Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21, 2007 - Immigration, Gonzales, and Supplemental

My prediction for Senate action this week:

  • S.1348 - Comprehensive Immigration Reform
  • H.R.2206 Conference Report - Emergency Supplemental Appropriations
  • S.Res.207 - No-confidence vote re: AG Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz (The resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee on May 17)
Even if cloture is rejected on the motion to proceed to consider S.1348 (and it may well be), the Senate will debate the immigration issue anyway. Rejection of cloture would provide some cover for supposedly conservative senators, while having zero substantive effect.

Rejection of cloture would have similar effect as last week's vote on Cochran's amendment to the Water Resources Bill -- to express the sense of the Senate that the emergency supplemental should be sent to the President by May 28. Cochran's amendment passed, but its contents were subsequently removed from the bill by the also-passed substitute amendment (substitute for the complete bill).

Likewise, if cloture is rejected on the motion to proceed to Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and Comprehensive Immigration Reform is taken up within 30 hours, the NAY cloture votes will be properly labeled "BS cover." The objecting Senators will have consented to a speedy taking the issue up for debate, after voting against a speedy taking up of the issue for debate.

But I can see rejection of cloture being touted as a victory for conservatives. Gullible folks that many are, there is apt to be a sense that a good fight was won.

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Looking for information regarding the taking of a no confidence vote against Attorney General Gonzales, I find a CNN article, Senator Specter predicts no confidence vote, an MSNBC blurb, White House: Gonzales 'no-confidence' a stunt, and the May 24 Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Meeting Agenda

  • Authorization of Subpoenas in Connection with Investigation into Replacement of U.S. Attorneys
  • S.1327, A bill to create and extend certain temporary district court judgeships
  • S. 185, Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007

I thought Gonzales was a bad choice for Attorney General from the day he was nominated, but hey, that's just me. With McNulty gone as deputy, I have less concern about the practical ramifications of a Gonzales resignation.

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I can't find any news on the progress or contents of the House-Senate Conference Committee on H.R.2206 - Emergency Supplemental Appropriations.

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S.1348 - Placekeeper for 2007 Immigration Reform Action

I've compared the text of this year's S.1348 with last years S.2611 (using the computer program known as `diff`), and conclude that they are substantively identical. The changes are in the nature of editorial and typographical revisions. Don't bother to study S.1348, in short. If the Senate takes up S.1348, the debate and amendments will be relative to a substitute amendment.

Draft language for the substitute amendment (1.7 Mb PDF):

at National Review Online
at The Heritage Foundation

An Immigration Proposal Summary Page

The same source points to the following additional proposals:

  • H.R.1645 - Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act of 2007
  • S.1092 - High-Tech Worker Relief Act of 2007 (temporary increase in the H-1B quota) (sponsored by Senator Hagel)
  • S.1083 - Securing Knowledge, Innovation, and Leadership Act of 2007 - SKIL Act of 2007 (sponsored by Senator Cornyn)

President Bush's Radio Address - May 19, 2007
White House Myth/Fact Sheet - May 18, 2007
A Rebuttal to White House Myth/Fact Sheet

May 17 Statements on Immigration Reform

May 17, 2007 - Senator Specter
May 17, 2007 - Senators Menendez and Martinez
May 17, 2007 - Senator Sessions (starts on page S6174)

More of Senator Sessions on Immigration

May 7, 2007
May 23, 2006
May 22, 2006
May 18, 2006 ("Masters of the Universe")
April 6, 2006 ("It is a dead horse")

UNANIMOUS CONSENT AGREEMENT

S. 1348 (ORDER NO. 144)

    Ordered, That at 1:00 p.m., on Monday, May 21, 2007, the Senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 1348, a bill to provide for comprehensive immigration reform, and for other purposes; provided that the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Sessions) be recognized and have up to 3 hours under his control, and that following the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Sessions), the time until 5:30 p.m. be equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees.

    Ordered further, That at 5:30 p.m., the Senate proceed to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill without intervening action or debate; further, that if cloture is invoked, the motion be agreed to without intervening action or debate.

The Senate has further agreed to giving Senator Sessions 2 hours of time on Tuesday, yet another clue that immigration will be a subject of a substantial amount of debate in the Senate this week.

UPDATE @ 13:50

Senator Sessions is expressing why he is opposed to taking the bill up at this time, using the "rush rush" procedure. One of his complaints, shortage of expert testimony, is a bit of a canard - the testimony proffered last year would be the same this year.

Although I do agree with him 100% on the matter that working up the details in the dark, then pushing for a quick approval, is cause for concern and, if pushed to decide on the bill, to reject it.

Now he is going to compare the contents of the bill with the promises made in a White House PowerPoint presentation. The White House is a proponent of the bill, and it's PowerPoint presentation was meant to sell the bill. I seriously doubt that the White House PowerPoint presentation was an "honest" representation of the bill.

Senator Sessions will cover the differences between the PowerPoint presentation, and the proposed bill as currently written.

UPDATE @ 14:10

Senator Sessions says that the triggers in the bill hinge on authorization, and do not require funds be appropriated to actually accomplish the authorized activities. The trigger is saying something will be done, rather than the thing being done, or even started. Shades of H.R.6061, the Secure Fence Act, which authorized fence, but did not fund it.

UPDATE @ 14:15

Hugh Hewitt blogged: "John McCain's antics throughout 2005-2006 cost the GOP the majority in the Senate. Now he's going to do for Smith, Sununu, Coleman and others what he did for DeWine, Talent and Santorum."

Now that's funny!

UPDATE @ 14:45

Senator Sessions used well under the three hours he had under previous agreement. Senator Bunning is speaking on the subject of immigration. Ho notices that the law is for sale to the highest bidder.

UPDATE @ 17:10

Republican Senators in favor of the bill as proposed (list to be expanded): Chambliss, Domenici, Graham, Isakson, Kyl, Martinez, McCain, Specter

Senators opposed: Sessions, Bunning, Vitter, Nelson (NB), Byrd, Inhofe

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The AP reports that the White House has negotiated terms of the emergency supplemental. No pullout dates or conditions for funding; pork to be limited to 9 billion dollars, more or less; the proposed increase in minimum wage will not create cause for a veto.

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At 5:23 or so, the cloture vote was pushed out to 5:40 or so. My guess (typed in this morning) was 61-33.

The motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 1348 - a bill relating to Comprehensive Immigration Reform, was
PASSED on a 69-23 vote.

UPDATE @ 18:20

Senator Kennedy noting that a few amendments are in line for consideration, one to reduce the number of temporary worker visas from 400,000 to 200,000 per year, and another in the nature of a substitute. Hopefully the "Text of Amendments" section of today's Congressional Record will have the material that will be debated tomorrow.

Senator Kyl, like Senator Specter before him, apologized for, then excused preparing the proposed bill outside of the normal committee process. He also thanks Secretaries Chertoff and Gutierrez for their help in crafting a bill that could be enforced.

Bier time for moi.


UPDATE @ May 22

The Congressional Record does NOT contain the text of the substitute amendment, but does contain it's enumeration.

SA 1150. Mr. REID (for Mr. Kennedy (for himself and Mr. SPECTER)) proposed an amendment to the bill S.1348, to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes; as follows:

(The amendment will be printed in a future edition of the RECORD.)

All three other proposed amendments (to S.1348) were ordered to lie on the table. Feinstein's S.Amdt.1146 carries the title "Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act of 2007." McCaskill/Dodd S.Amdt.1148 would imposes a 5 year bar on government contracts to any company found to be a repeat violator of the laws set up by the immigration bill. McCaskill S.Amdt.1149 would impose 416 hours of community service on illegal immigrants. Just pointed out for curiosity, as none of these amendments will be debated, all three have been ordered to lie on the table.

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Senator Sessions has the floor for 2 hours today, and will no doubt cover some of the points in the substitute amendment in detail. The Record provides little clue as to the structure of the debate to occur, that is, which particular points will be argued in detail. I learned my lesson though, this debate is more for show than for substance. The substance is hammered out in secret. It's the American way.

UPDATE @ 10:05

Senator Reid summarizes plans for the day. The first amendment to be debated will be Dorgan's (no number given, but its text isn't on Thomas anyway). The overarching substitute amendment, Reid and Specter's S.Amdt.1150, is available to the Senate.

As for the procedure for debate and voting on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package, Senator Reid says that amendments will be handled one at a time, not stacked as they were when S.2611 was debated and passed last year.

