In June, ‘The Action Is In The Senate’

While House Democrats Remained Out Of Town, Senate Republicans Introduced Significant Police Reforms, Passed ‘The Most Significant Conservation Legislation Enacted In Nearly Half A Century,’ Held Multiple Hearings On The Coronavirus Pandemic, And Confirmed Several Key Nominations


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “The Democrat-led House of Representatives is out of town. They have had time to issue partisan attacks from long distance, but have yet to take up any police reform legislation … The action is in the Senate. The leadership is in the Senate.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/17/2020)


Led By Sen. Tim Scott Of South Carolina, Senate Republicans Introduced The JUSTICE Act To Reform Law Enforcement

“Senate Republicans unveiled legislation responding to nationwide protests calling for police reform and an end to racial violence, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying the upper chamber plans to vote on the bill as early as next week.” (“Senate Republicans Unveil Police Reform Bill, Setting Up Vote For Next Week,” CBS News, 6/17/2020)

  • Sen. Tim Scott, the chamber's lone black GOP member, has led the charge for the 106-page legislation to install nearly a dozen, major new provisions to address policing concerns highlighted since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate will take up the measure next week. ‘We are serious about making a law here,’ he told reporters.” (“Republicans' Police Reform Bill Focuses On Transparency And Training,” NPR, 6/17/2020)
  • “‘We hear you. We’re listening to your concerns,’ said Scott, who recalled his own ‘driving while black’ experiences of being stopped seven times in one year. ‘The George Floyd incident certainly accelerated this conversation.’ Scott was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., James Lankford, R-Okla. and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. to unveil the 106-page legislation. The package of reforms is called the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act.” (“Senate Republicans Unveil Police Reform Legislation: ‘We Hear You,’” Fox News, 6/17/2020)

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), JUSTICE Act Sponsor: “Now is the time for reform… The murder of George Floyd and its aftermath made clear from sea to shining sea that action must be taken to rebuild lost trust between communities of color and law enforcement. The JUSTICE Act takes smart, commonsense steps to address these issues, from ending the use of chokeholds and increasing the use of body worn cameras, to providing more resources for police departments to better train officers and make stronger hiring decisions. I want to thank Leader McConnell and the entire task force not just for their hard work on putting this bill together, but for their commitment to finding real solutions.” (Sen. Scott, Press Release, 6/17/2020)


Led By Sen. Cory Gardner Of Colorado And Sen. Steve Daines Of Montana, The Senate Passed The Bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, ‘The Most Significant Conservation Legislation Enacted In Nearly Half A Century’

“The Senate has approved a bipartisan bill that would double spending on a popular conservation program and devote nearly $2 billion a year to improve and maintain national parks. The 73-25 vote on Wednesday sends Great American Outdoors Act to the House, where approval is expected. It would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century. The bill would spend about $2.8 billion per year on conservation, outdoor recreation and park maintenance.” (“Senate Approves $2.8B Plan To Boost Conservation, Parks,” The Associated Press, 6/17/2020)

“The Great American Outdoors Act would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund each year at its congressionally authorized $900 million amount, making more money available for public lands acquisition and for parks and other amenities at state and local levels. The measure also provides $1.9 billion a year over five years primarily to address deferred maintenance at National Park Service sites. Some of the money would fund maintenance projects for other agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service.” (“Gardner Lands Bill Clears Senate,” The [Grand Junction, CO] Daily Sentinel, 6/17/2020)

“A major public lands bill spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., cleared the Senate this morning … Gardner helped broker the public-lands-bill deal earlier this year when he and Steve Daines, R-Mont., met with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the LWCF and maintenance-funding measures. Trump then promised to sign a combined bill and urged its congressional approval.” (“Gardner Lands Bill Clears Senate,” The [Grand Junction, CO] Daily Sentinel, 6/17/2020)

  • “For many conservationists, the Great American Outdoors Act has been a lightning bolt out of the blue, sparked by a tweet from President Trump. ‘I’m calling on Congress to send me a Bill that fully and permanently funds the LWCF and restores our National Parks,’ he tweeted on March 3. He went on to give credit to two Republican senators, Colorado’s Gardner and Montana’s Steve Daines, both of whom had visited the president in the Oval Office on February 27 to urge support for the bill.” (“Outdoor Rec Just Got Its Own Stimulus Bill,” Outside, 6/17/2020)

SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO), Great American Outdoors Act Sponsor: “Years of bipartisan work have led to this moment and this historic opportunity for conservation. Today the Senate passed not only the single greatest conservation achievement in generations, but also a lifeline to mountain towns and recreation communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. I call on the House of Representatives to pass this bill without delay in order to provide jobs to the American people, economic stimulus to communities in need, and protections for the great American outdoors for future generations of Americans to cherish.” (Sen. Gardner, Press Release, 6/17/2020)

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT), Great American Outdoors Act Sponsor: “Today, we passed the most important conservation bill for Montana and the nation in decades - one that will increase public access to our public lands, support our national parks and importantly, protect our Montana outdoor way of life. I look forward to seeing it pass the House and getting it onto President Trump’s desk for his signature.” (Sen. Daines, Press Release, 6/17/2020)


The Senate Confirmed Judge Justin Walker To The D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals, The 52nd Circuit Judge Confirmed Since 2017

“The Senate on Thursday voted … to confirm Trump nominee Judge Justin Walker to the second-highest court in the country, marking the 199th Article III judge confirmed to this point in the president's term…. Walker will join the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he previously worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.” (Fox News, 6/18/2020)

SEN. McCONNELL: “[W]hen the Senate confirms Judge Walker to this vacancy, we will not just be promoting a widely-admired legal expert and proven judge to a role for which he is obviously qualified. We’ll also be adding to a time-honored tradition of finding men and women from all across the country to help ensure that this enormously consequential bench here in our nation’s capital is refreshed with talent from all parts of America. My fellow Kentuckians and I are sorry to part with this son of the Bluegrass. But mostly, we are proud, because Judge Walker will be putting his legal brilliance and his exceptional judicial temperament to work not just for his home state, but for our entire nation, and in even more consequential ways.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/18/2020)

“Mitch McConnell is following his one true credo: Leave no judicial vacancy behind. On Thursday, the Senate confirmed the 52nd federal appeals court judge of the Trump era to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — commonly known as the second most important court in the land …” (“McConnell Nears His Benchmark,” The New York Times, 6/18/2020)

  • “Next up is Cory Wilson of Mississippi … If confirmed next week to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, he would be the 53rd circuit court judge nominated by Mr. Trump and placed on the bench under the stewardship of Mr. McConnell. Upon Judge Wilson’s confirmation, no vacancies would exist on the nation’s appeals courts, the judicial level where most of the major rulings are handed down. No vacancy would be left behind.” (“McConnell Nears His Benchmark,” The New York Times, 6/18/2020)

“President Barack Obama had 55 circuit court judges confirmed over eight years, underscoring the breakneck pace of the Republican effort over four. Mr. Trump has now selected more than a quarter of the nation’s federal appeals court judges.” (“McConnell Nears His Benchmark,” The New York Times, 6/18/2020)


The Senate Also Continued Its Unique And Important Work Of Confirming Nominations Throughout The Government

“The Senate confirmed Gen. Charles ‘CQ’ Brown Jr. as the next chief of staff of the Air Force on [June 9th], setting the stage for the veteran fighter pilot to become the first black service chief in U.S. military history.” (“Senate Confirms General To Lead Air Force, Clearing Way For First Black Service Chief In U.S. History,” The Washington Post, 6/09/2020)

The Senate confirmed the Director of the National Science Foundation. (PN1343, 116th Congress)

The Senate also confirmed a U.S. Attorney for South Carolina and a U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of New York. (PN1616, 116th Congress; PN1434, 116th Congress)

And the Senate confirmed two Governors of the U.S. Postal Service. (PN1344, 116th Congress; PN1614, 116th Congress)

In The Last Two Weeks, The Senate Held 11 Hearings On The COVID-19 Pandemic And Response


Tuesday, June 9: Hearing: Wildfire Management in the Midst of COVID-19

Tuesday, June 16: Hearing: Impacts of COVID-19 on the Energy Industry


Tuesday, June 9: Hearing: Unemployment Insurance During COVID-19: The CARES Act and the Role of Unemployment Insurance During the Pandemic

