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Senator Statements

 

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Sen. Leahy Statement at Judiciary Committee Hearing for Judicial Nominees Andrew Hurwitz (9th Circuit) and others
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/26/12
"I thank Senator Kyl for working with the President and for his strong support of Justice Hurwitz, and for serving as Ranking Member today. . . . He was rated unanimously well qualified by the ABA Standing Committee, the highest possible rating. He has the support of both his home state Senators - Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl. Justice Hurwitz has been nominated to fill one of four judicial emergency vacancies on the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit serves more than 61 million Americans, and handles double the caseload of the other Federal circuit courts. The Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee, along with the members of the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit, have written to the Senate emphasizing the Ninth Circuit's "desperate need for judges," urging the Senate to "act on judicial nominees without delay," and concluding that they "fear that the public will suffer unless our vacancies are filled very promptly." The judicial emergency vacancies on the Ninth Circuit are harming litigants by creating unnecessary and costly delays. The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts reports that it takes nearly five months longer for the Ninth Circuit to issue an opinion after an appeal is filed, compared to all other circuits. The Ninth Circuit's backlog of pending cases far exceeds other Federal courts."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Chief Justice Roberts’ Year-End Report On The Federal Judiciary
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/31/11
"I remain concerned about the impact sustained judicial vacancies are having on our courts around the country. This is arguably the greatest threat to the trial and appellate courts of the federal judiciary. For the last three years, dozens of judicial nominations have been delayed in the Senate. In fact, nearly 20 judicial nominations pending and stalled before the Senate should be confirmed when the body resumes session in January. This would lower the current number of vacancies by nearly 25 percent. The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to provide its advice and consent in the confirmation of federal judges. Only then can the federal judiciary fulfill its own constitutional role.”

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on GOP Obstruction of Consensus Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/17/11
"Senate Republican leadership has cost us the opportunity to take long overdue steps to address the serious vacancies crisis on Federal courts throughout the country. With one out of every ten Federal judgeships vacant we can and should be doing all that we can to consider and confirm judicial nominations without unnecessary delays. Regrettably, Senate Republicans have chosen instead to continue their tactics of unexplained delay and obstruction and to repeat their damaging decision at the end of last year to refuse to consent to votes on even consensus judicial nominations . Such delaying tactics are a disservice to the American people. The Senate should fulfill its constitutional duty and ensure the ability of our Federal courts to provide justice to Americans around the country. There are 21 judicial nominees awaiting final Senate action, all but two of them reported with significant bipartisan support, 16 of them unanimously. That means nearly every judicial nomination can and should be confirmed before the Senate adjourns. Yet, the Senate's Republican leadership is repeating the terrible practice at the end of last year in which 19 judicial nominees were blocked by Republicans and stalled at the end of the year. It then took until June to take action on 17 of those nominees. The recent filibuster of the D.C. Circuit nomination of Caitlin Halligan, a highly-regarded appellate advocate with the kind of impeccable credentials in both public service and private practice that make her unquestionably qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit, set a new and damaging standard. By refusing to consent to votes on consensus nominees before the end of the session, Senate Republicans are setting another damaging standard that will make it difficult for future Presidents of either party to fill judicial vacancies."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On the Nomination of Morgan Christen to the Ninth Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/15/11
"Justice Christen is the kind of qualified, consensus nominee who in past years would have been considered and confirmed by the Senate within days of being reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee, not stuck for months unnecessarily on the Senate calendar. ... The judicial emergency vacancies on the Ninth Circuit are harming litigants by creating unnecessary and costly delays. ... If caseloads were really a concern, Senate Republicans would consent to move forward to confirm Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of California, another well-qualified nominee to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the Ninth Circuit. ... The Senate should act to address the continuing crisis in judicial vacancies that affects not only the Ninth Circuit, but Federal courts around the country. ... There is no time to further delay votes on the other 20 judicial nominations now pending on the Senate calendar and awaiting a final vote. Sixteen of these nominations, in addition to that of Justice Christen, were reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee.... We should not repeat the mistakes of last year, when the Senate Republican leadership held back its consent at the end of the year to consideration of 19 judicial nominations that had been reported by the Judiciary Committee and were ready for final Senate action. That was an abusive exercise in unnecessary delay that I believe was without precedent with respect to such consensus nominees. ... Before we adjourn this year, there is no reason the Senate cannot at least consider the other 16 judicial nominees reported unanimously by the Committee this session, who are by any measure consensus nominees. I hope that we do not see a repeat of the damaging decision by Senate Republican leadership at the end of last year to refuse to agree to votes on those nominations."

