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Jefferson S.
Republican AL

About Sen. Jefferson
  • Nomination of Deborah Lee James to Be Secretary of the Air Force

    by Senator Jeff Sessions

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    SESSIONS. Mr. President, we are definitely proceeding in an unusual manner at this point in time in the history of the U.S. Senate. We are moving under regular order. Nominations are being processed in regular order. Votes are being held. Debate is being shut off by the appropriate procedures. But it is unusual from what we have been doing all year and what we have been doing historically. So I guess the question is, how did we get to this point? What has happened in the Senate that has caused the difficulties we now have? I believe it is becoming clear to our colleagues that actions that have been taking place in recent days have altered the very nature of the Senate, have eroded the collegiality that makes this body work on a daily basis, the kind of actions in which people unanimously agreed to allow things to happen different from the regular order, that allowed things to be proceeded up and go faster and move forward. It has been done on a regular basis.

    But we have had a conflict, an alteration in the rules of the Senate that is so serious that it impacts the very nature of this institution and causing great concern. We have a lot of new Members in the Senate, and they have not seen how the Senate operated just in the--what?--16, 17 years I have been here. I have seen the great change, and it is a concern to me, and it is even different from that more classical operation before I came here.

    It is not healthy, it is not good, and it cannot be allowed to just happen without any discussion, without any full understanding of how the majority leader of the Senate has accrued to himself powers never before allowed to be held by the majority leader of the Senate. It has altered the very nature of the debate here and the processes that involve our constitutional responsibility.

    So I believe we need to talk about it. I believe we need to understand it, and somehow we need to alter what has happened.

    I remember when I came to the Senate. Senator Robert Byrd loved the Senate. Senator Robert Byrd said there are two great Senates: the Roman Senate and the U.S. Senate. He gave all of us new Members a lecture about the great heritage of which we are a part. He wrote a book on the rules of the Senate.

    We have had rules for quite a number of years. The standing rule of the Senate is rule XXII. It is a clear, simple directive passed by two- thirds of the Members of the Senate duly chosen and sworn.

    This is what rule XXII says. It is not confusing. It is very clear. It was adopted by two-thirds of the Senate.

    It says: A motion signed by 16 Senators--that is, to negotiate something, to shut off debate, you have to have 16 Senators to file a motion--a motion signed by 16 Senators to bring to a close the debate upon any measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate-- any measure, motion, or other matter pending before the Senate, which includes nominations--shall be decided by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn, except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds of the Senators present and voting.

    Crystal clear. The rules of the Senate are to be decided by two- thirds. To bring to a close debate upon any measure, motion or matter pending before the Senate requires three-fifths, 60 votes out of our 100. That is the rule of the Senate. That has guided us for generations. It has worked well. I am going to talk a little bit about this, and I could go into even greater detail and say that the process has been working very well.

    Senators on the Republican side have treated the nominees of President Obama very well, far better than were the nominations of President Bush when he came here in 2000. When I was here in 2000, his nominees were hammered, filibustered for the first time in history, held by some of the same people who now with great outrage attack those who have blocked and filibustered a few of the Obama nominees--just a few.

    So it is really almost unbelievable to me that we are at this point of the rules process of the Senate. So how did it happen? Precisely what happened? I think the American people need to know.

    Senator Reid, apparently irritated that he was not able to have three judges confirmed to the District of Columbia Circuit bench, decided that he was going to change the rules. Senator Schumer said he was going to get those nominees confirmed one way or the other.

    I am the ranking Republican on the budget committee. This country is spending money it does not have on things it does not need on an absolutely regular basis. We are wasting taxpayers' money. So the actions of the President and the Senate majority that filled three seats on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals were scrutinized.

    In my opinion, I believe it is uncontestable that these positions did not need to be filled. They just didn't. They do not have enough work on that court to need these judges. The average caseload per judge on the DC Circuit was 149 per judge--149. Well, what does that mean? Is that a lot or not a lot? It is not a lot. It is the lowest number by far of any circuit in America. The caseload has been steadily declining.

