Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Senate Live - May 3, 2006

Another day on the Emergency Supplemental. Monday's thread has the most complete list of amendments, in case you want to try to follow the proceedings as they unfold.

Here are the orders for today, as issued yesterday ...

45 . ORDERS FOR WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2006

Mr. ENSIGN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate completes its business today, it stand in adjournment until 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 3. I further ask unanimous consent that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved, that there then be a period of morning business for up to 30 minutes with the majority in control of the first 15 minutes to be followed by 15 minutes under the control of the minority; provided further that the Senate then resume consideration of H.R. 4939.

I further ask unanimous consent that there be 1 hour of debate with Senator Coburn controlling 30 minutes, Senator Feinstein 15 minutes, and Senator Boxer 15 minutes, and that the vote occur in relation to Division XIX of the pending amendment with no amendment in order to the division prior to the vote.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. ENSIGN. Mr. President, I now ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding adjournment of the Senate, all time count against the limitation under rule XXII.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Coburn's Division XIX amendment relates to funding levee protection and fish and wildlife activities for the Sacramento River, obviously in California. Feinstein and Boxer are "joined a the hip" in opposition to this amendment, which weighs in at the whopping sum of 11 million dollars.
Coburn just withdrew his division XIX, so no vote will be required. He then calls up 3817, noting that he intends to withdraw it - just asked for it to be withdrawn, and requests that his full printed comments relating to this amendment appear in the record. A one man fight against pork is futile, Dr. Coburn. You will be assimilated.

Amendments having been cleared on both sides of the aisle, the following are being passed on voice vote"

3612 - McConnell re: Hamas and Presidential waiver
3719 - Biden re: Sudan
3823 - Leahy re: Columbia
3798 - Kennedy re: Americorps
3746 - Lieberman re: making a technical correction
3699 - Cornyn re: CBDG distribution

Senator Bunning announces that he will vote against the Emergency Supplemental, as a matter of principle that the bill is being used for pork. He wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with the armed forces, but he objects to, e.g., increasing the CBDG grants for Louisiana and other states affected by Katrina. He also objects to taking community planning out of local communities.

I figure there is room for 10-20 Senators to vote against the Supplemental without risking its passage, so I view this as political posturing - it happens I agree with him, but I'll be assimilated too, in time.

Senator Landrieu is raising her S.Amdt.3750, which adds 7.5 million dollars for levee-related action, more on the planning and reporting aspects than on construction. She has a big bucks amendment hanging in the wings, and she says "it's germane" (a prospective assertion of her plan to defend the amendment against a point of order), being S.Amdt 3751 for 443 million dollars. She'll be bringing that next, I think, as she said she had a couple of amendments to discuss, without asking for a vote on them at this time. Cochran asserts that these amendments are not germane as 2nd degree amendments, but are awaiting a response from the legislative committee that shepherds these matters before asserting a point of order.

Kennedy amendment (on avian flu preparation) is ready for a vote, but again, there is a question as to the amendment being germane. Meanwhile, "Absence of a Quorum."

LOL. Reid was REAMING McCain regarding McCain's objection to relief for Hawaii. Lots of drama on minutia.

A couple of roll call votes, details to follow tomorrow if/when I review the record. Meanwhile, Cochran has expressed a significant reduction in the number of pending amendments.

He objected to 3620, 3628, 3665, 3640, 3645, 3668, 3693, 3694, 3695, 3697, 3675, 3715, 3710, 3723, 3724, 3722, 3672, 3750, and 3752 (I missed at least one - and certainly one of those was Wyden's "object of filibuster") as being not germane, and the chair upheld the point of order. [May 4 update: I only missed one -- 3708]

Tomorrow's business was also outlined, vote on 3704 and 3728, and then vote on the underlying bill.

Voinovich is off on a serious jag that probes the essence of Federal tax policy, and the performance of the country's educational institutions. Hey, Voinovich, shut up! Who is on American Idol?

Frist closing the day, and I note that a focus is HEALTH CARE - tada, as cued by the WH. At any rate, S.22 and S.23 introduced to the calendar, with some aspect of the measures being medical malpractice and medical liability H.Con.Res.90. - state of women murdered in Chihuahua Mexico - agreed to.

