Friday, July 21, 2006

Senate Live - July 21, 2006

Another sleepy Friday in the Senate. Senator Frist announced the following unanimous consent agreement yesterday:

1.--Ordered, That on Friday, July 21, 2006, at 9:30 a.m., the Senate proceed to the consideration of ...

Child Custody Protection Act

A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit taking minors across State lines circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortions decisions.


Looking past that, another unanimous consent agreement provides that an energy bill be in order, provided it be introduced on July 20. Such a bill was introduced yesterday, so there is a good chance that today we will hear a motion to proceed to it, with the time of taking it up being early next week.

2.--Ordered, That if the Majority Leader or his designee introduces a bill related to energy on Thursday, July 20, 2006, it shall be in order to move to proceed to that legislation on Friday, July 21, 2006. (July 19, 2006.)


The following bill was read the first time:

S. 3711. A bill to enhance the energy independence and security of the United States by providing for exploration, development, and production activities for mineral resources in the Gulf of Mexico, and for other purposes.

I wonder if this opens up leasing, as did "S.2253 - A bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to offer the 181 Area of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas leasing."

These items have been on the radar for weeks, with no action being hinted either in the news or from the floor of the Senate ...

  • H.R.4890 - Legislative line item veto;
  • H.R.5638 - Modification to the estate/death tax; and
  • immigration reform (waiting for the vehicle for House/Senate conference and for the naming of conferees)

Here are two further items that have been in the news, have had action in the House, landed in the Senate's lap yesterday -- and noted here to place the possibility of Senate action into view.

ENROLLED BILL SIGNED -- (Senate - July 20, 2006)

At 12:23 p.m., a message from the House of Representatives, delivered by Ms. Niland, 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. 2389. An act to amend title 28, United States Code, with respect to the jurisdiction of Federal courts over certain cases and controversies involving the Pledge of Allegiance.

H.R. 5683. An act to preserve the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, California, by providing for the immediate acquisition of the memorial by the United States.

And it being a sleepy Friday morning, it's a good time to list the items that I see as lurking somewhere in the background, but possible to become the issue du jour on short notice ...

  • jurisdiction and procedure relating to enemy combatant detainees;
  • legislation aimed to get Congress on the same page as the executive regarding surveillance activity;
  • resolution condemning unauthorized disclosure and publication of the NSA terrorist surveillance program, NSA phone call logging "allegation," and clandestine monitoring of financial transactions via SWIFT;
  • legislation aimed to shield reporters from an obligation to disclose sources in (some) civil and criminal actions; and
  • judicial nominations

UPDATE @ 10:01 has many links to "U.S. Loses Bid to Dismiss AT&T Surveillance Suit", where my post yesterday only pointed to ScotusBlog for a report (and a link to the opinion by the Court).


Senator Frist notes that he expects debate on S.403 - Child Custody Protection Act to continue until Tuesday.

He misspeaks that S.Res.534 - A resolution condemning Hezbollah and Hamas and their state sponsors and supporting Israel's exercise of its right to self-defense was passed by unanimous consent. Senator Byrd spoke against the resolution, on the grounds that it was inflammatory to the situation because it pointed a finger of blame, and therefore did not advance the interests of the United States.

He names the following items as being planned for next week:

And slated for before the August recess ...

  • Department of Defense Appropriations - Conference report reconciling H.R.5122 and S.2766.
And at an indefinite time, but stated as "issues we need to move on soon,"

  • Pensions - S.1783 and H.R.2830 have been in conference since early March. Issues include folding estate/death tax reform into this bill; giving airlines special treatment so they don't dump their pension obligations on the taxpayer; and reinstating some of the temporary tax breaks.
  • Port Security
  • Small Business Health Plan. This is the Enzi bill, S.1955, which has been listed as "the pending business" on the Senate's legislative calendar since the cloture vote failed 55 - 43 on May 11

I notice that no other Circuit Court nominees were named, not Haynes, not Boyle, and not Myers. Robert Novak,, and others have noted Senator Frist spinning (here too) the (in)action of the Senate regarding nominations as "success," having a high percentage of the nominations being confirmed, and ignoring those that languish for months (in some cases years) without definitive action.


Slight switch of gears, but a subject that Senator Voinovich has catapulted into the news ...

July 20th, 2006 - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., (R-Tenn.) made the following statement on John Bolton's confirmation to serve as ambassador to the United Nations:

"I encourage swift action on the confirmation of John Bolton and have asked that Chairman Lugar and the Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings as soon as possible to ensure he continues the important work he's started at the UN."


Senator Sessions rises, to be the first to speak on the pending bill after a quorum call of several minutes.

UPDATE @ 10:19

Senator Wyden indicates that he intends to block this bill, unless it contains language relating to "net neutrality." Maybe Senator Wyden will filibuster this bill.

UPDATE @ 11:40

Added links and details in the short list above, at the action item, "Pensions."

The Senate has been in quorum call since Senator Wyden stopped speaking over an hour ago.
Here is Wyden on his proposed requirements for "net neutrality." Wyden is presently blocking Senator Stevens' S.2686 - Communications, Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006, as reported in this article and many other articles. Lots of issues wrapped up in Stevens' bill, and the notion of "net neutrality" itself covers fairly broad ground.

UPDATE @ 12:15

Senator Frist closes down the Senate, with a closing speech that advocates embryonic stem cell research. Before that, he outlined the action for Monday and Tuesday. Seems he was able to dispense with Senator Wyden's possible filibuster of S.403 - Child Custody Protection Act.

The Senate will open Monday at 2:00 PM. There will be an hour of morning business. At 3:00, the Senate will go into executive session for 2 hours of debate on the nomination of Jerome Holmes.

The Senate will have an additional 2 hours of debate on the nomination of Holmes on Tuesday, with the first vote of the week being on Tuesday, the 25th, on the nomination.

Following that, the Senate will resume consideration of S.403, with amendments and debate limited as follows:

  • Feinstein amendment - 2 hours - on an exemption for clergy (I presume, to permit clergy to take minors across state lines for the purpose of obtaining abortions)
  • Democrats - 90 minutes - on an amendment relating to teen pregnancy prevention (free contraception, probably)
  • Boxer amendment - 2 hours - an amendment that refers to cases involving parental incest
  • Ensign amendment - 2 hours - also referring to cases that involve parental incest
  • Vote on the Ensign amendment before voting on Boxer amendment
  • General debate on the bill - 1 hour
  • vote on the bill
Senate stands in adjournment as of 12:13.

UPDATE @ 12:36

Hat tip to Cliff May at NRO Corner ...

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing July 27
To consider the nomination of John Bolton To be U.S. Representative to the United Nations


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