Senate Summary - April 7, 2006
Senate Summary - April 7, 2006A bill (S. 2454) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for comprehensive reform and for other purposes.
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.
Santorum/Mikulski amendment No. 3214 (to amendment No. 3192), to designate Poland as a program country under the visa waiver program established under section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Nelson (FL) amendment No. 3220 (to amendment No. 3192), to use surveillance technology to protect the borders of the United States.
Sessions amendment No. 3420 (to the language proposed to be stricken by amendment No. 3192), of a perfecting nature.
Nelson (NE) amendment No. 3421 (to amendment No. 3420), of a perfecting nature.
Roll Call Vote 00089 : 38 - 60 Reject Cloture on recommit S.2454 with Hagel-Martinez
DEM Against Cloture: Baucus, Byrd, Conrad, Dorgan, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE)
Roll Call Vote 00090 : 36 - 62 Reject Cloture on S.2454 Frist
DEM for Cloture: Byrd, Nelson (NE)
GOP Against Cloture: Brownback, Chafee, Coleman, Collins, Craig, DeWine, Ensign, Graham, Hagel, Inhoffe, Kyl, Lugar, McCain, Roberts, Snowe, Specter, Thomas, Voinovich, Warner
Mr. LEAHY. If the Senator will yield a moment on that, I have commended the Senator before for his indefatigable leadership. He worked extraordinarily hard. I commit to the senior Senator from Pennsylvania that on the Democratic side we will continue to work with him on any amount of time he needs in committee. Our committee demonstrated that we can produce a bipartisan bill. We will continue to work with him in any way necessary to finish this. I agree with him that it is important. On this of the aisle, we will continue that work.
Mr. SPECTER. I thank the distinguished ranking member.
Addressing the situation generally as to what we face now on the immigration bill, I think it is most unfortunate, really unacceptable, that the compromise arrangement has fallen through. I believe this legislation is vital for America's interests, vital for our national security interests, vital for our economic interests, and vital for our humanitarian interests.
The agreement has been decimated, has fallen through, because of partisan politics. Regrettably, partisan politics plays too large a role on both sides of the aisle, with Democrats and Republicans, and there is more concern about political advantage in this situation--as it is in many situations--than there is on public policy and the public welfare. The procedures for not allowing tough votes, regrettably--that practice has been undertaken by both Democrats and Republicans. I have been in the Senate for 25 years now, and this has been a repeated practice which I have noted at least from the past decade and a half. It has occurred even beyond that period of time. Both the Democratic and Republican leaders--minority leaders, but mostly leaders--have been in the position to do what is called ``fill the tree.''
Senate procedures are arcane and complicated. I would not begin to try to explain them now. But the conclusion is that you can use the rules to avoid having votes come up, if you want to do it. It is called filling the tree. Republicans on this immigration bill have been stymied from offering amendments. But at the same time, on other bills, on prior days, Democrats had been stymied from offering amendments. So it is a matter of bipartisan blame.
But what is happening is that the public interests are being damaged. A very similar situation occurred last year on the filibusters. The Democrats filibustered President Bush's judicial nominees in retaliation for tactics employed by Republicans to stymie President Clinton's nominees from having votes, from coming out of committee or, once out of committee, from having votes on the Senate floor. That impasse, that confrontation on judges, almost threatened to destroy a very vital part of the institution of the Senate, and that is the right of unlimited debate. Where the filibusters were used, in my view, inappropriately, consideration was given to changing the rules of the Senate to change the number of Senators necessary to cut off debate from 60, which is the current rule, to 51. Fortunately, we were able to avoid that confrontation ...
Mr. DURBIN. ... I stand here today uncertain about where the Republican Party of the United States of America stands on the issue of immigration. I know where the House Republicans stand. They are very clear. It is a punitive, mean-spirited approach to immigration, which most Republicans in the Senate have rejected. The idea of charging volunteers, nurses, and people of faith who help the poorest among us with a felony if one of those poor people happens to be an undocumented immigrant is the ultimate. That is the position of the House Republicans.
For the life of me, I don't know what the position of the Senate Republicans is on immigration. Their leader stood before us yesterday and accepted this bipartisan compromise, came before the cameras and said this was his bill, too. He filed a motion so that we could limit debate and move to final passage of this bill and announced last night that he would vote against his own motion.
