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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 21, 2020 2:59pm-6:50pm EDT

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[inaudible] help cleans up the marketplace but as the pushback in the asked constituencies and you might think this is an easy walk but on capitol hill -- and matt has a point that section 230 production enables, you know, [inaudible] and this was a very significant chink in the armor of section 230. >> we leave this program but you can continue watching online@c-span .org, u.s. senate is about to gavel and part of our long-time commitment to bring you live gavel to gavel coverage of congress. the senate will work on judicial nominations today with the
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procedural vote scheduled for 5:30 p.m. eastern time. live senate coverage here on c-span2. ck will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god who has given us the gift of life, consecrate with your presence the way our lawmakers work today. since they don't know what a day will bring, help them to strive to serve you in faithfulness each moment. in all things draw their minds to the goal of seeking to please
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you. as they draw near to you, illuminate their paths with your wisdom and grace. show them how to unselfishly serve your great purposes for humanity, proving themselves worthy of your manifold blessings. and, lord, as millions mourn supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg's death, send the solace of your comfort. we pray in your unifying name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands,
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one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., monday, september 21, 2020. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable josh hawley, a senator from the state of missouri to perform the duties of the chair. signed: chuck grassley, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: our nation is mourning the end of an exceptional american life. justice ruth bader ginsburg meant so much to our country. first and foremost, she was a brilliant generational legal mind who climbed past one obstacle after another to submit the very -- is summit the very pinnacle of her profession. justice ginsburg was a fixture on our nation's highest court for more than a quarter of a century. she was not just a lawyer. no, not just a lawyer but a
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leader. for majority opinions to impassioned dissents, her life's work will not only continue to shape jurisprudence but also enlighten scholars and students for generations. by all accounts justice ginsburg loved her work because she loved the law. in a more ordinary life story, her courage and continued excellence in the face of multiple serious illnesses would itself be the heroic climax rather than just one more remarkable chapter among so many. on the court justice ginsburg was a universe yale admired colleague. it's no wonder many americans have taken particular comfort these past days in remembering her famous friendship with her ideological opposite, the late justice scalia. together they made sure the halls of justice also rang with
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laughter and comedy. they rarely sat on the same side of a high profile decision but still sat together at the opera and most any other time they could manage to be together. so the legal world is mounting -- the legal world is mourning a giant but justice ginsburg's fellow justices, a legion of loyal law clerks and countless many others are mourning a close friend or mentor. the senate sends condolences to them all. yet justice ginsburg's impact on american life went deeper still. friday's loss feels personal to millions of americans who may have never made her acquaintan acquaintance. justice ginsburg with a spirited, powerful, and historic champion for american women to a degree that transcends any legal
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or philosophical disagreement. as she climbed from the middle class brooklyn jewish roots of which she was so proud into the most rarefied era of law and government, the future justice had to surmount one sexist obstacle after another. and justice ginsburg not only climbed a mountain, she blazed a trail. through deeds, through words, and simply through her example, she helped clear away the cobwebs of prejudice. she opened one professional door after another and made certain they stayed open behind her. directly or indirectly, she helped entire generations of talented women build their lives as they saw fit and enrich our society through professional work. law and politics aside, no
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friend of equality could fail to appreciate justice r.b.g.'s -- justice ginsburg's determination. finally, she was also in important ways a uniter. in recent years, many who considered themselves her admirers and might wish to claim the justice for their political side have come to embrace reckless proposals to politicize the very structure of the court itself. but justice ginsburg remained unswerving in her public commitment to preserving the neutral foundation of the institution she loved. the entire senate is united in thinking of and praying for justice ginsburg's family, most especially her daughter jane, her son james, her grandchildren, stepgrandchildren, great granddaughter, and everyone who
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called her their own. mr. president, i ask consent that the following remarks appear at a different place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: president trump's nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the senate. now, already, some of the same individuals who tried every conceivable dirty trick to obstruct justice gorsuch and justice kavanaugh are lining up, lining up to proclaim the third time will be the charm. the american people are about to witness an astonishing parade of misrepresentations about the past, misstatements about the present, and more threats against our institutions from the same people, the same people who have already been saying for
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months, well before this, already been saying for months they want to pack the court. two years ago, a radical movement tried to use unproven accusations to ruin a man's life because they could not win a vote fair and square. now they appear to be readying an even more appalling sequel. this time, the target will not just be the presumption of innocence for one american, but our very governing institutions themselves. there will be times in the days ahead to discuss the naked threats that leading democrats have long been directing at the united states senate and the supreme court itself. these threats have grown louder, but they predate this vacancy by many months. there will be time to discuss why senators who appear on the steps of the supreme court and personally threaten associate
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justices if they do not rule a certain way are ill equipped to give lectures on civics. but today let's dispense with a few of the factual misrepresentations right at the outset. we're already hearing incorrect claims that there is not sufficient time to examine and confirm a nominee. we can debunk this myth in about 30 seconds. as of today, there are 43 days until november 3 and 104 days until the end of this congress. the late iconic justice john paul stevens was confirmed by the senate 19 days after this body formally received his nominations. 19 days from start to finish. justice sandra day o'connor, another iconic jurist, was
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confirmed 33 days after her nomination. for the late justice ginsburg herself, it was just 42 days. justice stevens' entire confirmation process could have been played out twice, twice between now and november 3 with time to spare. and justice ginsburg herself could have been confirmed twice between now and the end of the year with time to spare. the senate has more than sufficient time to process a nomination. history and precedent make that perfectly clear. others want to claim the situation is exactly analogous to justice scalia's passing in 2016, and so we should not proceed until january. this is also completely false. here's what i said on the senate floor the very first session the
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day after justice scalia passed. quote, the senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was a divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago. here's what i said the next day when i spoke to the press for the first time on the subject. you have to go back to 1888 when grover cleveland was president to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential election year was approved by a senate of a different party. as of then, only six prior times in american history had a supreme court vacancy arisen in a presidential election year, and the president sent a nomination that year to the senate of the opposite party. the majority of those times, the outcome was exactly what happened in 2016, no
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confirmation. the historically normal outcome when you have divided government. president obama was asking senate republicans for an unusual favor that had last been granted nearly 130 years before them, but voters had explicitly elected our majority to check and balance the end of his presidency. so we stuck with the basic norms. oh, and by the way, in so doing, our majority did precisely what democrats have indicated they would do themselves. in 1992, democrats control the senate opposite president bush 41. then-senator joe biden chaired the judiciary committee. unprompted, unprompted, he publicly declared that his committee might refuse to cooperate if a vacancy arose and
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the republican president tried to fill it. in 2007, democrats control the senate opposite president bush 43. and with more than a year and a half left, a year and a half left, in president bush 43's term, the current democratic leader declared that, quote, except in extraordinary circumstances, end quote, the opposite party senate should boycott any further confirmations to the supreme court. that's the current democratic leader a year and a half before the end of the bush administration. so in 2016, senate republicans did not only maintain the historical norm, we also ran the biden-schumer playbook. when voters have not chosen divided government, when the
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american people have elected a senate majority to work closely with the sitting president, the historical record is even more overwhelmingly in favor of confirmation. eight times in our nation's history new vacancies have arisen and presidents have made nominations all during the election year. seven of the eight were confirmed, and the sole exception justice abe fortiss was a situation including personal corruption that extended into financial dealings. apart from that one strange exception, no senate has failed to confirm a nominee in the circumstances that face us right now. aside from that one strange exception, no senate has failed to confirm a nominee in the circumstances that face us right
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now. the historical precedent is overwhelming, and it runs in one direction. if our democratic colleagues want to claim they are outraged, they can only be trailed -- outraged at the plain facts of american history. there was clear precedent behind the predictable outcome that came out of 2016, and there is even more overwhelming precedent behind the fact that this senate will vote on this nomination this year. the american people reelected our majority in 2016. they strengthened it further in 2018 because we pledged to work with president trump on the most critical issues facing our country. the federal judiciary was right at the top of the list. ironically, it was the democratic leader who went out of his way to declare the midterm 2018 elections a referendum on the senate's handling of the supreme court.
