Monday, February 26, 2007

Senate Week of February 26, 2007

    The Senate is to resume at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, February 26. The ostensible subject of debate is to be a Homeland Security Bill, which is yet to come out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senator Reid's backup plan is to take up S.184 - Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007 at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 27th. When the Senate was last in session, Senator McConnell objected to this, insisting that the Senate proceed to the Homeland Security (9/11) Bill, as previously agreed. Senator Reid agreed that it was preferable to take up the Homeland Security Bill, but in light of the possibility that it won't be available, he filed a cloture motion on the motion to proceed to take up S.184.

    The official short title of the so-called "Homeland Security" or "9/11" bill is Improving America's Security Act of 2007. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee press release says the proposed legislation was passed unanimously by the full committee on February 15, but it wasn't - the business meeting of the 15th was postponed. Links to the text of the proposed amendment to S.4 are available by clicking on the "business meeting was postponed" link.

    The Heritage Foundation's take is expressed in a February 12 article, "The Senate Homeland Security Bill: More Hits Than Misses," and another brief summary can be seen at the National Association of State Budget Officers February 14, 2007 Washington Report Bulletin.

    If the "big" Homeland Security bill/amendment (Collins/Lieberman amendment) is the initial vehicle, expect to also see the Senate take up (as further amendments to S.4) the contents of S.385 - Interoperable Emergency Communications Act, and the above-referenced S.184 - Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007.


    The Iraq surge issue hasn't cooled off at all, so I expect continued speeches, debate and finger pointing as to which party is keeping the Senate from voicing an opinion on that subject. While there will certainly be plenty of rhetoric, I seriously doubt there will any attempt to proceed to the consideration of any resolution or bill on the topic in the next 3 or 4 weeks. The most likely vehicle debate will be the appropriations bill for conducting the military effort, to be taken up the House next week, and not apt to be available for the Senate until late March.


    I've predicted a guilty verdict in the Scooter Libby trial, and later guessed the verdict would be handed down sometime today. My points of view of the case (concluding that the prosecution is not an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, that the evidence adduced at trial is sufficient to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that a guilty verdict would not represent a miscarriage of justice) are rejected by the vast majority of Republican observers of the case -- but I don't subscribe to the point of view held by the moonbats on the left either ...

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas - February 15, 2007

    But the capstone of the administration's disinformation campaign was the claim that Saddam Hussein was actively pursuing nuclear weapons which could be used against America by Iraq, or by the terrorists to whom it was giving safe harbor. President Bush even went so far to announce to a world-wide audience in his 2003 State of the Union address that ``the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.'' According to the President, facing such clear evidence of peril, we could not wait for ``the final proof that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.'' We now know for sure that these claims were false. And covering up those false claims is one of the main reasons that Scooter Libby found himself in the predicament that led to his indictment by a grand jury and the on-going trial in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

    "Moonbats to the right of me, moonbats to the left; stuck in the middle with ..." Seems EVERYONE wants to politicize the case, and few are speaking out for the principle of truthful statements, even when they are uncomfortable. Sign of the times, I think, and reinforces my admonition to not trust what you read, and to make up your own mind. The left does not have a corner on misrepresentation and appeal to emotion, not by a long shot.


    Besides the Iraq war, the major issues floating around in the news continue to be the "rights" of detainees to challenge, in court, their status as enemy combatants; the limits of domestic warrantless surveillance (NSA Surveillance for Terrorism); and immigration reform.

UPDATE @ 13:19

    On the handling of detainees, and their "right" to challenge being held as enemy combatants, the Jurist/Paperchase collection titled "Hicks lawyer suing Australian government for failure to protect" has potential implications beyond the case of Hicks. What if the governments of Middle Eastern countries adopt a similar approach? An earlier Hicks story adds a slightly different flavor to the argument that a citizen's country must come to the aid of the citizen who is not obtaining "quality" or "speedy" due process.

UPDATE @ 14:03

    Senator Corker begins delivery of President Washington's farewell address. If it wasn't for the words, I swear I'm listening to Barney Fife.

UPDATE @ 14:53

    Senator Corker finished his reading. The Senate went to a quorum call.

UPDATE @ 17:16

    Reid crowing about Senate changes so far in the 110th Congress; ethics reform, minimum wage, elimination of earmarks -- all done with the support of the Republicans. Bipartisan majority of the Senate supports the Democrats view against the Iraq surge. The Senate has also confirmed some judges.

    The Senate has conducted 40 hearings on Iraq, 50+ roll call votes. He contrasts this with similar benchmarks in the 109th Congress (11 or so roll call votes, no hearings on Iraq).

