(Senate - November 07, 2013)

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[Pages S7909-S7920]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Indiana.

[[Page S7910]]

                              Veterans Day

  Mr. DONNELLY. Mr. President, on Veterans Day we come together to 
honor the brave men and women who have given so much to defend our 
country and protect our freedoms. I think of so many veterans, 
including my dad, who served in the U.S. Navy. I want to take this 
opportunity to say thank you to our country's veterans, and the nearly 
500,000 veterans in the State of Indiana, for your service to the 
  Veterans Day is also a chance to reaffirm our country's commitment to 
caring for veterans and their families. While it is important to say 
thank you to veterans, it is even more important to express our 
gratitude through action for all generations of veterans.
  There are several ongoing efforts in my office that I would like to 
share with everyone. I have been a proud supporter of the Veterans 
History Project through the Library of Congress, and it has done an 
outstanding job in leading this effort. We have so much to learn from 
our veterans, and it is vital that we record their stories and 
experiences for future generations. I urge veterans of any conflict to 
contact our office if you would like to share your story. We stand 
ready to give Hoosiers information on this important project, and 
please contact us at any time if you would like to participate.
  Additionally, there are Hoosier veterans of Vietnam and other wars 
who still have not received, or have lost over the years, their honors 
or their medals that they earned for heroism. Now is the time to 
resolve these cases.
  I am so deeply honored this Veterans Day to be handing to four 
Hoosier veterans--Mr. Michael Hodgson, Mr. Canard Terhune, Mr. Jim 
Horn, and Mr. Julian Quarnstrom--the many medals and ribbons they were 
awarded for their service and bravery but still have not received.
  I also believe it is important to honor veterans from all conflicts, 
which is why earlier this year I introduced a bill that would authorize 
the construction of a National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial 
at no cost to the government. The men and women who fought in the first 
gulf war, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, deserve to 
have their service memorialized.
  Now we have a new generation of veterans. They have returned home 
from Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them are still coping with 
readjusting to civilian life. They have experienced health challenges, 
including traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
These incredible challenges have resulted from their service and their 
dedication to our country. Our veterans have earned the best care we 
can provide, and this includes access to timely and quality medical 
care. It is both our challenge and our priority to ensure a smooth 
transition and to effectively treat any health conditions linked to 
their service efforts.
  In particular, I am dedicated to addressing the problem of military 
and veteran suicide. If you are in need of or know of a servicemember 
or veteran who has challenges and who is in need, please know that 
seeking help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness, and from 
that strength there is always help that is available.
  I am also committed to addressing the backlog in benefits claims, one 
of the significant challenges facing the Veterans' Administration. Wait 
times for benefits claims are at an unacceptably high level.
  In the VA regional office in Indianapolis, Hoosiers play a critical 
role in processing claims to eliminate the backlog. I thank them for 
their public service, their hard work, and urge them to continue to do 
whatever they can to reduce that wait time so benefits may be received 
more promptly.
  While I know the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Shinseki, is 
fully committed to solving this problem, more must be done. I stand 
ready to work together with my colleagues to provide the VA the tools 
it needs to accomplish this goal, reduce the wait times, and take even 
better care of our veterans.
  In addition to ensuring care and benefits for our veterans, I believe 
economic opportunity is equally important. When I ask servicemembers 
what we can do for them, they always have the same answer: We just want 
to make sure there is a good job to come home to and a good job that 
can help take care of our families when we do.
  A quality education and gainful employment give our veterans the 
chance to fulfill the American dream, and it helps fulfill our 
responsibility in supporting our veterans. That is where all of us come 
in. As one of Indiana's U.S. Senators, I am always looking for ways to 
improve the transition from military to civilian life. Let's make sure 
our trade schools and universities welcome our veterans with open arms.
  To our business owners, thank you for all of the veterans you have 
hired, and I urge you to hire even more. Veterans have many skills that 
can translate to a variety of positions, they have a strong commitment 
to quality and service, and you can always rely on our veterans.
  Hoosiers in every community, please welcome back our brave men and 
women--whether it is in your neighborhood, whether it is at the local 
restaurant, whether it is at your child's school, or whether it is at 
church on Sunday.
  On Veterans Day, and every day, let us honor America's veterans by 
cherishing the freedoms they have defended. Our country is grateful for 
all you have done for all of us. You have given us our safety, our 
freedom, and our liberty. Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.

                           Manufacturing Jobs

  Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about an important 
initiative that is not only important to my State of Arkansas but 
important to our entire Nation, and that is manufacturing. This country 
is an economic powerhouse, and we are certainly a manufacturing 
powerhouse. There is an important initiative that is being put together 
here in the Senate called the Manufacturing Jobs for America 
campaign. I think so far we have maybe 21 colleagues, maybe 22, or 
maybe even more who are in support of this effort. I encourage others 
to look at it.

  We see a lot of manufactured crises here in Washington. It may be the 
farm bill or the government shutdown or the near debt default. Those 
are all just kind of manufactured by the Congress. But I am glad to see 
we have 21 or 22 or 23 colleagues here who are ready to turn off the 
``my way or the highway'' politics and turn down the rhetoric and 
really focus on what our No. 1 priority should be, which is jobs and 
the economy, because if we didn't learn anything else from the shutdown 
and some of those high-wire act politics of the last few weeks, 
hopefully we learned that if we want to get anything done in 
Washington, we need to work together. That is the bottom line. That is 
what this package of bills and this initiative are intending to do. If 
we really want to create jobs and if we really want to make a 
difference for the U.S. economy, we have to reach across the aisle.
  There are many bright spots in the Congress. Listen, we know we have 
been through the ringer. We know how difficult this recession was. It 
was the hardest economic downturn in my lifetime and most of our 
lifetimes, the hardest economic downturn we have ever seen since we 
have been alive, but we are coming out of it.
  There are many bright spots in the economy. Yes, we get good economic 
news pretty much every day, and we also get some mixed economic news 
pretty much every day. So it is not happening as fast as we would like 
it to, and it is not happening in every sector of the economy and in 
every section of the country as we would like it to, but it is 
  One of those bright spots is manufacturing. Last year manufacturing 
contributed $1.87 trillion to our economy--$1.87 trillion in 
manufacturing. That is how much of a difference it made in our economy. 
There are 17.2 million U.S. jobs; that is, jobs in this country, and 1 
in 6 private sector jobs is tied to manufacturing. It also provides a 
very strong return on the investment we make. So if we invest $1 in 
manufacturing, it adds $1.48 back into the economy.
  America is a powerhouse when it comes to manufacturing, and we need 
to keep it that way. Everybody knows--look at all the studies--the 
United States is the world's largest manufacturing economy. In fact, if 
we just took manufacturing and put everything else on the side, the 
United States would still be the 10th largest economy in the world just 
based on our

[[Page S7911]]

manufacturing. We are a powerhouse, but we can do more, we can do much 
more, and we should.
  We need to fight hard to make sure that ``Made in America'' remains 
the gold standard. We want it to be the thing everybody wants to see in 
every market. ``Made in America'' means something. It also means 
something here because the investment is here, the workers are here, 
and the productivity is here. It is good for GDP, et cetera. We want to 
make sure manufacturing remains what it has always been. That is why 
today I offer my public support for this Manufacturing Jobs for America 
campaign, and it is why I have supported a lot of provisions in the 
past. Most of them have been bipartisan efforts where we have reached 
across the aisle to try to work with my Republican colleagues on all 
kinds of issues, including the America COMPETES Act and the America 
COMPETES reauthorization efforts. I am totally for them. I think they 
are good initiatives.
  One of them we have talked about is the national strategic plan for 
advanced manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing is a little different 
from traditional manufacturing. We need to make sure that we are 
strategic and focused and that we know what we are talking about, as 
with angel investors. A lot of times people think investment just 
happens. A lot of times it does, but sometimes, if we can give that 
little nudge to angel investors, they can invest and make a huge 
difference in those companies and they can touch millions of people's 
lives. We have seen that in our State of Arkansas, and that resulted in 
some real success stories.
  Then, if we can bring it back down to a really small scale, one of 
the initiatives I have supported over the years is the small business 
startup savings account. People can take a certain amount of money from 
a paycheck, put it in a savings account tax-free--kind of like an IRA 
or a fund like that--put it in that savings account and use it to start 
a business or somehow grow the business. They never get taxed on it. 
They can cash it in at some point and use it to start a business. That 
is good for savings, it is good for the economy, and it is good to get 
these small businesses started. Everybody knows as well as I do that 
when someone walks into a lender, a bank, and they have, say, $10,000, 
$20,000, or $30,000 saved, that gives them a big advantage when they 
need a loan for the rest of the money. So that is a win-win across the 
  Again, I support working on this commonsense package of bills that 
really accomplishes four goals: First, strengthening our manufacturing 
sector; second, leveling the playing field for American companies; 
third, helping startups get access to capital; and fourth, enhancing 
innovation, competitiveness, and trade opportunities for businesses 
here at home. Various Senators in the Chamber have different ideas on 
how we accomplish them, but I think we can all agree on those goals. If 
we work together, we really can make a great difference for our Nation.
  One of the reasons why coming out of this sluggish economy has been a 
little more slow than we would have liked is because we don't have as 
many manufacturing jobs as we used to. Although the number is on the 
rebound and it is growing, we all know we have lost a lot of 
manufacturing jobs in the last couple of decades. But we are back. It 
is because of energy. It is because of the trained workforce. It is 
because of our efficiencies, et cetera. We are back. We need to push 
this advantage and keep it growing. Our country has the workforce, we 
have the infrastructure, and we have the manufacturing base and the 
work ethic here; we just need to give our businesses that little extra 
boost to manufacture jobs for America.
  With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                            Sportsmen's Act

  Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I rise today in support of protecting our 
Nation's outdoor traditions, including opening access to our public 
lands, preserving some of the greatest places to hunt and fish and 
recreate, and encouraging economic development and job creation in our 
great outdoors.
  Last fall I called upon Congress to pass my bipartisan Sportsmen's 
Act. As the chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, I made it 
my goal to do something significant, something historic for this 
country's hunters and anglers. We came very close to passing my bill 
twice, but politics got in the way both times. A commonsense and widely 
supported measure failed to get across the finish line because some 
folks around here put self-interests before the interests of their 
constituents. I am optimistic that this time will be different and that 
we can work together to get this bill across the finish line.
  Senator Hagan is leading the charge on behalf of our sports men and 
women, and I know she is ready to work with all of our colleagues to 
find a path forward. My friend from North Carolina is the new chairman 
of the sportsmen's caucus. Hailing from a State with a rich hunting 
tradition, she knows the importance of protecting America's outdoor 
heritage. Representing a State that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean 
to the Appalachian Mountains, she knows it is critical to preserve our 
wide range of treasured lands.
  Senator Hagan's legislation combines more than 15 bills that will 
increase access for recreational hunting and fishing, that support land 
and species conservation, and that protect our hunting and fishing 
rights. Most importantly, they take ideas from both sides of the 
political aisle, ideas with support from all corners of the 
conservation and outdoors community.
  When I was the chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, 
sports men and women would constantly tell me about the importance of 
access to our public lands. Right now there are 34 million acres of 
public land that sports men and women cannot access. That is why this 
bill requires that 1.5 percent of the annual funding from the Land and 
Water Conservation Fund be set aside to increase public land access, 
ensuring sports men and women access to some of the best places to hunt 
and fish in the country.
  Senator Hagan's bill will reauthorize the North American Wetlands 
Conservation Act. This voluntary initiative provides matching grants to 
landowners who set aside critical habitat for migratory birds, such as 
ducks. Over the past 20 years volunteers across America have completed 
more than 2,000 conservation projects and protected more than 26 
million acres of habitat under this successful initiative. The North 
American Wetlands Conservation Act is a smart investment in both our 
lands and our wildlife, and it needs to be reauthorized.
  Senator Hagan's bill and mine are not identical, but most of the 
provisions are the same, and the bill is a product of the same spirit 
of cooperation that drove my bill.
  Now, just as happened last year, some folks around Washington will 
ask why this legislation is important. After all, we need to be working 
together to create jobs and put this country on solid financial 
footing. But outdoor recreation is a job creator and an economic driver 
throughout this country, and Montana is no exception. In my State, one 
in three Montanans hunts big game and more than 50 percent fish. 
Nationwide, outdoor recreation contributed nearly $650 billion in 
direct spending to the economy in 2012. Hunting and fishing is not just 
recreation; it is a critical part of our economy. In Montana, hunting 
and fishing brings in more than $1 billion a year to our economy--
nearly as much as our State's cattle industry.
  Strengthening our economy, creating jobs, preserving our outdoor 
traditions and our treasured places--these all sound like no-doubt-
about-it ideas, but last year the Sportsman's Act ran into trouble 
right here in this Senate. Opposition to my bill didn't come from 
concerns about measures in the bill itself; instead, it was blocked by 
Members of Congress taking out frustrations with how other votes went 
that day. My bill was simply caught in the crossfire. Sports men and 
women across the country who have been waiting for a bill such as this 
for a generation

[[Page S7912]]

watched in disbelief as my bill fell victim to politics. They won't 
stand for it again.
  This is a bill with widespread support that preserves our outdoor 
economy and secures our outdoor heritage for our kids and our 
grandkids. There is nothing controversial about it.
  Thanks to the leadership of Senator Hagan, my colleagues have another 
chance to get it right. When Senator Hagan's sportsmen's bill comes to 
the floor, whether here or in committee, I urge my colleagues to 
support it. Approve it as a vote for bipartisanship. Approve it as a 
vote for common sense over political victory. Approve it as a vote for 
America's 90 million sports men and women. Approve it as a vote to 
create jobs.
  With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence 
of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Warren). Without objection, it is so 

                                POST Act

  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, yesterday Senator Harkin of Iowa, the 
Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, joined me in reintroducing a 
bill called Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers or the POST Act. I am 
pleased that supporting our efforts are the Education Trust, U.S. PIRG, 
the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, the Military 
Officers Association of America, and the Young Invincibles.
  Since 1992, Congress has required for-profit schools to derive a 
portion of their revenue from non-Federal sources. Most people would be 
surprised to learn how these for-profit schools are really totally 
upside down. Many depend almost exclusively on Federal money. They are 
private schools, very profitable, and yet often most of their money 
comes from the Federal Government.
  If you took this segment of our economy, for-profit schools, and made 
it a Federal agency, it would be the ninth largest Federal agency. That 
is how much money we put into for-profit schools. Who are these 
schools? Well, young people, particularly high school age or college 
age, they know them by name. They are the ones that come bombarding you 
on the Internet with solicitations to please come join our for-profit 
school. You cannot get on a CTA bus in Chicago, or on the subway in New 
York without being inundated with all of these schools trying to sign 
up young people.
  There are three numbers which everyone should understand when they 
take a look at the for-profit school industry. These three numbers tell 
you what you need to know: 12 percent of high school graduates go to 
for-profit colleges--12.
  For-profit colleges and universities receive 25 percent of all the 
Federal aid to higher education, 12 percent of the students--25 percent 
of the Federal aid to higher education: student loans, Pell Grants.
  The third number is the most important. Forty-seven. So 47 percent of 
the student loan defaults in America are students from for-profit 
schools. They are a small segment of the population, 12 percent; 25 
percent of the Federal aid to higher education and 47 percent of the 
defaults. They have cooked quite a deal with Congress and with our 
Federal Government.
  Since 1992 we have said to these schools--the law has said: You have 
to derive a portion of your revenues not from the Federal Government. 
It is not a portion from the Federal Government, but a portion not from 
the Federal Government. This was meant to keep for-profit schools in a 
situation where they would not rely completely on Federal dollars to 
  Originally, these schools had to come up with--listen to this--15 
percent of their revenue from non-Federal sources--15 percent. In 1998, 
it was reduced to 10 percent. What it means is when the school signs up 
a student, they only have to come up with 10 percent of the actual 
cost, in most circumstances, from sources outside of the Federal 
  These schools are channeling Federal dollars by the millions through 
these students into their own coffers. Nine out of every $10 that these 
schools take in can come from the U.S. Treasury and taxpayers. Much of 
the for-profit college industry takes in most of its money directly 
from the Federal Government.
  In fiscal year 2012, we sent $32 billion to for-profit schools. We 
spent more on for-profit schools then we did on the National Institutes 
of Health, NASA, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, the EPA, 
or the FBI. We spend more on for-profits than we do keeping planes in 
the sky, protecting our borders, tracking down criminals, responding to 
disasters, researching cures for cancer, protecting the Nation's food 
supply, making sure our air and water are safe, or exploring the outer 
reaches of the universe.
  In 2009 and 2010, for-profits took in 25 percent of the Department of 
Education Title IV funds, enrolling only 12 percent of the students. 
They have quite an arrangement going on here. The largest is University 
of Phoenix, the Apollo Group. You have heard about the University of 
Phoenix; you cannot escape them. They advertise all the time.
  In 2011, the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, 
counted 86 percent of its revenue from Federal sources, Title IV funds, 
more than $5 billion to this one for-profit school. As long as they are 
educating students, why should we be concerned?
  The Apollo Group's profit last year was more than $400 million. In an 
era of spending cuts and austerity, what are Federal taxpayers doing 
sending so much money to a private sector company that is so 
profitable, particularly in a sector of the education economy that 
accounts for 47 percent of student loan defaults?
  Last year a young woman who received a BA in Fine Arts from the 
International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago contacted our 
office. She finished the undergraduate program, and she found that no 
graduate programs outside of that school would even consider her 
transcript. They did not recognize a degree from the so-called 
International Academy of Design and Technology, a for-profit school.
  So 4 years later, with a worthless diploma, she was $58,000 in debt 
and had no real future in her chosen field. Federal taxpayers gave the 
International Academy of Design and Technology, 89 percent of its 
  It is a flowthrough. The students apply. They then apply for Pell 
grants if their income is low enough, student loans. The money flows 
through the student into the for-profit school. The student ends up 
with the debt and the for-profit school ends up with the money. In this 
case, the student ends up with a worthless diploma and $58,000 in debt 
when it is all over.
  Ashford University--I could go on for a while about Ashford in Iowa--
is currently being investigated by the California attorney general for 
its recruitment practices. It receives 87 percent of its revenue from 
the Federal Government.
  For such dependence on Federal taxpayers for their operation, one 
would think these schools must be generating a great return on 
investment. We have a deficit. Why should we be sending so much money 
to these for-profit schools? Some of these schools are good, make no 
mistake, but many are not, and the taxpayers pay either way. For-profit 
colleges spend less on student instruction than traditional schools, 
$3,500, roughly, for students at the for-profit schools, over $7,000 at 
public institutions, and $15,000 per student at private not-for-profit 
schools. The students leave school with more debt if they go to for-
profit schools. They average at least $6,000 more debt than the typical 
  For-profit students, as I said, are more likely to default. Almost 
half of the student loan defaults come from students from these 
  How are the CEOs at the top for-profit schools doing? They made an 
average in 2009, the last reported date, of $7.3 million a year. Think 
about that, 80 or 90 percent of the money is coming from the Federal 
taxpayers, encumbering the students with debt, and CEOs of the company 
are walking away with an average of over $7 million a year in income.
  The bill I have introduced with Senator Harkin would change this. I 

