Monday, May 07, 2007

Senate - Boring Week of May 7, 2007

Things may pick up next week (immigration), but for now ...

    Mr. REID. Mr. President, the Senate will be in a period of morning business today. There are no rollcall votes. Yesterday, cloture was filed on the substitute amendment to S. 1082, the FDA bill, and cloture was filed on the bill. In addition, cloture was filed on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act. Votes will begin Monday at about 4 p.m., and there will be several votes at that time. We are disappointed we were not able to finish FDA yesterday, as anticipated. I am confident we can finish it Monday night or Tuesday.

    We have a lot to do next week. As I have indicated, I am going to move to the immigration bill on Wednesday so debate on that can start on the following Monday. We also have the opportunity to complete our budget for the year. I have spoken to Senator Conrad on a number of occasions. I have spoken to the Speaker on this issue. It is very close to being in a position that we can bring it to the floor. It is my understanding the House will appoint conferees on Monday, and we will do that on the next day. It is a privileged motion. There is 10 hours of debate, and there are some procedural issues dealing with motions to instruct. We will find out how many there will be on either side. That will take up a lot of time.

    The WRDA bill is extremely important. It passed overwhelmingly in the House. I hope we can do the same here.

H.R.1495 - Water Resources Development Act of 2007.

See Senate Report 110-058, House Report 110-080 and House Report 110-100 for details. Watch the Senate to see Senator Landrieu beg for federal money for Louisiana, while doing battle with Senator Boxer who will be begging for more federal money for California.

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[Senator DORGAN] So we offer the amendment [S.Amdt.990, Dorgan prescription drug importation] and then we file cloture so we can actually get to a vote on it, and all of a sudden it is like the circus left town. They pull up the tent stakes, fold up the tent, everybody is gone. All of a sudden we can't vote anymore. Why? I guess they are upset that my amendment is now in order to be voted on, and they say: You know, I don't know. We can't do that.

Pending votes and cloture motions:

  • Cochran amendment S.Amdt.1010 (passed 49-40)
  • Dorgan amendment S.Amdt.990 (passed on a voice vote)
  • Cloture Motion on substitute amendment for FDA Bill (S.1082) (passed 82-8)
  • Cloture Motion on the FDA Bill itself
  • Cloture Motion on Motion to Proceed to the Water Resources Development Act

A whole lotta looking busy without not a whole lotta going on.

Dorgan's amendment, prescription drug reimportation, is a big deal in the scheme of prescription drugs. It will affect R&D expenditure, the workload at the FDA, and otherwise cause substantial shifts in this aspect of health care.

---===---

Interesting turnout on the Cochran amendment. It passed on a 49-40 vote (11 not voting!) but the GOP NAY votes ought to be filed away in your memory. I'm not making any accusations about "big government" or "nanny state" proclivities, just making an observation.

GOP Nay votes: Collins, Craig, DeMint, Grassley, Lott, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Snowe, Thune, Vitter.

Predictably, the cloture motion on the substitute amendment (the bill, in effect) carried on a 82-8 vote, with considerable overlap to the losing side of the Cochran amendment ... Casey (D-PA), DeMint, Dorgan (D-ND), Grassley, Sanders (I-VT), Snowe, Vitter, Webb (D-VA).

UPDATE @ 18:30

Senator Sessions is getting a jump start on the immigration debate. Same tune as last year. The (nay, "A") difference is that the loose immigration lobby has gained power since last year.

Senator Sessions properly notes "read the fine print." Heh. And points out that Majority Leader Reid is eyeballing introduction of last year's S.2611 as a substitute amendment. He also hits his "Masters of the Universe" phrase, always good for a laugh.

Looking backward-forward ...

Brownback is the guy to watch on the close immigration votes. Also Martinez and the Senators from Alaska. Just my sense of the ones acting what seems a bit out of character.

The May 2006 Archive Has much more detail on last year's immigration bill than I recall composing ;-)

UPDATE @ May 8

Here is the text of the "controversial" Cochran S.Amdt.1010, which amended the Dorgan prescription drug importation amendment, S.Amdt.990. It more or less cut the legs off the Dorgan amendment, but in an interesting way. It transfers the power to regulate prescription drug importation from Congress to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

SEC. __. PROTECTION OF HEALTH AND SAFETY.

    This title, and the amendments made by this title, shall become effective only if the Secretary of Health and Human Services certifies to Congress that the implementation of this title (and amendments) will--

    (1) pose no additional risk to the public's health and safety; and

    (2) result in a significant reduction in the cost of covered products to the American consumer.

Anyway, both amendments passed, Dorgan's on a voice vote.

---===---

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

[April 6, 2006] Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I agree with much of what Senator Craig said--particularly about the ineffectiveness at the border. Let's be real frank and honest about the bill we have today. The reason we are in trouble today, the reason we are not going to be able to pass this legislation is that the bill is a failure. It is a colossal failure. It is a dead horse. It has been lying out in the sun, and people have been having to look at it, and they are now able to smell it. A few amendments and a compromise is not going to revive this. It doesn't do what we want it to do. It has a huge surge in immigration.

The bill, S.2611, did pass, but was never sent to conference to be reconciled with H.R.4437. Senate Republicans were the hold-up on arranging a House/Senate conference.

UPDATE @ 21:10

Circuit denies new review of Second Amendment, on the city of Washington D.C. request for rehearing en banc on the Parker case, the DC Circuit said "No."

---===---

The White House position on immigration reform is the same as it was last year.

'Grand bargain' reached on immigration

Another senior Republican who has been closely involved with intense negotiations on the proposed reform, Senator Lindsey Graham said he was optimistic, but that it was still a 50/50 chance whether the bill would make it through the Senate.

Even "Masters of the Universe" can be Masters of the Obvious. I have a wait and see attitude, but will be surprised if Congress rises to the challenge of fixing immigration in a way that is good for the long-term health of the country.

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