In the history of the United States, there was a political party known as the mugwumps. They were called mugwumps because people said they had their mug on one side of the face and their wump on the other. That is what I see when I look at the Senate Republican caucus. Where are they on immigration? ...
Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, it is an interesting time on the floor of the Senate. We just heard the most fascinating speech about fingerpointing I have heard in decades--fingerpointing from the other side that is trying to suggest they are blameless, absolutely without blame, because the Senate is stalled in its attempt to gain a comprehensive immigration reform bill. ...
To suggest that the Democratic caucus has not had conflict behind closed doors over the last week is, in fact, a false statement because today we see this veneered front. To suggest that they are without blame because the Senate for 1 week has stood still doing nothing because they would not allow amendments on the comprehensive bill? May I say shame on you? I am saying that because the veneer doesn't fit. It is paper thin like the front page of the legislation before us.
Mr. GRASSLEY. ... Some say that our enforcement-only approach in 1996 didn't work. Let me remind my colleagues that the 1996 bill contained measures that still have not been implemented. The best example is the entry-exit system. It is not fully operational because Congress and our bureaucrats keep delaying its implementation. ...
Some have estimated that there are 7.7 to 8.5 million illegal aliens who have been here for more than 5 years. That is more than 75 percent of the illegal population. But that is not all. The compromise says that the family of the illegal alien--their spouses and children--can also apply. It doesn't say that their family has to be in this country. In fact, those back in their home countries are now getting a free pass to cross the border. They, too, are on their way to a citizenship.
Those in the second tier who are required to go home and re-enter through a legal channel won't go home. Why would they if their neighbors are getting citizenship? They will hold out for their reward. They will wait for Congress to pass another amnesty bill. We are sending a bad signal. We are saying some can get amnesty and some cannot. ...
The proponents say that illegal aliens have to pay their taxes. Don't let them fool you. Sure, they have to pay all outstanding Federal and Sate taxes before their status is adjusted, but they only have to pay the taxes they owe for the 3 years that they are required to work. What about the other years? They have been here for at least 5. What about those under the age of 20 who are exempt from having to work? What if they work? Don't they have to pay their taxes? ...
The English requirement is weak. It is weaker than current naturalization requirements. Under current law, an immigrant has to demonstrate an understanding of the English language and a knowledge of the fundamentals of our history and government. Under this compromise, an alien only has to prove that they are pursuing a course of study in English, history, and U.S. Government. Anybody could make that claim.
The compromise would require the Department of Homeland Security to do a background check on the illegal aliens in the United States. In fact, this compromise has placed a time limit on our Federal agents. They have 90 days to complete them. That is unrealistic. It is possible. It is a huge burden. And it is a huge expense.
Homeland Security will surely try to hurry with these background checks. They will be pressured by Congress to rush them. They will rubberstamp applications despite possible gang participation, criminal activity, terrorist ties, and other violations of our laws. This is a national security concern. ...
But wait--there is more. If an alien has been ordered removed, and is sitting in jail ready to be deported, the alien still gets the chance to apply for this amnesty. The thousands of illegal aliens with orders to leave the country can apply. Their country won't take them back, so our country will give them citizenship. That doesn't make sense. ...
Foreign workers won't have to take low-skilled jobs anymore. They won't be required to do the jobs that Americans supposedly won't do. Their spouses and children will permanently take jobs away. These aren't temporary workers anymore.
What happens when this country goes into recession? Americans will be banging on our door, asking why we did this to them.
At its core, this is an issue of the executive branch refusing to provide the Senate with documents that are relevant to the confirmation proceeding. ...
Here is the critical connection between the Feith office and Mr. Flory: Mr. Flory worked in the office of Under Secretary Feith at the time the alternative assessment was developed and disseminated. Some of the internal e-mails we have been able to obtain indicate Mr. Flory requested and received briefings on the collection of intelligence from the Iraqi National Congress in December 2002. The INC material should have been evaluated by the intelligence community and filtered through their screen. Instead, it went to the Feith policy shop, which included Mr. Flory. ...
