Monday, June 26, 2006

Senate Live - June 26, 2006

The Senate is scheduled to open at 2:00 PM today, and its business is expected to be short and simple. In order to obtain some entertainment, I clipped material from recent issues of the Congressional Record, and recent stories in the news.

First a peek into action scheduled for today ...

Ordered, That on Monday, June 26, 2006, at 4:00 p.m., the Senate proceed to the consideration of S.J. Res. 12, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States; provided that the bill be considered for debate only. (June 22, 2006.)

H.J.Res.10, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, passed Thursday, June 22 on a 286 - 130 vote. Twelve Republicans voted against the measure: Dreier, Ehlers, Flake, Gilchrest, Hoekstra, Kolbe, Leach, Paul, Petri, Schwarz (MI), Shadegg, and Shays.

Discussion is available in House Report 109-131 and at Debate in the House, June 22, 2006.

The text of the proposed amendment is simple.

The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.


Senate Debate - Amnesty for Iraqis

  • Expressing opposition to Prime Minister Maliki plan for amnesty: June 15: Menendez, Nelson, Schumer, Nelson, Reid -- June 20: Levin -- June 21: Boxer
  • Repudiating assertion of plan for amnesty, with repudiation based on denial by Dr. Rubaie, National Security Adviser in Iraq: June 15: Sessions, McConnell, Cornyn, Warner
  • Asserting that Iraq should be free to negotiate terms of amnesty in order to facilitate internal reconciliation: June 15: Stevens, Alexander, McCain

Debate of June 15, 2006

Nelson/Menendez amendment No. 4265 introduced.

Mr. STEVENS. ... I wonder seriously about what the Senator from Florida is doing by telling this new fledgling democracy that they cannot go through the process of cleansing, go through the process of trying to get people who were misguided, who were part of coalitions that they now are willing to recant, if they are, to come forward and support this new democracy. What are we doing anyway on the floor of the Senate trying to tell the new democracy what they can and can't do? I didn't like that story when I read it in the paper this morning, but I was happy to see the new statement from the security people that clarified what they intend to do.

But the time will come, if that democracy is going to succeed, when they are going to have to fold into their population those who are willing now to give up terrorism, those who are willing to put aside the activities of the past which led them to attack Americans as well as any other--there are 34 other nations over there. Are we saying just those who did kill Americans, they can't get amnesty, but the rest of them can?

What are we doing on the floor of the Senate trying to debate an issue as to how this country is going to come back together again? I am sort of appalled at it, really. I don't know if anyone else is. But it seems to me that we ought to do everything we can to encourage them to bring their people together, to forget the sins of the past, to forget the terrorists of the past, and to pledge themselves to a new future of democracy and have people come forward and say: I am willing to support this new democracy. And if they do, and demonstrate that they do after a period of time, shouldn't they be recognized as being loyal citizens of the new democracy? ...

I really wish the Senator from Florida would have the courage to withdraw the amendment, just withdraw it and say it was a political effort. This is nothing but politics. I will vote to table it or vote against it in good conscience.

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Mr. McCAIN. ... But the larger issue here is, I believe, that our goal is to bring an end to the conflict as quickly as possible in Iraq. If that means, in return for laying down their arms, that some are allowed an amnesty or allowed to reenter the society of Iraq, in a peaceful manner, in a productive manner, as has happened in South Africa, El Salvador--and is happening in Colombia--and many other insurgencies throughout history, then I think we should welcome it. And as we place our confidence in the new Government of Iraq, perhaps we should give them some latitude.

McConnell amendment No. 4272 introduced.

Debate of June 16, 2006

Mr. REID. ... Yesterday, Democrats offered an amendment to express the sense of the Senate that Iraq not grant amnesty to terrorists who kill our troops as part of their reconciliation plan. The amendment came in response to reports that the Iraqi Prime Minister was in favor of such a proposal.

But instead of joining us in a debate about this amendment, the majority, the Republicans, decided to play a political game and quickly claimed the Iraqi Prime Minister had been ``misquoted'' and offered some procedural gimmicks to stop a vote from taking place on this amendment.

