Monday, September 11, 2006

H.R.4954 - Port Security Improvement Act of 2006

This bill was passed on September 14
Conference Report 109-711 Passed on September 29
President's Signing Statement on H.R. 4954

Oct 2: Conference report not available, but news reports that it contains the language of H.R.4777 - Internet Gambling Prohibition Act or H.R.4411 - Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act.

PartyGaming, Sportingbet Plunge on U.S. Gambling Law
FOCUS Sector stunned by US Senate approval for anti-online gaming legislation

Also ...

PORT ACT--CONFERENCE REPORT

Mr. REID. ... Three weeks later after negotiations with the House, all but the port security initiatives were dropped at the insistence of the House Republicans, despite overwhelming support in the Senate. The new initiatives for the mass transit and freight rail system would have fulfilled an important recommendation of the 9/11 Commission Report, which recommended that the Federal Government address a much broader range of transportation security issues in addition to those undertaken in commercial aviation.

Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I have serious concerns about extraneous provision that was included in the port security conference report. ... I deeply resent the Republican leadership shopping this unrelated matter into a must pass bill. The inclusion of the Internet Gambling provision in a must pass bill at the last minute is irresponsible legislation.

H.R.4954 - Port Security Improvement Act of 2006
(Renamed by S.Amdt.4919, a complete substitute for the House Bill)

Amendments 4919-4921 - September 7
Amendments 4922-4923 - September 8
Amendments 4924-4928 - September 11
Amendments 4929-4964 - September 12
Amendments 4965-5005 - September 13
Amendments 5007-5018 - September 14

Debate of September 7
Debate of September 8
Debate of Sept 11: Part I - Part II
Debate of Sept 12: Part I - Part II
Senator Santorum's Sept 12 morning speech.
Debate of September 13
Debate of September 14

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As one listens to the debate, it is necessary to be careful with understanding terminology. For example, Senator Collins said "There is 100 percent screening [of containers]." What does "100 percent screening" mean? Well, she continued.

There is 100 percent screening. There is a difference between screening a container, which means gathering information on each and every container and doing a sophisticated computer analysis to determine which are of higher risk, versus scanning each container with an x-ray-type machine or some other method or a physical inspection.

So, for Senator Collins, "screening" is a desktop exercise. Of course, other senators may ascribe different meaning to the word "screening," so it is important to read the context around the statements, and to understand the underlying issue or point in some detail.

---===---

The notion of rail security is another big component of the debate. Senator McCain would have preferred that rail security would have been taken up independently from port security, but is pleased that rail security is being brought up at this time.

Mr. McCAIN. This amendment would authorize a total of almost $1.2 billion for rail security. More than half of this funding would be authorized to complete tunnel safety and security improvements at New York's Pennsylvania station, which is used by over 500,000 transit, commuter, and intercity passengers each workday.

The rail security component is as much directed to human passenger regulation as to cargo regulation. For example, the legislation introduces airport-style security measures to some intercity train travel.

(b) Pilot Program.--As part of the study conducted under subsection (a), the Under Secretary shall complete a pilot program of random security screening of passengers and baggage at 5 passenger rail stations served by Amtrak, which shall be selected by the Under Secretary. In conducting the pilot program under this subsection, the Under Secretary shall--

(1) test a wide range of explosives detection technologies, devices, and methods;

(2) require that intercity rail passengers produce government-issued photographic identification, which matches the name on the passenger's tickets before the passenger boarding a train; and

(3) attempt to give preference to locations at the highest risk of terrorist attack and achieve a distribution of participating train stations in terms of geographic location, size, passenger volume, and whether the station is used by commuter rail passengers and Amtrak passengers.

Action of Sept 11

The rail security measure of McCain was passed yesterday. This is significant legislation, some points being noted above, and the floor debate was nil.

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, this second-degree amendment offered by Senator Inouye and myself, with Senators MCCAIN and LAUTENBERG as cosponsors, simply adds the additional rail security provisions of S. 1052, the Commerce Committee's Transportation Security Improvement Act of 2005, to the McCain amendment. The provisions in the second-degree amendment address rail worker security training, rail security public awareness, hazardous materials threat mitigation, railcar tracking, and update a few of the provisions that are in Senator McCain's provisions.

Taken together with Senator McCain's Rail Security Act of 2005, which Senator McCain offered to this bill, this amendment and Senator McCain's bill will form the rail security title of S. 1052 that was unanimously supported by the Commerce Committee. It is supported by both the railroads and the rail workers, and I urge its adoption.
The amendment (No. 4926) was agreed to. ...

Mr. STEVENS. I now ask for approval of Senator McCain's amendment, as amended.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 4922, as amended.
The amendment (No. 4922), as amended, was agreed to. ...

That was it. The McCain amendment and the legislation it represents was passed.

The subject of initial debate on Tuesday is to be on the DeMint amendment, which deals with a national alert system ... "The purpose of this amendment is to do just that: to move the emergency alert system out of the area of broadcast radio and television into the wireless era."

Now that's a bit funny, seeing as how the broadcast of radio and television signals has always been a wireless technology. Whatever does the Senator mean to say, since "wireless" isn't quite the right word? Reading on ...

"When disaster strikes, we know not everyone will be listening to the radio or television, but almost all Americans will be carrying a mobile phone, a Blackberry, or a PDA."

Ahhh, that makes things more clear.

The Senator from Alaska [Mr. Stevens], for Mr. DeMint, for himself, Mr. Stevens, and Mr. Inouye, proposes an amendment numbered 4927 to amendment No. 4921. ... Mr. STEVENS. I ask unanimous consent this be considered a complete substitute for the DeMint amendment.
The amendment (No. 4927) was agreed to. ...

Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask consent at 12 noon tomorrow the Senate proceed to a vote in relation to the DeMint amendment No. 4921, as amended ...

The DeMint amendment is also known as S. 1753 - The Warning Alert and Response Network Act, WARN Act for short.

Not only is there some confusion relating to the word "wireless," I note this rather odd statement being made by Senator Collins ...

His amendment is going to make a big difference. All of us remember 5 years ago on this day how difficult it was to get information--our cell phones were not working; we did not have Blackberrys then. The Senator's approach will ensure that we use every possible means to inform the public when there is an incident that is a threat to public safety.

If the cell network isn't operating, if the cell phones aren't working, if the cell towers are overloaded with traffic, how is warning by cell phone going to operate?

