FEC NOMINATIONS -- (Senate - June 24, 2008)
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, with regard to the Federal Election Commission, let me first say that my good friend the majority leader is correct that I was not inclined to reconstitute the FEC with a three-to-two Democratic majority, and that would have been, of course, the case had we gone forward on some but not all of the FEC nominations back before Memorial Day. So it is a fact that, in addition to objecting to Republican nominees of the FEC, which has become something of a tradition around here, there was an additional attempt to gain a majority on the FEC by acting prematurely, before we could confirm a full complement.
Now we have the opportunity to confirm a full complement, and there have been various efforts, it appears, to delay in order to give the DNC an opportunity to file a lawsuit today. Maybe I will be proven wrong today. Maybe they won't file that lawsuit, and then I will feel comforted that the effort to delay confirming all six--or the four additional FEC members whom we are confirming--was not somehow related to litigation being proposed by the DNC. So I hope they will not file that lawsuit, and I guess that will be the best evidence of whether there was an effort underway here to delay it.
I am encouraged by the fact that the majority leader indicates we can confirm these nominees today, and I have given him advance notice that I would like to propound a unanimous consent agreement that we do just that.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed, at some point today mutually agreeable to the majority leader and the Republican leader, to executive session for the consideration of the following Federal Election Commission nominations: Calendar No. 306, Steven T. Walther; Calendar No. 624, Cynthia L. Bauerly; Calendar No. 625, Caroline C. Hunter; and Calendar No. 626, Donald F. McGahn; and the nomination of Matthew S. Petersen, which is to be discharged from the Rules Committee.
I would further ask unanimous consent that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and finally, the Senate return to legislative session.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
Mr. REID. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I hope in a matter of hours that we can agree to the consent request proposed by my friend, the distinguished Republican leader. I don't know what time the last meeting is that Senator Feingold has with the last individual, but as soon as I get word on that, I will immediately come to the floor and accept the offer of the distinguished Republican leader. So I object.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I appreciate the comments of my good friend the majority leader, and I hope we will be able to confirm these nominees today. Also, hopefully the lawsuit by the DNC will not be filed today, further raising the suspicion that the delays of the majority were related to facilitating that legal action.
Mr. President, let me say with regard to this week that this is a week when the Senate, hopefully, can make significant progress. There are three very significant pieces of legislation we hope to deal with this week, as the majority leader indicated.
After a failed attempt to address the housing crisis without Republican input, Democrats finally agreed last week to allow our input. As a result, we now have a bipartisan housing bill that addresses many of our concerns. I think it could be made even better with some further amendments, which I am hopeful we will have an opportunity to offer, even if cloture is invoked, because as much as I would like to see this bill move forward, there are some housing-related amendments that have been shut out of the process so far, and I am hoping the majority leader and I can discuss how we might be able to dispose of those expeditiously before we clear that bill here in the Senate this week.
We must also complete two important and long overdue national security measures--the supplemental troop funding bill that the President first requested more than 500 days ago and an updated terrorist surveillance bill that the Senate first approved last August but which expired more than 4 months ago, after House Democratic inaction. It is worth noting that on both national security measures, Democrats will be approving something Republicans have supported all along.
Regarding the supplemental, Republicans have argued for the past year and a half that Congress has a solemn duty to fund our troops while they are on the field of battle. Regarding FISA, Republicans have argued for more than a year that the intelligence community should have the tools it needs to listen in on conversations between terrorists overseas and that companies that may have allowed them to do so should not be punished for helping.
I remain hopeful the Senate will be able to get these important issues accomplished this week, and maybe a bipartisan Medicare agreement as well, and other matters that can be dealt with. It is interesting how quickly the Senate can move when there is a broad bipartisan consensus behind measures. It may have taken a while for our friends on the other side to come around to our view and the view of most Americans on these issues, but for the sake of our troops, our families, and our security, we are glad they finally did. I hope the majority leader and I, working together, can figure a way through this massive amount of legislation in a very few days that allows us to reach a successful conclusion on many legislative fronts that will give both sides an opportunity to leave here at the end of the week believing this was a week of significant accomplishment for the Senate and for the American people.