UPDATE @ 11:30

Senator Inhofe is talking about making English the sole official language of the United States. I clearly recall looking at this last year, and comparing the Inhofe and Salazar amendments on this subject, and concluding that the problem was an executive order. See Language of the Country: Inhofe vs. Salazar for discussion, and note that Senator Inhofe asserts the bill in hand would codify the executive order in question. That is, it does what I suggested the Democrats should do if they are serious about maintaining the effect of EO 13166 via statute.

Interesting news about the immigration debate by James Lileks. Damn funny. Remind me to update the link to the durable "archive" version when it's available. A brief sample ...

Immigrants will have to return to the Mexican border, put their left foot in, put their left foot out, put their left foot in and shake it all about. (Language requiring that the applicant then "do the hokey pokey was removed over an inability to define the exact nature of said action.)

Senator Sessions has mentioned conducting hearings, and notes that he prefers hearings again, in order to inform the Senate, before proceeding to consider the bill. Here is a link to the hearing from last year: Immigration Hearing - Tuesday, April 25, 2006. Good information therein.

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Cheers on Corridor Three by LTC Bob Bateman.

UPDATE @ 15:00

Bingaman and Dorgan amendments will be voted on this afternoon/evening. If true, it's amazing that under the draft language, being in the country constitutes being "deemed in the country legally." The Dorgan amendment intends to remedy that condition.

The Bingaman amendment is to reduce the number of temporary visas from 400,000 per year to the 200,000 per year that Secretaries Chertoff and Gutierrez say are needed.

Senator Dorgan is sounding like Senator Sessions. Senator Kyl is in opposition to Senator Dorgan's amendment. Oh ... Dorgan's amendment aims to entirely eliminate the temporary worker aspect of the comprehensive immigration bill. Kyl's argument is that the US is a magnet for foreign workers, and the temporary worker provision is a device to encourage legal participation, instead of illegal.

These arguments strike me as superficial. Anyway, Kyl says the home building industry in Arizona has been 50% illegal immigrants! Now, as the workload/demand is decreased, there is a surplus of workers, and a temporary immigration program will cause the workers to leave. And I am Peter Pan.

When we no longer need the workers, they return home. They do? IMO, Kyl's argument as cast is weak. The magnet of wages exists INDEPENDENTLY of the presence of visas, and the greater the number of available workers, the lower the average wage. I'm not against temporary work permit - but Kyl's framing of the argument is completely unpersuasive to me.

UPDATE @ 17:10

Senator (Goober) Graham has the same argument that Kyl does, more or less, but is even less capable of delivering it. From the comments of "minutes remaining," I gather some voting is due to start at about 5:30 p.m.

Here is a temporary worker program that on its own is complex, and the first amendment is to deep-six it. Why not some "tweaking"? This is an entirely un-serious consideration by the Senate. A serious consideration would probe the details of a temporary worker program. Senator Domenici says to vote against the Dorgan amendment because lots of people worked hard to develop the temporary worker program that is embodied in the proposal.

The chair indicated time available and it results in a vote starting at 6:00 p.m., or certainly not as early as 5:30.

Senator Dorgan casts the argument of proponents of the temporary worker program as, "These people are coming in. We can't close the door, that won't work. So let's call them legal."

I'm struck by how the issue of immigration cuts through party affiliation, and tends to create arguments on the merits. Who would have thought that Senators Sessions and Dorgan would be similarly skeptical of the same given aspect of proposed legislation?

Senator Dorgan is smoking some good dope though, to think that eliminating temporary worker provisions in an immigration bill will reduce the rate of exodus of business from America. Businesses leave for tax and regulatory burden reasons (and for capability and availability of skills), not only for cost of labor and certainly not for "loose" immigration reasons.

UPDATE @ 17:30

Senator Webb is making a pretty wild speech, drawing in all sorts of tangentially connected issues -- the Iraq war, price of gasoline, etc. Worth a read just the same, if for nothing more than to see how connections can be made between what are usually seen as disconnected issues.

Senator Specter rises against the Dorgan amendment.

Senator Kennedy is against the Dorgan amendment. Humina-homina-hubina-dubida-dooby-doo. (He's animated - grab that quote relating to ten-dollar an hour chicken pluckers, Senator Dorgan rebutted Kennedy on the chicken plucker hypothetical).

Mr. KENNEDY: If there is anybody in this Senate who believes you can just say, no, we are going to close that border, 1,800 miles, and that is it--I would like the chicken pluckers to pay $10 or $15 an hour. They do not do it. They are not going to do it. Who are you trying to kid? Who is the Senator from North Dakota trying to fool? ...

Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, let me stand up and say a word on behalf of chicken pluckers. I had no idea that was the debate. But they will never get $15 an hour as long as we bring in cheap labor through the back door to pluck chickens.

UPDATE @ 17:50

I figure Dorgan's amendment will go down, basically because it is an all-or-nothing proposition, but also because it is contrary to the White House position. The amendment will get support from both ends of the political spectrum. It sure does illuminate the "strange bedfellows" aspect of the immigration issue. Voting is underway ....

[My guess was rejection on a 38-60 margin]

Senator Reid voted Nay to start, then quickly changed his vote to AYE.

UPDATE @ 18:08

Dorgan amendment S.Amdt.1153, to completely eliminate the temporary worker provisions (to strike the Y nonimmigrant guestworker program), was
REJECTED on a 31-64 vote.
GOP AYE votes: Coburn and Vitter

UPDATE @ 18:20

Senators are publicly debating the process, as to whether votes would be stacked or not. At this point, they won't be, and after a Republican amendment, Bingaman's amendment will be considered and voted on, probably tomorrow.

Strange event at 18:22. During a quorum call, the clerk says "without objection" and then a return to quorum call. Probably nothing, but odd. Odd like a quorum call when all the Senators are in the chamber.

One would have to see it to believe it, but Senator Casey just read (and made) exactly the same UC request twice in a row, within a period of 10 seconds, that a certain appointment be recorded as though made by the chair. He's closing down the Senate for the night, and it is a classic example of amateur hour.


UPDATE @ May 23

Unrelated to immigration, from the May 22 Senate Record, an example of legislative arrogance ...

I believe that by passing this legislation and changing current law, we can change hearts and minds as well.

Oh, the grand power of legislation, that it can change hearts and minds.

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The Kennedy/Specter Substitute Amendment, S.Amdt.1150, has still not been printed in the Congressional Record. A printed rendition was delivered to each Senator yesterday.

[Mr. DORGAN:] Incidentally, the bill that has been offered--this document--has been put on all our desks a few minutes ago, or in the last hour or so. This is the immigration bill. I think I can speak with certainty that no Member of the Senate has read this. It just became available.

The only amendment officially pending is the substitute, S.Amdt.1150. Bingaman's amendment to reduce the number of nonimmigrant guestworker visas from 400,000 per year, to 200,000, doesn't appear in yesterday's record. Typical, we get to follow along in the dark.

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Senator McConnell is reserving an opinion about the bill, except that it is better than last year's S.2611. After two weeks of debate, he will have an opinion on the bill as amended. He says a temporary worker program is necessary, because the country has low unemployment.

According to a reporting posing questions, the Emergency Supplemental (H.R.2206) now has about 20 billion dollars of pork in it, which, according to Senator McConnell, is not enough to prevent passage in the Senate.

Representative Obey describes the conference report on H.R.2206 as containing the President's proposed language, plus Senator Warner's Iraq benchmark and reporting language (S.Amdt.1134 - text here), plus some spending for hurricane reconstruction, plus improving veteran's benefits, plus increasing the federal minimum wage.

Senator Reid opens the Senate. When the immigration bill comes up, the first amendment to be considered will be a TBD Republican amendment. After voting on that is concluded, the Bingaman amendment. Senator Kennedy intends to conduct debate on the immigration bill into this evening, so Senators should be prepared to vote through about 8:00 p.m. Also, H.R.2206, the Emergency Supplemental is close to be ready for a vote.

UPDATE @ 10:55

The Republican amendment is Grassley's - I'm not up to speed on its details, except that its intended effect is to eliminate judicial review of visa revocation in some circumstances. Senator Kennedy says that the voting schedule has two votes at about 2:00 p.m., one on Grassley's amendment, the other on Bingaman's. I predict rejection of the Grassley amendment on a 35-62 vote, and adoption of the Bingaman amendment on a 76-21 vote.

