[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 155 (Tuesday, December 16, 2014)]
[Pages S6886-S6897]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to the consideration of the following nomination, which the 
clerk will report.
  The bill clerk read the nomination of Antony Blinken, of New York, to 
be Deputy Secretary of State.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the time until 5 
p.m. will be equally divided in the usual form.
  The Senator from Maryland.

         Unanimous Consent Request--Executive Calendar No. 1058

  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I come to the floor with my colleague 
Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland.
  Mr. President, the Senate is not in order.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will be in order. Take your 
conversations out of the Chamber.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Does that mean all conversations, Mr. President?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Please take your conversations outside the 
Chamber. Thank you.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I am on the floor, along with my 
colleague Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland, to advocate for Carolyn 
Colvin to be confirmed as the Social Security Commissioner, making her 
the chief executive officer of the Social Security Administration.
  I am very frustrated that her nomination has become a casualty of the 
Senate clock and unfair attacks by some Members of the Republican 
Party. We need a Social Security Administrator and we need a competent, 
qualified person to lead it and that is Carolyn Colvin. Ms. Colvin's 
nomination is important because the work of the Social Security 
Administration is important.
  Over 60 million Americans rely on Social Security--900,000 in 
Maryland. Seniors, individuals with disabilities, and children depend 
on the benefits and services of the Social Security Administration. It 
is a big agency with big responsibilities. It supports 63,000 Social 
Security employees; 11,000 are in the Social Security headquarters in 
Woodlawn. It is not about the numbers, it is about what they do.
  Guess what they do. They administer $950 billion in benefit payments, 
approximately 25 percent of all government spending. Last year over 40 
million people came to its field offices, 47 million people called the 
800 number, 5 million came for retirement, 2.8 million came for their 
disability. I go through the numbers because it shows an agency, with 
the magnitude of its responsibility, making sure we determine who is 
eligible for Social Security, that there is no fraud in Social 
Security, and that it is administered in a competent, careful way for 
the American people.
  That means you have to have a permanent Administrator; you cannot 
have someone acting. That is why we go to Carolyn Colvin. She is 
skilled. She is seasoned. She is experienced. She started out as a 
clerk at Social Security, and in her public service she has risen 
through the ranks in a variety of very important positions, being well 
known and well respected, and is an excellent public administrator. She 
is a problem solver, she is a reformer, and she has been the Deputy 
since December 2010 and Acting Commissioner since February 2013.
  I am frustrated at the attacks on Ms. Colvin. It is about a techno 
boondoggle that began under her predecessor, not under her. In fact, 
she commissioned the McKinsey & Company to study the problem. The 
minute she wanted to get to the bottom of the problem, she was accused 
of all kinds of things.
  Everything has been referred to the inspector general. They said 
let's wait for the inspector general. Guess what. The inspectors 
general keep recusing themselves for this reason or that reason. While 
they are recusing, the Republicans are using it as excusing, and we 
can't get to Carolyn Colvin.
  For those who need Social Security, as well as for those who want to 
make sure the benefits are administered competently, we need a 
permanent Administrator.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the 
following nomination: Calendar No. 1058, the nomination of Carolyn 
Watts Colvin to be the Commissioner of Social Security; and further 
that the Senate proceed to vote on the confirmation of the nomination; 
the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table 
with no intervening action or debate; and that no further motions be in 
order to the nomination; that any related statements be printed in the 
Record; and that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. HATCH. Reserving the right to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. HATCH. No, Mr. President; reserving the right to object.
  I spoke at length on the floor about my opposition to confirming Ms. 
Colvin at this time. While I do not doubt Ms. Colvin's qualifications 
for this position, there is a cloud hanging over her nomination, and I 
do not believe the Senate should move forward with her confirmation 
until that cloud is removed.
  Since Ms. Colvin's nomination was reported out of the Finance 
Committee, several sources, including the House Ways and Means 
Subcommittee on Social Security, the House Oversight and Government 
Reform Committee, and individual whistleblowers have reported that the 
Social Security Administration, over a 6-year period, burned through 
$300 million in a failed attempt to develop and implement the 
Disability Case Processing System or DCPS. Some of this happened on Ms. 
Colvin's watch as she has served as Acting Commissioner of the SSA.
  Sadly, it gets worse. We also heard allegations from multiple sources 
that SSA officials intentionally misled the agency's inspector general, 
as well as Congress, about the deficiencies in the development of the 
DCPS in order to facilitate Ms. Colvin's confirmation in the Senate.
  These are serious allegations, and an investigation--one that may 
very well conclude a criminal element--is ongoing. Once again, Ms. 
Colvin currently serves as the Acting Commissioner of SSA. This 
investigation includes people working in her immediate office.
  Put simply, the Senate should not move forward on her nomination 
until this matter is resolved. I intend to work with our two colleagues 
from Maryland to see if we can resolve this issue. It may very well be 
that Ms. Colvin has done nothing wrong. I voted for her out of 
committee. I certainly hope she has done nothing wrong. I hope that is 
the case. But we should at least be sure before we move her nomination 
forward; therefore, I have to object at this time.
  I believe my colleague Senator Isakson may have some comments on this 
matter as well.
  I will surely try to work with my colleagues and see if we can 
expedite this if there is no problem.
  I have nothing against Ms. Colvin at all. In fact, I interviewed her 
in my office. I quite enjoyed meeting with her.
  We will see what we can do to move this forward, but as of right now 
I have to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The junior Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I greatly respect Senator Hatch and his 
respect for the integrity of our system. I know he is acting with his 
sincere beliefs, but I am disappointed and I need to say that.
  The inspector general's report is a serious investigation. It 
involves episodes that took place during the previous administration in 
which the Commissioner was appointed by a Republican. There is no 
indication at all of Carolyn Colvin being the subject of the 
  In fact, she has tried to take steps to be totally open and 
transparent about what has happened and has been totally forthcoming 
with our committee, the Ways and Means Committee, in providing 
  I wish to stress what Senator Mikulski said about the urgency of this 
matter. If we don't confirm her during the lameduck session, it will be 
more than 2 years that the Social Security Administration has operated 
without a

[[Page S6887]]

confirmed Commissioner. This is one of the most important agencies in 
the government.
  As an Acting Commissioner, she cannot appoint her key team in order 
to carry out the responsibilities of the Social Security 
Administration. The morale of the agency is very much impacted when you 
can't get a confirmed Commissioner. Quite frankly, the Senate Finance 
Committee recommended her appointment 3 months ago, and as Senator 
Hatch pointed out, it was a 22-to-2 vote. The vote in the Senate 
Finance Committee at that time was not even close, and now we cannot 
get her confirmed.
  As Senator Mikulski pointed out, we know Carolyn Colvin. She started 
out as a stenographer clerk at the Social Security Administration in 
the 1960s while working her way through college. She went on to become 
the Deputy Commissioner, carrying out major responsibilities.
  Her passion has always been for public service. She was the secretary 
for human resources for the State of Maryland. She knows State; she 
knows Federal. Her whole life has been devoted to public service. She 
is a very honorable person and is dedicated to leading the Social 
Security Administration.
  We have some very critical issues in the next Congress, and we may 
have some different views on some of those issues, but that is what 
this Senate is about--to debate those issues. But we need to have a 
confirmed Commissioner in place to help us sort through the challenges 
we face. Tens of millions of Americans depend upon the Social Security 
system. They demand accountability, not just from us but from the 
agency. How can you have accountability if you don't have a confirmed 
  All I can say is we have a qualified person who has gone through the 
process and has been recommended by the committee. She has all the 
talent, commitment, and drive to do the job, and it looks like we are 
not going to be able to get this person confirmed. If we don't confirm 
her now, we will have to wait until the next Congress and start all 
over again, and we don't know how long that will take.
  I appreciate Senator Hatch's willingness to work with us, and I know 
we will work together on this issue. Senator Hatch has always been an 
honorable person--and I very much appreciate that--to work with on so 
many different issues, but I have to express to my colleagues my deep 
disappointment that we cannot get this nomination up for a vote.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I have the greatest of regard for my two 
colleagues from the State of Maryland, and I respect their passion for 
this nominee, but I rise to support delaying the advancement of Carolyn 
Colvin for the Social Security Administration, and I wish to explain 
why. In fact, my reasons somewhat address some of the reasons for my 
  I interviewed Carolyn Colvin on July 29 as a nominee to come before 
the Finance Committee in my office, as I do with every nominee who will 
talk to me. It was 2 days after the 2014 trustee's report of the Social 
Security Administration--a report that talked about the disability 
trust fund being in danger by 2016 and Social Security being in danger 
in 22 years.
  I asked her questions about what she would recommend to us to fix the 
unfunded mandates that would be coming up with Social Security. Her 
answers were at best glib and at worst nonexistent.
  I was one of the two votes against her nomination that Senator Cardin 
referred to in the committee because I didn't feel I got the kind of 
passionate answer I needed from her as someone who was going to run the 
Social Security Administration.
  Subsequent to that vote, and before today's debate, the issue came up 
arising from the disability technology problem and the investigation 
that is taking place at the Social Security Administration.
  I recognize this implementation took place before she was in the 
position she is now in, but she is in a position of responsibility at 
the Administration. So until that investigation is complete, I think it 
would be a rush to judgment to confirm her for the position.
  I don't get up and oppose many people on the floor of the Senate. I 
take my job very seriously, but I do represent the people of my State--
those who are Social Security beneficiaries today and those who will be 
beneficiaries in the future.
  I was reading an announcement today about the chief counsel, who is 
also the State director in my office in Georgia, Edward Tate. He and 
his wife recently had a baby, Whitaker McMillan Tate, born 4 months 
ago. Seventy years from now he will probably be a beneficiary in the 
Social Security Administration. We have to fix it in some way so it is 
there for him in the future.
  I want to make sure the appointees we approve in this Senate are 
appointees--while they have the Social Security Administration under 
their care--who will do the things I would want them to do so when I am 
long gone, those children who will be beneficiaries in the future will 
have the funds and the money and the Administration to see to it that 
they are paid.
  Reluctantly, but for reasons of commitment, I object to the 
advancement of the nomination of Carolyn Colvin to the Social Security 
  I yield the floor.
  Ms. MIKULSKI. To be continued.
  Mr. CARDIN. 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. HOEVEN. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                      Tax Increase Prevention Act

