Monday, May 15, 2006

Senate Live - May 15, 2006

Immigration week. A bit of Groundhog Day in this.

Today's Congressional Record: Debate on S.2611


Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, on Monday, we will return to the immigration reform bill. Members wishing to offer amendments to this bill and wishing to debate the bill are encouraged to do so starting on Monday.

The first rollcall vote next week will be on Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock. That particular vote will be on the confirmation of a circuit court judicial nomination. In all likelihood, we will have several other votes stacked on immigration shortly thereafter.

We will have a full week next week. The Democratic leader and I outlined yesterday morning what the plans would be, expecting a full debate on what we know is a contentious issue, in large part because of the complexity of the issue.

33 . ORDERS FOR MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate completes its business today, it stand in adjournment until 2 p.m. on Monday, May 15. I further ask that following the prayer and the pledge, the morning hour be deemed to have expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved, and the Senate proceed to S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, as under the previous order.

S.2611 is Specter's version of the immigration bill, also known as McCain/Kennedy. [May 17 correction: One of many detail errors of mine - S.2611 is in fact Hagel-Martinez, having the three-tiered system for dealing with people presently in the US illegally.] Senator Sessions is coming out loaded for bear against this bill as it stands, with a couple press releases on the subject since late last week.

May 15 - Massive Numerical Impact (200 million immigrants / 20 years)
May 12 - Fifteen loopholes in the Immigration Bill

Over the weekend, there has been a flurry of erroneous speculation on the Goode Amendment and the relationship of Posse Comitatus to using our military to supplement border enforcement.

First, the Goode amendment as passed on May 11, 2006 is not H.R.1986. A quick look at the Congressional Record proves that. And even though there was a Goode Amendment on the subject, procedurally it is only passed by the House. The Senate needs to take up the National Defense Authorization Act for 2007, and any differences need to worked out in compromise in a House/Senate conference and subsequent vote. In short, the Goode amendment is irrelevant for any action taken today or next week or next month, regarding use of military to supplement border patrol.

That being said, some links that lead to the Goode amendment, as passed by the House on May 11 ...

H.R. 5122 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 passed the House 396 - 31 on May 11, 2006.

H.AMDT.814 by Goode also passed the House on May 11, on a 252 - 171 vote.

As for statutory bars to using the military to supplant border patrol, and all the pontificating about Posse Comitatus, I have yet to see a pundit or commentator point to the following statute, which I think speaks for itself and needs no analysis.

Subtitle A--General Military Law
10 USC ยง 374. Maintenance and operation of equipment

(b)(1) Subject to paragraph (2) and in accordance with other applicable law, the Secretary of Defense may, upon request from the head of a Federal law enforcement agency, make Department of Defense personnel available to operate equipment (including equipment made available under section 372 of this title) with respect to--
(A) a criminal violation of a provision of law specified in paragraph (4)(A); ...

[e.g., Any of sections 274 through 278 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324-1328)]

(2) Department of Defense personnel made available to a civilian law enforcement agency under this subsection may operate equipment for the following purposes:
(A) Detection, monitoring, and communication of the movement of air and sea traffic.
(B) Detection, monitoring, and communication of the movement of surface traffic outside of the geographic boundary of the United States and within the United States not to exceed 25 miles of the boundary if the initial detection occurred outside of the boundary.
(C) Aerial reconnaissance. ...

(4) In this subsection:
(A) The term "Federal law enforcement agency" means a Federal agency with jurisdiction to enforce any of the following: ...

(ii) Any of sections 274 through 278 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1324-1328).

See also, at Page 2, under "Statutory exceptions to PCA." The relevant text is half way through the 2nd paragraph under that heading, and says,

"DoD personnel may be made available to federal law enforcement agencies to operate equipment in conjunction with ... the enforcement of ... immigration laws, and customs requirements."

Update @ 14:50 - Senator Specter is describing the layout of the process, as well as the general substantive outcome. With regard to timing, he focuses on the votes, the time for each, and will limit that to 15 minutes, or 10 minutes for stacked votes. Each time limit has an additional 5 minute grace period. I take that as a signal that the legislative process will be complex, i.e., many amendments. This tends to make the process tough to follow in real time.

With regard to substance, Senator Specter says the legislation will include a guest worker program, and will be comprehensive. He notes that Speaker Hastert also supports guest worker program, and he (Specter) expects this measure to survive House/Senate conference.

Senator Specter also says this is not amnesty. That the very word "amnesty" is pejorative in this context. And so, the immigration debate is kicked off.

Senator Specter is against a borders first approach (he is against conditioning dealing with internal controls on a border security declaration) - and advocates doing border and other actions at the same time. I think that is reasonable, and say the issue with "the other stuff" (besides border) is the nature of the solutions that pertain to the other stuff.

A bit of an indicator of how this is apt to unfold, Specter is the conservative side of the management team, and Leahy is the DEM side manager.

The "slow down the influx" and "tighten the border" proponents are vastly outnumbered, and (not that I like it) I predict that side will eventually lose. That's my bottom line. The only interesting inquiry relates to the contours of the new immigration scheme.

S.2611 - Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006

Amendments likely won't be available until tomorrow, Specter sends one, the border security declaration proposal where dealing with 11 million undocumented aliens is deferred until the administration declares the border secure. Specter is against this amendment, and there is little doubt the amendment will fail.