9:30 - Morning business for an hour, then to HR 4939. All post cloture time has been consumed. Either 2 or 3 votes to the conclusion of the measure. Isn't this fun?

Selections from the Record


Mr. CRAIG. ... In fact, last week I joined with 34 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Bush saying we will vote to support his veto if the price tag of this bill does not come down. Enough is enough, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues and say so. ...

Supplemental emergency funding ought not be a shadow budget. Here we are now in our fourth emergency supplemental within a budget cycle. I don't think our budget system works very well if we can't do better than that and argue that everything is an emergency and, therefore, somehow it doesn't fit under the caps. That is not the way our public and our taxpayers who finance this big government of ours want us to operate. Somehow we have to get that under control.


The amendment (No. 3777), as modified, was agreed to. [UN/Darfur funding]
The amendment (No. 3612), as modified, was agreed to. [Waiver of prohibition to fund PLO]
The amendment (No. 3719), as modified, was agreed to. [Diplomatic office / Sudan]
The amendment (No. 3823) was agreed to. [Support demobilization in Columbia]
The amendment (No. 3798) was agreed to. [To honor Eli Segal's contribution to AmeriCorps]
The amendment (No. 3746) was agreed to. [Technical amendment]
The amendment (No. 3699) was agreed to. [Hurricane states to get at least 3.5% of CDBG $]

Mr. BUNNING. Mr. President, I rise today to voice my opposition to the emergency supplemental bill. It has, unfortunately, become routine to see emergency spending bills on the floor. But I understand the pressing need for this legislation to defend America from terrorism and respond to one of the worst natural disasters in America's history. ...

I urge my colleagues to curb spending in this emergency spending bill. I ask for them to consider their vote and what will happen if we pass this legislation. I urge those who are on the fence or on the border or about not to vote for this bill, not to vote for it but if they do, to support the President's veto when it comes.

The amendment (No. 3713), as modified, was agreed to. [Bird flue research by Smithsonian]

[Smithsonian Institution? Is that now a medical research facility? The activity is to be "global and domestic disease surveillance"

The amendment (No. 3686), as modified, was agreed to. [Promote Democracy in Iraq]

[This section of the record describes activity by the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Research and Exchanges Board, and IFES. All of these organizations are worthy of being checked out, in my opinion. They engage in structuring political activity and forming political parties in foreign countries.]

The amendment (No. 3688), as modified, was agreed to. Roll Call vote 53 - 46 [To compensate those harmed by flu vaccine]
GOP Senators voting AYE were: Chaffee, Coleman, Collins, DeWine, Hatch, Roberts, Smith, Snowe, Specter, and Talent

The Senator from Delaware [Mr. Biden] proposes an amendment numbered 3717 and AMENDMENT NO. 3855 ... None of the funds made available by title I of this Act may be made available to establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq, or to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq.

[I'm not sure this is a big deal in principle, inasmuch as the prohibition refers ONLY to Title I of the Emergency Supplemental Act. I can imagine it could become an accounting hassle as permanent military bases and control over oil infrastructure is undertaken.]

[And now a short diversion from the Emergency Supplemental, here is "Reid 'The Mental'" talking about lobbying and ethics reform.]

Mr. REID ... I try today to express my opposition and grave disappointment of the lobbying and ethics reform bill that the House of Representatives is expected to pass today. This is a bill pushed by the Republican leadership in the House. It is simply not much of anything. This House reform legislation is another example of the Orwellian world in which my friends in the majority live, I am sorry to say, starting with the President himself. Whatever he says, believe just the opposite. ...

Mr. McCONNELL. Is it still the position of the leader and the majority of those on that side of the aisle that the position they used to hold, which was that these so-called 527 groups should be treated like political parties and therefore have their contributions kept like a political party--that used to be the position of the majority of the Democrats, that the 527 groups which operate like parties should be treated like parties in terms of the contribution levels--I now gather that my good friend and a number of his colleagues on that side of the aisle have the opposite position, that somehow to treat a 527 like a political party, and therefore cap contributions like they are to parties, would somehow be a violation of free speech? Is that the position now that the Democratic leader is taking?

