Monday, May 14, 2007

Senate Week of May 14, 2007

A rough outline of plans for the week:

  • H.R.1495 - Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Monday - vote on Tuesday
  • Confirm a Judicial Nominee (Debra Ann Livingston to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit)
  • Take a cloture vote on Motion to Proceed to S.1348 - Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (planned for Wednesday, rescheduled to Monday the 21st)
  • Debate and vote on House-passed Iraq Supplemental H.R.2206 (note the House also passed H.R.2207, which contains some, but not all, of the ancillary pork)
  • If it comes through the House, vote on the budget resolution

No "new" immigration bill has been proposed or introduced. This is not a malfunction of your receiver, please stand by while the transmitter (the Senate) makes adjustments.

There are not enough Senators to stall an open-borders immigration bill from being considered. The number of open-borders Republicans is sufficient to pass S.2611 again, if that is what comes up. I doubt that's what will come up, just opining that if it did, it would pass.

Other items making my radar screen are:

  • H.R.2082 - Intelligence Appropriations
  • S.1027 - Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT Act)
  • Law of the Sea Treaty

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I continue to have an interest in the evolution of law in the area of detention and process relating to known and suspected terrorists. Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog has composed two awesome summaries ...

Primer on detainees' status now -- Part I
Primer on detainees' status now -- Part II

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Senator Reid is planning to attach a couple of Iraq war conduct issues to the Water Resources bill. Best I can figure, this is either as a matter of expediting their rejection, or avoiding them being poison pills (if passed) to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill.

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The Immigration bill is S.1348. Its full text is available for review. According to Senator Reid, "The bill I placed on the calendar is the same bill the Senate passed last year overwhelmingly with 23 Republicans voting in favor of the legislation."


UPDATE @ May 15

The procedural posture for the Iraq-related amendments to the WRDA is interesting. The proposed Iraq-related amendments (on which no vote has been agreed to) amend the original WRDA language, which will eventually be completely replaced by substitute amendment, S.Amdt 1065. Or, at least that is the usual action when a substitute amendment is passed. The original material is replaced, lock-stock-and-barrel.

The text of both, Reid (for Levin/Reid) Amendment No. 1097 (to the language proposed to be stricken by Amendment No. 1065), to provide for military readiness and benchmarks relative to Iraq, and Reid Amendment No. 1098 (to Amendment No. 1097), to provide for a transition of the Iraq mission, are near the top of yesterday's debate on the WRDA of 2007. Senator Reid seems to have set up a purely symbolic vote that permits the Democrats (and a few Republicans) to yet again express their disapproval of President Bush's use of military force in Iraq, but even if the amendments are passed, neither will be attached to the Iraq emergency supplemental appropriations bill, nor will either be attached to the WRDA of 2007.

Further complicating this charade, Senator Reid must anticipate that there will be an objection to voting on the amendments, even though they (and what they amend) will be stricken. His anticipation is indicated by an agreement that any cloture motion to limit debate on the amendments be treated as though it was filed on Monday.

Senator Durbin, speaking for Senator Reid on Tuesday morning, indicates that cloture votes will occur on these amendments, on Wednesday. But bear in mind that passing the cloture motion ordinarily starts a 30 hour debate clock, so even obtaining cloture on the controversial Iraq-relate amendments can put a vote on the Water Resources bill out to late Thursday, with the Senate also needing to complete action on H.R.2206 - The Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill, by the end of the week.

Also pending under the Water Resources Development Act are Coburn Amendment No. 1089 (to Amendment No. 1065), to prioritize federal spending to ensure the needs of Louisiana residents who lost their homes as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are met before spending money to design or construct a nonessential visitors center, and Coburn Amendment No. 1090 (to Amendment No. 1065), to prioritize federal spending to ensure the residents of the city of Sacramento are protected from the threat of floods before spending money to add sand to beaches in San Diego. Pretty funny to hear Senators Boxer and Landrieu defend their pork projects in detail.

Immigration is another impending action, with a cloture vote on proceeding to take up S.1348 being scheduled for Wednesday. The Democrats seem concerned that cloture will not be obtained on taking the immigration bill up for debate.

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Senator Durbin is praising the Republican House members that comprise the Republican Tuesday Group, for their confronting President Bush and objecting to his specific uses of the military in Iraq. These moderates are cut from the same cloth and ideologies as the Republican Main Street Partnership.

