Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Energy Policy Act of 2003 - Continued

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2003—CONTINUED

Mr. KENNEDY. No. It has been the decision of the leadership to have a vote on Judge Pryor tomorrow. Under the agreement, we will have 1 hour for debate. This is an important nomination. I wish to address the Senate on that matter since we are going to be under very strict time limitations on the morrow.

We had that series of votes. I want to accommodate the managers of the bill. If there is an amendment that needs to be disposed of, I will be glad to wait; otherwise, at some point, I wish to address the Senate because this is an extremely important nominee. The nomination was just reported out of committee, and we will be voting in a very short period of time on the nominee. It is an extremely important nomination. If the decision was to not have that vote on the morrow, I am glad to withhold my statement and make my statement at the time the Senate addresses the nomination. I will certainly work with the floor managers to work out a time that is suitable, but I am ready to speak. If there is a pending amendment, and it is the desire of the floor manager to move ahead, I will accommodate him.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.

Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, I say to the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, I will speak to the majority leader, as soon as an amendment is laid down, with reference to the issue Senator Kennedy just raised. I understand if we proceed on an amendment, we will have an hour or so, at which time I will talk with the majority leader and tell him of your desire and others to speak, and see what his wishes are in that regard.

Mr. SCHUMER. Will my colleague yield?

Mr. DOMENICI. Without losing my right to the floor.

Mr. SCHUMER. There are others who wish to speak in addition to the Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. DOMENICI. I will mention the Senator's name.

Mr. REID. I know the Senator from New Mexico has the floor.

Mr. DOMENICI. Yes.

Mr. REID. Madam President, earlier today I alerted the Senate that we would have members of the Judiciary Committee come to the floor, and we have members of the Judiciary Committee here today. We have the Senator from Massachusetts, who is a three-decade member of that committee. We have Senator Schumer, who is a relatively new member of that committee. Sometime tonight they are going to speak on the Pryor nomination. I indicated that would happen, and that is going to happen. They have an absolute right to speak. I know the Senator from Massachusetts is being kind and generous, but he has a right to speak. It can either be done now or 5 minutes from now or 10 minutes from now, but the Senator from Massachusetts is going to get the floor, and he is going to speak on the Pryor nomination, as I alerted the Senate today that would happen.

We did not make the choice that we would vote for the seventh time on Estrada today. The votes have not changed. We did not make the decision we would vote on Priscilla Owen. We have voted three times, and the votes have not changed. We did not make the decision that the Pryor nomination would be voted on without a single bit of debate on the Senate floor, but just move it forward for cloture. This is not as if it is a surprise.

We telegraphed our intentions today that there would be members of the Judiciary Committee who would come to the Chamber and speak, and that is going to happen tonight.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.

Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, I cannot do anything more than that, and I think the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts accepts my statement as an honest statement.

Mr. KENNEDY. Yes.

Mr. DOMENICI. I will leave the floor. I will find the leader, and I will tell him what is going to happen. I will seek his advice and give him my advice. I very much appreciate the Senator from Massachusetts letting me know. We have a number of amendments left. We have important legislation before us. It is absolutely impossible to do the people's business if, in fact, during the next 12 hours we have 6 or 8 hours taken up by speeches with reference to a judge. We will get it done, but we will be here Sunday, which is all right with this Senator. I do not think I want to let that happen under my watch as manager, but I guarantee my colleagues, for those who insist they are going to speak, I can assure them we are going to be here.

Sooner or later the speeches will run out, and we will be here, and we will take up the pending amendments on this bill. I have been told that by the leader unequivocally. I assume that is true if only 60 Senators stick around. So long as we do not lose a quorum, I presume we are going to be here on Friday, on Saturday, and on Monday to finish this bill. Senators have their rights, but we have an obligation to do this work.

I say to the distinguished whip, if he will call up the next amendment, I will leave the floor and find out what the leader will do about this, and perhaps we can come up with some accommodation with reference to this issue. I thank Senator Kennedy for his willingness to let me do that.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I will proceed then. I just wish to indicate, as someone who also has been a bill manager, I understand completely the frustration the Senator from New Mexico has and his desire to move along. As Senator Reid mentioned, we did not anticipate at the time this nominee was reported out that we would have a vote so early in the consideration.

Then last week, the chairman of the committee made a very extensive statement about the nominee and also the procedures of the committee itself, and I want to attempt to correct that record.

We are on the eve of a vote on the nominee, and that has been established by not the Senator from New Mexico but by the majority leader. We are just trying to meet our responsibilities as members of that committee who have strong views and want to share those views with the membership and we also feel a responsibility to tell, to the extent the American people are interested, what our reservations are in terms of the merits and the process.

