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Senate Proceeding on Jan 5th, 2011 :: 4:43:50 to 4:52:45
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Claire McCaskill

4:43:46 to 4:44:06( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: been a great and compassionate advocate for open government will also speak, and for colleagues that have an interest, we have 30 minutes of time. senator mccaskill, with appreciation for all you have -- you have done, the time is yours. mrs. mccaskill: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri.

Claire McCaskill

4:43:50 to 4:52:45( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill

4:44:07 to 4:44:28( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: mrs. mccaskill: madam president, when i arrived in this chamber four years ago at this time, i had no idea what the ways of the senate were. i had an idea that this is a place where people came to debate and to have a

Claire McCaskill

4:44:29 to 4:44:52( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: collegial relationship with your fellow senators across the aisle, and there had been a lot of problems with ethical issues in the capitol. and so one of the first things that happened for the class of 2006 was senate bill 1. and senate bill 1 was a far-reaching ethics bill that included things like no more free flights on corporate jets.

Claire McCaskill

4:44:53 to 4:45:15( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: it included new requirements in terms of gifts from lobbyists, and it also included a provision that i didn't know at the time was -- had been worked on by senator wyden and senator grassley for many, many years. that provision said that we weren't going to have secret holds anymore. so imagine how great i felt on

Claire McCaskill

4:45:16 to 4:45:38( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: january 18, 2007, that we had done this comprehensive ethics bill that was going to clean up our act and that we weren't going to have secret holds. well, i find it ironic that senator alexander says, well, just use the rules, just use them. well, so when i started figuring out that the game around here in the last 18 months had developed

Claire McCaskill

4:45:39 to 4:46:02( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: into a game of secret holds, i asked my staff, i said, hey, didn't we have something in senate bill 1 about secret holds? not knowing really the relationship that language had to senator wyden and senator grassley. so my staff pulls out the legislation, we look at it and i go, well, right here it says they can't do it. so i began coming down to the

Claire McCaskill

4:46:03 to 4:46:23( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: floor and using the law. i did exactly what senator alexander recommended. i came down here and began making motion after motion which under the language of that statute would seem to indicate that all the senators support it, except for a handful, that once you made these motions, that people would have to come out of the shadows and claim their holds.

Claire McCaskill

4:46:24 to 4:46:46( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: well, that's when i discovered that the people who voted for this, there were a bunch of them that didn't mean it. they didn't mean it. it was window dressing. they weren't sincere about ending secret holds, because we discovered when we started trying to use that language that some of the folks who voted for

Claire McCaskill

4:46:47 to 4:47:08( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: it were doing the old switcheroo. when they were called upon under the law to reveal their hold, they would just hand their hold off to someone else. and that's when i began getting frustrated with the games that were being played. and i want to thank senator wyden and senator grassley and others that have worked on this. but i'll tell you what's the most depressing thing i've heard here today, that this is

Claire McCaskill

4:47:09 to 4:47:29( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: something that's been worked on for 15 years. now, seriously, think about that. we have allowed people to secretly hold nominations and the people's business and there have been members trying to clean it up for 15 years. and we wonder why we're having

Claire McCaskill

4:47:30 to 4:47:51( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: trouble with our approval ratings. nothing is more hypocritical than all the sanctimonious stuff i'm hearing down the hall about the new era, no more business as usual, no more -- we're going to have accountability and transparency. but yet we seem to be embroiled down on this end of the hall

Claire McCaskill

4:47:52 to 4:48:14( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: with not even being able to get beyond a secret hold. this shouldn't be hard. this should be easy. now, some of the other provisions that are being debated today, i understand that there is -- there's concern about the power of the minority in the united states senate. i think those concerns have been addressed in the resolution

Claire McCaskill

4:48:15 to 4:48:36( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: that's been presented by senator merkley and senator udall and senator harkin from iowa. but, really, if we can't get 67 votes to end secret holds and amend the rules, how seriously can we take anybody that claims they want accountability and

Claire McCaskill

4:48:37 to 4:48:58( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: transparency in government? i mean, this is the hall of fame of hypocrisy. this isn't just hypocrisy, it's the hall of fame. so that's why i think we've got to get busy and get the secret hold provision done. i would like to see us get all of these reforms done. and i -- i really want to just

Claire McCaskill

4:48:59 to 4:49:19( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: spend a second on -- on what senator alexander's suggestion was. his suggestion was to use the rules. well, honestly, does he think the way to solve this problem is to force the majority to stay here all night with staff, spending the taxpayers' money to

Claire McCaskill

4:49:20 to 4:49:40( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: force someone over and over again to say "i object"? we can't make the minority talk so that means the majority, whether it's democrats or republicans, have to stay all night and call the question? they don't have to have -- i mean, we could do live quorum

Claire McCaskill

4:49:41 to 4:50:01( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: calls, but, really, that's what we need to do to make this place work? that's his suggestion? to force the people who are objecting and the staff and -- and the people around here to stay here all night every night until someone breaks? that's a good idea? i think that means that somebody's probably been around here too long. it doesn't sound like a good

Claire McCaskill

4:50:02 to 4:50:23( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: idea. that's not a commonsense idea that we'd be promoting in main street in missouri. i think it makes more sense that if you're the minority and you want to block legislation that you own it. just own it. block it. that's what the senate's about. minority can continue to block legislation, whether the democrats or in the minority or the republicans are in the minority, they can block all the

Claire McCaskill

4:50:24 to 4:50:44( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: legislation they want. they just got to own it. they've just got to be willing to say, we are blocking this for the following reasons because we think it's important and let the people decide. same thing with holds. you want to hold something, hold it, but let the people decide whether or not you're being reasonable. or whether you're really -- what i was disgusted to learn is how many people were using secret

Claire McCaskill

4:50:45 to 4:51:06( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: holds, in fact, they brag about it. they were using secret holds to get something else. i'm going to hold this nominee in this department because i want money for a community center in my town. if you don't give me money for a community center in my town, you can't get the deputy secretary of the interior through. i mean, i'm making up this

Claire McCaskill

4:51:07 to 4:51:27( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: example, but that's actually what's going on. it's like you secretly hold and something so you can get them to get something else. that's the essence of the backroom dealing that people are disgusted with. own it, be proud of it, defend it, debate it but don't hide it. and that's what this is all about. i want to thank all my

Claire McCaskill

4:51:28 to 4:51:48( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: colleagues who have worked on this, and i just want to close with this comment. bad habits have consequences. and if we don't take this opportunity to fix what's going on in the senate -- this is not the way the senate has operated for hundreds of years -- if we don't change this path, then

Claire McCaskill

4:51:49 to 4:52:09( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: we're going to be on this path forever. and if the minority now think that when the time comes that they may not be in the minority any more, if they don't think we haven't learned from them, seriously, this place is going to be dysfunctional as far as the eye can see. because they'll fill the tree

Claire McCaskill

4:52:10 to 4:52:30( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: and we'll just block everything and then they'll block everything and we'll fill the tree, and this is going to go on forever, until there are enough people around here that are willing to set aside the political maneuvering and do what's right for the future of deliberations in a body that we all want to be proud of. but right now, we can't be so

Claire McCaskill

4:52:31 to 4:52:45( Edit History Discussion )

Claire McCaskill: proud of the way we operate around here. so i want to thank the senator from oregon and -- and all the senators who have worked on this, and i hope that we can -- we can pull back from the brink, because that's where we are,

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