UPDATE @ 11:35

Senator Coburn notes that his amendment does not defund a beach project, it sets priorities for future appropriations. A bit disingenuous, if, as a matter of available funds, the beach project is not above the cut-off point.

He is right, that the levee system in San Joaquin valley deserves a much higher priority than Pacific Ocean beach erosion. And at this point of authorization, there should not be an objection to setting easy priorities. Senator Coburn has the better argument in this amendment, but I predict the amendment will be rejected on a 35-61 vote.

AYE votes are sparse, so far only Ensign, Feingold, Coburn, Sununu and Lugar - with Stevens, Specter, Coleman, Vitter and other Republicans voting against. "Pork over Prioritization," the Senate has a "Law of the Jungle" aura about it, especially when it comes to pork.

UPDATE @ 12:07

Senator Coburn's S.Amdt. 1090, to prioritize future appropriations so levees in the San Joaquin valley have preference over beaches in Imperial Beach, was
REJECTED on a 12-77 vote.
AYE Votes: Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Coburn, Ensign, Feingold, Gregg, Lott, Lugar, Sessions, Smith, and Sununu

The objective of the overwhelming rejection is to discourage Senator Coburn from mounting similar "attacks on pork" in the future. Each Senator fears that one of their projects may be held up to the light of publicity; with the vote on the present amendment serving as an example of Senatorial solidarity against Senator Coburn's efforts to show the details of federal spending, to the taxpayers who fund it.

Order of voting this afternoon, agreed by unanimous consent:

  • S.Amdt. 1072 to be offered, debated and withdrawn
  • Coburn S.Amdt. 1089 to be debated and voted (I suspect Coburn will withdraw this amendment)
  • Feingold S.Amdt. 1086, to establish a Water Commission to set water project priorities

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TheHill.com - Bench battle resumes over new nominee

"With respect to the nomination of Peter Keisler, that re-nomination is controversial," Leahy said. "He was previously nominated in June of 2006 but was not considered by the Republican majority then in control. The Republican majority did not seek to proceed with this controversial nomination at that time."

UPDATE @ 13:40

Godspeed, Reverend Falwell.

UPDATE @ 13:55

An interesting piece by Marty Lederman at Balkinize, on the subject of the NSA Surveillance program, and the old news of Comey's belief that it was illegal.

Comey Testifies that the President Broke the Law - apparently during today's "Preserving Prosecutorial Independence" hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

More on the same subject at Volokh, including a link to a testimony transcript, in the comments.

UPDATE @ 14:47

Senator Coburn's S.Amdt. 1089, to prioritize future appropriations so home reconstruction in Louisiana will have preference over a visitor's center, was also
REJECTED, this one on a 11-79 vote.

UPDATE @ 15:15

Senator Feingold's (cosponsored by McCain, Coburn, Carper, Gregg, Sununu and DeMint) S.Amdt. 1086, to create a Water Commission to prioritize water projects was
REJECTED on a 22-69 vote.

UPDATE @ 15:20

Senator Hagel making a speech about Iraq, that a new direction is required because the present direction is doomed to fail - and he adds that war should never be a wedge political issue. He calls for a UN mediator. Who'd have thought that Hagel was a globalist?

Senator Dodd recognizes the position of Senator Hagel, and plans to use past quotes of Hagel's in his comments. All of this is prelude to tomorrow's cloture votes to limit debate on the Iraq amendments to the Water Resources Bill.

UPDATE @ 15:42

Senator Inhofe comments about the remarks of Senators Hagel and Dodd, "It would be disrespectful of me to ask, after hearing them talk, 'What have they been smoking?'" He reiterates his observations of action on the ground in Iraq, and that the Iraqi people are picking up the ball - contrary to what the "cut and run crowd" asserts.

There will be 2 and half hours of debate on the Kerry amendment. I have no idea what that is about, but whatever it is, the UC agreement provides that 60 votes are required for it to pass, which leads me to think it is destined to go down on a party-line basis.

UPDATE @ 15:58

Senator Kerry's S.Amdt. 1094 would require the Corps of Engineers to consider "climate change" as part of their project planning. Maine Senator Collins has signed on to this claptrap, mumbo-jumbo. Kerry cites a peer-reviewed scientific study that asserts global warming is unequivocal, and a 90% chance that human activity is the primary cause of this. Pass the kool-aid please, and please make mine with Everclear.

