CLOTURE MOTION; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 155
(Senate - December 16, 2014)

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[Pages S6870-S6872]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                             CLOTURE MOTION

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there is 3 hours of 
debate equally divided in the usual form on the motion to invoke 
cloture on the Saldana nomination.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, 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.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, it would probably be appropriate that I 
suggest the absence of a quorum but ask unanimous consent that the time 
be divided equally.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. This would be during all quorum calls today--because there 
will be several of them--that the time be divided equally on the 
Saldana matter.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, 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.
  Mr. CORNYN. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, more than 3 months ago I was proud to 
introduce a fellow Texan, Sarah Saldana, to the Homeland Security and 
Governmental Affairs Committee in connection with her nomination to 
become the Nation's top immigration enforcement official, a position 
important to our country and particularly to Texas.
  Ms. Saldana was born in Corpus Christi, TX, and became the first 
Latina U.S. attorney in Texas history and only the second woman to hold 
that position in the 135-year history of Texas, in the northern 
district, a region that includes the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, spans 
100 counties, and stretches across 95,000 square miles. I, along with 
former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, was proud to support her 
nomination to that important job.
  In her role as U.S. attorney and previously as a line prosecutor, 
Sarah Saldana has fought public corruption. She has fought organized 
crime, sex traffickers and other dangerous criminals. She has also 
prosecuted numerous high-profile public corruption cases, including the 
very publicized corruption trial that resulted in the conviction of the 
former Dallas mayor pro tem, Don Hill, and the ongoing case against 
Dallas county commissioner John Wiley Price--both members of her 
political party--which put her in some disfavor, as you might imagine, 
in Democratic political circles. But it was something which 
demonstrated to me that she was a person of courage and conviction and 
she believed in enforcing the law beyond purely deferring to personal 
political interests.
  Throughout her career she has developed an outstanding reputation, 
and based on her qualifications alone, we would be hard-pressed to find 
a person better suited for the job at Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement than Sarah Saldana.
  Unfortunately, the President changed everything this last November by 
his Executive action on immigration. To be clear--I have said this 
before on the floor, but I will just repeat--I believe the President's 
actions are beyond his constitutional authority and are a reckless 
political stunt.
  Here are the sorts of things the President is claiming to do. The 
Department of Homeland Security has issued a series of directives 
pursuant to the President's instructions on November 21, doing 
everything from repealing the Secure Communities Program, by which 
local law enforcement cooperates with Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement and when a person is arrested who also is in the country 
illegally, they are detained by local law enforcement, even though they 
have served their time or otherwise are subject to release so that ICE 
can come pick them up and return them to their country of origin. The 
President's Executive action and the Department of Homeland Security 
directives pursuant to that eliminate the Secure Communities Program.
  It also purports to prioritize immigration enforcement according to 
three priorities. The problem is these add even more confusion to what 
is already an indecipherable and confusing mess, and it also puts to 
the lowest priority people who have been convicted of crimes such as 
child abuse, stalking, theft, some child pornography offenses, 
possession, distribution of alcohol to minors, hit-and-run, including 
some hate crimes, property destruction, false imprisonment, some 
abduction offenses and the like. In other words, the President's 
priorities for immigration enforcement really represent a wholesale

[[Page S6871]]

change in the law--if they were actually authorized. Until they are set 
aside by a court or if Congress were to repeal them along with what 
would require a Presidential signature, they are the standing 
requirement for any Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 
The President, purportedly, also used his authority to issue work 
permits for millions of people illegally in the country. While I don't 
believe our country would ever engage in mass deportation, the fact 
that the President has usurped the authority of Congress and purports 
to take on the authority to issue work permits to people illegally in 
the country to me is mind boggling.
  This is the situation into which the President has put a good and 
decent person such as Sarah Saldana. The President has put the next 
Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in an untenable 
position. When confirmed, she will be the principal enforcer of our 
immigration laws. Unfortunately, she now claims the President was 
operating within his legal authority to issue this Executive action. I 
say that because several Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee 
issued written questions to the nominee about this Executive action, 
and it is clear in her responses that Ms. Saldana has wholeheartedly 
embraced the President's Executive action and claims that it is within 
his authority.
  If you think about it, a Presidential nominee has two choices. They 
can either say, well, I disagree with what the President has done, so I 
will refuse to serve, or if they are already confirmed, I am going to 
resign my position, or they can embrace the President's policies, 
because the President is the one who makes those policies. Clearly, Ms. 
Saldana has embraced the President's policies, which I believe are 
unconstitutional.
  I believe we should be deeply concerned about the damage the 
President's Executive actions will do to our already broken immigration 
system because they reinforce the dangerous message that the President 
is already sending to the world that our laws against illegal 
immigration will not be enforced. This is an invitation for 
lawlessness, and it will make it much more likely that we will 
experience further humanitarian crises and a surge of illegal 
immigration such as we saw last spring and which we have seen this year 
with more than 60,000 unaccompanied children coming from Central 
America through Mexico to our southern border. So the President's 
policies are a green light, and, unfortunately, Ms. Saldana has 
embraced those policies.
  I believe that the recent election was a mandate for us to work 
together on bipartisan solutions to our country's biggest challenges, 
but apparently the President didn't get the memo. I was actually at a 
lunch at the White House with other leaders of both parties across the 
Capitol where Speaker Boehner, the incoming majority leader and I, and 
the current majority leader said to the President: Please don't do 
this. Don't poison the well. Give us a chance to do our job as the new 
majority in the House and the Senate to try to pass consensus 
immigration reform bills and put them on your desk. The President 
ignored that. So the President chose to poison the well and to make it 
harder for us to do what we know we all have to do; and that is to fix 
our broken immigration system to the best of our ability.

