Oct 12 2018
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, spoke on the Senate floor to highlight customer service and passenger safety and comfort provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, which was signed into law last week. Blunt noted that the bill directs the FAA to set minimum seat size standards, bans in-flight cell phone calls, and addresses issues for passengers traveling with a disability. The bill also has several provisions to improve safety at airports, including increasing canine teams.
Following are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:
“[I] want to talk a little bit today about the Federal Aviation Administration extension, that just last week, the Senate passed, and the President signed. It's, I believe, the longest reauthorization, the five-year reauthorization is the longest reauthorization since the 1980's. So the traveling public, the FAA itself, the Department of Transportation and the airlines, of carriers of both people and freight have an understanding of what the next five years should look like. Now, one of the things that will happen during the time that begins right now is that the Senate and the House listened, the President listened to the traveling public about their concerns about what happens on airplanes and in airports. …
“In the wake of consumer complaints about shrinking seat size on airplanes, the law directs the FAA to set minimum leg room standards and width and length requirements for airline seat size to ensure passenger comfort and safety. I think all of us had some experience with seeing those seats get smaller all the time, like every other member of the Senate, when I'm flying back and forth every week… but you can sense those seats getting a little smaller and the leg room getting a little tighter, and we've given new responsibility for the FAA to set those standards so the traveling public knows somebody is paying attention to them and how long they’re going to be in that seat and what it’s going to be like when they are there.
“We also have a provision that you can't take somebody off an airplane once they've been allowed to board because you somehow oversold. If somebody is on that plane, they can't be taken off that plane unless they agree to be taken off that plane, or the passenger acts in a way that safety and security and the health of other passengers could be a problem. So there's no more involuntarily bumping of passengers who are on a plane.
“The law prohibits placing live animals in overhead compartments. More and more people seem to travel with pets and we had some bad experiences, people had bad experiences, with that in the last few years so that overhead storage, not an appropriate storage any longer for your pet if you're traveling with a pet, and also sets a minimum standards for service animals that are allowed on flights. We all see that more all the time too, a pet not in a cage but important to the individual that has it as a service animal. Many veterans now have a service animal, but some standards on what that animal can be and how they have to be behaved on a plane.
“We’re going to ban in-flight cell calls. Now, if you’ve ever sat by somebody before the plane takes off and learn way more about them than you want to know, you can imagine what it would be like if you had to learn way more about them based on every call they could make all the time you were flying. So that's not going to happen.”
Oct 07 2018
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) joined Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures to discuss Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Interview:
On Senate Democrats’ Politically-Motivated Conduct Throughout Justice Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Process:
“Senator Schumer said he would do anything possible to keep Brett Kavanaugh from going on the Court. Frankly, I think they’re making a big mistake here. Holding this information, rolling it out in the most unfair way to everybody involved after they have had it for months. Now talking about if we get in charge, we’re going to look at this in some other way. Frankly, what they've managed to do is energize the Republican base in a way that usually the party that just won a presidential election, isn’t energized in the next election cycle. But what they really continue to do is this unfair, really totally unrealistic behavior of guilty until proven innocent, of whatever we can do to stop our political opponents from being able to do what voters put them in place to do. I just don't think it works. It doesn't work for them. Frankly, I think the more they talk about the kinds of things that Congressman Nadler apparently has said, the worst it will be for them. But can’t stop them, and they obviously, think this is a political tactic that works for them. I don't think it works at all.”
On the Republican-Led Congress Getting Things Done Despite Democrat Obstruction:
“We actually, oddly, have gotten a lot done in this Congress. The appropriations bills at the right time, the FAA extension we just did, the opioid bill, the increase in healthcare funding. We are getting a lot done but nobody is able to see that because of so much noise and so much coverage of that noise. Clearly, you know, I chaired the inauguration, I was there and in charge that day, and I said, what we are really good at in this country, where we set a standard for everybody else, is the transfer of power. But this is an election where the side that lost has not been willing to accept the transfer of power, to be the reliable questioner of what’s going on, but not to challenge the constitutional opportunities that are there. You know, just trying to get under secretaries of this and that and the other confirmed in today’s Senate has been almost impossible and the Supreme Court fight we just went through shows how far, I think, the other side is prepared to take this.”
Oct 05 2018
WASHINGTON – During a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) urged the Senate to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and slammed Senate Democrats’ handling of the nomination process.
Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:
“I’ve read several times in the last 30 days particularly that Democrats feel they can do anything because of the way Merrick Garland was treated. I don't think there's any comparison between the way Merrick Garland was treated and the way Judge Kavanaugh has been treated. The only comparison I can think of is they are both on the DC Court of Appeals and they both said very kind things about each other, but there's no comparison.
“Merrick Garland was nominated in the last year of a presidency. The last time someone was put on the Supreme Court that was nominated in the last year of a presidency was 1932. 1932 was the last time that happened. The last time someone went on the Supreme Court where the president was of one party and the Senate was of the other and it was a presidential election year was 1888. There is no comparison.
“In fact, Joe Biden, Vice President Biden, then-Senator Biden said on June 25, 1992, in what turned out to be the last year of the Bush presidency, Senator Biden said if there is a vacancy, there will be no hearing until after the election. … Senator Schumer said in July of 2007, not wanting to wait until election year, just wanting to put his position on the table even earlier, Senator Schumer said in July of 2007, the last year of another Bush presidency, he said we should not confirm any Bush nominee -- I think he meant from that moment on -- as a matter of fact he said from that moment on -- we shouldn't confirm any Bush nominee from that moment on except in extraordinary circumstances.
“I'm sure he didn't mean one vacancy on the Supreme Court would be an extraordinary circumstance, but a circumstance that would be dealt with just like Judge Garland’s was dealt with, and people were heard. That’s not what this is about. And that sets no precedent any more than Senator Biden or Senator Schumer set a precedent that should have been a surprise for anybody. So what do we have with Judge Kavanaugh as we decide in the next few hours, the next day or so, whether he becomes Justice Kavanaugh. This is the seventh background check of this judge by the FBI. There has never been a more extensive review of a Supreme Court nominee.
“Seven times in slightly more than a dozen years going through this background check. More than 150 people have been interviewed. He had 36 hours of testimony before the Senate where you and others on the Judiciary Committee could ask him anything you wanted to ask. He had 65 private meetings with senators where they could ask him, including, by the way, the Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee who had this information available to talk about, could ask him anything you wanted to ask. More than 500,000 pages of Executive Branch documents have been provided. More than the last four nominees. All of his opinions as a judge, all the cases he was part of, there were about 300 of those, and by the way, that's the best way to look at what kind of judge he’d be. Asked over 1,200 questions for the record. … [T]hree confidential calls with the committee, and then last Friday our colleagues decided, and I think as it turned out maybe wisely so, to do one more final FBI review of whatever they might not have asked about in the other seven FBI interviews that have occurred over the years, and the outside number was one week.
“A week ago, one week was what was apparently going to be plenty of time. I think some members in the minority at that time said, well maybe even three or four days, that's what it took for the Clarence Thomas hearing, and by the way that was before these issues became public because it was turned over to the FBI like it should have been and in three or four days they talked to everybody you could talk to. But last week, three or four days might have been enough, but certainly a week would have been enough according to the other side. Of course that was never going to be the case. A week was never going to be enough.
“And by the way, Mr. President, in background checks when you're asked to be part of that, one, if it’s your background check, one of the questions you're asked, any drinking problems, any drug problems? And he’d been asked that over and over and over and over again, and anybody that’s interviewed, I think, is always asked, do you know of any problems like that.
“Usually a question is, have you ever heard of anything that we would be interested in if we had heard about it? Another question often is, would you tell us three people that we might not talk to that might know something about Judge Kavanaugh that we should know. A decade and a half, seven FBI interviews, 150 people interviewed, the behavioral question, the drinking question, the drug question, which hasn't come up as far as I know, but it's always asked, has been asked over and over again. …
“And then I heard that afternoon Senator Schumer said -- this is full of hints of misconduct. So I went back this morning and looked through the six prior background checks, looked through this background check, and as it turned out, I agree with Senator Grassley who said there was no hint of misconduct. If there had been a hint of misconduct in the previous five, he would have never been nominated. If there’d have been a hint of misconduct in the sixth one, he wouldn't have been nominated.
“That wouldn't have sustained itself. And if you look at the pages that are new, that's not there now. So you can say anything you want to say. You could say it's not time enough. You could say that even though no witness ever saw any of these events, you just haven't talked to enough people yet even though you’ve talked to everybody mentioned as far as I know of any credible charges and so here we are.
