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Harry R.
Democrat NV

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  • Workforce Investment Act of 2013—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2013-12-10

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    REID. Mr. President, I move to proceed to Calendar No. 243, S. 1356.

    The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.

    The assistant legislative clerk read as follows: Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 243, S. 1356, a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to strengthen the United States workforce development system through innovation in, and alignment and improvement of, employment, training, and education programs in the United States, and to promote individual and national economic growth, and for other purposes.

    Schedule Mr. REID. Mr. President, following my remarks and those of Senator McConnell, the Senate will proceed to executive session to consider the nomination of Patricia Millett to be U.S. circuit judge for the DC Circuit and immediately vote on confirmation of that nomination.

    Senators should expect additional votes this morning with respect to reconsideration of the cloture vote on the nomination of Mel Watt to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

    millett and watt nominations Mr. President, this morning the Senate will consider the nomination of Patricia Millett to serve on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, considered by many to be the second highest court in the land. We postponed this vote last night out of consideration for a number of Senators whose flights were delayed by bad weather. I thank my colleagues for their patience. And I am pleased that today Ms. Millett will finally get the fair, up-or-down vote she deserves.

    Ms. Millett is exceedingly qualified for this position. She graduated at the top of her class from the University of Illinois at Urbana and attended Harvard Law School. Ms. Millett has argued more than 32 cases before the Supreme Court, including one while her husband was deployed overseas with the U.S. Navy. She also served as Assistant Solicitor General under both President Bill Clinton and President George Bush.

    She enjoys bipartisan support from a variety of law enforcement officials, legal professionals, and military organizations. And it is my honor to help confirm a woman whom colleagues have called fair- minded, principled, and exceptionally gifted.

    I will also move to reconsider the nomination of Congressman Mel Watt to serve as Administrator of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

    Congressman Watt graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Yale Law School. He has represented North Carolina's 12th Congressional District since 1993 and served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. And as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Watt understands the mistakes that led to the housing crisis.

    Yet last month Senate Republicans blocked Congressman Watt's nomination--the first time a sitting Member of Congress has been filibustered since 1843, since before the Civil War. They denied Congressman Watt even the courtesy of an up-or-down vote.

    Congressman Watt proposed legislation to crack down on the worst abuses in mortgage lending and helped pass the Dodd-Frank bill to prevent predatory lending. By any measure, Congressman Watt is qualified to help struggling homeowners recover from the worst economic downturn in generations.

    And at a moment when America still faces difficult economic times-- and as the housing market is finally beginning to recover--it is crucial the Senate confirm the most talented and dedicated individuals to serve in the executive branch of government.

    It is critical that the Senate confirm Congressman Watt to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

    This week the Senate will also consider a number of other highly qualified judicial and executive branch nominees.

    The 13 district court nominees on the calendar have been waiting an average of 56 days for a confirmation vote--almost twice as long as the average at this point in President Bush's second term.

    [[Page S8582]] One of these district court nominees, Elizabeth Wolford, has been waiting 130 days.

    There are also 75 executive branch nominees currently ready to be confirmed by the Senate who have waited an average of 140 days for confirmation.

    I want to remind my colleagues that, as always, there is an easy way and a hard way to process these nominations. And the more time the Senate wastes burning the hours and days between votes, the more likely the Senate will hold late-night and weekend votes this work period.

    Recognition of the Minority Leader The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Republican leader is recognized.

    Remembering Nelson Mandela Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, tens of thousands gathered today in Soweto to pay their last respects to a man who symbolized so much for so many, and it is not hard to see why. Politicians come and go, Presidents rise and fall, but Nelson Mandela was more than a politician, more than just a foreign leader. He was a symbol--a symbol of freedom and hope, not only for his own people but for all people. We also remember Nelson Mandela as a symbol of reconciliation, especially when he had every reason not to be. How many of us could spend so many years in confinement--away from people we love, with little to do but mull the circumstances of our incarceration--and emerge so forgiving toward our captors? To me it was telling to see that one of the many people paying respects to Nelson Mandela this week was an Afrikaner named Christo Brand. The two men struck up an improbable but lasting friendship during Mandela's time on Robben Island. I say ``improbable'' because Brand was his jailer.

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