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my friend, the occupant of the chair, was running that year. the democratic leader went out of his way to declare the 2018 midterms a referendum on the senate's handling of the supreme court. in his final speech before justice kavanaugh was confirmed, he yelled, literally yelled over and over at the american people to go vote. he told americans go elect senators based on how they would approach their advice and consent duties over these weeks. unfortunately for him, many americans did just that. after watching the democrat tactics, voters grew our majority and retired four, four of our former colleagues who had
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gone along with their party's behavior. we gained two seats, they lost four. that was the issue. perhaps more than any other single issue, the american people strengthened this senate majority to keep confirming this president's impressive judicial nominees who respect our constitution and understand the proper role of a judge. in 2014, the voters elected our majority because we pledged to check and balance a second lame duck president. two years later, we kept our word. in 2018, the voters grew that majority on our pledge to continue working with president trump most especially on his outstanding judicial appointments. we're going to keep our word once again.
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we're going to vote on this nomination on this floor. now, mr. president, i understand there is a bill at the desk due a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s. 4618 a bill making emergency supplemental propgz for -- appropriations for diser relief for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2020, and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule 14, i object to further proceedings. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, mr. president, in the jewish tradition, only a
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person of great righteousness dies at the end of the year near robbery had a -- near rosh hashanah because god determined they were needed until the very end. friday evening, shortly after the sundown on the eve of the jewish new year, we learned that supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg, a woman of great righteousness, a woman of valor, passed away. she was many things to many people -- a brilliant mind, a quick, which a lover of the opera, as friend, a colleague, a workout guru, a feminist icon. she might be the only supreme court justice to become a meme. what began as a joke, the notorious r.b.g., liking a legendary rapper to a jurist,
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struck a deep chord in american society because ruth bader ginsburg was in fact a rebellious force to be reckoned with. in a male-dominated legal establishment that wasn't waiting for someone like ruth to shake up the system, she elbowed her way through. her brains, her strength, her fortitude changed the world for women long before the rest of the world caught up. over the course of two decades as an academic and general counsel for the aclu, ruth worked to challenge the foundations of a legal system that had long treated women as a group that needed to be protected and, thus, excluded from full participation in american not only did thee reverse those laws and convince the majority of the supreme court that the constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of sex, she was a living,
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breathing example of how absurd an idea it ever was that women needed additional protections. when she got to the court, she ruled in a manner that brought the same equality and justice to so many different people from all walks of life. the daughter of russian immigrants who came to this country, like my own grandparents, ruth went to the same high school as i did in brooklyn, new york, james made -- james madison high school. i followed her assent to the bench with that special pride you feel watching someone from nare neighborhood make a great difference in the world. after her long life and illustrious career, men and women across america looked at ruth bader ginsburg with the same sense of pride and hope and sometimes adoration gives me
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great hope. may she forever rest in peace. now, justice ginsburg's death leaves a vacancy on the supreme court w only 44 days left before a national election, should could result in a different president, a vacancy that could determine the future of the supreme court for generations and make rulings that touch every aspect of american life. reporters will no doubt cover the political machinations whoer in washington, but for runs of millions of americans -- for hundreds of millions of americans this vacancy on the supreme court puts everything, everything, on the line. americans' right to health care hangs in the balance. president trump is pursuing a lawsuit which would eliminate protections for more than 130 million americans with preexisting conditions, send drug prices soaring for seniors on medicare, and take health
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insurance away from tens of millions of people. he will nominate a justice that would ensure that result in a supreme court case that will be argued only a few weeks after election day. a woman's fundamental constitutional right to make her own medical decisions, to control her own body, her right to choose hangs in the balance. the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain for fair wages at a time of growing income inequality hangs in the balance. the future of our planet, environmental protections, and the possibility of bold legislation to address climate change hang in the balance. voting rights and the right of every american citizen to have a voice in our democracy hang in the balance. pentagon stakes of this election, the stakes of this
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vacancy, concern no less than the future future rights for the american people. i was with my daughter and her wife to celebrate the jewish new year, and they thought to themselves and mentioned at the table, could their right to be married, could marriage equality be undone? those are questions hundreds of millions of americans are asking about things near and dear to them as this nomination hangs in úthl the rights enshrined in our constitution that are supposed to be protected by the supreme court of the united states, all the rights that could be undone or unwound by a conservative majority on the court. the right to join a june, marry who you love, the right of a parent with a child who has
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cancer not to watch helpless as their son or daughter suffers without proper health care. if you care about these things and the kind of country we live in, this election and this vacancy mean everything. and by all rights, by every modicum of decency and honor, leader mcconnell and the senate republican majority have no right to fill it -- no right. in the final few weeks sensing her failing health, justice ginsburg told her family that it was her, quote, most fervent wish no she not be replaced until the new president is installed. that was justice ruth bader ginsburg's dying wish, her most fervent wish, that she should not be replaced until a new president is installed. the senate republican majority should have no problem adhering
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to justice ginsburg's dying wish. leader mcconnell held a supreme court vacancy open for nearly a year in order to, quote, give the people a voice in selecting a supreme court justice. i just heard the remarks of the republican leader. it's obvious why he is so, so defensive. this is what leader mcconnell said in 2016. mere hours after the death of justice scalia. quote -- his words -- the american people should have a voice in the selection of their next supreme court justice. therefore, this vacancy shall not be filled until we have a new president. no amount of sophistry could change what mcconnell said then and it applies even more so now -- more so, so much closer we are to an election. in an op-ed on february 18, 02016, with senator grassley, leader mcconnell wrote, given
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that we are in the midst of a presidential election process, we believe the american people should seize the opportunity to weigh in on whom they trust to nominate the next person for a lifetime appointment to the supreme court. in the midst of an election system -- in the midst of an election process february before the election? but now we are not? now these words don't apply? doesn't pass the smell test in any way. no wonder leader mcconnell was so defensive in his comments. at a press conference on march 1, 2016, leader mcconnell said, quote, we look forward to the american people deciding who they want to make this appointment through their own votes. and on the floor, march 16, 2016, mcconnell said, quote, our view is this -- give the people a voice in filling the vacancy. that was eight months, more than
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eight months from a national election. this is 44 days. the senate has never confirmed a nominee to the supreme court this close to a presidential election. if that was how leader mcconnell and senate republicans justify their mindless obstruction of president obama's nominee, surely they must abide by their own standard. what's fair is fair. what's fair is fair h a senator's word must count for something. senator mcconnell has come to the floor numerous times to say, quote, your word is the currency of the realm in the senate. that quote -- it is important for all senators to keep their word but it is particularly important for the majority leader, unquote. leader mcconnell said those things. my friend, the distinguished chairman of the judiciary
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committee, sensed that this situation might arise and made it crystal clear how he would behave if the shoe were on the other foot. quote, he said, i want you to use my words against me, unquote. if there is a republican presidency in 2301 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say lindsey graham said, let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination. he reiterated that view less than two years ago and encouraged the audience to, quote, hold the tape for exactly this situation. no wonder americans have no little faith in government and in this senate. -- led by the republican majority. we now know the entire thing was a farce. not a shred of credibility to those argumentsment we have the exact scenario that chairman graham talked about -- a republican president and a
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supreme court vacancy in the last year of the first term. indeed, it's almost the last month of his first term. i want you to use those words against me,he said. you can say lindsey graham said the next president, whoever it might be, should make the nomination. well, here we are. and despite these words, despite their supposedly noble principle that the american people should have a voice in the decision of the next supreme court justice, president trump, leader mcconnell, chairman graham have already announced they will ignore their own standard and will rush to confirm a new justice before the next president is installed. a justice that could tear down justice ginsburg's life works and other critical laws, like the affordable care act. the kind words and lamentations
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we just heard from the majority leader about justice ginsburg are totally empty, totally meaningless if they moves to appoint someone who will tear down everything justice ginsburg built. leader mcconnell put the senate on pause for over four months while covid-19 devastated our country, but now he will move earth and heaven and ignore all principle and consistency to install a new supreme court justice who could rip away americans' health care in middle of a pandemic. leader mcconnell and chairman graham have made a mockery of their previous position. they seem ready to show the world their word is simply no good. it's enough to make your head explode and then to hear leader mcconnell up on the floor trying to defend this -- pathetic. pathetic.
