PROTECTION OF LAWFUL COMMERCE IN ARMS ACT--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - July 27, 2005)
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Mr. KENNEDY. 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 President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.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. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I take a moment to explain the effect of our proceeding to this gun bill. We are putting aside an important debate on national security and the needs of our troops in a time of war. Last Friday I listed a number of the amendments that still were pending that would affect the National Guard and our Reserve troops and also provide additional kinds of protections for the service men and women. The decision by the Republican leadership was that we had spent enough time on the legislation, even though we chose to spend 2 weeks earlier in the year on the credit card industry and on bankruptcy and a similar amount of time on the class action legislation which benefited special interest groups. The credit card industry will profit about $6 billion more this year than last year because of the actions taken. We also spent time on the special interest legislation dealing with class actions. We spent the time on that, but we are not on the Defense authorization bill.
We had an important amendment on the whole policy of the administration in developing new nuclear weapons which has profound implications in terms of the issues of nuclear proliferation and nuclear safety. We looked forward to having an opportunity to debate that issue. That was put aside by the Republican leadership because they were concerned about a provision that had been introduced to the Defense authorization bill last Thursday. Senator Levin, Senator Reed, Senator Rockefeller, and I introduced an amendment to create an independent commission to examine the administration's policy surrounding the detention and interrogation of detainees as an amendment to the Defense authorization bill.
The response of the White House was instant and negative. The President announced he would veto the Defense authorization bill, all $442 billion of it, if it included any provisions to restrict the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or creating a commission to investigate detainee operations. No other response could have demonstrated so clearly the urgent need to establish a commission than that this imperial White House considers itself immune from restraints by Congress on its powers no matter what the Constitution says.
It is appalling that the administration is so afraid of the truth that they are even willing to veto the Defense bill which includes billions of dollars for our troops, pay raises for our troops, and funds for armored humvees to protect our troops in Iraq. But the administration was prepared to veto that legislation because of this amendment that had been offered by Senator Levin, Senator Reed, Senator Rockefeller, and myself.
Now the Senate Republican leaders have pulled the Defense bill from the floor. It is interesting that Republican leaders hatched this plan after Vice President Cheney visited with Senate Republicans last week. He told them the White House does not want votes on amendments to require an inquiry into their detention policies and practices. The White House has not only threatened to veto a national defense bill to avoid accountability, but is preventing us from voting on the issue. It is already obvious that the administration's detention and interrogation policy failed to respect the longstanding rules that have guided our policy in the past, rejecting the collective wisdom of our career military and State Department officials. In today's newspapers we see the result of this action once again with the use of dogs against detainees.
We need to return to our core values of openness and accountability. The facts we know so far about torture and other abuses, about indefinite detention, have already become recruiting tools for terrorists. But if we act now to uphold our principles, we can end the outrage, we can end the coverups, and hold officials accountable at the highest levels. We need to disavow the abuses and harsh techniques. We need to ensure our actions do not become an excuse for our enemies to torture American troops when they are captured in the future or to attack innocent Americans in any part of the world.
The reports of abuse also undermine our own security efforts at home. The vast majority of Muslim Americans and Arab Americans are willing to help identify potential terrorists, help prevent charitable donations from being misused, and act as eyes and ears of a community uniquely capable of identifying potential threats. When the reports of abuses go unanswered, they undermine the community's willingness to provide that assistance. It is impossible for many Muslim Americans and Arab Americans to be persuaded to help against such threats if they feel their own religious beliefs have been targeted.
The reality is our safety and security depend on accountability. It is not enough to pretend that problem does not exist, but that is how the President has responded to the flow of reports about abuses. Contrary to the protests of the administration, we do not have the answers we need. So far, we have had 12 separate so-called investigations of allegations, but not a single report has adequately examined the role that civilian authorities have played in crafting the policies that led to our missteps. Twelve investigations and counting, and the coverup continues.
The administration and its proxies in the coverup have vilified anyone who calls for a full inquiry into the policies. They even stooped to claiming a request for full accounting is somehow a smear against our troops. The real smear is that the administration continues to prosecute only a few low-level
offenders without holding accountable the higher-ups who laid the groundwork for all the abuses. The real disservice to our troops and to our country is done by those who leave those at the bottom of the chain of command holding the bag while officials at the top are promoted and rewarded.