    And now, moving to implement recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on securing the Homeland. He again contrasts this with the 109th Congress where Homeland Security measures (rail security, port security) were rejected on party line votes. I'm sure this blog has summaries of the Senate's action on these Homeland security details, use the "search" function if you are interested in finding them.

    Senator Reid sets up that this will be Homeland Security week in the Senate. Senator McConnell notes that "how" to go ahead should be settled in the next day or two. Hahaha, McConnell will object if Reid moves to take up the Rail Bill instead of the Lieberman/Collins amendment.

    At 5:13 p.m., the Senate adjourns until 10 a.m. tomorrow, with morning business and party caucus meetings until 2:15 p.m. Then the Motion to Proceed to the Consideration of S.184 (what Reid refers to as "the commerce aspect" of the Homeland Security package) will be handled. Reid dances around the reason he has pushed off the cloture vote (on the motion to proceed) from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. tomorrow. He says it's due to clerical issues and "the way the Senate works," but in fact, he doesn't want to start the week with a failed cloture motion on this. He should have thought about that when he filed the cloture motion.

UPDATE @ Feb 27

    Jonathan Hafetz's article at the blog Balkinization, Faulty History at the D.C. Circuit, is a good read on the history of the writ of habeas corpus. I haven't studied the history, nor have I reviewed the numerous links in that article -- but my suggestion is that doing so is a minimum basis for reaching an informed opinion as to which side, majority of two or dissent of one, has the better argument.


    The Congressional Record from yesterday is thin gruel. Although Senator Thune's "Iraq" speech is pretty good, wherein he criticizes the Democrats' suggestion to deauthorize the Iraq war resolution. Expect additional speeches on the subject, from both sides of the aisle.

    Senator Reid's "110th Congress" speech is too easy to debunk.

UPDATE @ 10:12

    Senator Reid says he would like to vitiate (skip) the cloture vote today, and that he hopes S.4 is available. That regardless of the vehicle, Reid will permit amendments. My impression has been that McConnell wanted S.4. Reid says that he doesn't expect to file a cloture motion to conclude debate and amendment, after whichever bill is used as the vehicle for the general subject of Homeland Security.

    Senator Reid says that he and McConnell are also working on an agreement of when to conduct debate on an Iraq Resolution.

    Senator Reid notes that the subjects of Stem Cell and Budget are also planned.

    Senator McConnell reiterates a desire to get to the 9/11 measure reported out of Committee. From his tone, it looks as though the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to S.184, scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today, will not be taken. We should know around then which underlying bill is used as a vehicle for debate and passage of a Homeland Security package.

    As of 10:12 - on to Morning Business until mid-afternoon.

UPDATE @ 14:37

    That was a fast one - the Senate vitiated (withdrew) the cloture motion on S.184, and is instead voting on a cloture motion (must have been just-filed) to proceed to take up S.4. Makes it look as though everything is proceeding as Reid set-up before the recess, but it isn't so.

S. 184 (ORDER NO. 26)

    Ordered further, That the mandatory quorum call under Rule XXII be waived with respect to the cloture motion filed on the motion to proceed to S. 184. (Feb. 26, 2007.)

    But the cloture vote underway (sure to pass) is not on S.184!

    The motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.4 - Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, will PASS on a 95 - 0 vote.

    The Senate will move immediately to take up the bill, S.4. That is, the Motion to Proceed will pass on either unanimous consent or voice vote. This cloture vote is a waste of time too, and is being conducted to fool those who are not close and careful observers.

UPDATE @ 14:53

    Dang - My prediction missed the vote total. The cloture motion was agreed to on a 97-0 vote, not a 95-0 vote. Oh well. It passed, just the same.

    Elsewhere, I predicted a 3:41 p.m. timing for the jury to render a verdict in the Libby trial. Note carefully that I already missed my DAY prediction (I predicted a verdict to come out yesterday), so my hour:minute prediction does not include a date. That's the beauty (and the downside) of predictions -- the more of them one makes, the more often one is right, and the more often one is wrong. I'm more often wrong.

UPDATE @ Feb 28

    The Senate's business yesterday was pretty boring, except for that (also boring) sleight of hand where the Senate swapped a brand spanking new cloture motion for the one that had gone through the time-delay "mandated" under Senate Rule XXII. Lesson? All Senate rules may be ignored or amended by unanimous consent.

    So I peeked into the House proceedings, and saw a title that screamed out to be read. That title of the below is "THE TRUCKS ARE COMING, THE TRUCKS ARE COMING."

[Page H1899 (pdf)]

    Mr. POE. Mr. Speaker, the next sound you hear will be the rumble of thousands of Mexican trucks streaming across our southern border. The U.S. Government has agreed to allow 100 Mexican trucking companies to send trucks on the highways and byways of America. Presently, Mexican trucks may only go 20 miles inside the U.S. border. The U.S. Government says they will inspect the trucks for safety and inspect the drivers as well. Yeah, right. There are already 6,000 trucks a day crossing in each direction just between Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; and only a fraction of these are inspected.