The amendment (No. 3855) was agreed to. [Biden's - see just above]
The amendment (No. 3717), as amended, was agreed to.

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, this amendment [3616] would strike $74.5 million for grants to States based on their production of certain types of crops, livestock, and dairy products, which were not included in the administration's emergency supplemental request. ...

I would like to repeat that for my colleagues: ``$25.5 million to make grants to the several States, the District of Columbia. .....''

I admire and respect the District of Columbia enormously. I know of no agricultural enterprise--well, maybe an illegal one, but I never knew of an agricultural enterprise in the District of Columbia. But they are going to be eligible for grants to be used to ``support activities that promote agriculture.'' As I say, I am not making this up. ...

I will vote against this bill. When the President vetoes it, which I am reasonably confident he will, I will vote to sustain his veto.

[It appears Senator Biden takes his "no permanent bases in Iraq" amendment broadly. His speech describes conditions in Iraq and expounds on his plan to "get US out" at some length and detail.]

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I understand the chairman and the ranking member have already accepted my amendment. I will speak to it very briefly.

The amendment they have accepted is straightforward, clear, and simple. It affirms that the United States will not seek to establish permanent military bases in Iraq and has no intention of attempting to control Iraqi oil. ...

The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its report on the bill we are considering, noted:

It's the current policy of the United States to establish no permanent military bases in Iraq. ...

To my knowledge, the President has never explicitly stated that we will not establish permanent bases in Iraq. ...

[Senator Biden laid out a five point plan that addresses factors internal and external to Iraq.]

  1. One Iraq With Three Regions
  2. A Viable Sunni Region With Shared Oil Revenues
  3. More Aid, But Tied To The Protection Of Minority And Women's Rights
  4. Maintain Iraq's Territorial Integrity And Engage Its Neighbors
  5. A Responsible U.S. Drawdown And A Residual Force

The fifth piece of my plan calls for a date to be announced, that by the end of 2008, the majority of American forces will be redeployed. There are two reasons for that. To give the U.S. military certainty, to give them certainty to plan, for there is no possibility of them pulling American forces out in 6 months or 8 months. I am not going to presume to tell the military how long an orderly change in our presence in Iraq would take and when it should take place. If it occurs sooner, all the better.

The amendment (No. 3605) was agreed to. [Armed Forces Retirement Home]
The amendment (No. 3657), as modified, was agreed to. [International disaster & famine assistance]
The amendment (No. 3616) was rejected. Roll Call vote 37 - 61 [McCain's strike of 74 million relief to specialty crop growers]
The amendment (No. 3673) was rejected. Roll Call vote 43 - 53 [Funds for reservoirs & dams in Hawaii]

Mr. REID ... For my friend, the distinguished Senator from Arizona, about whom we all care, to come and say to Senator Inouye, ``Have you no shame?'' ``Have you no shame?''--to Dan Inouye, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, on whom our country has bestowed the highest medal that can be given to a person in the U.S. military for heroism. ``Have you no shame?'' Dan Inouye ? The President declared that 40 days and 40 nights in Hawaii a Presidential declaration of an emergency. Senator Dan Inouye was doing his job, as any one of us would do if we had torrential rains hitting our States.

We know how strongly John McCain feels about issues dealing with appropriations, but this is beyond the pale. This is beyond the pale to say to Dan Inouye: ``Have you no shame?''

The amendment (No. 3601) was agreed to. Roll Call vote 51 - 45 [assessments and monitoring of waters in Hawaii]
GOP Senators voting AYE: Bennett, Burns, Cochran, Hutchison, Murkowski, Specter, Stevens, Voinovich, and Warner

Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I make a point of order en bloc against a list of amendments on the grounds that they are not germane under rule XXII. The amendments are as follows:

Warner amendment No. 3620; Vitter amendment No. 3628, as modified; Wyden amendment No. 3665; Santorum amendment No. 3640, as modified; Salazar amendment No. 3645; Vitter amendment No. 3668; Obama amendment No. 3693; Obama amendment No. 3694; Obama amendment No. 3695; Obama amendment No. 3697; Menendez amendment No. 3675; Conrad amendment No. 3715; Levin amendment No. 3710; Schumer amendment No. 3723; Schumer amendment No. 3724; Cornyn amendment No. 3722; Cornyn amendment No. 3672; Byrd amendment No. 3708; Landrieu amendment No. 3750; and Landrieu amendment No. 3752. ...