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why even bother constructing a pretense for your position, why say it's this rule or that rule and then do the exact opposite when it suits your interests? why not just come to the floor and say, i'm going to do whatever is best for my political party. consistency be damned, reason be damned, democracy be damned. just admit it. there's no shaping the cravenness of this position. but over the course of the debate, i know the republican leader -- leadership is going to try. we're going to hear some crazy things from the other side to defend the indefensible and justify this unjustifiable power grab. we've heard some of it already a few minutes ago. we're going to here a series of preposterous arguments, that it has shout -- it somehow has to do with the orientation of the presidency. we'll hear that republicans have
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to do it because democrats will do far worth on unnamed things in the future. some -- some -- few on that side who at least have the dignity of putting their head down and plowing through it because they know there is no reason, no reason, no argument, no logic to justify flipping your position 180 degrees and calling it some kind of principle. it is not. it is utterly craven. an exercise in raw political power, and nothing -- nothing -- more. and i worry -- i worry for the future of this chamber if the republican majority proceeds down this dangerous path. if a senate majority over the course of six years steals two supreme court seats using completely contradictory rationales, how could we expect to trust the other side again? how can we trust each other if when push comes to shove, when the stakes are the highest, the
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other side will double-crass their own standards when it's politically advantageous? tell me how. tell me how this would not spell the end of this supposedly great deliberative body. because i don't see how. there's only one way, one way for this chamber to retain its dignity through this difficult chapter. there is only one way for us to have some hope of coming together again, trusting each other again, lowering the temperature, moving forward, and that is for four brave senate republicans to commit to rejecting any nominee until the next president is installed. that was justice ginsburg's dying wish, and it may be the senate's only last hope. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, edward hulvey meyers of maryland to be a judge of the united states court of federal claims. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i am here with an incredibly heavy heart. justice ruth bader ginsburg, a tireless, legendary champion of equality who has shaped our
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society for the better passed away on friday, the first eve of rosh hashanah. adherents to the jewish faith believes that a person who passes away during the high holidays is a person of great righteousness. truer words could not be spoken of justice ginsburg. standing just over five feet tall, she's a giant among the moral beacon whose life and legacy has inspired millions of americans to do their part and bring about a more perfect and just union. we're all forever indebted to her. the brooklyn-born daughter of working class jewish parents, the young girl would become just the second woman to serve on the supreme court and knew from early on she'd have to fight for her place in the world, and what a fighter she was. when she entered harvard law school in 1956, just one of
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nine women in her class of over 500, the united states was truly a man's world. women were expected to stay home and out of the workplace, even when they had jobs they could be fired for getting pregnant. and otherwise earned barely half of what men earned for the same work. women couldn't get credit cards without their husband's consent. as justice ginsburg would remark some years later, these and other gender-based rules helped to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage. justice ginsburg refused to accept the status quo. she believed unwaveringly that equal justice under law fundamentally required gender equality. when she joined the aclu women's
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right project in the early 1970's, she waged a systemic legal campaign against gender discrimination, and she ultimately won five out of six of the cases she took to the supreme court. she eloquently and incisively convinced a then-all male court to see and strike down the visible and invisible lines that kept the genders unequal. in reed versus reed she convinced the supreme court for the very first time that the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment barred discrimination on the basis of sex and enshrined constitutional protections for generations of women and men. and during her oral arguments, she spoke quietly yet confidently, piercing through
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dense legal arguments with moral clarity. in frontiero vs. richardson in which she convinced the court to end gender discrimination in the administration of military benefits, her words resonate powerfully today. she said, in asking the court to declare sex a suspect criterion, i ask no favor for my sex. all i ask of our brothers is that they take their feet off our necks. and within a few short years, justice ginsburg had already empowered millions of american women through her zealous advocacy, granting them more autonomy over their lives, their bodies, and their careers. she was widely hailed as the thurgood marshall of women's rights.
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she could have simply rested on her laurels from that point forward, but she was just getting started. in 1980, president carter nominated her to be the appellate judge on the d.c. circuit. i was so proud to vote for her confirmation back then, back 40 years ago. there she developed a reputation as a pragmatic consensus seeker, often finding common ground and building friendships with conservative judges. one of the best known of those friendships was hers and justice antonin scalia. so there's no surprise in 1993 president bill clinton selected ruth bader ginsburg to be a justice of the supreme court. he called her -- and i am
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further proud -- to say she and her husband were visiting vermont, my home state, when she received the call. i still vividly remember her confirmation hearings before the senate judiciary court -- senate judiciary committee. she was the embodiment of humility and grace and strength and wisdom. she endured four long days of at times intense questioning from senators of both sides of the aisle. never once did she lose her poise. i remember that so well. i thanked her for fighting for a world in which my daughter would have opportunities equal to those of my two sons. and unsurprisingly she was confirmed by a 96-3 vote,
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becoming just the second twom ascend to our -- second woman to ascend to our nation's highest court. my vote for her confirmation to the supreme court is among the most consequential and impactful i have cast as a senator. this weekend my wife marcel and i drove here to the capitol. we walked to the supreme court. we saw all the people around writing notes in chalk on the sidewalk, praising her, leaving flowers, leaving pictures. i saw so many -- i was struck really by the number of teenagers and people probably in their early 20's who were just standing there sadly and saying -- i talked to a couple of them. we were all wearing our masks. i'm sure they had no idea who i
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was. i talked to them, and they all said in one word or another, she was our inspiration. i think of my own daughter when a year ago justice ginsburg was being honored by a congressional group against cancer. she asked my wife to introduce her. my wife is a cancer survivor. my wife brought as her guest our daughter, and they sat there and told me so many times, the most meaningful time of her life was to sit with a woman who had always been her hero. marcelle and i sat there in silence and thought of the memories of the times we had been with her, of what she has done for this country. over the course of nearly three
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decades justice ginsburg secured her place as one of the most ardent defenders of equal rights for all americans in supreme court history. she never tired of being a voice for the voiceless. she always tried to use her power, her power to uplift the powerless. she authored the landmark majority opinion in united states vs. virginia, which struck down the virginia military institute's male-only admissions policy, as being unconstitutional. her words on what equality must mean in america. laws or policies are presumptively invalid, she wrote, if they are denied to women simply because they are women. equal opportunity to aspire and achieve and participate in and contribute to society.