Here are some of the provisions in the amendment/bill, as expressed in the text of amendment 4927:

  • when technologically feasible shall be capable of providing information in languages other than, and in addition to, English where necessary or appropriate
  • An alert shall provide appropriate instructions for actions to be taken by individuals affected or potentially affected by such a situation [no penalty for giving bad instructions]
  • to allow any licensee providing commercial mobile service ... to transmit National Alert System alerts to all subscribers ... and ... each such licensee shall file an election with the Commission with respect to whether or not it intends to participate in the transmission of National Alert System alerts [participation is optional on the part of wireless service providers]
  • LIMITATION OF LIABILITY.--Any person that participates in the transmission of National Alert System alerts and that meets its obligations under this title shall not be liable to any subscriber to, or user of, such person's service or equipment for-- (1) any act or omission related to or any harm resulting from the transmission of, or failure to transmit ...

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I wonder how Senator Chafee will fare in his primary. It's not surprising to have the Republican National Committee squarely behind Chafee, but making negative attacks on the conservative challenger rubs me the wrong way. I'm rooting for a Chafee defeat, and hoping the RNC just keeps quiet if Laffey wins. The RNC's vigorous shunning of Laffey is quite a contrast with the Lieberman race, where the DNC said it would support whoever won the primary -- even if it didn't strongly follow through with support.

---===---

Senator Frist opens the Senate with discussion relating to enemy combatant trials and interrogation - which is a strong indicator that legislation on this subject will be next up, following the passage of the port and rail security act, plus whatever the Senate attaches to the currently pending legislation.

Link to Senator Frist's' opening speech <-- click here

Soon, we'll take up legislation that strengthens and modernizes our foreign intelligence surveillance laws -- as well as legislation that authorizes military commissions to prosecute terrorists for war crimes, like those currently detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Senator Reid puts in his two cents, appreciative of his time with the President in Arlington, yesterday, and also on the steps of Congress ... but goes on to criticize President Bush's speech last night as a political defense of the war in Iraq. He's building on the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee, linked and briefly discussed here.

Senator Santorum is the first up, and begins with a rebuttal to Senator Reid's characterization of the President's speech as a political speech.

President's Address to the Nation - Sept 11, 2006

I think arguing over the label "political speech" is stupid. Clearly there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not the war in Iraq is/was an appropriate response to terrorist attacks against the United States. That difference of opinion can be called "political," and in fact probably is -- seeing as how the Democrats have hitched their bulk of their political discourse to the prosecution of war in Iraq.

Likewise with NSA surveillance - one side says "it's not political," and the other side says "yes it is, we're making it an issue that calls the conduct of the administration into question."

And for most people, that's the depth of the debate. "Political or not?" and namecalling.

UPDATE @ 10:43

Murray Amendment No. 4929 is introduced, and in not unusual fashion, the subject of debate, that amendment, is not available to facilitate following along by the interested public.

This amendment provides a funding source for the authority provided by the bill. The funding source will be fees presently assessed, I presume, to those who ship goods, which are of course passed on to the consumer.

UPDATE @ 11:18

Hey, this is a rare treat! NRO transcript of Santorum's speech.

Senator Reid brings up failure of the Senate to take up the Intelligence Bill, discussed here in late May, and the host of matters that it implicates in today's political arena. Reid Amendment No. 4936 is his present action in that regard, just introduced. I suspect it will be disposed of as being not germane.

Dorgan Amendment No. 4937 introduced. This relates to management of ports, and Senator Dorgan brings up the recent purchase of P&O by Dubai Ports World. He correctly notes that Dubai Ports World has still not divested itself of interests in running US ports. The Dorgan amendment would prohibit future free trade agreements from permitting (some) foreign countries from managing US seaports.

UPDATE @ 11:45

Schumer Amendment No. 4930 is introduced. He is discussing the "screening" of ship contents for nuclear materials, first generally ridiculing the amount of money and attention being spent on seaport security, compared with airport security. He also raises the Dubai Ports World "fiasco" as illuminating the administration's lackadaisical attitude.

Amendment No. 4930 calls for "screening" all containers to make sure they don't contain nuclear or radiological weapons. He notes that only 5% of containers are presently inspected. Senator Collins is opposed to efforts to introduce 100% "Scanning." Recall above, Collins' use of the word "screening" means a desktop analysis of the risk of each container, while Schumer just used the word "screening" to mean a physical inspection.

UPDATE @ 12:00

Schumer Amendment No. 4938 - The Apollo Project amendment. The name is meant to evoke the success of the race to the moon, and would provide half a billion dollars to develop technologies for detection of nuclear and radiological materials, to reduce the number of false positives in such scanning, etc. This amendment isn't being offered at this time, merely described for the record.

Senator Lieberman asks for a 10 minute extension on the timing for voting on the DeMint amendment (the vote is on 4921, but 4927 was substituted for 4921 yesterday).

UPDATE @ 12:20

The DeMint amendment will pass, probably unanimously. I predict 98-0, and am out of here for awhile.

DeMINT Amendment No. 4921 was
PASSED on a 95 - 00 vote.

The heated debate will be on Reid's amendment.

UPDATE @ 14:16

Hat tip to confirmthem.com ...

Sens. Grassley, Sessions hold up a key nominee
By Alexander Bolton

Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, are holding up the nomination of Peter D. Keisler to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Bush administration's top priority on judicial nominees this fall, according to knowledgeable sources ... But a spokesman for Sessions has denied his boss's involvement.

Plenty of additional speculation in the article. I agree that there will be no judicial fireworks in the balance of the 109th Congress. The GOP lacks the will to push this issue.

UPDATE @ 14:55

Salazar Amendment No. 4935 to form a Rural Police Training Institute. Sounds like a pork program to me - at least seems remote from seaport security.

Lautenberg Amendment No. 4940 (I think - Lautenberg interrupted the clerk before the amendment number was recited) to remove the hiring limit for TSA screener hiring. His justification is to reduce the time delay in screening. 45,000 screeners is not enough, says he, because 2,000,000 people fly each day.

Lautenberg asks how many Senators need to weigh in, in order to agree to a motion to record a vote on yeas and nays instead of by voice. The answer is "one fifth of presumptive quorum, or eleven, unless absence of a quorum has been established, in which case one fifth of the Senators who responded to the quorum call." The chair has great latitude in this matter.
[http://www.gpoaccess.gov/riddick/1397-1437.pdf]

See also http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/96-452.pdf, which points to language in the U.S. Constitution,

... and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
U.S.Const. Art. I, Sec. 5

And with only a few Senators on the floor, and Senator Stevens joining the UC request to have the yeas and nays on Senator Lautenberg's amendment, the chair rules that there is a sufficient second. The vote is scheduled for 5:00 PM today.