This is not a case of blocking Mr. Flory from occupying the office to which he has been nominated. I want to emphasize this for our colleagues: Mr. Flory has received a recess appointment. He occupies the office. He is currently serving in the position to which he was nominated. So there should be no argument that we need to give up a vital institutional right to obtain documents relevant to our carrying out of our confirmation function. Again, Mr. Flory occupies the office to which he has been nominated. The issue here is whether we are going to have access to documents that are relevant or may be relevant to this nomination. ...
Senator McCain last year or the year before held up promotions and transfers of senior officers in the Air Force because the Department of Defense refused to provide information he sought which was relevant to a proposed Air Force lease of tanker aircraft. We supported him. He was right; he is entitled to that information. ...
In short, the Senate has a longstanding practice of holding up nominations in order to obtain documents relevant to confirmation and oversight responsibilities. This has been done by Senators of both parties, in Senates controlled by both parties, and with administrations controlled by both parties.
Roll Call Vote 00091 : 59 - 34 Approve nomination of Dorrance Smith
DEMS for Nominee: Feingold, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Nelson (NE), Pryor
Roll Call Vote 00092 : 52 - 41 Reject Cloture on nomination of Peter Flory
Pure Party-line vote
Today, I come to the floor to request answers on behalf of our troops, their families, and the American people. For years President Bush has denied knowing about conversations between his top aides and Washington reporters, conversations where his aides, like Scooter Libby, sought to justify the war in Iraq and discredit the White House's critics by leaking national security secrets. In fact, President Bush is on record clearly, in September of 2003, as saying:
I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take appropriate action.
Yesterday, we found there is much more to the story. According to court records, President Bush may have personally authorized the very leaks he denied knowing anything about. In light of this disturbing news, we need to hear from President Bush which of these is true: His comments in 2003 or the statements made by the Vice President's chief of staff. Only the President can put this matter to rest.
Harry Truman had on his desk in the Oval Office a plaque. It said: ``The buck stops here.'' In George Bush's White House, perhaps he should put one that says: The leaks start here.
He, the President of the United States, must tell the American people whether President Bush's Oval Office is a place where the buck stops or the leaks start. This is a question he alone must answer, not a spokesman, not a statement, only the President of the United States.
I yield the floor.
If the President refuses to come to Congress in the coming weeks with his plan and his budget to win the peace in Iraq, Congress owes it to the American people to vote up or down on whether to keep American troops in Iraq for at least 3 more years.
The President's case for winning the peace in Iraq should address these concerns:
First, how the President can help make the Iraqis self-reliant so that they can defeat the deadly insurgency.
Second, how the President intends to help Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish leaders break the political impasse so that they can form a unity government.
Third, how the President intends to pull the Iraqi people back from the brink of all-out civil war and the specter of another Rwanda or Darfur.
Fourth, how the President intends to help rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure and ensure that Iraqis have access to basic services like electricity and clean water.
And fifth, how the President intends to bring the troops home from Iraq.
The vote I call for today, if held, won't be about cutting-and-running. It won't be about who comes up with the best spin. It will be about holding the President and Congress accountable. The vote will hold the President accountable for presenting a plan and a budget for securing the peace. And the vote will hold Congress accountable by making it finally act like a co-equal branch of government.
Whether one counts himself or herself as a Christian of any denomination or a follower of any other faith, one must admit that the man, the person, at the center of the Easter celebration was and is a figure of historical import, just as are the founding figures of the rest of the world's religions. There are today, by some estimates, approximately 2.1 billion Christians of all denominations, more than any other religious affiliation, and almost twice as many as those who describe themselves as secular, nonreligious, agnostic, or atheist--1.1 billion. By way of contrast, there are approximately 1.3 billion adherents of Islam and just 14 million of Jesus' Jewish faith. That one man's example and teachings have affected so many people so deeply and for so many years is a testament to his faith.
On Palm Sunday, a rabbi from Galilee, whom we know best today as Jesus, made a public entrance into Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.
In doing so, Jesus surely knew what was in store for Him. He knew--He knew--He was a wanted man. He knew He was a wanted man--He knew it--marked for arrest by the civil authorities who feared that He would incite a rebellion that would lead to Roman occupation and unprotected by religious authorities who feared His teachings and who could not countenance His refusal to deny being more than human. But still He came. Still He came and the people cheered and threw palm leaves, a symbol of triumph and the national symbol of an independent Palestine, before his path. What a remarkable act of faith. What a remarkable act of faith to come willingly to one's tragic end, seeing through the suffering to the miracle of resurrection. The miracle; the miracle of resurrection. What a remarkable act of courage, to remain silent and smiling at the people He knew would not or could not aid Him in His final hours.