  The President's reckless Executive actions have done further damage. 
They are deeply unfair to people who have been waiting patiently in 
line according to the written immigration laws--the people who have 
been playing by the rules. To allow millions of people simply to jump 
ahead of those people who have been waiting patiently in line and 
playing by the rules is profoundly unfair. At a time when our economy 
is starting to recover from the financial crisis in 2008 and the 
policies that have intervened, we know that there is potential harm to 
hard-working middle class families who are already living on stagnant 
wages and a rising cost of living to have millions more people eligible 
for work permits under the President's purported authority in these 
Executive actions. We ought to be careful about that, we ought to be 
deliberative about that, and we ought to make sure we are doing the 
sorts of things that will protect--not harm--hard-working middle class 
families. But the President has ignored all that and just done it his 
way.
  Well, some pundits have suggested perhaps the President's real goal 
was to provoke Republicans to taking the bait and descending into 
further dysfunction. Well, if I heard one message from my constituents 
and people as I campaigned for reelection in Texas, it is that people 
really want us to work together. They want this place to function. In 
many instances they don't care so much about what we do, as long as we 
do something to work together. Of course, they care about what we do, 
and there are areas where we disagree. But there are areas of common 
ground where we can work together to solve these problems. We are not 
going to take the bait if that is what the President's intention was, 
and we are not going to descend into even more dysfunction. That would 
be a repudiation of the message and mandate the voters sent to us on 
November 4.
  So we are going to plow ahead. When the new majority takes place on 
January 6, working with our colleagues in the House, working with our 
colleagues across the aisle, we are going to try to find places where 
we can pass bipartisan immigration legislation--not in a comprehensive 
fashion but in a step-by-step fashion to try to make some progress to 
improve our broken immigration system.
  I am most concerned about the precedent the President's actions would 
set for our system of government. What if future Presidents take upon 
themselves the claimed authority to issue other Executive actions that 
ignore the separation of powers and allocation of responsibilities 
given to the different branches of government under our Constitution? 
It is a dangerous precedent. If the President cannot be trusted to 
enforce the laws passed by the people's elected representatives, then 
self-governance is an illusion. This is very dangerous.
  The American people should never stand for rule by Executive fiat, 
and they should demand the rule of law be enforced under our 
Constitution. The President's frustration with the Republican House of 
Representatives is no justification for doing what he has done. He 
needs to give us an opportunity to do our job, and he needs to join us 
at the negotiating table to make progress on our broken immigration 
system.
  Although I admire Ms. Saldana, I fear she will be tasked with 
carrying out the implementation of the President's unconstitutional 
Executive actions, refusing to enforce our immigration laws. 
Unfortunately, when given the chance to address the constitutionality 
of these actions with the Judiciary Committee, these fears were not 
alleviated. Members of the committee were denied a chance to ask her 
questions during an open confirmation hearing, something several 
previous nominees for this position have undergone.
  As a matter of fact, Senator Grassley, the ranking Republican on the 
Judiciary Committee, and I invited Ms. Saldana to appear at an informal 
question-and-answer session, since the chairman of the Judiciary 
Committee denied us an opportunity to have a formal hearing, so she 
could perhaps answer our questions and clarify her position--the 
position she took in the written answers to the questions for the 
record, which I referred to earlier.
  I don't know whether she got bad advice or whether she, herself, 
decided it would be a futile effort, but she decided not to appear for 
that informal give-and-take.
  Maybe it would have helped her clarify her answers to the questions 
sent by the committee, maybe not. Maybe she would have stood by her 
answers, but we will never know.
  It is for these reasons I regrettably cannot support her nomination. 
Ms. Saldana, as I said, is somebody whom I admire and respect, but if 
she is determined to help the President implement this deeply flawed 
Executive action and refuses to enforce the law Congress has written 
and has been signed by previous Presidents, I cannot support her 
nomination.
  I will not aid and abet a President dead set on unilaterally defying 
our Nation's immigration laws.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.

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