    This country has no way of inspecting each and every Mexican truck for safety, and there is no telling what could be in them, whether it is legitimate cargo, narcotics or contaminated food. Not to mention, Mexican trucks are not up to the standards of the U.S. trucking industry. Overweight, polluting Mexican trucks driven by low paid, unqualified drivers that may not even be able to read highway signs is a dangerous policy for the citizens of this country.

    Once again, our government seems to be more concerned about Mexico than it is about our Nation, our highways or our people.

    And that's just the way it is.


    Another interesting piece in the House proceedings is a speech by Representative KING on the subjects of immigration law and immigration reform. I suggest it is worth reading in its entirety, and provide the following tease:

... first of all, I will recognize that there are employers who have premised their business plan on hiring illegal labor. ...

... Now, the request was, come to Congress and ask us to legalize this illegal behavior. It was a planned strategy from the very beginning of the setup of the business operation. ...

... I asked it a number of times of different ranks of witnesses that were there. The question again was: How many Americans die at the hands of those who do make it across the desert?

    And one of the witnesses, his answer was: ``I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you it would be in multiples of the victims of September 11.'' Now, that, Mr. Speaker, is a stopper when you think about such a concept.


    Over at ScotusBlog, Lyle Denniston has posted "Detainees seek quick Court ruling" and "New battle over the Great Writ," both regarding challenges to the Military Commissions Act. He is hosting the defendants' petition for a writ of certiorari.

    The battle over the extent and application of habeas corpus is more important (and more difficult) than most people appreciate. My suggestion is to read, read, read - and be slow to jump to a conclusion about which side is "right." My native instinct is to grant more "trust" to decisions supported by two independent branches of government, and to strongly resist a system that shifts a power entirely to one branch.

    In the spirit of "read, read, read," I provide links to "A Federal Appeals Court Upholds ...," by Michael C. Dorf, and "Details of the MCA decision," by Bobby Chesney.


    The Senate will be taking up S.4 - Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. I'm not sure what I'll be watching or doing.

UPDATE @ 10:43

    The Homeland Security Bill is formally taken up. Senator Lieberman withdraws the Committee-drafted substitute amendment for S.4, and Senator Reid offers S.Amdt.275, which incorporates the Committee-drafted substitute, S.184, and other previously-proposed measures. All further amendments will use this amendment (S.Amdt.275) as the touchstone.

UPDATE @ 15:00

    Yawn .... Oh! Hi there. I've been watching other sites for news of a verdict in the Libby trial - and for the inevitable food fights.

    Meanwhile, I ran into Steven Aftergood's Senate Proposal to Criminalize Leaks Sparks Opposition article, which links to Senator Kyl's proposed amendment to the Espionage Act. The proposed amendment is a reaction to the recent leaks of the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program, the CIA "secret prisons" program, and similar.

    Does the law need to be amended to find a violation? If so, why are we conducting criminal "who leaked" investigations now, with a currently empaneled grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia?

UPDATE @ 15:33

    Senator Feinstein is bringing up the firing of multiple US Attorneys, and she says she thinks the use of the provisions in the USA Patriot Act that permit this are in fact a sham to obtain political ends. She is advocating a change in the law that limits the time for a non-confirmed interim replacement to 120 days - with judicial approval serving as a substitute in the event the Senate fails to obtain and act on a new appointment.

    She is also advocating calling the terminated US Attorneys before Senate Committee via subpoena. At any rate, Senator Collins will object to the amendment, because it is properly before the Judiciary Committee, and not in the jurisdiction of the Homeland Security Committee. Senator Collins said that, just the same, she thinks Senator Feinstein's concerns have merit.

UPDATE @ March 2

    I found this rant while looking for Libby trial updates. Pardon my reproducing the raw language in it, but it (the whole thing, where the raw language firms the sentiment) had me laughing. It had me laughing on account of the left hating Specter as much as the right.

On the other hand: I live in a state that until recently was represented by two of the pre-eminent assholes in the US Senate. The one that couldn't stop obsessing about fucking dogs [Santorum] got fired: the one that:

Yeah, Arlen Specter's still around: the guy's like a case of the crabs: he sucks and sucks and sucks the blood out of you, he's irritating as hell, and he gives you a bad reputation. What's to like?


    What's the Senate up to? I don't know, I can't stop laughing.

UPDATE @ March 4

    Marty Lederman on Around the Blogosphere on GTMO Habeas-Stripping is a good summary of the positions and arguments involved in the Boumedien case.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Review of Week of February 12, 2007

    An uneventful week - one might infer that from the fact that this post doesn't appear until Thursday, the 15th.

