Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Senate Live - May 23, 2006

S.2611 - The Immigration Bill : May 23, 2006
S.2611 in PDF form - 1.5 Mb (for page number references)

List of Proposed Amendments

Text of Amendments 3960 through 3993
Text of Amendments 3994 through 4036
Text of Amendments 4037 through 4065
Corrected Text of Amendment 4052
Text of Amendments 4066 through 4082
Text of Amendments 4083 through 4084
Text of Amendments 4085 through 4107

Summary of May 22 Action on The Immigration Bill

  • S.Amdt.4009 - Chambliss: The amendment would mandate the minimum salary payment of "prevailing wage" or the state minimum wage (whichever is higher) for H-2A visa and S. 2611-created "blue card" agricultural workers. S. 2611 currently does not have "blue card" wage floor provision, but mandates that H-2A workers are to be paid, at a minimum, the higher of the applicable minimum wage, the prevailing wage, or the adverse affect wage rate (AEWR), was TABLED on a 50 - 43 vote
  • S.Amdt.4076 - Ensign: amendment would authorize many parts of the President's plan to make members of the National Guard temporarily available to assist the Department of Homeland Security in its mission to maintain the integrity of United States' international borders. It provides that a state Governor may order any units or personnel of the National Guard of such state for annual training duty to carry out in any State along the southern land border various activities authorized for the purpose of security of that border, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense, was PASSED on a 83 - 10 vote
  • Cloture Motion filed to conclude debate on S.2611
  • Cloture Motion filed to vote advice and consent on the Kavanaugh nomination

Links to May 22 Debate

Congressional Record: May 22 Debate on S.2611 - Part I
Congressional Record: May 22 Debate on S.2611 - Part II
Congressional Record: May 22 Debate on S.2611 - Part III (Sessions)

Schedule for May 23 Action

Blast from the Past: Checking (as usual) Judicial confirmation news at confirmthem.com I ran into a news from the past in the form of Patrick Knowlton's addendum to Fisk's (special prosecutor) report. This is tangentially relevant to the Kavanaugh nomination as it was Kavanaugh who fought (unsuccessfully) to have the addendum suppressed. Kavanaugh was also unsuccessful in convincing Starr to NOT pursue the possibility of perjury relating to President Clinton's testimony regarding Monica Lewinski. I wonder whether Hillary Clinton's objection to Mr. Kavanaugh is based on his failure to deliver the results the Clinton family expected.

From yesterday's closing remarks by Senator Frist (gag me - Senator Frist mentions the "good" of Inhofe without noting the mixed message as a result of the Senate passing both Inhofe and Salazar).

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I will be closing shortly, but I do want to comment briefly on the immigration bill today. I want to make a few remarks on where we are and then where we will be going. ...

We have had a number of amendments that have been interesting to watch as we have gone forward. Mr. Sessions, the Senator from Alabama, had an amendment early on to strengthen our southern border, to build those 370 miles of triple-layered fence, and 500 miles of vehicle barriers at strategic locations--a clear-cut improvement on the bill, strengthening the bill along the border consistent with our first priority; that is, to secure that border.

The Senate also approved the amendment by Senators KYL, GRAHAM, CORNYN, and ALLEN to close a loophole in the bill that would allow criminal aliens to obtain legal status. Once people looked at that, they said that is only common sense. Again, it became overwhelmingly supported in a bipartisan way--again, an important demonstration of why it was important to have open debate and amendment. That amendment clarifies that any illegal alien who is ineligible for a visa or who has been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors is ineligible for a green card--again, just common sense.

Another commonsense issue of national cohesion that really hits at the heart of what makes this country great was when the Senate voted in favor of an amendment by Senator Inhofe to require that English be declared our national language of the United States. As people listened to that and digested what it meant, people said: Well, of course English is a necessary tool for every aspiring American to be successful and to join the mainstream of American society.

I notice that Senator Sessions' four "new" amendments, discussed yesterday (and listed at the end of that post), weren't submitted for printing yesterday. But thinking about Senator Sessions, I suggest, for fun, you read the April 6 post where Senator Sessions says (referring to the Hagel/Martinez compromise, as it stood, unamended), "It is a colossal failure. It is a dead horse. It has been lying out in the sun, and people have been having to look at it, and they are now able to smell it."