Grassley's amendment would eliminate judicial review of a deportation order, when visa revocation is the sole cause for deportation.

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Some reading. I'm sure, beyond any doubt, that some of the assertions in these pieces are "false," for example the one that refers to tax amnesty isn't tax amnesty, per se - it's that proof of federal tax compliance isn't a requirement for obtaining the visa. So, read these with skepticism, they deserve it, but at the same time I find some of the underlying logical connections made in these articles to be excellent.

Immigration inconsistencies - By Tony Blankley

Comprehensively Bad: Faux immigration reform - By John Fonte

Rewarding Illegal Aliens: Senate Bill Undermines The Rule of Law - by Kris W. Kobach, D.Phil., J.D. and Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.

1st of Manny Dooms Yanks - By George King

UPDATE @ 14:51

Senators Kennedy and Specter express how the 400,000 per year figure was arrived at (for temporary guest worker admission), and generally opine that adjustment upward from 200,000 per year will be required at some point. Voting on the Bingaman amendment started at 14:29.

Bingaman amendment S.Amdt.1169, to reduce the number of annual Y-visa temporary workers from 400,000 to 200,000, was
PASSED on a 74-24 vote.
GOP NAY Votes: Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Coleman, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, Domenici, Graham, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, Smith, Specter and Warner.

Senator Graham's S.Amdt.1173 is introduced and will probably be voted on later today. It would mandate 60 day jail time for aliens who are caught in the country, after being deported.

Senator Feinstein has an amendment (S.Amdt.1146) that relates to unaccompanied minor children. It was passed on a voice vote.

UPDATE @ 16:50

Senator Gregg's S.Amdt.1172, to increase border security with additional fence, observation towers, vehicle barriers, detention beds and border control agents is opposed by Senators Kennedy, Specter, and Salazar. Specter's rationale is that Secretary Chertoff has provided "carefully calibrated" amounts of each of those items.

UPDATE @ 17:05

Senator Kennedy moved to table Gregg's amendment, then called for a roll call vote. Before the chair could rule on that, Senator Gregg made a point of order that a quorum is not present. I've never seen that happen before - in the context of one-on-one debate. Senator Gregg appears angry, and Senator Salazar is trying, I surmise, to "talk some sense" into Senator Gregg. Senator Kennedy withdrew his motion to table.

All Senator Gregg wanted was two minutes to make additional comments, after which, he would have no objection to a motion to table.

UPDATE @ 17:23

The Gregg amendment passed on a voice vote. I understand other amendments also passed on voice votes, but I have no plan to keep a full list of action here. Just click on this S.1348 Summary of Action link for the authoritative list.

Senator McCain has an amendment on back taxes provisions. Ironic. On one hand he objects to amending the bill, and on the other hand he offers an amendment.

Senator Harkin comes in with a bill (S.1469) to close Gitmo. Yaaaaaaaaaawn. His speech (at Page S06560) is sure to give heartburn, he said the US does not comply with the Geneva Conventions, but North Vietnam did. The man has chutzpah, I'll give him that. I doubt his bill will ever make it to the floor for debate.

UPDATE @ 17:59

Cornyn S.Amdt.1184 would permanently bar from immigration, persons associated with terrorism, gang members, alien smugglers who use a firearm, repeat drunk drivers and sex offenders.

Another part of Cornyn's amendment fixes what was a deliberate change by the drafters of the bill, whereby absconders (those who are ordered deported, but either stay or return) would not lose their right as a candidate for immigration. Cornyn's amendment would permanently bar absconders from immigrating.

Hutchison S.Amdt.1168 was agreed to on a voice vote.

Coleman S.Amdt.1158 aims to end the practice of sanctuary cities. Cities are now in violation of the law, says Senator Coleman. Yeah? And the penalty is ....? And if the cities aren't obeying the law today, how does this amendment change the status quo?

UPDATE @ 19:51

Senator Reid attempted to introduce a resolution honoring Rachel Carson, and Senator Coleman objected on behalf of another Senator (Coburn). Senator Reid says he will file a cloture motion, if that's what it takes to get this resolution passed, and that whichever Senator has the objection should have the courage to stand in the Senate and object in person.

And now Senator Reid goes off on the proposal to store nuclear waste in Nevada. There is time for just about any subject, it seems. And yet there is some sort of hurried rush?


UPDATE @ May 24

From "Jurist" ...

US House passes gasoline price gouging bill [JURIST] The US House of Representatives narrowly passed the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act (H.R.1252) Wednesday, approving heavy criminal penalties for oil companies and individuals who take "unfair advantage" or charge "unconscionably excessive" prices for fuel. House leaders used an expedited legislative process, so the bill required a two-thirds majority and passed by 284-141. The Bush administration and opponents of the bill called it a vague form of price control. The White House said Wednesday that Bush's advisors would recommend he veto the bill if the Senate equivalent (S.1263) passes as well.

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Over at ScotusBlog, an article relating to a question of fundamental separation of powers and constitutional application: Government: No "original" writ for detainees. My instinct has me agreeing with the first comment (that by Marc Shepherd), that the Supreme Court won't decide the case on those fundamental grounds.

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Over at NRO Corner, Kate O'Beirne reports [Immigration Reform] Likely to Win Senate Approval. Says me, I will not be surprised when it passes. It is very much in Senate character to pass hot-potato issues to the House and to House/Senate conference. In an earlier contribution, she writes, "While the [White House] willingness to engage critics of the immigration bill is welcome, these responses tend to be unresponsive." Yeah, but most listeners don't notice when answers aren't responsive.

Andy McCarthy poses an interesting analogy between immigration and a hypothetical debt in Re: The White House Response to The Corner.

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If the Goodling/Gonzales show is of interest, Howard Bashman (howappealing.law.com) has a fine collection of news report links, including one to a transcript of the proceedings, at this link. For a supposedly "presidential prerogative" (terminating AUSA for any reason), nobody at a high level, not even at the AG level, wants to be associated with arranging this set of firings. From my point of view, the firings are a small stink in the scheme of things, and the reaction of Gonzales is in line with his character. Reports of conducting a no-confidence vote in the Senate seem to have faded.

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The Record is delayed today - unavailable as of 9:25 a.m. It's usually viewable by 7:00 a.m. I take the delayed availability as a sign that the text of the immigration bill, S.Amdt.1150, will be part of the May 23 Record.

Pending:

  • Reid (for Kennedy/Specter) Amendment No. 1150, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Grassley/DeMint Amendment No. 1166 (to Amendment No. 1150), to clarify that the revocation of an alien's visa or other documentation is not subject to judicial review.
  • Cornyn Amendment No. 1184 (to Amendment No. 1150), to establish a permanent bar for gang members, terrorists, and other criminals.
  • Coleman/Bond Amendment No. 1158 (to Amendment No. 1150), to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to facilitate information sharing between federal and local law enforcement officials related to an individual's immigration status. (Rejected 48-49)
  • Akaka Amendment No. 1186 (to Amendment No. 1150), to exempt children of certain Filipino World War II veterans from the numerical limitations on immigrant visas. (Passed 87-9)

Oh, and the text of S.Amdt.1150 is still not in the record, although Thomas reports the record is incomplete as first posted, so there may be hope to have the text available before the end of the week. Stunning if there was ever serious consideration to trying to have a vote on the comprehensive immigration reform package COMPLETED by tomorrow. Utter absence of transparency on the part of the Senate.

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The House is scheduled to vote on and pass the Emergency Supplemental today, and assuming it does so, the Senate is apt to make quick work on doing the same so it can recess without the burden of votes in a Friday session. Heck, with good luck, the Senate might be able to take Friday off altogether.

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Yet another proposal to change course in Iraq, this one signed on to by Senators Casey, Alexander, Gregg, and others - basically pushing the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group in the form of US government policy.

Keep in mind too, that Senator Warner's benchmark language will be passed by the Congress. It is contained in the Conference Report for the Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations. Look for President Bush's signing statement - I predict the signing statement will "say" that many of those points will be construed as advisory, and lack the force of proper Congressional power over the executive.

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I was curious about how Senator Coleman's amendment would create compliance with existing federal law that aims to prevent the existence of sanctuary cities.

SA 1158. Mr. COLEMAN

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

SEC.__X. INFORMATION SHARING BETWEEN FEDERAL AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.