Hutchison Amendment No. 4931, to increase the number of customs and border agents by 175, to a total of 1,000 under this bill.

Senator Hutchison requests the yeas and nays, Collins supports this call, and expects that the vote on the Hutchison amendment can be scheduled for immediately after the vote on the Lautenberg amendment.

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Senator Feinstein will make a statement on the "very long" Reid amendment, but in particular wants to weigh in on the portion that relates to surveillance. She says that the Democrats want to give the president the tools necessary to find terrorists, but that electronic surveillance needs to be done in a way that comports with the Constitution, as it will impact tens of thousands of Americans.

She refers to S.3877 and S.3001, surveillance bills which are presently in the Judiciary Committee and are scheduled to be marked up tomorrow and Thursday mornings.

She envisions minor changes to FISA, which will result in a statute that will produce a workable balance between "hot pursuit" non-warrant surveillance, and court-approved surveillance. From the details she provided, her proposal falls far short of describing the activity presently undertaken by the NSA under the auspices of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. That is, the administration would find the proposal unacceptable. However, her proposal represents a sea change, inasmuch as it admits more latitude to the executive - in contrast to previous position that deviation from FISA as presently constituted "is a problem."

She closes by saying she supports the Reid amendment, which includes some "sense of the Senate" rhetoric on subjects quite separate from surveillance. Off to find Reid amendment language, in the hopes that Senator Reid has made it publicly available.

UPDATE @ 16:15

Senator Reid Press Releases ...

July 11, 2006: Democrats Demand Real Security at Ports
April 25, 2006: Democrats Demand Real Security at Ports

Ahhhh ... I think this is it ...
Senate Democrats Announce Major Security Legislation

Announced by the Senate Democratic Leadership, along with New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton as well as Senators Leahy, Levin, Rockefeller, Reed, and Menendez, the Real Security Act of 2006 is an aggressive plan to take action on the real lessons of 9/11.

Democrat Party Summary of the Real Security Act of 2006
PDF copy of the bill (870 kB)

It's long - 528 pages, but big print. Portions of the Table of Contents give a flavor for the contents of this amendment.

Real Security Act of 2006

DIVISION A--IMPLEMENTATION OF 9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS
. TITLE I--HOMELAND SECURITY, EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE
. TITLE II--REFORMING THE INSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT
.. Subtitle A--Intelligence Community
.. Subtitle B--Civil Liberties and Executive Power
... Sec. 211. Report on the balance between security and civil liberties.
.. Subtitle C--Intelligence Oversight Reform in the Senate ...
. TITLE III--FOREIGN POLICY, PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ...
.. Subtitle A--Foreign Policy
... Sec. 301. Actions to ensure a long-term commitment to Afghanistan.
... Sec. 302. Actions to support Pakistan against extremists.
... Sec. 303. Actions to support reform in Saudi Arabia.
... Sec. 304. Elimination of terrorist sanctuaries.
... Sec. 305. Comprehensive coalition strategy against Islamist terrorism.
... Sec. 306. Standards for the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists. ...

DIVISION B--COMBATTING TERRORISM
. TITLE XI--EFFECTIVELY TARGETING TERRORISTS
. TITLE XII--PREVENTING THE GROWTH OF RADICAL ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM
.. Subtitle C--Restoring American Moral Leadership
... Sec. 1223. Treatment of detainees.
. TITLE XIII--PROTECTION FROM TERRORIST ATTACKS THAT UTILIZE NUCLEAR, CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL, AND RADIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
. TITLE XIV--PROTECTING TAXPAYERS

DIVISION C--INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATIONS
. TITLE XXI--INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES
. TITLE XXII--CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY RETIREMENT AND DISABILITY SYSTEM
. TITLE XXIII--INTELLIGENCE AND GENERAL INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY MATTERS
. TITLE XXIV--MATTERS RELATING TO ELEMENTS OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

DIVISION D--TRANSPORTATION SECURITY
. TITLE XXXI--MARITIME SECURITY
. TITLE XXXII--RAIL SECURITY
. TITLE XXXIII--MASS TRANSIT SECURITY
. TITLE XXXIV--AVIATION SECURITY

DIVISION E--A NEW DIRECTION IN IRAQ
. Title XLI--United States Policy on Iraq
.. Sec. 4001. United States policy on Iraq.
.. Sec. 4002. Sense of Senate on need for a new direction in Iraq policy ...
. Title XLII--Special Committee of Senate on War and Reconstruction
.. Sec. 4110. Sense of Senate on certain claims regarding the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The Reid amendment has the same rhetoric recently rejected in debate on the DoD Appropriations bill, to wit "(2) President George W. Bush needs to change course in Iraq to provide a strategy for success, and one indication of such a change of course would be to replace the current Secretary of Defense." (Section 4002).

Well, at 500+ pages, one can count on plenty of material to feed debate.

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Murray Amendment No. 4929 to extend merchandising fees, modified by negotiated agreement in the back rooms. Senator Collins supports the modified amendment.
MURRAY Amendment No. 4929 was
PASSED on a voice vote (with probably fewer than 20 Senators present).

UPDATE @ 17:05

Senator Byrd speech ... I missed most of it, but picked up where he says the administration has a disconnect when it comes to seaport security, because it doesn't support funding for seaport security.

DORGAN Amendment No. 4937, to prohibit the United States Trade Representative from negotiating any future trade agreement that limits the Congress in its ability to restrict the operations or ownership of United States ports by a foreign country or person, was
PASSED on a voice vote.

Now it's the time for roll call votes on the Lautenberg and Hutchison amendments. I wonder if the extended debate on the Reid amendment, the Real Security Act of 2006, will begin tonight or tomorrow.

Senator Collins noted that the Senate is willing to accept Lautenberg's amendment without a roll call vote, and that the ONLY reason a roll call vote would be conducted would be at Lautenberg's insistence. Lautenberg plays the fool and gets up to explain why his amendment should be passed. Hey, psst, Frank -- it's passed if you say "okay" just as much as it's passed on a roll call vote. What a dope.

