Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Senate Live - June 7, 2006

Bits and pieces of news reports and other references relating to the three subjects that Senator McConnell noted as business of the week after the FMA, those subjects being the death tax repeal, the Native Hawaiians issue, and the supplemental appropriations conference report.

Today's action is scheduled as:

  • 09:00 - open for business
  • 10:00 - cloture vote on the motion to proceed to take up the marriage amendment
  • recess until noon for joint meeting with House to hear Her Excellency Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of the Republic of Latvia
  • 12:00 to 15:00 - debate the motion to proceed to the death tax relief bill
  • 15:00 to 18:00 - debate the motion to proceed to the Native Hawaiians bill
In addition to light research on those subjects, I've been keeping an eye on news relating to judicial nominations and confirmations.

White House renews push for nominees
By Alexander Bolton - The Hill

... A White House official said that several of the nominees have sat in the Senate for a long time and that the administration is asking senators to make a decision about whether to confirm them or not, whether to "fish or cut bait." ...

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, has come under heavy fire from conservatives for blocking Haynes's nomination. ...

Graham defended himself yesterday by saying that he is not blocking Haynes in committee and arguing that the conservative leaders who signed the letter do not represent all conservatives. But Graham refused to say whether he would cast a crucial vote to pass Haynes out of committee.

Plenty more in Mr. Bolton's article. Click on the title if you have an interest in judicial nominations and confirmations. I'm going to remain in a wait and see mode with regard to both the Senate and the White House, and expect no open fireworks. As likely as not, the contentious nominations (Haynes and Myers) will be withdrawn or permitted to languish; and I expect White House negotiations with the Democrats regarding the selection of future nominations to result in compromises away from the model of "Scalia and Thomas."

Repeal of the so-called "death tax" was on the Senate calendar last summer, and the motion to proceed to consideration was rejected by inattention.


7/29/2005: Motion to proceed to consideration of measure made in Senate. (consideration: CR S9558)
7/29/2005: Cloture motion on the motion to proceed presented in Senate.
7/29/2005: Motion to proceed to consideration of measure withdrawn in Senate. (consideration: CR S9558)
9/6/2005: Cloture motion on the motion to proceed withdrawn by unanimous consent in Senate.

I expect a compromise to be offered by Senator Kyl (maybe joined by Baucus) during debate. I get a kick out of the Washington Post's headline for this article, and note that the article is just as partisan as the headline.

Estate Tax Lunacy
By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, May 31, 2006; Page A19

Last Friday Baucus's staffers assured the Democratic Senate leadership's staff that their boss would back off his compromise campaign. Still, given Baucus's penchant for mischief (it was largely he who rounded up enough Democratic votes to enact Medicare Part D and its Big Pharma giveaway), those assurances have met with some skepticism on Capitol Hill. The Democrats' capacity to undermine themselves has not vanished with the final days of spring.

The Kyle "compromise" calls for a $10 million exemption per couple and a 15 percent tax rate.

The cloture vote on the motion to proceed to consideration is scheduled for Thursday.

With regard to the Native Hawaiians issue, The Federalist Society sent the following paragraph as part of an announced panel discussion:

The proposed Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (known as the "Akaka Bill") would set in motion a process under which ethnic Hawaiians living throughout the country could form themselves into an Indian tribe. In doing so, they would become by far the largest such tribe in our nation's history -- with as many as 400,000 members. Supporters argue that the Akaka Bill is a matter of simple justice -- that it partially restores ethnic Hawaiians to the sovereignty they held prior to the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893. Opponents assert that the bill is less about Queen Liliuokalani and more about safeguarding various special benefits -- from special schools to special business loans -- currently enjoyed by ethnic Hawaiians, some of which are now under challenge in the courts on equal protection grounds. If passed, would the Akaka Bill be constitutional? Is it good policy? What sort of precedent would it set for other groups that may wish to form Indian tribes in the future? These and many other questions will be discussed by our panel of experts.

The bill is S.147 - Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005. As stated by the Federalist Society, the bill sets a process in motion. It's interesting that the bill contains language prohibiting the Hawaiian natives from conducting gaming operations, as Native American Indians are regulated under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.).

If one is really interested in the subject, reading S.Rpt.109-068 is a good place to get started. I was fascinated by the existence of "The Apology Resolution of 1993."

Procedurally, the motion to take up the bill must have been objected to, as a cloture motion to take it up was filed yesterday, with the vote on it to also be taken up on Thursday.