  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I am here this afternoon to talk about the 
Tax Increase Prevention Act. I have been speaking on this issue and I 
intend to speak on it until we get this legislation passed. I am 
hopeful that we will get this legislation moved tonight or maybe even 
tomorrow. But in any event, we need to get this very important 
legislation passed this week to make sure that taxes don't go up on our 
small businesses, farmers, and the hard-working citizens of this 
country. That is why I have been down talking about the legislation and 
its importance, and I have also been presenting and reading letters and 
emails from my constituents who have been contacting me about the 
importance of getting this done. I want them to be heard because they 
know very well how heavy their tax burden is and why we need to make 
sure they get relief for their families and for their businesses. I am 
talking about family farmers, men and women who work long hours and 
long days on the farm. I am talking about small business owners, 
manufacturers, shopkeepers, the whole gamut of small businesses across 
this great country, your neighbors and mine.
  First I am going to talk about some of the provisions in the 
legislation. I am going to start with one that is incredibly important 
for farmers in my State but really for small businesses across the 
country, as I said earlier. That is the section 179 small business 
expensing and depreciation provision.
  The section 179 small business expensing limitation and phaseout 
amounts in effect from 2010 to 2013 through 2015: Taxpayers can expense 
up to $500,000 of acquired business property, rather than the current 
level of expensing $25,000 and $200,000 respectively. The $200,000 is 
on the depreciation.
  The section 179 expensing and depreciation provision is very 
important for small businesses. It is very important that we get it in 
place now because they are doing their year-end planning, and they are 
doing their tax planning. They need to know the rules of the road. They 
need to know what they can expense and what they can depreciate and how 
much. It is not just an issue of preparing their tax returns; it is 
also very much an issue in terms of their planning for next year. What 
equipment do they buy? If you are a farmer, what ag equipment do you 
buy? If you are a small manufacturer, what manufacturing equipment do 
you buy? What repairs do you do? Can you expense those repairs or do 
you have to go through an elaborate process of setting up a 
depreciation schedule and then depreciate that repair over a long 
period of time?

[[Page S6888]]

  These are things that make it very difficult to do business for small 
businesses and also impede their willingness and their ability to go 
out and buy equipment and to make those needed repairs to keep their 
operation running. That hurts our economy. That hurts job creation in 
our country. It is very important. The section 179 provision is 
incredibly important to our farmers and small businesses throughout the 
  Also, another very important provision is the bonus depreciation for 
property that is placed in service during 2014 or, in some cases, 2015 
for property with a longer production period. If we are not allowed to 
take that depreciation, you may not buy that new equipment. If you 
don't buy that new equipment, obviously that has ramifications all the 
way through our economy.
  There are eight provisions in the legislation for individuals, 
including the deductibility of State and local sales tax, the deduction 
of certain expenses for elementary and secondary schoolteachers, the 
extension of the above-the-line-deduction for qualified tuition, and 
the extension of tax redistributions from individual retirement plans 
for charitable purposes.
  Also included in the legislation are a total of 30 business-related 
provisions in addition to section 179 and the bonus depreciation. They 
are very important and make a big difference in terms of the taxes our 
businesses will be required to pay.
  The legislation includes the research and development tax credit that 
allows companies a 20-percent credit for incremental qualified research 
expenses or a 14-percent alternative simplified credit for R&D 
performed in the United States. I will use an example. We have a large 
Microsoft location in my State, in Fargo. They employ more than 1,700 
people at their campus in Fargo.
  I am going to use Microsoft as an example. Microsoft is on a pace to 
spend over $12 billion on research and development this year, primarily 
on U.S. jobs. Other countries are competing for the same R&D investment 
from Microsoft and other companies. Many of them have lower corporate 
income tax rates, they have stable R&D incentives, and plenty of 
research and development talent. A consistent and stable U.S. R&D tax 
credit gives businesses such as Microsoft an incentive to invest and do 
that research and development in the United States versus some other 
  Again, we are talking about not only economic activity and jobs in 
our country, but we are talking about innovation right in our country 
that drives job creation and economic growth. As I said, the real key, 
I believe, is the impact this legislation has on small business across 
this country. Small business is the backbone of our economy.
  I want to take a few minutes to read some more of the letters and 
emails I have been receiving on the importance of passing this 
legislation and putting in place the section 179 expensing and 
depreciation for our small businesses.
  The first letter I am going to read is from Wayne Hauge, a CPA from 
Ray, ND, a small town in North Dakota. He is speaking on behalf of many 
of his clients. He writes:

       Senator Hoeven, what about the IRC Section 179? $25,000 is 
     far too low of a limit, and should be eliminated if that is 
     all that can be expensed in a year. Far better would be 
     reinstating prior limits and making such a change permanent.
       A farmer does not plan a crop after you've harvested it. 
     You plan it a year in advance. Income tax planning is the 
     same. It is an extremely poor financial planner who decides 
     to buy something based on an ever-changing tax policy, and 
     after the fact.
       I realize the political system in this country is 
     stagnated, with refusals by both parties to agree on 
     anything. But the time is now to put some semblance of future 
     planning back on the table and help us to stay on top of the 
     game, rather than whining about what should have been done.

  We owe it to Wayne and his clients to get this bill done before we 
  Here is another one. This one is from Mike Van Gorkom with Titan 
Machinery in Wishek, ND. Titan Machinery is a dealer for Case IH, Case 
Construction, New Holland, and New Holland Construction. Titan 
Machinery also represents Titan Rentals, Titan Aggregate, and a varied 
list of short-line equipment to meet specialized customer demand and 
niche product needs.

       I was just wondering if anyone can tell me when to expect a 
     vote on extending Section 179 tax deductions. I have been 
     following this bill along with many of my customers. Many 
     farmers are waiting to purchase equipment from me until they 
     find out if they can use it for this year's deductions or 
     wait until next year. Thank you and have a nice day.

  Lawrence D. Stockert, a small business owner in Bismarck, ND, wants 
to purchase new equipment this year, but he is not certain he can 
because we have yet to pass the tax extender package. He writes:

       I would like to know if there is a possibility for the 
     Senate to pass the increases in the Section 179 depreciation 
     rules. The previous year's provision enabled me to buy new 
     equipment. Can you take this bill to the Senate and get it 
     passed? I would like to purchase additional equipment this 
     year as well.

  Then from Stephen Stafki, vice president of service, General 
Equipment & Supplies in Fargo, ND. He is concerned about the bonus 
depreciation provision in the extender package. The Tax Increase 
Prevention Act extends the 50-percent bonus depreciation to property 
acquired and placed in service during 2014 or 2015 for certain property 
with a longer production period. He writes:

       Senator Hoeven, I am writing to you to express my support 
     for passing bonus depreciation before the end of 2014. As a 
     small business owner this legislation is crucial to us and 
     our customer base. I truly hope you will fight to push this 
     legislation through Congress and garner enough support to be 
     able to override any Presidential veto.

  The last letter I would like to read today comes from Jay Hansen of 
Fargo, ND. It is especially telling, because like the earlier letter I 
read from a CPA, he is also a CPA. Essentially he is speaking for the 
1,000 farmers whom he does work for.

       My name is Jay Hansen. I am a CPA working for Iver Eliason 
     CPA PC in Minot, ND. We have approximately 1,000 farm clients 
     who rely heavily on depreciating farm machinery as part of 
     their overall tax planning strategy. With the discussion 
     regarding the tax extender bill being on the agenda before 
     the end of the year, we are curious to know if you have any 
     insight on what we can expect and when we can expect it. Any 
     information you can provide me regarding the Section 179 
     expense deduction would be greatly appreciated.