UPDATE @ 17:35

LAUTENBERG Amendment No. 4940, to remove the cap on the number of TSA screeners, was
PASSED on a 84 - 12 vote.
Nay votes: Burr, Coburn, Craig, Crapo, Ensign, Enzi, Gregg, Lott, Sununu, Thomas, Thune and Voinovich

The C-SPAN2 crawl wrongly assigns 100% screening of containers to a Lautenberg amendment. Heheheh. I bet that causes a bit of heartburn as people listen to all the Republican "Aye" votes (Sessions, Kyl, Hutchison, Alexander, Santorum ... all but a few!) As noted above (@11:45), it's Schumer Amendment No. 4930 that would impose a 100% scanning requirement. And note too, Senator Collins says containers are 100% screened now - using "desktop review and risk assessment" as the definition of screening.

Next vote, the Hutchison amendment, to increase the number of customs and border agents by 275.

UPDATE @ 17:55

HUTCHISON Amendment No. 4931, to increase the number of customs and border agents by 275, was
PASSED on a 97 - 00 vote.

UPDATE @ 19:20

Frist closing down the Senate - says, half-heartedly, that there has been reasonable progress on this bill, and goes on to express concern because there has been no agreement on a filing deadline for amendments on this bill. He is filing a cloture motion in order to insure that a vote occur on the bill as a whole, sometime this week. If the cloture process follows standard procedure, the cloture vote would happen Thursday morning, but could just as well be skipped if the Democrats and Republicans come to an agreement to vote on the bill as a whole sometime this week.

He passes a couple Senate Resolutions, plus H.R.866, plus causes a treaty (Investment Treaty with Uruguay) to be ratified by the Senate - the chair (Chambliss) is suitably wry as it notes the presence of 2/3rds of the Senate. I think the Senate has 2 Senators in it - Frist and the chair.

The Senate will turn to the Reid amendment on Wednesday, with a vote on that amendment to be held at 12:15. The Senate stands in adjournment until 9:30 AM, Wednesday, September 13, 2006.

Action of Sept 13

See The Daily Digest - September 12 for a list of passed amendments, including Shelby/Sarbanes Amendment No. 4956, to improve mass transit security, which was omitted above.

Link to Senator Santorum's Sept 12 morning speech.

Pending ...

Reid amendment No. 4936, to provide real national security, restore United States leadership, and implement tough and smart policies to win the war on terror, with a vote on that amendment scheduled for about 12:15 PM. See brief summary of the amendment at The Real Security Act of 2006.

Schumer Amendment No. 4930, to improve maritime container security by ensuring that foreign ports participating in the Container Security Initiative scan all containers shipped to the United States for nuclear and radiological weapons before loading.

I predict both amendments will fall, Reid's mostly on party line with perhaps Chafee and a handful of the usual crossovers. Schumer's will fall by a wider margin because a number of Democrats understand that 100% scanning is not feasible. Senator Murray, for example, will vote against the Schumer amendment.

UPDATE @ 10:35

Stabenow Amendment No. 4967 was introduced by Senator Murray, and was immediately set aside to take up ...

Nelson (NE) Amendment No. 4945 (Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2006), to provide emergency relief for farmers for losses due to a drought. Senator Nelson says this needs to be addressed soon, and that he ordinarily would not attach this sort of thing to a security bill - but there are so few opportunities to act remaining in this Congress, he is compelled to raise the proposal at this time. He's dubbed the drought "Drought David," in order to give it the same sort of identity that a "quicker" disaster (e.g. hurricane, earthquake, flood) has.

Senator Conrad agrees that the Midwest drought deserves emergency assistance, and at this time. This is the third most severe drought in US recorded weather. He's prepared with pictures from last year when the same area was flooded.

Senator Salazar also rises in support of this amendment.

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Senator Collins rises in opposition to Reid's amendment No. 4936, the Real Security Act of 2006. She points out that it is a hodgepodge of findings, already passed material, already rejected material ... she points out the language providing phased redeployment out of Iraq (rejected in June), and other examples. She is doing a credible job of detailing the goofiness of the Reid amendment. I prefer more direct ridicule, but this is a good start.

UPDATE @ 11:10

Senator DeMint Amendment No. 4970, would apply the same standards to seaport workers, that presently pertain to TSA and airport security workers, in particular forbidding people with felony criminal records from obtaining employment or access to sensitive port areas. The Secretary of the DHS would be able to grant a waiver in exceptional cases.

I think this amendment will face serious opposition, but it'll be hard for opposition to express WHY seaports don't require the same degree of security as airports, after those folks have pounded on the urgent need for seaport security. Senator DeMint says that opponents assertion that the amendment forbids those with youthful offenses from seaport employment is false.

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Senator Biden rises to discuss his proposal, raised last week, for the United States to take humanitarian and peacekeeping action in Darfur. I ask, "Why not rely on the United Nations?"

March 3, 2006 - the U.S. Senate passed Senator Joe Biden's (D-DE) resolution urging the White House to take swift and decisive action to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Senator Biden goes as far as to say that if Russia and/or China veto UN action to keep the government of the Sudan "in line," that the United States "go it alone." Amazing.

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Voinovich Amendment No. 4962, relating to health issues caused by airborne materials resulting from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and any other disaster relating to our transportation system. Senator Clinton is a co-sponsor

Quite the hodgepodge of matters being raised under the aegis of "seaport security."

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Senator Dorgan rises to support the Reid amendment (hey, finally somebody talking about the pending amendment), and also to support Nelson's amendment, the Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2006.

UPDATE @ 11:25

Biden Amendment No. 4975, is to set up a funding account, "trust fund," with 53 billion dollars being placed in the account using belayed tax reductions to upper income taxpayers. This is a new twist, setting up the argument that class warfare prevents security. Biden's amendment targets incomes over 3 million per year.

Senator Stevens rises to discuss the Reid amendment. He notes that most of the provisions are unrelated to seaport security - well, so is drought relief, Darfur peacekeeping, and adverse health resulting from airborne agents. He rants rather passionately against the pre-election urge to bring up irrelevant amendments. I bet he brings up an irrelevant amendment at some point before the Senate's election recess.

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HowAppealing has this list of articles relating to negotiations between the Senate and the administration, relating to interrogation and military trials. A very good set of links - also unrelated to seaport security, but hey, if the Senators can ramble, so can I.