    H.R.20 - The Continuing Resolution was subjected to a cloture motion, which passed on a 71-26 vote, then after 30 hours, the Continuing Resolution passed on a 81-15 vote.

    A number of smaller issues surfaced in debates, none of which really captured my attention. Military base alignment and closure, a bit about Iraq (of course), AIDS, mine safety, education, the environment, international trade, health care, tax policy, etc. The general complaint, by the Republican Senators, was that the bill had no room for amendment. Hey, the GOP could have handled the appropriations bills in the 109th Congress, and made a conscious and deliberate decision to NOT do so. Take up the "no amendments" complaint with ex-Senator Frist.


    As I type this at 10:45 AM, the Senate is voting on Executive Calendar Nos. 24 and 26, Norman Randy Smith to be confirmed for a seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after being nominated four (4) times, and Marcia Howard to be District Court Judge for the Middle District of Florida.

N. Randy Smith was CONFIRMED to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on a 94 - 0 vote.


    For what it's worth, S.470 - A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq, which the Senate did not even take up, technically has the possibility of reconsideration of the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to consideration. Senator Reid entered a Motion to reconsider on February 5th, when on Roll Call Vote No, 44, the cloture motion failed to obtain the required 60 votes for passage.

    The Senate will later proceed to legislative business of some sort, but it being Thursday afternoon, a safe bet is not much will happen in the floor of the Senate, except the usual Iraq-surge speeches and debate.

    Senator Reid appears to be preparing to push S. 574, to express the sense of Congress on Iraq, it having been read a second time and now having Order No. 25 on the legislative calendar.

UPDATE @ 11:45

    Senator Reid requests unanimous consent to proceed to H.Con.Res.63 - Iraq War Policy resolution, with 12 hours of debate. Senator McConnell objects, due to inability to amend (same issue as last week), to which Senator Reid says the consent agreement permits amendments, e.g. by Warner, McCain, Levin, and/or others.

    Senator McConnell proposes a unanimous consent agreement to proceed to several measures:

  • An underlying House Concurrent Resolution (H.Con.Res.63, I think)
  • S.Con.Res.7 - Warner's concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress on Iraq
  • McCain-Lieberman-Graham amendment (Benchmarks and support of surge)
  • Gregg amendment (Funding)
Followed by 12 hours of debate, no further amendment, four consecutive votes (Gregg, Warner, House Resolution, McCain-Lieberman-Graham), with 60 votes required to pass any one of the points.

    Senator Reid tries to draw it back to a vote as to whether or not there will be a surge in Iraq, and no more. Reid objects to McConnell's unanimous consent request.

    Senator McCain wants to know why the Senate can't vote on competing resolutions. He is unhappy with Reid's objection to taking up an pro-surge resolution. But the complaint can be taken the other way, as being against McConnell's objection to taking up an anti-surge resolution.

    Senator McConnell offers to continue to negotiate this with Reid, I predict continuing argument about which side is blocking taking up a resolution, without the Senate ever taking up a resolution or bill on the subject.

    Reid proposes the Senate take up two resolutions, one pro-surge, one anti-surge. McConnell objects, on the grounds that Reid and the Democrats should not be choosing the GOP amendments. McConnell again reiterates the same four-point offer above, to which Reid propounds a counter-offer to permit further amendment. No agreement.

    Senator Durbin says this is a redo of last week's debate, where the Republicans voted against the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to consideration - if the Republicans don't want to debate this, why are they asking to debate this?


    Senators Specter and Byrd have a brief, but interesting exchange relating to the power of the majority leader to "fill the amendment tree." Byrd asserts that the majority leader loses the floor after making a motion to amend, and that an objecting Senator can stifle "filling the tree" by claiming the floor before the majority leader is able to offer a next amendment.

    Heh. Specter thinks this (filling the tree) is dysfunctional, yet not much complaint about the constitutional dysfunction represented by the Senate-erected 60 vote hurdle to confirm an executive nomination. Byrd again asserts that no rule change is required, all that is required is for the Senate to enforce its existing rules. What Byrd proposes would represent a MAJOR takeaway of power from the Senate majority leader.

    Senator Specter was unable to speak on the several subjects he intended to, and asks to have the material entered in the record.


    Senator Leahy will speak about one hour on the subject of Iraq.

UPDATE @ 14:20

    Senator Alexander notes that the Senate has a February recess. Oh yeah. All the more reason to bail out early. Next week is a holiday week, all week.