But, just this morning, there is more news that the Prime Minister has talked about and does favor amnesty to those Iraqis who kill American troops. It is all over the country in the news. For example, it is on page 22 of the Washington Post. The aide who first leaked the story has now resigned, but he stands by what he said. Today, he is quoted as saying:

The prime minister himself has said that he is ready to give amnesty to the so-called resistance, provided they have not been involved in killing Iraqis.

Debate of June 20, 2006

Mr. McCONNELL. So I ask one final question of my friend from Virginia. Since the Nelson amendment basically addresses a nonexistent problem and the McConnell amendment simply asserts what we already know to be the policy of the Iraqi Government, that it would likely be a good idea for the Senate to go on record as supporting both of these amendments at this juncture?

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I think, certainly in my judgment, that would be an acceptable situation because there is clarity in the amendment of the Senator from Kentucky about a point that is very important to me; i.e, sovereignty, exercise of that. With no disrespect to the Senator from Florida, I believed his amendment as originally drafted, and the intent, was to reach across the ocean and have the U.S.A. reach into the Government and try to dictate what was to be done. So I believe the Senator is correct in that, and I join him in that suggestion to our colleagues.

McCONNELL amendment No. 4272 was
PASSED on a 64 - 34 vote
No Republican voted NAY.

NELSON amendment No. 4265
PASSED on a 79 - 19 vote
The 19 Senators AGAINST: Allard, Bond, Bunning, Burns, Coburn, Cochran, Cornyn, DeMint, Enzi, Graham, Hagel, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, McCain, Sessions, Stevens, Thomas and Warner.

Debate of June 21, 2006

Mrs. BOXER. ... I cannot believe it. They are still killing our soldiers, and the Republicans in the Senate are saying: Oh, give the Iraqi Government a chance. In their wisdom, they will do the right thing. Well, they are not doing the right thing when they are considering giving amnesty to those who are hurting, killing, brutalizing our troops. I cannot believe it.

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Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from New Jersey for a really excellent summary and a terrific statement about what this is about and what is at stake. I thank him also for in the short time he has been here he has really proven to be indispensable for a number of different debates we have had and for his work in the last few days on no amnesty for those who have killed Americans. It had a major impact on our policy. We thank him so much for that contribution.


A selection of items from the debate of June 22, 2006, regarding (ostensibly) the defense authorizations bill.

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WARNER amendment No. 4523 To extend the termination date for the exemption of returning workers from the numerical limitations for temporary workers

At the end of subtitle I of title X, add the following:

SEC. 1084. EXTENSION OF RETURNING WORKER EXEMPTION.

Section 402(b)(10 of the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005 (title IV of division B of Public Law 109-13; 8 U.S.C. 1184 note) is amended by striking ``2006'' and inserting ``2008''.

SEC. 402. NUMERICAL LIMITATIONS ON H-2B WORKERS

(a) In General.--Section 214(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
``(9)(A) Subject to subparagraphs (B) and (C), an alien who has already been counted toward the numerical limitations of paragraph (1)(B) during any 1 of the 3 fiscal years prior to the fiscal year of the approved start date of a petition for a nonimmigrant worker described in section 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) shall not be counted toward such limitation for the fiscal year in which the petition is approved. Such an alien shall be considered a returning worker. ...

(b) <<NOTE: 8 USC 1184 note.>> Effective Date.--
(1) <<NOTE: Termination date.>> In general.--The amendment in subsection (a) shall take effect as if enacted on October 1, 2004, and shall expire on October 1, 2006 2008.

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BIDEN amendment No. 4458 To ensure payment of United States assessments for United Nations peacekeeping operations in 2005, 2006, and 2007

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

SEC. __. LIMITATION ON THE UNITED STATES SHARE OF ASSESSMENTS FOR UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS.

(a) In General.--Section 404(b)(2)(B) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995 (22 U.S.C. 287e note) is amended by adding at the end the following:

``(v) For assessments made during calendar years 2005, 2006, and 2007, 27.10 percent.''.

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FEINGOLD amendment No. 4526 To require the President to develop a comprehensive strategy toward Somalia

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FEINGOLD amendment No. 4527 To require a report on the feasibility of establishing a United States military regional combatant command for Africa

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TALENT amendment No. 4530 To extend the patent term for the badges of the American Legion, the American Legion Women's Auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion, and for other purposes

The term of design patents D54,296 (patented Dec. 9, 1919), D55,398 (patented June 1, 1920) and D92,187 (patented May 8, 1934) to be extended another 14 years.

