A picture of Senator Dean Heller
Dean H.
Republican NV

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  • Executive Calendar

    by Senator Dean Heller

    Posted on 2017-10-26

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    HELLER. Madam President, I rise to discuss an issue that is extremely important to me and to many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle--the issue of judicial vacancies. I came here to work and am honored to serve on behalf of the people of the State of Nevada who sent me to Washington. One of the most pressing issues I have found since being here is, all too often Members of Congress go home before their work is finished.

    Many of you here know the first piece of legislation I have introduced for the past two Congresses is my No Budget, No Pay Act. The concept is simple. If Congress can't pass a budget and all of its spending bills on time, then Congress itself shouldn't get paid.

    The Senate should apply the same concepts, in my opinion, to confirming judges. I commend our majority leader for bringing two more judges to the floor this week, but there is a lot more work to do. We need to work day and night to confirm those judges who are already on our calendar and have moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate has an incredible opportunity right now to confirm Federal judges who will uphold the Constitution. We should be here every day, for as long as we need, to ensure all judicial vacancies are filled.

    Our conference must be willing to work together in order to get the business of the Senate done. Right now, there are 149 judicial vacancies. Let me repeat that. There are 149 judicial vacancies, and the Senate has only confirmed 8 judges this session--149 vacancies, 8 judges confirmed. That means, in 9 months, with well over 100 vacancies and over 60 judicial emergencies, we have only managed to confirm 8 judges.

    The minority party has undercut the confirmation process of the administration's nominees and judicial appointments. When new Presidents are elected, they have always been given an opportunity to put their team in place in short order. Historically, this is not just common courtesy, it is an expectation of the American people to have a seamless transition of power, resulting in a functional Federal Government.

    One of the eight judges confirmed was Neil Gorsuch, who I am thankful now serves on the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch is an example of the type of judge we have the chance to put in place. As with Justice Gorsuch's confirmation, we need to do all that is necessary to fill these vacancies with great judges like him.

    President Trump has nominated many judges and has more to nominate. For those he has already nominated, it is our duty to carefully review these nominations and ensure that these judges are confirmed in a timely manner. We must be willing to put in as much time as needed, whether that means working weekends, canceling State work periods, or working all through the night to get these Constitution-loving judges confirmed.

    I know this is important to all of us, but we need to do better. Last week, I was a proud partner with Senator Perdue and several of my other colleagues in calling on the Senate to work 24/7 until we get our work done. We have a substantial list of important work to complete, including confirming the judicial nominees the President has sent us, passing tax reform, fixing our broken healthcare system, and funding the government. The American people elected us to complete these critical tasks. They elected us to deliver a simpler, fairer tax code and to make sure our Federal judiciary is fully occupied with judges whose sole purpose is to uphold the Constitution as it was written.

    To my fellow Senators, I am calling on all of us to do what the people have sent us to do and not let a light schedule stop us from fulfilling our duties. The American people don't go to work 4 days a week, and neither should we. This isn't France. We need to work a full workweek. We must make it clear to our constituents that we are fighting for the hard-working Americans every single day. Americans do what it takes to get the job done, and we should do the same.

    I yield back.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.

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