I think the horse is still dead, but Senator Feinstein aims to revive it this morning. I wonder if Senator McCain will be as harsh on DiFi as he was on Sessions and Kyl, when he said, referring to S.Amdt.3969, and arguing that citizenship should be given liberally ...

Mr. McCAIN. ... If this amendment should pass, that whole compromise is destroyed because a fundamental part of that compromise was that those who have been here for 2 to 5 years, after having gone back to a port of embarkation, would then be eligible for temporary work under the temporary worker program, and then over time be eligible for green card status and citizenship. This amendment would destroy that compromise. ... I would remind my colleagues of what happened not long ago in France. There were thousands of young Muslims who were burning cars everywhere and rioting and demonstrating because they had no hope and no opportunity. Why is it that all over Europe you find these enclaves of foreign workers who are totally and completely separate from society? Because they are in the situation which this amendment would dictate: No hope, no job, no opportunity, no future, but we will let you work.

McCain's premise is that those angry people in France would be happy, if only they could become French citizens.

Keeping the Senate in perspective, Senator Sessions had this to say his conclusion yesterday:

The fact is, we are not going to be able to vote on this [Chain-migration amendment]. We will be lucky to get a vote on one of them, and then this [entire bill]will be voted on. I assume it will be passed and sent to the House of Representatives. If we are fortunate, the House of Representatives will say it has to be better; we will not accept it; we are going to insist on that before we pass it.

Who knows what will happen in the political processes of our country?

I can answer that last one. An inexorable march toward more government, collectivism, globalism and group identity; away from defending individual rights; while uttering, in an Orwellian fashion, "diversity, tolerance and freedom."

UPDATE @ 10:05 - Senator Specter opens the session, noting that all 1st degree amendments must be filed by 2:30 today and that debate will be on Feinstein's orange card amendment. He notes 17 roll call votes (11 GOP, 6 DEM), 8 voice votes (4 each), debate was of a high caliber, thanks Reid for his cooperation, and thinks the Senate is poised to complete action on this bill this week.

He notes the tension that surrounds the 12 million illegal residents, and that we don't want to create a fugitive class. He asserts that the 12 million represent a net positive for the country, and reiterates his "this is not amnesty" speech.

Senator Specter says that the Inhofe and Salazar "English" amendments weren't much different. Different? The question is, are they COMPATIBLE. Specter goes through the list of amendments, and describes how they were disposed of. With regard to the Feinstein amendment, he indicates the same fear that McCain expressed, that it would fracture the coalition formed by the Hagel/Martinez compromise. He therefor opposes it, because it would admit people who have been in the country since January 1, 2006. January 7, 2004, on the other hand, is an okay cut-off date, because people had constructive notice in the form of President Bush's speech that first proposed a guest worker program.

Second, new immigration laws should serve the economic needs of our country. If an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job.

Third, we should not give unfair rewards to illegal immigrants in the citizenship process or disadvantage those who came here lawfully, or hope to do so.

Fourth, new laws should provide incentives for temporary, foreign workers to return permanently to their home countries after their period of work in the United States has expired. ...

Undocumented workers now here will be required to pay a one-time fee to register for the temporary worker program. Those who seek to join the program from abroad, and have complied with our immigration laws, will not have to pay any fee. All participants will be issued a temporary worker card that will allow them to travel back and forth between their home and the United States without fear of being denied re-entry into our country. ...

Some temporary workers will make the decision to pursue American citizenship. Those who make this choice will be allowed to apply in the normal way. They will not be given unfair advantage over people who have followed legal procedures from the start. I oppose amnesty, placing undocumented workers on the automatic path to citizenship. Granting amnesty encourages the violation of our laws, and perpetuates illegal immigration. America is a welcoming country, but citizenship must not be the automatic reward for violating the laws of America.

"Unfair advantage" is the subject of disagreement. President Bush says that paying a fine removes the "automatic" aspect, and also the sense of amnesty. Then too, some sort of "back of the line" hocus pocus results in the revision being "fair," or "not giving unfair advantage." I bet the people who have adhered to our immigration laws see an unfair advantage - but hey, they must be idiots if they don't agree with President Bush, John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Arlen Specter.

UPDATE @ 10:30 - Senator Harkin indicates support for the DiFi amendment, as did Kennedy. I think, given those testimonials of support, the DiFi amendment is destined to be rejected.

I was pointed to this great article by Tim Kane of The Heritage Foundation (READ IT! That's an order), hat tip to John Derbyshire at National Review Online for the link and suggestion.