  So time is of the essence. We are days from the end of the tax year, 
days away from the holidays. Millions of Americans are depending on us 
to spare them a burden that will hurt their businesses and hurt their 
families. If we do not act, taxes will go up on hard-working Americans, 
on small businesses across this country, on farmers. So we need to act. 
We need to make sure that does not happen. We need to pass the 
legislation we have here on the floor. We need to get it done now.
  So I urge my colleagues to join together in bipartisan fashion and 
get this done. Let's pass the Tax Increase Prevention Act and make sure 
we do not see a tax increase on our small businesses and the hard-
working taxpayers of this great Nation.
  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.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                             Climate Change

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, we are winding down the end of this 
year and, indeed, the end of this Congress, and I am here today to give 
the last ``Time to Wake Up'' speech in this Congress. I am particularly 
pleased to be delivering it while my friend from West Virginia is 
presiding. He actually took the trouble to come to Rhode Island and 
hear firsthand about what is happening in my State on these issues.
  The year that is ending now ushered in some mighty dubious 
milestones. January through November 2014--the year so far--were the 
hottest first 11 months of any year recorded. Unless something dramatic 
changes in December, 2014 is on track to be the hottest year since we 
began keeping records back in 1880. That would mean that 14 of the 
warmest 15 years on record were in this century. According to the World 
Meteorological Organization's secretary general, ``There is no 
standstill in global warming.''
  This chart shows the decades-long rise in the ocean's heat content 
from the surface down to a depth of 2,000 meters--a little over 1 mile. 
Look at 2005 to 2014, the red part. NASA estimates that the amount of 
energy needed to

[[Page S6889]]

account for that much warming in that much ocean is equivalent to four 
magnitude-6.0 earthquakes occurring every second for those 9 years. 
Four 6.0 earthquakes every second for 9 years would create the kind of 
energy necessary to warm that much. Well, obviously it wasn't 
earthquakes that did it. We would have known about that. And the first 
law of thermodynamics--conservation of energy--decrees that all that 
heat in the ocean had to come from somewhere. The near certain source 
of that heat is increased greenhouse gases, mostly carbon pollution 
trapping heat from the Sun.
  Since the rise of fossil fuel energy, we have been on a carbon binge. 
As long as humans have been on the Earth, we have existed safely in a 
range of about 170 to about 300 parts per million carbon dioxide in the 
atmosphere. This year the concentration of carbon dioxide in the 
atmosphere, measured at the famous Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, 
exceeded 400 parts per million for more than 3 months. Archeologists 
estimate that our human species has been around on this planet for 
about 200,000 years. The Earth last saw such high levels of carbon as 
400 parts per million for that long a period more than 800,000 years 
  Oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the excess heat that the 
carbon has trapped. As seawater warms--we all know by the law of 
thermal expansion--it expands, and as a result sea levels rise. 
Satellite measurements show that in this period, global average sea 
level rose about an inch. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory attributes 
about one-third of global mean sea level rise to the warming of the 
upper ocean. Combine that with the melting of glaciers on land, and you 
can see that climate change is significantly increasing sea level 
worldwide. In my home State I see this. And the Presiding Officer was 
there. The Newport tide gauge records nearly 10 inches more water than 
it did in the 1930s.
  Carbon pollution in the atmosphere also dissolves in the ocean. It 
doesn't just warm it up, it dissolves in it. When it dissolves in it, 
it makes it more acidic. Indeed, the extra carbon dioxide that humans 
have pumped into the oceans has caused a nearly 30 percent increase in 
the acidity of the upper ocean, which means a lot for shellfish, such 
as mussels and clams and oysters, that make their shells from calcium 
carbonate because calcium carbonate dissolves in acidified seawater.
  In July 2014 a Maine oyster farmer--a guy named Bill Mook--came to 
the Environment and Public Works Committee and described for us the 
difficulty his oyster crop--his oyster spat, they call it--had 
maturing. Here is what he said:

       Through observation, trial, and error, we reached the same 
     conclusion made by researchers using controlled, replicated 
     experimentation. Acidification is not a future problem. It is 
     a problem now, and it will only get worse.

  He said it is a problem now and it will only get worse.
  Measurements of the atmosphere and ocean tell us that climate change 
is real. We already see the harm connected with it in storm-damaged 
homes, flooded cities, drought-stricken farms, and raging wildfires, in 
fish disappearing from warming, acidifying waters, in shifting habitats 
and migrating contagions. Climate change loads the dice for these 
events, which carry real costs to homeowners, business owners, and 
taxpayers. A key cause is undeniably carbon pollution.
  Some of my Republican colleagues continue to deny that climate change 
is even happening or at best they will stand mute in the face of the 
changes we see, in the face of so much evidence. ``I am not a 
scientist'' is all we get from some. Well, if they are not scientists, 
maybe they should ask one. Ask NOAA. Ask NASA. Ask our National 
Academies. If a Senator doesn't know what they are talking about, they 
should study up. That is our job. If they can't be bothered to ask a 
scientist, then look at what the military is saying about climate 
change or what the business community is saying.

  The military's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, for example, offers a 
straightforward assessment of the threat climate change poses to 
national and international security. Even in Pentagon bureaucratese, 
the assessment is pretty harsh:

       Climate change poses [a] significant challenge for the 
     United States and the world at large.
       Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to 
     sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by 
     climate change will influence resource competition while 
     placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and 
     governance institutions around the world.

  The Pentagon also released a Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap this 
year, detailing the military's plans for a changed climate. The report 
states in no uncertain terms:

       Climate change will affect the Department of Defense's 
     ability to defend the Nation and poses immediate risks to 
     U.S. national security.

  That would seem to me to be a phrase worth listening to.
  The business and financial community also see climate risk. Former 
Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson teamed up with former New York 
City business tycoon and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Republican 
Senator Olympia Snowe, and others, to put together an evidence-based 
assessment of the risks posed by climate change to the U.S. economy. 
Their report found that between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of 
existing American coastal property will likely be below sea level by 
midcentury. That pricetag could top $500 billion by the end of the 
  They also found extreme heat could reduce labor productivity of 
outdoor workers by as much as 3 percent by the end of the century.
  They found that shifting agricultural patterns could cause States in 
the Southeast, the lower Great Plains, and Midwest to see a 50- to 70-
percent loss in average annual crop yields. It is a risk we would be 
reckless to ignore.
  One bright light of 2014 has been the proposed limits on carbon 
emissions from existing coal plants announced this year by the Obama 
administration. The new standard will not only reduce emissions, it 
will change the way the polluters think. Now that it is no longer going 
to be free to pollute, I suspect some new thinking by polluters will be 
followed in short order with some new thinking on the other side of the 
aisle here in the Senate.
  Another bright light of 2014 was the Obama administration's carbon-
reduction agreement with China, the world's largest carbon polluter 
now, followed by news this weekend from Lima that every nation in the 
world is expected to put forward a plan to rein in its carbon 
  The public is with us on this, too. A recent poll released by the 
insurance firm Munich Re showed that 83 percent of Americans believe 
the climate is changing.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. I ask unanimous consent for 1 additional minute to 
conclude the page in front of me.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Seven Americans in ten say we should use more solar 
and wind power to battle climate change. An AP poll released this week 
said that half of Republicans favor regulations on carbon dioxide 
  In 2014, the physical evidence of climate change continued to mount. 
Our military, our business leaders, our President, and the American 
people all affirmed their commitment to fending off the worst effects 
of carbon pollution. So in 2015, Congress will need to step up to the 
  I have introduced carbon fee legislation that would provide a 
practical tool for getting this done. By charging a fee on carbon 
pollution, we can correct the market failure that lets polluters unload 
the costs of their pollution on the rest of us, and compete unfairly in 
energy markets. We can use those proceeds to reduce other taxes. Most 
important, we can significantly reduce harmful carbon pollution. We 
just need to wake up. Maybe 2015 will be the year.
  I thank the Senator from Oklahoma for his courtesy, and I yield the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

              Social Security Disability Program and Fraud

  Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I hope not to use all our remaining time. 
But I come to the floor to talk about an issue that should be very 
important to every American.
  In less than 20 months, the Social Security Disability system will be 
bankrupt--out of money. That may sound

[[Page S6890]]

like just a scare tactic, but that is what the trust fund trustees say. 
And we have known this for some time.
  My colleague Carl Levin, as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on 
Investigations, and myself as ranking, have spent a great deal of time 
oversighting Social Security disability. We issued a report that had 
some pretty remarkable findings in it. I thought I would go through 
some of those findings today, because I have two major concerns.
  One is that those people with true disabilities are going to see in 
18 months a 20-percent cut in what they get paid each month, and they 
are barely surviving on the disability payments we give them today.
  The second thing is the failure of the Justice Department, when 
handed an absolutely, totally perfect case to prosecute criminals 
taking advantage not only of people with disabilities but other people 
of this country.
  Social Security disability insurance is an important safety net for a 
large number of people--about 11 million--in this country. In the past 
5 years, we have gone from 11 million to 14.1 million applications for 
disability--some of that is associated with our recession, but some 
with true injury.
  We started out very meticulously as we looked at this, and I wish to 
applaud some of the employees of the Social Security Administration 
because they were the ones who highlighted to me--people who worked in 
the Oklahoma City Social Security office--the lousy quality of what was 
happening as these were being processed.
  So what we did is we went to the Social Security Administration and 
we asked them to randomly select 300 case files--100 each--from 3 
different geographical locations throughout the country. That included 
Oklahoma County, in my home State.
  What we looked at was a large random number of cases, most of them 
drawn from decisions made by the Social Security Administration's 1,500 
administrative law judges.
  What we found, using Social Security's own criteria, was that 25 
percent of the cases were decided absolutely erroneously, according to 
their own rules and their own guidelines.
  But that didn't surprise the Social Security Administration, because 
they had been looking at it all along and they knew that, according to 
their records, 23 to 24 percent of all the cases had been being decided 
  Our second step was to look where we saw this abuse at the highest, 
and that was in the Huntington, WV, Social Security Disability Hearing 
Office. So Senator Levin and I set our investigators about doing a 
total and comprehensive investigation of that office.