We need a commission independent of political influence to find the relevant facts, not just the facts that suit the partisan needs of the administration. We need an investigation of the country's so-called rendition policy which sends detainees to other countries where torture is well known. We need answers about the administration's reaction to FBI complaints about abuse. We need a thorough assessment of the legal regime that is currently in effect.
With its willingness to conceal the truth, the administration will never tell the American people about this practice of rendition on its own. We need an independent commission to examine our policies and practices and make appropriate recommendations. The American people deserve to understand the choices made by this President and to evaluate them.
In sum, our interrogation and detention policies need much more thorough review. In avoiding accountability, the administration has made it clear it won't accept responsibility for giving our Nation the clear answers it deserves. As Benjamin Franklin said, half a truth is often a great lie. Until now we have been fed half truths and coverups by the administration.
With the recent veto threat, the White House has declared war on any full and honest accounting of responsibility. The safety of our troops and our citizens depends on finding out the whole truth and acting on it. An independent commission of respected professionals with backgrounds in law and military policy and international relations is the only way we can learn the truth about what has happened so we can end the suppression and establish a policy for the future that is worthy of our Nation and worthy of our respect of all nations.
Administration secrecy doesn't stop with their interrogation policy. This administration has a systematic disregard for oversight and openness. Government is intended to be ``of the people, by the people, and for the people.'' Democracy requires informed citizens, and to be informed, citizens need to have information about the government. Congress and the executive branch are supposed to be open and accountable, so the American people know what is being done in their name. But under the Bush administration, openness and accountability have been replaced by secrecy and evasion of responsibility. They abuse their power, conceal their actions from the American people, and refuse to hold officials accountable.
No one disputes the necessity of classifying information critical to protecting our national security--military operations, weapon designs, intelligence sources, and similar information. But in the post-9/11 world, the administration is making secrecy the norm and openness the exception. It has used the tragedy of 9/11 to classify unprecedented amounts of information. Material off-limits to the public has become so extensive that no other conclusion is possible. The Bush administration has a pervasive strategy to limit access to information in order to avoid independent evaluation of its actions by Americans whose job it is to observe and critique their government. When even Congressmen, journalists, and public interest groups complain about limits on access to information, we know the difficulties faced by ordinary Americans seeking information from their government.
At a hearing last August in the House Subcommittee on National Security, the Director of the Government's Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard, testified that ``it is no secret that the government classifies too much information. Too much classification unnecessarily impedes effective information sharing.''
The Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security, Carol A. Haave, said that as much as half of all classified information doesn't need to be classified.
Last year, a record 15.6 million documents were classified by the Bush administration at a cost of $7.2 billion, many under newly invented categories with fewer requirements for classification.
The administration argues that all this secrecy is necessary to win the war on terrorism. But the 9/11 Commission Report said that too much government secrecy had hurt U.S. intelligence capability even before 9/11. ``Secrecy stifles oversight, accountability, and information sharing,'' says the report. They know from their own experience.
In July 2003, the 9/11 Commission's cochairmen, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, complained publicly that the administration was failing to provide requested information.
In October 2003, the Commission had no choice, after repeated requests, but to subpoena records from the FAA.
In November 2003, after multiple requests, the Commission again had to subpoena information, this time from the Department of Defense.
For the rest of that fall and spring, the administration repeatedly tried to deny access to presidential documents important to the Commission's investigation, until public outcry grew loud enough to convince the administration otherwise.
Key members of the administration balked at testifying, until public opinion again swayed their stance.
And then, in an ironic twist, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report itself was classified. So, is all this secrecy really about protecting us from the terrorists? Or is it just to avoid accountability?
This administration, once in office, wasted no
time challenging those who would hold them accountable. In May 2001, Vice President Cheney's energy task force issued its report recommending more oil and gas drilling to solve our energy problems. In light of his former employment at Halliburton, the recommendation was hardly astonishing. What was astonishing was the Vice President's refusal to identify the people and groups who helped write the policy. In June 2001, the GAO, the nonpartisan, investigative arm of Congress, requested information on the energy task force, following reports that campaign contributors had special access while the public was shut out. GAO's request was simple. It asked, ``Who serves on this task force; what information is being presented to the task force and by whom is it being given; and the costs involved in the gathering of the facts.'' Considering that the task force wrote the nation's energy policy, it was not an unreasonable request.
