Claire McCaskill @clairecmc
For those in the back that didn’t hear me last time:
There were 33 hearings on Benghazi.
1:14 PM · May 27, 2021
There’s no such thing as a “moderate republican”.
Claire McCaskill @clairecmc
For those in the back that didn’t hear me last time:
There were 33 hearings on Benghazi.
1:14 PM · May 27, 2021
There’s no such thing as a “moderate republican”.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): even more on secret holds (April 22, 2010)
Round one: McCaskill vs. secret holds (April 20, 2010)
Yesterday, speaking on the floor of the Senate about republican obstructionism via secret holds on nominees with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D):
…Senator Claire McCaskill (D): I came to the floor of the Senate last Tuesday to make seventy-four unanimous consent motions to trigger a law that this body voted for by a vote of ninety-six to two back in January of two thousand seven. And this law says that once a unanimous consent motion is made for a nomination that people who are secretly holding the nomination must come out into the sunlight. The law requires that six days after that motion is made that whoever is holding the nominee must identify themselves, and in fact, that must be published in the Congressional Record…
…Tomorrow would be the day for publication for all of the dozens of different nominees that are being held by who knows who for what, who knows what reason. I wanted to make sure that, uh, the leaders of both parties were aware that this time had run and today, uh, I would ask that by unanimous consent a letter that I have sent to the minority leader and to the majority leader, acknowledging that the rule has been triggered and with the list of the various nominees, asking that they make sure that the members of their party have in fact come forward and identified themselves for the record tomorrow.
As I said last week, it’s your prerogative as a senator to hold a nominee. Work against that nomination. Try to defeat ’em in committee. Keep in mind that all these nominees I’m talkin’ about came out of committee without an objection. No objection in committee. But if you want to object that’s your prerogative as a senator. Come out here on this floor and tell the world why this is the wrong person for the job, but don’t hide, don’t hide.
So, uh, I, I want to make sure, I will be watching with interest tomorrow the Congressional Record. I’m very worried that we’re gonna have what’s called the old switcheroo. Which means that if you withdraw your hold in six days then you, you can just hand it off to somebody else. So you say, well I no longer have a secret hold, and you say, whisper to your buddy, hey, why don’t you do the secret hold now. And then have six, and more six days. And then another six days. And I just want to serve notice that I will be out here making these unanimous consent motions every time there’s a secret hold. So that anybody who does it is only gonna have six days. And really, seriously, if we start this switcheroo and continue to go week after week after week without knowing who’s holding these people or why, that’s when people should really get angry. ‘Cause that means that folks voted for a law that they had every intention of evading.
To be fair, um, it, I know we had eighty-four pending at the first of the week. Uh, I think us raising a ruckus is beginning to have little bit of an impact because the iceberg moved slightly this week, I think we may have confirmed fourteen this week of the, uh, seventy-four, I believe, that I moved by unanimous consent last week. Keep in mind that all seventy-four that I moved last week had been unanimously reported out of committee. No opposition from the Republican Party in committee. None. So.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D): Votes in favor by the Republicans on the committee [crosstalk] in many cases.
Senator McCaskill: Exactly, exactly. And, in fact, many of them voice voted without any, we even checked to make sure no one said nay at the committee level. So, these were unanimously agreed to out of committee and there were seventy-four last week. I made the motions, um, last Tuesday on the seventy-four. You made a few motions on some that were not in that group that had been unanimously agreed to. And, uh, I believe this week some of the group, maybe some of yours, maybe some of the ones that I made unanimous consent motions on, I know that we had fourteen that su, that moved, so I think we’re around seventy total right now. But of those, sixty of them are this unanimous ca, category, and ones that we have no idea who’s holding them.
Senator Whitehouse: And of those, uh, if I could ask another question, of those who, uh, have been cleared, some have been allowed to come forward for votes on the Senate floor. I think the last was Judge
ChenChin who had been held for a considerable period of time and, we actually, if I recall correctly, had to file cloture and take more time. There’s a process built around cloture, so it burns up senate floor time when we’re forced to do that. And when the nomination was finally voted on in the Senate, is my recollection correct, that he cleared the Senate ninety-eight to zero?
Senator McCaskill: He was held for a long time. And yes, you’re correct, we had to go through all the procedural hoops, uh, that take time, and time is money when you’re workin’ for the taxpayers. Every hour that we spend on something that’s an hour we can’t spend on something else. And everyone, all the good people that are here working in this room and in the cloakrooms and in all the offices are paid with taxpayers. We took time to go through cloture and then there wasn’t one no vote. Now if that’s not a great example of obstructionism for the sake of obstructing, I can’t think of a better one. Forcing the United States Senate to take days to confirm unanimously a nominee after they’ve been held for a long period of time.
Senator Whitehouse: And just by a process of elimination, unless one of the two absent senators was the one that had the hold, whoever was holding Judge
ChenChin actually ended up voting for him after months and months of having delayed the nomination.