[[Page S7913]]

to do more, but the first step is returning to the 85-15 ratio, saying 
that for-profit schools cannot take more than 85 percent of their 
revenues from the Federal Government and taxpayers. It would also hold 
these schools accountable for breaking the threshold after 1 year of 
noncompliance, rather than the lenient 3 consecutive years, which is 
currently the law.
  That is only part of the story. The Federal subsidy of these schools, 
these money-making machines, goes even farther. The dirty little secret 
of the current Federal 90/10 rule is that it doesn't count GI bill 
benefits or the Department of Defense Voluntary Education Program. 
Hundreds of millions of dollars per year would flow to these schools 
from these programs and they are exempt from the 90 percent-10 percent 
  Does anybody dispute the Department of Defense is part of the Federal 
Government--of course it is. Whether it be planes, bombs, or 
servicemembers' education it's paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Nobody 
questions that. When we limit how much of these schools' revenues can 
come from the Federal Government, why should we ignore the money coming 
through the Department of Defense? It is Federal money, Federal 
taxpayer money.
  According to the 2009 HELP Committee report on for-profit schools, if 
all forms of Federal funds were counted, the top 15 publicly traded 
for-profit companies received, on average, 86 percent of all their 
revenue from Federal sources. The loophole makes servicemembers and 
veterans prime targets of for-profit schools. They are all over these 
servicemembers and veterans to sign them up because they bring in more 
federal dollars. It has led to well-documented horror stories about 
aggressive predatory recruiting practices.
  I have been on this floor telling these stories many times. I do 
think they bear repeating. I have told the story of two former military 
recruiters at a for-profit college in Illinois. They contacted my 
office to tell me what happened. They were told their job was above all 
to put ``butts in classes''--that they should dig deep into the 
personal lives of their recruits to find their ``pain point.''
  If a prospective student was out of work, recruiters were encouraged 
to say things such as: ``How do you think your wife is about being 
married to somebody unemployed?''
  Entrance requirements at these schools are very low, maybe 
nonexistent. It didn't matter how long a student stayed as long as he 
came in, signed up, got the Federal loan that went to the school, and 
then he was stuck with the debt. There is no telling how many 
servicemembers have been lured by these practices and then ripped off.
  One of these schools has the name the American Military University. A 
nephew of mine is serving in the U.S. Army. I sent him an email, and I 
said take a close look at this school. It is not part of the military. 
They sound like it, but they aren't. It is a for-profit school, and 
very profitable. There is no telling how many servicemembers have been 
lured into these schools.
  There is James Long, who suffered a brain injury when an artillery 
shell hit his humvee in Iraq. He used military benefits to enroll in 
Ashford University, one of the more notorious, after he had been 
heavily recruited by that school. He told Bloomberg News he knows he is 
enrolled in Ashford, but he can't remember the courses. Remember, he 
suffered a head injury in Iraq.
  Christopher Ford told the LA Times he used his GI bill benefits at a 
for-profit school to take an online engineering course, only to find 
out no company would accept his training and he had used his benefits 
in pursuing this degree. Of his for-profit education, he said:

       It was heavily marketed, so I took it. It sounded pretty 
     good, but it turned out to be pretty predatory.

  Our bill, Senator Harkin's bill and my own, would protect 
servicemembers and their families from being preyed on by ending this 
loophole and counting these military and veterans' benefits in the new 
85-percent limit. This commonsense bill is a modest step forward trying 
to reclaim some dignity when it comes to Federal aid in education.
  We have opened up this amazing loophole, and 25 percent of all the 
Federal money for higher education is going into these schools, many of 
which are just plain worthless. If the students were just wasting time, 
that would be bad enough, but they are wasting opportunities for 
education and they are digging debt holes they can never get out of.
  I received an email this week from a family in Illinois, a mom. She 
was so proud that her son had graduated from school. It was not a for-
profit school, but he graduated, and she was pretty proud of him. She 
told me he had a problem. He had incurred $130,000 in student loan 
debt. She found out that he had signed up for a lot of debt that 
couldn't be consolidated, couldn't be refinanced, and she was begging 
me to do something to help her. There was one line in that email I will 
never forget. She said: Senator, we just can't afford to pay more than 
$1,000 a month for his student loans.
  She is speaking of $1,000 a month on a student loan. That is not 
  Too many of these young people and their families get sucked into 
these student loans, many of these worthless for-profit schools. We 
have cases that have been reported of grandmothers who have had their 
Social Security checks garnished because they signed on to guarantee 
their granddaughter's student loans. God bless grandma for wanting to 
help her granddaughter, but then her granddaughter can't get a job, 
can't make a loan payment, and they go after the grandmother's Social 
Security check. That is outrageous. Surely this Congress can come to a 
bipartisan agreement on how to cure this.
  I wish to thank Senator Harkin for his partnership on this bill. 
There is more to come. This student loan crisis is a growing one, and 
it affects some of the hardest working families in America. They were 
sure they were doing the right things for their kids. Now they find 
themselves hopelessly in debt, many times with worthless for-profit 
school diplomas.
  We can do better and we should do better to give these young people 
and their families a chance.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mrs. FISCHER. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                              Veterans Day

  Mrs. FISCHER. I rise today on behalf of all Nebraskans to say thank 
you to our Nation's veterans. Our Nation has long been blessed with men 
and women with integrity who step forward and answer the call to serve. 
Throughout times of war and times of peace, our country has maintained 
a military that has been the envy of the world. Each year Veterans Day 
is a time to thank and to honor the generations of patriots who have 
risked life and limb to protect our Nation and defend the cause of 
freedom. These heroes leave their homes--their comfortable lives with 
loved ones--for months and years at a time to fight wars in foreign 
lands. From the windy beaches of Normandy, to the snowy mountains of 
Korea, and the blistering deserts in the Middle East, our veterans have 
served fearlessly around the globe. Meanwhile, others, including 
members of the National Guard, have been stationed throughout the 
United States serving dutifully to protect the homeland.
  As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have the unique 
privilege of interacting directly with our servicemembers. I have had 
the opportunity to meet soldiers, including many Nebraskans, working to 
protect the hard-fought gains in Afghanistan, and I have visited with 
troops stationed in Germany, Italy, and other allied nations. This past 
July I had the opportunity of a lifetime, celebrating Independence Day 
with our troops in Afghanistan. I expressed my gratitude for their 
work, and I assured them of my support in the Senate for that work.
  While I am committed to ensuring our Active-Duty servicemembers have 
the training and the tools they need to fulfill their missions, I am 
equally committed to keeping the faith with our Nation's veterans. Each 
time I speak with one of Nebraska's many