    At any rate, he is talking about "Real I.D.," or federalizing identification requirements for all the subjects of the land. He notes that the state of Maine has urged Congress to repeal the Real ID Act before it becomes law; many states have lodged requests, but Maine has voted legislation. Alexander notes that the state balks may be tied to the cost of meeting the ID technical requirements -- here's to more taxes so we can be forced to obtain (and always carry) compliant ID!

    Senator Alexander notes that Senator Collins will offer an amendment to the "Implement 9/11 Commission Recommendations" bill, to water down the requirements of the Real ID Act.


    Senator Byrd - on the subject of Senator Kennedy's 72nd birthday. "Oh, to be 72 again," says Byrd.

UPDATE @ 15:19

    A request to take up Senator Feinstein's S.214 - Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, was blocked by objection from Senator Kyl. (Hat tip -

    The list of measures introduced by Senator Feinstein is interesting in its own right, check it out.


    Those readers with an interest in detainee cases will want to read Lyle Denniston's Government opposes quick relief for detainee, which outlines the case of a Saifullah Paracha, who was taken from Thailand, and is now held in Gitmo as an "enemy combatant.".

    Mr. Paracha has a series of appeals pending before the US Supreme Court. These cases, generally flying under the radar (because the rulings below are unpublished), are touted as possibly precipitating an historic ruling by the Supreme Court. Mentioned here, because the Paracha cases implicate the recently-passed Military Commissions Act. Mr. Paracha challenges being designated as an "enemy combatant."

    A reader comment to Denniston's post cites another case, In re Blodgett, 502 U.S. 236, that is also worth a quick review. Blodgett indicates that the Supreme Court is unlikely to push the DC Circuit Court for a quick decision on Paracha's claim and legal arguments.

UPDATE @ Feb 16

    Reid's Saturday vote stunt is humorous, in a way. Conducting the vote on Saturday creates slightly more news attention, as if that will affect the outcome.

    The vote is on a cloture motion on a motion to proceed to consideration (is this starting to sound familiar?) of a measure the House is expected to pass today, H.Con.Res.63 - An Iraq-surge Disapproval Resolution.

    CORRECTION, the cloture vote scheduled for Saturday is on a motion to proceed to the consideration of S.574 - A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq. Senator Reid allows that the vote will be taken from 1:45 to 2:20 PM or so, to permit Senators to appear and leave, as they wish, in that time frame.

    These Iraq-surge resolutions are proliferating, what now, the Senate has its S.574, and ... oh heck, maybe this is a good place to provide an updated summary list, which doesn't even attempt to probe the full range of House-initiated measures:

  • Biden's S.Con.Res.2
  • McCain's S.Res.70 (aka Lieberman/McCain: benchmarks)
  • Levin's S.470 (progenitor of S.574)
  • Warner's S.Con.Res.7
  • The Gregg Amendment (must be filed under a different name - the text of this "amendment" or "resolution" is not yet in the Congressional Record, and it isn't clear where it fits or applies)
  • S.574 - A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq
  • H.Con.Res.63 - An Iraq-surge disapproval Resolution.

    Of that list, H.Con.Res.63 is the current subject of debate, in both Houses of Congress, and any of the other proposals is "able" (technically) to be offered as an amendment or substitute. This ability to amend is what all the unanimous consent wrangling has been over - and the wrangling is typical of politics, to be able to craft certain expressions while avoiding consideration of certain alternatives.

UPDATE @ 10:34

    See correction above, regarding the measure that is the subject of a cloture vote this Saturday. It's not H.Con.Res.63, it'll be S.574.

    A White House release from Wednesday. For some reason, I thought the military commissions had been established earlier, but apparently not.

Executive Order - "There are hereby established military commissions"

    On a totally separate subject, the February 15 President's Statement on Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations is a concise compliment and goad from President Bush to Congress, on the general subject of financial priorities and federal government spending level.


    A few items from yesterday's Congressional Record:

Debate on Unanimous Consent Requests Feb 15, 2007.
This is where Senators Reid, McConnell, McCain, Roberts, and Durbin went back and forth on debating and handling the various Iraq-surge measures, with the conclusion being there was (still) no agreement as to how to proceed.

Senator Leahy on the replacement of U.S. Attorneys, where he aligns himself with Senator Feinstein in objecting to the replacement of U.S. Attorneys by the Department of Justice, where the replacement avoids Senate confirmation.

Senator Alexander against the "Real ID" Card.

UPDATE @ 15:22

    The House just passed H.Con.Res.63 - An Iraq-surge disapproval Resolution (246-182). The motion to reconsider the vote was tabled. The House moves on to the Concurrent Resolution for the February Congressional recess, H.Con.Res.67.

UPDATE @ 16:27

    The Senate is, at 16:27, apprised by messenger of the House (Ms. Niland) passage of H.Con.Res.63 and H.Con.Res.67.

