Thursday, April 06, 2006

Senate Summary - April 5, 2006

Senate Summary - April 5, 2006

A bill (S. 2454) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for comprehensive reform and for other purposes.

Pending:

Specter/Leahy amendment No. 3192, in the nature of a substitute.

Kyl/Cornyn amendment No. 3206 (to amendment No. 3192), to make certain aliens ineligible for conditional nonimmigrant work authorization and status.

Cornyn amendment No. 3207 (to amendment No. 3206), to establish an enactment date.

Isakson amendment No. 3215 (to amendment No. 3192), to demonstrate respect for legal immigration by prohibiting the implementation of a new alien guest worker program until the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies to the President and the Congress that the borders of the United States are reasonably sealed and secured.

Dorgan amendment No. 3223 (to amendment No. 3192), to allow United States citizens under 18 years of age to travel to Canada without a passport, to develop a system to enable United States citizens to take 24-hour excursions to Canada without a passport, and to limit the cost of passport cards or similar alternatives to passports to $20.

Mikulski/Warner amendment No. 3217 (to amendment No. 3192), to extend the termination date for the exemption of returning workers from the numerical limitations for temporary workers.


AMENDMENT NO. 3246

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, yesterday I sought to introduce amendment No. 3246. I will not offer that again right now since the minority has indicated it would object to the offering of the amendment, but I will at least explain what it is. It is a very straightforward amendment that essentially addresses the future temporary worker program. I am not talking now about what is going to happen to the group of people who are here illegally today. We are talking about people who in the future might want to come legally from their country to work temporarily in the United States. For that group of people, there obviously needs to be a system for verifying their eligibility and for ensuring that program can work. It is estimated that it would take about 18 months maximum to make sure that all of the things would be in place for that program to work.

This amendment simply provides that things that the bill calls for to be in place within that roughly 18-month period of time would actually have to be in place before the temporary worker program commenced. In other words, it answers the question that many people ask: If you grant people a right to come to the United States and work here, how can we be sure that you have done all of the other things you have said you would do? ...

AMENDMENT NO. 3206

Let me also speak to an amendment that is pending. It is the pending business, but we haven't been able to get a vote on it. The number on that amendment is No. 3206.

What this amendment implies is that people in certain categories would not be able to participate in the program, and those categories are primarily people who are criminals or people who are absconders. By ``criminals,'' we mean people who have been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors. ...

Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, please let us not wave the bloody shirt of Mohamed Atta. He would be disqualified from this program under existing law. Terrorists are not going to be given a legal pathway to citizenship in America. No one wants that to happen, none of us. So I don't think that was a good example of why we need the Kyl amendment.

Wouldn't you agree that in language already in the bill before the Senate, Mohamed Atta wouldn't have a prayer if he said, I want to stick around; I know I have been convicted as a terrorist, but I want to be an American citizen?

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, with all due respect, I think that question was pretty far off the mark. Mohamed Atta committed his crime before he could have been convicted of being a terrorist, and he obviously killed himself in the process. The time to apply this legislation to him is not after the fact but hopefully before the fact.

The problem is that at the time he overstayed his visa, to our knowledge, he had not committed any other crime except perhaps forging some documents or making false statements to an immigration official--something such as that.

What I am saying is we have drafted this in a way that it would not have caught people such as Mohamed Atta because to do that would be to exclude others from the benefits of the legislation both the Senator and I agree should not be excluded. ...


Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, there has been an agreement to take up a number of noncontroversial amendments. We are still trying to get a vote on the Kyl-Cornyn amendment, still trying to work out a procedure so Members on both sides of the aisle may offer controversial amendments, but we have not gotten there yet. However, there has been agreement on four noncontroversial amendments. I give notice that we will take them up as soon as the authors can come over.

Mr. KYL. Will the chairman of the Judiciary Committee tell us what those four amendments are?

Mr. SPECTER. I would. And before we can do it, we have to have consent to set aside pending amendments.

Mr. KYL. Because I advise you in advance I will object to setting aside pending amendments for consideration of further amendments.

Mr. SPECTER. The ones agreed to are these, and we cannot proceed until the pending amendment is set aside: Mikulski-Warner, 3217; Collins, 3211; Dorgan-Burns, 3223; and Isakson, 3203. But we cannot take them up, as noted, unless we have consent to set aside a pending amendment. ...

Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, let us understand where we are at this moment. In the colloquy with Senator Kyl, I raised an element of his amendment which we, I think, generally agreed needs to be clarified. I hope we can work toward clarification. ...

We are not only prepared, incidentally, on the Democratic side to entertain the four amendments which have been spelled out by the Senator from Pennsylvania, we are also prepared to debate and vote on at least three other amendments, the Lieberman-Brownback asylum [S.Amdt.3253?, S.Amdt.3255? or, S.Amdt.3257?], an Allard amendment 3213, and a Nelson amendment 3220. ...

Mr. DURBIN. ... It appears now that those who oppose this bill or those who want to slow it down are intent on making the Kyl amendment the way to do it. I would say that Senator Kyl and I had a colloquy just a few moments ago on the floor, and it was very clear to me that his language in the amendment needs to be changed so that it is clear to everyone what he intends to achieve.

I thought that is where he was going. I thought that is what he acknowledged. But having even acknowledged that, he will not allow another amendment to come forward while his is still pending on the floor. That is unfortunate.

It was said earlier that----

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. DURBIN. I am happy to yield for a question.

Mr. CRAIG. You are really going to suggest that the last 2 days of effort are called heavy lifting? Shouldn't we redefine what work in this body is all about?

Mr. DURBIN. I would say in response, I do not believe I used that term.

Mr. CRAIG. You did not use that term; I just did. But you have suggested we have been at great industry here over the last 2 days?

Mr. DURBIN. ... The heavy lifting has been off the floor while the party of the Senator from Idaho has been trying to decide their place in history. Will they be part of a comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform or stand in its path? They have to make that decision. We cannot make it on the floor for them. The sooner they make it, the better. ...

Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. SPECTER. OK.

Mr. DURBIN. I would like to ask the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee if he recalls a few weeks ago on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act when Senator Feingold of Wisconsin offered amendments which were germane postcloture but was not given an opportunity to call those amendments because the Republican majority leader, Senator Frist, filled the tree? There was no question that they were germane amendments. Senator Feingold rightfully took to the floor and held us in session for days because the Republican majority would not allow votes on germane amendments on the bill that came out of our committee.

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, the thought that comes to my mind is, were they subject to being offered postcloture, had they been offered precloture? Don't they have to be offered precloture? The Parliamentarian is shaking her head in the negative. Repeat the question, and I will try to answer that.

Mr. DURBIN. It is my understanding that you can offer germane amendments postcloture, but the question is whether you can get into a queue where the amendment will be called. If there is a pending germane amendment filed precloture, it may take precedence in terms of being called, and you may not have an opportunity. I think you have a right under our rules to offer germane amendments postcloture. Whether you will have a chance to call those for a vote depends on the process on the floor.

Mr. SPECTER. Well, as we have seen in so many situations, and where I have been willing to concede error on both sides of the aisle, I am not going to seek to defend preventing votes on relevant, germane amendments, whether they are offered by Senator Feingold or Senator Kyl, or anybody else. That is just not the way the Senate ought to be run. I am glad to note that the Senator from Illinois didn't hear my answer. He was talking, which he has a right to do.

7 . SECURING AMERICA'S BORDERS ACT -- (Senate - April 05, 2006)


Mr. SESSIONS. ... Another thing. I mentioned this biometric card and entering and exiting the country. Let me tell you why some of us are concerned about promises in the future.

We passed, 10 years ago, the US-VISIT program. It is supposed to do just what I said. A person comes to this country legally, comes with a card. It is a computer-read card, and the person is then approved for entry. They need a biometric identifier, a fingerprint, and it can read that. You are allowed to come in. It also calculates when you leave, so people who do not leave can be identified and removed because they didn't comply with the law.

Well, 10 years after passing that bill, we still don't have that system up and running. They tell us that this summer, we will have some pilot program which can actually identify those when they exit in certain border places, which, of course, means it is no system at all. ...


Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I rise today to report on some of the progress we have made in our effort to secure our Nation's ports and our cargo container system.

This morning, I testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act which I introduced last year with Senators COLLINS, COLEMAN, and LIEBERMAN. That critical and effective bill is on the fast track both in the House and in the Senate.

While that hearing was starting, we received another urgent reminder of why we need to improve our cargo security in this Nation. This morning, this very morning at the Port of Seattle, 21 Chinese nationals were discovered. They had been smuggled into the United States in a cargo container. That incident is a stark remainder that we today are still not doing enough to keep our cargo container system secure. This appears to have been a case of human smuggling, but that cargo container could have been filled with anything from a dirty bomb to a cell of terrorists. Today our country is vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Time is not on our side. ...