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when i think of my wife, i think of my daughter, i think of my three wonderful granddaughters. and even when she was in the minority, justice ginsburg did not go quietly. she always left an impact. in the lilly ledbetter case where the majority ruled the claim of unequal pay was barred by an arbitrary statute of limitations, justice ginsburg retorted that the majority, quote, does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination. she then urged congress to correct the court's parsimonious reading. and two years later we did just that. we passed the lilly ledbetter fair pay act, a copy of which she proudly hung in her chambers
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, a bill that i was so proud to help bring to fruition on the floor of this body. in shelby county vs. holden, the disaster decision to invalidate key provisions of the voting rights act, justice ginsburg's dissent spoke truth to power. she wrote throwing out key provisions of the voting rights act when it has worked to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you're not getting wet. of course justice ruth bader ginsburg was right. and since that decision, we've witnessed a turn to voter suppression laws because the supreme court did not listen to her. that's why i championed the bipartisan john lewis voting rights advancement act to restore the voting rights act.
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these drives for change and many others often began with two words from -- i dissent. all the greatness of justice ginsburg and her goodness. all of us remember the cancer event. i mentioned that earlier. she and my wife marcelle spoke together at that last year. she was so genuinely kind to marcelle, to me, to all the people she interacted with. she loved people, so it's not surprising they loved her right back. it's not surprising. we saw tears on people who knew
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her and didn't know her as we stood in front of the supreme court this weekend. justice ginsburg became a beloved cultural icon. she inspired books, movies, even "saturday night live" skits. some of us did tease her about that, and she took it all in good humor. her dogged public battle with cancer and her can-do attitude, in fact she missed less than a handful of arguments despite her illness, inspired millions across the world. she gave hope to people she would never see, never meet, but they felt they knew her, and she gave them hope. but through it all, she never lost her humility.
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when asked how she liked to be remembered, justice ginsburg simply said, just as someone who did whatever she could with whatever limited talent she had to move society along in the direction i would like it to be for my children and grandchildren. i'm proud to stand on the floor of the united states senate as dean of this body, but i can say with certainty that she's going to be remembered for that and for so much more. she will be remembered long after any of us are. this incredible life and legacy should be the only story of today. but sadly that's not the case. instead of simply celebrating
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her life and her many contributions to our society, president trump and our majority leader force our attention to turn to her vacancy on the cou court. this days before she's even laid to rest. in fact, immediately after news of her passing, senator mcconnell announced he'd rush to replace her on the court. even as her family are standing there mourning her he made that announcement. he tossed aside all precedence and principles and declared his intent to ram through a nominee no matter the cost. despite all of senator mcconnell's talk and promises four years ago that when a vacancy arises 269 days before a presidential election, the american people should have a
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voice in deciding what president fills that vacancy. that's what he said when president obama was the president. we're going to wait 269 days to see who wins the presidential election. but today the majority leader is doing everything he can to deny the american people a voice. and this time with just 42 days, not 269 days but 42 days remain before the presidential electi election. in seeking a fig leaf of stiew institutional cover, he's trying to bring up another rule that is an unspoken exception to everything he promised in 2016. i guess i didn't hear that unspoken exception. and apparently the american people do not get a voice when
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the white house and senate are under the control of the same party. pay no attention to the fact that this contradicts everything leader mcconnell and many other republicans claim to have believed ad nauseam for ten months in 2016. but even this desperate hairsplitting falls flat on its face. if the majority leader's 2016 rule to let the american people decide only applies when there's a divided government, then the unprecedented ten-month blockade of merrick garland contradicted the confirmation of justice kennedy nominated by a republican president and confirmed by a democratic senate during an election year in 1988. and i was one of the democrats who voted for this republican nominee as did virtually every other democrat.
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the majority leader's abrupt about face is not about following precedent. it certainly isn't about principle. the blatant hypocrisy and belief norms and principles apply only to the other party or only apply when nothing is at stake is a result of something even more insidious. it is the direct result of the president and the majority leader wanting to bend the courts to their will no matter the cost, no matter the cost for the senate and certainly no matter the cost for all our courts across the country. i'll have much more to say about this. make no mistake, the actions that are taken during the waning days of the trump administration will forever stand or redeem this institution in which we proudly serve depending upon
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whether they go along with this or not. the 100 members of this body represent 313 million americans. we are entrusted to act in their best interests and to our actions in the weeks ahead, we risk forever erode be the americans, people's trust in faith and our independent judiciary. and our actions will have a lasting impact for good or for ill on every american's most basic right, rights of equality and fairness that justice ginsburg spent a lifetime securing. we all know what we should do. we all know how we can make the united states senate be as it
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should be the conscience of the nation. i fear we're willing to close america's door on that conscience. today i simply seek to honor justice ginsburg. she dedicated her life to the causes of equality and justice and made both a reality for millions of americans. she's left us a rich legacy to cherish, more importantly to carry forward. we'll be forever in her debt, a generation -- actually what i saw standing at the steps of the supreme court, more than a generation of women and all americans have been inspired by her leadership and courage. generations to come will have her trailblazing legacy to tha
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thank. let's honor her memory by following her example, by recommitting ourselves to pursuing a more perfect union, not just for the few. no, not just for the few but for all americans. madam president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, on friday evening, the nation learned the sad news that justice ruth bader ginsburg had passed away. from her time as one of the few women in the ivy league to being only the second woman ever appointed to the supreme court of the united states, justice ginsburg was and is an inspiration to generations of americans. throughout her remarkable life, justice ginsburg fought to secure equal rights and opportunities for all. she was a champion of women's rights in particular and broke down gender barriers throughout both her personal life and professional career. during this difficult and often divisive time, i think there is a lot we can learn from the way justice ginsburg interacted with those with whom she disagreed, especially her good friend, the late justice scalia. if you looked at a diagram outlining the ideologies of
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these two justices, these two would be at opposite poles. they shared very little in common in terms of the way they approached the job of being a supreme court justice. she was once asked about their close relationship which stood in contrast to their vastly different views, and she said you can disagree without being disagreeable. well, we have all heard that before, and it's absolutely true. unfortunately, not practiced enough. but i think that sort of approach should be a reminder to all of us about the importance of treating each other with civility and respect, even when the person standing in front of you or on the opposite side of a computer screen has a vastly different world view from our own. our nation is grateful for justice ginsburg's 27 years on the high court and her incredible contributions to our
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history. sandy and i send our condolences to the entire ginsburg family as well as the countless colleagues and friends she earned throughout her lifetime. as leader mcconnell said this morning, the senate is proposing to fulfill our constitutional duty of advice and consent. throughout history, there has been a supreme court vacancy 29 times during a presidential election year, and each time the president has fulfilled his duty to put forth a nomination. of those 29 election-year instances, 19 occurred when the president and the senate majority were of the same political party. but all but two of these nominees were confirmed. our friends on the other side of the aisle have tried to compare this to the vacancy in 2016, but the facts were different. at that point, we had a president of one party in his
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final year in office, and the senate majority of another party. you would literally have to go back to 1880 to find an example of the senate confirming an opposite-party president's supreme court nominee during an election year. the other difference is president obama was not on the ballot in 2016, so it made sense for the american people to weigh in. do you think we would still be hearing the same arguments from our friends across the aisle if hillary clinton had become president and been able to nominate a successor to justice scalia? i think not. voters cast their ballots and not only elected president trump but also a senate republican majority, and in 2018, they expanded that majority following the confirmation of justice kavanaugh. if the american people had elected a democrat president and a democratic senate majority, i have no doubt that senator
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schumer would act on that nomination as well. just as the senate has always done, we will thoroughly review the qualifications and experience of whomever the president nominates. we should not rush that process. it should be conducted carefully and consistently with how the senate has previously handled supreme court nominations. and when that process is complete, the senate will vote on that nominee sometime this year. in some cases, the confirmation process has moved quickly. in the case of justice ginsburg, she was confirmed in only 42 days. in others, the process has taken longer and been significantly more contentious. i hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will try to restrain themselves from repeating the smear campaign that took place during justice kavanaugh's confirmation
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hearing. and including the judiciary committee hearings. i hope they will refrain from making threats like threats of packing the court in the future which justice ginsburg herself opposed and warned would make the court partisan because the democratic decide to add additional members to the united states supreme court when they are in power, then the pressure will be irresistible for republicans to add other justices to the court, and it would look -- and it would be clearly a partisan institution rather than an impartial judge of the law and the facts. the president has every right to put forth a nomination, and we have an obligation to give him or her due consideration under our advice and consent responsibilities. as always, we will be thorough, and i hope unlike last time we
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can be civil and treat all with respect. i'm prepared to fulfill my responsibilities as a member of this body and of the judiciary committee, and i hope our colleagues on both sides are prepared to do the same thing. madam president, there is no question this has been a difficult year for our country, with division and disagreement taking center stage. that changed for a moment last week when the senate unanimously passed a bill that i had introduced called the jenna quinn law to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our country. this bill carries the name of an inspiring young texan who is one of 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse nationwide. as jenna says, child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic. one in four girls, one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. those are shocking numbers.