    I have been chairman in the Judiciary Committee of the court subcommittee that deals with these issues. Senator Grassley was there before I came. I have been ranking member and am now ranking member on that subcommittee. We have been watching the DC Circuit. The cases continue to decline. So with 8 judges now active on that court, they are down to 149 cases per judge. Well, is that a lot? How about my circuit, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, GA, covering Florida, Alabama, and Georgia? How many cases do they have per judge? Hold your hat: 740. That is how many my court handles per judge.

    They say they do not need more judges. In fact, they prefer not to have the court get so large that there will not be a coherent court and be able to have consistency in the law. That has been their tradition for many years, more than 20 years. They do not want more judges. Actually, we know that the judges on the DC Circuit have said they do not need more judges. We know they took off last summer. They take off long summers, unlike any other court of appeals, from May 16 to September 16. They did not hold court from May 16 to September 16.

    The next lowest circuit in America has almost twice as many cases per judge as the DC Circuit. I know that our frugal Presiding Officer, as Governor of Maine, as part of that Yankee frugality for which they are famous, he knew how to manage his money when he was Governor. It costs $1 million a [[Page S8765]] year, we are told, to maintain a Federal judgeship. That is a lot of money. So we are adding three judges to the DC Court of Appeals who absolutely are not needed--absolutely are not needed.

    This Senate refused to confirm them. We voted not to confirm these judges and blocked moving the final vote. They lacked the three-fifths vote to confirm those judges. But Senator Schumer said: We are going to get them done one way or the other. We do not worry about principle. We do not worry about law. We do not worry about the heritage of the Senate. We do not worry about whether we need those judges. We are going to put them in anyway.

    Well, I did not pay much attention to that. I did not think he was serious about that, I have to tell you. I thought our Democratic colleagues would really understand that we have confirmed almost all of the President's nominees. Only two or three prior to that had failed out of the whole 6 years he has been in office. President Bush lost five on 1 day--good nominees--for no other reason than they had a classical view of restraint on the part of a judge.

    We do not need these judges. As a matter of fact, Senator Grassley and I offered and passed legislation that moved one of the DC Circuit judges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, a liberal circuit. But that circuit wanted more judges and appeared to need more judges to handle the caseload.

    We moved one. We have legislation to move others to someplace in America where they are needed because we are going to have to fill and add some judgeships around the country because, unlike the DC Circuit, some of the areas in our country are adding cases and are needing judges and are short of judges. So good management simply says that you take them from where you do not need them and you move them to places where you do need them and you serve the interests of the American taxpayer and you protect the money they send us. We have a holy charge to protect every single dollar extracted from every American.

    The former Speaker, the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, said: We have cut all we can cut. We cannot find any more waste in our government. There is nothing left to cut.

    Well, there are places left to cut. These three judges on the DC Circuit are just one of thousands, tens of thousands of places we could save the money we are spending that we do not need to be spending, that does not help America, does not make us stronger and does not benefit the rule of law.

    So how did it happen? What happened that so upset Senator Reid? The majority leader is one of 100, puts his britches on one leg at a time. He does not get to dictate to this Senate. He gets to stand right there, and because his Presiding Officer is selected by Senator Reid-- he is the majority leader--the Presiding Officer will always recognize him first.

    It is done when Republicans have the majority. It is done when the Democrats have the majority.

    He asked for recognition and received it. This is how he changed the rules of the Senate that require a three-fifths vote to shut off debate. Remember, a change of the rules of the Senate is supposed to take a two-thirds vote, 67 votes.

    He said to the Presiding Officer at that point, the President pro tempore of the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a man who is most experienced in all of these matters--this is what Senator Reid said, and it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

    I talked to a reporter, an experienced, well-known reporter, the other day. He was talking about it, and he said--he didn't ask for confidentiality. He probably used my name.

    He said: I didn't think he was going to do it, and when it started, everybody in the newsroom just stopped and we looked.

    Wow. Because this was a big deal. This was a huge event in the history of the Senate. This is what Senator Reid said and everybody needs to know how it happened.

    He said, ``I raise a point of order that the vote on cloture under rule XXII for all nominations other than for the Supreme Court of the United States is by majority vote.'' The vote on cloture to shut off debate, he moved that under rule XXII. He said ``under rule XXII'' that the vote on cloture to shut off debate for all nominations ``other than for the Supreme Court''--he thought of that, I suppose--``is by majority vote.'' Rule XXII says, `` . . . a motion signed by sixteen Senators, to bring to a close the debate on any measure, motion, other matter pending before the Senate . . . shall be decided . . . by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn.'' The majority leader of the Senate, knowing precisely what rule XXII said, stood right there and asked the chairman, the Presiding Officer, to pretend that this is not a rule of the Senate and that only a majority vote is needed. That is what he said.