    The White House had a formal response before that time.

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 16, 2007

Statement on Non-Binding House Resolution on Iraq

The House of Representatives has passed a resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's plan to send reinforcements to Iraq. This plan enjoys the support of the Iraqi government and U.S. military leadership, including Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, who recently was confirmed to his post by an 81-0 vote in the Senate.

The President ordered a new way forward in Iraq because he, like most Americans, believed the existing situation in Iraq was unacceptable. The President concluded that this new strategy was necessary in order to help the Iraqi government gain control over Baghdad, assume more responsibility for security, and pursue reconciliation of all of Iraq's communities.

The resolution is nonbinding. Soon, Congress will have the opportunity to show its support for the troops in Iraq by funding the supplemental appropriations request the President has submitted, and which our men and women in combat are counting on.

The President believes that the Congress should provide the full funding and flexibility our Armed Forces need to succeed in their mission to protect our country.

UPDATE @ 16:48

    Another detainee case, Al Sanani v. Bush, making its way up the ladder. ScotusBlog had this post yesterday, and today, notes ...

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., on Friday told the Justice Department he wants a response by 2 p.m. next Tuesday to a plea by a Guantanamo Bay detainee for an order to force the government to provide reasons why he is a prisoner. The call came in the case of Al Sanani v. Bush (application 06A797)

UPDATE @ Saturday Feb 17

    The House stands adjourned until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20, 2007.

    The Senate is to open for business at noon today, and is scheduled to conduct a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.574 at 1:45 p.m. Time from noon to 1:45 is equally divided, with the last 20 minutes being divided 10 minutes for McConnell then 10 minutes for Reid. Senator Reid said that he expects the vote to be concluded by 2:20 p.m.

    Add another Senate bill to the "Iraq resolutions" list ...

S.641 - to express the sense of Congress that no funds should be cut off or reduced for American troops in the field which would result in undermining their safety or their ability to complete their assigned missions. This one was placed on the legislative calendar yesterday.

Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, when the roll is called tomorrow on the motion for cloture with regard to the resolution the House is expected to pass tonight on Iraq, I will vote no. I will vote against cloture. I will do so not because I wish to stifle debate. The fact is that debate has occurred, it is occurring now, and it will continue to occur on our policy in Iraq.

I will vote against cloture because I feel so strongly against the resolution. It condemns the new plan for success in Iraq. I support that plan. ...

Congress has been given constitutional responsibilities, but the micromanagement of wars is not one of them.

    It's interesting that even seasoned Senators are erring as to what exactly they will be voting on this afternoon. The cloture motion is clear, the question is on limiting debate on a motion to proceed to the consideration of S.574. The vote is NOT on a motion to proceed to the consideration of "the resolution the House is expected to pass," H.Con.Res.63.

    To be fair, S.574 and H.Con.Res.63 are nearly identical, and the debate is focused entirely on common elements (1) and (2) ...


It is the sense of Congress that--

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

. . . [snip executive reporting requirement]



Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq. [end]

    If the Senate were to proceed to S.574 and eventually pass it, a House-Senate conference would be required to reconcile the material differences between the two measures (S.574 and H.Con.Res.63), then additional votes in each house of Congress on whatever emerged from conference committee, with those votes also being subject to the possibility of politically-motivated stalling.

    The debate preceding today's vote will air the same arguments as last week and this week - i.e., blame each other for failing to formally take up and debate an Iraq resolution. "Out with a whimper." Or not. Iraq policy isn't going to fade as an issue, it has taken on the quality of pivot-point for purposes of differentiating politicians and political parties.

Recent history of Senate votes on Iraq resolutions

    Cloture Motion on Motion to proceed to consideration of:

    I predict today's cloture motion will be rejected 54-40. There will be a few GOP Senators voting in favor of cloture: Snowe, I think, for one; Hagel for another. McCain is openly away on the campaign trail, and will be one of at least five not voting.

    Even if the Democrats don't obtain 54 votes, having a majority of Senators in favor of proceeding to the measure (51 or more - but fewer the 60 required to invoke cloture) will be touted as support for the underlying measure. My sense is that Reid would not have called for a Saturday vote if he did not have at least 51 votes. So for the next week, the Democrats will blame the Republicans for not permitting the majority to express its sense about the President's planned surge. The finger-pointing will continue, but now with fresh ammunition.

UPDATE @ 13:57

    The vote is underway. I have the vote at 48-26, with Collins, Snowe, Specter and Warner casting AYE votes, and Lieberman as a Nay.

UPDATE @ 14:10

    I hadn't figured on Smith and Specter voting Aye, so my prediction of 54 Aye votes turns out to be a little light. The motion will still fail. My current, unofficial tally is at 55-33.