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sadly, these victims often stay silent for months, years, some for even a life time. as a result, they and countless other victims continue to be subject to abuse. interrupting this cycle of sexual abuse is jenna's mission and one she has devoted her life to pursuing. she was the driving force behind what is now known as jenna's law in texas which requires training for teachers, caregivers, and other adults who work with children on how to recognize and report child sexual abuse. the signs of child sexual abuse are unique from other forms of abuse and correctly identifying these signs is integral to bringing children out of a sexually abusive situation. after the texas law passed in 2009, a study found educators reported child sexual abuse at a
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rate almost four times greater after training than during their pretraining career, four times greater. it was one of the first child sexual abuse prevention laws in the united states to mandate this kind of training, and now more than half of all the states have adopted a form of jenna's law. but many states, including my state, which have passed these laws, don't provide the funding for the training. thanks to the legislation that passed the senate unanimously last week, that's one step closer to occurring. the jenna quinn law will take the successful reforms in texas and other states and finally back them with some federal funding for that essential training. this bill will allow current grant stunts to the department of justice, for example, to be used for specialized training for students, teachers, and caregivers to learn how to identify, safely report and
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hopefully prevent future child sexual abuse. this legislation also encourages other states with similar laws to advance innovative laws. it is a critical step to interrupting this cycle that is impacting children across the country and preventing more children from enduring this trauma. my partner in this bipartisan effort was senator hassan from new hampshire, and i appreciate her help in moving this bill through the senate. i hope our colleagues in the house will quickly take it up and pass jenna quinn law so we can pass it as soon as possible. the covid-19 crisis has underscored the urgency of this legislation. in april of this year, nationwide reports of abuse or neglect dropped by an average of 40% compared to the same time last year.
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normally this type of drop in reports would be great news, but based on everything we know about the stresses and circumstances created by this pandemic, i fear that there is actually an increase in abuse that just isn't being recognized or reported. we need to make investments now in the health and safety of the our children and bring this silent epidemic to an end. speaker pelosi has made clear that the house will stay in session until an agreement is reached on covid-19 relief, so there's no reason for the house not to be able to act on this consensus legislation. i urge the house to take it up and it -- and pass it, which has received unanimous support in the senate and support america's children at a critical time like this. madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call: mr. durbin: rewould in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, senator. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum callen suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. the democratic senator. the democratic whip. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president.
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we passed our 200th recorded death from covid-19 this weekend. we are a nation in mourning. in addition to 200,000 family, friends, and neighbors we have now lost to this brutal pandemic, america is also mile-per-hour the loss of an historic -- mourning the loss of an historic champion of equality, a woman who spent her entire life, every ounce of her strength she was given in pursuit of america's highest ideal -- equal justice under the law. a jewish teaching says that those who die just before the jewish new year are those whom god has held back until the last moment because they were most needed on earth. so it seems fitting that justice ruth bader ginsburg left this world as the sun was setting last friday, marking the start of rosh hassana. years ago she made history as only the second woman to serve
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on the supreme court. even at that time she had a earned an hen during place in american history. she has been called the thurgood marshall of the gender equality movement. as a lawyer and law professor she was the mastermind in the 1970's behind a legal strategy that finally began to dismantle an american legal system that treated women in many ways as second-class citizens. law professor david cole called her strategy radical incrementalism. it is hard today for many americans to imagine how deeply entrenched and how commonly accepted gender discrimination was in american law and american society. before ruth bader ginsburg began her lead crusade to make real for women the word carved above the doors of the u.s. supreme court -- equal justice under the law. the legal challenges she brought changed the way the world is for women and for all americans. before she began her legal
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crusade, women were treated by law differently than men. hundreds of state and federal laws and programs restricted what women could do. many jobs were legally closed to women. many basic economic, so, and legal rights that we now take economic, social, and legal rights that we now take for granted were denied to women for no reason other than jenner did. before the victories achieved by ruth bader ginsburg, a woman often could not, on her own, buy a car, open a checking account, get a credit card, sign a lease, obtain a mortgage, buy real estate, open a business, or obtain a business loan. she needed a man to cosign. before ruth bader ginsburg, women could be and were barred from public institutions and excluded from professions. they could be demoted or fired if they became pregnant. in fact, ruth bader ginsburg
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herself was forced to accept a lower-paying job with the social security administration when she became pregnant at age 21 with her first child. her legal strategy was caution and strategic. knowing that she needed to persuade mostly male judges, including an all-male supreme court, she chose cases that illustrated how gender discrimination could also harm men. she took up the case of a young widower whose wife died in childbirth. the man wanted to stay home to raise her son but was denied social security survivor's benefits because such benefits by law could only go to widows. decades later when that little boy, who was the subject of this case, grew up, justice ginsburg officiated at his wedding at the supreme court building. her goal was simple but compelling -- to make clear that the 14th amendment's promise of equal protection under the law covers
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women as well as men. as i said, it was not only women who benefited from her life's work. if you are a man who's been covered bid your wife's medical benefits, thank ruth bader ginsburg. if you are a man who's been able to claim social security survivors benefits or name a woman as ex-he can could you at the of your state, thank ruth bader ginsburg. we have not erased all gender-based inuquality equality and ruth bader ginsburg knew that well. some of the other victories that she helped to achieve are nowent thered. some have been diminished outright. she knew that. her concern about these threats to hard-won rights was the basis for some of her most famous and fiery dissents and why this often quiet, soft-spoken woman took the nuke step many times of reading her dissents from the bench. she wanted us to understand what was at stake so we could join her in the fight. that's what she did in 2007 in
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the case of lilly ledbetter v. goodyear tire. the supreme court ruled 5-4 that a woman who was paid less than her male coworkers for years doing exactly the same work could not sue her former employer for wage discrimination. the woman only learned about the pay gap after she retirement but a conservative majority then on the court ruled that she'd lost her chance at justice by failing to sue within six months of her first unequal paycheck. in dissent, justice ginsburg challenged congress to correct this injustice, and we d the very first law signed by president barack obama was the lilly ledbetter fair pay act of 2009. a framed copy of that signed law hung in justice ginsburg's supreme court chambers has a gift from president obama. he signed it with the folating inscription -- thanks for helping create a more equal and
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justice society. in her dissent in the 2013 voting rights case, shelby county v. holder, which gutted the heart of the voting rights act, justice ginsburg pointed out the awful irony of the majority decision. she wrote that throwing out the need for jurisdiction with histories of voter suppression declared changes in her voting laws before elections because the laws had already worked was, quote, like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you're not getting wet. she was right. our democracy would be stronger today had just one more justice on the supreme court agreed with her. it's up to congress now to heed her warning by passing the john lewis voting rights advancements act which languishes on the desk of senator mcconnell. ruth bader ginsburg was a champion of workers' rights, of disability rights, lgbtq rights, and environmental justice, and she was a woman who believed
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deeply that part of america's greatness is the welcome and safety and opportunity that america has offered to immigrants and refugees formols of our history. like myself, justice ginsburg was the child of an immigrant who came to this country, partly to flee religious persecution. my mother and her family left russian-occupied lithuania partly to escape anti-catholic persecution. her father, ginsburg's farmer, left odessa, russia, for new york when he was 13 to escape anti-jewish programs. her mother was born in new york four months after her father moved from austria. extended family members later died in the holocaust. justice ginsburg's mother was like my mother in another way -- they were both very intelligent women who were deny add full education because money was tight, because they lived in a time when expectations about women were so low.