Update @ 15:05 - Senator Leahy bemoaning the failure of the Senate to pass various measures, such as asbestos. Senator Leahy is grateful for the support of President Bush on the immigration bill, in particular to obtain a comprehensive solution. Meanwhile, he also badmouths administration performance on securing the border; and that interior and employment enforcement have also dropped, according to statistics. Senator Leahy says that action has to follow rhetoric.

I find it amazing that Senator Leahy and Michelle Malkin see eye-to-eye on this particular aspect of immigration control. ;-)

Update @ 15:20 - Senator Cornyn submits S.Amdt.3961, for Isakson, which is the border security declaration amendment that Specter does not approve of, but is willing to vote on. Senator Cornyn then asks UC to set that aside and offer a Kyl-Cornyn amendment. Leahy objects, primarily due to this being out of order with the process, as he sees it, that Frist, Reid and Specter envision for managing the introduction of amendments.

Update @ 15:45 - Senator Cornyn mocking part of the bill that has the function (I think) of admitting "absconders" to the right to obtain relief under whatever system is established to handle the 11 million current illegal aliens (or whatever the number is). Complying with a deportation order removes a person from consideration for permanent residency, but failure to deport (absconding) is not a bar to obtaining a green card. Senator Cornyn notes that this sends mixed signals about US approach to immigration.

The amendment that Senator Cornyn intended to submit was to remedy these conflicting signals by baring absconders from the right to become a permanent resident.

Update @ 15:55 - Senator Reid interrupted Senator Kennedy to give he and Senator McCain a high-five for their effort on the immigration bill. This should be a fun week in the Senate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cboldt...

I am curious if you know who the conferees are on the House side of the Immigration Bill they voted on??

BTW...Sessions is on fire...I wish he would just go and have a sitdown with President Bush...and tell him to NOT do anything except stop the flow right now...leave the rest until much more debate.'

Thank you, sleuth

5/15/2006 6:08 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

I have no idea who the House conferees will be, except Sensenbrenner, naturally, as the bill is his. Somewhere in the Senate May 11 post is a note that the Senate conferee makeup will be 14 GOP and 12 DEM, 26 Senators in conference. I mean !!! (that is alot of people). The most senior 7 GOP and 5 DEM from Judiciary Committee, the balance to be selected by Frist and Reid.

Senate Judiciary Committee membership list shows the 7 most senior GOP being Specter, Hatch, Grassley, Kyl, DeWine, Sessions, and Graham. The 5 most senior DEM members are Leahy, Kennedy, Biden, Kohl and Feinstein.

H.R.4437 was passed and sent to the Senate on December 17 last year. Since it hasn't been "answered" with an alternative, the House has no reason to take up the matter of instructing conferees - which is as important as naming them. One point I don't know is how the House chooses the number of conferees. The conference is also a deliberative body, which votes out some sort of compromise for each body to take up fresh, as reported out of conference.

This Senate Conferees Report is a good summary of how the Senate side operates. I have to look into the House side, but this and this are interesting starting points.

5/15/2006 7:37 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

On the subject of arriving at the makeup of Hose/Senate Conference Committees, This paper has a good summary of the process, and is pretty easy reading. In the House, the Speaker chooses the conferees using rules of seniority and committee assignment that are reasonably intuitive (send the legislators who are familiar with the legislation, and that have seniority of service), but are not rigidly adhered to.

Here is a statistical study, with some basic introductory material, and some impenetrable analysis.

Regardless of who the conferees are, the resulting compromise has to be agreed again by each body. And in that venue all becomes more publicly political. You did catch that Speaker Hastert supports adding "guest worker" or some other "deal with the residents" measures to the eventual immigration package.

The devil is in the details. "Guest workers" (like "amnesty") is a charged word that does precisely NOTHING to advance discussion and arrive at an agreed path for managing our way from here.

5/15/2006 7:56 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

Crap. I duplicated one reference between the two comment posts above, and seem to have misplaced the "easy reading summary." I found another reference that covers the entire legislative process, and its section relating to conference formation and operation is succinct background.

Conference committee negotiations are the more well known of the two methods used to reconcile differences between the two bodies. In the House, conferees or the managers on the part of the House are appointed by the Speaker at the recommendation of the committee chairmen involved. The appointment of conferees, their number, and party composition, rest solely with the Speaker, and cannot be challenged on a point of order.

House rules provide three main criteria for the selection of conferees. A majority of the conferees must 1) generally support the House version of the bill, 2) have been primarily responsible for the legislation during House consideration, and 3) have been proponents of any provisions which were adopted to the bill on the House floor. ...

Once configured, conference committees have few rules to follow. However, one important restriction is addressed in the rules of both the House and Senate [n.b., the rules can be and are often waived. See earmarks]. Conferees are limited to matters in disagreement between the two chambers. The rules state clearly that conferees may not delete provisions identical in both bills nor may they insert subject matter not found in either the House or Senate-passed bill. Moreover, the conferees are asked to stay within the range of differences, i.e. not exceed the boundaries that define the House and Senate bills.

Finally, House Action on H.R.1815 is a good example of how the process works. Scroll down to the 11/15/2005 date to see where the Senate substituted its sense for the House's and named its conferees; then 12/15 and 12/16/2005 where the House disagreed with the Senate and named its conferees.

5/16/2006 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much, I really enjoyed reading all of the links you posted...

I now have a much more clear idea of the process...

BTW...I love your site...

Thanks again, sleuth

5/16/2006 2:29 PM  

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