Monday, June 11, 2007

Senate - Week of June 11, 2007

The bulk of this week will be occupied with consideration of H.R.6 - CLEAN Energy Act of 2007. More on that later. First, a preview of the coming week as I now see it. Keep my mediocre prediction skills firmly in mind.

H.R.6 - Summary of Action
June 11: S.Amdts. 1500 - 1504
June 11: (S.Amdt.1502 is in the nature of a substitute)
June 12: S.Amdts. 1505 - 1527
June 13: S.Amdts. 1528 - 1561
June 14: S.Amdts. 1561 - 1609
June 15: S.Amdts. 1610 - 1622

Debate of June 12: Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV
Debate of June 13: Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV
Debate of June 14: Part I
Debate of June 15: Part I - Part II

Scooter Libby Case

On Thursday, we take another step toward learning whether or not Scooter Libby will be free on bail, pending the outcome of his appeal. I predict that Judge Walton will deny the motion that Libby filed last week Thursday, and that denial will be appealed and decided against Libby in short order. "In short order" being approximately the same 45-60 day timeframe before the Department of Prisons will be ready to take Libby in as a prisoner. See for a procedural and timeframe parallel, Miller and Cooper requests to be able to choose their detention sites when the Court found them in contempt.

The Circuit Court of Appeals had no issue with the propriety of Fitzgerald's appointment when it reviewed the lower court decisions in those (press shield) cases, and arguably, press shield is a more compelling interest than is the fate of a single person convicted of making false statements.

There is a bit of potential political fallout to a finding that Fitzgerald's appointment was defective, namely that being a basis for concluding that President Bush either wanted the investigation to fail "on a technicality," and/or that he isn't capable of making a constitutional appointment for investigating his own administration.

Deadlines and schedule for the present filings: Libby's Brief was filed on 6/7/2007, Government's Responses are due 6/12/2007 by 9:00 a.m. (text here); Libby's Replies are due 6/13/2007 by 9:00 a.m. (text here) Judge Walton has granted a request by amicus for filing a brief in favor of Libby. The Motion Hearing originally set for 6/14/07 at 1:30 pm was reset for 6/14/2007 11:30 AM.

Congressional Ethics Reform

Senators Reid and McConnell are working toward moving H.R.2316, Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, and H.R.2317, Lobbying Transparency Act of 2007, to a House-Senate conference. Neither bill has been debated in the Senate, both bills are on the Senate's legislative calendar. If Senator Reid can't obtain agreement to take up the Energy Bill, he may move to take these up.

Stem Cell Research Funding

On June 4, Senator Reid predicted the Stem Cell Research Funding bill that emerges from House-Senate conference will be veto-proof.

MEMORIAL DAY RECESS

Stem cell research, giving hope to millions of Americans, was again passed in this body, and we expect to send it to the President after conferencing with the House, which we expect to do in the next couple of weeks, and we think in the Senate we are going to send a veto-proof bill to him.

The Senate language (text) of S.5 - Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, was passed by the House on June 7, on a 247-176 vote. That is, there was no conference committee, because the House agreed with the Senate. Anyway, to the larger point, this is not a veto-proof majority in the House. The Senate vote of 63-34, on April 11, wasn't veto-proof either. GOP members in favor of the bill are Bennett, Burr, Cochran, Collins, Gregg, Hatch, Hutchison, Lott, Lugar, McCain, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens and Warner. Senator Casey voted the same way Senator Santorum would have.

President Bush expressed disappointment in the House vote, and went on record as planning to veto the bill. If he vetoes it this week, there will be discussion in the Senate.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

At 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 11, 2007, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.J.Res.14, a joint resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people.

At 5:30 p.m. without intervening action or debate, the Senate will proceed to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S.J.Res.14.

There are interesting historical precedents in the general area of using cloture to avoid taking up a politically-motivated hot potato. From April to May, 1996, the Senate had a series of eight cloture motions and six failed cloture votes on a motion proceed to S.Res.227 - an original resolution to authorize the use of additional funds for salaries and expenses of the Special Committee to Investigate Whitewater Development Corporation and Related Matters. The Senate never took the matter up formally, but it sure spent a few hours talking about it.

A substantial number of contentious judicial nominations were quashed by a similar procedural mechanism, when the Senate refused to take them up for consideration. Some of the nominations obtained multiple failed cloture motions on the equivalent of a motion to proceed.