The administration refused to comply, even though GAO's request was not out of the ordinary. President Clinton's task forces on health care and on China trade relations were both investigated by GAO. The Clinton administration turned over detailed information on the participants and proceedings of the task forces.
But the Bush administration argued that GAO did not have the authority to conduct the investigation. For the first time in its 80-year history, GAO was forced to file suit against an administration to obtain requested information. But the court sided with the administration in Walker v. Cheney, and GAO's investigative oversight authority was effectively reduced. Independent oversight is critically important when one party controls both Congress and the White House, and GAO is critical to that oversight.
On October 12, 2001, John Ashcroft wrote a memo outlining the Justice Department's views on Freedom of Information Act requests. The memo set the tone for an administration hostile to such requests. It discouraged executive branch agencies from responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, even when the agencies had the option to respond. He basically reversed the longstanding policy of prior administrations.
The Clinton administration policy, set forth by Attorney General Janet Reno, was that if a document could be released without harm, an agency should do so, even if there were technical grounds for withholding it. They knew that government openness was essential to an informed public.
When the Bush administration came to office, Attorney General Ashcroft disagreed--he wrote that if there is any technical ground for withholding a document under the Freedom of Information Act, an agency should withhold it. The Clinton policy had been ``release if at all possible.'' The Bush policy was ``keep secret if at all possible.''
Why should the public know what the administration is doing? Why release documents that might be embarrassing to the White House or its friends in business?
Some organizations claim, based on their experience, that this obsession with secrecy goes even farther, and that executive branch agencies are being told to withhold information until it is subpoenaed. Sean Moulton, a senior policy analyst at OMB Watch, argued that ``if there are documents the government doesn't want to release but doesn't have any legal basis for withholding, unless you're willing to go to court, you're not getting those documents.''
Since the tragedy of September 11, this administration has effectively shut down inquiry after inquiry:
In November 2001, energy companies were planning a natural gas pipeline through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Local citizens, led by former U.S. Army Ranger Joseph McCormick, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a map of the planned pipeline. These citizens weren't being nosy--they wanted to know if a large new pipeline for natural gas would be going through their backyards. FERC denied the citizens' request in the name of national security, even though this type of information had been public before 9/11. Clearly, national security concerns are legitimate. But without knowledge of the pipeline's location, how could these citizens defend their property? Joseph McCormick put it bluntly: ``There certainly is a balance,'' he said. ``It's about people's right to use the information of an open society to protect their rights.''
In the fall of 2002, the chemical compound perchlorate was found in the water supply of Aberdeen, Maryland--near the Army's famous Aberdeen Proving Ground. Perchlorate is a main ingredient of rocket fuel. It also stunts the metabolism and brain growth of newborns. A group of citizens organized, and worked with the Army to protect their drinking water from further contamination. But a few months later, the Army began censoring maps and information that would help determine which areas were contaminated, supposedly in the interest of national security--if citizens could find out where the water was contaminated, then terrorists could find it too. The head of the citizens' group was a 20-year army veteran. His water well was only a mile and a half away from the proving ground. ``It's an abuse of power,'' he said. ``The government has to be transparent.''
Even Members of Congress have had to subpoena information in order to do their work. Last October, Congressmen CHRISTOPHER SHAYS and HENRY WAXMAN, the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, asked for an audit of the Development Fund for Iraq. The copy they received had over 400 items blacked out. They had so much difficulty obtaining an unredacted report from the Defense Department that they had to prepare a subpoena. Once they finally received an unredacted copy, guess what had been blacked out? More than $218 million in charges from Halliburton. So far, no one has been held accountable.
It has now been 744 days without a White House investigation into the CIA leak case. It took 85 days for the administration even to require its staff to turn over evidence relating to the leak. Senate Republicans held 20 hearings on accusations against President Clinton and the Whitewater case, but they have held zero hearings on the leak of the covert identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. So far, no one has been held accountable.
