A picture of Senator Roy Blunt
Roy B.
Republican MO

About Sen. Roy
  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Roy Blunt

    Posted on 2013-01-30

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    BLUNT (for himself, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Lee, Mr. Scott, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Cornyn): S. 188. A bill to prevent certain individuals purportedly appointed to the National Labor Relations Board from receiving salaries, and to prevent an unconstitutional quorum of the Board from taking agency actions, until there is a final decision in pending lawsuits regarding the constitutionality of certain alleged recess appointments; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

    Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I rise to talk about a piece of legislation I intend to introduce on behalf of Senator Cruz and myself, The Advice and Consent Restoration Act, which responds to last week's decision announced on Friday by a three-judge panel on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where they unanimously ruled that President Obama violated the Constitution when he made so-called recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. They are so-called recess appointments because the Senate was still in session.

    The fundamental question is does the President get to decide whether the Senate is in session or does the Senate get to decide whether the Senate is in session. If that question had been debated when the Constitution was being debated, I am sure they would have said: That will never come up; there is no way we are going to develop a system with this separation of powers and the President will decide whether the Senate is in session.

    This President did decide that, and the court agreed with the argument that a number of Senators, Senator McConnell and I, along with 40 of our colleagues, filed in an amicus brief that clearly made the point the Senate gets to decide when the Senate is in session. We argued that the Constitution does not empower the President to make this decision. The court agreed with that argument, stating that any other interpretation of the Constitution would give the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees anytime he pleases. In a direct quote, the court said it would give ``the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees anytime he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction.'' That is the end of the quote from the three-judge panel's decision.

    The right of the Senate to provide advice and consent is an important check on the risk of this type of Presidential overreach and one the Senate should actively exercise. In fact, the Senate actively and consciously made the decision in January to stay in session to do some of the work that needed to be done during the session and, frankly, to be sure that the President couldn't avoid the constitutional requirement of advice and consent.

    Allowing the President to determine the Senate's schedule would seriously damage the balance of powers; it would seriously damage the Senate's autonomy. It eliminates an important check on the executive branch.

    The court invalidated the one ruling that was being appealed. Of course, the Presiding Officer understands this exactly, that the court case would only have appealed one ruling that impacted one company or one employer, and the court said that ruling can't stand. There are more than 200 other actions this same group, which the court said is not legally functioning, had taken, and all 200 or more of those actions are now in question.

    I believe the answer will be clear. Perhaps all those will have to be appealed in some way so that a court can say, No, just as in the first ruling we made, the people who made these decisions were not constitutionally in place; consequently the ruling they made isn't in place. The work of this agency will not pass constitutional muster and, of course, the President needs to now appoint people who would be confirmed by the Senate.

    In spite of the three-judge panel's unanimous decision, the National Labor Relations Board recently announced that it intends to ignore the ruling and carry on with business as usual. This is not a very acceptable response. The President first decides he is going to decide whether the Senate is in session. Then the people he appoints in an unconstitutional way decide they are going to ignore the court ruling and continue to do what they have been doing.

    The President needs to reappoint, and until the President does reappoint, Congress has a responsibility to block this unconstitutional act by terminating the salaries of those who were illegally appointed and by preventing them from conducting any official business until the Senate acts to approve their appointments.

    Senator Cruz and I urge our colleagues to join us in supporting this effort. The National Labor Relations Board should take down the ``open for business'' sign they put up on Monday after the court ruling on Friday. Frankly, they need to put up a ``help wanted'' sign.

    The Constitution matters. What the Constitution says matters. The Senate, I hope, will be vigorous in enforcing its constitutional responsibility.

    ______ By Mr. UDALL of Colorado (for himself, Mr. Flake, Mrs. Gillibrand, and Mr. Warner): S. 189. A bill to establish an employment-based immigrant visa for alien entrepreneurs who have received significant capital from investors to establish a business in the United States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

    Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, it is with great pleasure that I, along with Mr. Flake of Arizona, reintroduce the Startup Visa Act. The Startup Visa Act of 2013 allows immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign graduates of U.S. universities to appeal for a two-year visa on the condition that they secure financing from a qualified U.S. investor and can demonstrate the ability to create jobs in America.

    If they are successful in developing their company and hiring American workers, they would be eligible for legal permanent residency and would be free to continue building their companies, creating more home-grown jobs [[Page S406]] and continuing our legacy of unmatched innovation and entrepreneurship.

    The United States has a proud history of providing entrepreneurs from around the world the freedom and resources to turn an idea into a successful venture. Well-known U.S. companies such as Google, Yahoo, Intel, Pfizer and eBay all began as startups that were founded by immigrants. These businesses have grown into multibillion-dollar industry leaders that provide thousands of Americans with high-paying jobs in cutting-edge fields.

    The number of jobs offered by startups is dropping off. While this is partly due to the economic downturn it is also because of our Nation's broken immigration system. Many of the world's best and brightest minds are finding that our current visa restrictions discourage them from launching new companies here. This is a major competitive disadvantage, and one that runs counter to our Nation's history of fostering foreign- born innovators, such as Albert Einstein or Andrew Carnegie.

    More worrisome is that while we try to work out a solution to our broken immigration laws, our foreign competitors are catching up and, in some cases, passing us by in many of the fields we once dominated. In 2009, for the first time in recent memory, foreign innovators were awarded more patents than Americans pioneers. Only a decade earlier, U.S.-based entrepreneurs were awarded almost 57 percent of all patents worldwide. We must work quickly and in a bipartisan manner to reverse this trend. The Startup Visa Act of 2013 is a strong and simple step that will reward foreign innovators, pioneers and entrepreneurs for creating jobs in America. Put simply, this legislation will help protect America's position as the global leader in innovation.

    We do not have to look far for evidence that our broken immigration system is hurting our economy. We only need to look at our Canadian neighbors. The Canadian founders of Vanilla Forums, an innovative and fast-growing company, whose products are used by websites around the world to host online forum discussions, spent a summer in my home State of Colorado participating in a mentorship program with U.S.-based entrepreneurs and investors. Despite the numerous investors who were interested in funding Vanilla Forums and developing the company in Colorado, concerns about the founders' ability to obtain visas won out. As a result, Vanilla Forums is a successful company that is hiring employees at its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec.

    America has tremendous untapped potential for innovation and it is our responsibility to give our Nation every opportunity to remain globally competitive. By passing the Startup Visa Act of 2013 we can create high paying jobs here in the United States, and help ensure that the next globally transformative company is based in America. This legislation is bipartisan and fiscally responsible; it will spur private investment and it will help put our economy back on track. I ask my colleagues to join me in support of this important legislation.


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