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SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

McConnell Asks Senate to Consider VP Biden’s Words on Supreme Court Vacancy

‘Will we allow the people to continue deciding who will nominate the next justice, or will we empower a lame-duck president to make that decision on his way out the door instead?’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding “The Biden Rules” for a Supreme Court vacancy:

“The signs of the season are all around us.

“Volunteers are knocking.

“Caucusers are caucusing.

“Voters are voting.

“Countless ballots have been cast already in places as diverse as Council Bluffs, Nashua, and Myrtle Beach. Thousands more Nevadans are making their voices heard today, and Americans in over a dozen more states will have an opportunity to do the same next week.

“It’s campaign season, we’re right in the middle of it, and one of the most important issues now is this: Who will Americans trust to nominate the next Supreme Court justice?

“Presidential candidates are already debating the issue on stage.

“Americans are already discussing the issue amongst themselves.

“And voters are already casting ballots — in the case of the Democratic Leader’s constituents, this very day — with the issue top-of-mind

“One might say this is an almost unprecedented moment in the history of our country.

“It’s been more than 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy arose and was filled in a presidential election year — and that was when the Senate Majority and the President were from the same political party.

“Since we have divided government today, it means we have to look back almost 130 years to the last time a nominee was confirmed in similar circumstances. That’s back when politicians like Mugwumps were debating policies like Free Silver and a guy named Grover ran the country. Think about that.

“As Senators, it leaves us with a choice.

“Will we allow the people to continue deciding who will nominate the next justice, or will we empower a lame-duck president to make that decision on his way out the door instead?

“The question of ‘who decides’ has been contemplated by many, including our friends on the other side of the aisle.

“We already know the incoming Democratic Leaders’ view.

“The Senior Senator from New York didn’t even wait until the final year of President George W. Bush’s term to declare that that the Senate ‘should reverse the presumption of confirmation’ and ‘not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.’

“We also know how the current Democratic Leader feels about judicial nominees from a President of the other party.

“‘The Senate is not a rubber stamp for the executive branch,’ he said. ‘Nowhere in [the Constitution] does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That’s very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.’

“But what about the views of the top officer of this body, the President of the Senate?

“Joe Biden was a Senator for many decades.

“He was a loyal Democrat. He developed enduring friendships in both parties. And before becoming Vice President, he served here as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

“Let’s consider what he said in circumstances similar to where we find ourselves today.

“It was an election year with campaigns already underway, a President and a Senate Majority from different political parties, and here’s what appeared on Page A25 of The Washington Post:

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has urged President Bush not to fill any vacancy that might open up on the Supreme Court until after the November election. Warning that any election-year nominee ‘would become a victim’ of a ‘power struggle’ over control of the Supreme Court, Biden said he would also urge the Senate not to hold hearings on a nomination if Bush decided to name someone.

“The article continued:

If someone steps down, I would highly recommend the president not name someone, not send a name up,’ Biden said. ‘If he [Bush] did send someone up, I would ask the Senate to seriously consider not having a hearing on that nominee.’

“And then, this:

‘Can you imagine dropping a nominee, after the three or four or five decisions that are about to made by the Supreme Court, into that fight, into that cauldron in the middle of a presidential year?’ Biden went on. ‘I believe there would be no bounds of propriety that would be honored by either side…The environment within which such a hearing would be held would be so supercharged and so prone to be able to be distorted.’ ‘Whomever the nominee was, good, bad or indifferent,’ he added, ‘would become a victim.’

“As the current Chairman of the Judiciary Committee pointed out yesterday, Biden went even further here on the Senate floor. He said that ‘[it does not] matter how good a person is nominated by the President’ because it was the principle of the matter — not the person — that truly mattered.

“Biden cautioned that ‘Some of our nation’s most bitter and heated confirmation fights have come in presidential election years’ but also reminded colleagues of several instances when Presidents exercised restraint and withheld from making a nomination until after the election. 

“One of them was Abraham Lincoln. 

“It offers an example others may choose to consider.

“President Obama, like Lincoln, once served in the Illinois Legislature. It’s a place he returned to just the other day to talk about healing the divide in our country. Here’s what he said: 

‘It’s been noted often by pundits that the tone of our politics hasn’t gotten better since I was inaugurated, in fact it’s gotten worse… one of my few regrets is my inability to reduce the polarization and meanness in our politics.’

“This is his moment.

“He has every right to nominate someone.

“Even if doing so will inevitably plunge our nation into another bitter and avoidable struggle, that is his right.

“Even if he never expects that nominee to actually be confirmed but rather to wield as an electoral cudgel, that is his right.

“But he has also has the right to make a different choice.

“He can let the people decide and make this an actual legacy-building moment rather than just another campaign roadshow.

“Whatever he decides, his own Vice President and others remind us of an essential point.

“Presidents have a right to nominate just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent.

“In this case, the Senate will withhold it.

“The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter after the American people finish making in November the decision they’ve already started making today.

“But for now, I ask colleagues to consider once more the words of Vice President Biden.

‘Some will criticize such a decision and say it was nothing more than an attempt to save the seat on the Court in the hopes that a [member of my party] will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention, Mr. President, if that were the course to choose in the Senate to not consider holding hearings until after the election. Instead, it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.’

“Fair to the nominee. Essential to the process. A pragmatic conclusion.

“The words of President Obama’s own number two. What else needs to be said?”


Published on Feb 23, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that there will be no Supreme Court nominee confirmed in President Barack Obama’s final year in office


SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

Grassley, McConnell Bill Would Help Foster Children Affected by Opioids, Methamphetamine, Other Substance Abuse

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky today introduced legislation to re-authorize a program to help children who are in foster care or at risk of such placement because of parental abuse of methamphetamine or another substance.  The new bill ensures that opioid abuse is also a key focus of the grants given to child welfare agencies to promote services to children and families under the measure.