SEC. 2__X. GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE.

(a) Planning Considerations.--To account for the potential long- and short-term effects of global climate change, the Secretary shall ensure that each feasibility study or general reevaluation report prepared by the Corps of Engineers--

  (1) takes into consideration, and accounts for, the impacts of global climate change on flood, storm, and drought risks in the United States;

  (2) takes into consideration, and accounts for, potential future impacts of global climate change-related weather events, such as increased hurricane activity, intensity, storm surge, sea level rise, and associated flooding;

  (3) uses the best-available climate science in assessing flood and storm risks;

  (4) employs, to the maximum extent practicable, nonstructural approaches and design modifications to avoid or prevent impacts to streams, wetlands, and floodplains that provide natural flood and storm buffers, improve water quality, serve as recharge areas for aquifers, reduce floods and erosion, and provide valuable plant, fish, and wildlife habitat;

  (5) in projecting the benefits and costs of any water resources project that requires a benefit-cost analysis, quantifies and, to the maximum extent practicable, accounts for--
    (A) the costs associated with damage or loss to wetlands, floodplains, and other natural systems (including the habitat, water quality, flood protection, and recreational values associated with the systems); and
    (B) the benefits associated with protection of those systems; and

  (6) takes into consideration, as applicable, the impacts of global climate change on emergency preparedness projects for ports.

(b) Additional Considerations for Flood Damage Reduction Projects.--For purposes of planning and implementing flood damage reduction projects in accordance with this section and section 73 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1974 (33 U.S.C. 701b-11), the term ``nonstructural approaches and design modifications'' includes measures to manage flooding through--

  (1) wetland, stream, and river restoration;

  (2) avoiding development or increased development in frequently-flooded areas;

  (3) adopting flood-tolerant land uses in frequently-flooded areas; or

  (4) acquiring from willing sellers floodplain land for use for--
    (A) flood protection uses;
    (B) recreational uses;
    (C) fish and wildlife uses; or
    (D) other public benefits.

Senator Kerry's S.Amdt. 1094, to require the Corps of Engineers to consider "climate change" as part of their project planning, was
REJECTED on a 51-42 vote.

UPDATE @ 18:52

Senator Reid has introduced a handful of amendments that apply Iraq-related conditions on H.R.2206, the emergency supplemental appropriations. The amendments are Reid-McConnell sponsored, so will be handled in some fashion. I'll have to wait for the Record to sort everything out in detail, but we have S.Amdts. 1124 1123 through 1128 to H.R.2206, and a stack of two cloture motions to be conducted late Thursday morning. The first cloture motion relates to limiting debate on the Reid-McConnell amendment, the second relates to limiting debate on H.R.2206.

The heavy arm-twisting will be between the House/Senate conference and the White House.

And Senator Warner wants a piece of the symbolic vote action, introducing S.Amdt.1134 to the underlying WRDA bill that will eventually be replaced by the substitute amendment.


UPDATE @ May 16

Text of Amendments 1112-1135

Each of the Reid/McConnell amendments (numbered 1123 through 1128) to the Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations strikes the entirety of the House-passed bill (H.R.2206) and substitutes a "Sense of the Congress" statement. No money appropriated. This, of course, insures a conference.

Senator Obama gets into the "pollute the water resources bill with amendments about the Iraq war" act, with his S.Amdt.1130. Accompaniment to Warner's S.Amdt.1134.

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The cloture vote on proceeding to the immigration bill has been pushed out to next week Monday ...

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to S. 1348 occur on Monday, May 21, no earlier than 5.30 p.m., and that if cloture is invoked, the motion be agreed to without any intervening action or debate.

... Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Senator Sessions have up to 3 hours under his control to speak on Monday, May 21; that the hour prior to cloture be reserved for the two leaders or their designees; and that Senator Sessions also have 2 hours under his control on Tuesday, May 22, when and if we go to the immigration matter.

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The budget resolution is S.Con.Res.21, and the conference report on it may be taken up this Thursday, without objection.

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Senator Reid has scheduled votes starting at 10:30 today, on motions to invoke cloture on:

  • Feingold second-degree amendment No. 1098 - Adds "transition the mission" to Levin's Amdt. 1097
  • Levin amendment No. 1097 - Imposes mission-readiness criteria for troop deployment, Iraq government benchmarks, etc.
  • Warner amendment No. 1134 - Imposes benchmarks for Iraq government performance
  • Cochran amendment No. 1135 - Sense of the Senate to send an Iraq Supplemental to the president by May 28th
All of these amendments are to the water resources bill, and each of them, even if taken up and passed, would be "wiped out" unless somehow incorporated into the water bill's manager's amendment or substitute amendment without objection.