  The problems we found there were similar to the problems we found in 
our prior investigation in these three other offices, except much 
worse. The Huntington office got our attention in part because it 
processed more disability cases than almost every other Social Security 
office in the Nation--much of that to just one attorney by the name of 
Eric Christopher Conn.
  Despite practicing in a town of only 500 people, Mr. Conn had become 
the third highest paid disability attorney in the entire United States. 
He helped thousands of people get on to the disability program, and in 
2010 he received $4 million in payments from the Social Security 
disability program. The only other attorneys receiving more from SSA 
were Charles Binder of Binder and Binder--who, I noticed, filed 
bankruptcy this week--who received $22 million; and Thomas Nash of 
Chicago who received $6.3 million.
  When we looked more closely at Mr. Conn's operations, what we found 
were reasons for serious concern. While some of what Mr. Conn did 
involved outright fraud--which we have documented and proven--at times 
he was simply able to exploit loopholes in Social Security's system. 
Both of those things should be a concern to Congress.
  To ensure the cases were approved and his attorney fees kept flowing, 
Mr. Conn colluded with an ALJ in the Huntington office by the name of 
David B. Daughtery. The two men worked together to award hundreds of 
millions, if not billions, of dollars in fraudulent disability claims. 
This is an administrative law judge.
  The plan involved several calculated steps. First, Judge Daugherty 
needed to ensure that Mr. Conn's cases were assigned to him. Normally, 
agency rules require cases to be assigned to the ALJs on a rotational 
basis, with the oldest case being assigned to a hearing date first. 
This way, no one administrative law judge receives too many of one 
attorney's cases.
  Judge Daugherty, however, would at times intercept Mr. Conn's cases 
and assign them to himself. If cases would slip past him and get 
assigned to another judge, Judge Daugherty would inappropriately go 
into the computer system and move the case to his jurisdiction.
  The next step in the plan involved Judge Daugherty calling Mr. Conn's 
office every month to let them know what kind of additional evidence he 
needed for each client to be able to award disability benefits. Judge 
Daugherty started the monthly call by relaying the name and Social 
Security number of each person he was ready to approve. He would then 
say whether the new piece of evidence should relate to a mental or a 
physical medical impairment. The list of claimants would then be typed 
up by employees in Mr. Conn's law firm. Mr. Conn's staff referred to 
these monthly lists as the DB lists--the David B. Daugherty list.
  We reviewed these DB lists, every one of them, from June 2006 through 
July 2010. Each list contained as many as 52 names each month. In 
total, the DB lists from that time period contained the names of 1,823 
claimants who were all approved for disability benefits.
  After Judge Daugherty told Mr. Conn the kind of medical evidence he 
needed, the next step shifted to Mr. Conn to ensure a doctor provided 
that evidence. Fortunately for Mr. Conn, he had a crew of doctors in 
his pocket, ready to provide what he needed.
  To find doctors willing to go along with him, Mr. Conn searched the 
Internet for ones with checkered pasts. The doctors Mr. Conn used often 
had histories of malpractice and some had medical license revocations 
in multiple States. In fact, Mr. Conn's ``go-to'' doctor was the 
subject of numerous malpractice lawsuits and even had his medical 
license revoked and suspended in several States. Mr. Conn scheduled the 
DB list of claimants to be seen by his doctors. The doctors spent as 
little as 15 minutes evaluating each claimant and sometimes saw 35 to 
40 claimants a day. Mr. Conn paid the doctors that he knew $500 for 
each claimant they saw.

  The doctors would complete a form used by the agency to determine a 
claimant's residual functional capacity to work in any job available in 
the national economy. While the evidentiary forms provided by the 
doctors were supposed to be specifically tailored to the physical or 
mental impairments of each client, all of Mr. Conn's forms were the 
same. They were prefilled out. He had 15 versions of the physical form 
and 5 versions of the mental form that were rotated among the clients. 
As a matter of fact, a committee determined that 97 of Mr. Conn's 
claimants approved by Judge Daugherty had exactly the same residual 
functional capacity--a statistical impossibility. It could not happen.
  Mr. Conn would then submit the RFC forms--the residual functional 
capacity forms--with a brief description of the claimant to Judge 
Daugherty. Judge Daugherty would then approve the claim for benefits in 
an abbreviated decision, determining the evidence presented by Mr. Conn 
outweighed all the other evidence in the claimant's medical file. At 
times, the medical evidence Judge Daugherty ignored could be thousands 
of pages long.
  The plan made Mr. Conn millions. In 2010 SSI paid Mr. Conn almost $4 
million in attorney fees, making him the third highest-paid attorney in 
the country. In turn, he paid out almost $2 million to the doctors who 
were giving the unscrupulous, ill-advised, and absolutely erroneous 
premanaged outcomes. Judge Daugherty, mysteriously, under our subpoenas 
had received some $100,000 in unexplained cash deposits into his bank 
accounts during this time. But Judge Daugherty wasn't approving just 
Mr. Conn's cases. In the last 5 years of working for the agency, Judge 
Daugherty awarded more than $2.5 billion in disability benefits. During 
that period, he approved more cases then any other ALJ in the entire 
United States.
  There was another judge, Chief Judge Charlie P. Andrus, who played a 
major role in approving the fraudulent

[[Page S6891]]

claims. He allowed Judge Daugherty to decide a high number of claims. 
He and Judge Andrus enjoyed accolades and national recognition. The 
Huntington office rose to have the second fastest processing time in 
the entire country. No wonder--they didn't actually process claims. It 
was a slam dunk. You get under Judge Andrus, you get under Judge 
Daugherty, you get Eric Conn, and you get approved--no matter whether 
it is true or not. Mr. Andrus, as the acting superior judge, did 
nothing to stop Mr. Conn and Judge Daugherty. He actually colluded with 
Mr. Conn to target a whistleblower from his own office.
  The second thing I would note about Judge Andrus was he was not 
truthful in his testimony before the committee under oath, and we have 
evidence of his lying to the committee under oath.
  When all of this was exposed, the agency put Judge Andrus on paid 
administrative leave and filed a claim with the Merit Systems 
Protection Board. That was in January of 2013.
  In 2014 Mr. Andrus voluntarily retired according to a decision from 
the Merit Systems Protection Board. The complaint the agency filed 
against Mr. Andrus charged him with conduct unbecoming an ALJ; engaging 
in an apparent conflict of interest; lack of candor; and unauthorized 
  Despite these charges, as part of the settlement agreement, the 
agency agreed to refrain from pursuing any disciplinary action against 
Andrus and to provide a neutral reference to prospective future 
employers. Andrus retired with his pension. So a crook retires with 
their pension. So no disciplinary action is taken against Charlie 
Andrus, even after he turned a blind eye for years and allowed Judge 
Daugherty to award billions of dollars in disability benefits, admitted 
he conspired to retaliate against an employee, and was untruthful to 
Congress under oath. Nor has the Department of Justice taken any action 
against Mr. Conn or Judge Daugherty. In fact, Mr. Conn continues to 
represent disability claimants before the Social Security 
Administration--these two men who actively committed fraud on one of 
the most important safety net programs our government runs.
  We should not let the actions of these individuals go unpunished. But 
that is what is happening. I recently had a visit with the IG from the 
Social Security Administration, Mr. Patrick O'Carroll. At this point 
the U.S. attorneys in West Virginia and Kentucky had both recused 
themselves and declined to prosecute Mr. Conn. Now I wonder what he has 
over them. I wonder what it is when you have a closed case--a 
prosecutorial case that you have to do no work on--and the U.S. 
attorneys will not prosecute a thief of the highest order. Since both 
U.S. attorneys recused themselves, Mr. O'Carroll is now trying to 
convince the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice here in 
Washington, DC, to take action. But to date no charges have been filed 
against Mr. Conn, Judge Daugherty or Judge Andrus.

  If they do not take action against Mr. Conn, the Justice Department 
is sending a message that disability fraud will go unpunished. We need 
to be sending the opposite message--that these types of fraudulent 
practices by attorneys like Eric Conn must be prosecuted to the fullest 
extent of the law--otherwise the disability program, no matter how much 
oversight we do on it, will continue to be abused, leaving those 
Americans who have no choice but to rely on it with less than what they 
  I would add one final statement. In working with a lot of the 
disability community, we introduced this week what we hope the Congress 
will take up in future years as a reform to the disability program that 
takes the fraud out of it--the opportunity for fraud--that takes the 
ability actually to hold people accountable and also gives back the 
dignity to those who can get back to work and uses that to help them 
accomplish that goal.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I certainly appreciate all the remarks the 
Senator from Oklahoma has said. He is one of the great Senators of all 
time, as far as I am concerned.
  I ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to give this statement, 
which shouldn't be much more than 15 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                     Tribute to Departing Senators

  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, as we wind down the final days of the 113th 
Congress, it is a good time both to reflect on the past and to look 
toward the future. I have been very moved as I listened to the farewell 
speeches of our departing Senators, and I wish I had time to pay 
tribute to each one of them. They have all been wonderful colleagues, 
and I enjoyed working with and getting to know every one of them. I 
wish them all the very best in all their future endeavors. They will 
most certainly be missed.
  In terms of the future there are a number of challenges before us. We 
have an economy that despite recent upticks is still struggling. We 
have a national debt that despite recent reductions in the deficit is 
headed toward astronomical levels, and we have a pending crisis with 
our entitlement programs that threatens to swallow up our government 
and take our economy down with it. I believe we can fix these problems, 
but it is not going to be easy.

