Monday, March 26, 2007

H.R. 1591 - Iraq Emergency Supplemental

The Senate will open at 2:30 p.mm, and at 3:00 p.m. today, it will take up H.R.1591 - The Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill.

These comments were cut and pasted from an earlier post (nothing new here).

Summary of the Emergency War Supplemental (65 kB pdf)

Highlights of extraneous material in the bill, from my point of view:

  • Does not fund two Joint Strike Fighters and five of six EA-18G electronic attack airplanes requested because they are unrelated to battle losses and considered not to be urgent.
  • Length of Deployment. Requires the Defense Department to abide by its current policy and avoid extending the deployment of units in Iraq in excess of 365 days for the Army and 210 days for the Marines. The President may waive this provision ...
  • By July 1, 2007, the President must certify that Iraq is making meaningful and substantial progress in meeting political and military benchmarks, including a militia disarmament program and a plan that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis. If the President does not provide this certification then U.S. forces must begin an immediate redeployment to be completed no later than December 2007.
  • By October 1, 2007, the President must certify that Iraqis have achieved the political and military benchmarks. If he does not provide this certification then U.S. forces must begin an immediate redeployment to be completed by March 2008.
  • Should both certifications be provided, the Administration must begin redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq by March 1, 2008 and complete the redeployment by August 2008
  • Prohibits the establishment of any permanent military installation or base of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq.

There is also some pork in the bill, quite a bit of it related to increasing federal subsidization of recovery from hurricane Katrina.

Here is a link to a historical list of emergency supplementals on military action in Iraq, something I bumped into while looking for some proposed legislative text.

Whatever the result of Senate action, the bill will differ from the House proposed legislation, and so will be sent to Conference Committee. We'll see this bill a second time around in a few weeks.

---===---

  Mr. REID. I ask unanimous consent that the Rules Committee be discharged from further consideration of S. Con. Res. 24, and the Senate then proceed to its immediate consideration; that the concurrent resolution be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate.   The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection.   Mr. McCONNELL. Reserving the right to object, and I will object, I don't believe the Rules Committee has had a chance to review this yet. So for the time being, I object.

A concurrent resolution authorizing the use of Capitol grounds for the Live Earth Concert. The Senate Concurrent Resolution sports one co-sponsor. Senator Snowe.


UPDATE @ March 27

The Senate "baseline" for the Emergency Supplemental started out as Senator Byrd's S.Amdt.641 (text here). Section 1315 of that amendment contains troop pull-back dates.

Page S3747 of the Congressional Record shows (in error) adoption of Senator Cochran's S.Amdt.643, which strikes all of the pull-back language in Section 1315. The record should have shown that Reid's substitute, S.Amdt.641, was adopted. Cochran's amendment is in order, and will be voted on (and passed) at some point.

Senator Lieberman spoke out in favor of Cochran's amendment.

A cloture motion was filed on the underlying bill.

UPDATE @ 18:11

Well, my prediction that Cochran's amendment would pass was not well founded.

Cochran's S.Amdt.643 was REJECTED on a 48-50 vote. Senators Hagel and Smith voted to keep the pull-out timetable in the bill. Senators Lieberman and Pryor voted with the majority of Republicans. Not voting were Senators Enzi and Johnson.

That shifts the venue for the showdown from intra-Congress, to between Congress and President Bush. Now action in Iraq becomes a bit of a mix between "Bush's war" and "Congress's war," as it should be, I think - even though I disagree with the approach Congress is taking.

It is all a matter of degree and timing. Hypothesize Congress saying the US must be out by 2025. Would that be an issue? What about 2020? 2015? 2010? At some point, the Congressional intervention looks like micromanagement and meddling in foreign affairs.

At the same time, this discomforting tension between Congress and the President vis-a-vis the conduct of war is inevitable given that "the enemy" isn't per se another country. We aren't "at war" in the sense war is ordinarily defined. We are in a cross between international welfare -- nation building -- and retribution or defense against those who advance a system of religion toward its aim of toppling Western Civilization.

The old paradigm of fighting pirates would actually work, but the modern politician has a more lofty (and probably unattainable) goal -- world peace.


UPDATE @ March 28

I'm not sure which Hagel/Webb amendment is being bantered, S.Amdt.705 or S.Amdt.707, but each of them contains a fairly explicit list of limitations for military action.

CHAPTER 8--ADDITIONAL POLICY AND REQUIREMENTS ON IRAQ

SEC. 1803. LIMITATION ON AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS FOR DEPLOYMENT OF UNITS UNLESS FULLY MISSION CAPABLE.

SEC. 1804. LIMITATION ON EXTENDING LENGTH OF DEPLOYMENTS FOR OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.

SEC. 1805. MINIMUM PERIOD BETWEEN DEPLOYMENTS FOR OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.

S.Amdt.707 also includes some "Sense of Congress" language, and some "findings" (except some of the findings are unsupported conjecture, prediction, or opinion)

  Congress makes the following findings:

  (1) The United States Armed Forces, and the members of the Armed Forces and their families, are under enormous strain from multiple, extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

  (2) The readiness of nondeployed Army and Marine Corps units has declined significantly due to a lack of equipment and insufficient time to train, thereby jeopardizing their capability to respond quickly and effectively to other crises or contingencies in the world.