UPDATE @ 12:12

Senator Collins rises again in opposition to the Reid amendment, based on its bulk of 500+ pages ... and out of all of that, there is one reference to seaport security, and one reference to maritime security. She says it is irrelevant to the underlying bill, and also that many Democrats voted against certain portions of the amendment, when those parts were raised separately in recent months. She hopes the vote on the Reid amendment doesn't break down on party lines, and hinted that Democrats who vote for the Reid amendment will demonstrate inconsistency with their past votes. As if they care!

Senator Boxer spoke for 10 minutes. She said "blah blah blah blah." Actually, she said "it's not our job to scare the public, it's to protect them." In short, to be nannies.

---===---

ConfirmThem.com has this piece relating to an executive meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled for tomorrow. The speculation is that some Circuit Court nominees will be voted out, especially those who were voted out before the last recess and those who had been in Committee for many months. I doubt any Circuit Court nominees will be voted out tomorrow. The judge issue is dead to the public.

---===---

Senator Durbin bats cleanup for the Democrats, on the Reid amendment. First he says he hopes for appropriations to follow the authorization that is represented by the Port Security bill, then recites the talking points predicted by the amendment - 9/11 Commission recommendations; pull out of Iraq; legal surveillance; seaport security

Senator Roberts rises in opposition to the Reid amendment. Says "if this amendment is 'real security,' Americans should go home and lock their doors." He's giving a speech that has the sort of ridicule that I enjoy. He focuses on the legality of the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program. Hahahah - he says 10th grade English teachers prepared the Reid amendment, it's full of assignments to prepare reports - 52 new reporting requirements.

He nails it - the Reid amendment is (as is so much of politics) Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Collins indicates that she will raise a point of order that the Reid amendment violates the budget act, as a means to dispose of it. Waiving a budget point of order requires a 60 vote supermajority.

She called the amendment a partisan bomb lobbed at bi-partisan legislation, and expressed hope that the Senate will return to a bipartisan debate on seaport security.

UPDATE @ 12:16

Senator Collins raised the budget point of order, and Senator Murray moved to waive the budget point of order. The vote is underway.

UPDATE @ 12:52

REID Amendment No. 4936, to provide real national security, restore United States leadership, and implement tough and smart policies to win the war on terror,
FELL on a Budget Point of Order on a 41 - 57 vote.

A budget point of order is a nifty tactic. Senators voting to waive the point of order can also say their vote wasn't in favor of the contents of the amendment.

The pending business is a Biden amendment. Senator Stevens moves to table it. I believe he is referring to the Schumer amendment, 100% scanning for nuclear material. The vote on Biden (Schumer?) amendment (No. 4930) is agreed to be at 2:00 PM.

UPDATE @ 13:10

Senator Clinton called up three amendments, one after another, with no discussion or debate on any of them. "Call up, set aside," to what end I don't know, except perhaps to insure that each of the three amendments be voted on.

Clinton/Dole Amendment No. 4957, to award a grant to each eligible State to carry out a program for the purpose of making 2-1-1 telephone service available to all residents of the State with phone service for information on and referral to human services.

Clinton Amendment No. 4943, 450 million dollars to carry out research and development on the detection of explosive materials (including liquid explosives) at airport security checkpoints.

Clinton Amendment No. 4958, to award 2 billion dollars in grants to eligible entities to provide medical and mental health monitoring, tracking, and treatment to individuals whose health has been directly impacted as a result of the attacks on New York City on September 11, 2001.

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Senator Kerry rose to draw attention to Representative Boehner's comments of yesterday. Seems the Senator has thin skin. Hmmmm, the House intends to pass immigration legislation in the next three weeks.

And now back to "her shrillness," who is [first] selling her amendment No. 4958.

UPDATE @ 13:35

Senator Collins is sympathetic to this cause, but is concerned that the amendment only applies to first responders in New York City, and wonders about those who were first responders at the Pentagon, and perhaps Shanksville. Senator Clinton's rebuttal is that Pentagon responders had suitable breathing apparatus, wash stations, etc. while those in New York City did not. Senator Clinton also notes the assurances by Christine Todd Whitman and the EPA that the air in New York City was safe.

Senator Collins notes that she doesn't understand the origins of the 2 billion dollar amount, and finally that the disbursing jurisdiction under the Clinton amendment is Health, not Homeland Security, and suggests that the Homeland Security Committee (and others) obtain the amendment for review. The same objectives are addressed in a bill by Voinovich.

---===---

Radio news reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted out a proposed bill, "to legalize NSA wiretapping," on party line. More to come on that.

UPDATE @ 13:42

Senator Byrd asked for 20 minutes to speak, which was granted without objection.

UPDATE @ 14:09

The vote is to table BIDEN Amendment No. 4975, which among other things, creates a "trust fund." My mistake above, equating the Biden amendment with the Schumer amendment.

UPDATE @ 14:30

With regard to the news report of a NSA bill being reported out of the Judiciary Committee, the choices from today's executive meeting are:

The radio report said the measure came out on a party-line vote, and while Senator Feinstein noted yesterday that S.3001 (and also its slightly modified form, S.3877) were being marked up, the most likely bill to emerge on a pure party-line vote is S.2453.

Just informed speculation on my part. I still have seen no reports or press releases that corroborate the CBS radio news report.

Senator Specter's website notice of the same meeting recites, "Full committee markup of pending business including S.2453, the 'National Security Surveillance Act of 2006.' "

Not endorsing these, just presenting some reading material ...

JURIST: Arlen Specter's Surveillance Bill
OrinKerr.com ยป Senator Specters Op-Ed
OMB Watch - Specter's NSA Bill Eradicates Fundamental Liberties
Specter's NSA Plan Hits Snag
Concurring Opinions: Jack Balkin on the NSA Bill

Well, that portends a bit of negative press, if the Judiciary Committee did in fact vote S.2453 out, on party line.

UPDATE @ 14:34

BIDEN Amendment No. 4975, to establish a "53 billion dollar Homeland Security and Neighborhood Safety trust fund," funded by taxes on individuals earning 3 million dollars or more per year, and refocus Federal priorities toward securing the Homeland, and for other purposes, was
TABLED on a 57 - 41 vote.

UPDATE @ 14:57

NELSON (FL) Amendment No. 4968, to direct the DHS to develop a strategy to deploy radiation detection capability at each US seaport of entry, not just the 22 major ports, was
PASSED on a voice vote.