    (a) Subsection (b) of section 642 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant. Responsibility Act of 1996 (8.U.S.C. 1373) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    ``(4) Acquiring such information, if the person seeking such information has probable cause to believe that the individual is not lawfully present in the United States.''

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8 U.S.C. 1373

(a) In general
    Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

(b) Additional authority of government entities
    Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, a Federal, State, or local government entity from doing any of the following with respect to information regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual:
    (1) Sending such information to, or requesting or receiving such information from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
    (2) Maintaining such information.
    (3) Exchanging such information with any other Federal, State, or local government entity.

(c) Obligation to respond to inquiries
    The Immigration and Naturalization Service shall respond to an inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.

Lucky pick of an issue on my part, as Senator Menendez rises in opposition to the Coleman amendment.

Senator Menendez says this amendment would create fear in entire communities. Well, that can only be because entire communities are comprised of illegal immigrants. I'm annoyed when I'm asked to produce certain identification, say, for example, to open a bank account or buy or sell stocks or bonds - but I'm not in fear. Likewise, legal immigrants and citizens might be annoyed by being asked to show evidence of status; but the only ones who would have "fear" would be those who are not in compliance.

Senator Menendez is race baiting, not much better at it than Reverend Al Sharpton, either.

Senator Menendez is also against Cornyn's amendment that would bar identity thieves from being granted legal immigration status. Senator Menendez admits that huge numbers of people "in the shadows" have stolen identity of others, and that this conduct should not result in the penalty of removal.

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Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of a resolution honoring the life of Rachel Carson, a scientist, writer, and pioneer in the environmental movement, on the occasion of the centennial of her birth, which was introduced early today by Senators Cardin, Specter, and others ...

I looked for this resolution, that Senator Reid says "was introduced." I can't find it in yesterday's Record, or in any part of the record for the 110th Congress.

UPDATE @ 11:11

Dorgan's S.Amdt.1181 would sunset the temporary worker program. If considered, this too will go down hard. Just before Senator Dorgan introduced it, Senator Specter said "I'm the only other Senator on the floor, and I don't object to setting aside the pending amendment so you can debate yours."

UPDATE @ 12:00

Senator Kyl rises in opposition to Dorgan's amendment. The temporary worker program has to be permanent, not subject to sunset, because the legal temporary worker program is a necessary safety valve for the magnet of jobs in America, that Americans won't do. If we don't give them a way to come in legally, they will come in illegally, goes the Kyl logic. Foreigners willing to work for low wages are coming in regardless, so it's better if we label them "legal." I am dumbfounded by the weakness of that justification.

UPDATE @ 12:10

McCain's S.Amdt.1190 was passed on a voice vote. The text isn't available, so I'm not sure if this pertains to a requirement for a proposed immigrant to show (or summarily assert) compliance with federal tax law. Given the absence of Democrat objection, I'm sure the "requirement" relating to taxes (in McCain's amendment "as modified") is some toothless formality. Details will be buried in the text of today's debate.

Senator Coleman is arguing in favor of his "anti-sanctuary" amendment, with a vote scheduled to start at 12:15 or so.

My prediction, made yesterday, was that the Akaka amendment would pass on a 70-26 vote. Listening to the roll call, it sounds like the margin will be wider than that.

UPDATE @ 12:42

Akaka S.Amdt.1186, to not count 20,000 Filipinos (children of WWII fighters) against any immigration quota, was
PASSED on a 87-9 vote.
NAY Votes: Bunning, Chambliss, Enzi, Gregg, Inhofe, Isakson, Sessions, Sununu, Vitter

Corker cast a NAY vote, then changed it to Aye.
Hagel did too, but it took him half an hour to notice.
Notable - Senator McCain is in the Senate chamber and cast a vote.

The next vote will be on the Coleman amendment. I predict rejection on a 45-51 vote. Senator Coleman makes a great point. If this bill is passed, there will be no need for an immigrant to hide in the shadows. Those arguing against the Coleman amendment do so with the backdrop of CURRENT immigration statutes and regulations, not the proposed, modified paradigm. The proposed paradigm makes it easy to become a legal immigrant.

UPDATE @ 13:08

Coleman S.Amdt.1158, to forbid localities from making policy that forbids inquiring about immigration status, was
REJECTED on a 48-49 vote.
GOP Nay Votes: Domenici, Graham, Hagel, Lugar, Martinez, Snowe, Specter, Voinovich
GOP Not voting: Brownback (I guess him NAY based on his pattern on immigration) and Thomas

Now on to fresh amendments and debate. Senator Dodd will be introducing an amendment, S.Amdt 1199, that favors immigration for purposes of family reunification. I say, how about deportation for purposes of family reunification? Okay, unfair on my part. Dodd's amendment is to admit parents of US citizens.

Senator Kennedy announces that there will be two amendments offered by Democrats, followed by two amendments offered by Republicans.

Menendez S.Amdt 1194, to provide for immigration policy that encourages family reunification. Gives the same immigration rights to family members of those waiting legally in line for immigration, as it gives to family members of those who are presently in the country as illegal immigrants.

---===---

The FAS reports that Judge Walton Named to Foreign Intel Surveillance Court. Judge Walton presided over the Scooter Libby trial.

UPDATE @ 13:43

Senator "mendacious" Menendez is done talking. What is with the people of New Jersey? Hah - I have little room to talk, I suppose, with Snowe and Collins as my proxies in the Senate.

UPDATE @ 14:03

Senator Kennedy says it is beyond debate that there are jobs in America that Americans won't do. Labor, sir, is a commodity, and anybody will do anything, if the remuneration is perceived as reasonable for the task. At any rate, a vote on the Dorgan amendment (sunsetting the temporary guestworker provisions) is coming up. I predict rejection on a 45-53 margin.

UPDATE @ 14:38

Dorgan amendment S.Amdt.1181, to sunset the temporary guestworker provisions (they could be renewed), was REJECTED on a 48-49 vote.
GOP Nay votes: Alexander, Allard, Bennett, Bond, Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Graham, Gregg, Kyl, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Isakson, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Roberts, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Voinovich, and Warner.
GOP Not voting: Brownback and Thomas.

I think this is a very illuminating vote. We can sunset tax provisions, AWB provisions, but not immigration programs? What's the concern here? If the program is working, then it would be renewed, would it not? Methinks the Senators lack confidence that evidence of "program working" would appear, and hence the rejection of a test/sunset provision.

Senator Kennedy announces the stacking of amendments: McConnell (S.Amdt.1170), Vitter (S.Amdt.1157), Feingold (S.Amdt.1176), and Sanders (S.Amdt.1223).

Senator McConnell notices that the American people are ringing up Congress. McConnell's amendment (S.Amdt.1170) aims to protect the voting franchise, "each State shall require individuals casting ballots in an election for Federal office in person to present a current valid photo identification issued by a governmental entity before voting." This amendment will not pass.

UPDATE @ 16:59

Senator Kennedy is trying to negotiate a brief hiatus to permit taking up the Emergency Supplemental. Senator Sessions wants to have an amendment of his voted on tonight, and objects. Meanwhile, others (Vitter, Sanders) have been waiting with filed amendments. Senator Durbin suggests that Sessions be given 15 minutes to offer amendments, to which Senator Sessions agrees that perhaps his amendment need not be voted on tonight.

Sessions amendments (S.Amdt.1234 and S.Amdt.1235), relate to removing rights to Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from Z-visa participants. Huzzah. Destined to be shot down, but a good debate.

Kennedy's rebuttal is that EITC is for the children. In his rebuttal, he notes that EITC isn't denied to children of murderers, rapists or burglars. Maybe it should be.

UPDATE @ 17:51

Sanders amendment S.Amdt.1223, to increase fees for H1-B visas and direct the funds to college scholarships, was PASSED on a 59-35 vote.

---===---

Vitter amendment (to strike the Z-visa - "amnesty" visa) will be next up for voting, and will be the last immigration vote this week, says Senator Kennedy. I predict the Vitter amendment will be defeated on a 35-62 vote.

Senator Lieberman introduces S.Amdt.1191, protecting the rights of asylum seekers. I think this is a repeat of a similar amendment last year.

Voting on the Vitter amendment started at 17:59, and at 18:18, Vitter S.Amdt.1157, to eliminate the Z-visa program (visas for people who are presently in the country illegally), was
REJECTED on a 29-66 vote.
GOP Nay votes: Bennett, Burr, Chambliss, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Domenici, Ensign, Graham, Gregg, Hagel, Hutchison, Isakson, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Voinovich, and Warner.
GOP Not voting: Brownback, Hatch and Thomas.