The no-confidence proposal against AG Gonzales will suffer a similar fate. The joint resolution won't be formally brought up for consideration, even under multiple cloture motions to proceed to consider. But all the while, the Senate will be "debating" the suitability of Gonzales for the AG post and be grousing about the impropriety of abusing cloture.

Today's cloture vote will be straight party line. The Republicans who want AG Gonzales to resign (e.g., Arlen Specter) will assert that a no-confidence process is abhorrent to our system of government, and that other methods should be used to apply pressure. If Specter really does what I think he will (disagree with the process, as foreign to the US system), it will be ironic coming from the senator who voted the Scottish "not proven" on articles of impeachment against President Clinton.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

This issue will come back, but not in strong force this week. I expect some speeches expressing disappointment in having set it aside, etc. Just enough chatter to make it sensible when the bill is again brought to the floor for consideration. And there will be some amount of news reporting driven by White House pressure on the issue.

Immigration Bill Isn't Dead Yet
By Robert Bluey - Sunday, June 10, 2007

This year's immigration debate has made one thing crystal clear: the White House is intent on winning "comprehensive" immigration reform. Its messaging operation was in overdrive for three solid weeks, producing eight fact sheets and four documents that "debunked" so-called "myths" about the bill. It dispatched Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Press Secretary Tony Snow to meetings of conservative leaders in Washington, D.C. Perhaps most surprisingly, it monitored conservative blogs such as RedState and National Review and dispatched counter-arguments to their criticisms with the kind of speed and intensity one would like to see among those charged with enforcing immigration law.

Procedurally, S.1348, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, is still pending before the Senate.

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Rather than reinvent the wheel, I see that Wikipedia has a brief, plain-language summary of opposing sides of the Energy act that the Senate will be debating for the next couple of days or so. The bill is more or less a package of tax and fee redistribution, along with some tax-funded industry subsidies. Grover Norquist characterizes the bill as "rais[ing] taxes on domestic energy production." I see it the same way, this is a bad bill, but par for the federal government's willingness to manage our economy (and everything else) for us.

Wikipedia - CLEAN Energy Act of 2007

H.R.6 - Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act of 2007

Congressional Research Service Summary
Congressional Budget Office Report

The CBO report paints the bill as producing a gain in revenue to the federal government, but the total dollar amounts are on the order of one billion dollars per year. In other words, the ramifications of the bill will be felt more at the early stage of exploration and production (that is, decisions to proceed or not), than by consumers, at the pump (all taxes eventually appear in the cost of goods).

UPDATE @ 14:13

Perhaps another busy week in detainee cases, this time with regard to a detainee who has never been to Gitmo. I suppose some "growing pains" are inevitable when the government attempts to implement radical changes in arrest and detention procedure, as some suggest, the militarization of law enforcement without the hassle of declaring martial law.

Howard Bashman has initial links to stories (including one to a good article at ScotusBlog, and a link to the 4th Circuit opinion) at Man labeled 'enemy combatant' wins court case, a reference to al-Marri. The Fourth Circuit has ruled that al-Marri must be released from military custody. I suppose he can join Padilla in being tried as a civilian, or maybe not - no doubt the government will appeal today's decision.

While criminal proceedings were underway against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the President ordered the military to seize and detain him indefinitely as an enemy combatant. ... on December 12, 2001, FBI agents arrested al-Marri at his home in Peoria as a material witness in the Government's investigation of the September 11th attacks. Al-Marri was imprisoned in civilian jails in Peoria and then New York City.

The Government then returned al-Marri to Peoria and he was re- indicted in the Central District of Illinois on the same seven counts, to which he again pleaded not guilty. The district court set a July 21, 2003 trial date. On Friday, June 20, 2003, the court scheduled a hearing on pre-trial motions, including a motion to suppress evidence against al-Marri assertedly obtained by torture. On the following Monday, June 23, before that hearing could be held, the Government moved ex parte to dismiss the indictment based on an order signed that morning by the President.

[Since that order, issued in June of 2003, al-Marri has been imprisoned without charge in a military jail in South Carolina.

Here's where the Senate will chime in ...

The statute does not eliminate § 2241 jurisdiction in cases filed by an alien whom "the United States has determined is an enemy combatant" or who "has been detained as an enemy combatant." Rather the MCA [Military Commissions Act of 2006] only eliminates § 2241 jurisdiction over a habeas petition filed by an alien who "has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant" (emphasis added). ...