“So now it's temperament. Now it's temperament. I don't think there are many senators who would not have had his same indignation at being accused of something that he, without equivocation, swore did not happen, not only in those instances, but any other instance.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when it took 43 days for her to be confirmed, we're about 83 days or something like that now. When I looked up a couple of articles, just to refresh my memory, when she shows some fire, and she had plenty of it, and I admire that, the description of her is her well-known candor. That’s how you describe it when Justice Ginsburg has her own opinion. Like when she said about the Republican nominee last year, “he's a faker, he has no consistency about him.” …. What she said when she said, ‘I can't imagine what this place would be, I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our President.’ Now is that a temperament issue or is that too political? And by the way I'm not offended by political. The court never was either.
“John Marshall, one of the great judges of the court, was Secretary of State for the person who appointed him. Earl Warren, who certainly set a standard for the court, had never been in any public office except political elected office before he became the Chief Justice. When he joined the court in 1953, there were three former senators sitting on the court, there were two former attorneys general sitting on the court, both had been appointed by the president they’d been attorney general for. Elena Kagan was the principal lawyer for President Obama.
“But suddenly political becomes a problem. Or temperament becomes a problem. Thurgood Marshall said while he was on the Court, and by the way, I admire in so many ways so much of Thurgood Marshall’s work. What he did as a lawyer. The decision that President Johnson made was clearly historic, but Thurgood Marshall said, as a justice, ‘I wouldn't do the job of dogcatcher for Ronald Reagan.’ Wouldn’t do the job of dogcatcher. About President Bush while he was still a justice, Thurgood Marshall said, ‘it’s said if you can't say something good about a dead person, don't say it. Well, I consider him dead.’
“And then, obviously, if you consider him dead and if you take the first injunction, you don't have anything to say. People on the Court have an opinion. There's nothing wrong with that.
“And in this case, we have a judge where you could look at 12 years of judging, and you could look at 300 opinions, and you could look at his law school classes he taught. There's plenty to look at, Mr. President. And those all, I believe, head to a couple of conclusions. One, the way this nomination has been treated was outrageous.
“I think my good friend who talked before said he’d never seen anything like it. Well, there's never been anything like this. Hold on to information that can't be corroborated, only release it after it's clear that the judge has the votes to be confirmed, and you want to do, as the Minority Leader said, to slow down and stop this nomination.
“We have plenty to look at here. We cannot set a standard of guilty until proven innocent because then anybody can make any charge at any time, and particularly when there's many reasons to believe that there's nothing in seven background checks, there's nothing in 150 interviews, there's nothing in a very visible public career to ever suggest that Judge Kavanaugh is anything different than he said he was and those of us who will vote for him believe him to be, and I would yield the floor.”
Oct 03 2018
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor to reiterate his support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Blunt also addressed the manner in which some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and their staff have mishandled allegations made against Judge Kavanaugh.
Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:
“Mr. President, my colleague just talked about standing up for the Senate, standing up for the values that traditionally have been our values. One of those principle values has been innocent until proven guilty. … What we've seen happen here in the last week is something that didn't need to happen, certainly in the way it happened. The hearing, the hours of questions, the picking through apart those answers at leisure. We’ve seen all of that, but you know what would have happened if we’d have followed this process the right way. Now, hard to do when a significant majority of the committee says that they're against the nominee before he has the hearing and several senators say they're against the nominee before he's even nominated, no matter who the nominee would be. But the normal background check that would have occurred, if the information that was available to the committee, to Democrats and their staff, would have been turned over at the time, how would they have handled that? How would the FBI have handled that on July 30th or August 30th or any other date? They would have handled that by going and talking to the people involved, Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh would have been interviewed by the FBI. The people they mentioned that the FBI should also talk to would have been interviewed by the FBI. That would have been put in the file. The material could have been presented to the committee, as it should have been. They could have pursued, with Judge Kavanaugh's private hearing, they were willing to talk about baseball tickets at the private hearing. They could have pursued in the private hearing, here's what's in this file. What do you have to say about that? Dr. Ford, as she said she wanted to be, would have been kept anonymous in that process. There would have been no reason, unless the committee would have decided to do what somebody on that committee did, to use her name, to bring this into a major public confrontation. This could have been handled in another way. Her letter, her personal trauma could have been handled in a way that it wasn't. In fact, it couldn’t have been handled more poorly or politically by some in the minority or their staff than it was.