--- Action on H.R.2206 ---

Senator Murry announces an unanimous consent request to go into morning business with a series of Democratic speakers, alternating with GOP speakers to be named. I assume the Senate is moving onto discussion of the Emergency supplemental. The number following each Senator's name is the number of minutes they are recognized for, under the consent agreement. Byrd 15; Kerry 10; Boxer 5; Murry (5?); Conrad (5?); Dodd 5; Brown 5; Landrieu 5; Levin 5.

Senator Byrd, "seared ... SEARED ... SEARED into our national consciousness." Comparing the amount of money spent to rebuild Baghdad, with the money spent to rebuild New Orleans, Biloxi, and other Gulf Coast communities.

There will be the allotted amount of "debate" followed by passing the conference committee report for the Iraq Emergency Supplemental.

Senator Grassley points out several items that are "tax related" that are riding along with this bill. Congress isn't stupid. What is being "debated" now has been through a back room process, and when passed by the Senate will be signed into law. Very little public debate on these points, and if you don't take the time to read the bill, you will be in the dark.

Grassley is complaining that the Congress isn't transparent, but his beef is an old one, and the people are, at the end of the day, indifferent anyway. The important thing will be to get the emergency supplemental voted on tonight, so the Senators can go home for the recess without being burdened with an obligation to show up on Friday.

I count two hours of scheduled debate, which puts the vote on the Iraq Emergency Supplemental at about 8:30 p.m. Many Senator comments (objections to the contents and process of legislating the substance) are being entered into the Record without being spoken. The section of today's Record that refers to the Iraq Emergency Supplemental is must-read, as is the presently-invisible Iraq Emergency Supplemental itself.

UPDATE @ 20:47

The conference committee report on H.R.2206 was
PASSED on a 80-14 vote. (predicted was 74-22)
NAY Votes: Boxer, Burr, Clinton, Coburn, Dodd, Enzi, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry, Leahy, Obama, Sanders, Whitehouse and Wyden

Senator Biden advocates unilateral US military action in Sudan, if the Sudanese government does not admit UN troops on the grounds that Sudan is a sovereign nation. Says Biden, if the government of Sudan does not admit UN military action, then the government of Sudan effectively forfeits its sovereignty. All this is predicated on the presumption that the government of Sudan is engaged in genocide, that is, Senator Biden would not advocate similar justification against, say, Iraq, unless it had a dictator who was engaged in genocide.

---===---

Spoke too soon on the Iraq Emergency Supplemental being invisible ... here 'tis:

Text of House Amendments to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2206
Amendment 1 (213 pages - pdf)
Amendment 2 (43 pages - pdf)

Amendment 1

  • Funding and other items not requested by the President including funding for:
    • Defense Health,
    • Veterans Health,
    • Base Realignment and Closure,
    • Homeland Security,
    • Gulf Coast recovery, and
    • the State Children's Health Insurance Program
  • An increase in the minimum wage
  • Small business tax cuts

Amendment 2

  • The Warner language on Iraq, including benchmarks for success
  • Funding requested by the President for: the Department of Defense, State, and foreign operations, and Gulf Coast recovery.

House Rules Committee Action (on the amendments)
Both amendments passed the House.

UPDATE @ 21:42

The no-confidence resolution against AG Gonzales was read a second time and put on the calendar.

The Senate will meet on Friday. There will be no roll call votes. The next roll call vote will be on Tuesday after the recess.


UPDATE @ May 25

America must not ignore a dangerous percentage By Diana West

Something new and barbarous under the sun, right? This is why it's all the more disturbing to review the happy headline-spin the story received. The blogger Ace of Spades provided an early roundup of the Orwellian tags, which included: "Poll: Most Muslims seek to adopt American lifestyle" (USA Today); "Muslims assimilate better in U.S. than Europe, poll finds" (New York Times); "Poll: U.S. Muslims Feel Post-9/11 Backlash Despite Moderate Outlook" (Voice of America). My personal fave: "Upbeat portrait of U.S. Muslims" (Sacramento Bee).

---===---

Peering through a glass half-full, darkly By Kathleen Parker

In other words, presumably, we should be grateful that only 200,000 or so local Muslims support terrorism. In Europe, where many young Muslims are unemployed and alienated, things are much worse. True, but seldom does America measure success according to a things-could-be-worse standard.

Actually, in politics, the standard "we're better than the alternative," is exactly how success is measured, where failure to support a "bad" party is denigrated because the other party is wretched. This view works equally well from the left and the right.

---===---

Pardon the brief diversion from the Senate, but a recent on-line hobby has been to watch the Libby trial and the few issues that it impacts, e.g., press shield.

Deadline Looms for Libby Sentence Recommendations By Josh Gerstein

... the real cliffhanger at the sentencing hearing, set for June 5, is not what punishment Judge Reggie Walton imposes, but whether he allows Libby to remain free while pursuing his appeal.

A handful of interesting comments and observations in that article, including federal law on sentencing pending appeal; the tension between a claim of innocence and contrition; and defense counsel Jeffress's advice for composing testimonial letters on Libby's behalf.

If you read the article, you may be interested to learn that the Court has ordered the parties and the press to brief the Court as to release of the testimonial letters to the media.

---===---

Circuit Court nominee Leslie Southwick was NOT voted out of the Judiciary Committee, despite being on the agenda. Three District Court nominees (Liam O'Grady, Paul Maloney and Janet Neff) were voted out of Committee, and appear on the Senate's May 25 Executive Calendar as Nos. 138, 139 and 140, respectively.

I think the Circuit Court Nominations Summary page is up to date. I had missed the nomination of Jennifer Elrod to the 5th Circuit, on March 29.

---===---

Deadline looms on unsettled oil issue By Sharon Behn

Iraq's proposed oil law, a key U.S. benchmark for political progress, remains in sharp dispute one week before the government's self-imposed deadline for passage, and some say it could create more divisions in the fractured country.

Section 1314(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the Iraq Emergency Supplemental refers to this contingency, although the consequences of failing to meet the condition are a vague, "The United States strategy in Iraq, hereafter, shall be conditioned on the Iraqi government meeting benchmarks ..." whatever "strategy shall be conditioned on" means.

---===---

Senator McCain's S.Amdt.1190 as presented, and as modified.

It was contentious as presented, and was passed by unanimous consent as modified. I speculate that the modification effectively gutted the amendment.

I was wrong. The modification is merely a correction to a page number reference.

SA 1190. Mr. MCCAIN (for himself, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. BURR, and Mr. SPECTER) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 1150 proposed by Mr. REID (for Mr. KENNEDY (for himself and Mr. SPECTER)) to the bill S. 1348, to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes; as follows:

On page 292 293 redesignate paragraphs (3) as (4) and (4) as (5).

On page 292 293, between lines 33 and 34, insert the following:

``(3) PAYMENT OF INCOME TAXES.--

``(A) IN GENERAL.--Not later than the date on which status is adjusted under this section, the alien establishes the payment of any applicable Federal tax liability by establishing that--
``(i) no such tax liability exists;
``(ii) all outstanding liabilities have been paid; or
``(iii) the alien has entered into an agreement for payment of all outstanding liabilities with the Internal Revenue Service.

``(B) APPLICABLE FEDERAL TAX LIABILITY.--For purposes of clause (i), the term `applicable Federal tax liability' means liability for Federal taxes, including penalties and interest, owed for any year during the period of employment required by subparagraph (D)(i) for which the statutory period for assessment of any deficiency for such taxes has not expired.

``(C) IRS COOPERATION.--The Secretary of the Treasury shall establish rules and procedures under which the Commissioner of Internal Revenue shall provide documentation to an alien upon request to establish the payment of all taxes required by this subparagraph.

``(D) IN GENERAL.--The alien may satisfy such requirement by establishing that--
``(i) no such tax liability exists;
``(ii) all outstanding liabilities have been met; or
``(iii) the alien has entered into an agreement for payment of all outstanding liabilities with the Internal Revenue Service and with the department of revenue of each State to which taxes are owed.

---===---

Those who cite to a recent CBS poll for evidence that American's favor immigration should read Mark Krikorian's Ve Have Vays of Making You Answer Correctly for a dose of reality.