Last week, the Defense Department refused to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The ACLU had sued to obtain release of 87 photographs and 4 videotapes, but the administration filed sealed documents resisting the order. They are so obsessed with secrecy that they even make secret arguments to keep their secrets. So far, no one has been held accountable.
Also last week, the administration submitted an initial report on progress in training Iraqi security forces. It has been more than 2 years since the fall of Baghdad, and a reliable assessment of our progress in training those forces was long overdue. The key questions that the American people want to know are how many Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting on their own and what our military requirements will be the months ahead. But the answers remain classified. The American people deserve to know the facts about our policy. They want to know how long it will take to fully train the Iraqis and when our military mission will be completed. They can deal with the truth, and they deserve it.
No one wants to do anything that would help the insurgents. But the administration must do a better job of responding to the legitimate concerns of the American people. The administration still isn't willing to be candid. It needs to find a way to shed some of the secrecy and answer these questions in good faith for the American people. The silence is deafening.
There is also a pattern of withholding information from members of Congress on the administration's nominations. In 2003, Miguel Estrada was nominated for a Federal judgeship. We requested legal memoranda he wrote as Assistant Solicitor General, and we were repeatedly denied. In 2004, Alberto Gonzales was nominated to be Attorney General. We requested various memoranda he authorized on administration torture policy, and we were repeatedly denied. Earlier this year, John Bolton was nominated to be Ambassador to the United Nations. We requested documents to determine if he acted appropriately in his previous job, and we have been repeatedly denied.
Instead of coming clean and providing the information to the Congress, we have been stonewalled. Our questions have gone unanswered. And now, the President appears to be poised to abuse his power further, rub salt in the wound, and send John Bolton to the United Nations anyway with a recess appointment of dubious constitutionality.
Now John Roberts has been nominated to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. We hope this nomination will not be another occasion for administration secrecy, but press accounts suggest otherwise. Even before we asked for any documents, the administration announced it will not release many of the memoranda written by John Roberts. The White House spokesman says they will claim attorney-client privilege, but many of the memos vital to our consideration of Judge Roberts for the Supreme Court were written while he worked as a top political and policy official in the Solicitor General's office. That office works for all the American people--not just the President. Attorney-client privilege clearly has never been a bar to providing the Senate with what it needs to process a nomination.
As we all know, no one is simply entitled to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. One has to earn that right. And one earns that right by getting the support of the American people, reflected in the vote here in the United States Senate. And that is what the confirmation process is all about. We know that the administration is familiar with and aware of Judge Roberts' positions on various issues. They have had a year to study it and had their associates talk with him and with those who worked with him. The real question is: Shouldn't the American people have the opportunity to get the same kind of information so that they can form their own impression and so that the Senate can make a balanced, informed judgment and see whether or not the balance in the Supreme Court will be furthered? That is the issue and it appears that the administration is continuing to withhold important information that would permit the Congress the ability to do so.
Yes, the administration has consistently used the horror of 9/11 and its disdain of congressional oversight to get its way and avoid accountability. It consistently uses this secrecy to roll back the rights of average Americans. But even its best spin doctors can't conceal some of the administration's most flagrant abuses of power.
Last August, the New York Times reported that ``health rules, environmental regulations, energy initiatives, worker-safety standards and product-safety disclosure policies have been modified in ways that often please business and industry leaders while dismaying interest groups representing consumers, workers, drivers, medical patients, the elderly and many others.'' Often, this has been done in silence and near secrecy.
In 2000, Congress responded to the disclosure of defects in Firestone tires, which may have been responsible for as many as 270 deaths, by passing legislation which would make information on auto safety and related defects readily available. But in July 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided that reports of defects would cause ``substantial competitive harm'' to the auto industry, and exempted warranty claims and consumer complaints from the Freedom of Information Act. Clearly, that was another abuse of power that protects big business while putting the American public at greater risk.