Sen. Leahy's Statement at Hearing on Paul Watford's Ninth Circuit Nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/13/11
"Mr. Watford's nomination was greeted by support from legal professionals from across the political spectrum. Daniel Collins, a partner at Munger Tolles who clerked for Justice Scalia and who served in the Bush administration as Associate Deputy Attorney General, has said that Paul Watford is "incredibly intelligent and has solid integrity and great judgment." Conservative law professor Orin Kerr called Mr. Watford, "extremely bright, a moderate, and very much a 018lawyer's lawyer,' concluding in his online post, "I hope he will be confirmed." The former president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federalist Society has said that Mr. Watford "has the respect of anyone who has come into contact with him. He is exceptionally bright and well qualified.""

Sen. Leahy statement at Judiciary Committee Dec. 8th Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/08/11
"I hope that the Committee will also be allowed to move forward without unnecessary delay to report our final judicial nominee for the year, Brian Wimes, who is supported by both Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt and much needed in Missouri."

Sen. Leahy: End Filibuster Of Halligan Nomination And Vote On This Well-Qualified Nominee
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/06/11
"Republican Senators who just a few years ago argued that filibusters against judicial nominees were unconstitutional and said that they would never support such a filibuster and those who care about the judiciary and the Senate need to step forward and do the right thing. ... I also demonstrated yesterday that any so-called “caseload” concern is no justification for filibustering this nomination. This was not a concern we heard from Republicans when they voted to confirm President Bush’s nominees to fill not only the ninth seat, but also the 10th and 11th judgeships on this court just a couple of years ago. They should not now be used to filibuster President Obama’s nomination to fill the ninth seat when the D.C. Circuit’s caseload has increased. ... I also demonstrated yesterday that any so-called “caseload” concern is no justification for filibustering this nomination. This was not a concern we heard from Republicans when they voted to confirm President Bush’s nominees to fill not only the ninth seat, but also the 10th and 11th judgeships on this court just a couple of years ago. They should not now be used to filibuster President Obama’s nomination to fill the ninth seat when the D.C. Circuit’s caseload has increased.... In 2005, Senator Graham, a member of the “Gang of 14” described his view of what comprises the “extraordinary circumstances” justifying a filibuster. He said: “Ideological attacks are not an ‘extraordinary circumstance.’ To me, it would have to be a character problem, an ethics problem, so allegations about the qualifications of a person, not an ideological bent.” Caitlin Halligan has no “character problem,” no “ethics problem,” and there is no justification for this filibuster."

Sen. Leahy Statement as Delivered on Senate Floor
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/06/11
"You cannot say that filibusters against judicial nominees are unconstitutional when you have a Republican President but suddenly support a filibuster when you have a Democratic President. This goes even beyond the standards that have driven the approval rating of Congress to an all-time low for hypocrisy.... It is frustrating to have Senators tell me privately they know Ms. Halligan is just as qualified as John Roberts was, but this lobby and that lobby are against her. Lobbyists come and go. The court is supposed to be the epitome of justice in this country. . . . If caseloads were really a concern of Republican Senators, they would not be standing by while their leadership delays Senate consideration of the nominations of Morgan Christen of Alaska and Jacqueline Nguyen of California to the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Adalberto Jordan of Florida to the Eleventh Circuit. These two circuits have the highest number of cases per active judge. ... There is no justification under the standard applied to the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown for a filibuster of the nomination of Caitlin Halligan , a widely-respected nominee with a clear devotion to the rule of law and no record of ideological extremism."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Vote On The Motion To Invoke Cloture On The Nomination Of Caitlin Halligan To The D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/06/11
“Caitlin Halligan is, by all accounts, a qualified, mainstream, and respected nominee. Senate Republicans’ shifting standards on judicial nominations have resulted in cloture motions filed on the most consensus of nominations, and even a district court nomination earlier this year. The new standard applied by Senate Republicans to nominations to the D.C. Circuit will make it nearly impossible for nominees of any President to be confirmed to this important court. “Ms. Halligan is the kind of nominee we should all welcome to public service. This filibuster is a disservice to the federal judiciary, and to the millions of Americans it serves.”