[[Page S7914]]

wonderful veterans, I am reminded of the honor and the valor that 
decorates all of our men and women who have served. Each one has a 
unique and a very memorable story to tell.
  Recently, I was humbled to take part in the inspiring journey of more 
than 130 Nebraska Korean war veterans to Washington, DC, through the 
Honor Flight Program. It was a privilege to help welcome them at the 
Korean War Memorial on the National Mall. All of our veterans deserve 
our appreciation, but it was especially important for me to acknowledge 
the heroic efforts of those men and women who fought in what is 
referred to as America's forgotten war. We are forever grateful to each 
and every American who has served, and we salute those who have paid 
the highest price.
  Another way to honor our fallen and missing servicemembers is by 
showing our gratitude to those who are still with us today. As 
President Lincoln stated, it is our great charge ``to care for him who 
shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.''
  As a Senator, I am dedicated to promoting policies that assist 
America's veterans when they return home and to help ease the 
transition back into a normal life. Many need care for their physical 
injuries as well as their emotional scars.
  Despite possessing valuable skills, veterans also have difficulty 
finding employment after their return. We need to encourage businesses 
and organizations to utilize the talents of our Nation's veterans and 
to help them find employment in our local communities. It is not only 
the values but also the training and the discipline of our military 
personnel that make America's fighting force second to none.
  I am pleased to report to Nebraskans that this year's National 
Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA, furthers the goal of helping 
servicemembers better translate the skills they gain in the military to 
a civilian job. Specifically, it helps ensure that servicemembers 
understand how their military skills effectively transfer to meet 
license or certification requirements for civilian careers.
  It also requires the DOD to make available as much information as 
possible on the content of military training to the civilian 
credentialing agencies. Employers need to appreciate the vast array of 
skills and knowledge our veterans acquire during their Active-Duty 
service. My staff and I also stand ready to assist these men and women 
in navigating Federal agencies to get the assistance they may need.
  Many of our States' veterans have contacted my office with a range of 
important needs that are not being met, promises that have yet to be 
kept. These requests range from acquiring important service treatment 
records, to securing benefits for veterans' spouses, and navigating the 
bureaucratic maze that plagues the Department of Veterans Affairs. We 
have a great track record in securing the needed assistance.
  This year's NDAA also urges the Secretary of Defense to expedite 
efforts to integrate electronic health records between DOD and the VA.
  When it is fully implemented, this should greatly shorten the time it 
takes for these servicemembers to have their information transferred to 
the VA and start receiving the benefits they are due.
  We can never fully repay our men and women in uniform for the 
contributions they have made to our country, for their noble acts of 
service, but we can continue to do our best to honor their legacy. The 
peace we enjoy was hard earned. We owe our way of life to their service 
and their sacrifice. We will never forget and we are forever grateful.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.

                         DC Circuit Nominations

  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I come to the floor because there are 
three extremely talented, well-qualified women nominees who are ready 
to get to work on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. It is 
time they are confirmed.
  I will be joined this afternoon by several of our colleagues: 
Senators Hirono, Cantwell, Kaine, and Blumenthal, because we all know 
it is time for the Senate to stop the needless blocking of these women. 
Enough is enough.
  I thank Chairman Leahy for his persistence and the fact that we are 
not giving up on these three qualified women for the bench.
  Our courts need judges in order for the third branch of our 
government to function. The Senate should not be shutting down another 
branch of government. Some of my colleagues in the Senate will not even 
allow an up-or-down vote on these nominees. I don't know if they have 
even met these nominees, but if they had met them, I don't know how 
they could come to this floor and not allow an up-or-down vote.
  President George W. Bush's candidates to the DC Circuit were 
confirmed so the DC Circuit could keep running, and our current 
President's nominees should be considered in the same manner. You can't 
have justice with an empty courtroom. It is time to stop making 
excuses. It is time to put judges in their courtrooms, and it is time 
to get these women on the bench.
  One of the very well-qualified nominees is Nina Pillard. Nina Pillard 
is a talented lawyer and professor. She is the kind of sensible, well-
respected person whom we need to fill one of those empty seats in that 
courtroom. Actually, it is Professor Pillard because she has been a law 
professor at the Georgetown University Law Center for the last 15 
years. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale College in 1983 and 
earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1987, again graduating with 
  In addition to her academic career, Ms. Pillard served in government. 
From 1998 to 2000, she was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for 
the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Prior to that she 
served as an assistant to the Solicitor General, a position held by 
some of our country's most talented lawyers.
  It should be no surprise Ms. Pillard is one of the most accomplished 
Supreme Court advocates in the Nation. She has argued nine cases before 
our Nation's highest Court and has briefed 25 cases.
  Outside the courtroom, she has spent her time teaching and mentoring 
young lawyers, serving as the faculty director for Georgetown Law 
School's Supreme Court Institute.
  When the current Supreme Court Justice Alito was nominated by 
President Bush to fill an open seat on the Supreme Court, Ms. Pillard 
also donated her time to the committee to help review his writings and 
make a recommendation on his qualifications. Why? She was the chair of 
the American Bar Association's Reading Committee at Georgetown Law 
Center, which found Justice Alito ``well qualified'' to sit on the 
Supreme Court.
  People across the aisle think Ms. Pillard is well qualified too. The 
head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy under President 
Bush said that Ms. Pillard is ``a patient and unbiased listener . . . a 
lawyer of great judgment and unquestioned integrity.''
  The deans of 25 law schools, including the University of New 
Hampshire, the University of Arizona, and the University of Maine, 
wrote that Ms. Pillard ``has shown an appreciation of nuance and 
respect for opposing viewpoints, grounded in a profound commitment to 
fair process and fidelity to the law.''
  Twenty-five more former Federal prosecutors and law enforcement 
officials said Ms. Pillard ``is unquestionably eminently qualified, and 
is a sensible and fair-minded lawyer.'' The nonpartisan American Bar 
Association's--this is no surprise--committee that reviews every 
Federal judicial nominee unanimously gave Ms. Pillard its highest 
possible rating.
  Fairminded, unquestionably qualified, unquestioned integrity--these 
are the qualities the Senate should be looking for in a person we 
entrust to decide cases in our Federal courts. Next week the Senate 
should give Ms. Pillard an up-or-down vote.
  My hope for progress next week is in contrast to the reality we saw 
just 1 week ago when the Senate voted to block another eminently 
qualified woman to an up-or-down vote. As I stated last week on the 
floor, Patty Millett would also be an excellent person to fill one of 
the vacancies on the DC court.
  My colleagues have discussed the qualifications of Ms. Millett at 
length. She is a talented lawyer with extensive appellate experience--
32 cases in front

[[Page S7915]]