                               Tax Reform

  Today I would like to take a few minutes to talk about a particularly 
important effort that I believe will help address some of these 
fundamental changes and challenges. I am talking about tax reform. Over 
the last few years I have spoken numerous times on the floor and 
elsewhere about the need to fix our broken Tax Code. I would understand 
if there are some who tire of hearing me talk about tax reform, but 
that doesn't mean I am going to stop any time soon.
  Tax reform is no longer optional but essential. If we are going to 
get our economy moving again, we need a Tax Code that will stop 
standing in the way. Make no mistake. Promoting job creation and 
economic growth is the first and most important step we need to take in 
order to address our Nation's most pressing problems. This is no secret 
to anyone in this Chamber. I don't believe I have been blessed with 
unique insight into these matters. We all know what we have to do and 
that, in and of itself, is pretty remarkable. Indeed, with all the 
partisanship and division we have seen over the past few years, there 
is bipartisan agreement on the need to reform our tax system. There are 
disagreements on the details that cannot at this time be overlooked, 
but on the basic question surrounding the need for reform, people in 
both parties have reached the same answer: Reform is necessary, and it 
needs to happen sooner rather than later.

  My hope is that today I can say a few words that will help to set the 
stage for our reform efforts in the near future. Last week I released a 
report drafted by my staff on the Senate Finance Committee entitled 
``Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond.'' This report--I have 
been calling it a book because it is 340 pages long--outlines the major 
issues policymakers would have to confront as we undertake tax reform. 
It describes where we are with our current Tax Code, where we have 
been, and most importantly, it gives some direction as to where we 
should go with our reform efforts in the future. I hope all of our 
colleagues will take time to read through it.
  I need to be clear. This is not a tax reform plan. It is a discussion 
of ideas and principles that I hope will be the first step in a renewed 
bipartisan effort to reform our Nation's Tax Code in the very near 
future. More than anything, I hope my colleagues will view this book as 
an invitation to work together in this most important endeavor.
  As I outlined in the book, tax reform, in my view, should be 
undertaken with a set of simple principles in mind. The most important 
principles are the three set out by President Reagan the last time 
Congress was able to pass a major tax overhaul, nearly three decades 
ago. President Reagan's first principle, and in my view the most 
important, is economic growth. Tax reform should significantly reduce 
many of the economic distortions that are present under the current 
income tax system and promote growth in our economy. It should 
eliminate the anticompetitive nature of the current tax system, such as 
the high U.S. corporate tax rate, which stifles job growth. High 
marginal tax rates are present up and

[[Page S6892]]

down the income scale and they act as disincentives for work, 
entrepreneurship, and investment. These growth deterrents--which are 
embedded nearly everywhere in our Tax Code--should be eliminated.
  President Reagan's second principle was fairness. The income tax 
base, which has become riddled with exclusions, exemptions, deductions, 
and credits, should be as broad as possible. Tax reform should reduce 
the number of tax expenditures, thereby broadening the tax base while 
simultaneously lowering tax rates. A broader tax base coupled with 
significantly lower tax rates is the basis of what would be a much 
fairer tax system.
  The final principle outlined by President Reagan was simplicity. Our 
Tax Code has grown to almost four million words. Today, approximately 
59 percent of American households use paid preparers to do their 
individual income taxes and another 30 percent use tax software to 
assist them. Taxpayers and businesses spend over $168 billion annually. 
That is larger than the size of the entire economy of New Zealand, and 
an amount that would employ more than three million workers full time 
at an hourly wage of $25.
  A simpler Tax Code would greatly reduce these compliance costs, 
resulting in greater efficiency and compliance by American taxpayers. 
Let's unleash resources from being devoted to figuring out or gaming 
our broken Tax Code and make the resources available for job creation.
  The three principles from President Reagan would be vital to our tax 
reform efforts. But, as I said, it has been nearly 30 years since 
Congress tried to put President Reagan's principles into action. Much 
has changed in that time. In order to address the needs of today, 
additional principles are necessary.
  One of those principles is permanence. The Tax Code needs certainty. 
The Joint Committee on Taxation lists almost 100 tax provisions that 
will expire between 2013 and 2023. Individuals and businesses need to 
be able to rely on provisions in the tax law for planning purposes. The 
lack of certainty in our tax laws hinders job creation and stifles 
economic growth. We need a tax system that no longer threatens to 
change from year to year.
  Another important principle is competitiveness. The combination of a 
high corporate tax rate, worldwide taxation, and the temporary nature 
of some tax incentives make U.S. companies less competitive when 
compared to their foreign counterparts. In addition, U.S. 
multinationals are discouraged from repatriating foreign earnings 
because of the U.S. corporate tax that applies at the time of 
repatriation--a corporate rate that is the highest in our 
industrialized world.

  Tax reform should reduce the high tax rates on businesses and also 
achieve neutrality through a competitive international tax system, 
thereby placing worldwide American companies on a level playing field 
with their foreign competitors when conducting business in other 
countries. The result would be more worldwide American companies 
establishing or retaining their corporate headquarters in the United 
States, more exports to global markets, and retention and investment of 
money in the United States rather than abroad.
  Promoting savings and investment is another important principle. Many 
aspects of the U.S. income tax system discourage savings and 
investments by individuals, thereby hindering long-term growth. Tax 
reform should result in a tax system that actually encourages people to 
save and invest.
  Last, but certainly not least, there is the principle of revenue 
neutrality. I know this will be a sticking point for some, though, for 
the life of me I can't see why. If we are scouring the Tax Code looking 
for ways to squeeze more revenue to fuel government spending, we are 
not reforming the Tax Code, we are raising taxes. It is as simple as 
  Tax reform should not be used as an excuse to raise taxes on the 
American people or on U.S. businesses. Any effort to use tax reform as 
a revenue-raising exercise is a needless distraction. Anyone who 
believes that the American people are currently undertaxed should look 
at historical trends.
  According to the Congressional Budget Office, Federal revenues are 
set to exceed historical averages as early as next year and will remain 
that way. We can talk about shoring up deficits and paying for 
spending, but we should not be looking to the Tax Code as a resource 
for additional revenue.
  If you count up these principles--including those established by 
President Reagan, and the ones added since--there are seven in total. 
In my view, these seven principles should serve as guideposts for our 
tax reform efforts. Any idea or proposal we consider should link back 
and be relevant to at least one of these principles. The best ideas and 
proposals should probably link back to all of them.
  As I said, the book we released last week outlines these principles 
and also provides a wealth of background information about our Tax Code 
and the need for reform. I view it as a first major step in a tax 
reform effort that I hope will get underway early next year.
  In the coming weeks and months, I plan to reveal additional steps. I 
plan to involve many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, 
particularly those who will be joining me on the Senate Finance 
  My hope is that as this conversation continues, a path toward real 
bipartisan tax reform will begin to take shape. Of course, it will take 
more than just talk and discussion. It will take hard work, commitment, 
and, of course, compromise.
  I said it many times before, and I will say it again today: I am 
willing to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, to reform our 
Nation's Tax Code, and I look forward to continuing this effort in the 
114th Congress, and, if necessary, beyond.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Warren). For the information of the 
Senate, as of 5 p.m., the time until 6 p.m. is equally divided in the 
usual form.
  The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I rise to discuss my opposition to the 
pending vote concerning Mr. Anthony ``Tony'' Blinken, who is not only 
unqualified, but, in fact, in my view, one of the worst selections of a 
very bad lot that this President has chosen.
  I hope that many of my colleagues will understand that I do not come 
to the floor to oppose a nomination of the President of the United 
States often because I believe that elections have consequences. In 
this case, this individual has actually been dangerous to America and 
to the young men and women who are fighting and serving our country.
  Mr. Blinken has been a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Biden 
since his days in the Senate, but as Robert Gates has noted, Mr. Biden 
has been ``wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national 
security issue over the past four decades.''
  At the Special Operations Fund Annual Meeting on May 6, 2013, Mr. 
Blinken discussed a number of the administration's achievements, 
including, one, ending the war in Iraq responsibly; two, setting a 
clear strategy and date for the withdrawal from Afghanistan; three, 
decimating Al Qaeda's senior leadership; and four, repairing our 
alliances and restoring America's standing in the world.
  That is as Orwellian as any statement I have ever heard. Each and 
every issue--the conditions are a far cry from the so-called 
achievements that Mr. Blinken describes.
  In his capacity as an assistant to the President and Deputy National 
Security Adviser, Mr. Blinken has been a functionary and an agent of a 
U.S. foreign policy that has made the world much less safe today.
  Let's review some major elements of that policy, and in particular, 
Mr. Blinken's role in conceptualizing and furthering it.
  U.S. foreign policy is in a shambles. It is, at best, astrategic, and 
at worst, antistrategic. It lacks any concept of how to obtain our 
foreign policy goals. This has led to countless foreign policy 
failures, including the continued slaughter of the Syrian people by 
President Bashar al-Assad; the Russian reset that culminated with 
President Putin's invasion of Ukraine; the betrayal of our key allies, 
especially in Central Europe, not to mention Israel; failing to achieve 
a status-of-forces agreement that would help to maintain Iraqi security 
and stability; following similarly unwise strategies in Afghanistan--we 
will see the same movie in Afghanistan that we saw in Iraq if we

[[Page S6893]]

have a date-driven withdrawal rather than a status-driven, conditions-
driven situation; and our feckless position in negotiations with Iran 
on nuclear weapons that has failed to produce any progress towards an 
  I could go into many other failures, such as the vaunted Geneva 
Convention of 40 nations that was supposed to arrange for the 
transition of power from Bashar al-Assad and the object failure of the 
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and what will either be an imminent 
failure of an Iranian nuclear weapons agreement or an agreement that 
will be disastrous in the long run.
  There are two common sayings by the administration officials, not me, 
that have defined the President's approach to foreign policy: ``Leading 
from behind,'' and ``Don't do stupid [stuff].'' These approaches have 
resulted in a failed foreign policy that has made America and Americans 
less safe.
  Even President Obama's most strident supporters have begun to 
question the President's foreign policy decisions.
  In an article entitled ``Damage to Obama's Foreign Policy Has Been 
Largely Self-Inflicted,'' the Washington Post's David Ignatius, a key 
supporter of the administration's foreign policy goals, wrote, ``At key 
turning points--in Egypt and Libya during the Arab Spring, in Syria, in 
Ukraine, and, yes, in Benghazi--the administration was driven by 
messaging priorities rather than sound, interests-based policy.''
  What has Mr. Blinken had to say about all of these issues, my 
friends? I will give you a few examples.