The detail-oriented reader will check the complete poll results (230 kB pdf file). I recommend reading the complete poll, just as a matter of checking the Presidential approval and "going the right direction?" questions, which are reported weekly from 2001 until the present.

---===---

Pending:

  • Reid (for Kennedy/Specter) Amendment No. 1150, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Grassley/DeMint Amendment No. 1166 (to Amendment No. 1150), to clarify that the revocation of an alien's visa or other documentation is not subject to judicial review.
  • Cornyn Amendment No. 1184 (to Amendment No. 1150), to establish a permanent bar for gang members, terrorists, and other criminals.
  • Dodd/Menendez Amendment No. 1199 (to Amendment No. 1150), to increase the number of green cards for parents of United States citizens, to extend the duration of the new parent visitor visa, and to make penalties imposed on individuals who overstay such visas applicable only to such individuals.
  • Menendez Amendment No. 1194 (to Amendment No. 1150), to modify the deadline for the family backlog reduction.
  • McConnell Amendment No. 1170 (to Amendment No. 1150), to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in person to present photo identification.
  • Feingold Amendment No. 1176 (to Amendment No. 1150), to establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.
  • Durbin/Grassley Amendment No. 1231 (to Amendment No. 1150), to ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers.
  • Sessions Amendments No. 1234 & No. 1235 (to Amendment No. 1150), to save American taxpayers up to $24 billion in the 10 years after passage of this Act, by preventing the earned income tax credit, which is, according to the Congressional Research Service, the largest anti-poverty entitlement program of the Federal Government, from being claimed by Y temporary workers or illegal aliens given status by this Act until they adjust to legal permanent resident status.
  • Lieberman Amendment No. 1191 (to Amendment No. 1150), to provide safeguards against faulty asylum procedures and to improve conditions of detention.

---===---

Senator Reid opens the Senate, with a report that the Senate will immediately resume consideration of the comprehensive immigration bill. Two amendments from each side will be offered today. Senator Reid hopes there will be no need to file a cloture motion on the bill. If the bill isn't making progress by Wednesday or Thursday the week the Senate returns, Senator Reid will consider filing a cloture motion.

S.J.Res.14 is the no-confidence resolution against AG Gonzales. It was read a second time. Procedural move, necessary to make the Joint Resolution available for voting on.

Senator Cornyn introduces two Republican amendments: Senator Allard's S.Amdt.1189 and Senator Cornyn's S.Amdt.1250. He goes on to express a sense that he is uncomfortable that insufficient amendment is being allowed, and that action in the Senate will resemble a train wreck when amendments stack up and Senators withhold support from the bill because of the inability to offer amendments -- out of frustration with having the base bill, negotiated out of sight of most of the Senators, rammed down.

Senator Salazar objects to the introduction of Senator Cornyn's S.Amdt.1238, just on the grounds that Senate leadership has agreed to only two amendments per side today. Senator Cornyn says he was not a party to that agreement, that he anticipated the objection, and brought up the amendment to make the point that the Senate is not taking on amendments on the most important domestic issue facing the country today. In general, he bemoans the pace of progress on the bill, and the fact that Senators are today back home instead of working.

Senator Cornyn indicates that he is also prepared to offer S.Amdt.1208 and S.Amdt.1247, the later one to provide relief to local taxpayers for services to aliens, where the state and local services are mandated to be delivered by operation of federal law.

UPDATE @ 10:20

Senator Salazar offers Clinton (and Hagel, and Menendez) S.Amdt.1183 and Obama S.Amdt.1202.

Senator Clinton's amendment give preferential immigration status to family members of lawful permanent residents, where as presently drafted, the bill reserves this preference for family members of citizens. It also makes adjustments to quotas and numerical limitations that pertain to any single foreign state.

Senator Allard says that the bill, as crafted, gives 50 points (a 50% advantage) for holding a Z-visa, where points accrue for the purpose of drawing a line at a certain number of slots for citizenship. His amendment 1189 would strike the "special schedule" that is granted to Z-visa holders.

The Record is delayed again this morning, May 24 not up as of 10:50 11:20 a.m. Maybe today we'll have the official public printing of the bill (S.Amdt.1150) that has occupied most of the Senate debate this past week.

UPDATE @ 10:50

Senator Sessions will list 15 loopholes that he finds in the proposed bill. He's using a chart that resembles the (PBS, if I recall correctly) children's cartoon "How a Bill Becomes Law." He also reiterates the complaint that the bill is being ramrodded, while amendments are being slow-walked. He says one week further debate is not enough, regardless.

Senator McCain takes the floor at about 10:49. He thanks Senator Sessions for the time, and pats Senator Salazar on the back for a good job on the immigration bill. He says the bill represents hard work on the part of the group that crafted it, working in conjunction with President Bush. McCain is reading, and sounds like he has a hangover or something, his heart does not seem to be in his words.

UPDATE @ 11:09

Senator Sessions lambastes Secretary Chertoff for the comment that some want to engage in mass deportation activity. Senator Sessions that that's "triangulation." Senator Sessions is not confident at all that there will be a full vigorous debate. Master of the Obvious.

Heheh - he lays into Senator McCain too. I know you (McCain) worked hard, and didn't want to bother the American people with all this immigration business, but I (Sessions speaking for himself) don't appreciate being kept out of the discussion. He's rather fired up. Exceptionally good theater this morning.

LOL. Senator Sessions reports that one House member said, "President Bush would sign a pork chop, if it had immigration reform in it." True, that.

Lott urges Bush to wield veto threat - By Stephen Dinan

"Whatever might be described as 'comprehensive immigration reform,' if it is put in front of the president, it will be the equivalent of hanging a pork chop in front of a hungry dog," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.

Other good observations too. In 1986, there were many comments in the nature of "there will never be another amnesty," but you don't hear that this year. Of course not, says Sessions, because if there is an admission that this is an amnesty, or that there will not be another, then it becomes obvious the underlying principle of this bill is flawed, and that the government will not deliver the border security it says it will deliver.

UPDATE @ 11:57

Ahh ... the May 24 Congressional Record is up, and S.Amdt.1150 is printed. I also compared McCain's S.Amdt.1190 as offered and as modified, and contrary to my speculation that the modification gutted the amendment, the modification made absolutely NO substantive change - the modification was a correction to page number references. The complete text of the amendment as passed is above.

---===---

Debate on H.R.2206 Conference Report (Emerg. Supplemental)
Text of Conference Report and Roll Call Vote

---===---

Debate on Adopting Iraq Study Group Recommendations

Mr. BENNETT. Mr. President, I am honored to join with my friends in this particular effort. I congratulate the occupant of the chair, Senator Salazar, and Senator Alexander for putting this forward. We are seeing people come on board in equal numbers on both sides of the aisle to demonstrate that this is a bipartisan effort.

Some might say this is an attack on the President's plan. I do not see it in that fashion at all. I think this is a demonstration of bipartisan support for an American plan, to see what we can do to get a more stable Iraq.

UPDATE @ 12:46

Senator Reid takes the floor to talk about Iraq, and I think he will also be closing down the Senate shortly. Bier time!

Senator Reid, "Because of global warming, there have been wildfires in the west." The Senate is a mighty fine circus, sez me, but the cost of the entertainment is steep.

Senator Reid is rambling, but he brought up Scooter Libby. So, my "diversion" above (to Libby post-trial activity) is now in the scope of Senate action. ;-)

Don't miss his comments about the sale of Christmas ornaments where profits go to defray the cost of Senate day care. He is taking a pretty cheap shot slam at the White House, for what was probably a misunderstanding. Remind me to buy my Christmas ornaments someplace other than the Senate Gift Shop.

Senate adjourns at 13:27, until 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 4th.

C-SPAN2 jumps directly to the subject of the Gonzales no-confidence vote. That vote will happen after the immigration bill is disposed of, so don't look for that vote during the week of June 4th.

UPDATE @ 20:00

Four post-trial filings in the Libby case today, the Government's Sentencing Memorandum being the most "important" of the set, but interesting that in another filing, Libby argues against pro-Libby testimonial letters being made public.