Sen. Leahy: Halligan A Superbly Qualified Nominee Worthy Of Bipartisan Senate Support
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/05/11
"Many Republican Senators declared that they would never support the filibuster of a judicial nomination—never. With its latest filibuster, the Senate Republican leadership seeks to set yet another new standard, one that threatens to make confirmation of any nominee to the D.C. Circuit virtually impossible for the future. It is time to edge away from this dangerous precipice. When Democratic Senators cooperated to confirm John Roberts to the D.C. Circuit in 2003, we broke the stalemate created by the Republicans refusal for years to even consider President Clinton’s nominees to that court. ... The same Republican Senators who blocked President Clinton’s nominations from even being considered by the Judiciary Committee supported every nomination of President Bush’s to the D.C. Circuit, as they filled the ninth seat, twice filled the 10th seat on the court and went on to fill the 11th seat, ... they have ratcheted up their partisan opposition and now oppose even filling the 9th judgeship. ... According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, the caseload per active judge has increased by one third since 2005, when the Senate confirmed President Bush’s nomination of Thomas Griffith to fill the 11th seat on the D.C. Circuit. ... I urge Republican and Democratic Senators to come together and end this misguided filibuster."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Cloture Motion On The Nomination Of Caitlin Halligan To Serve On The U.S. Court Of Appeals For The District Of Columbia
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/02/11
“Caitlin Halligan is a widely respected attorney with an impressive background and long record of public service. Her nomination to fill one of three vacant seats on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has received support from across the political spectrum. I am disappointed that cloture is required to move forward with debate on her nomination. “Republicans’ shifting standards with respect to judicial nominations have required cloture motions to be filed on some nominations that ultimately won unanimous support from the Senate. Those shifting standards even required cloture to be filed on a district court nomination earlier this year. It would set yet another new standard if a nominee this well-qualified is prevented from even having an up-or-down vote, and one that could not be met by judicial nominees of Presidents of either party. “I look forward to the debate on this nomination. I believe that a majority of Senators will find her to be a well qualified nominee, worthy of the praise and support she has received from law enforcement, her peers, and other civil servants.”

Sen. Leahy Statement on Judicial Nominees at Dec. 1 Judiciary Committee Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/01/11
"The three judicial nominees from our November 2 hearing are each to fill a judicial emergency vacancy. The Ninth Circuit needs Judge Nguyen and I know that Senator Cornyn would like to see the two Texas nominees confirmed to Federal trial courts in Texas."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judge Chris Droney and Other Pending Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/28/11
"Now that the Republican leadership is finally allowing consideration of this nomination after a needless, additional 4-month delay, I am certain the Senate will act to confirm Judge Droney. . . . I am disappointed that the Senate Republican leadership would not agree to a vote on the other 22 judicial nominees waiting for final Senate action. All of the judicial nominees on the Senate calendar are qualified and have the support of their home State Senators. They include other judicial emergency vacancies. . . . Most recently, we heard from Chief Judge Audrey Collins of the Central District of California and Chief Judge Anne Conway of the Middle District of Florida. In a recent letter to Senate leaders, Bill Robinson, the president of the American Bar Association, warned of the detrimental effect of excessive vacancies and high caseloads. Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Chief Justice Roberts, the Attorney General and the White House counsel have also warned of the serious problems created by persistent judicial vacancies. This is an issue affecting millions of hardworking Americans who are denied justice when their cases are delayed by overburdened courts. . . . What makes the claim of progress even more misleading is that of the nominations confirmed this year, 17 could have and should have been confirmed when they were reported by the Judiciary Committee last year. . . . To make real progress this year, the Senate needs to consider the other 22 judicial nominations pending on the Senate calendar and the 4 additional judicial nominees who can be reported by the Judiciary Committee in December"

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Second Circuit Nominee
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/28/11
“I have been urging a vote on this consensus nominee for weeks; his nomination has been stalled and has been repeatedly skipped for no good reason,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “Despite the long-standing judicial emergency, Senate Republicans have refused until now to consent to take up Judge Droney’s nomination, delaying the Senate from considering it for more than four months.” More than 20 judicial nominations are pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar, including more than a half a dozen nominees which have been pending for more than two months, and another nine nominees which have been pending for more than six weeks. The Senate has confirmed just 59 nominations this Congress, and a total of 119 of President Obama’s judicial nominees. By comparison, the Senate confirmed 167 of President Bush’s judicial nominees by this point in the Bush administration.