  On Iraq, at the Center for American Progress, on March 16, 2012--I am 
not making this up--Mr. Blinken said:

       What's beyond debate is that Iraq today is less violent, 
     more democratic and more prosperous--and the United States 
     more deeply engaged there--than at any time in recent 

  Less violent, more democratic, and more prosperous.
  At a White House briefing on March 16, 2012, Mr. Blinken said:

       President Obama and Vice President Biden came to office 
     with this commitment: To end the Iraq war responsibly.
       Both parts of that sentence are critical.
       End the war.
       Under the leadership of President Obama and Vice President 
     Biden, who the President asked to oversee our Iraq policy--
     and who has made 8 trips to Iraq since being elected--we have 
     followed that path to the letter.

  He went on to say:

       At every significant step along the way, many predicted 
     that the violence would return and Iraq would slide backward 
     toward sectarian war.

  Get this. He said:

       Those predictions proved wrong.

  He went on to say:

       Over the past three years, violence has declined and 
     remains at historic lows--even after we completed the 
     drawdown of U.S. forces late last year.

  Remember, he said this in 2012.

       Weekly security incidents fell from an average of 1,600 in 
     2007-2008 to fewer than 100 today.

  He went on to say:

       And in December, after more than eight wrenching years, 
     President Obama kept his promise to end the war--responsibly.
       And, while Iran and Iraq will inevitably be more 
     intertwined than we, and many of its neighbors, would like, 
     one thing we learned, over more than eight years in Iraq is 
     that the vast majority of its leaders, including the Prime 

  Who at that time was Prime Minister Maliki--

     --are first and foremost Iraqi nationalists and resistant to 
     outside influence from anywhere--starting with Iran.

  Everybody knows that the Iranians are probably the most influential 
nation in Iraq, certainly under Maliki.
  On foreign policy, December 27, 2013, he said:

       If we still had troops in Iraq today, the numbers would 
     have been very small. They would not have been engaged in 
     combat. That would not have been their mission, so the idea 
     that they could or would have done something about the 
     violence that is going on now in Iraq seems, to me, detached 
     from the reality of what the mission would have been had they 
     stayed in any small number.

  Now you don't have to take my word for it. Take the word of Secretary 
Gates, Secretary Panetta, Ambassador Crocker, and any knowledgeable 
person about Iraq, and I will insert their quotes for the record, 
including Ambassador Crocker, who said: ``Of course we could have left 
a residual force behind.'' Both Panetta and Gates said the same thing.
  At no time was there a public statement by the President of the 
United States or Mr. Blinken that they wanted to very seriously. In 
fact, they trumpeted the fact that the last American troop at that 
time--now we have many troops back--left Iraq and bragged about what a 
great day it was.
  On Fox News with Chris Wallace, September 28, 2014:

       Finally, President Obama spoke to the U.N. this week, but I 
     wanted to ask you about his speech to the U.N., saying--
     general assembly last year, in which he said we are ending a 
     decade of war. How could the President have been so wrong?


       The president was exactly right. What we're doing is 
     totally different than the last decade. We're not sending 
     hundreds of thousands of American troops back to Iraq or 
     Afghanistan or anywhere else. We're not going to be spending 
     trillions of American dollars.


       Mr. Blinken . . . he said all our troops left Iraq. In 
     fact, he has just sent at least 1,600 troops back into Iraq. 
     He said we've dismantled the core of al Qaeda. [And yet,] the 
     Khorasan group which you struck in the first day is an 
     offshoot of the core of al Qaeda, and, in fact, follows the 
     direct orders of the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri.


       Chris, they fled. Because we were so successful and 
     effective in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they fled, because we 
     decimated the core of Al Qaeda. They removed themselves. They 
     went to Syria.

  At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on October 30, 

       The White House ``sought to leave a limited residual 
     force'' in Iraq, but the Iraqi Government simply refused to 
     agree to legal protections for such troops, said then-Deputy 
     National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, who argued the final 
     decision to withdraw all U.S. troops ``was not the result of 
     a failure to negotiate.''
       ``It's something we worked very hard,'' he said. ``But . . 
     . after a 10-year `occupation,' the Iraqi body politic did 
     not want us to stay in Iraq. That's what happened'' . . . We 
     were focused and acting on ISIL and the threat that it posed 
     more than 1 year before the fall of Mosul, but the problem 
     began to outrun the solution fueled by the conflict in Syria, 
     Iraqi reluctance, and renewed sectarianism in Iraq in advance 
     of elections with politicians on all sides playing to their 

  Statements such as these are so divorced from reality, one can only 
draw one of two conclusions: either that Mr. Blinken is abysmally 
ignorant or he is simply not telling the truth for whatever motive 
there is.
  By the way, here is what Ryan Crocker said on Iraq:

       As a former ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, do you 
     think it was a mistake not to push hard for the Status of 
     Forces agreement with Iraq before the U.S. pullout?

  I would remind my colleagues, Ryan Crocker--probably the most 
respected member of our diplomatic corps alive today--said:

       I do. We could have gotten that agreement if we had been a 
     little more persistent, flexible, and creative. But what 
     really cost us was the political withdrawal. We cut off high-
     level political engagement with Iraq when we withdrew our 
     troops. There were no senior visits, very few phone calls. 
     Secretary of State John Kerry made one visit prior to this 
     current crisis, mainly to lecture the Iraqis on how bad they 
     were being for facilitating Iranian weapon shipments to 
     Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. And we left them to their 
     own devices, knowing that left to their own devices, it would 
     not work out well.

  So we have Mr. Blinken's comments, and juxtapose them with those of 
Ambassador Crocker.
  Here is what Leon Panetta, Democrat, Secretary of Defense said:

       It was clear to me--and many others--that withdrawing all 
     our forces would endanger the fragile stability then barely 
     holding Iraq together.

  That is from Secretary Leon Panetta's book.
  Then he went on to say:

       My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that 
     if the country split apart or slid back into the violence 
     that we'd seen in the years immediately following the U.S. 
     invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot 
     attacks against the U.S. Iraq's stability was not only in 
     Iraq's interest but also in ours. I privately and publicly 
     advocated for a residual force that could provide training 
     and security for Iraq's military.

  Then he went on to say, talking about the Pentagon:

       Those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid 
     itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than 
     lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and 

[[Page S6894]]

  That is a statement by Leon Panetta.
  I will move on to Afghanistan.
  Mr. Blinken said:

       We have been very clear. We have been consistent. The war 
     will be concluded by the end of 2014. We have a timetable, 
     and that timetable will not change.

  This is why I am so worried about him being in the position he is in, 
because if they stick to that timetable, I am telling my colleagues 
that we will see the replay of Iraq all over again. We must leave a 
stabilizing force behind of a few thousand troops or we will see again 
what we saw in Iraq.
  So let's move on to Syria.
  In an MSNBC interview in 2014, responding to a question about 
President Obama's comment in August 2014 calling it ``a fantasy'' to 
say that arming the Syrian rebels 3 years ago would have helped the 
situation, Blinken:

       Fantasy was the notion that had we started to work with 
     these guys--

  Talking about the Free Syrian Army--

     six months earlier, that that somehow would have turned the 


       Candy, you know, Assad has been a magnet for the very 
     extremism we're now fighting against. And it is inconceivable 
     to think of Syria being stable with Assad as its leader. He 
     has forfeited his legitimacy. ISIL right now is the wolf at 
     the door. But the answer to both Assad and ISIL actually is 
     the moderate opposition. They need to be built up, so that 
     they can be a counterweight to Assad. In the near term, they 
     need to be built up so they can work on the ground to help 
     deal with ISIL.

  Candy Crowley:

       So ISIS is the wolf at the door now, but Assad, as far as 
     the U.S. is concerned, is the next wolf at the door?

  Mr. Blinken:

       We have been very clear that there needs to be a transition 
     in Syria, that as long as Assad is there, it's very hard to 
     see Syria being stable, and he will continue to be a magnet 
     for the extremists we are fighting.


       But a transition is not the same as, we will actively help 
     you bring this guy down.