Some 2,000 years later, those 2.1 billion Christians around the world commemorate Jesus' final entry into Jerusalem by making crosses out of palm fronds, combining the triumphant entrance with the lasting image of Jesus Christ on the cross.
By Thursday, called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, Jesus' freedom ended after His last meal, when He was arrested and imprisoned, betrayed--yes, betrayed--by Judas for 30 pieces of silver. Foreknowledge could not have made those fateful moments any easier to bear. On Good Friday, Christians will solemnly remember His suffering and death upon the cross. Candles and lights will be extinguished in memory of His final hours. Good Friday remains a sad, dark day despite the knowledge of His resurrection to leaven the terrible suffering He endured.
Holy Saturday is a day of vigil, as Christians figuratively keep watch over Christ's tomb and await the glorious resurrection to come. And Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday, is a joyful, glorious day of reaffirmed faith, of promises kept, of hope restored.
I read now from the Book of St. Matthew, the 28th chapter, the first through the seventh verses, the King James version of the Holy Bible:
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
His countenance was like lightening, and his raiment white as snow:
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where [Jesus] lay.
The scriptures say:
Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, He ``goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: Lo, I have told you.''
For the next 40 days, Christ proved to his followers that He had, indeed, risen from the dead. Then He ascended into Heaven, fulfilling the final promise of His wondrous life. As John 3:16 so beautifully summed up the central promise of the Christian faith, ``For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'' In Jesus' resurrection and ascension, God offers the greatest and only proof of His love and His promise that in death, there is life in faith. That--that, not chocolate bunnies and colorful eggs--is the great gift of Easter. Its comfort and solace linger on in the soul even longer than chocolate does on the lips. It warms us even more during sad times--yes--than does the spring sun after a cold and cheerless winter.
And so it is because of this great gift, this promise--yes, this promise of everlasting life and the heart-searing proof through sacrifice that Christianity survived the passing of its founder. Nearly 2,000 years later, the words and example of the Rabbi from Galilee motivate and support over 2 billion--over 2 billion--people around the world. Governments have tried to stamp Him out, but still He endures in the hearts of His devout followers. Technology has tried to distract us, but still His word--yes, his word--beckons. I am sure that whatever trials and tribulations lie ahead, His teachings and faith will offer comfort and hope no matter how bleak the future might appear. In all of the moments of our lives, large and small, joyful and desolate, triumphant and abject, He--yes, He is there at our side with support and hope. I do feel for those 1.2 billion people who do not have faith to sustain them and give them strength. It is a deep, deep well of support and nourishment for the weary soul--for the weary soul.
Mr. President, I close my speech with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from his poem ``Christus: A Mystery.'' In the poem, Prince Henry is speaking to Elsie as they cross the square:
This is the day, when from the dead our Lord arose; and everywhere, out of their darkness and despair, triumphant over fears and foes, the hearts of his disciples rose, when to the women, standing near, the angel in shining vesture said, ``The Lord is risen; He is not here!'' And, mindful that the day is come, on all the hearths in Christendom the fires are quenched, to be again rekindled from the sun, that high is dancing in the cloudless sky. The churches are all decked with flowers, the salutations among men are but the Angel's words divine, ``Christ is arisen!'' And the bells catch the glad murmur, as it swells, and chant together in their towers. All hearts are glad; and free from care the faces of the people shine. See what a crowd is in the square, gayly and gallantly arrayed!
Mr. President, let me close--and I hope I have not imposed too long on the Senate and on my friends who may have been waiting--let me close with these words spoken by William Jennings Bryan in his speech on immortality. Now is the time to think about it. That is what Easter is: the promise of immortality.
If the Father deigns to touch with divine power the cold and pulseless heart of the buried acorn, and make it burst forth from its prison walls again in the mighty Oak, will He leave neglected in the Earth the soul of man, who was made in the image of his Creator? If He stoops to give to the rosebush, whose withered blossoms float upon the autumn breeze, the sweet assurance of another springtime, will He withhold all the words of hope from the sons of men when the frosts of winter come? If Matter, mute and inanimate, though changed by the forces of Nature into a multitude of forms, can never die, will the imperial spirit of man suffer annihilation after a brief visit to this tenement of clay?