Thursday, June 18: Roundtable: Paid Leave Proposals in the COVID Era


Thursday, June 18: Hearing: COVID-19 and U.S. International Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention, and Response


Wednesday, June 10: Hearing: COVID-19: Going Back to School Safely

Wednesday, June 17: Hearing: Telehealth: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic 


Tuesday, June 9: Hearing: Evaluating the Federal Government’s Procurement and Distribution Strategies in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic


Wednesday, June 10: Hearing: Implementation of Title I of the CARES Act


Tuesday, June 9: Hearing: COVID-19 Fraud: Law Enforcement’s Response to Those Exploiting the Pandemic


Thursday, June 11: Hearing: Combating Social Isolation and Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Senate Judiciary Committee Held An Important Hearing On Police Use Of Force

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Tuesday, June 16: Hearing: Police Use of Force and Community Relations

  • “The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held its first hearing on policing since the May 25 death of George Floyd — a black man who was killed in custody by Minneapolis police — triggered a wave of protests and international outcry for reform of the U.S. police system. … The afternoon hearing looked to cover police use of force and community relations, with nearly a dozen witnesses from civil rights and law enforcement backgrounds.” (“Senate Judiciary Holds Hearing On Police Use Of Force,” NPR, 6/16/2020)


The Senate Armed Services Committee Began Marking Up This Year’s Defense Authorization Bill

“The Senate Armed Services panel is expected to begin considering the fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill with subcommittee markups that started Monday and a full committee markup concluding later this week. This year’s markup discussions will have a little help when it comes to reaching agreement because of a budget agreement that sets spending on defense at $740 billion.” (“Senate Considers Wildlife Bill, NDAA Gets Markup, And Police Overhaul Unveiled: Road Ahead,” Roll Call, 6/8/2020)


Monday, June 8: 2 Subcommittee Markups of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.

Tuesday, June 9: 5 Subcommittee Markups of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.

Wednesday, June 10: Closed Markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.


Senate Committees Held Hearings And Votes On Nominees To Important Positions In The Executive Branch And The Judiciary


Tuesday, June 9: Business Meeting to consider the nomination of Mark Menezes to be the Deputy Secretary of Energy.


Wednesday, June 10: Business Meeting on nominations to Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Postal Service, Office of Personnel Management, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Federal Communications Commission.


Thursday, June 11: Business Meeting to consider Russell Vought to be Director of OMB.


Tuesday, June 16: Hearing on nominees to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation, Member of the Federal Communications Commission, Commissioner and Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce.


Thursday, June 11: Executive Business Meeting to authorize subpoenas relating to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation and consider the nomination of Cory T. Wilson to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit

Wednesday, June 17: Hearing on nominees to be district judges for the Central District of California, Eastern District of Wisconsin, Southern District of California, and Western District of Pennsylvania.


Thursday, June 18: Hearing on the nominations of Lieutenant General Daniel R. Hokanson to be General and Chief of the National Guard Bureau and Gustave F. Perna for reappointment to the grade of General and to be Chief Operating Officer, Project Warp Speed.


And Committees Held Hearings On Other Important Subjects Ranging From Monetary Policy To Arms Control And Trade Policy To Oversight Of The FAA, The FCC, And Housing Regulation


Tuesday, June 16: Hearing: Oversight of FCC Spectrum Auctions Program


Tuesday, June 9: Hearing: Oversight of Housing Regulators

Tuesday, June 16: Hearing: The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress


Wednesday, June 17: Hearing: Examining the Federal Aviation Administration’s Oversight of Aircraft Certification


Wednesday, June 17: Hearing: Responding to the Challenges Facing Recycling in the United States


Wednesday, June 17: Hearing: The President’s 2020 Trade Policy Agenda


Wednesday, June 17: Closed Briefing: Assessing Arms Control: New START and Beyond


Tuesday, June 9: Hearing: Building a More Resilient VA Supply Chain


Wednesday, June 17: Closed Briefing: Intelligence Matters



Related Issues: Law Enforcement, America's Military, Nominations, FCC, NDAA, Judicial Nominations, Back to Work, Infrastructure, COVID-19, FAA