of the Supreme Court. I do not understand how anyone in good faith 
could vote to block an up-or-down vote of someone who has argued 32 
cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, who has served as an 
Assistant Solicitor General, and who spent 15 years as an attorney on 
the appellate staff of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division 
under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
  With all this experience, Ms. Millett is also one of the most 
experienced Supreme Court advocates in the Nation. Just as Ms. Pillard 
did, Ms. Millett also received the highest possible rating from the 
nonpartisan American Bar Association committee that reviews every 
Federal judicial nominee. She has done all of this, as we have all 
learned, while raising a family, with a spouse serving in the military 
overseas. She has been raising two children while her husband was 
serving our country overseas and while donating her time to help kids 
learn how to read and volunteering for the homeless.
  How can anyone not allow a vote on this nominee? This is another 
woman of unquestioned ability. Instead of confirming Ms. Millett last 
week, sadly, she was filibustered--another woman filibustered, stopped 
in her tracks.
  I see some of my colleagues have gotten to the floor, and so before I 
talk about Caitlin Halligan I will give them an opportunity to speak. 
But Caitlin Halligan is yet another woman stopped in her tracks. This 
has to end. We have been making so much progress for women in the 
judicial system and for women in the Senate. We are now 20 of 100 
Senators. No one filibustered us. We got an up-or-down vote when we 
came before the American people, win or lose. That is how it should 
work for judges. They should get an up-or-down vote--and that is what 
these women deserve.
  With that, I will yield the floor for Senator Hirono from the State 
of Hawaii, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
  Ms. HIRONO. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Minnesota. I 
rise to speak in support of the nomination of Cornelia ``Nina'' Pillard 
to be a circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of 
Columbia Circuit.
  Less than 2 weeks ago, my colleagues on the other side of the table 
blocked another nominee to the DC Circuit--Patty Millett. Earlier this 
year, they also blocked Caitlin Halligan--yet another woman who had 
been nominated to the DC Circuit. Unfortunately, Ms. Halligan withdrew 
her nomination after 2 years of obstruction.
  Only five women have served as judges on the DC Circuit in its entire 
120-year history. The DC Circuit is one of the most important circuits 
in our Nation, and it is shameful that female perspectives are so 
  Now the Senate will consider the nomination of Nina Pillard, a truly 
outstanding nominee to the Federal bench. Ms. Pillard is currently a 
law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and is one of the 
leading appellate attorneys in this country. Professor Pillard has 
extensive litigation experience at all levels. She has argued nine 
cases before the Supreme Court and has briefed dozens more, including 
the historic United States v. Virginia case that opened the Virginia 
Military Institute to women and the Nevada Department of Human 
Resources v. Hibbs case that sustained the Family and Medical Leave Act 
against constitutional challenge and ensured a primary caregiver could 
take leave in the case of a family illness regardless of gender and in 
this case the family caregiver was a male.
  Professor Pillard has also had an impressive 15-year tenure teaching 
constitutional law at Georgetown. The fact that is my alma mater has 
nothing to do with my support of her.
  In addition, she serves as codirector of the Georgetown Supreme Court 
Institute, where she prepares lawyers for oral argument before the U.S. 
Supreme Court on a pro bono basis, without regard to which side of the 
case they represent. In fact, under her leadership, the Supreme Court 
Institute prepared lawyers on one or both sides of every case heard by 
the Justices in the 2012 term.
  Professor Pillard has also twice served as a top attorney at the U.S. 
Department of Justice, and in those roles she advised and defended U.S. 
Government agencies and officials on criminal law enforcement and 
national security matters--invaluable experience for a judge on the DC 
Circuit, where such issues are routinely considered.
  I have been deeply impressed with her experience and record and have 
found her to be exceptionally qualified for this important position in 
the DC Circuit.
  In addition to her extensive qualifications, Professor Pillard also 
has demonstrated a commitment to fair and impartial process throughout 
her career. As mentioned by my colleague, for example, when Professor 
Pillard chaired the ABA Reading Committee that reviewed Samuel Alito 
during his nomination process, her assessment of his legal record led 
the ABA to apply their highest rating of ``well-qualified.'' She 
deserves to be held to the same rigorous, fair standard.
  However, following Patty Millett and Caitlin Halligan, Nina Pillard 
is the third woman in a row to be nominated to the DC Circuit only to 
face obstruction from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
  The DC Circuit is one of the most important courts in our Nation, 
weighing key constitutional issues and other matters of Federal law and 
regulation. Three of the eleven seats on this court stand vacant. Given 
the complexity and far-ranging impact of the cases the court hears, it 
is critical we fill vacancies without delay.
  Along with Patty Millett and Nina Pillard, President Obama has 
nominated Judge Robert Wilkins to fill these important vacancies. 
Unfortunately, so far, we have seen nothing but more obstruction of 
these extremely well-qualified nominees. This is an opportunity to put 
exceptionally talented lawyers on a significant court that has 
vacancies needing to be filled.
  I am disappointed our colleagues recently blocked a vote to confirm 
Patty Millett, not only a great lawyer but a military spouse who 
managed a successful career and the care of her children while her 
husband was deployed overseas. When we talk about supporting our 
troops, it means supporting their very well-qualified spouses, such as 
Patty Millett.
  I was dismayed and saddened when obstruction caused Caitlin Halligan 
to give up on her nomination after 2 years.
  It would be disgraceful to continue this obstruction of these 
qualified and impressive women. I urge Senators to reconsider and 
support these nominations.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, we have also been joined by Senator 
Kaine of Virginia, who knows a little bit about one of these nominees 
and is also a strong advocate for more women in the legal profession. 
That is one of the cases we are making; that this is about the DC 
Circuit, this is about the repeated gridlock we are seeing in 
Washington that the people of this country have said they have had 
enough of, but it is also about the fact our colleagues on the other 
side of the aisle have now blocked not one, not two but three 
incredibly qualified women.
  So we are starting small on a Thursday afternoon--and maybe there are 
not a lot of people in the gallery--but this is just the beginning. We 
are not going to let this go.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.
  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I thank my colleagues, the Senators from 
Minnesota and Hawaii, for joining me on the floor. This is a matter I 
feel very strongly about, and I do wish to offer a few words to 
basically just raise the question of whether there is a double standard 
for appointment of women to this particular court, the DC Circuit.
  Before I tackle that question, I will say one thing knowing that I am 
speaking to a law professor. I am concerned more broadly about what I 
consider sort of a pattern of nullification. If there is a law we don't 
like and we can't get it overturned, there seems to be efforts to 
defund it or even shut down government--or, in this case, what I would 
call the decapitation strategy: If you don't like the National Labor 
Relations Board, just don't appoint people to run the business or the

[[Page S7916]]

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms or, in this case, the DC 
  The DC Circuit has an allotted number of judicial positions. This 
isn't something the President chooses. Congress sets it on the advice 
of the judicial conference. The judicial conference has not suggested 
the number should be shrunk. There are 11 judges and 3 are currently 
vacant. The strategy of blocking appointments is sort of a 
nullification of law, which I think is troubling. But let me get to the 
question of what I consider to be a double standard that is blocking 
some wonderful candidates from going onto this court.
  My legal practice for 17 years was in the civil rights area. In the 
civil rights area, there is a legal notion called the pretext. When 
something bad happens--you don't get an apartment, you don't get a job, 
you don't get your bank loan or your homeowners insurance policy--and 
if a reason is asserted for that, but the reason just falls apart, it 
is completely illogical, it is not borne by the facts, that is called a 
pretext. I worry in this instance there are a couple of pretexts going 
on because the instances that have been cited by my colleagues--the 
filibustering of Caitlin Halligan, the filibustering of Patty Millett, 
and now the filibustering of Nina Pillard--rely on two pretexts. Why 
are these candidates--Caitlin Halligan, who practiced before the U.S. 
Supreme Court, was the Solicitor General for the State of New York and 
did such a good job, why block her? Why block Patty Millett, who worked 
in the Solicitor General's Office under both administrations, supported 
by Solicitor Generals of both administrations? Why block Nina Pillard? 
Nina Pillard was the appellate attorney before the U.S. Supreme Court 
to argue for the need to admit women students to the Virginia Military 
Institute in my State, which they have done and it is working very 
well. One of Nina Pillard's supporters was the superintendent of VMI 
who was being sued. The promise of America will never be fulfilled as 
long as justice is denied to even one among us. Josiah Bunting has come 
forward and said Nina Pillard would be a great circuit justice.
  So what is the reason being asserted to block these three women? The 
reason asserted is there is not enough of a workload on this court. I 
think it is clear the asserted lack of workload is a pretext. It is 
nonexistent. It is a phantom argument which gets brought up whenever we 
want to but then abandoned whenever we want to. My evidence for that is 
pretty clear.
  There are two circuit courts--the Eighth and the Tenth Circuit--which 
have lower caseloads per judge than the DC Circuit, but we have been 
approving nominees for that circuit this year without raising any 
question about workload. So we will put folks on the Eighth and Tenth 
Circuits, even though they have a lower workload and no one complains 
and the other side doesn't raise that. I asked Members: Why are you 
raising that here when you weren't raising it on other courts, and they 
said it is because the DC Circuit is the second highest court in the 
land. It is a more important court. The phrase used by someone to me: 
It has more juice. Members on the DC Circuit might be on the Supreme 
Court. So workload isn't the issue on the other courts. It is just an 
issue of this court apparently because the court is so important.
  Let's now drill down on what has happened just this year. The 
Presiding Officer and I are freshmen. We came in on January 3, 2013. We 
came in with the pending nomination of Caitlin Halligan for the court--
supremely qualified, bipartisan support in the legal profession for 
her. She was filibustered, and one of the principle asserted reasons 
was there is not enough workload on the court. So she couldn't even get 
an up-or-down vote.
  Within 2 months we had another nominee--a superbly qualified nominee 
whom I introduced before the Judiciary Committee, Sri Srinivasan, and 
we approved him in the Senate 97 to 0. He is a male. No one raised one 
question or mentioned the workload on the DC Circuit Court. We had just 
turned down Caitlin Halligan--because you don't get an up-or-down vote 
because there is not enough workload--but within 2 months, a 97-to-0 
vote we confirmed. I want to make clear, Judge Srinivasan is very 
qualified to be on this court. But the workload rationale just 
  But it didn't go away because as soon as Patty Millett is nominated--
as was indicated, not only a superb appellate attorney who has argued 
more cases before the Supreme Court than all but a handful of women in 
the history of this country, who has argued cases before the DC 
Circuit, where we hope she will sit, and other circuits as well. As 
soon as Patty Millet was nominated, the workload issue pops back up: 
The court doesn't have enough workload. Now Nina Pillard is being told 
she is going to be blocked also because the court doesn't have enough 
  I assert that this workload issue is a complete pretext. It is not 
raised about other courts and it is not raised about other nominees. 
Even this year it hasn't been raised. But it has been raised with 
respect to three superbly qualified women: Caitlin Halligan, Patty 
Millett, and Nina Pillard. I have only been here 11 months. I don't 
know all the previous history. But as I watch, women candidates are 
being treated differently on this court. This second highest court in 
the land, this court which has juice from which people may go to the 
Supreme Court, the women candidates are being treated differently. They 
are being blocked by concerns about workload which are not being 
applied in an evenhanded way.
  The last thing I will say is another bit of evidence which I think is 
fair to put on the table in this question of whether there is a double 
standard for women. During the Presidency of President Obama, there has 
also been the nomination of two women to be on the U.S. Supreme Court. 
These were debates we followed. These two women--Justices Sotomayor and 
Kagan, enormously qualified, with bipartisan support from bar 
associations and others. Justice Sotomayor, when her vote was finally 
held here, more than 75 percent of the Senators in the minority party 
voted against her confirmation on the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan, when 
she was up for nomination, 88 percent of the members of the minority 
party voted against her confirmation to be on the Supreme Court.
  We could look at courts that aren't the two highest in the land and 
see there have been more appointments of women judges--and that is a 
good thing and I hope there are more still. But when you get to the DC 
Circuit and the Supreme Court, it seems there is a double standard. It 
seems this phantom workload issue gets raised when it suits one side 
and then immediately dropped a couple months later, only to be raised 
again to block women candidates. I think that is a very serious 
  Congress set the law that there are 11 judges on this court. The 
President is trying to comply with the mandate of Congress in putting 
well-qualified women before this body. We should debate their 
qualifications. If folks have concerns about those, let's have that 
debate. But we shouldn't block them from being considered and assert 
reasons that don't stand the light of day.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Virginia 
for his well-thought-out argument and the evidence he put out here for 
the Presiding Officer, a former law professor who believes in evidence. 
I think it is important that we look at the facts.
  I wish to back up some of the facts to why this workload argument 
doesn't make sense, even when it is put out clearly for the women 
nominees and it wasn't put out recently for the male nominees. But here 
are the facts:
  When George W. Bush was President, the Senate confirmed his nominees 
to fill four empty seats on the DC Circuit. That was not long ago. 
Under President Obama, there have been four vacancies on the court. 
There were four under Bush and four under Obama. The difference? All of 
President Bush's nominees were confirmed by the Senate.
  It is important to note that one of President Obama's nominees--as 
was pointed out by my colleague from Virginia--was confirmed by the 
Senate. I guess that means one guy is confirmed and then these three 
seats are still open for which women have been put forward.
  Some people apparently think there is a problem with the numbers, but 
let's look at the actual numbers. These