The Grassley-McConnell bill, the Protecting Families Affected by Substance Abuse Act, would reauthorize for five years the Regional Partnership Grants that were created in 2006 under Grassley’s Finance Committee chairmanship and included as part of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families

Senator Mitch McConnel (R-KY) photographed at the Capitol on December 2, 2008.  Photograph by Karen Ballard

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) photographed at the Capitol on December 2, 2008. Photograph by Karen Ballard

Act.  Congress reauthorized the grants in 2011.  While the original intent of the 2006 grants was to address methamphetamine abuse, the scope expanded to other substances as new problems emerged.   Opioid addiction is a key focus of the new bill, as we have seen the havoc prescription painkillers and heroin continue to have on families and communities around the nation. 

The grants support regional partnerships for services including early intervention and preventive services; child and family counseling; mental health services; parenting skills training; and replication of successful models for providing family based, comprehensive long-term substance abuse treatment services. 

“Many of the kids in foster care are there because of substance abuse at home,” Senator Grassley said.  “Families are torn apart because of substance abuse, and parents can benefit from services to get them off of drug abuse and back to caring for their children.  Children benefit from being reunited with their family members and learning how to break the cycle of addiction that can strike multiple generations of the same family.  This program is meant to prevent the substance abuse and dissolution of families that have a very great cost to society and state and federal treasuries over time.”

“I applaud all that Kentucky’s child welfare and substance abuse officials are doing to help the children of families struggling with addiction,” Senator McConnell said. “We must do all we can to ensure children grow up in safe, stable, and loving families, which can often mean helping parents break the cycle of addiction that allows for the safe reunification of families, rather than forcing children into a costly foster care system.  That is just what this grant program aims to achieve. Kentucky has made use of these grants in a number of ways, and it is important this progress continues as we work together to address the ramifications of addiction, largely stemming from abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin, on families in the Commonwealth.  I look forward to working with Senator Grassley to advance this critical legislation.”

In 2015, close to 8,000 children were living in Kentucky’s foster care system, and nearly 90 percent of children who enter its system do so as a result of parental neglect, which often stems from substance abuse issues.

Eligible grantees under the senators’ bill include nonprofit and for-profit child welfare service providers, community health service and community mental health providers, local law enforcement agencies, judges and court personnel, juvenile justice officials, school officials, state child welfare or substance abuse agencies, and tribal welfare agencies.  Information on current grantees can be found here.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, in a national study, caseworkers investigating allegations of abuse or neglect noted that of primary caregivers from whom children were removed, 37 percent were actively abusing drugs and 29 percent were actively abusing alcohol. The percentage of children who remain in care due to issues related to substance abuse is believed to be even larger because, among other reasons, accessing and successfully completing treatment services is often time-consuming, and children may not be able to safely return to their homes until treatment is successfully completed.

Grassley is founder and co-chair of the Caucus on Foster Youth, chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.


Amicus Brief Asks the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to Vacate EPA’s So-Called “Clean Power Plan”

WASHINGTON – Led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), 34 Senators and 171 House Members filed an amicus brief today in the case of State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.

The amicus brief is in support of petitions filed by 27 states seeking to overturn the EPA final rule identified as the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (Oct. 23, 2015), also known as the “Clean Power Plan.”  A copy of the brief can be found here.

As Senators and Representatives duly elected to serve in the Congress of the United States in which “all legislative Powers” granted by the Constitution are vested, the members state that:

The Final Rule goes well beyond the clear statutory directive by, among other things, requiring States to submit, for approval, state or regional energy plans to meet EPA’s predetermined CO2 mandates for their electricity sector. In reality, if Congress desired to give EPA sweeping authority to transform the nation’s electricity sector, Congress would have provided for that unprecedented power in detailed legislation. Indeed, when an agency seeks to make “decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance’” under a “long-extant statute,” it must point to a “clear” statement from Congress. Util. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, 134 S.  Ct. 2427, 2444 (2014) (quoting FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 160, 529 U. S. Ct. 1291, 1315 (2000)). EPA can point to no statement of congressional authorization for the Final Rule’s central features, precisely because there is none.

Nor has Congress authorized EPA to make the policy choices that are reflected in the Final Rule—a rule that imposes enormous costs on States and the public without achieving meaningful climate benefits. Because of the Final Rule, States will face unprecedented new regulatory burdens, electricity ratepayers will be subject to billions of dollars in compliance costs, and American workers and their families will experience the hardship of job losses due to power plant shutdowns, higher electricity prices, and overall diminishment of the nation’s global economic competitiveness. Choices of this nature are inherently Congressional decisions. See W. Minn. Mun. Power Agency v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm’n, 806 F.3d 588, 593 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (“Agencies are empowered to make policy only insofar as Congress expressly or impliedly delegates that power.”) (citing Util. Air Regulatory Grp., 134 S. Ct. at 2445 (2014)). Congress has not authorized EPA to make the central policy choices in the Final Rule and, in many respects, has affirmatively rejected those policies, as it certainly did with respect to cap-and-trade programs for CO2 emissions from power plants. 

Accordingly, the Final Rule that has been properly stayed by the Supreme Court should now be vacated by this Court.

Additional Information:  Thirty-nine lawsuits seeking review of the Final Rule have been consolidated in the D.C. Circuit.  The Final Rule was stayed by the Supreme Court on Feb. 9.  The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the consolidated cases on June 2. An amicus brief, or “friend of the court” brief, can be filed in order to address concerns and advise the Court on a matter of law that directly affects the case at hand.  

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