In 2003, the administration knowingly withheld cost estimates of its Medicare prescription drug bill--one of the most important pieces of legislation that year. The estimates showed costs over $100 billion more than the administration claimed, but the information was withheld because of fears that the actual numbers would persuade Members of Congress to vote no. Administration officials threatened to fire Chief Actuary Richard Foster ``so fast his head would spin,'' if he informed Congress of the real cost estimate. I wrote a letter to the administration on this subject, but they never responded to my questions.
In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration kept secret a report that children on antidepressants were twice as likely to be involved in suicide-related behavior. The FDA also prevented the author of the study--their expert on the issue--from presenting his findings to an FDA advisory committee. Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard psychiatrist, said ``Evidence that they're suppressing a report like this is an outrage, given the public health and safety issues at stake ..... For the FDA to issue an ambiguous warning when they had unambiguous data like this is an outrage.''
In November 2003, the White House told the
Appropriations Committees in both Houses of Congress that it would only respond to requests for information if they were signed by the committee chairman. In a time of one-party rule, this tactic made congressional oversight almost completely impossible.
In April 2004, the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Jeffords, was forced to place holds on several EPA nominees after the administration refused to respond to twelve outstanding information requests, including information on air pollution.
In August 2004, under pressure from the Department of Homeland Security, the FCC decided to make telephone service outage reports confidential, and exempt them from Freedom of Information Act requests. The FCC argued it was because companies could use competitors' service outages in ad campaigns. You may not be able to make informed decisions on your phone company, but at least the company will be protected from nasty advertising.
Last month, we discovered that the administration had blocked studies criticizing the Central American Free Trade Agreement--after it had already paid for them. In 2002, the Department of Labor hired the International Labor Rights Fund to back up its argument that Central American countries had improved on labor issues. The contractor found the opposite, and posted its results on its Web site in March 2004. The Labor Department ordered its removal from the website, banned its release, and barred the contractor's employees from discussing the report. The Department of Labor denied a Congressman's request for the report under the Freedom of Information Act. These are the American people's tax dollars. But when the administration didn't like an answer, it abused its power to avoid accountability--at their expense.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal disclosed yet another list of abuses in Iraq reconstruction. Ten billion dollars of no-bid contracts were awarded; $89 million was doled out without contracts at all; $9 billion is unaccounted for, and may have been embezzled. An official fired for incompetence was still giving out millions of dollars in aid, weeks after his termination. A contractor was paid twice for the same job. A third of all U.S. vehicles that Halliburton was paid to manage are missing. It is a staggering display of incompetence and cover-up, so that no one will be held accountable.
Americans deserve better. They deserve the information necessary to become informed, effective citizens. We as lawmakers are better able to represent our constituents when we have access to the critical information held by the executive branch. We must never forget who we work for--the American people. Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and we have a duty to hold the administration accountable for its actions.
Mr. President, on the matter we have before the Senate at the present time, here we go again on the issue of legal immunity for the gun industry. Without shame, the Republican leadership has brought back this special interest, anti-law enforcement bill that strips away the rights of victims to go to court.
Why the urgency to take up this bill now? This is a critical moment in this country's future. Surely, the Republican leadership can take some time to address other priorities before attempting to give a free pass to the gun industry. Why aren't we completing our work on the Defense authorization bill? That is what was before the Senate. Why have we displaced a full and fair debate on the issue of the Defense authorization bill--which has so many provisions in there concerning our fighting men and women in Iraq and about the National Guard and defense--in order to consider special interest legislation?
That is what is before the Senate, and that is what we are considering at the present time, as a result of the Republican leadership. Surely, the Congress can do more for our citizens than rush to pass unprecedented special interest legislation. We can and should be acting to meet our real challenges.
Last year, the Federal Government recalled a water pistol, the Super Soaker, just a few days before the assault weapons ban expired. America does more to regulate the safety of toy guns than real guns, and it is a national disgrace. The gun industry has worked hard to avoid Federal consumer safety regulation. Where are our priorities? Where is the logic in passing a bill that makes it harder to sue for harm caused by real guns than harm caused by a plastic toy gun?
The industry has conspicuously failed to use technology to make guns safer. It has attempted to insulate itself from its distributors and dealers, once guns leave the factory. Under this bill, it will not even matter if the guns are stolen by factory employees and snuck out of the factory in the middle of the night.