    What did Senator Leahy say? The transcript shows Senator Leahy is the President pro tempore of the Senate. He said, ``Under the rules, the point of order is not sustained.'' It is exactly right. Senator Reid's petition that it ought to be decided by a majority vote couldn't be sustained because it is absolutely in violation of the rules of the Senate. Senator Leahy so ruled, as he was advised, I am sure, by the Parliamentarian, also selected by Senator Reid.

    There is no question about this. There is absolutely no question about it.

    But there is this little deal that on a matter where a Parliamentarian rules on matters dealing with the rules of the Senate, somebody can ask and appeal the ruling of the Senate, an appeal of the whole Senate to check to decide whether the Parliamentarian is correct.

    They used this corrective measure to allow the will of the Senate to interpret the rules of the Senate, to break the rules of the Senate. That is what they did, lemming like, my Democratic colleagues, surely not understanding what they did, one by one they walked up and voted or voted from their chairs in support of Senator Reid.

    All but two of the Democratic colleagues voted--over 50, a majority voted--to say that the rules of the Senate don't mean what they say and they will just ignore them.

    The net effect was that once that was ruled, then cloture could be shut off, debate could be shut off with a simple majority. That became the rule of the Senate in a way contrary to the rules of the Senate which say ``--except on a measure or motion to amend the Senate rules, in which case the necessary affirmative vote shall be two-thirds. . . . '' To change that rule of the Senate that says it takes 60 votes to shut off debate through a majority to shut off debate would take two-thirds. They just ignored that.

    The reason it is so important is every other rule, tradition, and standard of the Senate is at stake. A very wise Senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, a longtime Democrat, chairman of the Armed Services Committee on which I sit, I have watched him work all the years I have been in the Senate and I have been very impressed. He and I don't agree on many of the substantive issues and how we approach spending, taxes, and regulations. He knows how to preside in a committee to give everybody a fair shake. He said we shouldn't do this. He pleaded with his Democratic colleagues not to vote in this fashion.

    He said that if you can change a rule in this fashion, if you can alter the rules of the Senate this way, there are no rules. There is no power, no protection for the minority, other than the simple power of the majority vote. There is nothing in this Senate if we follow this precedent that can't be changed by a simple ruling of an appeal of the chair and all those rights that have always protected the minority.

    That is a very dangerous thing. It was played with and talked about by the Republicans on one occasion when the entire ground rules of the Senate for confirmation of judges was altered. We found ourselves with a stunning filibuster of 10 of the first 12 nominees President Bush submitted for the court of appeals, but it was never executed. An agreement was reached to alter that.

    Indeed, when this tension rose at the beginning of this year, Senator Reid agreed that changes in the process gave the majority party and the President [[Page S8766]] more power to expedite nominees and gave them more power over the minority. He was able to secure that agreement in a way consistent with the heritage of the Senate. He said at that time he was not going to seek to change the rules of the Senate again.

    I wish to say this should not be looked at as a little matter. It is a very big matter. I am extraordinarily troubled by it. That is part of what is happening now.

    I wish to mention one more thing on a chart I have that talks about the caseload for the DC Circuit. Look at these numbers. This is the Eleventh Circuit, 720 cases per judge, not 740, as I said earlier. Look at these caseloads per judge until you get down to the DC Circuit, 149 per judge.

    We didn't need to add three judges. The existing, active judges, not counting the vacancy, just 8 active judges, only have 149 cases per judge. We don't need to add one new judge.

    The President was determined to try to shove that through, and that he did, and got us into all of this turmoil when the Senate didn't agree--three-fifths of the Senate not agreeing to move forward to a final vote resulting in the lack of confirmation of those judges. That is where we are.

    In the Fifth Circuit in Texas, there are 488 cases per judge; the Ninth Circuit in California, 472 cases per judge. The Second Circuit, handling some of the more complex cases in America, Manhattan in New York, there are 440 cases per judge. We can see the caseload averages around the country.