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Page: S6393 (June 22, 2006)
KILLING OF U.S. SOLDIERS BY IRAQI SECURITY FORCES

Mrs. BOXER. This week, the military informed two California families that their sons were shot and killed by the very same Iraqi troops they were training.

SGT Patrick McCaffrey and 1LT Andre Tyson were killed near Balad in 2004. At first, the Army told the families that these two National Guardsmen were killed by Iraqi insurgents.

An investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command determined in September 2005 that both soldiers were shot and killed by members of the Iraqi security forces.

In addition to the fact that Iraqi security forces are killing U.S. soldiers, this situation raises several troubling questions.

First, according to his parents, there were two prior incidents in which Sergeant McCaffrey was fired upon by Iraqi security forces and the chain of command took no action. Why was nothing done? Are there other incidents where American troops are being shot at by the Iraqi forces they are training?

Second, why did the Army close its investigation in September 2005 but fail to inform the family until June 2006? Was there a coverup of this incident? What other explanation could there be?

Third, why were the families denied official government reports on the events that led to the deaths of these two soldiers? One of the families needed the help of my office to make any progress in learning the truth. How could the Army treat the families of dead soldiers in such a callous and dismissive way? Where are the military case officers who are supposed to help the families of slain U.S. soldiers?

And, fourth, a Defense Department spokesmen has called this incident ``extremely rare.'' How can the Department of Defense conclude that the incident is rare when such incidents are evidently not being reported up the chain of command? Members of Sergeant McCaffrey's unit told his father that insurgents were offering Iraqi soldiers about $100 apiece for each American they could kill.

I ask the Senator from Michigan, is he willing to work with me to get answers to these troubling questions?

Mr. LEVIN. I share the Senator's concern and will work with her to address these important questions.


A selection of four items from the Senate's Congressional Record of June 23, 2006.

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At 11:16 a.m., a message from the House of Representatives, delivered by Ms. Brandon, one of its reading clerks, announced that the House has passed the following bills, in which it requests the concurrence of the Senate: ...

H.R. 5638. An act to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the unified credit against the estate tax to an exclusion equivalent of $5,000,000 and to repeal the sunset provision for the estate and generation-skipping taxes, and for other purposes.

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Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I now ask for a second reading, and in order to place the bill on the calendar under the provisions of rule XIV, I object to my own request.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. The bill will be read for the second time on the next legislative day.

H.R.8 was on the same subject (death/estate tax repeal or modification), and was most recently considered in the Senate on June 7 and June 8, 2006, when the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to consideration was rejected.

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Also sent over by the House, H.R. 4890. An act to amend the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 to provide for the expedited consideration of certain proposed rescissions of budget authority.

H.R.4890 - Legislative Line Item Veto Act of 2006 passed the House on Thursday, June 22, on a 247 - 172 vote. See also the House debate of June 22.

The Senate did not advance this measure to its legislative calendar.

Bush pushes for line-item veto
By Stephen Dinan - THE WASHINGTON TIMES
June 25, 2006

President Bush yesterday called for the Senate to send him a bill establishing a legislative line-item veto, saying the tool is important to restrain spending and keep the economy growing.

The House has passed a version of the line-item veto that would give the president new powers to strip projects out of spending bills. Mr. Bush, in his weekly radio address, said it is time for the Senate do the same.

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The following bills and joint resolutions were introduced, read the first and second times by unanimous consent, and referred as indicated: ...

By Mr. SANTORUM (for himself, Mr. TALENT, and Mr. ISAKSON):
S. 3564. A bill to provide for comprehensive border security and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
(Senate - June 23, 2006)

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill that I believe offers us an opportunity to move forward in the immigration debate. My bill takes a first-things-first approach. It is imperative that we secure our borders now. This first step cannot--and should not have to--wait for a ``comprehensive'' solution. Once we secure our borders, we can look at all of the other illegal immigration related issues that remain. There is a bipartisan consensus on what needs to be done on border security and the provisions that make up this consensus were included with other more controversial elements in S. 2611--the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. While the other body is holding hearings on the ``comprehensive'' part of that bill, we should not hold our border security hostage.