To the extent that the plain language of the MCA does not clearly state who is "awaiting" a determination, its context and legislative history make clear that this phrase does not apply to persons, like al-Marri, captured and held within the United States.

The holding is thought-provoking, and is sure to generate a significant amount of analysis by the likes of Balkin, Volokh and others. My first take, on skimming the opinion, agrees with the majority. Terrorism is a nasty virus in our country, but giving a president unilateral power to invoke military detention against legal residents is a cure that I wouldn't give to a President Clinton, and it would be inconsistent to say it's okay for President Bush to wield it.

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Senator Reid announces a willingness to resume consideration of the immigration bill, following action on the energy bill (he had planned to go to Defense Authorization), conditioned on President Bush being able to persuade enough Republican Senators to vote "Aye" on a cloture motion. I figure there is plenty of room for an agreement between Democrats and Republicans to resume consideration of the comprehensive immigration reform bill, such as permitting a certain number of amendments before calling for a cloture vote. Maybe immigration will be up again as early as late this week.

Senator McConnell reinforces my impression that the Republicans are agreeable to proceed on the immigration bill, with the difference between Republican and Democrat leadership being measured as a day or two of additional pre-cloture debate. Senator McConnell is pleased that Senator Reid is willing to entertain the immigration bill so soon.

UPDATE @ 15:35

Here's Senator Hatch, explaining that no confidence votes are for parliamentary systems of government, not for our system of government. Senator Specter had some words too ... I wasn't paying attention, so will have to come back to see if he objected to this process, and if he did, if he had a similar rationale for objecting.

UPDATE @ 17:02

A selection of links relating to the 4th Circuit's al-Marri decision. The government will move for an en banc rehearing of the case.

al-Marri v. Wright (4th Circuit docket 06-7427) [165 kb PDF]

Lyle Denniston - President denied authority to detain civilians in U.S.

Marty Lederman - al Marri -- Big News From the Fourth Circuit
Marty Lederman - al-Marri Reactions I -- The Hidden Alternative Holding

Bobby Chesney - 86 Pages Later, Some Early Reactions to al-Marri
Bobby Chesney - al-Marri v. Wright (4th Circuit grants habeas)

Orin Kerr (at Volokh) - Fourth Circuit Rules That Suspected Terrorist ...

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At 16:50, Senator Schumer notes the no-confidence resolution is a rare measure. That's an understatement. Any Senator who goes along with taking this up is making the same sort of deep process-oriented error as those who think the use of cloture to stop the taking of a confirmation vote of an executive nominee is a legitimate exercise of Senate power.

The vote on whether or not to consider the Gonzales no-confidence resolution is moved out to about 5:50 p.m.

Good job by Senator McConnell to take the political sting out of the anti-Gonzales resolution, by challenging Senator Schumer on the propriety of using the upcoming vote as material for a political campaign. Senator Lott challenges the "no confidence" process as contrary to our form of government at worst, partisan politics and waste of time at best. Then, Senator Lott says the Senate hasn't done much legislating in the past three years - LOL, but true.

UPDATE @ 17:54

Senator Reid somehow ties torture in to this bitch-fest against AG Gonzales. And at 17:54, voting begins. "Has there been a call for yeas and nays?," he asks. Again? Senator Reid, yeas and nays are mandatory for votes on cloture motions. I predict a rejection on a 49-46 margin.

At 18:16, the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.J.Res.14 - A joint resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people, was
REJECTED on a 53 - 38 vote.
GOP Aye votes: Coleman, Collins, Hagel, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Sununu
"DEM" Nay votes: Lieberman (see the value in being a "declared Independent")
"Present" vote: Stevens (whadda putz)
Not voting: The presidential hopefuls (dreamers), and Johnson.

I didn't expect Coleman or Sununu, the others are the Republican centrists, Republican Main Street members, who aim to boot social conservatism out of the party. More power to them, I hope their strategy has a righteous result.

Now to decide the taking up of the energy bill. This one will pass by a fat margin, and shouldn't even have been subjected to a cloture motion.

UPDATE @ 18:34

The cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the consideration of H.R.6 - CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, was PASSED on a 91 - 00 vote.
I called that one on the nose, except I missed the time for vote conclusion by one minute.

Now a period of morning business, setting up action on the energy bill for tomorrow. I don't have a good handle on the duration of Senate action on this one, maybe as short as two days, not likely to take four days.


