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Barbara M.
Democrat MD

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  • Nomination of Antony Blinken to Be Deputy Secretary of State

    by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski

    Posted on 2014-12-16

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    MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I come to the floor with my colleague Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland.



    Mr. President, the Senate is not in order.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will be in order. Take your conversations out of the Chamber.

    Ms. MIKULSKI. Does that mean all conversations, Mr. President? The PRESIDING OFFICER. Please take your conversations outside the Chamber. Thank you.

    Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I am on the floor, along with my colleague Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland, to advocate for Carolyn Colvin to be confirmed as the Social Security Commissioner, making her the chief executive officer of the Social Security Administration.

    I am very frustrated that her nomination has become a casualty of the Senate clock and unfair attacks by some Members of the Republican Party. We need a Social Security Administrator and we need a competent, qualified person to lead it and that is Carolyn Colvin. Ms. Colvin's nomination is important because the work of the Social Security Administration is important.

    Over 60 million Americans rely on Social Security--900,000 in Maryland. Seniors, individuals with disabilities, and children depend on the benefits and services of the Social Security Administration. It is a big agency with big responsibilities. It supports 63,000 Social Security employees; 11,000 are in the Social Security headquarters in Woodlawn. It is not about the numbers, it is about what they do.

    Guess what they do. They administer $950 billion in benefit payments, approximately 25 percent of all government spending. Last year over 40 million people came to its field offices, 47 million people called the 800 number, 5 million came for retirement, 2.8 million came for their disability. I go through the numbers because it shows an agency, with the magnitude of its responsibility, making sure we determine who is eligible for Social Security, that there is no fraud in Social Security, and that it is administered in a competent, careful way for the American people.

    That means you have to have a permanent Administrator; you cannot have someone acting. That is why we go to Carolyn Colvin. She is skilled. She is seasoned. She is experienced. She started out as a clerk at Social Security, and in her public service she has risen through the ranks in a variety of very important positions, being well known and well respected, and is an excellent public administrator. She is a problem solver, she is a reformer, and she has been the Deputy since December 2010 and Acting Commissioner since February 2013.

    I am frustrated at the attacks on Ms. Colvin. It is about a techno boondoggle that began under her predecessor, not under her. In fact, she commissioned the McKinsey & Company to study the problem. The minute she wanted to get to the bottom of the problem, she was accused of all kinds of things.

    Everything has been referred to the inspector general. They said let's wait for the inspector general. Guess what. The inspectors general keep recusing themselves for this reason or that reason. While they are recusing, the Republicans are using it as excusing, and we can't get to Carolyn Colvin.

    For those who need Social Security, as well as for those who want to make sure the benefits are administered competently, we need a permanent Administrator.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the following nomination: Calendar No. 1058, the nomination of Carolyn Watts Colvin to be the Commissioner of Social Security; and further that the Senate proceed to vote on the confirmation of the nomination; the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate; and that no further motions be in order to the nomination; that any related statements be printed in the Record; and that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

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