[[Page S7917]]

same people have supported having more judges on another court that 
actually has fewer pending cases. The reason we use that standard--
pending cases--is those are the active cases. They are not the pro 
forma orders which are issued quickly. These are the actual cases 
before the court for which they have to make difficult decisions.
  The DC Circuit has 8 active judges, 6 partially retired senior 
judges, and 1,479 pending cases. The Tenth Circuit has 10 active 
judges, 10 senior judges, and 1,341 pending active cases. So the Tenth 
Circuit--to which my colleagues have confirmed multiple nominees--has 
more judges but fewer pending cases per judge.
  Why does the Tenth Circuit have more judges with fewer cases per 
judge than the DC Circuit? I believe the answer is quite simple: 
Earlier this year, the Senate confirmed two judges to fill the empty 
seats on the Tenth Circuit, and the Senate should do the same with the 
DC Circuit by taking these three well-qualified nominees and confirming 
  I see the Senator from Washington has arrived and I know she has a 
few remarks about this as well. As I pointed out to the Presiding 
Officer, this is just the beginning. We are going to continue to fight 
for these three women judges.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Minnesota for 
her leadership on the floor this afternoon. It is great to join her and 
my other colleagues to talk about the importance of judicial nominees, 
and in particular today, because today we are talking about the 
nomination of more female representation on the courts which I think is 
incredibly important.
  I served my first 2 years in the Senate on the Judiciary Committee, 
and I was struck to find that, I think at that time, I may have been 
the fourth woman in the whole history of our country to be on the 
Judiciary Committee. Now I am so proud that my colleague from Minnesota 
serves on that committee and does an excellent job and that we have 
other representation as well. But the point we have to ask ourselves 
is, do we have to get women elected to the Senate to get women on the 
Judiciary Committee to get women on the courts because our colleagues 
aren't going to help us do that?
  I am rising to support moving these nominations. President Obama has 
nominated Cornelia Pillard and Patricia Millett. We want to see these 
vacancies filled. We don't want the same dysfunction which led to a 
government shutdown to let us move toward the kind of the stopping of 
putting people on the court. Nominating highly qualified individuals is 
what the President's job is, and filling seats on the court is not 
packing the court. It is simply doing the job.
  On October 31, 2013, many of my colleagues voted against a motion to 
end debate on Patricia Millett to be a judge on the U.S. Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia. She is a very highly qualified 
attorney who has argued before the Supreme Court 32 times and is 
recognized both by Democrats and Republicans for her legal acumen. 
Despite her qualifications, her nomination was being blocked. Had she 
been confirmed, she would only be the sixth woman to sit on the DC 
District Court of Appeals. So I am questioning the place we are now on 
this nomination.
  Professor Nina Pillard is another filibustered nominee who has argued 
historic cases before the Supreme Court, including a case to open the 
Virginia Military Institute to women for the first time in history and 
a case defending the family medical leave law. American people want to 
know why are these qualified female judges being blocked. Just 32 
percent of the U.S. Appeals Court judges are women. In my opinion, it 
is time to move forward with more highly qualified nominees to add 
diversity to the courts.
  I have not heard any of my colleagues question the credentials of 
these nominees. In fact, Ms. Millett has been called ``a brilliant 
mind, a gift for clear persuasive writing, and a genuine zeal for the 
rule of law.'' This is not a quote by a Democratic Senator or a liberal 
think tank. That quote is from former Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr 
in a letter with six other Solicitors General, top lawyers who have 
served in the George H. Bush and George W. Bush and Clinton 
administrations, basically saying, ``Equally important, she is 
unfailingly fair minded.'' That is from Mr. Starr.
  So the DC Circuit Court currently has four judges chosen by 
Democratic Presidents and four by Republicans. There are three 
vacancies on the court. Republicans are arguing we shouldn't fill these 
vacancies, that we should just eliminate them. I think my colleague 
from Minnesota just spoke to this. This is a proposal that is even 
opposed by Chief Justice John Roberts, who argues that the DC Circuit 
Court of Appeals is similar to many of the Federal courts and is 
operating in a state of crisis. He said, ``Based on our current 
caseload methods, the D.C. Circuit Court should continue to have 11 
  So we need a court that is fully staffed. The primary responsibility 
of this court is the handling of cases involving Federal regulations on 
environmental safety, health care reform, and insider trading. We 
should trust that our judicial branch can nominate and get judges on 
that court that basically will look at the law and not party 
affiliation and stop obstructing people whom I believe are qualified to 
be on the court.
  I hope we can move forward. Ms. Millett is the second female nominee 
opposed by Republicans after the nomination of Georgetown professor 
Pillard was filibustered. However, she joins a long list of judicial 
nominees who happen to be female who have been opposed, not because of 
their qualifications but because they were nominated by this President. 
I will submit that list for the Record.
  I hope this discussion today points out the need of more women on the 
courts. Maybe we also need more women elected to the Senate so we can 
make sure we get more women on the courts. But this is, today, about 
asking my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to not look past 
this court. Do not try to diminish it by narrowing its focus. Get more 
people who will support qualified women so we can have the diversity in 
America that we need represented on our courts, even at the DC district 
appeals level.
  I thank my colleague from Minnesota for arranging for all of us to be 
here today to share our views.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I think there are two interesting 
facts that Senator Cantwell brought up that I didn't know. The first 
was the percentage of women in the Federal district courts--in the 30-
percent range, 32-percent range. The second was Justice Roberts' belief 
that, in fact, we should have judges to fill these seats. It is 
interesting that Justice Roberts actually was on the DC Circuit. I 
remember looking at the numbers. When he was confirmed to serve on the 
DC Circuit, there were actually fewer pending cases per judge than 
there are now--even if these vacancies were filled. I keep bringing 
that up because it is the one and the only argument we keep hearing 
against these three women we talk about today. Caitlin Halligan was 
already filibustered, stopped in her tracks despite trying three or 
four times and never giving up--1 year, the next year, putting in her 
name, having to go through a nomination process. We just saw Patty 
Millett, eminently qualified, filibustered, stopped at the door. I have 
never seen so many tweets about a judicial nominee. They are not always 
that well known, but in her case she is a hero of military spouses 
across the country who cannot believe my colleagues across the aisle 
are denying her that right to serve on our courts.
  Now we have a new nominee before us, Cornelia Pillard, someone, as we 
noted, who has been unanimously suggested for this job by the 
nonpartisan American Bar Association. She is someone eminently 
qualified, with nine Supreme Court arguments, and someone who has so 
much respect from those she mentors, from her colleagues both 
Democratic and Republican.
  I see the Senator from Connecticut is here, another member of the 
Judiciary Committee.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coons). The Senator from Connecticut.
  Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I thank my colleague, an esteemed 
lawyer and prosecutor herself, for her service on the Judiciary 
Committee and