UPDATE @ June 12

A high-five to Senator Hatch for this one (the link is to the bulk of debate on the Gonzales joint resolution):

While an average of 39 percent of Americans believe the Attorney General should resign, an average of 56 percent of Americans disapprove of how we are doing our job. Should we all resign?

Senator Specter's position is more complex, but he had this to say about the process of using a no-confidence resolution:

But there is another reason [why people could justifiably vote against cloture]: the Constitution arguably expresses a way to deal with Attorney General Gonzales, and that is by impeachment, as it is not in line to have a resolution of disapproval. ...

Mr. SPECTER. It is my sense that many on this side of the aisle--most, if not almost all--will vote against cloture because there are ample reasons to vote against cloture. But as I look at this matter, as to which is the more weighty, the more compelling, the more important, candidly stating I have no confidence in Attorney General Gonzales or rejecting the outright political chicanery which is involved in this resolution offered by the Democrats, I come down on the side of the interests of the country, and moving for improvements in the Department of Justice is to make a candid statement that I have no confidence in the Attorney General, which I have said repeatedly. It is no surprise. I am going to deal with this resolution on the merits and vote to invoke cloture.

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I've noticed a number of withdrawals from nomination recently, other than judicial that is. It seems the Senate is having its way with President Bush, quietly and under the covers.

  • June 11 - Michael J. Burns, of New Mexico, to be Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs ... sent to the Senate on January 9, 2007.
  • June 5 - Henry Bonilla, of Texas, to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador ... sent to the Senate on March 15, 2007.
  • June 4 - Bruce P. Jackson, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace ... sent to the Senate on March 12, 2007.
  • May 23 - Michael E. Baroody, of Virginia, to be a Commissioner [and Chairman] of the Consumer Product Safety Commission ... sent to the Senate on March 5, 2007.

But Julie Myers is still head of ICE.

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As of 2:15 this afternoon, H.R.6 - CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 will be the formal business of the Senate.

Senators Bingaman, Domenici, Boxer, Inhofe and Enzi will be talking on the merits, says Senator Reid. Senator Reid is already raising the possibility of filing a cloture motion on the bill, just to urge the Senate to move quickly on amendment.

Senator McConnell says the Republicans have a good handle on which amendments they must see debated before agreeing to vote on the bill.

Senator Cornyn quotes a LA Times article that says congressional approval level is at a 10 year low, and uses that as a springboard to criticize Senator Reid for pulling the immigration bill in order to debate taking up the Gonzales no-confidence vote. Then he goes on to discuss the energy bill, in terms of "supply and demand," and asks if this bill creates more supply. Sheesh, the Democrats are all on the demand side. One of these days we'll see then seriously propose something that resembles rationing -- your first gallon a day is $3, the 2nd through 10th are $5 each, and anything over that is $10.

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The text of the bill being debated in the Senate won't be H.R.6 as passed by the House, but will be S.Amdt.1502, the text of which starts at page S7460. It's not flagged as being "in the nature of a substitute," but it opens with ...

Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

Followed by 33 pages of 3 column print in the Congressional Record.

Differences between H.R.6 and S.Amdt.1502 (as further amended) will be addressed in conference, assuming the Senate passes a bill - which I think it will, by Thursday this week.

UPDATE @ 17:00

S.5 - Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, was presented to President Bush today.

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From the White House, a press release ...

President Bush Attends Senate Republican Policy Committee Meeting at U.S. Capitol

We've got to convince the American people that this bill is the best way to enforce our border. I believe without the bill that it's going to be harder to enforce the border. The status quo was unacceptable. I want to thank those senators on both sides of the aisle who understand the time is now to move a comprehensive piece of legislation. The White House will stay engaged.

Yes, the more strict the legal entry rules, the more difficult is is to "enforce the border." Make the bar lower, and it's easier to cross. At any rate, the White House is adjusting its rhetoric to emphasize border enforcement. The contentious issues lie elsewhere in the bill, as all sides agree that border enforcement is "good," and needed.