    The average is 384 cases per judge. That is about 2\1/2\ times the number of cases that the DC Circuit has per judge. That is why there were objections to the nominees. I said when this happened most of these nominees would probably be confirmed, because if it hadn't been for the low caseload, that there was not a question--I suggested, without going into detail, the nominees were probably qualified and it would be unlikely that they would be filibustered because of lack of qualifications, although I was probably wrong in that for at least one of them. Pillard's nomination represents a judge whose views on the law are so outside the mainstream that I don't believe, having studied that record subsequent to those remarks, she should have been confirmed on the merits.

    My basic view, as I stated from the very beginning, is not a question of the merits of the nominees. The question was do we need to spend $3 million a year for these three judges when we have other circuits that need judges and they don't need them there.

    I will share with you what President Obama was looking for in his nominee.

    Ms. Pillard went to Yale and Harvard. She also spent 6 years with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is a long-time member of the very liberal activist American Constitution Society. They believe in activist judges and advocate for that. In recent years an activist conservative legal movement has--she has been a professor at Georgetown. She has written many controversial articles and has a record exclusively devoted, it seems to me, as a very extreme, progressive, judicial philosopher who says judges do not need to be objective and are empowered to read the meanings of the Constitution to advance an agenda. It seems to be in harmony with President Obama's openly stated views about what he looks for in judges, and that is a judge who is empathetic. He has empathy.

    What does that mean, ``empathy''? What it means is he wants a judge not committed to law. That is what it means.

    What is empathy? Feelings, ideology, politics--that is what it sounds like to me.

    The American heritage of law is based on objective criteria, the rule of law. Judges take an oath to serve under the Constitution of the United States and the laws of America. They are under them. They serve the law. They don't write the law. They don't amend the law. They don't change the law. They don't change the meaning of words in our laws or our Constitution to meet some empathetic feeling they have, some political agenda they have. And the American people are on to it. They know this is happening too much. They do not like it. They want it to stop. They do not want this kind of judge on the bench.

    But many of our great law schools, many of our judicial philosophers and writers think this is all great. They think we need this kind of thing. We need to advance the law. That is what they say, and the hero to them is the one who comes up with some gimmick to reinterpret the plain meanings of our Constitution to have it say what they want it to say at a given time--to help decide a lawsuit they would like to see helped to advance an agenda.

    It is really part of a post-modern approach to life, to law. Senator Reid's nuclear option execution is also a post-modern power thing. It is the result, it is the end, it is the ideology, it is the revolution. Advance the cause. No rules apply.

    Some may say: Jeff, you are too hard. You shouldn't say that. That is exactly what it is, I have to say, in my belief. Remember, in 2001, when President Bush got elected, there were virtually no filibusters. A few judges had problems that were held up for a while, but there were no filibusters of judges. The Democrats met in retreat--Laurence Tribe, Marcia Greenberger, Cass Sunstein were there, according to the New York Times, and they came out of the retreat with a decision, and the decision was to alter the ground rules of confirmations. They immediately accepted the two nominees President Bush had submitted that were Democrats. One of them hadn't been confirmed under President Clinton so he renominated them. They took those two and confirmed them. They blocked ten great judges, great nominees, and this went on for over a year.

    There was vote after vote after vote, and they steadfastly--Senator Schumer, the leader--blocked those judges from being voted on by a filibuster, because there weren't 60 votes to shut off debate to effect cloture. So this went on for an extraordinary time, and at some point the threat was that the nuclear option would be executed. So a group of Senators met and said: Look, let's not change the rules of the Senate by breaking the rules of the Senate. Let's reach an agreement. And this is what they said. They said: You shouldn't filibuster judges any more unless there are extraordinary circumstances to justify it. Normally, you should just vote yes or no for the judge. In most cases yes or no should be the vote, and serious filibusters of nominees should not occur except for extraordinary circumstances.

    I thought that was OK. I didn't really think we should filibuster, period. But it seemed to be a reasonable compromise in a political body that would do the right thing for the confirmation process. We have been operating under that since 2002, I guess it was when that agreement was reached. I thought it was pretty good, actually. I was sort of proud of the way that came out. Therefore, President Obama has had very few filibusters.