[[Page S7918]]

dedication to the quality of our courts and for her bringing us 
together this afternoon to focus on a topic I think perhaps is not 
uppermost on the minds of most Americans, not something they worry 
about when they are bringing their kids to school or fixing dinner at 
night, but that shapes the quality of our society. It assures the rule 
of law, and it guarantees the courts of our country look like the 
people of our country.
  We are here because there are too few women as judges on our Federal 
courts. They have been denied that opportunity, and for so long they 
were denied the opportunity even to practice law. We are here because 
this situation is unacceptable. The Senate cannot and should not 
continue to obstruct the appointment of qualified nominees--in this 
instance women. Nina Pillard, like Patty Millett, is eminently 
qualified--indeed, distinguished, a candidate who fits the ideal 
profile. If you were designing and writing in the abstract the resume 
of a circuit court judge for the United States of America, it would be 
Nina Pillard.
  One of the tragic results of the obstruction that we see in the 
appointment of judges nominated by the President is that the Senate is 
blocking women appointees to this court. The Senate has only confirmed 
one woman to the DC Court in the last 19 years. During this same time 
period, five men have been confirmed to the DC Circuit Court of 
Appeals. In the court's entire history, only five women have been 
confirmed. These facts speak for themselves.
  Thanks to the leadership of President Obama and Chairman Leahy, the 
Judiciary Committee has been approving qualified women to take the 
``men only'' sign off the door at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. But 
those women have been blocked by a minority of this body.
  There ought to be common ground for Senators to have a good reason to 
block an appointment to the judiciary made by the President of the 
United States, which is his constitutional responsibility just as it is 
ours to advise and consent, and not simply, blindly block a woman 
  In 2005, the bipartisan gang of 14 came together and they agreed that 
a Senator should vote against a nominee only in ``exceptional 
circumstances, extraordinary circumstances.'' The history of that 
agreement is pretty well known here even though only a handful of 
Senators who joined in the agreement are still here. Its spirit and 
intent ought to guide us. Even if it is not binding in letter, its 
intent and purpose are as real now as they were then. It was to avoid 
the kind of nuclear approach--it is called, I suppose, the nuclear 
option for that reason--because it would be so organically threatening 
to the civility and collegiality of this body if it is invoked. The 
approach should be, as a Republican member of that gang of 14 said, 
that judges should be denied confirmation only in the event of ``a 
character problem, an ethics problem, some allegation about the 
qualifications of a person, not an ideological bent.'' If Senators 
agree that only exceptional circumstances justify blocking a nominee, 
then clearly the three female nominees that have been nominated by the 
President ought to be confirmed by the Senate. Our Country, and the 
legal profession specifically, has an unfortunate history when it comes 
to women.
  As I mentioned earlier, for generations women were not even allowed 
to practice law. Only recently have they been afforded the opportunity 
to serve on the Federal bench--despite their serving with extraordinary 
distinction when they were in fact appointed. They are still woefully 
  When women are denied an equal chance to serve on our courts, we are 
left with judicial bodies that fail to reflect the American people, 
fail to reflect their values and backgrounds, their aspirations and 
dreams, and in fact their talent and insight. An exclusionary Federal 
judiciary makes a mockery of our Nation's claim to equal justice under 
  The excuse for blocking appointees is that the DC Circuit Court does 
not need more judges. I find this claim unpersuasive, based on the 
workload of the court. We can debate, in fact, the numbers, but 
statistics in this instance fail to reflect the complexity and 
difficulty of the cases that come before this court. The same Senators 
who say the caseload fails to justify appointments now gladly voted to 
approve John Roberts to the ninth seat on the court when the court had 
just 111 pending appeals per judge. It now has 182 appeals per active 
  The history here is that the Senate approved appointees nominated by 
George Bush to fill the 9th, 10th, and 11th seats on the DC Circuit, 
the three seats that are vacant today. But this issue should not be 
about partisan politics. It should not be about which President made 
the appointments. It ought to be about the principle; that is, if the 
workload is insufficient, the number of seats on the court should be 
reduced by legislation. The Congress should not refuse to fill 
vacancies when they exist lawfully and in fact when there is strong 
evidence that the workload justifies filling those vacancies.
  Nina Pillard is a civil rights icon. She is a public servant of 
extraordinary distinction. Ms. Pillard led the integration of women 
into the Virginia Military Institute. Her work led the Supreme Court to 
uphold Congress' ability to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act. Her 
academic work continues to identify common ground between liberals and 
conservatives that can allow for the protection of important rights.
  Some have said that she is a feminist. The fact is, Professor Pillard 
believes that a woman's right to choose is protected by the U.S. 
Constitution. In other words, she believes in a judicial decision, 
written by Justice Blackmun--for whom I clerked--which has been upheld 
repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court over four decades. It is embedded 
in our constitutional law, as fundamental as the right to privacy is 
fundamental to our Constitution. I think the merits more than justify 
her confirmation. There is no question that she has the talent and 
temperament, the intellect and integrity, the experience and the 
sensitivity to serve as one of our great judges on this court of 
  I urge my colleagues to put aside the extraneous and irrelevant 
considerations that may lead them to oppose confirmation and, very 
simply, to give their approval to a woman who will be a mentor and a 
model to so many other women now in law school or beginning their 
careers or even beginning their judgeships, and who one day will aspire 
to this kind of position. They will see her example and ours in 
approving her as an inspiration to them in their careers.
  I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MURPHY. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                              Gun Violence

  Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, we have been trying to figure out all day 
how to fit five numbers on this poster. I have been bringing it down 
nearly every week since the anti-gun violence bill failed here in the 
Senate due to a Republican filibuster, and this is the first week this 
poster comes down to the floor of the Senate with five digits. There 
have been 10,287 Americans killed by guns since December 14, the day of 
the Sandy Hook shooting.
  What I have been endeavoring to do since the failure of that bill on 
the floor of the Senate--despite the fact that 80 to 90 percent of 
Americans supported the bill--is to bring to the floor the voices of 
victims, because the statistics are numbing at this point. We have had 
10,000 people in this country die at the hands of gun violence since 
December 14, and that apparently has not been enough to move this 
place, or the House of Representatives, to action.
  My hope is that by coming down to this floor every week or so and 
telling the real stories--the human stories--about the individuals who 
have lost their lives and the absolutely catastrophic runoff of trauma 
that happens to a family and a neighborhood and a community when you 
lose a loved one due to gun violence, maybe that will move this place 
to do something.
  I want to tell three stories this afternoon because it now is kind of 
routine--you just sort of wonder what day