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like my mother, celia ginsburg used to take her child to the public library where she would check out as many books as she could read. she saved her pennies so that one day her daughter could get the college education she was never able to get herself. her mother dreamed that her bright, young daughter might grow up if she were lucky and worked really hard and become a high school history teacher. instead, ruth bader ginsburg grew up and changed history. she changed america forever. america is fundamentally different and fairer as a nation because of the vision and work of ruth bader ginsburg. i recalled over the weekend and repeated to my wife this amazing statistic that ruth bader ginsburg battled cancer five times over nearly 20 years and then, of course, lived through the death ten years ago of her beloved husband, marti. but she almost never missed a day on the bench.
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she worked through chemo, sickness, broken ribs and terrible pain. nevertheless, she persisted. i want to read you something she said many times. i really like this. she said, what's the difference between a book keeper in new york's garment district and a supreme court justice? one generation. my own life bears witness, she said. the difference between the opportunities available to my mother and those afforded to me. ruth bader ginsburg did not simply take opportunities afforded to women. more than perhaps any american in history, she helped to create those opportunities. loretta and i offer our deepest condolences to her friends and family, help her daughter jane, her son james, her grandchildren and great-granddaughter. may her memory be a blessing and may her life be a guiding light for all of us. madam president, i ask consent
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that the next statement be placed in a separate part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, americans across the nation were shocked and deaf stated when -- devastated when they heard the news of justice ginsburg's passing. the gravity of that announcement hit hard, not because just the loss of a national icon; because of the sense of foreboding of what would happen next right here in this chamber. in the united states senate. the year 2020 has already brought us so much pain and anguish much the pandemic that is killed 200,000 americans, sickened over six million. devastating job losses and economic damage. a long overdue national reckoning over racial injustice. deadly wildfires, natural disasters destroying communities. and a president, sadly, who seeks to divide and inflame instead of uniting america and bringing us together in common
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purpose. justice ginsburg foresaw the tension that her absent from the court would -- her absence from the court would cause. shortly before she passed away, justice ginsburg said, and i quote, my most fervent wish is that i will not be replaced until a new president is installed. unfortunately, justice ginsburg's last request is falling on deaf ears in the senate chamber. shortly after the news of her death, senator mcconnell announced that he would hold a supreme court vote this year. look at what senator mcconnell said himself. the date was february 13, 2016. justice antonin scalia had died.
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there was a vacancy on the supreme court. here's what senator mcconnell, then leader of the senate, said -- the american people should have a voice in the selection of their next supreme court justice. therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president. the words of senator mitch mcconnell. that statement is very clear and unambiguous. and senator mcconnell made it 269 days before the presidential election. it is the so-called mcconnell rule. this was a firm precedent establishing that senate republicans would not consider a supreme court nominee in an election year. president barack obama sent the name of judge merrick garland from the d.c. circuit to the senate for a hearing and a vote. the treatment he received from the senate was disgraceful.
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senator mcconnell an announced he would not even give him the time of day nor meet with him in his office, and he admonished those republican senators who did. he was being -- merrick garland was being shunned by senator mcconnell because of his rule, the mcconnell rule. no vacancy shall be filled until we have a new president. steadfast in his determination to show that this principle would prevail, he shunned merrick garland. well, it turns out that this rule of law, this mcconnell rule that guided the senate four years ago was not as sack -- sacrosanct as one might think. shortly after the news, a short
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time after the news of justice ginsburg's passing, he said, senator mcconnell said, quote, he president trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the united states senate. in direct violation of his own statement four years ago, senator mcconnell said that within hours after the announcement of the death of justice ginsburg. and senator mcconnell made that statement, we were only 46 days from election. people in many states had already started casting their vote. senator mcconnell's justifications for breaking his own rule simply don't stand up to scrutiny, distinctions without any difference, and they have never stood up to common sense. senator mcconnell clearly said when he laid down the mcconnell rule on february 13, 2016, that the american people should have the last word, and that election year supreme court vacancies should be filled in the next
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presidential term. there were no caveats, no exceptions, no amendments. he stated it clearly in just a handful of words. now senator mcconnell claims that whether or not the american people have a voice should depend on which party controls the senate. now his party controls the senate and his party has the president, and the rules, the so-called mcconnell rule that we were to live by apparently is being rejected by senator mcconnell himself. he says that what republicans did in 2016 was acceptable because the senate at that time was controlled by democrats -- pardon me -- by republicans and a different party in the white house that year. a distinction without a difference. why should the composition of the senate dictate whether or not the american people should have a voice in the selection of the next supreme court justice? you could just as easily point out that 2016 was different because we had a president, barack obama, who actually had won a popular vote, unlike the
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current president. should that fact resolve whether the american people get a voice in the court's future? either the american people do get an election year voice regarding the future of the court or they don't. in 2016 senator mcconnell said they do. now he says they don't. it's a flip-flop, plain and simple, because it's to his personal political advantage to reverse this stated principle. and the republican effort to point to senator harry reid for changing the senate rules for for -- is that senator rereid was responding to obstruction of president obama's nominees and senator reid made a point of not changing the rule, the 60-vote requirement, when it came to supreme court nominations. it was senator mcconnell who did that in 2017. while senate rules do change
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from time to time, you certainly can't have rules that depend on whether it's a republican or democratic president or a republican or democratic senate. that's exactly what senator mcconnell is calling for. so here's what it comes down to. in 2016, senator mcconnell said the people should get the voice through an upcoming election because that outcome at the moment was better for his republican agenda for controlling the court. in 2020, senator mcconnell reversed himself and said the people should not get a voice through the upcoming election because that outcome is better for the republicans today. let's be clear. this is not about rules or principle or comity. this is about raw partisan power. the hypocrisy is bad enough. what makes it worse is it's an hypocrisy which is so evident to the american people at this moment in our history. what is at stake here? is this just a matter of a
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battle of the giants in washington, the big shots screaming at one another in the news and through the media? or is there more to it? it turns out there's much more. let's start with health care. this november the supreme court will hear arguments in a case in which the trump administration and republicans are arguing the affordable care act should be struck down in its entirety. 20 million americans have health insurance under the affordable care act, and every health insurance policy sold in america is subject to the law of the affordable care act. if the supreme court does what the trump administration and the republicans are asking it to do, 20 million americans could lose their health care coverage, 600,000 of them in my state of illinois. tens of millions of americans with preexisting conditions, including five million in illinois, would lose protections the affordable act currently gives them. six million americans remember, have been diagnosed with positive results from covid-19. many more, sadly, will be