The Senate has again crafted an exquisitely confusing morass.

UPDATE @ 11:08

The first of the stacked symbolic-only votes has been concluded. The motion to invoke cloture on Senator Feingold's S.Amdt. 1098, to impose a date certain "transition the Iraq mission," was
SOUNDLY REJECTED on a 29-67 vote.

Levin's amendment is withdrawn along with Feingold's, but it should be reviewed to understand the difference between Democrat and Republican approach to the issue. I also note that the Levin amendment would have been rejected with the margin of rejection of Feingold.

Comparing the Levin and Warner amendments, the two amendments share the notion of benchmarks for the performance of the Iraqi government, but the benchmarks are radically different, plus Levin adds a requirement to either reduce troop levels or obtaining a presidential waiver if the benchmarks aren't met, and also adds troop readiness and rotation criteria as conditions for deployment.

Levin Benchmarks

(I) enacted a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis;

(ii) adopted legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections including setting a schedule to conduct provincial and local elections;

(iii) reformed current laws governing the de-Baathification process to allow for more equitable treatment of individuals affected by such laws;

(iv) amended the Constitution of Iraq consistent with the principles contained in Article 140 of such constitution, including, at a minimum, the submission of such amendments to the Iraqi Parliament for the protection of minority rights; and

(v) allocated and expended $10,000,000,000 in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.


Warner Benchmarks

(A) Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the Constitutional review;

(B) Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification;

(C) Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner;

(D) Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions;

(E) Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission; provincial elections law; provincial council authorities; and a date for provincial elections;

(F) Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty;

(G) Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the Constitution of Iraq;

(H) Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan;

(I) Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations;

(J) Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S. commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias;

(K) Ensuring that the Iraqi Security Forces are providing even-handed enforcement of the law;

(L) Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Maliki said ``the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation'';

(M) Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security;

(N) Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad;

(O) Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently;

(P) Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected;

(Q) Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis; and

(R) Ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the ISF.

I think Warner's amendment has a chance of reaching the 60 vote threshold, for what it's worth.

Lots of Democrats voting for Warner's amendment. Landrieu, Byrd ... but also many Republicans voting against it. A mix of objection, no doubt, with one side (reflected by Durbin's comment) objecting because the measure doesn't force a withdrawal, and the other side objecting (I speculate) either because the measure interferes with presidential prerogative or because it should not be attached to an emergency supplemental.

UPDATE @ 11:31

The motion to invoke cloture on Senator Warner's S.Amdt. 1134, to impose Iraq government benchmarks, was
REJECTED on a 52-44 vote.

Bad prediction on my part, that Warner's amendment might carry. Cochran's ought to.

Heheh. Senator Reid suggested the cloture motion be passed on a voice vote, but the Senate Rules have a mandatory roll call vote. However, having viewed the Senate for some time, there is ALWAYS a way to circumvent ANY rule, even when the result is unconstitutional, such as the Senate imposing a de facto 60 vote threshold for confirming an executive nomination.

At any rate, the cloture motion could have been withdrawn, followed by a voice vote on the amendment itself. Not that it matters, because the amendment would be wiped out when the WRDA substitute amendment completely overwrites the text of amended H.R.1495.

UPDATE @ 11:49

The motion to invoke cloture on Senator Cochran's S.Amdt. 1135, to express a sense of the Senate that Congress should send a supplemental appropriation bill to the president by May 28th, was
PASSED on a 87-09 vote.

Now a voice vote on the amendment itself, which carries. So, will we see the language in the WRDA bill when it passes the Senate? I think not!

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A Houston Chronicle Op-Ed (hat tip to howappealing.law.com) indicates some resistance to the confirmation of Leslie Southwick to the Fifth Circuit Court. She is the only "fresh" Circuit Court nominee, all the others currently pending were first nominated during the 109th Congress.

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Howappealing.law.com also has the best collection of links re: Deputy AG Comey's May 15 testimony, including links to his complete testimony as published in the Washington Post.

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The FAS is hosting a CRS publication, RL33999 - Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations that is an excellent summary and roadmap of upcoming Congressional Action.