Mr. CORNYN. ... I have demonstrated here on the floor that that amnesty, which we all agree, in fact, meets that definition, was a complete and total failure. The reason why it was a complete and total failure is because the American people were, in essence, told one thing and Congress did another.

I believe the American people will forgive an awful lot of mistakes, but they will not forgive being fooled twice. The proposal that is on the floor now, the committee bill that is being proposed, would, in fact, be a repeat of what happened in 1986, except to the extent that it is actually even worse because in 1986, in order to get the benefit of the amnesty, you could not be a felon, you could not be a person with at least three misdemeanors, but under this bill, as offered and as voted out of the Judiciary Committee, you can. Thus, you can see the importance of having a vote on this amendment, which we have been denied, even though it was offered last Friday. ...


Mr. REID. I wish to switch a little bit here and talk about something that is extremely personal to me. I have been a legislator for a long time. The first job I had in public office was in 1964. I have been involved in government for 42 years. I was a city attorney, served on county boards, the State legislature, and other such opportunities that the people of the State of Nevada have given me. I don't want this to be true confessions, but I want to relate to the Senate that the biggest mistake I ever made, the largest error I ever made was 15 or 18 years ago, as a Member of the U.S. Congress, when, with my chief of staff, my dear friend Reynaldo Martinez--he and I played baseball together. He was a star on that team. I wasn't. But we beat everybody. We were the California Scholastic Federation champions when I was a sophomore in high school.

He was my chief of staff. He is retired, a wonderful man. He has credentials in the Hispanic community. He has had a school named after him in Nevada. He has a youth center named after him. He is a very famous Nevadan and my dear friend.

A group of people came and talked to us and convinced us that the thing to do would be to close the borders between Mexico and the United States; in effect, stop people from coming across our borders to the United States. This period of time for which I am so apologetic--to my family, mostly--lasted about a week or two. I introduced legislation. My little wife is 5 feet tall. We have been together for soon to be 50 years. As I said here on the floor a few days ago, her father was born in Russia. He was run out of Russia. His name was Goldfarb, his family. They were Jewish. My wife heard that I had done this. She does not interfere with my legislation. Only when I ask her does she get involved in what I am doing. I didn't ask her about this. She, in effect, said: I can't believe that you have done it. But I had done it.

To compound this, I held a meeting a day or two after being confronted by my wife, a meeting in Las Vegas. It was a townhall meeting to explain this travesty that I called legislation. My friend, Judge John Mendoza, was there, somebody who, when I lost my Senate race in 1974 by 524 votes, spent all night with me consoling me, but he was in that audience. Larry Luna, Larry Mason, Isabelle Pfeiffer, people I had not talked to about this, in addition to my wife, pointed out the errors of my way. I have done everything since that meeting in Las Vegas, in conversation with my wife, to undo my embarrassment.

I have nothing against my friend, the junior Senator from Alabama, for bringing up what I had said those many years ago today on the Senate floor [referring to 1993]. I have no problem with that at all. But I do want to tell him and the rest of my friends in the Senate, that is a low point of my legislative career, the low point of my governmental career. ...


Mr. LOTT. ... I was looking forward to amendments. Some people will say: Oh, vote for cloture, let's get this over with; there are too many amendments. We haven't voted on one amendment. We have been dragging around here for over a week now. Senator Kyl has tried every way in the world to get a vote, and the minority in the Senate is blocking even a vote on a critical amendment by a senior Senator in the leadership of the majority, I might add, because they don't want to vote.

Frankly, for floor people, I note there are some ways this issue can be stuffed down the opposition's throat. I don't want to do that. I thought we were going to rise to the occasion and have a bipartisan debate.

This is the Senate. This is not the House. And, by the way, I have been a party to stuffing the minority, and people didn't agree with me. I filled up the tree. I filed cloture instantly on bills and on amendments. But almost every way, almost every time it backfired on me. I admit it now. I remember filling up the tree and blocking Senator McCain from offering his amendment on campaign finance reform. I did it more than once. I told him I was going to do it. In the end, he won. ...

There is a way we can get an agreement between the Republicans in the House and the Senate, the majority in the House and the Senate, and force it to the floor whole-hog and say: Vote for it, up or down. It can be done. ...


Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I also have been working on a terrorist visa amendment. I call up that amendment, No. 3216, for consideration.