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diagnosed in the years ahead. and they of course now must answer the question -- have you ever tested positive for covid-19? and if they answer it, they will have a preexisting condition, which the insurance company used to jump on to either raise your premiums or to deny you coverage. and if the republicans have their way before the supreme court, young adults up to the age of 26 will no longer be able to stay on their parents' health insurance. hospitals, especially in rural areas, will see a significant loss of revenue from the elimination of medicaid expansion. at this moment in the middle of a raging pandemic, it is unimaginable the republicans are trying to wipe out the critical health care protections in the affordable care act, but that's what they're fighting for in the case before the supreme court. republicans were never able to repeal the affordable care act on the floor of the senate. i'll never forget that early morning vote. it was about 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. when john mccain came through
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those doors and stood right by that table, and as much as he could lift that right arm because it had been broken when he was a prisoner of war -- something which i honor him for and never will ridicule him for -- he lifted that arm as much as he could and said no, no. and that no vote saved the affordable care act. why did he do it? he explained afterwards. republicans don't have an alternative. they don't have a substitute. they want to eliminate an obama bill, an obama law, and they have nothing to replace it with. it's still the case today. and the republicans are no longer fighting this battle on the floor of the senate. they're fighting it across the street in the supreme court building. so the deciding vote on the supreme court, is it important to america? for 20 million americans it is deadly important as to whether they have affordable quality health care. republicans were never able to repeal the affordable care act
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because of john mccain's courage. so republicans are now trying to accomplish in the supreme court what they couldn't accomplish on the floor of the senate. in fact, on many issues, when the republicans' party position is not popular, republicans are trying to get the courts to do what they can't do leverages slay alternatively -- legislatively. issues like rolling back environmental protections, dictating what women can and cannot do with their own health, wiping gun safety laws off the books, deporting dreamers and undermining worker protections. the supreme court was created by the founders of our nation to be the arbiter of equal justice under the law, not as a tool for one party's political agenda. while the american people can smell a rat, they know when the game's rigged, they look at the mcconnell rule that he announced in 2016, and now they look at what these actually doing in 2020.
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they know this isn't on the level. sadly in many ways, senate majority leader mcconnell has broken the united states senate down in recent years, and i fear if we go down the path president trump and senator mcconnell have set us on, the supreme court may end up broken too. it will only take four republican senators to stop this travesty. four. four republican senators can say, enough. we lived by the mcconnell rule four years ago. we publicly stated that it was the right thing to do then. we would be hypocrites to an extreme if we turn our back on it now. i hope, i just hope there will be four republican senators with the courage -- and it will take courage -- to say that. we should honor justice ginsburg's fervent last wish. let the american people have a voice in filling this vacancy. that's p what senator
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mcconnell insisted on 38 weeks before the election in 2016. that should also be our standard in 2020, six weeks before the election. there should be no confirmation before inauguration. madam president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. coons: i ask proceedings under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: mr. president, on this past friday evening, on rosh hashanah, our nation lost a giant on the supreme court. we lost a trailblazer for women's equality, a woman who although diminutive in size was a giant and a force for justice. for my daughter, for all americans. i am so grateful for the work and the service and the life of supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg. having passed on rosh hashanah, the tradition of the jewish people teaches that she is especially blessed, particularly righteous. it's heart breaking that her dying wish dictated to her granddaughter was that the voters should choose the next president and that next president, her successor, and that already there are some who are racing to undo that wish.
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this was her wish because she understood the consequences of this decision for the senate, for the american people, and for the supreme court to which she dedicated 27 years of service. mr. president, if we push through a nominee now, just 43 days before an election, as half of our states are already -- have already voted, the very legitimacy of the supreme court may be undermined by further politicization in an already divided country. my friend, my colleagues in the other party use the argument in blocking the nomination of merrick garland in 2016 that we must give the american people a voice in the selection of the next justice. that argument was advanced ten months before the next election. here today on this floor, the exact argument is being advanced just 43 days before an election in which half our states have already voted.
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as a colleague from alaska recently said, the precedent said by the majority in 2016 is the precedent by which they should live now, fair is fair. i cannot agree more. mr. president, on the ballots and on the agenda, on the docket of the supreme court is health care. this decision will have an impact on all americans of all stripes and backgrounds. one week after the election, a case will be argued in front of the supreme court, which seeks to remove all that is left of the affordable care act's protections, protections against preexisting conditions discrimination for 100 million americans. health insurance itself for 20 million. in the middle of a pandemic in which six million americans have been infected and have new preexisting conditions. and in some ways, most gallingly, that provision of the affordable care act which prohibits gender discrimination by insurance companies. all of this is at stake as our
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protections going forward after this election for clean air and clean water, for equal pay, for equal work, the right to organize, it's all on the ballot and will be on the docket. so, mr. president, let me close by calling on my colleagues to do what's fair and what i believe is right, to respect their own precedent and let the american people have a voice in just 43 days and then proceed after the election to honor justice ginsburg's dying wish, to focus on delivering relief to the american people and a package to address this pandemic in our next few weeks rather than diving deeper into division. it is my fervent prayer that we can yet find a way together to listen to the voice of the people and the voice of this most storied justice. mr. president, i have one other purpose in coming to the floor today, and that is to recognize my colleague, my friend erica
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saunder, my chief counsel who i now embarrass, who is departing this week. erica is an immensely talented lawyer and has been an invaluable member of my team for over four years. a suma graduate at the university of illinois at urbane university of ?ois at urbana-champagne. a graduate of harvard law school. a deputy editor of the school of law. a clerk on the sixth circuit for judge cornelia kennedy. after all of that, she went to one of washington's most prestigious law firms. after nine years of diligent litigation and work, she earned her way into being a partner. but during all this time, dedicated her time to pro bono work, to advocating for those seeking justice. she could have had a much more
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lucrative career than the last four years here in the senate. and her trajectory was not a typical one for a chief counsel on a judiciary committee. she was willing to make the sacrifice, and i was grateful for the chance to serve with her. her dedication to upholding and defending democratic principles is unwavering, and every day she has put the interests of the american people and delawareans first. no one has worked harder in her four years on my team than her. her commitment to our shared values has helped guide me and my team through some of the most difficult and challenging moments of these years. she has capably led my entire legal team and helped us and a navigate through some truly historic fights. it was just three days after she joined my team that we were in the rose garden for president obama's nomination of judge merrick garland. and she led my team and my work on the confirmation hearings of
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now-justice gorsuch and justice kavanaugh. she led us through the mueller investigation and through the impeachment trial. she has been integral to legislative efforts, including the special counsel integrity act, a bipartisan effort to support the integrity of independent investigations and to protect the mueller investigation, the driving for opportunity act, the bipartisan bill to create incentives to stop debt-based driver's license suspensions and extend criminal justice reform and a project for which we both have particular passion, the no-ban act, which would repeal president trump's executive order blocking travel for a majority of muslim countries and prevent another baseless discriminatory travel ban. she has contributed so much more than this. she has been a teacher and mentor to so many in my office and particularly young women who look to her as a role model and a source of wisdom and strength.