Also of interest is RL33668 - The Speech or Debate Clause: Recent Developments, which touches on the search of Congressman Jefferson's (Democrat, Louisiana) congressional office space.


UPDATE @ May 17

More empty BS this morning. As noted above, the Reid/McConnell amendment to the emergency supplemental, H.R.2206, contains ZERO substance. The Senate votes on the emergency supplemental simply shift the action out of daylight and into a House/Senate/White House conference process.

All the appropriating language in the House-passed H.R.2206 is stricken, and in its place, the following "Sense of Congress" language ...

SA 1123. Mr REID (for himself and Mr. McConnell) proposed an amendment to the bill H.R. 2206, making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes; as follows:

Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

Since under the Constitution, the President and Congress have shared responsibilities for decisions on the use of the Armed Forces of the United States, including their mission, and for supporting the Armed Forces, especially during wartime;

Since when the Armed Forces are deployed in harm's way, the President, Congress, and the Nation should give them all the support they need in order to maintain their safety and accomplish their assigned or future missions, including the training, equipment, logistics, and funding necessary to ensure their safety and effectiveness, and such support is the responsibility of both the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch of Government; and

Since thousands of members of the Armed Forces who have fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan are not receiving the kind of medical care and other support this Nation owes them when they return home: Now, therefore, be it

Determined by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That it is the Sense of Congress that--

(1) the President and Congress should not take any action that will endanger the Armed Forces of the United States, and will provide necessary funds for training, equipment, and other support for troops in the field, as such actions will ensure their safety and effectiveness in preparing for and carrying out their assigned missions;

(2) the President, Congress, and the Nation have an obligation to ensure that those who have bravely served this country in time of war receive the medical care and other support they deserve; and

(3) the President and Congress should--

(A) continue to exercise their constitutional responsibilities to ensure that the Armed Forces have everything they need to perform their assigned or future missions; and

(B) review, assess, and adjust United States policy and funding as needed to ensure our troops have the best chance for success in Iraq and elsewhere.

The motion to invoke cloture on Senators Reid and McConnell's S.Amdt. 1123, to express a sense of the Senate regarding emergency appropriations, was
PASSED (at 10:58) on a 94-01 vote.
Senator Feingold cast the only NAY vote.

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Following the empty (but procedurally necessary) votes on the emergency supplemental, the Senate will move on to the conference report for S.Con.Res. 21 (setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2008) while it is waiting for the House to act on that conference report. Senator Byrd wants a roll call vote on the amended supplemental, but it passed on a voice vote. And the Senate moves on to other subjects.

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Senator Specter pipes up on the immigration bill, noting 60 hours or so of meetings comprising 10-12 Senators, where the objective of the meetings was to draft proposed statutory language on the immigration subject. He notes that the Judiciary Committee was bypassed through this entire process. He must be one of the "Masters of the Universe," as Senator Sessions refers to those who prefer to work out of the public eye.

President Bush, more appropriately, his assistants, are also in this group of "Masters," and have been participating in crafting the proposed language.

Senator Sessions's speech of May 17 (starts on page S6174) is better than the one Senator Specter just gave. I suppose it's close to time to hunt for the proposed language for the immigration bill.

The "masters" are: Specter, Kennedy, Schumer, Kyl, at least two high-ranking Bush administration officials (Reuters - Lawmakers close in on immigration overhaul). Others must be hiding in the wings. Cornyn and McCain are "masters" too, I think.

"... the key negotiators are a group of five, bipartisan senators: Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Ken Salazar, D-Calif., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. ... One of the key negotiators, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C." Named in The Moderate Voice, White House Senate Immigration Bill Deal May Be Easiest Part: Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The two high-ranking Bush administration officials are the Secretary of Homeland Security (Chertoff) and the Secretary of Commerce (Carlos M. Gutierrez). According to Senator Specter's speech, these two officials have been present for the duration of every meeting conducted.

Still searching for the proposed text of the bill ...

LA Times - Senate nearing immigration bill: "The two sides have come to agreement on the Dream Act, a provision that would allow young illegal immigrants to attend college at in-state tuition rates and eventually gain citizenship. Democrats and Republicans also agreed on a jobs program for the agriculture industry."

Temporary in name only. From Washington Post's Immigration Overhaul Is Closer to Senate Floor ...