A smart reform bill would reject the false choice of treating guest workers as (A) felons or (B) citizens. Principled reform would simply give illegal immigrants a chance to become legal, identifiable, temporary workers. This would not preclude them from applying for citizenship; rather it would treat them the same as other hopeful applicants living abroad. No reform should preclude temporary workers from pursuing assimilation or citizenship; their status simply shouldn't guarantee them citizenship.

Senator Brownback rises to indicate that the Senate is making great progress, and has been working well toward building toward a vote that passes S.2611. He opposes the Feinstein amendment, noting that the "delicate compromise" forged by Hagel/Martinez is necessary to pass the bill, at the end.

UPDATE @ 11:30 - Martinez indicated his objection to the amendment. DiFi added Durbin and Obama as co-sponsors. Senator Specter indicates that the Feinstein amendment would make things more difficult to resolve in conference with the House, beside undoing the coalition in the Senate that is apt to facilitate passing S.2611 as Hagel/Martinez. I reduce his objection to the point at which the line is drawn - I wonder whether or not Senator Specter would support the DiFi amendment if it draw the "return home, then apply" line at January 7, 2004 instead of January 1, 2006.

S.Amdt.4087 - Feinstein: to establish an orange card program that would put all illegal immigrants in country since January 1, 2006 on a path to permanent residency and citizenship, and would remove the 3-tier system of Hagel/Martinez, was REJECTED on a 37 - 61 vote.

UPDATE @ 12:10 - The Senate, stunned by it's own rejection of DiFi's amendment, lapses into a quorum call. Lunch break will come at 12:30, I think, until 14:15, I'm sure. Meanwhile, another juicy nugget courtesy of National Review Online, this one pointing to Waging War on Unskilled Labor by Hans Bader.

... the guest worker program is destined to generate massive amounts of bureaucratic red tape, because of its "prevailing wage" provisions.

Under the Davis-Bacon Act, federal construction contractors have to pay the "prevailing wage" to their employees. Bureaucrats at the Department of Labor set the "prevailing wage" by job category, typically using the higher, union wage if at least 30 percent of employees in a job category are unionized. The result is that a Philadelphia electrician who is willing to work for $16 an hour instead gets the prevailing union wage of $38 an hour. Taxpayers pay several billion dollars a year more as a result. ...

The Senate immigration bill for the first time extends Davis-Bacon's "prevailing wage" requirements far beyond federal contracts to all private sector jobs, not just construction jobs, performed by guest workers.

I give the Senate Democrats points for chutzpah, and the Republicans demerits for conveniently forgetting to overtly and vociferously reject the point.

Kate O'Beirne makes sense of Obama's amendment, S.Amdt.3971 - passed on May 17, where I didn't clearly understand, and overlooked the significance of it.

... an amendment by Senator Barack Obama, approved by voice vote, extended Davis-Bacon wages rates to all private work performed by guest workers, even if their occupations are not covered by Davis-Bacon.

UPDATE @ 12:19 - On unanimous consent, requested by Senator Reid, the Senate started its recess 11 minutes early, and stands in recess until 14:15. Me too (maybe).

UPDATE @ 12:30 - No break for me, until the designated time. Regarding the need for immigration in order to provide an influx of workers to feed the Social Security machine while baby boomers retire, Mark Krikorian at NRO points to studies that indicate immigration at the proposed levels doesn't help fix the Social Security system.

Judiciary Committee Happenings

On may 18, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a markup of a proposed marriage amendment, S.J.Res. 1. Senator Feingold objected to the process, and didn't show up -- "refused to help make a quorum" in his words. Senator Leahy objected to taking this up too, but as a matter of misplaced priorities. Senator Leahy is also vigorously opposed to a marriage amendment. So am I - but not for the same reasons that Senator Leahy holds.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss revisions to Patent law, Post-Grant Review Procedures. I wish they'd tackle business methods and software patents.

Judicial nominations are to be taken up tomorrow, and perhaps some nominations will move out of Committee -- none of the contentious ones, of that I'm sure.

On Thursday, the Committee is scheduled to take up "The Consequences of Legalized Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia". No list of witnesses or more fully detailed agenda has been provided. I think the Schiavo case was decided incorrectly at several levels of the legal process. I also think society (meaning the prevailing morality) and the legal system are beyond repair in this regard.