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personally she and her husband, mike, who are both dedicated attorneys and passionate public servants are constant reminders of why we are here and for whom we fight. as we reflect today and in the week ahead on the legacy of justice ginsburg whose life was committed to the fight for equality and justice, i see that same fight in erica. justice ginsburg blazed a trail and changed the world. her incredibly talented -- for incredibly talented and capable women like erica so she could lead the life she has. erica is a true patriot, a great colleague, and a wonderful friend who has put country over self, and i have been blessed to have the benefit of her counsel and her friendship these four years. i'm proud she will go on to continue to fight for our shared values. i wish her luck. i will miss her dearly, and i pray this is not the last time we will serve together. thank you. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of edward hulvey meyers of maryland to be a judge of the united states court of federal claims, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of edward hulvey meyers of maryland to be a judge of the united states court of federal claims shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
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the presiding officer: has any senator is not voted or does not senator wish to change their vote? the yeas and nays are 65, the nays 25. on this vote. so the motion is agreed to. mr. kennedy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana is recognized. mr. kennedy: thank you, mr. president. a few weeks ago on august 27, louisiana and southeastern texas were hit by hurricane laura. i say louisiana because if you
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look at some of the press reports, they say southwest louisiana. but the impact of hurricane laura on louisiana was much greater. the storm came -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. kennedy: the storm came on-shore in southwest louisiana in cameron parish. it headed north, then moved northeast and finished in the northeastern part of our state. i have seen the damage from the air and on the ground. there's -- i've never seen a hurricane do this kind of damage
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in any state, much less louisiana. the path of destruction is about 60 miles wide, starting in southwest louisiana, running north, bending to the northeast, and is about 200 miles long. we took it full in the face. when you see devastation like this and when you go through something like this, you start to understand that we human beings are a vein lot. we think we control nature, but nature controls us. our entire electrical system went down. our water system went down. our internet went down. our cable tv went down. it was a category 4 storm, winds of up to 150 miles an hour. this storm was unusual in that
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the winds were sustained and didn't -- did not dissipate as it got further inland. we took it full in the face. now, it doesn't do any good to complain. louisianans are resilient people. we live by the old japanese proverb, fall down seven times, stand up eight. and we're standing back up. about 60% of our electrical power has been restored. we now have water back. in some cases, there are still some boil orders because the water is not clean. but we are dishent -- deficient in one area, and that's cable tv and the internet. with an emphasis on internet,
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mr. president. i want you to understand, mr. president, i'm not talking here about a mere inconvenience. i'm not talking about people missing their favorite television shows. i'm talking about kids' education, i'm talking about the ability to deliver health care, and i'm talking about the ability to conduct commerce. none of those things can be done in today's world without internet. the internet, particularly in southwest louisiana, is provided by a company called sudden link. sudden link. sudden link is owned -- it was purchased by a company called
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alltise, u.s.a. it's c.e.o. is a gentleman i have not had the pleasure of meet, mr. dexter goya. and i'm here today to plead with sudden link to please get our internet restored. sudden link has done such an abysmal job that sudden link needs to change its name to never link. sudden link provides internet service to 150,000 louisianians. i haven't studied their financials, but at let's say $150 a month, if you include the cable television part, louisianians pay sudden link, soon to be named never link if
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they don't do a better job, about $23 million a month. now all of our public utilities have been working very hard, madam president. entergy has worked hard, at&t has worked hard. synergy has worked hard to get our energy restored so we can start recovering. sudden limping has not worked -- sudden link has not worked hard. at one point we had 29,000 people on the ground helping us to restore our water system, helping us to restore our electric power, helping us cut trees, helping us get tarps on roofs. we had at most 300 representatives from sudden link
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300 representatives to handle restoring internet for 150,000 louisianians. sudden link should be ashamed of itself. we have restored about 60% of our electrical power, madam president. we've restored about 16% of our internet. and once again, i'm not talking about, about someone missing their favorite television program. as you know, madam president, because you have the same situation in alaska, all of our public schools are not open. all of our private schools aren't open because of the virus. many of our kids are having to learn remotely, and they can't do it without the internet. they can't. you're also aware, madam president, of how internet is integral to the ability to deliver health care.
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i don't know a single business today that can operate without the internet. and many of our businesses, including our small businesses, because they can't have customers coming into their shops, are doing a lot of their commerce over the internet. there's just one problem in louisiana. because of sudden link dragging its feet, we don't have internet, and we can't recover without it. now this is what -- i don't mean to be overly critical, madam president, but this has just gotten out of hand. every one of our public utilities has done yoemen's work, just an extraordinary job, except one. except one. and if mr. dexter goei is listening tonight -- and again, i don't mean to be
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overly critical. i plan to visit with him in the next couple of days. i think he's finally agreed to come visit louisiana. we have three requests, madam president. first of all, we need workers on the ground. you can't restore the internet service without people working to restore the internet service. and let me say it again. entergy, just to pick one of our utility companies, has over 10,000 workers restoring the power. sudden link, which provides internet for 150,000 of our people, has a grand total of 300 people. can't be done. we're currently not a priority, even though 150,000 of my people write a monthly check to sudden link. number one, sudden link respectfully, put some people on the ground and get our
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internet restored. number two, we need a local office from sudden link. they don't even have one. maybe it's because they don't have internet. but people -- many people lost their homes. at a minimum, they lost their roofs. they don't have cable boxes. they have to have somebody they can go to and say here's my old box, give me a new box. but sudden link doesn't even have a local office. and, number three, i'm going to ask mr. goei to please commit to our state leadership to start giving us a daily update on restoring this service. how many homes and businesses have been added each day? again, i know i'm repeating myself, madam president, i don't mean to be overly
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critical, and we've been very patient in louisiana. but the time has come to call it like it is and say it like it is. at the rate they're going, sudden link needs to change its name to never link in louisiana. we cannot recover without internet. we can't do it. and sudden limping -- sudden link has let us down, madam president. with that, madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22 -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous
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consent that notwithstanding the provisions of rule 22, the postcloture time on the meyers nomination expire at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. and the senate vote on confirmation of the nomination. i further ask that if cloture is invoked on the lucas nomination, the postcloture time expire at 2. a -- 2:15 p.m. tomorrow and the senate vote on the final confirmation of the nomination. finally, following the nomination of the lucas nomination, the senate vote to invoke cloture on the sonderling legislation. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of legislative for morning business, the senates permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s. con. res. 45. the clerk: s. con. res. 45, provided for the use of the catafalque situated in the crypt
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in the rotunda of the capitol in the memorial service for the late ruth bader ginsburg, associate justice for the united states supreme court. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the concurrent resolution be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: now, madam president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. tuesday, september 22. further, following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and morning business be closed. further, following leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the meyers nomination under the previous order. finally, following the cloture vote on the lucas nomination, the senate recess until 2:15 p.m. to allow for the weekly conference meetings.
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the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stand adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until >> today lawmakers were to advance in albany from federal claims court and throughout the day the florida on the lawmakers made tribute to the late supreme court justice ginsburg. here are some of the remarks. >> mr. president, the majority leader, nomination is morning the end of an exceptional american life. justice ruth bader ginsburg meant so much to our country. first and foremost she was a brillianter generational legal mind who climbed


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