PDF version of the Government's Sentencing Memorandum (at Washington Post)


UPDATE @ May 26

S.1348 Summary of Action

Immigration Reform: Text of Amendments

May 21, 2007: S.Amdts. 1146 - 1150
S.Amdt.1150 (printed in May 24 Record)
May 22, 2007: S.Amdts. 1151 - 1165
May 23, 2007: S.Amdts. 1166 - 1189
May 24, 2007: S.Amdts. 1190 - 1254
May 25, 2007: S.Amdt. 1255

Immigration Reform Debate

May 21, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III
May 22, 2007: Part I - Part II
May 23, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III
May 24, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III
May 25, 2007: Part I

Pending:

  • Reid (for Kennedy/Specter) Amendment No. 1150, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Grassley/DeMint Amendment No. 1166 (to Amendment No. 1150), to clarify that the revocation of an alien's visa or other documentation is not subject to judicial review.
  • Cornyn Modified Amendment No. 1184 (to Amendment No. 1150), to establish a permanent bar for gang members, terrorists, and other criminals.
  • Dodd/Menendez Amendment No. 1199 (to Amendment No. 1150), to increase the number of green cards for parents of United States citizens, to extend the duration of the new parent visitor visa, and to make penalties imposed on individuals who overstay such visas applicable only to such individuals.
  • Menendez Amendment No. 1194 (to Amendment No. 1150), to modify the deadline for the family backlog reduction.
  • McConnell Amendment No. 1170 (to Amendment No. 1150), to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in person to present photo identification.
  • Feingold Amendment No. 1176 (to Amendment No. 1150), to establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.
  • Durbin/Grassley Amendment No. 1231 (to Amendment No. 1150), to ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers.
  • Sessions Amendment No. 1234 and 1235 (to Amendment No. 1150), to save American taxpayers up to $24 billion in the 10 years after passage of this Act, by preventing the earned income tax credit, which is, according to the Congressional Research Service, the largest anti-poverty entitlement program of the Federal Government, from being claimed by Y temporary workers or illegal aliens given status by this Act until they adjust to legal permanent resident status.
  • Lieberman Amendment No. 1191 (to Amendment No. 1150), to provide safeguards against faulty asylum procedures and to improve conditions of detention.
  • Cornyn (for Allard) Amendment No. 1189 (to Amendment No. 1150), to eliminate the preference given to people who entered the United States illegally over people seeking to enter the country legally in the merit-based evaluation system for visas.
  • Cornyn Amendment No. 1250 (to Amendment No. 1150), to address documentation of employment and to make an amendment with respect to mandatory disclosure of information.
  • Salazar (for Clinton) Modified Amendment No. 1183 (to Amendment No. 1150), to reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives.
  • Salazar (for Obama/Menendez) Amendment No. 1202 (to Amendment No. 1150), to provide a date on which the authority of the section relating to the increasing of American competitiveness through a merit-based evaluation system for immigrants shall be terminated.

---===---

Senator Reid's Rambling "Congratulatory" Speech (Starts at S6946)

---===---

Read Senator Durbin's remarks on freedom of expression in Venezuela, and ponder the regulations under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance statue, as well as the potential to re-impose the so-called "fairness" doctrine on US media.

---===---

I haven't found the text of S.J.Res.14 (the no-confidence resolution relating to AG Gonzales), but heard Senator Schumer describe it as having no "whereas" preamble, and merely stating that the Senate and the people have lost confidence in the AG.

I do get a kick out of the Senate procedure, with "mandatory" utterances such as, "I now ask for its second reading, and I object to my own request." In the real world, objecting to one's own request is a sign of mental illness.

---===---

Senate Dems win delay of Southwick confirmation vote By Ana Radalet, describes a series of nominations for this post that have been derailed by Democrat opposition.


UPDATE @ May 27

I aim to get Senator Sessions's comments, made on CBS "Face the Nation," in context. He was commenting on change in direction in Iraq, and Bob Schieffer seemed to think that Senator Sessions's comment was "news." But the transcript at CBS's website is to NBC's Tim Russert's "Meet the Press." I figure it'll be corrected in due course, but it's an interesting error.

If you want to see for yourself, navigate to CBS News - Face the Nation and click on the "Read the transcript" link, and you'll have a PDF of Time Russert's interview of Governor Richardson. [Same (incorrect) link at 18:40]

19:40 - The CBS link has been repaired from the incorrect "http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/face_052707.pdf" link to the correct http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/F5-27-7.pdf one.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me get to Senator Sessions. Senator Sessions, I want to ask you about something your Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said last week while all of this debate over funding this was going on, and he said, quote, "The handwriting is on the wall. We are headed in a different direction in the fall in Iraq, and the president is going to be the one to lead the way." That sounds like a different strategy. What is he talking about?

Sen. SESSIONS: Well, I think most of us--I think almost all of us really understood this surge to mean just that. Frankly, the last brigade is not even in Iraq yet. But by September, when General Petraeus is to make a report, I think most of the people in Congress believe, unless something extraordinary occurs, that we should be on a move to draw that surge number down. I don't believe we need a soldier in Iraq a single day longer than is necessary to serve our national interests. We've had a tough year, there's no doubt about it. In 2005 General Casey thought we could draw down troops in 2006, and we've not been able to do that. But this government in Iraq has got to step up, and we've got to be able to draw our troop levels down, to be in a more supportive role, an embedding role, a training role, and they've got to defend their own country.

We also need to ask what is the impact--what context are we looking at in the overall war on terrorism here? I mean, what does Iraq mean? There's no doubt if we're not successful in Iraq, the initiative will move to the al-Qaeda, the radical jihadists that are--will attack around the world. So peace will not occur just by drawing our troops home. It will really embolden the enemy. So the best solution is to get this Iraqi government up, get them to preserve their own integrity as a nation, and to defend themselves. And that's a very important thing to achieve.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I don't want to read too much or put words into your mouth, but, listening to you, what you seem to be saying, and tell me if I'm wrong here, is that if things don't change dramatically on the ground in Iraq by September that Republicans are no longer going to be able to support keeping more American troops in Iraq, that at that point we'll have to begin thinking about some sort of a withdrawal timetable. Is that what you're saying here?

Sen. SESSIONS: I'm thinking that we need to reach a bipartisan understanding if it's any way possible. And I was glad we got this supplemental resolution passed. Any delay beyond this last week would have been very bad in my opinion for our troops' morale and for our overall efforts. So we have to be realistic. We have to know that we can't achieve everything we'd like to achieve. We have a limited number of men and women we can send to Iraq and we can't overburden them. And so we're facing some tough choices. If we do the thing right, we need to listen. My first thought is that we absolutely need to listen to General Petraeus whose written the book on how to defeat an--a counterinsurgency for the military. He's spent almost three of his last four years in Iraq. He's a brilliant leader and a Princeton PhD. So I believe we--I believe we need to listen to his advice as we go into the fall.

SCHIEFFER: What you seem to be saying, though, senator, that we're going to have to think of another kind of strategy, and that is what your leader, Mitch McConnell, was saying. What would a different kind of strategy be?

Sen. SESSIONS: I don't think we need to be an occupying power. This is a fine line we've walked, and this surge has got to be temporary. We do not need to be and cannot be perceived as just occupying Iraq for any extended period of time. General Abizaid always was concerned about that. I shared his concerns. But because of the violence in the capital city of Baghdad, we had to take a bitter pill, and this Congress has supported General Petraeus and the step up for a surge for a temporary period.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Levin, I'm going to get to you in just a second. But hearing Senator Sessions, I have to ask this additional follow-up. Do you think the president gets it? Do you think he is where you are on this, Senator Sessions?

Sen. SESSIONS: You asking me?

SCHIEFFER: Yes, sir.

Sen. SESSIONS: I think he is coming around to that. A note in the, I believe, The New York Times yesterday that top defense officials are talking about a major reduction in 2008 in the number of troops, and they're working on plans that would be harmonious with that concept. I certainly hope that's will occur. We cannot sustain this level, in my opinion, in Iraq and Afghanistan much longer.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Levin, of course Senator Sessions is one of the--proudly, one of the most conservative members of the Senate. He comes from a Southern state where the president has been very popular over the past. What do you make of what your colleague has just said here this morning?

Sen. LEVIN: Well, not only is he, obviously, beginning to make a move, I think, but more importantly is Republican leaders. But your quote of Mitch McConnell, just listen to what he says. "There's going to be a change of direction in September. The handwriting's on the wall." Why wait till September? ...


UPDATE @ May 29

Remember that leaked phone call of almost ten years ago? The one that involved Newt Gingrich? The legal case is just about at the end of it's run. Funny, that Boehner was willing to settle for $10,000 and an apology, and now McDermott is on the hook for a million dollars. Leaked phone-call case could cost McDermott $1 million (Hat tip to howappealing.law.com).