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate resumes the supplemental appropriations bill tomorrow morning, the Senate proceed to consider votes on or in relation to the following, with no intervening action or debate or second-degree amendments:

Thune amendment No. 3705, and Vitter amendment No. 3728, as modified.

[Senator Leahy's comment is noteworthy - popping a comment in here to get the reader's attention]

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I am a cosponsor of amendment 3662 by my friend from Wisconsin, Senator Feingold. His amendment, which would have ensured continued support for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, was ruled ``nongermane'' by the Parliamentarian.

This is inexplicable and unfortunate. But the real travesty is that the majority, which could simply agree to accept this amendment, would prefer to hide behind the Parliamentarian's ruling and let it die.

By all accounts, with the exception of the snipes of some anonymous Pentagon officials and their friends in the majority party who do not want the colossal blunders of the Iraq reconstruction program exposed to the light of day, the special inspector general has done an excellent job under difficult and dangerous conditions.


Mr. VOINOVICH. Mr. President, I rise today to speak on our Nation's fiscal situation. ...

Undoubtedly, the United States has undergone unprecedented challenges that have spurred these fiscal issues. The tragedy of September 11 to fighting the war on terror at home and abroad, to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to the rollout of the new Medicare prescription drug plan, the largest expansion of Medicare Programs since its creation, our Nation has had to respond to challenges of tremendous magnitude. In responding to those challenges, the Federal Government has had the responsibility to provide the resources so that the country could confront these challenges head on. ...

The truth is, we have not been serious about entitlement reform. The President called for a bipartisan commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in his State of the Union Address. It is imperative we move on this quickly. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for the commission to be appointed. Time is of the essence, and I hope that Secretary Snow and the administration will move quickly on creating that commission. ...

Some Members believe that the solution is to grow the economy out of the problem, that by cutting taxes permanently the economy will eventually raise enough revenue to offset any current losses to the U.S. Treasury. I respectfully disagree with that assertion. I do not believe that in the current situation our country faces, we can continue to spend more than we take in. ...

Unfortunately, fiscal responsibility cannot be defined solely by restraining and cutting nondefense discretionary spending. These accounts are only one-fifth of the budget and, frankly, with some of the cuts to these accounts, I believe we are eating our seed corn in the name of fiscal responsibility. ...

One of the things people do not understand is that Homeland Security has 22 agencies, 180,000 employees. They have doubled the budget of those 22 agencies since 9/11. As a matter of fact, if you look at other money we spent on homeland security, they have actually tripled the budget since that time. ...

Instead of making the tax cuts permanent, we should be leveling with the American people about the fiscally shaky ground we are on. What we should be doing is spending our time on tax reform. We all know that fundamental tax reform is critical, and as we consider the tax provisions, such as the AMT, as I just mentioned, it becomes clearer and clearer we need to overhaul our Tax Code. So I simply cannot understand why some of my colleagues want to make so many provisions of the current Tax Code permanent or add new tax cuts when we very well may be eliminating precisely the same provisions as part of fundamental tax reform. No homeowner would remodel their kitchen and bathroom right before tearing down the house to build a newer and better one.

[Long story short, Voinovich favors increasing the Federal Tax Rate]


Mr. HARKIN submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations: ...

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that--

(1) the United States should not maintain a permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq;

(2) the United States should not attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and

(3) United States Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006, whichever occurs first.


Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I will continue with our business, but I have to stop a moment and note that both of these bills, S. 22 and S. 23, address an issue that is very close to my heart because they focus on reform of a medical liability system, or a medical malpractice system that is just flat out broken. ...

... And since you know you can be sued sometime in the future, for every patient who comes in, to protect yourself when you are sued, no matter if you have done anything wrong, you end up ordering lots of extra tests to have a paper trail documented to show that you made the right decisions throughout.

It is estimated that so-called defensive medicine cost is anywhere from $100 billion to $125 billion a year.


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