       The best way to deal with Assad is to transition him out so 
     that the moderate opposition can fill the vacuum. That's what 
     we have been working on. The more you build them up, the more 
     you make them a counterweight, the more possible that 

  Let me just remind my colleagues of what has happened. There is a guy 
named Caesar who about a year and a half ago smuggled out thousands of 
pictures. These pictures are the most gripping and horrifying I have 
ever seen. They were actual pictures which have been authenticated of 
the atrocities committed by Bashar Assad. They are wrenching, they are 
heartbreaking, and they are terrible.
  Now, 200,000 people have been butchered in Syria, and 3.5 million are 
refugees; 150,000 are still in Bashar Assad's prison experiencing 
atrocities such as this. These are little children here. These are 
little children. They have been massacred by Bashar Assad.
  What have we done? What have we done in response to this? First of 
all, amazingly, these photographs have been authenticated by this guy 
Caesar. He did testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It 
didn't seem to rise to the interest of the Senate Foreign Affairs 
Committee or the American people or this administration.
  I was at a refugee camp in Jordan where at that time there were, I 
think, 75,000 refugees. I was being taken around by a young woman who 
was a schoolteacher, and she said:
  Senator McCain, do you see all of these children?
  I said: Yes.
  She said: Those children believe that you have abandoned them, 
Senator McCain, that you Americans have abandoned them, and when they 
grow up, they are going to take revenge on you.
  So here we are, this incredible slaughter, massacre, torture taking 
place, and what is this administration doing? It is trying to make a 
deal with the Iranians and leaving Bashar Assad to wreak havoc on the 
Syrian people who are still able to fight, butchering them with barrel 
bombs. Most of my colleagues know what a barrel bomb is. It is a huge 
cylinder, and it is packed with explosives and nuts and bolts and 
pieces of shrapnell. Bashar Assad, unimpeded, flies his helicopters and 
they drop these barrel bombs. Then, when they capture these people, 
this is what is done to them.
  Today it is clear that what is happening is that we are attacking 
ISIS in Syria. We are not attacking Bashar Assad, this butcher. In 
fact, Bashar Assad has intensified his attacks on the Free Syrian 
Army--intensified them. Not surprisingly, the morale of the Free Syrian 
Army is very low.
  So General Allen and others have recently proposed a no-fly zone or 
an aircraft exclusion zone, an idea we have been arguing for, for about 
3 years. This President still refuses to do it. It is heartbreaking. It 
is heartbreaking and it is tragic and it will go down in American 
history as one of the most shameful chapters because of our failure and 
the President's personal decision not to arm the Free Syrian Army when 
all of his key national security advisers--his Secretary of State, 
Hillary Clinton; the head of the CIA, General Petraeus; and Secretary 
of Defense, Secretary Panetta all strongly recommended providing arms 
to the Free Syrian Army.
  I will move on to Ukraine. Mr. Blinken:

       What Putin has seen is the President mobilizing the 
     international community both in support of Ukraine and to 
     isolate Russia for its actions in Ukraine, and Russia is 
     paying a clear cost for that.
       The notion that this is somehow the result of Syria makes 
     very little sense to me. . . . That's because this is not 
     about what we do or say in the first instance, it's about 
     Russia and its perceived interests.

  What Mr. Blinken doesn't understand is that weakness in one place 
translates throughout the world.
  When I tell my colleagues, when I tell my fellow citizens that we 
will not supply the Ukraine people with defensive weapons, they don't 
believe me. They have watched the country dismembered. They have 
watched Crimea go. They have watched the shoot-down on an airliner that 
nobody talks about anymore, and they continue to create unrest and 
killing in eastern Ukraine, and we will not even supply the Ukrainians 
with weapons with which to defend themselves.
  I see that I am nearly out of time. I would like to say I wish Mr. 
Blinken's words were matched by his deeds.
  At the Holocaust Museum, October 6, 2014, he said:

       A new notion is gaining currency: the ``Responsibility to 
     Protect.'' It holds that states have responsibilities as well 
     as interests--especially the responsibility to shield their 
     own populations from the depraved and murderous. This 
     approach is bold. It is important. And the United States 
     welcomes it and has included it as a core element of our 
     National Security Strategy, along with our commitment to 
     prevent genocide and hold those who organize atrocities 

  No one can look at those pictures, the thousands, and believe that we 
have held Bashar Assad responsible.
  He ended up by saying:

       Endorsing the responsibility to protect is one thing; 
     acting on it is another. All of us in the international 
     community will have to muster the political will to act--
     diplomatically, economically, or, in extreme cases, 
     militarily--when governments prove unable or unwilling to 
     prevent the slaughter of their citizens.

  That is a remarkable statement from an individual whose actions have 
clearly contradicted that at every turn in literally every corner of 
the Earth.
  I know we will probably lose the vote, but I believe history will 
hold this administration accountable. History will hold those 
individuals who are part of this administration, who allowed these 
slaughters to go on--a dismemberment of a country called Ukraine, the 
first time a European country has been departitioned since World War 
II; the needless slaughter of thousands and thousands of Ukrainian men, 
women, and children, and the thousands and thousands of Syrian 
children. The list goes on and on.
  Now we are going to promote this individual to replace probably the 
finest diplomat I have known, Secretary Burns. Not only is Mr. Blinken 
unqualified, but he is, I believe, a threat to the traditional 
interests and values that embody the United States of America.
  Madam President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum 
call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Madam President, I come to the floor in favor of the 
confirmation of Tony Blinken, who is no

[[Page S6895]]

stranger to this institution and no stranger to the most significant 
national security issues this Nation has faced in a generation.
  As the former staff director of the Foreign Relations Committee and a 
close confidant of then-Chairman Biden and now a member of the 
President's national security team, he has earned a reputation as hard-
working, studious, and keenly analytical. He comes from a family of 
diplomats and has lived his life in and around the Foreign Service.
  His nomination as Deputy Secretary of State comes at a time when the 
United States is facing a range of critical challenges, from Ebola in 
west Africa, to Russian aggression in Ukraine, to the challenge of 
countering ISIL in Syria and Iraq, to Iran's continued request for a 
nuclear weapons program. At the same time, we are forging new global 
alliances and partnerships with India, in the Middle East and Asia, and 
looking for opportunities to expand American exports and business 
opportunities. There will be no shortage of critical issues he will 
  Foremost on our national security agenda is countering the barbarity 
of ISIL, whose terrorist ambitions threaten our national security as 
well as the stability of an entire region. We also face a continued 
crisis in Ukraine, where the cease-fire has collapsed and Russian 
tanks, troops, and weapons continue cross-border incursions into 
eastern Ukraine.
  Clearly, the list of challenges is long and the diplomatic 
calculations are complicated, and all of these challenges will be part 
of the portfolio of the Deputy Secretary of State. There will be times 
where we will agree and times where we will disagree. I look forward to 
working closely with Mr. Blinken should he be confirmed, and I expect 
that he will be.
  I know there is opposition by some of my colleagues to Mr. Blinken. 
As we considered his nomination in the Foreign Relations Committee last 
week, several of my colleagues raised concerns which I would like to 
take a few minutes to address.
  First, there is an incredible notion that Mr. Blinken is somehow 
unqualified. Anyone who has served the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee as staff director, two Presidents, a Vice President, as 
Deputy National Security Adviser to the President of the United States, 
and has chaired the National Security Council's Deputies Committee is 
more than qualified, and my colleagues know it. They simply disagree 
with the politics and the policies of the President which are the 
responsibility of the person who is serving that President to 
ultimately promote--anyone he chooses to appoint to a key position. But 
they cannot disagree that Mr. Blinken has served the Nation admirably, 
with dignity, diplomacy, and has honored every position he has held, 
that he has devoted his life serving this Nation's national security 
interests, and he has excelled at doing it. Frankly, if Mr. Blinken is 
unqualified, then the bar my colleagues have set is too high for any 
human being to reach.
  I ask those who would object to this nominee, what additional 
qualifications can there be? Outside of already occupying the position 
for which he is nominated, it is hard to understand what additional 
qualifications my colleagues would expect Mr. Blinken to have to 
demonstrate his worthiness. Perhaps they would prefer that he be 
nominated by a different President whose policies they agree with, but 
that is not how it works.
  This is an eminently qualified candidate who has the full trust and 
confidence of this President, my colleagues' policy concerns 
notwithstanding. They may disagree with specific policy decisions of 
this President dutifully carried out--I repeat, carried out--by Mr. 
  Even listening to my dear friend and colleague Senator McCain, a 
distinguished member of the committee whom I regret we are going to 
lose in the next Congress from the committee--when he made the comment 
that the President's personal decision--referring to Syria--when all 
his national security advisers recommended providing arms to the Free 
Syrian Army, Mr. Blinken is clearly one of those national security 
advisers, but the President is the one who ultimately makes the 
decision on what policy will be pursued.
  That leads us to the questions about Mr. Blinken's participation and 
decisions involving Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, 
with which certain Members of this body have taken issue.
  Mr. Blinken has had to defend those decisions no matter his personal 
views or advice. That is his job. You can disagree with the President's 
policies, but you cannot blame this nominee for doing his sworn 
constitutional duty to carry them out.
  I want to be very clear. We cannot judge the qualifications of this 
nominee or, for that fact, any nominee based on the policy decisions of 
this President or any President. He has been part of 
this administration, to be sure, but if the Senate starts to hold every 
nominee to account for every decision made by every President they 
serve, I think we will find that there is no one who will pass muster 
and no one who will be confirmed.