Sen. Leahy Statement at Nov. 16th Nominations Hearing
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/16/11
"I am now accommodating Senator Grassley's request to slow down our schedule for the remainder of the year. At his request, I have agreed not to hold another nominations hearing this month after today, although our agreement would call for another hearing on November 30. I am also accommodating him by scheduling only one nominations hearing in December . . . Our hearing in December will bring that total to 19 hearings for the year. In contrast, during the third year of the Bush administration, the Republican chairman proceeded to hold 29 nominations hearings for 109 of President Bush's nominees, over 90 of them judicial nominees. . . . Senate action on those 27 nominees before adjournment would go a long way to helping resolve the longstanding judicial vacancies that are delaying justice for so many Americans"

Floor Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Judicial Nomiations (Nov. 15)
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/15/11
" I am disappointed that the Senate Republican leadership would not agree to a vote on the other 23 judicial nominees waiting for final Senate action. These delays are inexcusable and damaging."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Supreme Court's Grant Of Cert On Challenge To The Affordable Care Act
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/14/11
“I am glad the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act. Most appellate courts have upheld the constitutionality of this historic law, and when the Senate voted to pass the Affordable Care Act, it also voted specifically on its constitutionality. I hope the Supreme Court will defer to Congress in addressing this national problem.”

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judicial Vacancies and Evan Wallach Nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/08/11
"I am disappointed that the Senate Republican leadership would only agree to vote on 1 of the 25 judicial nominees ready and waiting for final Senate action. All 25 of the nominees are qualified and have the support of their home state Senators, Republican and Democratic. Twenty-one of these judicial nominations were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee. Senate Democrats are prepared to have votes on all these important nominations. I know of no good reason why the Republican leadership is refusing to proceed on 24 of the 25 nominations stalled before the Senate. At a time when the vacancy rate on Federal courts throughout the country remains near 10 percent, the delay in taking up and confirming these consensus judicial nominees is inexcusable. ...the Senate should give consideration to Caitlin Halligan's nomination. Her nomination to the DC Circuit was approved by the committee in March."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Unanimously Confirms Two District Court Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/03/11
Another 20 nominations are pending on the Executive Calendar, and the Judiciary Committee reported an additional five nominations to the full Senate during a business meeting today. The Senate has been slow to confirm judicial nominations during the Obama administration, with many nominations reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee languishing for months on the Executive Calendar before ultimately securing confirmation by the Senate. ... It has taken the Senate nearly twice as long to confirm the 100th Federal circuit and district court judge nominated by President Obama as we had when President Bush was in the White House.... By this point in President Bush’s first three years, the Senate had confirmed 166 of his Federal circuit and district court nominees. So far in the three years of the Obama administration that total is only 113. One hundred and thirteen is not better than 166. Notably, the Senate this year is lagging far behind the pace we set for circuit court nominations in the third year of President Bush’s administration. The Senate this year has confirmed just six circuit court nominations, compared to 12 at this point in President Bush’s third year. ... By this point in the Bush administration, vacancies had been reduced to 42. Today they stand at 85. Eighty-five vacancies is not better than 42.

Sen. Patrick Leahy: Senate To Vote On Pending Circuit Court Nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/31/11
OVERVIEW OF JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS AND CONFIRMATIONS

Senator Patrick Leahy Oct. 17th Floor Statement On Caitlin Halligan & other Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/17/11
"With Republican agreement, we could vote not just on one district court nomination, but on all 27 of the nominations reported by the Committee. .... We should be able to have a debate and vote on the nomination of Caitlin Halligan, the superbly qualified nominee to the ninth seat on the D.C. Circuit reported by the Judiciary Committee over seven months ago. She is a highly-respected appellate litigator who has excelled in private practice and public service, including six years as Solicitor General of the State of New York, and her nomination has the strong support of law enforcement and a number of prominent conservative lawyers. With a new vacancy on that court, it is now more than one-quarter vacant. Four of President Bush’s D.C. Circuit nominees were confirmed to that Court, twice filling the tenth seat and once filling the eleventh seat. There is no reason we cannot now confirm President Obama’s first D.C. Circuit nominee to fill the ninth seat."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Delayed Floor Votes for PA judicial nominees Mark Hornak & Robert Mariani
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/17/11
"They were reported unanimously from the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 21. They were cleared that day on the Democratic side. We were perfectly willing to bring them up and voice vote them that day or the next day or the day after. We were perfectly willing to have a vote in August before we went out. We were perfectly willing to have them voted on in September. We were perfectly willing to have them voted on early, in early October because of the Senator's support and Senator Casey's support. For some reason, that was not cleared on the Senator's side of the aisle. I will be happy to work with my friend from Pennsylvania--after all, we each have the same first name--and we will try to clear them."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Three Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/13/11
“We can and must do better to address the serious judicial vacancies crisis on Federal courts around the country that has persisted for over two years,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. “We can and must do better for the nearly 170 million Americans being made to suffer by these unnecessary delays.”