UPDATE @ 14:17

The cloture Motion on the Motion to Proceed to the Consideration of S.574 - A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq, was REJECTED on a 56 - 34 vote
GOP Aye Votes: Coleman, Collins, Hagel, Smith, Snowe, Specter, and Warner
DEM Nay Vote: Lieberman
Non-votes: Bennett, Bond, Cochran, Corker, Ensign, Hatch, Johnson, Kyl, McCain & Murkowski

    Let the blame game begin. Notice my prediction, that "majority of Senate" will be a point of argument. Senator Reid wastes no time whatsoever in that regard.

    Now a roll call vote on the Adjournment Resolution, H.Con.Res.67. What a putz, whoever called for that to be a roll call. Not surprisingly, it passed. A bit goofy, not unanimous, passing on a 47-33 vote. Seems a few Senators got a head start out of town.

UPDATE @ 15:30

    Senator Reid sought unanimous consent to take up S.184 - Surface Transportation and Rail Security Act of 2007 at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 27th. Senator McConnell objected, insisting that the Senate proceed to the Homeland Security Bill, as previously agreed. Senator Reid agreed that it was preferable to take up the Homeland Security Bill, but in light of the possibility that it won't be available, he filed a cloture motion on the motion to proceed to take up S.184.

    After some light housekeeping, Senator Reid adjourned the Senate for the week.

    The Senate is to resume at 2:00 p.m. on Monday Feb 26. Meanwhile, I'll continue to note events that catch my eye, using the (probably overlooked) bottom of this post.

UPDATE @ Feb 20

    The Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has handed down a victory for the Military Commissions Act, in a 2-1 decision handed down today.

Boumediene v. Bush 05-5062 (consolidated with numerous other cases).

    The decision will certainly be appealed. If you have any interest in the Military Commissions Act, the opinion is a must read.

UPDATE @ Feb 21

    Regarding the Paracha detainee case noted above (under the Feb 15 @ 15:19 Update), the Supreme Court denied certiorari, leaving the case in the hands of the D.C. Circuit Court to handle in its due course. Yesterday was further busy and eventful on the detainee front, and this post at ScotusBlog links to additional news and provides important details. Don't be a chump for the media's take on events, check out the facts for yourself.


Judge rejects delay of phone wiretap suits

A federal judge rejected the Bush administration's request Tuesday to put wiretapping lawsuits against telephone companies on hold while the government asks an appeals court to dismiss the suits on national security grounds.

The ruling came from Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco, who is hearing more than 40 suits from around the nation accusing telecommunications companies of illegally collaborating with the government's electronic surveillance program.


    For some reason, this case captured my attention months ago. "War is hell," perhaps, but I bet Hell is actually worse.

Second US soldier pleads guilty in Mahmudiya rape-murder case


    In spite of the "domestic" adjective in the title, the article "Federal judge lets discovery proceed in domestic spying class action lawsuit" is about the same collection of NSA terrorist surveillance cases before Judge Walker, that is noted above. This link, however, includes further links to rulings and additional news articles.


    From ScotusBlog, Lawyers say Court is not closed to detainees discusses (and links to) a filing today in the Sharaf Al Sanani detainee case.

The Circuit Court majority, the reply brief said, found that the record in the detainee cases so far "does not have sufficient information to perform the review that DTA allows." Whether detainees are seeking to test their captivity either under DTA or by habeas, the brief argued, a factual record must be developed, and that is all Al Sanani is seeking at this point.

UPDATE @ Feb 22

Senate illegals bill near complete
By Charles Hurt

Senators and lobbyists are putting the final touches on a comprehensive immigration-reform bill that includes an easier citizenship path for illegal aliens and weaker enforcement provisions than were in the highly criticized legislation that the Senate approved last year. ...

Mr. Kennedy drafted this year's bill with help from Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and outside lobbyists.

UPDATE @ Feb 23

US soldier sentenced to 100 years for Mahmudiya rape-murder

... will be eligible for parole after 10 years.


    The jury is still out on the Libby case. My short essay on framing the charges drew quite a few replies on account of being featured on Tom Maguire's popular "Just One Minute" blog.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Week of Feb 6 - Ongoing Surge Resolution Debate

    The week of January 29 was pretty much a Senate wasteland. Regular, and careful readers will notice that my previous entry was on January 28, when the Senate was poised to take a cloture vote on a Motion to Proceed to Consideration of S.Con.Res.2 - an Iraq surge resolution. The Senate got around to that vote on Thursday, February 1st, and cloture was rejected on a 0 - 97 vote!