The White House's Fact Sheet: Ending Chain Migration has some interesting facts about the proposed bill, but omits some useful information. For example, "Finally, the bill caps the overall number of family members that Y visa workers may bring into the U.S." I don't know what the cap is, even after reading the substitute amendment and searching for Y-3. Or this one, "the bill provides that these (Y-visa, temporary worker program) workers may be accompanied by their families ... only if they have the financial means to support them." The proposed statutory language to implement adequate financial means is:

... the annual wage of the principal Y nonimmigrant paid by the principal nonimmigrant's U.S. employer, combined with the annual wage of the principal Y nonimmigrant's spouse where the Y-3 nonimmigrant is a child and the Y nonimmigrant's spouse is a member of the principal Y nonimmigrant's household, is equal to or greater than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level for a household size equal in size

Now, see 2007 Federal Poverty Guidelines to translate that into dollar values, and to get a glimpse into the ramifications of choosing a 150% of poverty level requirement. I wonder what the ramifications are if, after coming in, the family income level drops, say by the loss of the annual wage of the principal Y nonimmigrant's spouse.

UPDATE @ 18:10

Back on the energy tax and government managed economy bill ...
Bayh S.Amdt.1508, to mandate that cars be made to run on bier and get 123 miles per gallon, was
PASSED on a 63 - 30 vote.

Okay, I made up the purpose of the amendment. But I was away when it was introduced and debated, and yesterday's Record contains only amendments 1500 through 1504.

The correct purpose is "To provide for the publication and implementation of an action plan to reduce the quantity of oil used annually in the United States." It can also be referred to as the "Jimmy Carter Memorial 'wear a sweater' Act."

Tomorrow, debate and vote on Inhofe S.Amdt.1505.


UPDATE @ June 13

Pending:

  • Reid Amendment No. 1502, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Inhofe Amendment No. 1505 (to Amendment No. 1502), to improve domestic fuels security.
The time from 10:30 to 11:45 is to debate the Inhofe amendment, with a vote on the amendment to begin at 11:45.

The Inhofe Amendment creates a law that could be referred to as, "Gas Petroleum Refiner Improvement and Community Empowerment Act" or "Gas PRICE Act". Its provisions relate to refinery permitting, developing the Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquid process, and providing federal grant money for commercializing coal-to-liquid and biomass fuel projects on tribal lands and decommissioned military bases.

UPDATE @ 12:15

Inhofe S.Amdt.1505, to invest in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources [coal-to-liquid, biofuels], promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, was REJECTED on a 43 - 52 vote.
GOP Nay votes: Collins and Snowe

I had guessed rejection on a 44-51 vote. Looking for clues in the Record as to how long the energy bill will be before the Senate, Senator Cantwell said "the underlying bill we are going to be considering in the next 2 weeks." I haven't heard an anxious speech from Senator Reid to move the bill along, but so far the number of amendments proposed is 28 (1500 through 1527), and the pace of debate and voting doesn't seem indicative of 2 weeks worth of action.

Next up, dueling amendments of a sort, Bingaman S.Amdt.1537 and Domenici S.Amdt.1538 to amend S.Amdt.1537. Have to listen to the debate to figure out the substance of the amendments. I'm apt to miss it.

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Senator Specter speaks on S.Amdt.1519, to be offered tomorrow, to implement "NOPEC" legislation. This is a profoundly stupid (and arrogant) idea that has been pushed for several years.

H.R.2264 was passed by the House on May 22 this year, and is now on the Senate's Legislative Calendar.

This google search is fruitful, and leads to articles such as Mises Economics Blog: Oil & Gas Wars: Antitrust Abroad.

Conveniently, NOPEC does not make officials of the United States Government liable for any acts they take to restrain trade in oil or gas. This would include, among other things, raising gas taxes, mandating the composition of certain fuels, passing laws that discourage the construction of refineries, and destabilizing the supply of imported oil by invading and occupying Iraq.

NOPEC would be impossible to enforce, but in any case, the bill can be correctly interpreted as an act of war against every oil-exporting nation, even non-OPEC members like Canada. If passed, S. 2557 would make it a crime for members of foreign governments to speak with one another about a subject--oil production and prices--deemed "off limits? by the U.S. government. Additionally, it authorizes the arrest, trial, fining, and imprisonment of foreign officials who act in accordance with their own laws within their own territory. That is not regulating commerce with foreign nations, that is waging war upon them. If a foreign nation imposed similar restrictions upon the United States--perhaps in retaliation for NOPEC--every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee would scream bloody murder.

Even if it passes the Senate, it won't pass Congress now, but I see this sort of demand as a natural stepping stone to world-centralized government and economy. It'll come (world centralized government), the time just isn't ripe yet.

Meanwhile, this proposal is rather hypocritical, in a bill having the ostensible purpose of reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy, calling for reducing the (economic) pressure for reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy.