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I object on behalf of the minority leader.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard. ...

My amendment is so simple, in fact, that it adds only 6 words to the entire Immigration and Nationality Act. And half of those are the word ``or.'' The other three are ``advocate,'' ``advocates,'' and ``advocated.'' ...

This Congress has already passed important legislation denying visas to terrorists, including in the PATRIOT and REAL ID Acts. The REAL ID Act, signed into law on May 11, 2005, specifically states that one who endorses or espouses terrorist activity is inadmissible.

The real REAL ID Act became public law on May 11 of last year, 8 days after publication of this manual. Yet, today, more 10 months later, the State Department is still instructing its consular officers that advocacy of terrorism may not be a ground for exclusion.

Clearly, the State Department needs to be sent a message that we, in Congress, are serious about securing our borders. And particularly serious about preventing known advocates of terrorism--people who are most likely to wish harm to our country--from entering into the United States.


Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, it appears conclusively at this point that we are not going to make any--I was about to say any more progress. I can't say that because that suggests there has been some progress. We can't make any progress on the immigration reform bill, so that my colleagues will be aware that nothing further will happen on that bill for the remainder of the evening. Hopefully, we can make some progress overnight and in the morning on the proposed compromises so we can have a fruitful day tomorrow.


MOTION TO COMMIT

Mr. President, I move to commit the bill to the Judiciary Committee to report back forthwith with an amendment in the nature of a substitute.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Tennessee [Mr. Frist] moves to commit the bill to the Committee on the Judiciary with instructions to report back forthwith the following amendment No. 3424. ...

CLOTURE MOTION[S]

Mr. FRIST. I send a cloture motion to the desk on the pending motion to commit.

We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the pending motion to commit S. 2454, the Securing America's Borders Act.
Bill Frist, Arlen Specter, Michael B. Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott, Chuck Hagel, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, George V. Voinovich, Mel Martinez, Lamar Alexander, Norm Coleman, Pete Domenici, Orrin Hatch, David Vitter, Johnny Isakson, Jim DeMint.

We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on Calendar No. 376, S. 2454, a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for comprehensive reform, and for other purposes.
Bill Frist, George Allen, Mitch McConnell, Pete Domenici, R.F. Bennett, Jim Talent, Craig Thomas, Elizabeth Dole, Conrad Burns, Jim DeMint, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, Ted Stevens, Wayne Allard, Norm Coleman, Trent Lott, John Thune.

... moments ago I offered a motion to commit, which incorporates an amendment by Senators Hagel and Martinez and others who have been working on this amendment over the course of the day. The fact that those cloture motions were filed tonight means that we would have the cloture vote on that motion on Friday. And depending on the outcome of that cloture motion, we could have a second cloture vote on the underlying bill, the so-called Frist bill, as well.

So we will have the Specter cloture vote tomorrow morning, and then one or possibly two other cloture votes on Friday morning.

[A procedural move that dumps the Specter amendment in favor of the Frist Bill as amended by the Hagel-Martinez amendment]

8 . NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM -- (Senate - April 05, 2006)


Mr. FRIST. But before doing that, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 251, S. 1086 [Jacob Wetterling, Megan Nicole Kanka, and Pam Lychner Sex Offender Registration and Notification Grant Act]. I ask unanimous consent that the committee-reported amendment be agreed to, the bill, as amended, be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating to the bill be printed in the RECORD.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. REID. Reserving the right to object, Mr. President, Senator Kennedy and other Senators have been told prior to this piece of legislation passing there would be a vote on hate crimes legislation that has been in this body for a long time.

I would hope--and it is my understanding the chairman of the committee had worked this out with Senator Kennedy--we could, at an early date, I mean in a matter of hours, work this out. This sex offender registry is an important piece of legislation. But also, as we have learned here in the Senate, people keeping their word is also important. I am confident it was some kind of a misunderstanding. I am hopeful that is the case. But until Senator Kennedy and others and Senator Specter work this out, I must object. ...

Mr. President, very briefly, if the distinguished majority leader will yield, Democrats support the concept of a national registry. It is important. But we also support the concept that people who are injured, maimed, or murdered as a result of hate crimes also deserve protection. We hope we can do all this at one time. I am hopeful and confident that can happen.