Ed Whelan on the pending nomination of Judge Boyle, asks "Are Senate Republicans really going to permit these minor ethics allegations to disrupt his nomination?" I think so. This snip from confirmthem.com refers to a report of Senator Collins' serious concerns - serious concerns that are going unanswered. And Senator Frist's comments yesterday stick in my head. "We have several important nominations that are available, or soon will be available, after committee action for the full Senate to consider. The Kavanaugh nomination is on the Executive Calendar and will be voted on this week. Other nominations are in committee and will become available."

I take that as avoiding the mention by name, of certain unmentionables. Boyle being one. I bet Senator Frist wishes he hadn't said he planned to bring Boyle up for a vote -- especially since Boyle has been on the Executive Calendar since June 16, 2005, and responsibility for the inaction is reasonably laid at Senator Frist's feet. The name of "Myers" fell into Frist's memory hole immediately after May 23rd, 2005, when Senator Frist said:

Henry Saad has waited for 3 years and 6 months for the same courtesy. Henry Saad deserves a vote. It is not in this agreement. William Myers has waited for 2 years and 1 week for a fair up-or-down vote. He deserves a vote but is not in this agreement. If Owen, Pryor, and Brown can receive the courtesy and respect of a fair up-or-down vote, so can Myers and Saad.

Senators Crapo and Craig raised the name, Myers, in a brief exchange on March 28, 2006, Mr. CRAPO. "Mr. President, I rise today to note that it has now been more than one full year that the nomination of William Myers to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been pending on the Senate Calendar."

UPDATE @ 15:00 - Senator Specter rises at about 5 minutes to 3:00, only to give 10 minutes of time to Senator Reed. I'm itching to drift away from paying attention, and would like to have a rough outline of which amendments will be taken up over the course of the day. The deadline for filing 1st degree amendments has passed, I assume Senator Sessions has submitted the four that he described yesterday.

UPDATE @ 15:55 - Lots of quorum call time. The Senators are not having an easy go of negotiating amendments and time agreements. I wonder if Senator Landrieu is mixed up in this, seeing as how she was cut off her adamant wish from last week Thursday, to have her amendments brought up for vote. Senator Specter makes a UC request for proceeding as follows:

  • S.Amdt.4117 - Leahy: Waiver of immigration rules for some applicants (20 minutes equally divided, followed by a motion to table)
  • S.Amdt.4177 - Grassley: Title III provisions, employment verification system (20 minutes to Cornyn, 5 for Kennedy, 5 for for Obama, 5 for Kyl, and 10 for Specter)
  • S.Amdt.4106 - Kennedy: Adjustments to worker safety and to collective bargaining relating to unfair labor practices
  • S.Amdt.4142 - Durbin: humanitarian waiver, if deportation would cause extreme hardship on a member of immediate family, only for violations that are created by this bill
  • S.Amdt.4036 - Lieberman: a person seeking asylum from persecution (under convention on Torture) shall not be prosecuted for immigration violation until their asylum situation has been adjudicated and denied (no time limit set for debate)
  • S.Amdt.4085 - McConnell:
  • S.Amdt.4114 - :
  • S.Amdt.4101 - Hutchison: SAFE visa to each alien who is a national of a NAFTA or CAFTA-DR country, 200,000 per fiscal year, or more if the president certifies that additional foreign workers are needed in that fiscal year
  • S.Amdt.4124 - :
  • S.Amdt.4084 - Chambliss: Earned status adjustment for agricultural workers, "blue card" program for up to 1.5 million immigrants in 5 years
  • S.Amdt.4097 - Cornyn: Information provided by applicants to be considered for a visa must be kept in confidence (by the government), subject to the penalty of a fine
  • S.Amdt.4108 - :
  • S.Amdt.4134 - :
With Dem amendments alternating with the GOP amendments listed above. At any time in the course of the proceedings, consider a managers' amendment. Senator Kennedy indicates that he will provide the DEM amendment numbers shortly, by the end of the day.

My intention is to update the above list as facts filter in. The last amendment for which text is available is Nr. 4107.

UPDATE @ 16:00 - Senator Specter indicates a series of stacked votes as soon as possible after 5:30 PM, which would probably accommodate the Leahy, Grassley and Lieberman amendments.

Senator Grassley thinks people who lose their jobs due to a mistake by a federal bureaucrat should be made whole, that is, if the record of employment is incorrect on the fault of the government, and the job is lost due to that, that the government be liable. Cornyn is concerned that the process described leads to too much incentive to litigate.