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In his just-concluded remarks, Senator Dorgan said implementing the energy bill will be exciting. For some reason that reminded me of the punchline, "Grandpa died peacefully, unlike the passengers in his car." Exciting indeed!

UPDATE @ 15:05

Lamar Alexander talks about getting the nitrogen out of the air, and the carbon out of the air, and the mercury out of the air - wants "carbon free emissions." Umm, Lamar, Dihydrogen monoxide is a greenhouse gas too. At any rate, after we get all the gases out of air, we'll be living in "space" just as Lamar seems to be.

UPDATE @ 16:00

Judiciary Committee action in investigating the termination of AUSA's must be heating up, as Senators Leahy and Specter are on the Senate floor, talking about a non-responsive White House on obtaining the testimony of Taylor and Miers. Senator Specter is willing to concede testimony under oath, he is willing to concede the testimony be "open" or public, but he is not willing to concede the taking of a transcript.

One thing I can't reconcile is holding "the President has the right to terminate" on the one hand, and terminations supposedly being determined by people subordinate to the Attorney General on the other hand. AG Gonzales describe his role as a formality (he was vaguely aware of the action by underlings, and while he didn't direct the evaluation or participate in the analysis, he approved their conclusions (fired for cause, wait, fired because "we" can)). So, can AUSA terminations be obtained by AG underlings acting on their own principles and volition?


UPDATE @ June 14

Looks like a yawner of a day. This is a good thing, because I desire a break.

Pending:

  • Reid Amendment No. 1502, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Bingaman Amendment No. 1537, to provide for a renewable portfolio standard.
  • Domenici Amendment No. 1538 (to amend S.Amdt.1537), to provide for the establishment of a Federal clean portfolio standard.

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Statement by the President

I call upon the international community and Iraq's neighbors to do everything in their power to help Iraq's government and people combat the terrorists, especially in stopping the flow of foreign terrorists into Iraq.

What happened to "Bring it on!"? I thought we wanted the terrorists to flock to Iraq, since having them concentrated there reduces their action elsewhere, and also makes them easier to find.

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Marcy Wheeler will live blog Libby's motion hearing from firedoglake. The hearing is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.

If Judge Walton grants Libby's motion for bail pending appeal, I wonder if Fitzgerald will appeal the ruling? This case has been full of interesting twists.

UPDATE @ 09:35

Senator Reid is starting to talk about moving the energy bill along, by listing several specific issues that must be debated (each issue typically appearing in the form of an amendment), and then, rather than come out and say he intends to file a cloture motion, he says the bill is important and is bi-partisan. He said he'd consult with the bill managers on a timeline - obviously the energy bill won't be wrapped up this week - my prediction of a several day bill was waaaay off.

UPDATE @ 10:00

Being unable to get agreement on a time to vote on the Domenici and Bingaman amendments, Senator Bingaman announces that he will move to table the (I think) Domenici amendment, but could be that he intends to move to table his own amendment. The procedural significance is that Motions to Table aren't debatable (See Rule XXII).

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Scheduling Update on Libby Sentencing: The hearing will begin at 11:30 AM EST. Each side will have 30 minutes. The judge will then break for lunch and come back with his ruling at 1:30. Sentencing Scooter Live Blog Part I
Sentencing Scooter Live Blog Part II
Libby Loses Liberty

UPDATE @ 12:22

Domenici S.Amdt.1538, to provide for the establishment of a Federal clean portfolio standard, to count nuclear and clean coal toward year 2020 goals for "renewable" production of electricity, was TABLED on a 56 - 39 vote.

Whoa, from liveblog of Libby hearing on bail pending appeal ...

Walton: With all due respect, these are intelligent people [referring to the 12 people who filed an amicus brief in Libby's favor], but I would not accept this brief from a first year law student. I believe this was put out to put pressure on this court in the public sphere to rule as you wish.

UPDATE @ 13:38

Libby's motion for bail pending appeal is denied.

UPDATE @ 14:33

Courtesy of the FAS, a summary of Congressional "no-confidence" measures. It's a very interesting read.


UPDATE @ June 15

Pending:

  • Reid Amendment No. 1502, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Bingaman Amendment No. 1537, to provide for a renewable portfolio standard.
  • Bingaman Amendment No. 1573 (to Amendment No. 1537), to provide for a renewable portfolio standard.
  • Klobuchar Amendment No. 1557, to establish a national greenhouse gas registry.
  • Kohl Amendment No. 1519, to amend the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal.
  • DeMint Amendment No. 1546, to provide that legislation that would increase the national average fuel prices for automobiles is subject to a point of order in the Senate.