Perhaps more importantly, two powerful service unions -- the Service Employees International Union and Unite Here -- have threatened to pull their support from any immigration bill that would not give temporary workers a way to remain in the country, fearing that a truly temporary program would drive down wages for low-skill work.

UPDATE @ 16:10

The conference report for S.Con.Res. 21 (budget resolution) appears to be passing on a party-line vote. The conference report for S.Con.Res.21, Congressional Budget Resolution for 2008, was
PASSED on a 52-40 vote.

Last vote of the week. Miller time.

UPDATE @ 16:42

The chair just now named Senate conferees for H.R.2206, the emergency supplemental. There were five. Senators Byrd, Inouye, Reid, McConnell, and Cochran. Secrecy of negotiations will be similar to the secrecy associated with the immigration package, as both issues include the direct involvement of White House actors on a subject that creates political heat.

Compare the number and names above with the conferees for the WRDA bill: The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair, as to H.R. 1495, appoints Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Carper, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Warner, Mr. Voinovich, Mr. Isakson, and Mr. Vitter conferees on the part of the Senate.

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I'd like to see one of these charts on the subject of immigration ...

At about 6 PM (18:00), Senator McConnell expressed that he thinks divided government creates a possibility for securing immigration (and Social Security) reform.

Was I right or not? At the close of business today, the Senate is done for the weekend. Next action is a decision to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the consideration of whatever immigration bill is floating around "out there."

Have I mentioned that I am seriously annoyed by self-proclaimed elites conducting negotiation and debate on statutes in secret? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


UPDATE @ May 18

This is a decent summary of the negotiated position on immigration ... the text of S.1348 is just a placeholder (supposedly it's the same as last year's S.2611), and will probably be totally discarded. But The Gotcher Law Group, PC has put out ...

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)

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May 17 Statements on Immigration Reform

Senator Specter
Senators Menendez and Martinez

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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.

    Ordered further, That relative to the cloture motion filed on the motion to proceed to S. 1348, the mandatory quorum required under Rule XXII be waived.

    Ordered further, That the Senator from Alabama (Mr. Sessions) be recognized for up to 2 hours on Tuesday, May 22, 2007. (May 14, 16, 2007.)


UPDATE @ May 18

National Review Online has posted the draft language for the Immigration bill.

http://www2.nationalreview.com/dest/2007/05/19/immigrationdraft051807.pdf

[Kathryn Jean Lopez] Comment at the time of posting.

This Mark Steyn comment is good, and so is this John Podhoretz "channeling" a Senate staffer. Mark Krikorian rebuts J. Pod, and we all get to make up our own opinions. Now, with a bit more substance to refer to.

The Heritage Foundation has also posted the PDF Draft of the Senate immigration proposal, with brief commentary.

UPDATE @ May 19

I am negatively impressed with the fact that supposedly well-informed people, like Hugh Hewitt and Bill Kristol (on FoxNews Sunday), are asserting that the cloture vote on the immigration bill is to limit debate on the bill. What part of: "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" do they not understand? If the commentators don't take the time to read and understand a cloture motion, I don't trust them to read and understand a bill as complex as the immigration reform package?

Well, actually, that's not news - I generally "trust but verify" anyway, and again urge readers to do exactly that, just because what is generally passed off as news and informed commentary is often enough gross misinformation and spin. And while I aim to be objective and correct, my comments on this blog have been known to be false too. Not on purpose, but hey, we all make mistakes.

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From the New York Times (Senators in Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Bill, by ROBERT PEAR and JIM RUTENBERG, May 18, 2007), from the caption of an accompanying photo, more names of Senators associated with negotiating the immigration reform package: "... Dianne Feinstein, Mel Martinez, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson and Ken Salazar."

If they had any guts, each of the participants in crafting the compromise would sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor. For now I suppose it's the Kennedy/McCain/(Bush) bill.

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A couple of good comments from Mark Steyn this morning. On immigration ...

Instead of attempting to draw the undocumented out of the shadows, it might be fairer to allow the rest of us to "live in the shadows", too. My suggestion is that, on the day this bill comes into effect, all 300 million US citizens and legal residents should apply for a Z visa.

And on honoring the heros of Flight 93 ...

A true Flight 93 memorial would honor courage, action and improvisation, but reflection, healing and wetlands are the best we can manage. Go to any Civil War memorial on any New England common, and marvel at how they managed to honor their dead without wetlands and wind chimes.

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