    Not satisfied with that, the Senate has continued to beat the Iraq drum, moving on to another version of a non-binding anti-commander-in-chief resolution, S.470, offered by Levin, Biden, Landrieu, Nelson and Salazar. That measure is also hung up on a failed cloture vote on a Motion to Proceed to Consideration, on a 49 - 47 margin, party line except for Coleman, Collins and Lieberman (Reid voted NAY in order to be able to enter a motion to reconsider).

    The Democrats hue and cry is that failure to obtain cloture on a motion to proceed is somehow odd. Say what? They are counting on your short memory and ignorance of history. Here is a repeat of my January 28 example list of failure to proceed, where the failure to proceed was accompanied by a rejection of cloture ...


Text of many of the February 5 speeches, including Lieberman's.

This resolution is not about Congress taking responsibility. It is the opposite. This is a resolution of irresolution.

    Well worth a read in its entirety. I mean it, click on the link and read Lieberman's speech.

    As for the "debate" -- or as the Democrats say, "failure to have a debate," goes -- I figure that failure to vote on a non-binding resolution is inconsequential.

    The resolution itself is illogical ...

It is the sense of Congress that ... (1) the Senate disagrees with the 'plan' to augment our forces by 21,500, and urges the President instead to consider all options and alternatives for achieving the strategic goals set forth below;

"Consider all options." Indeed.

    Personally, I think the surge amounts to an expensive charade. The bad guys know how to play this game, and will see to it that the surge will be viewed, in the short term, as an American success.


    President Bush is playing the same "off the budget" game that created substantial criticism by a number of Senators in the 109th Congress. The game comprises the passing of Emergency Supplemental Resolutions to support activities that are not in the nature of unplanned or unknown. I'll try to remember to watch for repeats (or absence of repeats) of the criticism.

UPDATE @ 16:15

    The Gregg amendment that is a subject of the current debate wasn't filed before today. Whatever it is (the Gregg amendment), the Democrats don't want to formally consider it.

    Gregg asks Reid if Reid would support the Gregg Amendment if it was offered as a stand alone? Reid does not provide a responsive answer. He says the question is whether or not the Senate supports the surge. Gregg says that the question is whether or not the Congress will provide material to facilitate the troops to defend themselves.

    Other amendments in play ... McCain/Lieberman, Warner (also unavailable).

UPDATE @ 16:25

    Reid and Durbin noting that the Senate was given a choice between two Republican amendments, McCain (for the surge) and Warner (opposing the surge), and yet the Republicans refused to choose between their own two amendments.

    Senator Gregg is noted as throwing a monkey-wrench into these, as well as into minimum wage. Reid personalizes the opposition . . . . LOL. McCain comes up to rebut Reid. Maybe some fireworks if McCain comes off his handle. McCain's general point being is that it's not possible to support the troops without supporting the mission.

UPDATE @ February 7

The collection of Iraq-surge resolutions ...

  • Biden's S.Con.Res.2
  • McCain's S.Res.70 (aka Lieberman/McCain: benchmarks)
  • Levin's S.470
  • Warner's S.Con.Res.7
  • The Gregg Amendment (must be filed under a different name - the text of this "amendment" or "resolution" is not yet in the Congressional Record, and it isn't clear where it fits or applies)

    Senator Reid is going to "move on" to the continuing resolution, to fund the government, and drop efforts to express the sense of the Senate on military action in Iraq.

UPDATE @ 12:10

    Senator Specter is making a disingenuous argument regarding the filing of a cloture motion on a Motion to Proceed to Consideration. The reason Reid filed that cloture motion was because a Republican objected to Proceed to Consideration.

    Senator Specter is describing a situation that can come up only AFTER the matter has been taken up, only AFTER the Senate has agreed to Motion to Proceed to Consideration.

    Still, Specter's description of "filling the amendment tree" is informative, but Frist did this quite a few times in the 2nd Session of the 109th Senate. In other words, it isn't all that unusual.

UPDATE @ February 8

    Ordered, That on Thursday, February 8, 2007, following the vote on Executive Calendar No. 15 [Casey] , the Senate proceed to the consideration of H.J. Res. 20, an Act making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2007, and for other purposes.

    The confirmation vote on General Casey to be Chief of Staff, United States Army, will start at about 11:30, following half an hour of debate that is agreed to begin at 11:00.

    The Iraq-surge issue isn't going away just because the resolutions won't be taken up as stand-alone legislation. Senator Warner and others intend to offer their version as an amendment to every bill that is brought forward, beginning with the continuing resolution that will be taken up this afternoon. I predict Senator Reid will "fill the tree," or failing that, will obtain agreement that no surge-resolution amendment will be offered in the continuing resolution. He doesn't have much choice, when you look at the politics of the debate.

UPDATE @ 12:13

General Casey was CONFIRMED on a 83 - 14 vote.