Menendez Amendment No. 4999, also relates to scanning of cargo. Senator Collins objects to having it brought up at this time, but prefers to have a consolidated debate and series of three votes - Schumer (4930), Menendez (4999), and Coleman (4982) are offering cargo scanning amendments.

As of 15:10, a deal must have been reached, as Menendez is bringing his amendment up and is making introductory comments.

UPDATE @ 16:28

COLEMAN Amendment No. 4982, to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure that all cargo containers are screened before arriving at a United States seaport, that all high-risk containers are scanned before leaving a United States seaport, and that integrated scanning systems are fully deployed to scan all cargo containers entering the United States before they arrive in the United States, was
PASSED on a 95 - 03 vote.
NAY votes cast by: Lautenberg, Menendez and Schumer

I'm curious what the text of the amendment actually requires, because the summary has "scan all cargo containers entering the United States before they arrive in the United States" language.

UPDATE @ 17:30

MENENDEZ Amendment No. 4999, to require a plan to implement 100% scanning of cargo for nuclear or radiological materials at US seaports (including outbound cargo), was
REJECTED on a 43 - 55 vote.

---===---

Senator Baucus inserts a call to bring up and pass H.R.4096 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend to 2006 the alternative minimum tax relief available in 2005 and to index such relief for inflation, without further debate.

Senator Frist notes that the "trifecta" bill (H.R.5970) was rejected by the Senate, and that it (the trifecta bill) may still come before the Senate, and he therefore objects to bringing up and passing an extension of AMT tax relief as stand-alone legislation.

---===---

Santorum Amendment No. 4990 relates to securing the borders, and contains the provisions of the Senate-passed immigration bill (S.2611) that represent securing the borders. He has been told he can't get a vote on it in the context of the seaport security bill, and asks that his full statement be placed in the record, and that the amendment be withdrawn.

---===---

OBAMA Amendment No. 4972, as modified, that plans must be drawn up for evacuating infirm, "special needs," and non-English speaking people. The provisions of this amendment were included in a bill passed in 2005, and this amendment, as modified, was
PASSED on a voice vote.

---===---

VOINOVICH Amendment No. 4962, as modified, that the President may carry out a program for the protection, assessment, monitoring, and study of the health and safety of individuals with high exposure levels to one or more substances of concern that are being, or have been, released in an area declared to be a disaster area, was
PASSED on a voice vote.

---===---

Still waiting on a vote to be conducted on Senator Clinton's 4958, and I'm wondering if Senator Schumer's "100% scanning" amendment 4930 is mooted by the affirmative votes relating to Nelson (FL) Amendment No. 4968 and more particularly, Coleman Amendment No. 4982.

UPDATE @ 17:47

C-SPAN2 announcer indicates little chance of further votes tonight.

Nelson (NE) Amendment No. 4945 (Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2006), as modified is raised again Senator Nelson rebuts an attack on the grounds of the amendment being non-germane. He says that Senate leadership is asserting the amendment isn't germane, and then notes that such a ruling can not be made until AFTER cloture has been invoked.

Senator Nelson asks for a roll call vote on the amendment, and the chair rules favorably. A quorum call is underway .... a vote on the Nelson amendment is the pending matter. Those curious about the details of the amendment may want to review S.3860 - Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2006.

UPDATE @ 18:17

Senator Wyden rises to speak in morning business, to discuss his public hold blocking the telecommunications bill. This is the "net neutrality" debate.

UPDATE @ 18:26

Senator Wyden notes the presence of bill managers, Stevens and Murray. Wyden says he has no intention of holding up debate on the pending seaport security legislation, and therefore yields the floor.

Senator Stevens takes the floor, says he will send the stack of letters from constituents who agree with him on the subject of "net neutrality," to Senator Wyden - then immediately suggests the absence of a quorum.

UPDATE @ 18:44

Here's a report of a report relating to the NSA bill mentioned above. Jurist always offers plenty of links to source material - I heartily recommend clicking through.

Surveillance bill goes to Senate after clearing judiciary committee

[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee approved the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006 [S 2453 summary] Wednesday, a bill that pushes forward Republicans' efforts to confer legal status on the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program, which involves warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency. The bill would subject the program to a review to determine its legality by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ... (much more at link)

UPDATE @ 19:18

Senator Stevens partly closes down the Senate. The following bills and resolutions were passed:

  • S.2464 - A bill to revise a provision relating to a repayment obligation of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation under the Fort McDowell Indian Community Water Rights Settlement Act of 1990
  • S.1902 - A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to authorize funding for the establishment of a program on children and the media within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the role and impact of electronic media in the development of children
  • H.R.1442 - To complete the codification of title 46, United States Code, "Shipping", as positive law.
  • S.Res.550 - A resolution designating October 22 through October 28, 2006, as "National Save for Retirement Week".
  • S.Res.559 - A resolution calling on the President to take immediate steps to help stop the violence in Darfur (Biden)
  • S.Res.569 - A resolution honoring the life of those who died in service to their country aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise on January 14, 1969
A number of nominees were confirmed (no judges).

The Senate will soon be adjourned until 9:30 AM tomorrow. Tomorrow's program, after half an hour of morning business, calls for one hour of debate, followed by a cloture vote at approximately 11:00 AM. Votes are expected throughout the day.

Action of Sept 14

See The Daily Digest - September 13 for a list of amendments passed yesterday. My summary report above omits:

Stevens (for Rockefeller) Modified Amendment No. 4924, to establish a competitive research program within the Department of Homeland Security.
Stevens (for Snowe/Cantwell) Modified Amendment No. 4954, to establish a deadline for the Coast Guard to complete inspection of foreign ports and validate compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
Stevens (for Pryor/Talent) Modified Amendment No. 4959, to require the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations to improve trucking security.
Stevens (for Boxer) Amendment No. 4976, to protect commercial aircraft from the threat of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems.
... and probably 20 other amendments.

---===---

Read today's article, What World Trade Center Illness? over at The American Spectator for a counterpoint to awarding thousands of millions of dollars for the benefit of first responders to the 2001 terrorist attack on the WTC.

---===---

With regard to NSA bills being considered by the Judiciary Committee, ALL of the candidate bills that were in the list above were reported out, those being S.2453 [Specter], S.2455 [DeWine, Graham], and S.3001 [Specter, Feinstein] with an amendment (S.3877) in the nature of a substitute.

UPDATE @ 9:45

Senator Frist says that if cloture is invoked (and he believes it will be), he expects the seaport security bill to obtain a final vote sometime late this afternoon or early this evening.

