Monday, June 19, 2006

Senate Live - June 19, 2006

The pending business is the McCONNELL amendment (No. 4272) (Purpose: To commend the Iraqi Government for affirming its positions of no amnesty for terrorists who have attacked U.S. forces) and the NELSON amendment (No. 4265) (Purpose: To express the sense of Congress that the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States)

Also pending are the McCAIN amendment (No. 4241) (Purpose: To name the Act after John Warner), and the DORGAN amendment (No. 4292) (To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism.)

Senator KENNEDY is proposing an amendment to raise the minimum wage - I don't see that as being germane in a National Defense Authorization Act, but it must be that Senate leadership is fine with discussing the proposition.

Here are links to the pending bill and text of amendments. As Kennedy's amendment is being discussed and introduced today, it is not among the amendments introduced on the days listed below.

S.2766 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007

Text of Amendments 4196 to 4208 June 12, 2006
Text of Amendments 4209 to 4220 June 13, 2006
Text of Amendments 4221 to 4252 June 14, 2006
Text of Amendments 4253 to 4291 June 15, 2006
Text of Amendments 4292 to 4309 June 16, 2006

The McCONNELL/NELSON battle was supposed to have been settled (each being voted on) sometime today, but it isn't clear whether that will come before the 4PM executive session (debate on the confirmation of Sandra S. Ikuta as Circuit Court judge for the 9th Circuit), or after the 5PM confirmation vote, or not at all today.

UPDATE @ 15:03 - The Senate moved into executive session to take up the nomination of Donald Kohn to be Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve. This nomination was reported out of committee on June 14th.

At the conclusion of this, Senator Warner indicates that the Senate will resume Morning Business. Apparently, there is an issue with accommodating Kennedy's minimum wage amendment in the context of S.2766, the Defense Authorization Act.

Meanwhile, Senator Bunning rises to object to the nomination of Kohn. He is concerned that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates too quickly, which will stifle economic growth.

The nomination is confirmed on a voice vote at about 14:56.

Senator Bingaman indicates that he has an amendment, S.Amdt. 4317, and would like to get a vote on it. The amendment is to establish charging or repatriation of all prisoners held at Gitmo, within 180 days of the President signing the bill. The amendment does not require release of prisoners or closing of Gitmo, it seems to be aimed just at those prisoners held without being charged.

I doubt it will pass. There was significant difficulty with the Uighers, for example.

Bingaman brings up one of my "pet" cases, Hamdan. See discussion here for background.

UPDATE @ 15:50 - Senator Levin indicates that he has an amendment, S.Amdt. 4320, to express the sense of the Senate as to US policy on Iraq. Senators Levin and Warner recall their previous exchange in November last year on the same subject.


Blast from the Recent Past

Levin Amendment 2519 was REJECTED on November 15, 2005 on a 40-58 vote, Chafee voted with the Democrats; and Warner's Amendment 2518 was PASSED on November 15, 2005 on a 79-19 vote.

Debate of November 10, 2005
Debate of November 14, 2005
Debate of November 15, 2005

The objectionable language in the Levin amendment, from last November, included the following clauses. Strikeout material was in the Levin amendment, underlined material was added by the Warner amendment, the balance of the language was common between the two amendments. That is, both amendments established a requirement for a report, but the Warner amendment struck the requirement that the report include a campaign plan.

(4) United States military forces should not stay in Iraq indefinitely any longer than required and the people of Iraq should be so advised;

-----

(c) Reports to Congress on United States Policy and Military Operations in Iraq.
--Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every three months thereafter until all United States combat brigades have redeployed from Iraq, the President shall submit to Congress an unclassified report on United States policy and military operations in Iraq. Each report shall include the following: ...

(7) A campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq as each condition is met, with the understanding that unexpected contingencies may arise.


The exchange of November is pale and tame compared with the language Levin proposes today.

Senator Levin Press Release: Amendment on U.S. Policy on Iraq
Text of amendment (PDF file)

Senator Frist proposes an amendment to Kennedy's minimum wage amendment, where Frist's amendment relates to abortion - then Senator Frist says that this bill is not an appropriate place to bring up minimum wage.

Senator Kennedy's amendment threw a bit of a monkey wrench into the procedure, and Senator Frist threw in a second wrench. It isn't clear when the Senate will vote on either Frist's second degree amendment, or on Kennedy's minimum wage amendment.

Senator Frist accuses the Democrats of avoiding the battle between the Nelson and McConnell amendments, listed above. I disagree that the Democrats are avoiding the Iraq issue, see Levin's amendment. It seems to me the Democrats want to escalate the debate on the Iraq issue, above the "amnesty for Iraqis" matter embodied in the Nelson/McConnell battle, to the over-arching presence in Iraq represented by the Levin amendment. And the beat goes on.

About 10 minutes of quorum call, then back into executive session to debate the Ikuta nomination.

Oh - Senator Reid got up to levy some particular charges at how the Bush administration has mishandled our foreign affairs and made the world more perilous. The charges had to do with North Korea's continued efforts at production of a long range missile, and to a story about a supposed Iran offer of 2003, rejected by the Bush administration, to curtail nuclear development and other activities. According to Reid, the offer was "complicated by failures in Iraq."

The Iran offer of 2003 is steady lefty fare, surfacing in "patriotdaily", and here at http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/060602.htm.

UPDATE @ 17:58

Ikuta: Nominated on February 8, Out of Committee May 25, Confirmed 81-0 on June 19.

UPDATE @ 17:58

Larry Craig closes the Senate for the day, passing a couple resolutions and noting that business will resume at 9:45 tomorrow. S.2766 will be brought up after half an hour of morning business. He notes that there will be one vote in the morning, on an amendment to S.2766.

All in all a slow day, but not exactly what was planned.

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