    But when this gang of 14 reached their agreement, and it sort of was adopted by the Senate, there were ten judges being filibustered out of the first batch of judges President Bush had nominated. What came of it was that five were confirmed and five failed. So on one day, five judges were defeated without, in my opinion, anything like a justifiable basis to defeat those judges. But that is the way it was. We agreed to it. Five judges were blocked and never got to serve; five more were confirmed.

    And who orchestrated that? It was Senator Reid. He complained mightily when anybody would even think about ending the right to filibuster a judge, and Senator Schumer was leading the filibusters.

    So when the three judges that were nominated for absolutely unneeded seats on the DC circuit were blocked, you would have thought this was the first time in history anybody had ever been blocked from being a judge in this Senate. And they went and changed the rules of the Senate. It is just unbelievable to me that we are at this point.

    I truly believe that President Obama's nominees were treated fairly. I believe they have been evaluated fairly, and only a very few have been blocked.

    On one day Senator Reid filed cloture on 17 nominations. It was totally set up, and do you know what he said? He said it was because we were filibustering these. Every time he filed cloture he said a filibuster was occurring.

    [[Page S8767]] None of these judges were blocked. All of these judges got confirmed. There was not even a vote on cloture for the 17. Yet when he claimed there was some unprecedented number of filibusters in the Senate, he is counting that. There has not been this situation.

    So this is part of the tension we are involved in, and we remember that brooding over all of this is the Affordable Care Act--Obamacare-- and how that legislation was opposed by a substantial majority of Americans, consistently 2 to 1. Virtually 2 to 1 consistently the American people rejected ObamaCare. They told this Congress not to pass it. We did everything we could on the Republican side to keep it from passing. We pleaded with our colleagues not to do this.

    But, oh no, they had to pass it. President Obama wanted it, and they were going to pass it. We would find out later what was in it. That was literally the gist of what happened.

    Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts--liberal Massachusetts, the home of Ted Kennedy, who believed in government's involvement in health care--was elected on a promise in Massachusetts to be the vote to kill it. There was a vacancy. Senator Kennedy's death had created this vacancy, and Senator Brown campaigned to kill and be the vote that would deny the Democrats the 60th vote, in essence.

    So what did they do? They used the reconciliation budget process to pass this monumental policy change in America in a way that kept Scott Brown--and the American people, through the electoral process--from ending this piece of legislation that put us in the position we are in today, where you don't get to keep your doctor, you don't get to keep your health care, where deductibles are going through the roof, where the price of insurance is going up, where people are not being hired, where two-thirds of the people who get a job this year in America only get a part-time job, which is clearly being driven by business interests in trying to avoid being caught up in the obligations of the Affordable Care Act. But the Democrats insisted.

    Senator Reid has used every parliamentary maneuver possible to block any votes that would actually fix this bill or alter it in any way.

    So I just have to say we are at a point where we have to wonder whether democracy is happening in the Senate.

    So we go back home. People get elected to the Senate. They campaign, and they say they want to go to Washington and change ObamaCare. Have we had a single vote this year to change ObamaCare? No, because Senator Reid knows how to fill the tree and block any votes and keep it from happening. We are not voting on it.

    The House has repeatedly passed all kinds of legislation and sent it to the Senate, supposedly to cause us to respond to it, to review the legislation, to have votes, offer amendments and see what kind of response we would have to fixing the problems with ObamaCare. But what happens? Senator Reid obstructs that process. He does not allow these votes to occur. They might as well have thrown their legislation down the well.

    What good is it for the House to send a bill to the Senate if it never gets brought up on the most important issue facing our country today--health care? We can't even have a debate about it or vote about it. Is this the great Senate that Robert Byrd referred to? What about the Defense bill? The Defense bill is over here now. It spends over $500 billion--about half of the discretionary spending the United States Congress spends. What are we told? We are told the Senate is too busy. We can't bring up the Defense bill and have an amendment. No more amendments. The two little amendments that were voted on in an entire week are all we are going to get. No more amendments will be accepted. We are going to pass the bill as it is or we can vote no on it.

    Why? Why? Because Senator Reid knows there are some very important issues involved in the Defense bill and they are controversial. People have different views about them, and some people on his side of the aisle don't want to vote on those because they have to stand up before their constituents and before America and before the world and actually cast a vote and be accountable for their tenure in the Senate.

