ones writing the law. we would hope that would be respected and judges wouldn't try to legislate. this is what he said in his testimony, quote, a judge who likes every outcome he or she reaches is likely a bad judge. i watched my colleagues spending long days
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poring over cases. sometimes the answers we reach aren't ones we prefer. sometimes the answers keep us up at night but the answers we reach are always ones we believe the law requires. interesting perspective. it's kind of saying hey, if you like all your decisions probably you're not a very good judge because your personal beliefs aren't always going to be consistent with what the law or constitution says. he goes on to say, quote, i've ruled for disabled students, for prisoners, accused, and for undocumented immigrants. sometimes too i've ruled against such persons. my decisions never reflected a judgment about the people before me, only a judgment of the law and the facts at issue in each particular case. end quote. again, it seems to me that's the kind of person you want on the court. making a decision as a judge is not about ruling in favor or against somebody because you like him or don't like him. it's about applying what the law says. as he said in his
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testimony recently, his philosophy is to strive to understand what the words on the page mean, to apply what the people's representatives, the lawmakers, have done. that's us. that's the house. that's people who are elected back home by the people who expect us to be the elected representatives, listen to their concerns and then vote, and those laws should not be rewritten by the judiciary. that's the approach he takes. i would think any legislator would want to be sure the laws we pass as a-- are applied as written. that's what the people should insist on. we want our votes to count. we want our activists to be heard. president lincoln warned in his first inaugural address that if judges legislate from the bench, he said, quote, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers. the people will have ceased to be their own rulers if judges legislate from the bench. i think president lincoln was right. when judges become legislators, the people do have less of a
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voice. judge gorsuch summed it up himself. he said if judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be, the very good of government by the people and for the people would be at risk. i think that's the deeper issue here. and again, i think he's the kind of judge we should want. judge gorsuch and i had the chance to sit down and talk about this philosophy. we talked about his background and his qualifications. i asked him some very tough questions, as he got asked in the judiciary committee nomination process. his hearings were something that all americans had the opportunity to watch, and he did a great job, in my view, because he did focus on how he believes that his job is not to allow his personal beliefs to guide him but rather upholding the law as written and the constitution. i think that approach is a big reason why he's earned the respect of lawyers and judges from across the spectrum, by the
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way. if you look at the people who say this guy is a great judge, it goes all the way across the political spectrum. professor laurence tribe of harvard law school, an advisor to former president obama, has said that judge gorsuch is, quote, a brilliant, terrific guy who would do the court's work with distinction. those of you who know laurence tribe, well regarded, considered to be a liberal thinker on many issues, but he's looked at the guy, he's looked at his record, he knows him, he says he's brilliant, terrific, would do the court's work with distinction. neil cato, you heard about him, a guys who knows a thing or two about arguing before the supreme court. he said that judge gorsuch's record should, quote, give the american people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him. he's a fair and decent man. this goes to what the a.b.a.
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said about him, independent. he will protect the independence of the judiciary. look, he's smart, no question about it. you saw him answer those questions. you have seen his record. he's qualified, as we've talked about. certainly a mainstream judge when you look at his opinions. 98% of the time in the majority, 97% of the time, unanimous three-judge panels. and again he has the support, the bipartisan support of a majority of the united states senate. by the way, the american people, as they plugged into this, also think he ought to be confirmed. there's a recent poll by the huffington post, again not considered a conservative newspaper or entity. they have said the people want us to confirm neil gorsuch by a 17-point margin. why? because they have watched this, they have looked at the guy, they saw the hearings, they have looked at his record. people believed that he is the right person to represent them on the united states supreme court. and so again, while i'm
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disappointed this process has become so polarized and divisive here in this body, i am glad to see this good man take a seat on our nation's highest court. i believe he deserves our support. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the appointments at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that following leader remarks on friday, april 7, and notwithstanding rule 22, there be two hours of debate equally divided in the usual form. further, upon the use or yielding back of time, the senate vote on the gorsuch nomination, with no intervening action or debate.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i now ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. friday, april 7. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, following leader remarks, the senate resume executive session to consider the nomination of neil gorsuch as under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
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>> the senate voted today to advance neil gorsuch's nomination to serve on the supreme court, setting up a final confirmation vote tomorrow. republican leaders held a series of votes to allow this to happen to advance the nomination from 60 to a simple majority. that means from now on, all presidential nominees for executive branch positions and federal courts need only a simple majority vote to be confirmed by senators. the washington post writes that the change is also likely to make a bitterly divided senate, even more partisan with several senators warning in recent days that ending filibusters a presidential nominees could lead to the end of filibusters on legislation.n e effectively ending the senate's role as a slower, more deliberate legislative body. not, we'll watch senate majority leader mitch mcconnell earlier today is he started the process of changing the rules using the so-called, nuclearnt option. get
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>> my democratic alex have done something today that is unprecedented in the history of the senate. unfortunately, it has brought us to this point. we need to restore the norms and traditions of the senate and get past this unprecedented partisan filibuster., 2013 therefore, i raise the point of order that the vote on closure under the precedent set on november 21, 2013, is a majority vote on all nominations. mr. mc 2013 did not apply to nominations to the supreme court. those nominations are considered under the plain language rule 22, the point of order is not sustained. >> i appeal the ruling. >> and, the senate preceded those votes advancing supreme court nominee, neil gorsuch to a final vote in the chamber expected tomorrow evening. as always will have th

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