HR 4939 - Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 has been in conference committee. C-SPAN2 televised parts of yesterday's negotiations, which went until about 12:30 AM today. The committee has agreed to pare the bill down to President Bush's required size of 94-95 billion dollars, which is accomplished by cutting out many of the amendments adopted by the Senate.

According to the AP article, Negotiators to meet on Iraq, hurricane relief funding bill, some of the bigger cuts predicted being:

  • agricultural assistance (Burns) - $4000 mln
  • port security measures (Byrd) - $648 mln
  • gulf coast fishing support (Shelby) - $1000 mln
  • CSX rail line relocation in Mississippi (Lott) - $700 mln

The conference committee meeting was heated at times, with Senator Reid asserting that the bill that will result is a joke, a sad excuse, or some similar derogatory term.

In addition to changes in spending, there is a possibility that the amendment(s) (one in the House, one in the Senate) that says "no permanent bases in Iraq to be funded from this bill" will be stricken in conference. Senator Biden's S.Amdt.3717 was approved on a voice vote, and some of his comments were reported in Senate Live - May 3, 2006.

A couple other items caught my eye from yesterday's proceedings.


By Mr. BROWNBACK (for himself and Mr. TALENT):
S. 3454. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve the exchange of healthcare information through the use of technology, to encourage the creation, use and maintenance of lifetime electronic health records that may contain health plan and debit card functionality in independent health record banks, to use such records to build a nationwide health information technology infrastructure, and to promote participation in health information exchange by consumers through tax incentives and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

S. 3455. A bill to establish a program to transfer surplus computers of Federal agencies to schools, nonprofit community-based educational organizations, and families of members of the Armed Forces who are deployed, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

S. 3456. A bill to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

By Mrs. BOXER:
S.J. Res. 39. A joint resolution to spur a political solution in Iraq and encourage the people of Iraq to provide for their own security through the redeployment of the United States military forces; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, up and down the coast of Oregon, fishermen, their families and communities are suffering from the actions of the Secretary of Commerce in curtailing the Klamath salmon fishery without offering the assistance they need to cope with this disaster. Months ago the Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended to the Secretary of Commerce that this salmon fishery be drastically curtailed. The Secretary responded to the Council's recommendation by slashing the quotas and limiting the number of days and areas that could be fished. But despite numerous pleas for help from the affected communities, the Secretary has done nothing for months and months to help out the fishers whose livelihood depends on the Klamath salmon stocks.

The Secretary's continued inaction is not acceptable, and so I am objecting to any unanimous consent request for the Senate to proceed to or adopt S. 2012, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2005 until the Senate can consider legislative steps that will help fishermen in Oregon and California survive this disastrous fishing season. I make this objection consistent with my policy of always announcing ``holds'' I may place on legislation or nominations.

The State of Oregon is seeking a Presidential emergency declaration for those affected by this Federal action, and I intend to work closely with the State and my colleagues here in the Senate to make sure Oregon's fishing communities are not forgotten and that they receive the aid they will require to make it through this year.

Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of H.R. 5403, the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act, that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating to the bill be printed in the RECORD.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, on behalf of Democrats, I must object.

Hmmm. I wonder what objection the Democrats have to the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act.

At any rate, the day is shaped up to be fairly quiet and predictable. Cloture will not be obtained relating to the motion to proceed to taking up the FMA, and I predict that the death tax relief will suffer the same fate tomorrow. I have a hard time getting a read on Senate regarding the Native Hawaiian Bill - my gut reaction says it too will fail to obtain the votes necessary to move it to debate, but the Federalist Society panel hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 12. Perhaps they know something I don't - that the measure will be taken up and debated. As always, time will tell.

The emergency supplemental will be taken up and passed with little (but some) debate.

UPDATE @ 10:33 - The cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the FMA is concluded, and as predicted, it failed. Quite anticlimactic, and as noted previously, I side with the "waste of time" crowd on this one.

Roll Call Vote 49-48.

I'll update when the above roll call becomes available, and compare Senators' votes with the 48-50 rejection of cloture in 2004, where Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Chafee, Collins, McCain, Snowe and Sununu were against cloture.

GOP against in both 2004 & 2006: Chafee, Collins, McCain, Snowe and Sununu
"New" GOP votes against in 2006: Gregg and Specter.

UPDATE @ 19:30 - some links and history for further reading. The "Native Hawaiian" issue has been around the barn a couple times, hence the good preparation by proponents and opponents.

S.147 - Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act
Republican Policy Committee - June 7, 2006

Why Congress Must Reject Race-Based Government for Native Hawaiians
Republican Policy Committee - June 22, 2005

The Heritage Foundation: The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act

In the 106th Congress (July-October 2000):

H.R.4904 - A bill to express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians, to provide a process for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government and the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian government, and for other purposes.