  I happen to think President Bush's decision to evade Iraq was a 
geostrategic blunder of the highest order. I opposed it at the time, 
and history, tragically, has proven that judgment right. The brave 
sacrifice of our young men and women and the squandering of hundreds of 
billions of our children's and grandchildren's inheritance have 
compounded the magnitude of this error. Would my colleagues suggest 
that I should oppose all future Republican nominees who served in the 
Bush administration because no matter how qualified they are, somehow 
they must be held accountable for what I believe history will show in 
evaluating the Bush Presidency as a historic blunder that led to the 
civil and secular wars that are changing the shape of the Middle East? 
I don't believe that is what my colleagues would suggest, but that 
appears to be how they are judging Mr. Blinken. But none of that is 
reason to oppose Mr. Blinken or any nominee.
  I hear these references to Iraq. Well, Prime Minister Maliki at the 
time opposed signing a status of forces agreement, and without such an 
agreement it was impossible to have our forces continue to be in Iraq 
subject to the possibilities of any issues being pursued legally under 
Iraqi law versus our own law, or, in Afghanistan, the question of what 
the force size should be in 2014. The President has made the statement 
of what it is to be, and maybe we can even have disagreements with what 
the size of those forces should be in 2014 as we see things evolve, but 
it is not for someone in an appointed position who is supposed to carry 
out the President's policies to say: No, we are not going to have that 
size; we are going to have a bigger size.
  I fully expect that if confirmed, there will be a number of issues 
where Mr. Blinken and I probably won't see eye to eye--or, rather, the 
administration he will represent and I may not see eye to eye. When 
those issues arise, I fully intend to let Mr. Blinken know exactly how 
I feel and to engage him in debate to influence the policy, and I will 
avail myself of all the tools a Senator can use to do so.
  Frankly, given his experience working for this body and given his 
professionalism and experience with the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, I would rather it be Mr. Blinken who will be across the 
table from me rather than someone else who doesn't have any 
understanding of this institution and the prerogatives of Senators. I 
am confident he will understand where I am coming from even when we 
disagree, and I am confident that he willing approach these discussions 
with an open mind, that he will seek to persuade but he also will be 
open to persuasion.
  I don't think any of us here in this body would like to be held to a 
standard of perfection in our judgments, one that holds no space for 
loyal service to this Nation and no space for qualified nominees who 
have honorably and faithfully implemented the policies of their 
  Let's be clear. We are not judging the President's policies; we are 
judging the qualifications of a man who has loyally and professionally 
carried out those policies.
  I do not doubt the sincerity of my colleagues in this body. Even when 
I may disagree, I do not doubt that they are seeking what they believe 
is the best for our Nation. At times I think they are right. At other 
times I think

[[Page S6896]]

they are wrong. Today, as it relates to Mr. Blinken, they are wrong.
  Tony Blinken is a tireless and able public servant who serves the 
Nation well, and I urge my colleagues to confirm this nominee. He is a 
man of the Senate, a qualified public servant, and an accomplished 
national security and foreign policy expert.
  I yield the floor.
  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. LEVIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I be 
permitted to proceed as though in morning business for 5 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

               Ending Insider Trading in Commodities Act

  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, last month the Senate's Permanent 
Subcommittee on Investigations concluded a 2-year bipartisan 
investigation into Wall Street bank involvement with physical 
commodities. Our investigation, which focused on Goldman Sachs, Morgan 
Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase, culminated in a 400-page report and 2 days 
of hearings. The subcommittee's investigation found these banks 
involved in a breathtaking array of physical commodities activities. 
They owned coal mines and oil pipelines, oil tankers and refineries, 
electric powerplants, massive amounts of copper and aluminum and even 
  We examined multiple aspects of financial holding company involvement 
with physical commodities, including the nature and extent of those 
activities with the attendant risk, such as the threat to a bank's 
safety and soundness from a catastrophe along the lines of the BP 
oilspill in the Gulf of Mexico. We also examined the impact of those 
activities on consumers, manufacturers, and markets. One key area of 
concern relates to possible price manipulation and unfair trading.
  What we found is that involvement in physical commodities gave these 
banks access to important nonpublic information that they could use to 
profit in their trading of financial products tied to those same 
commodities. In the stock market, the use of such nonpublic information 
is prohibited, but no such clear prohibition exists in commodities 
markets. That gives the biggest Wall Street banks an enormous incentive 
to pursue physical commodities activities--often to the detriment of 
consumers and manufacturers--in order to profit in financial trades by 
the use of the nonpublic information they gain from their physical 
commodities activity and to provide the opportunity in some cases to 
engage in market manipulation.
  I have introduced, with Senator McCain, a bill intended to prevent 
such abuses. The Ending Insider Trading in Commodities Act, S. 3013, 
which we just introduced, would prevent a large financial institution 
from trading in physical commodities and commodity-related financial 
instruments while at the same time in possession of material nonpublic 
information arising from its ownership or interests in a business or 
facility used to store, ship, or use the same commodity. A large 
financial institution should not be able to control, for instance, a 
huge number of warehouses and then use the nonpublic information that 
it gains and sometimes creates from the operation of those warehouses 
to trade on the same kinds of commodities stored in those warehouses.
  As we learned from our investigation, a financial institution that 
owns warehouses may manipulate warehouse operations in ways that move 
the prices of the very financial instruments and commodities the 
financial institution is trading.
  In the case of aluminum, we saw that Goldman Sachs owned dozens of 
warehouses in the Detroit area, which it used to build a near monopoly 
on the storage of aluminum in the United States that is used to settle 
trades on the London Metal Exchange, which sets the benchmark price for 
aluminum around the world. Using that dominant position, Goldman 
approved warehouse deals and practices that lengthened the lines, the 
queues for metal owners to get their metal out of the warehouses to 
nearly 2 years. By lengthening the queues, Goldman raised the premium 
that includes such costs as storage and transportation and which, along 
with the London Metal Exchange's benchmark price, makes up the total 
price consumers pay for aluminum. Goldman manipulated these warehouse 
practices in ways that made metal owners wait to get their metal and 
influenced prices paid to buy aluminum and hedge aluminum costs. All 
the while, Goldman was trading in aluminum and aluminum-related 
financial instruments.
  It is a rigged game. It needs to be stopped, and that is what this 
bill is intended to do. I thank Senator McCain for joining me in this 
important effort. We hope our colleagues will take up this bill and 
carry on this effort in the next Congress.
  (The remarks of Mr. LEVIN pertaining to the introduction of S. 3019 
are printed in today's Record under ``Statements on Introduced Bills 
and Joint Resolutions.'')
  Mr. LEVIN. I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. ENZI. Madam President, I wish to express my opposition to the 
nomination of Antony Blinken to be Deputy Secretary of State.
  There is no shortage of global conflicts or crises facing the United 
States, and as one of the key positions at the State Department, the 
Deputy Secretary of State will play a key role in developing and 
implementing our foreign policy. Unfortunately, I must oppose Mr. 
Blinken's nomination at this time because his track record on some of 
the most significant foreign policy and national security issues has 
raised serious concerns about the direction his leadership would take 
our Nation's foreign policy.
  Mr. Blinken has been a foreign policy advisor for several years and 
played a significant role in determining how and when the United States 
left Iraq. I believe this has contributed to the instability in the 
region. Additionally, Mr. Blinken has been less than forthright with 
some of my colleagues, and has misstated the Administration's position 
with respect to Iran sanctions.
  I am also concerned about the speed of this nomination. He was 
nominated a month ago and is being forced through in the lame duck. I 
believe a nominee of this significance should be subject to a more 
thorough review because at a time when the United States is facing 
critical national security challenges on many fronts, we must have 
proven and effective leadership.
  For these reasons, I must oppose Mr. Blinken's nomination.
  Mr. TESTER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before 
the Senate the pending cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of 
     Antony Blinken, of New York, to be Deputy Secretary of State.
         Harry Reid, Brian Schatz, Patrick J. Leahy, Bernard 
           Sanders, John E. Walsh, Patty Murray, Jack Reed, Tom 
           Udall, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Debbie 
           Stabenow, Christopher A. Coons, Robert Menendez, Carl 
           Levin, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, Richard J. Durbin.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate 
that debate on the nomination of Antony Blinken, of New York, to be 
Deputy Secretary of State, shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer) 
and the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Georgia (Mr. Chambliss), the Senator from Mississippi (Mr. 
Cochran), the Senator from Nebraska (Mr. Johanns), the Senator from 
Utah (Mr.

[[Page S6897]]

Lee), and the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Sessions).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Utah (Mr. Lee) would 
have voted ``nay.''
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 53, nays 40, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 361 Ex.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)


     Johnson (WI)

                             NOT VOTING--7

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 
  The motion to invoke cloture is agreed to.
  Cloture having been invoked, under the previous order, all time is 
yielded back.
  The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the nomination 
of Antony Blinken, of New York, to be Deputy Secretary of State?
  Mr. REID. I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer) 
and the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Georgia (Mr. Chambliss), the Senator from Mississippi (Mr. 
Cochran), the Senator from Nebraska (Mr. Johanns), the Senator from 
Utah (Mr. Lee), and the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Sessions).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 55, nays 38, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 362 Ex.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)


     Johnson (WI)

                             NOT VOTING--7

  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the 
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.