“Only after the hearing had ended, after the original hearings had ended, only after it was obvious that Judge Kavanaugh, in my view it was obvious, had the votes to be confirmed, then suddenly these unverifiable charges were made public by the Democrats on the committee and their staff. Now, Mr. President, I work hard to find agreement with my colleagues in the Senate of both parties. I've been the principal Republican sponsor or the principal Republican cosponsor on legislation with all but four of the Democrats of the Senate. So I do my best to find the areas we can agree on. …
“[W]hat we have with this nomination is a new principle. I find the guilty-until-proven-innocent conduct by some of our colleagues totally unacceptable. It is not who we are. It cannot become the new standard. I heard somebody say at a meeting this week, well, if these charges are out there, that person will always be impacted when there’s a case before the court that might possibly involve those charges. That cannot be how we pursue the future. We cannot pursue the future thinking that if you're charged with something, you're somehow, from that point on, unable to do the job that you're eminently qualified for.
“You know, we have a person here who has 300 court of appeals opinions on the most challenging court of appeals in the country. More than a dozen of those, almost accepted word for word by the Supreme Court. There is plenty to determine judicial temperament. There is plenty to determine whether a judge can do what the judge is supposed to do. Now, unless later today somehow we see something that is highly unlikely, based on all the things already out there, I intend to vote for Judge Kavanaugh.
“I don't think he would have said, ‘I categorically and unequivocally didn't do this or anything like it’ regarding the specific charge if he had. That was not necessary. You wouldn't have to say that about conduct over three decades ago. You could say all kinds of other things, but here is a lawyer whose legal capacity has never been challenged. He would not have had to make that unequivocal statement if there was any reason to be concerned about that statement. He says he didn't do it. Everybody else who was asked if they saw it happen, who was mentioned, says they didn't see it. I believe something traumatic did happen to Dr. Ford. I don't believe it involved Judge Kavanaugh. With the obvious specific three decades later memory of the person involved, you can actually believe, with that exception, you can believe that both of them are telling the truth. I join Judge Kavanaugh's daughter in praying for Dr. Ford and her family, and I also think we should all pray for Judge Kavanaugh and his family.
“This is an issue that got totally out of hand. It's an issue that got well beyond the bounds of what we believe in our country. It's an issue that we can't let begin to determine the future way we do these things. Otherwise anybody is subject, you cannot have, you cannot have guilty until proven innocent. You cannot have … innocent until nominated as the standard for the country. We cannot let this go forward that way. Some relationships here, and important ones to me and others, are going to take a little while to restore. But we'll have to restore them. There aren't enough of us to walk away from each other and say we cannot possibly move forward working with you. I intend to continue to work with my colleagues. But I also intend to continue to stand up for the fundamental values of fairness that this country has always held most dear. We need to do that this week with this nomination as well.”
Sep 27 2018
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) delivered remarks at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signing ceremony for the record of decision on the remediation plan for the West Lake landfill.
Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:
“This has been a frustrating challenge for all of us to deal with all of the time I’ve been in the Congress, all of the time I’ve been in the Senate, we have been pushing to find a solution here. Sen. McCaskill and I on the Senate side actually passed some legislation to take this away from EPA who continued to miss deadline after deadline. But that was then and this is now. …
“I do remember my first discussion with Administrator Pruitt. This was a top-of-the-line issue and I also remember him saying, ‘how could anything be a national priority for 28 years and not be done?’ And certainly my first discussion with Administrator Wheeler this was a top-of-the-line issue and fortunately he felt the same way. Projects of national concern, of national priority, need to be treated exactly like that. Just as our friends from Bridgeton know they should have been treated like that. Just as the Moms group know they should have been treated like that. And this is an important day. We’re going to be continuing to work to do everything we can at the Senate level and the Congressional level to do what we can to help, what we can do to continue to encourage, what we can do to continue to see that deadlines are met.
“The decision not to store on site but to remove all of the dangerous radioactive material, not to capsulize it there but to move it somewhere else, is something that I think our Members of Congress feel good about, as well as hopefully the families that have been living with this issue for a long time and the community that’s been living with this issue for a long time. And as I said, in addition to working with Sen. McCaskill on this, certainly our colleagues on the other side of the building have been vigorous in their effort and we will continue to be vigorous to do everything we can to help you meet the timeline that you’ve set out to get this started in about a year and get it completed in a short period of time after that. Maybe a four-and-a-half year total window is the window that we’re going to be doing everything we can to continue to encourage.”
More on the EPA’s record of decision here.