  (3) The Navy and Air Force are sustaining high operating tempos in support of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as conducting other global missions.

  (4) Each of the Armed Forces has important requirements to modernize and recapitalize aging legacy platforms and systems if our Nation is to possess the military capability needed to defend against a growing array of dynamic and challenging threats to our national security.

  (5) The current deployment tempo of the United States Armed Forces will have lasting impacts on the future recruitment, retention, and readiness of the All-Volunteer Force.

Ahh ... just checked the daily digest, the Hagel Amendment that was debated was S.Amdt.707 - the one with "Sense of Congress" rhetoric and the above list of "findings."

The cloture motion on the underlying passed unanimously 97-0. McCain is back on the campaign trail? At least away from the Senate.

Conventional wisdom is that President Bush and the Republicans are planning on a veto of the Iraq Emergency Supplemental, which veto can't be overridden by Congress on the current state of voting support for the pull-out-date language. The notion is to then turn-around the same bill without that clause, before April 15.

That makes for an interesting next couple of weeks, on that front.

UPDATE @ 15:09

Senator Wyden's S.Amdt.709, to reauthorize the "secure rural schools program", was PASSED on a 75-22 vote.

UPDATE @ 15:26

Senator Burr's S.Amdt.716, to direct 80% of "secure rural schools" payments to be spent only on schools, was REJECTED on a 08-89 vote.

UPDATE @ 15:45

Senator Coburn's S.Amdt.657, to cause agriculture assistance to come from offsets elsewhere in the agriculture department, was REJECTED on a 23-74 vote.

At about 4:07 p.m., Senator Landrieu changed her vote from YEA to NAY on the above vote.

UPDATE @ 16:06

Senator Coburn's S.Amdt.648, to eliminate 100 million dollars for security for presidential nominating conventions, was REJECTED on a 45-51 vote.

UPDATE @ 16:30

Senator Graham said that President Bush will veto the bill for two reasons. The first being that the Congress is encroaching on the President's role as Commander in Chief, by setting timelines and other benchmarks. The second reason is the amount of unrelated spending incorporated into the bill.


UPDATE @ March 29

A few votes on amendments stacked up, followed by passage of the bill as amended. Then conferees will be named as the Senate insists on its amendments being adopted.

Senator Ensign's S.Amdt.752, to increase funding for domestic child protection activities, was PASSED on a 93-00 vote.

Senator DeMint's S.Amdt.704, to prohibit the use of funds to make payments to certain spinach growers and first handlers, was PASSED on a 96-01 vote. Senator Baucus voted Nay.

Senator Biden's S.Amdt.739, to provide 1.5 billion dollars for vehicle armor, was PASSED on a 98-00 vote.

Point of order that Section 1711 is legislation on an appropriation bill, and the point of order was sustained by the chair. Why can't a Republican Senator raise exactly this same point of order against Section 1315 (the Iraq language)? They could, but Section 1315 was voted on, and raising a point of order after that is "bad form" inasmuch as it's the same judgment, just being exercised under a different parliamentary procedure.

Senator DeMint raised the same (Rule XVI) point of order against a different section of the bill, Section 431, which is a "tree assistance" program for losses to ornamental trees and potted shrubs. The language appears at S.Amdt.641, the Senate substitute language for H.R.1591. He called for the Yeas and Nays on this. The Senate vote was a substitute for a ruling from the chair as to whether the challenged language is germane.

Senator DeMint's Point of Order to strike language creating a "tree program", was REJECTED on a 57-41 vote.

Senator Alexander makes the same point of order against Section 3001, and the chair rules that section is not germane, and it is stricken.

10:36 a.m.: Now the Senate moves to vote on the underlying bill, agreement NOT having been reached on a number of other pending amendments. Doesn't much matter, seeing as how the conference committee will negotiate something that will be vetoed by President Bush.

10:54 a.m.: H.R.1591 - The Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill, was PASSED on a 51-47 vote. This vote is a mirror image of the Tuesday vote on Senator Cochran's amendment, that being the amendment that would strike the pull-out date language.

The Senate chair is authorized to name conferees - 29 of them! 15 Democrats, 14 Republicans. On the Democrats side, the conferees will be all of the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee. Senator McConnell will be sensing a list of names to the desk shortly. There will be no procedural delay on the part of the Senate, to affect the timing of a conference compromise.

UPDATE @ 11:20

The Democrats object to Senator DeMint's S.Res.123 - a resolution reforming the congressional earmark process. Senator DeMint is disappointed, inasmuch as the Democrats had previously agreed to this, unanimously!

UPDATE @ 18:22

The Senate was just gaveled into recess under the terms of H.Con.Res.103. Business will resume on Tuesday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m, with consideration of two stem cell bills, S.5 - Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, and S.30 - (bill not yet available).

20 hours of debate have been allocated on these measures.

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