I say to the Senator from New Mexico, I plan to be here this evening, and if it is the desire of the floor managers to consider another amendment, I am glad to take my turn, although I do think we ought to have at least an opportunity to speak in the next few hours.

I will begin my statement on this nominee. If it so works out and the Senator from New Mexico wants to intercede, I will be glad to try to accommodate him.

Mr. DOMENICI. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. KENNEDY. Yes.

Mr. DOMENICI. How long does the Senator intend to speak?

Mr. KENNEDY. I expect to talk probably 30 minutes.

Mr. DOMENICI. Does the Senator from New Mexico have the floor or the Senator from Massachusetts?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts has the floor.

Mr. KENNEDY. I would rather not get caught into a precise time limit at this time but my general sense is about 30 minutes.

Mr. DOMENICI. Will the Senator yield? I will get right back to him.

Mr. KENNEDY. That is fine.

Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, let me repeat—

Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, I think I have the floor but I will yield to the Senator from New Mexico for whatever comment he wants to make.

Mr. DOMENICI. I ask for a couple of minutes, and it will not take any longer.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The Senator from New Mexico.

Mr. DOMENICI. I thank the Senator. First, I say judges are important, and speaking on behalf of or against judges is very important. I say that not only to the Senators but to our majority leader. It is also very important that we pass an Energy bill. We have been waiting for weeks and weeks. This committee was asked to put a bill together. The Senator from New Mexico wants to get the Energy bill finished. Clearly, I find nothing in the rules that says the Senator from Massachusetts is not entitled to make his speech of 30 minutes or up to an hour. I do believe it is important, nonetheless, that somewhere along the line there be some accommodation and that we proceed to get the Energy bill finished. I understand there are four or five amendments. I wish I could see them sooner or later so I will know what they are about but nobody owes me that, either. We will take it as it comes.

I will ask the distinguished majority leader to be accommodating so we can get this bill finished, but I am doing that with great trepidation, not as to Senator Kennedy but as to whether there is a willingness to pursue this bill with vigor if that accommodation is made. I am not sure about that based on some things that have been happening but I hope it is. It is with that in mind that I will talk to the leader, hoping it does mean that if accommodation is made, we will proceed with dispatch on the Energy bill.

I thank the Senator for yielding to me.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. SARBANES. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. KENNEDY. I will be glad to yield for a question.

Mr. SARBANES. I have been listening to this discussion. Am I correct in saying that the Senator would not be seeking to speak now if the other side had not indicated that they were intending to try to bring the nomination of Mr. Pryor to the Senate on tomorrow? Is that right?

Mr. KENNEDY. The Senator is exactly correct.

Mr. SARBANES. The Senator is not inserting himself into the debate on the Energy bill seeking to slow the Energy bill down; he is prompted to do this by the fact that the other side is scheduling this nominee for a vote, I understand, with no debate whatsoever. Is that correct?

Mr. KENNEDY. Well, that is correct. It is not the members of the Judiciary Committee who are holding up the consideration of the Energy bill. It is the decision to put before the Senate, under the legitimate procedures of the Senate, a cloture petition to have a vote on this nominee, effectively shutting off all the debate.

Quite clearly, my own belief is if we had the time, and also had the time during the August recess, to complete the investigation which needs to be done on this nominee, the Senate would be much better informed, the American people would be much better informed, and the judiciary would be much better served. That is not the decision of the leadership and, therefore, we believed that as the day wore on, after 5, we would at least have an opportunity, since this is an enormously serious nominee for a very serious position and there are very serious charges, to address the Senate.

Mr. SARBANES. Will the Senator yield for a further question?

Mr. KENNEDY. Yes.

Mr. SARBANES. It is my understanding that twice this week, if I am not mistaken, we have had to go off of the Energy bill, which we are being told we must move forward, in order to address other judgeship nominees who had previously been voted on a number of times. So we have been diverted off the track of the Energy bill by these judicial nominees, not of our doing but because of the scheduling which the other side has undertaken.

I know our assistant leader has been concerned about that as well, if I am not mistaken, in that regard. Is that not correct?

Mr. KENNEDY. The Senator is correct. As the Senator remembers, I think those votes were in the late morning and even interrupted committee work at that time, which many of us were involved in, let alone the consideration of the Energy bill.

Mr. SARBANES. I thank the Senator.

Mr. KENNEDY. I thank the Senator from Maryland.

Skip to top
Back to top