[[Page S7919]]

of the week is it going to be when you turn on CNN or look at your 
Twitter feed and you see ``active shooting in progress,'' ``school 
lockdown,'' or ``people fleeing airport.'' It just kind of happens 
every week now. It has become a kind of commonplace occurrence. It is 
almost like raindrops in the background of news coverage on a daily 
basis--this week's shooting, next week's shooting.
  On October 21, a seventh grader named Jose Reyes, a student at Sparks 
Middle School, opened fire with a handgun he took from his parents. He 
killed a teacher, himself, and left two other students wounded at a 
middle school in Nevada.
  The teacher he killed was named Mike Landsberry, and, boy, you don't 
get much more American than Mike Landsberry. He was an Alabama native. 
He graduated from high school in Reno, which is right next door to 
Sparks, in 1986, and then served in the Marine Corps. He joined the Air 
National Guard after he got out of the Marine Corps. He rose to the 
rank of master sergeant and served as a cargo specialist in Kuwait and 
Afghanistan. He fought for this country. He put his life on the line to 
defend this Nation. When he came back, as happens with thousands of 
veterans, he decided to continue his public service and became an 
incredibly popular math teacher.
  His brother said of Mike: He is ``the kind of person that if someone 
needed help he would be there. He loved teaching. He loved the kids. He 
loved coaching them . . . He was just a good all-around individual.''
  Mike is no longer with us because he is now one of the over 10,000 
Americans who have died at the hands of a gun--this time in a school 
shooting on October 21.
  Gerardo Hernandez, according to his wife, was always excited to go to 
work. He was a joyful person who took pride in his duty for the 
American public. Gerardo was the TSA screener at the Los Angeles 
International Airport who was gunned down when Paul Ciancia, a troubled 
23-year-old, walked into LAX with an assault weapon and a grievance and 
grudge against the government. He opened fire and killed Gerardo 
Hernandez, age 39. He was the youngest in a family of four boys who had 
all emigrated from El Salvador. He was 15 years old when they made the 
decision to come to the United States to seek a better, safer, more 
stable life. And now the youngest of four boys is one of 10,287.
  Finally, the story of Maria Flores, who, frankly, didn't make 
headlines when she died over the summer along with her daughter 
Elizabeth Gomez. They died in Las Vegas when Manuel Mata, her boyfriend 
with a history of jealousy and domestic violence, shot and killed 
Maria. He shot and killed her teenaged daughter and wounded a 4-year-
old before turning the gun on himself.
  Family members said that Mata had financial troubles, drank often, 
displayed jealousy, and constantly accused his girlfriend of cheating. 
They said his girlfriend Maria Flores, who died that day, threatened to 
move out of the residence a couple of weeks earlier, but she was 
convinced by Mata to stay.
  The daughter who was killed was scheduled to graduate 3 days after 
the murder took place.
  I tell these three stories for this reason: First, in the wake of the 
TSA shooting, a lot of folks from the gun lobby made the argument that 
the way to fix this problem was to arm TSA agents, just as people made 
the argument that the way to guarantee another Sandy Hook tragedy from 
happening is to arm the teachers. Some people actually had the audacity 
to argue that an even better way was to arm the students too.
  It speaks to this sort of new philosophy that has infested this 
place--the Senate and the House--that I kind of describe as gun control 
Darwinism, the idea that if everybody has a gun--the good guys and the 
bad guys--hopefully enough of the good guys will shoot the bad guys. 
You just throw a whole mess load of guns out there, let them figure it 
out, and in the end we will take care of the bad guys.
  We have some new data that tells us how backwards that philosophy is. 
Common sense tells you that is not a good idea, but the data now tells 
you that is not a good idea.
  The American Journal of Public Health did the most comprehensive 
study ever done in this country. They looked at rates of gun ownership 
and rates of homicide by gun death. They looked at decades of data 
across every State in the Nation, and then they had the common sense to 
account for about every factor you could think of: gender, race, 
poverty, income, education, alcohol use, and crime rates. What they 
found is pretty stunning and straightforward. The American Journal of 
Public Health said that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership 
in a particular State, locality, or geographic region, there is a 
firearms homicide rate increase of 1 percent, a 1-to-1 ratio. If gun 
ownership goes up by 1 percent, increases in gun homicide go up by 1 
  Police chiefs in city after city across the country will verify that. 
As they have taken guns off the street, as they have engaged in gun 
buyback programs, guess what. Miraculously gun deaths decrease. That is 
not to say the only thing that matters is the number of guns on the 
street. Clearly, this young man who walked into Sparks Middle School 
and the 23-year-old who walked into LAX had enormous issues that were 
going untreated. We are fooling ourselves if any of us are trying to 
perpetuate an argument that this is just about gun ownership. This is 
also about a very broken mental health system that we need to address. 
But a 1-percent increase in gun ownership leads to a 1-percent increase 
in gun violence.

  The reason I tell Maria's story is because this is Domestic Violence 
Awareness Month--or maybe it was October. We have either completed it 
or we are in that month. Here is a stunning fact: In States that have 
comprehensive background checks, women are 38 percent less likely to 
die from domestic violence crimes. Women are 38 percent less likely to 
die from domestic violence crimes if they are lucky enough to live in a 
State that says: Before you buy a gun, you have to prove to us you are 
not a domestic abuser.
  Since 1998, 250,000 domestic abusers have been stopped from buying 
guns because of background check laws. That is just the domestic 
abusers who were dumb enough to show up at a gun store and try to buy a 
firearm. That doesn't count, frankly, the millions of domestic abusers 
who never walked into the store to buy the gun in the first place 
because they knew they were going to be denied. Women in the United 
States are 11 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in 
any other high-income Nation. And we have a solution: background 
checks. Women are 40 percent less likely to die from domestic violence 
if they live in a State that does background checks.
  I bring just three stories to the floor today in my effort to bring 
voices to the victims--the stories of Mike, a teacher in Nevada; 
Gerardo, an immigrant to this country who loved doing his public 
service as a TSA screener; and Maria Flores, one of thousands of women 
across this country killed by their spouses or partners in part because 
of the ease of access to a gun in this country.
  So 10,287 people--that number is tough to fit on one board. That is 
just in 11 months. Frankly, it won't be that long--just a handful of 
years from now--before there is absolutely no way to fit this number on 
this board unless the Senate and the House of Representatives decide 
that 90 percent of Americans are right and we should make sure 
criminals can't access guns. We should ban illegal gun trafficking. We 
should expand the reach of our mental health system so we can finally 
say that Congress--the Senate and the House--is going to do something 
to give voice to these victims.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Markey). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                              Veterans Day

  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, as we approach Veterans Day on Monday, I 
want to rise to recognize the selfless service and sacrifice of 
America's veterans. As we reflect upon the generations of men and women 
who have answered the call to serve and defend our

[[Page S7920]]

freedoms, we especially remember those who have given what President 
Lincoln so eloquently called ``the last full measure of devotion.''
  Just as we owe it to the memory of those who have given their lives 
for freedom, we also have the solemn obligation to ensure that every 
servicemember comes home and that we care for those who still bear the 
wounds of war. Some of these wounds are physically visible, while 
others are not so apparent.
  We have made great strides in caring for our servicemembers, 
especially in regard to lifesaving procedures on the battlefield and 
rehabilitative care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, but 
there is still much we must do to combat the epidemic of mental health 
issues among veterans. Traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress 
disorder, and the alarmingly high rate of suicide among our 
servicemembers remain among the most pressing issues our veterans face.
  We owe all of our veterans a tremendous debt of gratitude, and we 
must uphold the foremost duty of providing for their care. This 
responsibility includes aiding our veterans as they transition to 
civilian life by finding ways to put their skilled military training to 
work and through providing timely processing of medical claims. We must 
rise to the occasion to make sure our past mistakes are not repeated as 
our troops return from current and future conflicts.
  In my home State of South Dakota, it is easy to see the integral role 
veterans have played in shaping who we are as South Dakotans--a legacy 
that dates back to before the founding of the State itself. South 
Dakotans have always punched above their weight when it comes to 
military service in all the various conflicts in which our country has 
been involved over the years. The values of service and honor are woven 
into the fabric of our communities. With each passing day these values 
are strengthened by the men and women currently serving at Ellsworth 
Air Force Base and in the South Dakota Air and Army National Guard and 
VA centers around my State. I doubt there are many South Dakotans who 
do not have a family member or friend who has worn our Nation's 
  I know firsthand the sacrifice made by our Nation's veterans because 
my own father Harold was a decorated World War II Navy pilot. Like all 
our veterans, my dad served with pride and dignity, protecting our 
democracy at home and abroad. One of my favorite memories since I have 
been in the Senate was the opportunity to accompany my father to the 
World War II Memorial and show him that great memorial that was erected 
in honor of his generation's veterans. I was humbled by the quiet 
reverence they had for their comrades lost in battle and reminded of 
the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of our countrymen.
  We should be grateful for the generations of men and women who have 
given of themselves on behalf of our great Nation. There can be no 
mistake that America's veterans have served bravely and honorably, 
making America the country it is today.
  As we celebrate a weekend filled with fanfare and celebrations, with 
people involved in their weekend activities, I would ask that we all 
take a moment to remember the service of those who did not make it back 
to their families and that we rededicate ourselves to caring for those 
who continue to bear the cost of our freedoms.
  May God bless our veterans, and may we continue to honor those who 
have nobly answered the call to serve. On this Veterans Day, may we all 
keep the brave members of our military and their families in our 
thoughts and prayers as they continue to serve our great Nation.