S.2899 - A bill to express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians, to provide a process for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government and the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian government, and for other purposes.

House Report 106-897
Senate Report 106-424

September 26, 2000

H.R. 4904 - To Express the Policy of the United States Regarding the United States Relationship with Native Hawaiians
(Rep. Abercrombie (D) Hawaii and Rep. Kildee (D) Michigan)

The Administration supports H.R. 4904 as reported, which would affirm and acknowledge the political relationship between the United States and Native Hawaiians. By clarifying the political status of Native Hawaiians, this bill would acknowledge the right of Native Hawaiians to self-governance over their own internal affairs. The Administration is committed to working with the Native Hawaiian people and the Congress to implement the steps to Federal recognition, self-governance, and self-determination of the Native Hawaiian people outlined in this bill. In addition, the Administration plans to work with the Senate to address some remaining technical concerns.

That was then - this is now ...
The Department of Justice, Office of Legal Affairs, has come out strongly against passage of S.147 in a June 7 letter to Senator Frist.

GOP co-sponsors of S.147, the Akaka Bill, are Coleman, Graham, Murkowski, Smith and Stevens.

UPDATE @ 20:10 - Yuck yuck yuck. Senator Durbin asserting that Congress must practice fiscal conservatism. Amazing.

Senator Sessions did the closing honors and setting up tomorrow's business. I assume the below has some errors, as it was composed from notes taken "on the fly."

  • 09:30 - open Senate
  • 10:45 - cloture vote on motion to proceed H.R.8 (death tax)
  • Roberts and Clinton speak for up to 25 minutes, then debate on S.147
  • 12:45 - cloture vote on motion to proceed S.147 (Hawaiian)
  • If cloture is not obtained on both measures, consider 4 District Court judge nominations, en banc. Two from Michigan and two from New Jersey, executive calendar Nos. 647, 628, 633 and 634.
  • Consecutive votes on the four nominations as listed, but no later than 2:00 PM
  • Consider executive calendar No. 663, Susan Schwab to be US Trade Representative
  • If cloture had been obtained on the motion to proceed to H.R.8 (death tax), proceed to it
  • If cloture was not obtained on H.R.8, but was on S.147, proceed to S.147

Additionally, a cloture motion was filed on Executive calendar No. 553, Richard Stickler, to be Ass't Secretary of Labor, mine safety and health. This cloture vote will occur on Friday, unless the Senate agrees to an earlier time.

S.Res.504 - Urging the president to not accept the credentials of anyone from Libya, is passed on unanimous consent.

H.R.4311 - amend African Government Act of 1978, is passed on unanimous consent.

Adjourned until 9:30 AM tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They just showed a clip on CNN of Sen. Allard before the vote today...saying that this time was different that not only would they get 50 votes for..but he (sounded) was pretty certain it would be OVER 50...

Then, of course, they showed the actual vote count...and I was thinking at that time...that either the whip can't count, or some of the Senators stabbed Allard and gang in the back...

Well..the report went on to say that Specter and Judd Gregg "flipped" since the last vote...with Gregg saying that the first time he voted FOR the amendment, he was afraid of judicial activism usurping state's rights...

BUT, he said, that hasn't happened(?????) he changed his mind.

My question: Did these two guys TELL Allard and gang this before the vote today??

They showed the after vote presser with Allard, and he looked shocked that the vote turned out the way it did..

Also, the report went on to say, that they were also counting on the Hagel vote FOR the amendment, but he was with the POTUS in Nebraska and DIDN'T VOTE....

Let's see...presidential candidate...a vote on a "hot" subject...Yeah...he is just the type, like Kerry, to LOVE having a reason NOT to go on record.

Also, I am not as sure as Allard, that Hagel WOULD have voted FOR the amendment.

Anyway...I still read and love your site...just wanted to give you report I saw tonight, in case you hadn't seen it.

Disclaimer...we ARE talking CNN here, so I can't vouch for their truthfulness.


6/07/2006 10:48 PM  
Blogger cboldt said...

Specter was clearly going to vote against cloture, but Gregg was one of the names on the motion to hold a cloture vote, so his vote against cloture is certainly odd.

Allard was foolish for going out on a limb. I suspect he was using a public expression as a sort of lever to get supporting votes. I doubt his surprise at this outcome has any impact on a future reelection bid.

Pretty neat, eh, that President Bush was with Senator Hagel. Since you read my posts, you know what I think of President Bush's expression of "fully protect marriage."

6/08/2006 2:33 AM  

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