The overwhelming majority of Americans believe gun dealers and gun manufacturers should be held accountable for their irresponsible conduct, similar to everyone else.
Cities, counties, and States incur billions of dollars in costs each year as a result of gun violence. Studies estimate that the public cost of firearm-related injuries is over $1 million for each shooting victim. Yet this bill would take a fierce toll and dismiss even pending cases where communities are trying to get relief.
This bill would bar the legal rights of hard-working law enforcement officers, such as Ken McGuire and David Lemongello. These two police officers from Orange, NJ, were seriously wounded in a shootout with a burglary suspect. The gun used by the suspect was one of 12 guns sold by a West Virginia pawnshop to an obvious straw purchaser for an illegal gun trafficker. Fortunately for the officers, this bill did not become law last year, and their case was able to proceed.
Recently, David Lemongello was able to obtain a $1 million settlement. Significantly, the settlement required the dealer and other area pawnshops to adopt safer practices. These reforms go beyond the requirements of current law and are not imposed by any manufacturers or distributors. This is not about money. This is about public safety, and I commend these brave officers for their courageous battle to change the system.
It is clear what will happen if Congress gives the gun industry this unprecedented legal immunity, on top of its existing exemption from Federal consumer safety regulations. Guns will be more dangerous. Gun dealers will be more irresponsible. More guns will be available to terrorists and criminals. There will be more shootings and more dead children.
The Nation's response to this death toll has been unacceptable. Yet, year after year, little changes in our approach to regulating guns. How can we justify this neglect? How can we continue to ignore the vast discrepancy in gun deaths in the United States compared to other nations? How can we possibly justify this effort to give the gun industry even greater protection for irresponsible behavior?
Mr. President, this bill is nothing short of Congress aiding and abetting the provision of guns to criminals. It takes the gun industry off the hook when their guns are sold to the wrong people who are out to hurt us. Under this administration, we have seen the budget cuts to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, so our law enforcement do not have the resources they need to keep guns out of criminal hands. That is why these citizen lawsuits are so important. If the police cannot do their job, then citizens should be able to do it. But this legislation will throw the citizens out of court. It is wrong.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. KENNEDY. Reserving the right to object, can the leader give us some indication as to when we will go on the Defense authorization bill, as one who has an amendment and is glad to participate?
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I am happy to say, that is why I specifically stated in my unanimous consent request ``in consultation with the Democratic leader.'' Until we get through the highway bill, the Energy bill, Interior appropriations, Legislative Branch appropriations, and gun liability, it is going to be hard for me to predict exactly
when--plus we have a 5-week recess between now and then.
The whole purpose of my unanimous consent request is I stay in touch through consultation with the Democratic leader to find the appropriate time.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I will not object. My feeling is, I regretted the fact we got off the Defense bill--particularly because of its importance to our national security--to go on to this gun liability bill. I am not going to object to the leader coming back. As one who has an amendment--I know many of our colleagues were eager to focus on those amendments. We will expect to hear from our leader as to when the leader will do that.
Further reserving the right to object, is it the intention of the leader to permit amendments to the gun liability bill so we will, now that we are on that legislation, at least be able to talk about and offer amendments on the gun liability legislation?
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, it is our intention--and I will be offering an amendment shortly--but we will be in discussions with the leadership and the ranking member and chairman discussing amendments and allowing them to be offered accordingly in the judgment of the chairman and ranking member and the leadership.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I am not going to object to the other, but that sounds to me as if--having been around and familiar with the rules of the Senate--they can effectively let what amendments come up that are agreeable to the floor managers and deny other Members the opportunity to offer amendments. I think the Senate rules provide, when we are dealing with cloture, to be able to offer amendments that are relevant to the underlying bill. I don't understand why we are not going to be permitted the different options. I am not going to object to the leader being able to go to Defense authorization when he wants to, but it does seem to me we are facing a stacked deck here and denying Members under the Senate rules the opportunity which the rules provide for. It would be simple to say we are going to run consideration of the gun liability according to the Senate rules. That would be the answer most of us would have hoped. I guess there is a different plan ahead for the Senate, but we all want to be fully aware of what that means. That means some Members will be able to get their amendments in and others will not.
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