    Members on this side, such as Senator Tom Coburn, have ideas to fix the Defense Department and to save money. But Senator Reid won't give him a vote on it, and he objects. Senator Reid says: Senator Coburn, you are obstructing. You are one of those Republican obstructionists. You don't get a vote, Senator Coburn. I decide who votes here. I have filled the tree. I know how to fill the tree. I am the majority leader, and if you want a vote, you have to ask me, and I'm not giving you any more votes. I have had enough of you guys.

    That is kind of the way it has been. It is the way it has been with the ObamaCare bill and with the Defense bill. The very idea that national security is at stake and we have a $500 billion Defense bill-- now, I'm on the Armed Services Committee, and we tried to work together. We basically had an almost unanimous vote on it. Last year we had a unanimous vote on the Defense bill. But there are still matters we carry to the floor with the full understanding there will be debate and votes on those disputed issues and the whole Senate would get to vote on them. They are not being allowed to vote on those.

    This is unusual, colleagues. This has never happened in the history of the Senate. There was a study that found in the last 28 years previous to Senator Reid, the tactic of filling the tree to limit debate was done 40 times. Since Senator Reid has been the majority leader, he has done it 77 times. It is every time, really. He is in complete control of the amendment process in the Senate.

    We had a Democratic colleague who said he thought he had to get approval of the Republican leader, Senator McConnell, before he could get his amendment voted on. Why? Well, Senator Reid says the Republicans filed 20 amendments. Senator Reid says: You can only have three. So he starts with Senator McConnell, and Senator McConnell says: That is not enough, Senator Reid. You can get five, but I want to approve them. I suppose Senator McConnell may say: How many are you going to have? I want to know what they are before I reach an agreement with you.

    So I suspect it may be true that we have Democratic Senators having to ask the minority leader of the Senate for approval to get their amendments up.

    That is not the way this should operate. It has never operated that way. Our history is open and free debate, unlimited debate in which the great issues of our time can be discussed here and actually voted on. And our constituents back home, if they don't like the way we are voting, can vote us out of office and send somebody else up here. So politics is driving it. There is no other reason.

    The contention is that there wasn't enough time to vote on the Defense bill, but the Defense bill was on the floor an entire week. We could have had 10 votes a day, 15 votes a day easily on the Defense bill.

    Senator Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, told Senator Reid he had limited the number of amendments that Senators on our side had to 25, and those could have been done easily in a week. But what was also true, as Senator Inhofe noted, was that a lot of those votes would actually never occur because a person would realize they didn't have the votes to pass, the manager of the bill would agree to some of the amendments, or something else would happen. So it is very unlikely that many votes would have been cast. But that is what we have done in the past. We have had 2 and 3 weeks of time spent on the Defense bill, and we have had multiple amendments-- 30, 40, 50 amendments--and that has just ended.

    So here we are, at a time when our country has a crisis on its hands, the American people are suffering from a massive takeover of health care that was rammed through this body against their will, and they still remain steadfastly opposed to it. Those of us who share those same concerns and want to change and alter this bill that is damaging to our economy, that is damaging health care, that is hammering the middle class, we can't even get votes on it because we have a leader [[Page S8768]] who has dictated how things are done here.

    This has to end. It has to end. It cannot continue. I don't see how any Member of this body can go back home if they are a Democrat and say: I couldn't get up an amendment.

    Why? Well, Senator McConnell wouldn't let me.

    I go back home to my State, and others go back home to their States, Senator Toomey goes back to Pennsylvania and says: I offered all these amendments to improve ObamaCare.

    His constituent says: Well, did you vote on it? No.

    Why not? Senator Reid wouldn't let me.

    Where did this become part of the history of our country? Is this what we teach our children in grade school about how democracy is supposed to work? No. It has to end.

    I appreciate the opportunity to share these remarks tonight. We are at a point where this Senate has to stand, reverse the trends that have been going on, and ensure that we operate in an open way. People have to vote and vote and vote so they can be held accountable to the people who sent us here. And when we make people mad, they have every right to vote us out of office. We don't have any right to come here and hide under our desks, not to expose ourselves, not to let people know how we really feel and how we have really been moving the country.

    So I think the tea party rightly has concerns about that kind of thing, and I hope we can make progress to improve this situation that is essential for our country.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.

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