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SA 4542. Mr. FRIST (for Mr. MCCONNELL (for himself and Mr. BIDEN)) proposed an amendment to the bill S. 2370, to promote the development of democratic institutions in areas under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes.

The bill (S. 2370) was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, was read the third time, and passed.


Stop the world; some want to get off
By Arnaud de Borchgrave - June 24, 2006

Iran, which has the world's second-largest proven oil and natural gas reserves, has already foiled U.S. attempts to isolate it diplomatically. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew off to China in mid-June where he was invited to attend the 10-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, which claims to represent "half the human race." SCO's China, Russia, four Central Asian states, and members-in-waiting India, Pakistan and Iran, appear to be emerging as a riposte and counterweight to the expansion of NATO in former Soviet Republics. "An energy club," Russian President Vladimir Putin called it. SCO's agenda is "joint security, energy, cooperation against terrorism, Islamist extremism and separatism." Evidently, Iran is not considered extremist in the East.

Tehran appears to have cast its lot with Russia and China to help develop its oil wealth -- China for capital to pay Russia's $225 billion Gazprom giant to develop the oil resources China needs. This would be part of the 10-year, $100 billion deal Iran made with China last year.

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How Not to Deal With Islamic Extremism

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Specter: White House Close to Deal on Codifying Wiretap Rules
(Same article at Washington Times)
AP/FoxNews - Sunday, June 25, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The White House is nearing an agreement with Congress on legislation that would write President Bush's warrantless surveillance program into law, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Sunday. ...

"We're getting close with the discussions with the White House, I think, to having the wiretapping issue submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Specter told "FOX New Sunday." ...

When the president's nominee to head the CIA had confirmation hearings in the Senate in May, Michael Hayden told Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that he would support a congressional debate on modifying the law.

"We're having a lot of conversations about that," Specter said Sunday. He added that he and Vice President Dick Cheney have exchanged letters and that Cheney has indicated that he was serious about discussing the issue.

"I've talked to ranking officials in the White House, and we're close," Specter said. "I'm not making any predictions until we have it all nailed down, but I think there is an inclination to have it submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and that would be a big step forward for the protection of constitutional rights and civil liberties."

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Rep. King Seeks Charges Against Papers Over Terror Reporting
AP/FoxNews - Sunday, June 25, 2006

King, R-N.Y., said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the nation's chief law enforcer "begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times -- the reporters, the editors and the publisher." ...

King's action was not endorsed by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

"On the basis of the newspaper article, I think it's premature to call for a prosecution of the New York Times, just like I think it's premature to say that the administration is entirely correct," Specter told "Fox News Sunday."

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A refresher on the Hamdan case.

UPDATE @ 14:20

Senator Stevens made some sort of announcement (microphone was very muted), and the Senate was recessed subject to the call of the chair. Back by 16:00, perhaps sooner. Meanwhile, C-SPAN2 indicates that the subjects of debate and voting this week will be the flag anti-desecration amendment, and the revisit to estate/death tax modification.

UPDATE @ 14:58

Senate is back. RedSox are winning v. Phillies, 2-0, bottom of the sixth with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out. Make that 3-0, with runners and 1st and 3rd.

UPDATE @ 16:15

RedSox are still ahead, the score is 6-5 at the top of the 9th.

Senate Democratic Policy Committee
An Oversight Hearing on Pre-War Intelligence Relating to Iraq

(Page has links to prepared testimony of witnesses, FWIW.)

Senator Reid's comments at the hearing are here.

Senator Specter opens debate on the flag anti-desecration amendment.

UPDATE @ 18:35

RedSox won in the 12th inning. Walk-off single by David Ortiz.

Senator Durbin droned that the flag anti-desecration amendment is a political stunt, one of several pulled out in election years.

Senator McConnell rose to close shop.

H.Con.Res.367, Honoring and praising the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution on the 100th anniversary of being granted its Congressional Charter, passed.

H.R.5638, to increase the unified credit against the estate tax to an exclusion equivalent of $5,000,000 and to repeal the sunset provision for the estate and generation-skipping taxes, was read a second time.

Dodd to speak for up to 20 minutes, then the Senate to be adjourned until 9:45 tomorrow. Morning business to 11:00 AM, after which the Senate will resume consideration of S.J.Res.12, with debate equally divided until 5:00 PM.

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