Rather, let us believe that He who, in his apparent prodigality, wastes not the raindrop, the blade of grass, or the evening's sighing zephyr, but makes them all to carry out His eternal plans, has given immortality to the mortal.
I remember when this controversy broke. President Bush acted incredulous that anyone would leak classified national security information. In fact, in September 2003, the President said:
There's just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.
But now we find out--I think embarrassingly for the President, embarrassingly for the United States--we now find out that the President himself was ordering a leak of classified material. And he leaked that classified information for political reasons. He was trying to undo some of the political damage caused by the disclosure that the intelligence community did not believe Iraq was trying to purchase uranium. There it was: the reason we went to Iraq in the first place, and substantial doubts.
However, House Republicans seem intent on producing a bill without including Democrats. That would be unfortunate and is likely to produce a bill that fails to meet the principles supported by the Democratic caucus.
The Senate pension bill was crafted with bipartisan participation, and that approach produced a bill that received almost unanimous support in the Senate. Working together, the conferees can produce a conference agreement that would garner an equally strong vote.
- The conference agreement should include balanced funding rules
- The conference agreement should protect older workers while clarifying the status of cash balance plans
- The conference agreement should include targeted relief for troubled industries
- The conference agreement should improve employer-based retirement savings plans
- The conference agreement should include reform of multiemployer pension plans
- The conference agreement cannot include provisions that undermine patient's rights
- The conference agreement should modernize ERISA without weakening worker protections
- The conference agreement should be fiscally responsible [no tax cuts]
The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday voted to report legislation unanimously that would reform the CFIUS process. It was a difficult job. I commend Senators SHELBY and SARBANES for putting together bipartisan, consensus legislation that puts security first, while striking a balance that continues to welcome foreign investment. America has benefited a tremendous amount from foreign investment into our economy, so I am glad that we have not overreacted to the Bush administration's mistakes and mismanagement in their review of these important transactions.
Secretary England has been the Department's problem-solver for the last 5 years. In this brief period of time, he has served as Secretary of the Navy, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of the Navy again, and--after being under consideration to serve as Secretary of the Air Force--as Deputy Secretary of Defense. At the request of the Secretary of Defense, he has also taken on such critical jobs as designing the new National Security Personnel System and overseeing the review of the status of DOD detainees at Guantanamo.
Closing ActionsBills read a second time and put on the calendar ...
S.2603 - A bill to reduce the charges for mining sodium on government land
S.2611 - Immigration (Specter, Brownback, Graham, Hagel, Kennedy, Martinez, McCain)
S.2612 - Immigration (Hagel, Brownback, Graham, Kennedy, Martinez, McCain, Specter)
Treaties ratified ...
Treaty 12 : Treaty Doc No. 108-7 : Protocol of 1997 amending MARPOL Convention
Protocol of 1997 to Amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 thereto
Treaties 12 & 14 on the Executive Calendar taken up, and the resoultions of ratification were agreed to. An interesting charde on the floor of the Senate, as the presiding officer (Hagel) on a division vote (ratification only) called for those in favor to stand, then those opposed, then announced "2/3rds the Senators voting in the affirmative" or similar (indicting a full house), "the Resolutions of Ratification are agreed to." Senator McConnell thanked the chair for the creative ruling, I think McCaonnell and Hagel were the only two Senators in the chamber.
Senate Resolutions Passed ...
S.Res.439 - National Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week
S.Res.440 - Congratulates 2006 United States Winter Olympic Teams
Bill read and passed ...
H.R.3351 - To make technical corrections to laws relating to Native Americans
House Concurrent Reolution Agreed to ...
H.Con.Res.366 - Congratulating NASA
Nominations confirmed ...
Nominations PN1332-1335 (Coast Guard)
The Senate will be open to accept reports of Committees and other business, from 10 AM to noon on Friday, April 20, 2006.
Order of business for Monday, April 24, 2006, 2:00 PM ...
H.R.4939 - Supplemental Appropriations Bill
Votes (likely, amendments) on this bill to occur on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, may vote on two nominations for District Court:
Patrick Schiltz - MN
Gray Miller - TX