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Senator Murray: “On so many issues where President Trump wants to do damage and hurt families, Ms. Rao is right behind him with a rubber stamp. Just like Justice Kavanaugh—and so many others President Trump has nominated to the bench.”

Under Rao’s leadership, the Trump Administration has proposed rules attacking rights of women, LGBTQ people, and survivors of sexual assault

Senator Murray also raised concerns with Rao’s track record on climate issues, public health, and discrimination in the nation’s housing programs

Senator Murray: “We need judges who will do what workers and families expect of a judge: interpret our laws according to the Constitution and what is best for our country, not according to politics and what is best for President Trump and Republicans.”

***WATCH VIDEO SENATOR MURRAY'S FULL SPEECH HERE***

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray, (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, spoke out against President Trump’s nominee to fill Justice Kavanaugh’s seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Neomi Rao. In her remarks, Senator Murray laid out her concerns with Rao’s track record on a wide range of issues, including the rights of women, LGBTQ people, and survivors of sexual assault.

Senator Murray raised multiple issues with Rao’s work as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). She made clear that even as Rao has attempted to backtrack from her past concerning statements regarding rape and sexual assault, she has worked to help the Trump Administration propose changes that will roll back Title IX protections that help survivors of sexual assault when they seek justice. Under Rao’s leadership at OIRA, the Trump Administration also recently finalized a rule jeopardizing care for millions of women and making it illegal for health care providers at clinics that receive Title X family planning program funds to refer patients for abortions. 

Senator Murray concluded by raising additional concerns regarding Rao’s stances on climate issues, public health, and discrimination in national public housing programs, and encouraged all of her colleagues to join her in opposing Rao’s nomination.

Key Excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“We are on the floor today to discuss the replacement for now-Justice Kavanaugh after he was confirmed to the Supreme Court last year. So I’d like to remind my colleagues about the people who spoke up during Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, and the critical issues they spoke up about. Women stood up, rallied, marched, and made clear that they do not want to go back to the days before the Roe v. Wade decision affirmed their right to make their own health care decisions. Incredibly brave survivors like Dr. Ford and so many others said they wanted to be heard and believed—not silenced. Families across the country said they wanted a justice who would interpret the law fairly and objectively, without partisanship—someone whose priority is the Constitution and people across the country, not President Trump and his extreme agenda.”

“As we speak, Neomi Rao is enacting the Trump agenda in her role as head of the agency that: reviews and approves the Trump Administration’s changes to regulations impacting so many people and communities who stood up to oppose Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination. Under Ms. Rao’s leadership, the Trump Administration finalized a rule that prevents health care providers from even informing patients who come to Title X-funded health centers about where to get safe, legal abortions, and places new burdensome, medically unnecessary requirements on Title X-funded health centers designed to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving these funds—meaning millions of patients may lose a source of quality, affordable basic health care that they trust.”

“I also want to take a few moments to address Ms. Rao’s deeply concerning comments about rape and sexual assault. While in college, she wrote for example that, ‘a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.’ Let’s be clear: it is never a survivor’s fault—ever—that someone raped or sexually assaulted them. Ms. Rao was given an opportunity to explicitly reject those comments and failed to do so. She then sent a letter attempting to walk them back—but her actions speak louder than a letter sent during a nomination process. And her actions on this issue have been harmful. In her role within the Trump Administration, Ms. Rao has helped Secretary DeVos roll back protections that help survivors get justice when they are sexually assaulted on campus. In other words, at the same time Ms. Rao claims her views have changed on sexual assault and consent, her actions are aligned with those who believe what she wrote in college. And to the survivors I hear from—those who bravely spoke out against Justice Kavanaugh and so many others—Ms. Rao’s actions are what matters.”

“Unfortunately, it seems that on so many issues where President Trump wants to do damage and hurt families, Ms. Rao is right behind him with a rubber stamp. Just like Justice Kavanaugh—and so many others President Trump has nominated to the bench. We need judges who will do what workers and families expect of a judge: interpret our laws according to the Constitution and what is best for our country, not according to politics and what is best for President Trump and Republicans. That’s why I am strongly opposing Ms. Rao’s nomination—and I hope every one of my colleagues joins me in doing so.”

Video of Senator Murray’s speech available HERE.

Full text below of Senator Murray’s speech:

“Thank you, M. President.”

“We are on the floor today to discuss the replacement for now-Justice Kavanaugh after he was confirmed to the Supreme Court last year. So I’d like to remind my colleagues about the people who spoke up during Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, and the critical issues they spoke up about. 

“Women stood up, rallied, marched, and made clear that they do not want to go back to the days before the Roe v. Wade decision affirmed their right to make their own health care decisions. Incredibly brave survivors like Dr. Ford and so many others said they wanted to be heard and believed—not silenced. Families across the country said they wanted a justice who would interpret the law fairly and objectively, without partisanship—someone whose priority is the Constitution and people across the country, not President Trump and his extreme agenda.

“Unfortunately—but not surprisingly—it’s clear that President Trump and Republicans in Congress still aren’t listening to women, survivors, or families. Because the next nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court fails on each and every count I just listed.

“As we speak, Neomi Rao is enacting the Trump agenda in her role as head of the agency that: reviews and approves the Trump Administration’s changes to regulations impacting so many people and communities who stood up to oppose Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination. 

“Under Ms. Rao’s leadership, the Trump Administration finalized a rule that prevents health care providers from even informing patients who come to Title X-funded health centers about where to get safe, legal abortions, and places new burdensome, medically unnecessary requirements on Title X-funded health centers designed to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving these funds—meaning millions of patients may lose a source of quality, affordable basic health care that they trust.

“Ms. Rao has helped put forward rules that would make it harder for members of the LGBTQ community and women to get the care they need—by allowing providers to turn them away simply because of who they are or because they want birth control.

“M. President, I also want to take a few moments to address Ms. Rao’s deeply concerning comments about rape and sexual assault. While in college, she wrote for example that, ‘a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.’ Let’s be clear: it is never a survivor’s fault—ever—that someone raped or sexually assaulted them.

“Ms. Rao was given an opportunity to explicitly reject those comments and failed to do so. She then sent a letter attempting to walk them back—but her actions speak louder than a letter sent during a nomination process. And her actions on this issue have been harmful.

“In her role within the Trump Administration, Ms. Rao has helped Secretary DeVos roll back protections that help survivors get justice when they are sexually assaulted on campus. In other words, at the same time Ms. Rao claims her views have changed on sexual assault and consent, her actions are aligned with those who believe what she wrote in college. And to the survivors I hear from—those who bravely spoke out against Justice Kavanaugh and so many others—Ms. Rao’s actions are what matters.

“M. President, Ms. Rao is also listening to corporate lobbyists instead of scientists when it comes to our climate and public health, and is advancing rules that would allow more discrimination in our nation’s housing programs. Unfortunately, it seems that on so many issues where President Trump wants to do damage and hurt families, Ms. Rao is right behind him with a rubber stamp. Just like Justice Kavanaugh—and so many others President Trump has nominated to the bench.

“We need judges who will do what workers and families expect of a judge: interpret our laws according to the Constitution and what is best for our country, not according to politics and what is best for President Trump and Republicans.

“That’s why I am strongly opposing Ms. Rao’s nomination—and I hope every one of my colleagues joins me in doing so.

“Thank you and I yield the floor.”