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Senate Proceeding on Mar 30th, 2011 :: 3:16:15 to 3:25:15
Total video length: 7 hours 26 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

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Lamar Alexander

3:16:14 to 3:16:34( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: quorum call: mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask consent to vitiate the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: and i ask consent to divide equally the remaining amount of morning business time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: the

Lamar Alexander

3:16:15 to 3:25:15( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

3:16:35 to 3:16:55( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: new york and i are on the floor to introduce legislation, which he will do in just a moment that will help to make the senate a more effective place to deal with the big issues facing our country, such as the debt, and our national defense and other issues. this is the result of discussions that we have had

Lamar Alexander

3:16:56 to 3:17:17( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: over the last several months with many members of the senate on both sides of the it began with some reforms in the senate rules, which included eliminating the secret hold, so-called, and -- and doing other steps. and it's the culmination of work by a number of senators on both sides of the aisle including

Lamar Alexander

3:17:18 to 3:17:40( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: senator lieberman, senator collins, the leader, senator reid, and senator mcconnell, when they were whips, senator schumer and i and others. a bipartisan breakfast, which we had a couple of years ago and it came down to the question, how many confirmations should the senate have? how many confirmations are enough confirmations?

Lamar Alexander

3:17:41 to 3:18:01( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: is it in the public interest to staff -- to allow a new president, whether democratic or republican, to staff the government promptly. and is it in the public interest to -- to get rid of this syndrome, which is established in washington, which i call innocent until nominated, where we invite a distinguished person

Lamar Alexander

3:18:02 to 3:18:22( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: to come in and run through a gauntlet that makes him or her out to be a criminal for make some mistake in the process of being confirmed. so we've worked together on that and we've come up with legislation that senator schumer will introduce on behalf of both of us, on behalf of the leader, senator reid and senator mcconnell, and on behalf of

Lamar Alexander

3:18:23 to 3:18:44( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: senator lieberman and senator collins. this legislation would answer the question, how many confirmations are enough confirmations by reducing the number -- by dealing with about -- from 31,400 -- from about 1,400 to 1,000. that is still more confirmations

Lamar Alexander

3:18:45 to 3:19:06( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: than existed when president clinton was president of the united states. it's four times as many confirmations as existed when president kennedy was president of the united states. in other words, like many things in government, the number of confirmations has grown over time. we've ended up confirming people we have no business confirming. people who p.r. officers, people

Lamar Alexander

3:19:07 to 3:19:27( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: who are financial information people and we've made it difficult for the government to be staffed. is it in our interest, the citizens to staff the government to -- to staff the government promptly yes, i think it is. we created this phenomenon where -- for example, when president obama came in, secretary geithner, the treasury

Lamar Alexander

3:19:28 to 3:19:49( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: secretary was sitting over there almost home alone during the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. according to news accounts, he didn't have much help. the key vacant positions with assistant secretary for tax policy, the duty assistant for tax policy, the deputy assistant

Lamar Alexander

3:19:50 to 3:20:11( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: secretary for tax analysis, deputy assistant secretary for tax tariff and trade policy and a variety of others. that wasn't helping any of us whether or not we agreed with secretary night ner. a president should be able to promptly staff the government and we in the senate should have procedures that give us a chance to review those nominees and

Lamar Alexander

3:20:12 to 3:20:32( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: offer our advice and consent and confirm or reject those nominees in a reasonable period of time. if we're spending our time dealing with junior officials or p.r. officers, we spending less time with the assistant secretary of tax policy on whom we should be focusing a lot of time and to whom we should be asking a lot of questions. and then this business of what i

Lamar Alexander

3:20:33 to 3:20:54( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: call innocent until nominated. all of us know that this exists. and it -- and it really exists sloppiness on our part. both in the legislative branch and the executive branch. if you're asked to serve in the federal government, and i know this because i was asked by the first president bush, you fill out forms. well, there are many forms. there are many forms in the executive branch.

Lamar Alexander

3:20:55 to 3:21:15( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: they have different definitions. for example, income. so if you were to carelessly fill out the same definition of income in this form as another form, you might have been incorrect on one of the forms and then someone might say you were telling a lie and weren't fit to -- to -- to serve.

Lamar Alexander

3:21:16 to 3:21:36( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: that's been caused by others, including me, being innocent until nominated. i rember when ron kirk was nominated by president obama, the former mayor of dallas, to be the trade representative. there was some issue about whether he had properly reported a charitable contribution -- a speech fee that he gave to charity. well, what difference did it

Lamar Alexander

3:21:37 to 3:21:57( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: make in terms of his overall fitness to serve? it held him up. it embarrassed him. it was -- it was not a -- relevant to -- to the inquiry. so the legislation that we have will do the following: it will take 400 positions. half of them will be eliminated as senate confirmations. these are the ones that we don't

Lamar Alexander

3:21:58 to 3:22:19( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: need to spend time on. the other half will come directly to the desk and -- and unless an individual senator says, send it on to committee, it will be expedited. that still leaves us with 1,000 senate confirmations that we can have. 1,000 hostage that's we can take.

Lamar Alexander

3:22:20 to 3:22:40( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: -- hostages that we can take. that's more hostages, four times as many under president kennedy. plenty of hostages for any senator to make hisser her point if that's -- his or her point if that's what we seek to do. and the second thing it would do is setup a process where by an executive branch commission would review the various forms

Lamar Alexander

3:22:41 to 3:23:01( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: that nominees are expected to fill out, try to have a single smart form in the executive branch, consult with the committees of congress to see if we can do the same thing with our forms, and make it possible that we can get all the information we want without unnecessarily subjecting nominees to harassment or trickery just because they're

Lamar Alexander

3:23:02 to 3:23:23( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: not wise enough to fill out different forms with different definitions. i think it is a substantial step forward. it may not sound like much to those watching the united states senate, but let me just say, that both of our leaders, reid and mcconnell, have said they tried and couldn't get it done. senator mcconnell -- senator

Lamar Alexander

3:23:24 to 3:23:45( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: lieber mand senator collins -- lieberman and senator collins have tried and they couldn't get it done. i worked with senator lieberman two years ago, we couldn't get it done. what has happened this time is as a result of the discussion that we had earlier in the year about making the senate a more effective place to work, with the full support of the leaders, reid and mcconnell, with the full support of senator -- of

Lamar Alexander

3:23:46 to 3:24:07( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: senator lieberman and senator collins and with the good work of senator schumer, we've come up with a consensus piece of legislation which has broad bipartisan support, both sides of the aisle, including many chairman and ranking members of the committee who -- who you'd think might be the first one to object still leaves the senate with the prerogatives it ought to have in terms of reviewing

Lamar Alexander

3:24:08 to 3:24:28( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: presidential nominees and separates out those who take our time away from the more important things that we ought to be doing. i want to thank the senator from new york for the way he's worked on this. he's been constructive and direct and helpful. i thank the leaders for their support. i hope that the committees will rapidly consider the legislation

Lamar Alexander

3:24:29 to 3:24:49( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: that senator schumer will offer on our behalf. and i hope that it will show that we can take a -- another small step in making the senate a more effective place to work. i ask consent to include the following -- following my remarks remarks that i made earlier on this subject and

Lamar Alexander

3:24:50 to 3:25:10( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: prior to that, i'd like to list the presidential appointments no longer requiring senate confirmation. there are about 200 of those and privileged nominations, those are the ones that will be expedited unless a single senator decides that he or she wants to have this nominee sent

Lamar Alexander

3:25:11 to 3:25:15( Edit History Discussion )

Lamar Alexander: to the committee, and that's about another 200.

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