Looking past this bill, he says that the Senate will focus on matters involving getting information to prevent attacks (NSA surveillance), involving bring suspects to justice (terrorist tribunals/military trials), and border security as presently in conference with the DoD Appropriations bill. He then goes on to list the highlights, as he sees them, of the pending seaport security legislation.

Senator Frist's opening remarks of September 14

UPDATE @ 11:15

There is a report that the Senate Judiciary Committee lacked a quorum today. Therefore, there was no reporting out of any judicial nominees. I wonder ... if all of the Republican members show, is there still an absence of quorum?

Per ConfirmThem.Com, Durbin showed up for the Democrats. Six of the ten Republicans were there -- Specter, Hatch, Coburn, Cornyn, Brownback, and Grassley.

---===---

Senator Collins says the plan is to vote on the bill by 5 PM. She urges passage of the cloture motion. She asks for UC that Senator Specter be allowed to speak for 10 minutes following the cloture vote, as if in morning business. Senator Murray asked that the request be modified to allow Baucus 10 minutes following Specter. I predict the subject(s) of those speeches will be security related, NSA wiretapping on the part of Specter.

The vote on the cloture motion is underway as of 11:30.

UPDATE @ 12:05

A vote to invoke CLOTURE was
PASSED on a 98 - 00 vote.

Senator Specter sought recognition to talk about legislation providing for judicial review of the NSA Terrorist Surveillance program, and legislation dealing with establishing military tribunals in the wake of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision.

He first defends his proposed NSA bill, S.2453, against allegations that the bill "legalizes" the program. He says that this bill provides for judicial review.

With regard to military tribunals, he indicates that the role of the Judiciary Committee is on interpretation and application of the Geneva Conventions, including its Common Article 3. He advocates that in case of trial, the terrorist actually be told what evidence the government has against them. Says Senator Specter, this does not force the government to disclose classified information, because in the alternative to trying the prisoners, they can be held for an indefinite amount of time. Ummm ... at some point, indefinite detention without charges (charges backed by evidence available to at least defense for the accused) will bump into trouble, too.

Senator Frist rises to make the routine UC requests for Committees to meet. One of these is the Armed Services Committee - and Senator Levin makes a point of injecting that there has been no hint of objection from the Democrats to conduct any of these Committee meetings.

Senator Specter continues ... indicates his preference for Senate action, among the NSA bills, is his S.2453. He distinguishes international communications were the call originates overseas (so many calls that it is impractical to issue warrants on a case-by-case basis) and international communications where the calls originate in the USA, where Senator Feinstein's S.3001, co-sponsored by Specter, call for case-by-case warrants. Senator Specter closes by recognizing ongoing NSA cases, one in Detroit (Specter thinks the plaintiffs there lack standing), and one in Portland, Oregon.

---===---

Baucus rises to again debate the contest between the "Trifecta" bill and a stand-alone bill that addresses an extension of alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief. He doubts that there is any hope whatsoever of passing Trifecta (AMT relief, plus minimum wage, plus death tax), and that AMT relief needs to be passed soon.

UPDATE @ 12:54

Blanche Lincoln plays off Senator Baucus' speech - that with an extension of AMT relief, teachers won't be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses to provide classroom materials (sheesh), businesses will hold off on R&D, etc. -- because of HIGHER TAXES? Hmmm. The Democrats decrying higher taxes? This is pretty funny in a broader context. Lincoln says she supports estate tax reform as well, and to her credit, she was one of four Democrats to vote in favor of cloture on August 3rd. Baucus and Lieberman did not vote.

My prediction is that AMT relief will be passed in the 109th Congress as stand-alone legislation, and the "Trifecta" bill will fail. The GOP is better at talking tough than at follow-through, and failure to pass AMT-relief could easily be cast as a failure of GOP leadership.

Senator Nelson (NE), rising to discuss his "Drought David" relief amendment, says he supports the AMT extender. Senator Baucus again inserts a call to bring up and pass H.R.4096 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend to 2006 the alternative minimum tax relief available in 2005 and to index such relief for inflation, without further debate. Collins objects.

---===---

Collins says she will raise a point of order against Nelson's "Drought David Relief" amendment, as being not germane post-cloture, and raises the same point of order against Stabenow's 4967, Clinton/Dole's 4957, Clinton's 4943, and Clinton's 4958. The chair sustains the point of order, en bloc. Collins then formally raises the point of order against Nelson's 4945, and the chair sustains that point as well.

DEFEATED on a point of Order (not germane)

That clears the deck. Still pending: Schumer's 4930 (100% scanning), and DeMint's 4970 (to prohibit the issuance of transportation security cards to individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes).

UPDATE @ 14:07

Senator Reid announces that he intends to have printed in the record, a classified part of the recent report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He is referring to a specific piece of intelligence that remains classified - it looks like the pages I mentioned that refer to Atta's meeting in Prague. Yep - except Reid is pointing to earlier pages of the report that contain the same information.

UPDATE @ 14:18

Reid will enter a UC request to set aside the Schumer amendment so that "his" (Reid/Rockefeller/Levin) amendment may be heard. Dollars to donuts, there will be objection to setting aside the pending amendment. This is quite the stunt.

Senator Rockefeller clarifies that the objection is that the redaction in the report is without justification - not that it isn't justified, just that none was given. The amendment seeks to overturn the decision to classify this particular item, a CIA document relating to the alleged Prague meeting between Atta and an Iraq intelligence officer. The CIA document says there is no credible information that such a meeting took place.

Rockefeller says that declassifying the three paragraphs in question will not compromise sources or methods of intelligence gathering - that the redaction is merely to shield the White House. Rockefeller urges that all Senators read the material for themselves, it is not classified to Senators - only to the public.

UPDATE @ 14:25

Durbin impugns Cheney's September 10 answer to Russert, "We don't know," to the question "Did Atta meet with Iraqi intelligence in Prague?" Durbin says that Cheney knew no such meeting took place. Seems the Democrats have a friend in the form of the Central Intelligence Agency.

As I figured, the amendment is objected to. Rule XXII provides that only germane amendments be brought following invoking cloture. Reid could have brought this amendment up yesterday, and he can bring it up tomorrow, under a different bill. It's pure smoke to say the GOP has totally shot this amendment down - it's not possible to do so.

