Senate Focused on Wrapping Up This Year’s Priorities
‘There is still more work to do. That has been our message returning from the Thanksgiving holiday. The Senate is staying focused on wrapping up this year’s remaining priorities. Getting more of the president’s team in place, confirming well-qualified nominees to our federal courts, and attending to the pressing legislative business the American people need and expect us to handle.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding remaining business to be completed before the end of the year:
“First, for the information of all Senators, key members of the administration will be coming to the Senate at 11:00am this morning for an all-members briefing with respect to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Senators on both sides of the aisle have legitimate concerns about the war in Yemen, the terrible humanitarian plight of Yemeni citizens caught in the cross-fire, and the multiple U.S. interests wrapped up in this conflict. The U.S.-Saudi relationship is a long-standing and critical one. But Senators on both sides of the aisle also have legitimate concerns about the recent conduct of the Saudi government.
“All of us want to see our critical foreign partners behave responsibly. I’ve been encouraged to hear both Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo call for an end to the war in Yemen and for accountability following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. So I look forward to hearing from both Secretaries today and learning more about the administration’s strategy to achieve these and other important objectives.
“There is still more work to do. That has been our message returning from the Thanksgiving holiday. The Senate is staying focused on wrapping up this year’s remaining priorities. Getting more of the president’s team in place, confirming well-qualified nominees to our federal courts, and attending to the pressing legislative business the American people need and expect us to handle.
“Yesterday, the nomination of Stephen Vaden to serve as General Counsel at the Department of Agriculture was confirmed with bipartisan support. And the motion to advance the nomination of Karen Kelley for Deputy Secretary of Commerce cleared by an even wider margin. But these important steps haven’t always come easily. Like I mentioned yesterday, between the day the Vaden nomination was favorably reported by our colleagues on the Agriculture Committee and yesterday’s confirmation vote, 351 days elapsed. 351 days on the executive calendar.
“The stories are similar for so many of the president’s well-qualified nominees. Needless delays. A record-breaking number of cloture votes. And then many go on to clear this chamber with bipartisan support. In some cases, that support is nearly unanimous. But my Democratic colleagues made this body drag its feet, regardless. So we’ll press on, and continue this week to make progress and put to rest the various outstanding items that must be completed before the close of the 115th Congress.
“Today, the Senate will vote to confirm Karen Kelley to serve as Deputy Secretary of Commerce. By any metric, Ms. Kelley has the experience and economic acumen to continue a record of outstanding service in the role -- a record she’s already begun by serving capably in an acting capacity since last year. I hope each of my colleagues will join me in voting to confirm her.
"Then, the Senate will turn to consideration of a judicial nominee: Thomas Farr, to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Mr. Farr is a graduate of Hillsdale College, Emory Law School, and Georgetown University. Over a nearly 40-year career in law, he’s developed expertise in labor relations and constitutional law. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary -- a body that's frequently been held up by my Democratic colleagues as the ‘gold standard’ -- has awarded Mr. Farr its highest possible rating: unanimously well qualified.
“My friend, Senator Burr, has testified that his fellow North Carolinian has, quote, ‘the requisite expertise, character, and judgment required for the federal bench,’ and that ‘he will serve in this role honorably.’ So I urge every one of my colleagues to join me in voting to advance his nomination later today.”
Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, Nominations, National Security