9 . UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. 1086 -- (Senate - April 05, 2006)


Cloture Motions

We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of Benjamin Powell to be General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Bill Frist, Lamar Alexander, Mike Crapo, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Wayne Allard, Johnny Isakson, Richard Shelby, Craig Thomas, Ted Stevens, David Vitter, James Inhofe, Chuck Hagel, Norm Coleman, Mike DeWine, R.F. Bennett, John Thune.

10 . EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - April 05, 2006)


We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of Gordon England to be Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Bill Frist, Lamar Alexander, Mike Crapo, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Wayne Allard, Johnny Isakson, Richard Shelby, Larry E. Craig, Ted Stevens, James Inhofe, Chuck Hagel, Norm Coleman, Mike DeWine, R.F. Bennett, John Thune, Craig Thomas.

11 . NOMINATION OF GORDON ENGLAND TO BE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE


We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of Dorrance Smith to be Assistant Secretary of Defense.
Bill Frist, Lamar Alexander, Mike Crapo, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Wayne Allard, Johnny Isakson, Richard Shelby, Craig Thomas, Ted Stevens, David Vitter, James Inhofe, Chuck Hagel, Norm Coleman, Mike DeWine, R.F. Bennett, John Thune.

12 . NOMINATION OF DORRANCE SMITH TO BE AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE


We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination of Peter Cyril Wyche Flory to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense.
Bill Frist, Lamar Alexander, Mike Crapo, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Wayne Allard, Johnny Isakson, Richard Shelby, Craig Thomas, Ted Stevens, David Vitter, James Inhofe, Chuck Hagel, Norm Coleman, Mike DeWine, Robert F. Bennett, John Thune.

13 . NOMINATION OF PETER CYRIL WYCHE FLORY


Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I am proud to join with Senators Specter, Kohl, DeWine and others on a new bill, the Oil and Gas Industry Antitrust Act of 2006, which includes, as its centerpiece, our NOPEC legislation, which many of us have worked together on for years.

This measure--The No Oil Producing And Exporting Cartels Act, NOPEC--would make OPEC accountable for its anticompetitive behavior and allow the Justice Department to crack down on illegal price manipulation by oil cartels. It will allow the Federal Government to take legal action against any foreign state, including members of OPEC, for price fixing and other anticompetitive activities. The tools this bill would provide to law enforcement agencies are necessary to immediately counter OPEC's anticompetitive practices, and these tools would help reduce gasoline prices now.

17 . THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY ANTITRUST ACT OF 2006


Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of the nomination of Michael A. Chagares to be a Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. ...

Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to support the nomination of Mr. Chagares to be a judge on our Nation's Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

[LOL!! Hahahahahaha!! Chargares was confirmed on April 4]

18 . NOMINATION OF MICHAEL A. CHAGARES


The following communications were laid before the Senate, together with accompanying papers, reports, and documents, and were referred as indicated:

EC-6264. A communication from the Chairman, Office of General Counsel, Federal Election Commission, transmitting, pursuant to law, the report of a rule entitled ``Internet Communications'' ((11 CFR Parts 100, 110, and 114)(Notice 2006-8)) received on April 4, 2006; to the Committee on Rules and Administration. ...

EC-6293. A communication from the Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs, Department of State, transmitting, pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act, the certification of a proposed manufacturing license agreement involving the manufacture of significant military equipment and the export of defense articles or defense services sold commercially under a contract in the amount of $50,000,000 or more to Russia; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

EC-6294. A communication from the Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs, Department of State, transmitting, pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act, the certification of a proposed retransfer of defense articles or defense services involving major defense equipment in the amount of $14,000,000 or more (TOW missiles to Egypt from the Royal Netherlands Army); to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

24 . EXECUTIVE AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS -- (Senate - April 05, 2006)


The following bills and joint resolutions were introduced, read the first and second times by unanimous consent, and referred as indicated: ...

By Mr. DURBIN (for himself, Mrs. LINCOLN, Mr. REID, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. KENNEDY, Mr. KERRY, Mr. BINGAMAN, Mr. CARPER, Mr. DAYTON, Mr. HARKIN, Mr. KOHL, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Ms. CANTWELL, Mrs. CLINTON, Mr. DODD, Mr. LEAHY, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. PRYOR, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. JOHNSON, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, and Mrs. BOXER):

S. 2510. A bill to establish a national health program administered by the Office of Personnel Management to offer health benefits plans to individuals who are not Federal employees, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

By Mr. MCCAIN:
S. 2511. A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to clarify when organizations described in section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 must register as political committees, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

26 . INTRODUCTION OF BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

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