UPDATE @ 14:35

Senator Roberts rises to object to Reid's stunt, as a dangerous way to cause the release of classified information. He says Reid's action is unprecedented - putting the Senate in the position of releasing information that intelligence professionals have determined should not be made public. Further, the amendment has nothing to do with seaport security.

Senator Roberts goes on to disagree with the statement in the report that "the committee disagrees with the decision of the administration to classify certain information." First, it was not the administration, it was the intelligence community. Second, the committee did not say that the Atta-al-Ani meeting part was improperly classified - only a minority of the committee has that view. Roberts holds that this specific intelligence IS properly kept classified.

UPDATE @ 14:55

Roberts notes to Rockefeller that if declassification by Senate amendment becomes a practice, that perhaps some Senators would seek to declassify Presidential statements relating to pre 9/11 intelligence. I hope he was referring to material classified by President Clinton's administration.

Senator Bond directly refers to the Rockefeller memorandum that describes the Democrat's stated plan and intention to use intelligence information for political purposes. He says the Democrats are engaged in pure partisanship - it's time for the GOP to "hit the bologna button" on the Democrats' efforts to get something negative.

UPDATE @ 16:30

SCHUMER Modified Amendment No. 4930, to improve maritime container security by ensuring that foreign ports participating in the Container Security Initiative scan all containers shipped to the United States for nuclear and radiological weapons before loading, was
TABLED on a 61 - 37 vote.

---===---

CNET: Controversial spy bill advances in Senate ... In particular, civil liberties groups and Democrats say they prefer the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006 [S.3001], co-sponsored by Specter and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. That measure, which is designed to streamline procedures for applying for FISA court warrants but reaffirms that law's authority over domestic surveillance, passed by 10 votes to 8, with all Democrats and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voting in favor.
Specter didn't vote for S.3001, which he co-sponsored along with Senator Feinstein?

---===---

Ten minutes of debate, making final statements, equally divided, before taking the vote on the seaport security bill. After that, on to more hotly contested matters, NSA surveillance and trials for terrorists.

UPDATE @ 17:00

H.R.4954 - Port Security Improvement Act of 2006 was
PASSED on a 98 - 00 vote.

I lost track of DeMint's Amendment No. 4970, and will comment here after the record is available.

DeMint amendment No. 4970, as amended by amendment No. 5007, was passed in a manager's package. Amendment 5007 changes the "no felon shall be given security clearance" ever so slightly, so that some felonies over 7 years old are ignored in the determination of disqualification due to criminal record. The list of disqualifying felonies was already quite narrowly tailored, and tranportation security related felonies remain permanent disqualifiers.

UPDATE @ 17:35

Morning business, 10 minutes each for the following four Senators ...

Brownback (talked about Darfur)
Lincoln (talked about Rural American Month and about Ann Richards)
Dodd (talked about Darfur)
Stabenow (talked about Ann Richards)

---===---

Senate Reolution 559 was passed yesterday.

[The Senate] ... (5) urges the President to take urgent steps to help improve the security situation in Darfur, including by--

(A) pursuing the imposition of a `no-fly zone' in Darfur in cooperation with the United Nations, NATO, or NATO allies;

(B) garnering support for NATO assistance with the handover by the African Union of the AMIS mission to the United Nations;

(C) working through diplomatic channels to obtain the support of China, Russia, and United States allies in the Arab League in securing the compliance of the Government of Sudan with the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers as provided by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1706 (2006);

(D) supporting full funding for the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan;

(E) securing the necessary support from United Nations member states to schedule a special session on Sudan in the United Nations Human Rights Council; and

(F) appointing a Special Envoy to Sudan to head the Office of the Presidential Special Envoy established pursuant to chapter 6 of title I of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (Public Law 109-234; 120 Stat. 439)

Maybe Congress can declare war against whoever it is that they despise in the Sudan. They like to micromanage the war in Iraq, why don't they step up to that plate regarding the situation in Darfur?

---===---

UPDATE @ 18:42

Senator McConnell shuts down the Senate, and describes the business for the next few days.

S.Res.571 - Spanish Heritage Month - Passed

The next legislative matter to be taken up by the Senate will be H.R.5684 - To implement the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement
There is a UC agreement to conduct 3 hours of debate, 2 hours for for the minority, 1 hour for the majority. Debate will occur on Friday, the 15th and Monday, the 18th. A vote on the bill will be conducted on Tuesday, September 19th.

The Senate will soon adjourn until 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 15. There will be no roll call votes on Friday.

So, the NSA and terrorist/military trials issues, as well as "trifecta," judicial confirmations, Bolton nomination, border security, reporter shield, etc. are still queued up.


Conference Report 109-711 Passed on September 29

President's Statement on H.R. 4954

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 13, 2006

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 4954, the "Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006," or the "SAFE Port Act" (the "Act"). The Act strengthens the Government's ability to protect the Nation's seaports and maritime commerce from attack by terrorists.

The executive branch shall construe provisions of the Act that purport to require executive branch officials to submit recommendations for legislation to the Congress, including section 201, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to recommend for the consideration of the Congress such measures as the President judges necessary and expedient and to supervise the unitary executive branch.

The executive branch shall construe provisions of the Act, including subsection 401(c) and subsection 2(d) of the Act of March 3, 1927, as amended by section 402 of the Act, that purport to make consultation with congressional committees a precondition to execution of the law, to call for but not mandate such consultation, as is consistent with the Constitution's provisions concerning the separate powers of the Congress to legislate and the President to execute the laws.

The executive branch shall construe subsection 301(h)(2) of the Customs Procedural Reform and Simplification Act of 1978, as amended by section 403 of the Act, which purports to give a subordinate official within the executive branch authority to prevent an action by the superior official to whom the subordinate official reports, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.

The executive branch shall construe section 709 of the Act, which purports to direct the President to perform the President's duties "acting through" a particular officer, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch.

The executive branch shall construe as advisory provisions of the Act that purport to direct or burden the conduct of negotiations by the executive branch with foreign governments, international organizations, or other entities abroad, that purport to direct executive branch officials to negotiate with foreign governments or in international organizations to achieve specified foreign policy objectives, or that purport to require the executive branch to disclose deliberations between the United States and foreign countries. Such provisions include subsections 205(d) and (i) and 803(b) of the Act; subsection 431(b) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as amended by section 301 of the Act; and subsection 629(h) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended by section 404 of the Act. Such provisions, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, would impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authorities to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs, participate in international negotiations, and supervise the unitary executive branch.

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