Floor Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/11/11
"Today we are voting on only one of those judicial 26 nominees. With Republican agreement, all 26 could have been voted on today. Of the 25 judges who will remain on the Executive Calendar after today’s vote, 21 were reported with the unanimous support of all Democrats and all Republicans serving on the Judiciary Committee. All of them have the support of their home state Senators, 10 include Republican home state Senators."

Sen. Leahy Statement at Oct. 6, 2011 Judiciary Committee Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/06/11
"With its actions on Monday, the Senate confirmed a handful of judicial nominees on which this Committee had completed its review last May and early June, and the Arizona nominee whose path should serve as the model for more effective and timely confirmations. Still, Federal judicial vacancies across the country remain above 90. This is the longest extended period of high vacancies in the last 35 years. More than one of every 10 Federal judgeships remains vacant. Today the Committee has the opportunity to make progress and vote on 10 of President Obama's judicial nominees to fill vacancies in California, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Washington, West Virginia and Utah, as well as on the 11th Circuit and the Federal Circuit. All these nominees participated in hearings last month. We also have before us a bipartisan bill to provide additional judges for overburdened Federal courts in the border states of Arizona, California, Minnesota and Texas."

Sen. Reid & Sen. Leahy Floor exchange on unprecedented dealys of judicial nominees who were approved unanimously in Committee
(Democrat - Nevada, Vermont) 10/06/11
Mr. REID. I am going to respond to this. I don't know the exact number now, but almost 30 judges are waiting to be approved, people who are waiting to change their lives, doing their patriotic duty, public service. I can't file cloture on all of those. There are 29 of them. We have been stymied here in this Congress in getting things done--holding up nominations for judges, holding up nominations--some people have been on the Executive Calendar for a long, long time. It is unfair. That is what is going on around here. So we can do all of the make-believe that my friend the Republican leader is talking about, about what great things should happen around here. Well, I will tell you a few things that should happen: We should be able to move matters through here that have been happening since the beginning of this country--nominations, for example. We can't do that because my friend the Republican leader, as candid as he was, said his No. 1 goal is to defeat President Obama. That is what has been going on for 9 months here, and this issue relating to these dilatory tactics on these motions to suspend the rules is just part of that game that is being played. Let's get back--I agree. I agree. Let's get back to legislating as we did before the mantra around here was ``Defeat Obama.'' Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I pose this question, and as I look around this floor, with the exception of Senator Inouye, my dear friend from Hawaii, nobody has served in this body longer than I have--on the current membership--nobody. I keep hearing this talk about 60 votes. Most votes you win by 51 votes, and this constant mantra of 60 votes, 60 votes--this is some new invention, I tell my friends, based on my sense of history. So my question to the majority leader, whether we were here with a Democratic majority or a Republican majority, does he remember a time when judges who were confirmed unanimously--every single Republican, every single Democrat voting for them out of committee--would then sit on the calendar for 3, 4, 5, sometimes 6 months because there was not an agreement to vote on them without a 60-vote supermajority? I cannot remember it at any time in 37 years. I do not know if the majority leader can recall such a time. Mr. REID. The Senator from Vermont has been here longer than I have, but he is absolutely right.

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/06/11
"As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I have supported the nominations and recognized the service of many Americans of Chinese descent serving as attorneys and judges throughout the country, such as former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee, and Federal Judges Denny Chin, Edmond Chang, Ed Chen, and Dolly Gee. I am also mindful of the service of the late Thomas Tang, a Chinese American trailblazer on the Federal judiciary."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, “Considering The Role Of Judges Under The Constitution Of The United States”
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/05/11
"We in the Senate have an obligation to provide our advice and consent to the President to fill a growing number of judicial vacancies. On this Committee, we are working diligently to address the serious judicial vacancy crisis that the Chief Justice highlighted in his most recent annual report. This Committee also works to pass legislation recommended by the Judicial Conference of the United States in order to help the third branch operate fairly and efficiently. Congress also appropriates resources to fund the important work of our independent judiciary."

Sen. Leahy Detailed Floor Statement on Unprecedented Judicial Confirmation Delays
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/20/11
"I am pleased we are going to confirm the nominations today, they have been pending in the Senate for 117 days for no reason or justification. More troubling, the time of vacancies in courts around the country have remained at or above 90 for 2 years. We should be acting on the other 27 judicial nominations reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee and ready for an up-or-down vote. Never during either Republican or Democratic administrations have I seen a time when nominations , approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee, then wait month after month after month to be considered on the floor. "