A good read, pithy almost ...

Federalist Society Q&A on Immigration

UPDATE @ 15:40 - Series of stacked votes is Leahy (visa qualification waiver), Grassley (employment verification system), Kennedy (revision to collective bargaining rights), and Durbin (deportation waiver if deportation would result in extreme hardship for left behind family members), with two minutes equally divided before each vote.

Predictions (just for fun): Leahy amendment will be tabled, Grassley, Kennedy and Durbin amendments will be rejected.

Three out of four. Grassley's passed.

S.Amdt.4117 - Leahy: Waiver of immigration rules for some applicants, was TABLED on a 79 - 19 vote.
GOP Nay votes: Chafee, Coleman, Sununu

S.Amdt.4177 - Grassley: Title III provisions, mandatory electronic employment verification system, was PASSED on a 58 - 40 vote.
GOP Aye votes: Chafee, Collins, DeWine, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Lugar, McCain, Snowe, Specter, Stevens and Warner Smith changed his vote to Aye on May 24
DEM Nay votes: Dorgan and Nelson (NE)

S.Amdt.4106 - Kennedy: Adjustments to worker safety and to collective bargaining relating to unfair labor practices, was TABLED on a 56 - 41 vote.

S.Amdt.4142 - Durbin: humanitarian waiver, if deportation would cause extreme hardship on a member of immediate family, only for violations that are created by this bill, was TABLED on a 63 - 34 vote.

Senator Specter laid out a schedule for tomorrow morning, as follows:

  • 08:30 - Senate opens on S.2611
  • S.Amdt.4085 - McConnell: debate until 9:30 equally divided
  • 09:30 - Vote on S.Amdt.4085
  • 10:00 - Cloture vote (Kavanaugh? or S.2611)
Senators Craig, Shelby and Landrieu to speak. Shelby for 8 minutes, Craig for 8 minutes, then Landrieu. Good, because I am quite curious about Landrieu's wish list.

Senator Shelby is speaking out against S.2611 - he's against amnesty, he is for border security first, he is opposed to people now here illegally being put on a path to citizenship, people here the longest are treated the best, people here 2-5 years are treated better than those following the law now ... he has a succinct list of twelve reasons for his opposition.

Senator Craig speaks on the breach of security at the VA, where names, birthdays and SSNs were lifted. Constituents wonder what's to be done? Well duh, don't expect the government to keep your personal information secure. Plan accordingly. Senator Craig's proposed "solution" is training of government workers, and a system of checks and balances.

Senator Landrieu changes the subject (as she is wont to do) from immigration to the start of hurricane season, and (I can see it coming), a request for more money. With regard to the debate on the immigration bill she says the Senate has spent "an inordinate and appropriate amount of time." My cheap dictionary says that "inordinate" means "1. Immoderate; unrestrained. 2. not regulated; disorderly."

She ties her begathon to her assertion of $150 billion loss due to hurricanes, plus the fear factor that Louisiana has the largest "energy coast" in the nation -- she says that an investment is required for energy security, and in particular to restore wetlands. "An underinvestment over time that borders on the criminal." Oh, how I wish I could be there to slowly turn her anger-crank.

She's angry because her state produces energy and can sell it at a profit? Sheesh. Other states are certainly net consumers - just like the US consumes more than it produces, and the countries that have an excess of the resource (Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.) over their internal usage have an opportunity to sell the surplus at a profit. She may have a point, but I sure don't see it - her argument is wandering all over the place. Says the people of Louisiana will stay there and work, even if they don't get the federal assistance. That's all I needed to hear.

Oh - she was after opening area 181, off the Florida coast, for exploration, extraction, and other energy-related activity. She says the objections heard from Florida relate to preservation of tourism and beaches, but my recollection is that another objection relates to preserving that space for military training flights and similar activity. More to come, no doubt.

UPDATE @ 20:10 - Senator Frist closes. Talks a bit about the life of Lloyd Benson. Closing comments:

Senator Sessions making another speech against S.2611, noting that some of the "mistakes" in the bill are deliberate deceptions. Says people (and Senators) should be disturbed and unhappy with this bill, and it should never, ever become law. The amendment he will be offering will be the one relating to the earned income tax credit of the proposed bill. CBO calculates a 29 billion dollar EITC payout over the next 10 years if this bill passes.


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