March 13, 2019

Warren Delivers Floor Speech Opposing Neomi Rao's Nomination for DC Circuit Judgeship

"A vote for her is a vote against the millions of Americans who have already borne the consequences of the radical, pro-corporate policies she has advanced throughout her career."

Senator Also Urged Colleagues to Reject William Beach Nomination to Lead Bureau of Labor Statistics

Video (YouTube)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor opposing the nomination of Neomi Rao for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In her remarks, Senator Warren highlighted Ms. Rao's record of rolling back consumer protections and rubber-stamping the Trump Administration's pro-corporate agenda, and urged the Senate to reject her nomination. 

The Senator also stated her strong opposition to William Beach's nomination to lead the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and expressed concern with Senate Republicans' refusal to confirm Democratic nominees to agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
**As Prepared for Delivery**
March 12, 2019

Madame President, I come to the floor today to oppose the nomination of Neomi Rao to be a judge on the second most powerful court in the country. My decision boiled down to this one question: will Ms. Rao advance equal justice for all, or will she continue to tilt the courts in favor of the rich and powerful? Ms. Rao's record shows that she will continue to tilt our courts in favor of the powerful few and leave everyone else behind. That's why I oppose her nomination - but that's also exactly why she was selected by the President.

In the last two years, with the Trump Administration controlling the White House and Republicans - until January - controlling both houses of Congress, the rich and powerful have had unparalleled access to the federal government, and they have been terrifyingly effective at making Washington work even better for them.

Just think of some of their high-profile victories: a tax plan that takes money from working Americans and gives it straight to the biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals. Roll backs of countless protections to public health, consumer welfare, and environmental safety.

And those are just the policies that people have been paying attention to. For decades, billionaire-funded right-wing groups have operated in the shadows to take over our courts by installing right-wing judges who will put the interests of giant corporations and wealthy individuals before those of everyone else.

For those special interests, Neomi Rao is the ideal candidate.

In 2017, I came to the floor to oppose Ms. Rao's nomination to lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs - the small but powerful agency that reviews and signs-off on economically significant federal rules. I was concerned about Ms. Rao's advocacy for weakening or handcuffing federal agencies that help protect the public from giant corporations who prey on consumers, mistreat their workers, and pollute our environment.

I worried that confirming her to lead OIRA would threaten the health and safety of all Americans. For example, Ms. Rao attacked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-the agency that has returned $12 billion to working families who were cheated-arguing against its authority to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

But that was exactly the kind of candidate that big business and billionaires wanted, so the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Ms. Rao, and the all-too-predictable happened.

Under Ms. Rao's leadership, OIRA approved the EPA's decision to roll back important environmental protections. OIRA rubber-stamped changes at the Department of Labor that allow certain employers to hide workplace injuries. And Ms. Rao blocked a proposed measure from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would have helped uncover pay discrimination. The list goes on.

Ms. Rao pairs her pro-corporate stance with harmful, regressive views about sexual assault. In college, she wrote an article placing blame on survivors of sexual assault who drank alcohol, claiming that such behavior was "part of her choice." At her hearing, she refused to fully disclaim this harmful line of thought, claiming she was just recommending certain actions that women could take to make them less likely to be assaulted.

If that wasn't concerning enough, Ms. Rao also argued in a book review that public protections for women, people of color, and Americans with disabilities are bad, because they have eroded the power of traditional elites, going so far as to call affirmative action the "bane of all good elitists."

For President Trump, Congressional Republicans, and their billionaire buddies, Ms. Rao's commitment to protecting the interests of the rich and powerful over everyone else was a feature of her tenure at OIRA, not a bug.

And now, as a reward for spending a year and a half rolling back public protections and rubber-stamping corporate America's wishlist, the Trump Administration has selected her to be a judge on the second-highest court in the country.

At the D.C. Circuit, Ms. Rao would have even more power to stop federal efforts to protect Americans from abusive corporations and billionaires. She would rule on attempts to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink; she would have the power to overturn protections for workers from unsafe working conditions; and she would get to upend rules to prevent big corporations from discriminating against people of color, LGBTQ Americans, and other marginalized communities.

Throughout her career, Ms. Rao has made very clear what her preferred hierarchy looks like: corporations and billionaires up top, and everybody else at the bottom. As a judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Ms. Rao will have an opportunity to practice that philosophy at an even larger scale.

Madame President, our federal courts are supposed to defend equal justice for all Americans; not cater to the wealthy and well-connected. Neomi Rao's record shows that she will continue the corporate takeover of our courts. A vote for her is a vote against the millions of Americans who have already borne the consequences of the radical, pro-corporate policies she has advanced throughout her career. That's why I believe the Senate should reject her nomination.


I also want to express my strong opposition to the nomination of William Beach to run the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS's accurate, impartial analysis is crucial to policymakers, workers, and businesses. In Mr. Beach, President Trump has chosen someone who has spent years at "think tanks" funded by radical right-wing billionaires, pushing "studies" criticizing social security and supporting draconian budget cuts and tax cuts for the richest Americans that have since been discredited. That's not who we need running one of our country's most important statistical agencies.

Besides Mr. Beach's radical, pro-corporate background, I want to join Ranking Member Murray in expressing my serious concern with my Republican colleagues' refusal to confirm Democratic nominees to other important agencies for workers-the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This obstruction is a total departure from precedent, and it's preventing these agencies from protecting the rights of millions of American workers to bargain collectively and go to work without worrying about illegal discrimination and harassment.