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I haven't read the proposed law, so haven't formed an opinion yet, but the FAS article, Anonymous Senator Blocks FOIA Bill is at least interesting.

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President Bush Discusses Comprehensive Immigration Reform in Glynco, Georgia

This is the event that the AP describes as, "Bush Attacks Immigration Deal Opponents"

President Bush attacked opponents of an immigration deal Tuesday, suggesting they "don't want to do what's right for America." ...

Bush chastised those who say the proposal offers amnesty to illegal immigrants. He called it empty political rhetoric.

Now I think President Bush is mischaracterizing the bill in many ways, but AP is fabricating an "attack" where there is none. President Bush has every right to advocate for what he wants - and I happen to agree that the word "amnesty" represents empty rhetoric. But "It's not amnesty" is an equally empty justification.

On reading the President's remarks, the thought crossed my mind that the Z-visa should not have any path to citizenship, and that a person presently in the country illegally should be made to choose between legitimizing residency without citizenship and the possibility of a green card. One or the other. At the same time, I bet there are people "standing in line" outside the country who would LOVE to gain residency without any intention of obtaining citizenship. The short of it is that the cannot be a fair resolution to the mess. Whatever resolution occurs will be unfair.


UPDATE @ May 31

Amnesty, or not-amnesty? I don't like when a policy argument devolves to an argument about how to define a buzzword. But this little piece from Rich Lowry is pretty good.

I was amused by this statement in a Washington Post story this morning by a pro-amnesty activist denying that the Senate bill is amnesty:

"Amnesty is where someone comes in illegally and gets in front of others and immediately becomes legal," said Gustavo Torres, director of CASA of Maryland, a nonprofit group that helps illegal immigrants.
That's, of course, exactly what the Senate bill does: every illegal immediately becomes legal.

Bush said the same thing:

Amnesty is forgiveness for being here without any penalties -- that's what amnesty is. I oppose it.
Again, that's exactly what the bill does. It has some hoops if people what to get a Z visa or green card, but illegals are immediately granted forgiveness for being here illegally and don't have to pay any penalties to stay here legally.

How stupid do these people think we are?

"There are only two truly infinite things, the universe and stupidity. And I am unsure about the universe." - Albert Einstein

Also on the subject of immigration, I find Ann Coulter's piece dated May 30, A Green Card in Every Pot, to be a good read. Her hot buttons are the lack of "assimilation" (i.e., development of multiple, independent cultures within the country) and the disparaging attitude that the multi-culturalists display toward those who express concern about the proposed immigration bill.

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Another "heavy" subject, interrogation techniques, is discussed in Marty Lederman's Cool, Carefully Considered, Methodical, Prolonged and Repeated ... piece, notable for its links to source reports. " The Report contains a wealth of valuable information, including with respect to the history of U.S. interrogation practices in previous armed conflicts, such as the program used against German captives in World War II." Also notable in that it describes an upcoming Executive Order as specifically forbidding the use of the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding.

Marty has a related piece where he parses the recently-passed statutory definition of torture. I take the opposite view, and find that waterboarding does not result in the physical harm necessary to constitute the statutory definition of "torture." The Senate (and the White House) put on a smoke and mirrors show at the time that statute was debated and passed. I attempted to see past the obfuscation in September 2006, while writing Interrogation Techniques : S.3861 vs. S.3901.

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From ScotusBlog ten days ago ...

In a summary decision without briefing and argument, the Court ruled 6-3 that Los Angeles police officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of occupants of a house where they carried out a search warrant looking for African-American suspects, but found only Caucasians, instead; the African-Americans had moved and new occupants were in the house. The white couple was ordered out of their bed, naked, and forbidden for a few minutes to get dressed. The Court majority found that the Ninth Circuit erred in ruling that the search should have been called off when the officers concluded that the occupants were not the suspects they were seeking. The majority opinion was unsigned (Per Curiam). Justice David H. Souter would have denied review, and Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined only in the result, arguing that the officers had qualified immunity and thus the Court should not have decided the constitutional question. The case was Los Angeles County v. Rettelle, et al. (06-605).

If as summarized, "Wow." It is not unreasonable to continue a search AFTER concluding you are restraining the wrong people?

The decision is more narrowly drawn. The Ninth Circuit said it was unreasonable to order the people out of bed. I disagree with that because officers' safety isn't clear until the people are in the open and it is known they are unarmed - but, in my personal opinion, it would be unreasonable to search further than looking in rooms and closets for additional people.


UPDATE @ June 2

In addition to 30 billion dollars for AIDS activities, file these under the general rubric of "foreign aid ..."

President's Radio Address

... And on Thursday, I announced three new initiatives that will help the developing world.

The first initiative is a new project called the Africa Financial Sector Initiative ... it will encourage the international financial community to create several new private equity funds that will mobilize up to $1 billion of new private investment in Africa. [loan guarantees by US taxpayers]

The second initiative ... will devote an additional $525 million over the next five years to help provide a quality basic education for up to four million children in poor nations. With this initiative, we will help young people get the skills they need to succeed and a chance to achieve their dreams. [the cynical side of me whispers "create workers to do the jobs Americans expect too much pay for." But seriously, how does this help the taxpayer who is funding the effort?]

The third initiative is a proposal to help developing nations meet their growing energy needs while protecting the environment and addressing the challenge of global climate change. Under my proposal, by the end of next year America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. And to meet this goal, we must help developing countries harness the power of technology. The United States is investing billions of dollars in clean energy technologies and coming up with new ways to share these technologies with other nations. Through the spirit of innovation, we will help developing nations grow their economies and be responsible stewards of the environment. [this one is expressed as a technology transfer, but the mechanism for sharing is opaque in this speech]

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More from the White House, yesterday, on relief and support for the Palestinian Authority.

Memorandum for the Secretary of State

[clickit - Assistance for the West Bank and Gaza]

The Palestinian support waiver also plays out in Presidential Determination No. 2007-21, a law that aims to locate a US embassy in Jeruselum.

UPDATE @ June 3

Transcript - Newt Gingrich on FNS

You go through this list [Iraq, Katrina, Social Security, immigration, TB guy crossing the border]. You say to yourself this government -- I mean, not just the president. This is not about the presidency. The government is not functioning. It's not getting the job done. ...

WALLACE: But you compare George W. Bush to Jimmy Carter, which, as you well know, is fighting words among Republicans.

GINGRICH: Look, the functional effect in public opinion is about the same. Now, Republicans need to confront this reality.

If you were at 28 percent, 29 percent, 30 percent approval, and if things aren't working, and now you have a fight which splits your own party -- and this immigration fight goes to the core of where we are. ...

I'll have to find the New Yorker article where Newt "compared President Bush with President Carter," but all I see here is a comparison of popularity or approval ratings plus the assertion that the president's policy position(s) is causing division within his party. I don't see a comparison of policy positions.

The Republican implosion - by Jeffrey Goldberg

Newt Gingrich is one of those who fear that Republicans have been branded with the label of incompetence. He says that the Bush Administration has become a Republican version of the Jimmy Carter Presidency, when nothing seemed to go right. "It's just gotten steadily worse," he said. "There was some point during the Iranian hostage crisis, the gasoline rationing, the malaise speech, the sweater, the rabbit"--Gingrich was referring to Carter's suggestion that Americans wear sweaters rather than turn up their thermostats, and to the "attack" on Carter by what cartoonists quickly portrayed as a "killer rabbit" during a fishing trip--"that there was a morning where the average American went, `You know, this really worries me.' " He added, "You hire Presidents, at a minimum, to run the country well enough that you don't have to think about it, and, at a maximum, to draw the country together to meet great challenges you can't avoid thinking about." Gingrich continued, "When you have the collapse of the Republican Party, you have an immediate turn toward the Democrats, not because the Democrats are offering anything better, but on a `not them' basis. And if you end up in a 2008 campaign between `them' and `not them,' `not them' is going to win."

I have to disagree with Newt. When both parties campaign on "we're not them," one side using that approach will be the winner. Read this for my opinion of the "not them" brand of politics, as practiced by the Republicans.

The reaction of the GOP and Bush supporters to Gingrich of recent? To dismiss the message by attacking the messager as a bitter, whining, irrelevant malcontent. And if you don't agree, well, you're gonna get another President Clinton, or Obama.

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