Senator McCaskill: I don’t know about you, I’d love to know how many people secretly hold a nominee and end up voting yes. Because nine times out of ten, I shouldn’t say that, I don’t know, it’s a secret, I, I, I have to believe that many times people are holding a nominee secretly ’cause they want something else from the agency. You know, in fact I had a member actually acknowledge to me that, well, you know, uh, I don’t care about what happens to that nominee, but I need something from this agency. And so it’s, it’s like a leverage thing. Like I’m gonna hold your nominee hostage until this agency gives me what I want. I think we remember, there was an instance that came out in public that some people were being held for, you know, projects in their state.
Senator Whitehouse: And that is the right of a senator to do, so long as they do it publicly.
Senator McCaskill: Right.
Senator Whitehouse: They can still do that even after the secret holds are [crosstalk][inaudible]
Senator McCaskill: Absolutely. If you were actually trying to leverage, I don’t agree with this, but it’s your right as a senator if you want to leverage a project in your state by saying to the administration, I won’t let you have any nominees to go to work in that agency until that agency gives me what I want, that’s your right. But, people ought to know about it. But see, I don’t think that’d be really popular. I think that
people might have a problem with that. That’s the beauty of the secret hold. You never have to tell that you’re leveraging a nominee to get something you want out of an agency. That’s why we need to end the secret hold. Simple….
“…And I just want to serve notice that I will be out here making these unanimous consent motions every time there’s a secret hold…”
“…We took time to go through cloture and then there wasn’t one no vote. Now if that’s not a great example of obstructionism for the sake of obstructing, I can’t think of a better one…”
Give ’em hell, Claire.
That’s the Claire McCaskill we all worked so hard to elect.
Like Senator McCaskill, we’ll be watching for what transpires in the Congressional Record today.
Senator Claire McCaskill was interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today Show this morning:
Matt Lauer, NBC Today Show: …But basically it’s a temporary deal. You know where this is gonna end up, don’t you?
Senator Claire McCaskill (D): Well, that’s the point. Uh, why? Why do we play these games? This is a serious problem. Let’s get to work. Uh, the, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee said we know what happened, we know what we need to do to fix it, and we’ve worked on this for fifteen or sixteen months. This is just what’s been going on in Washington. The Republicans are banking on something. They’re banking that the American people won’t be paying close attention that they’re on the side of Wall Street and we’re trying to fix the problem.
Matt Lauer: Well, well, but you don’t expect them to stay even if you want to accuse them of being on the side of Wall Street. In an election year they can’t possibly benefit from that.
Senator McCaskill: I, I mean, I, who knows? Uh, this is beyond comprehension that they’re refusing to let us debate. That is nonsense. We just want to debate the bill. They wouldn’t even offer amendments in committee. They clearly are calculating that the public is so sick of all of us that if this thing fails because we’re in charge we’ll get blamed.
Matt Lauer: But.
Senator McCaskill: That’s the calculation…
…Matt Lauer: Let me move on to these hearings with these top Goldman Sachs, uh, executives, past and present. Senator, can, can these guys get a fair shake in front of this committee today? I mean, we know there is public outrage against Wall Street banks and any time you have outrage against individuals or a groups and they come before a Senate hearing it, it, the cold hard truth is lawmakers tend to do some grandstanding. They want to appear on the news looking tough. So will these guys be listened to today or are they just gonna get bashed?
Senator McCaskill: Well, I think they’ll be listened to. And, and I’m gonna go out of my way to make the point that this was lemming like behavior. I had one guy on Wall Street tell me, well, the only thing we were afraid of was whether or not we got a bad article in the Wall Street Journal. We weren’t afraid of regulators. Uh, so this was, you know, industry wide, this, this casino mentality where they were making up stuff to bet on. I mean, literally, that’s [crosstalk] what they were doing.
Matt Lauer: But, but let me ask you this. Have you already decided that Goldman Sachs is guilty of the fraud charges leveled against it by the SEC? Because you came out last night and said the SEC was in a coma before they acted on Goldman. Well, the way they acted on Goldman was to file fraud charges. Have you already been judge and jury here? Don’t they deserve a day in court?
Senator McCaskill: Absolutely. And the question here really, Matt, is not whether or not they have legally or illegally acted. The question is, right and wrong. Good old fashioned right and wrong. Moral or immoral. And I think the entire activities of Wall Street over the last five years as they created these more and more complex made up stuff to bet on, they were like the casino, but they had less regulation than Las Vegas.
Matt Lauer: Well, what it sound like what you’re saying is the question is not, is maybe they didn’t break the rules, maybe there weren’t rules in place to stop them from doing what they did.
Senator McCaskill: Which is exactly the point. That is exactly why today when we get another chance to vote on debating the appropriate amount of regulation on Wall Street I’m hoping the Republicans quit playing games and let us get to work….
