Joe Biden on Government Reform
Democratic Sr Senator (DE); nominee for Vice President
BIDEN: Yes, I can. When I got to the US Senate and went on the Judiciary Committee as a young lawyer, I had been trained in the view that the only thing that mattered was whether or not a nominee suggested by the president had a judicial temperament, and had not committed a crime of moral turpitude. It was hard to change, but it took about five years for me to realize that the ideology of that judge makes a big difference. That's why I led the fight against Judge Bork. Had he been on the court, I suspect there would be a lot of changes that I don't like and the American people wouldn't like, including everything from Roe v. Wade to issues relating to civil liberties. I was the first chairman of the Judiciary Committee to forthrightly state that it matters what your judicial philosophy is. The American people have a right to know it.
A: The best way to look at it is look the every state where the wall's not built. Look at every country in the world where religion is able to impact governance. Almost every one of those countries are in real turmoil. Look, the founders were pretty smart. They had gone through, you know, several hundred years of wars--religious wars. And they were in the midst of religious wars in Europe. And they figured it out: The best way to do this is to keep the government out of religion. They took religion out of government. But they didn't mean religion couldn't be in a public place, in the public square.
A: The answer is I would consider that. The fact of the matter is the next president is going to have to bring this country together. We are not blue and red. We cannot be sustained that way. We cannot get health care, we cannot get a foreign policy, we cannot do anything with a 51% solution. Every one of the things we've talked about here requires a consensus, and if you don't have the experience that I have and the success I've had reaching across the aisle, what makes you think you're going to get a national health care plan? What makes you think you're going to have an education plan? What makes you think you're going to have a rational foreign policy? The answer is, I would consider the most competent people I could, and I would try my best to reach across the aisle to reasonable people to unite this country. It needs to be united.
A: Yes. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
At a meeting, I said, "If I lead this fight, it will not be a single issue campaign." The NY Times called my staff to confirm that I'd promised to "lead the fight" against Bork. The president's spokesman said his boss found it "regrettable" that I had "chosen to politicize the hearings in this kind of partisan fashion."
Bork was a bona fide scholar. He had been solicitor general, acting attorney general, professor of law at Yale, and a judge. The way to stop Bork was on a question of his outside-the-mainstream judicial ideology. I thought it was time to avoid personal attacks. [Bork was defeated.]
The central lesson I received from the Catholic Church and my parents had been the governing force in my political career. To wit, the greatest sins on this earth are committed by people of standing and means who abuse their power.
With power and privilege, I was taught, comes a responsibility to treat others with respect and fairness. When we see people abusing power, it is our duty to intercede on behalf of their victims.
As I looked back on my career, it was obvious that what had animated me was the belief that we should stand up to those who abused power, whether it was political, economic, or physical.
A: The history of racism has been punctuated with an effort on the part of the powerful to keep black Americans from voting. It used to be originally slavery, then all the laws relating to poll taxes and now we have not enough polling machines in black neighborhoods, not enough poll workers, old machines, deceptive practices, saying you can and cannot vote, intimidation. It all comes down to a basic thing. It comes down to the effort to deny you, because of the racist attitudes of so many people, the right to be able to determine your own future. I've been deeply involved in the Voting Rights Act, the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, but we've got to move beyond that now. There should be a federal standard and I'm glad to be able to agree with Mike Gravel on something.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. DOLE. I am proposing a commonsense measure to uphold the integrity of Federal elections. My amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls would go a long way in minimizing potential for voter fraud. When a fraudulent vote is cast and counted, the vote of a legitimate voter is cancelled. This is wrong, and my amendment would help ensure that one of the hallmarks of our democracy, our free and fair elections, is protected. Opinion polls repeatedly confirm that Americans overwhelmingly support this initiative.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. FEINSTEIN. If one would want to suppress the vote in the 2008 election, one would vote for this because this measure goes into effect January 1, 2008. It provides that everybody who votes essentially would have to have a photo ID. If you want to suppress the minority vote, the elderly vote, the poor vote, this is exactly the way to do it. Many of these people do not have driver's licenses. This amendment would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to actually carry out. It goes into effect--surprise--January 1, 2008 [to affect the presidential election]. I urge a "no" vote.
For example, I am a big fan of McDonald's. What about the kids working behind the counter? Would they be considered registered lobbyists because McDonald's has lobbyists? Would I not be able to go to lunch with my longtime friend who owns 12 McDonald's?
Introductory statement by Sponsor:
Sen. CLINTON: I rise today to introduce legislation that will create an undergraduate institution designed to cultivate a generation of young leaders dedicated to public service. The US Public Service Academy Act (The PSA Act) will form a national academy to serve as an extraordinary example of effective, national public education.
The tragic events of September 11 and the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita underscore how much our Nation depends on strong public institutions and competent civilian leadership at all levels of society. Congress must take a step forward to ensure competent civilian leadership and improve our Nation's ability to respond to future emergencies and to confront daily challenges.
This legislation will create the US Public Service Academy to groom future public servants and build a corps of capable civilian leaders. Modeled after the military service academies, this academy will provide a four-year, federally-subsidized college education for more than 5,000 students a year in exchange for a five year commitment to public service.
The PSA Act will meet critical national needs as the baby-boomer generation approaches retirement. Already, studies show looming shortages in the Federal civil service, public education, law enforcement, the non-profit sector and other essential areas.
Unfortunately our young people are priced out of public service careers all too often. By providing a service-oriented education at no cost to the student, the PSA Act will tap into the strong desire to serve that already exists among college students while erasing the burden of enormous college debt.
The establishment of a United States Public Service Academy is an innovative way to strengthen and protect America by creating a corps of well-trained, highly-qualified civilian leaders. I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join me today.
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Ruth Ann Minner
2008 Senate retirements:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Winners of 2008 Senate Races:
( * if new to the Senate)
AK:*Begich over Stevens
DE:Biden and Kaufman
GA:Chambliss v.Martin (Dec. 2 runoff)
MN:Coleman v.Franken (recounting as of Dec.1)
NC:*Hagan over Dole
NH:*Shaheen over Sununu
OR:*Merkley over Smith
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