Of all the stoopid questions: “…Have you already decided that Goldman Sachs is guilty of the fraud charges leveled against it by the SEC? Because you came out last night and said the SEC was in a coma before they acted on Goldman. Well, the way they acted on Goldman was to file fraud charges. Have you already been judge and jury here? Don’t they deserve a day in court?…”
Uh, the real question should be, when was the SEC asleep at the wheel? Under what administration? And what was that administration’s universal attitude toward regulation?
And Claire McCaskill has the message discipline to point out that the republicans are obstructing any discussion of any financial regulation. That would mean that the republicans are fine with things they way they were and the way they are now, right Matt?
“…we’re going to put in place new rules so that big banks and financial institutions will pay for the bad decisions they make – not taxpayers. Simply put, this means no more taxpayer bailouts….” – President Barack Obama
Senator Kit Bond (r – lame duck) and all of the republicans in the Senate signed on [pdf] to block that financial regulatory reform (you know, the lack thereof which allowed a wealthy few to almost collapse our economy by virtue of their high risk and other behaviors).
Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly:
…Just the other day, in fact, the Leader of the Senate Republicans and the Chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue…
…[republican Senate Leader] McConnell’s Wall Street meeting, in other words, is quickly becoming one of the central aspects of the debate. Perhaps the Minority Leader would be willing to shed some additional light on what transpired? Who, exactly, did he meet with? How much money did he collect? What did the Wall Street elites demand, specifically, and what did he promise?
I wonder what the reaction might be if Senate Dems raised the prospect of some kind of investigation into the meeting, complete with subpoenas for attendees….
President Obama called out the republican obstructionists in today’s address:
“….Now, unsurprisingly, these reforms have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington. This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the Leader of the Senate Republicans and the Chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.
Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we’ve proposed. In doing so, he made the cynical and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bailouts – when he knows that it would do just the opposite. Every day we don’t act, the same system that led to bailouts remains in place – with the exact same loopholes and the exact same liabilities. And if we don’t change what led to the crisis, we’ll doom ourselves to repeat it. That’s the truth. Opposing reform will leave taxpayers on the hook if a crisis like this ever happens again….”
The full transcript of the President’s address:
President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
The White House
April 17, 2010
There were many causes of the turmoil that ripped through our economy over the past two years. But above all, this crisis was caused by failures in the financial industry. What is clear is that this crisis could have been avoided if Wall Street firms were more accountable, if financial dealings were more transparent, and if consumers and shareholders were given more information and authority to make decisions.
But that did not happen. And that’s because special interests have waged a relentless campaign to thwart even basic, common-sense rules – rules to prevent abuse and protect consumers. In fact, the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis.
The consequences of this failure of responsibility – from Wall Street to Washington – are all around us: 8 million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless dreams diminished or denied. I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again. That’s why I’m fighting so hard to pass a set of Wall Street reforms and consumer protections. A plan for reform is currently moving through Congress.
Here’s what this plan would do. First, it would enact the strongest consumer financial protections ever. It would put consumers back in the driver’s seat by forcing big banks and credit card companies to provide clear, understandable information so that Americans can make financial decisions that work best for them.
Next, these reforms would bring new transparency to financial dealings. Part of what led to this crisis was firms like AIG and others making huge and risky bets – using things like derivatives – without accountability. Warren Buffett himself once described derivatives bought and sold with little oversight as “financial weapons of mass destruction.” That’s why through reform we’d help ensure that these kinds of complicated financial transactions take place on an open market. Because, ultimately, it is a marketplace that is open, free, and fair that will allow our economy to flourish.
We would also close loopholes to stop the kind of recklessness and irresponsibility we’ve seen. It’s these loopholes that allowed executives to take risks that not only endangered their companies, but also our entire economy. And we’re going to put in place new rules so that big banks and financial institutions will pay for the bad decisions they make – not taxpayers. Simply put, this means no more taxpayer bailouts. Never again will taxpayers be on the hook because a financial company is deemed “too big to fail.”
Finally, these reforms hold Wall Street accountable by giving shareholders new power in the financial system. They’ll get a say on pay: a vote on the salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives. And the SEC will ensure that shareholders have more power in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger voice in determining what happens with their life savings.
Now, unsurprisingly, these reforms have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington. This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the Leader of the Senate Republicans and the Chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.
Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we’ve proposed. In doing so, he made the cynical and deceptive assertion that reform would somehow enable future bailouts – when he knows that it would do just the opposite. Every day we don’t act, the same system that led to bailouts remains in place – with the exact same loopholes and the exact same liabilities. And if we don’t change what led to the crisis, we’ll doom ourselves to repeat it. That’s the truth. Opposing reform will leave taxpayers on the hook if a crisis like this ever happens again.
So my hope is that we can put this kind of politics aside. My hope is that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and move forward together. But this is certain: one way or another, we will move forward. This issue is too important. The costs of inaction are too great. We will hold Wall Street accountable. We will protect and empower consumers in our financial system. That’s what reform is all about. That’s what we’re fighting for. And that’s exactly what we’re going to achieve.
So, does Kit Bond have a bridge in Kansas City that he’d like to sell us, too?