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Warner proposal for permitting natural gas exploration off the coast of Virginia was shot down yesterday, not even getting a majority, let alone the 60 votes it needed under a unanimous consent agreement. The Senate regularly sets up test votes, where the result is known in advance (fail to meet the agreed on threshold), as this is the only way the lilly-livered Senators will agree to a vote at all.

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Many energy-related bills were introduced yesterday, outside of the comprehensive energy bill now before the Senate, yet covering similar subject material. Buried in the list is a bill sponsored by Senator Inhofe.

By Mr. INHOFE (for himself, Mr. NELSON of Nebraska, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. STEVENS, Mr. BUNNING, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. CRAIG, Mr. KYL, Mr. ENSIGN, Mr. COBURN, Mr. SHELBY, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mrs. HUTCHISON, Mr. VITTER, Mr. SESSIONS, Mr. THUNE, Mr. BOND, Mr. SMITH, Mr. COCHRAN, Mr. BURR, Mrs. DOLE, and Mr. ALLARD):

S. 1623. A bill to require the withholding of United States contributions to the United Nations until the President certifies that the United Nations is not engaged in global taxation schemes; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, today I introduce S. 1623. I introduce this bill to prevent the imposition of global taxes on the United States. The current efforts of the United Nations and other international organizations are to develop and advocate a type of tax system that will keep them from having to answer to anybody.

Last year, I introduced legislation, S. 3633, which garnered the support of 31 cosponsors, and I am pleased to reintroduce this bill today with 23 cosponsors.

This bill states if the United Nations or other international organizations continue to pursue global taxation, the United States will withhold 20 percent of the assessed contributions to the regular budget of these organizations. This measure will last until certification is given by the President to the Congress that no international organization has legal taxation authority in the United States, that no taxes or fees have been imposed on the United States, and that no taxes have been proposed by any of these international organizations.

One has to wonder sometimes what has happened to sovereignty in America. There are people in this body who don't think anything is good unless it is somehow proposed by some international organization, and quite often the interests of international organizations are not the same interests of our Nation. Our Government's primary leverage with the United Nations is controlling the flow of our regular contributions. By collecting enormous and global taxes on top of our regular contributions, the United Nations, or any other of these international organizations, would be accountable to no one. The United Nations' abuse of international trust, rampant corruption, and widespread waste are now all well-known. Allowing this clearly dysfunctional institution to extract U.S. dollars is absurd. Permitting this would condone the U.N.'s long sought-after goal of a U.N.-led global governance--something not in the best interest of the United States.

The United States already pays 27 percent of the U.N. Peacekeeping budget and 22 percent of the regular U.N. dues and special assessments, the majority of which our Government tracks very poorly. To further loosen the reins on the United Nations would be disastrous. We can't allow this to happen.

It is fascinating to watch the various things that are not in the best interests of this country and the fact that we are paying for 25 percent of that. This is a way we would be able to inject into this system something that would be far better and would take care of just the sovereignty of the United States; those things that are in our best interests and not just in the best interests of some international organization.

UPDATE @ 09:35

Immigration Redux is ALIVE

Senator Reid announces that the Senate will go back to the immigration bill when it finishes the energy bill (I told you so). He says that the Senate will be in session next weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, in order to complete both the energy and immigration bills. I doubt that (Saturday and Sunday session) will come true, but the Senate is serious about closing the immigration debate for this year by rejecting or passing this bill.

The Washington Time article, Immigration bill gets 2nd chance - By Stephen Dinan and Jon Ward, notes the same Reid/McConnell agreement, so it's a bit "old news," except for being formally stated on the floor of the Senate.

Press Release of Senator Reid
Reid, McConnell Statement On Immigration Bill

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today:

"We met this evening with several of the Senators involved in the immigration bill negotiations. Based on that discussion, the immigration bill will return to the Senate floor after completion of the energy bill."

No roll call votes today or Monday.

---===---

Today and Monday will be used to introduce amendments and set things up for passing the energy bill next week. I'm pondering how far out a Senator could push conclusion on the energy bill, by forcing a cloture motion and insisting on the 30 hours post-cloture. I'm thinking the energy bill is finished on Wednesday noonish at the earliest, and that the final vote could be pushed out to Thursday; or even as late as Friday, unless Senator Reid files cloture motions on Monday, to limit debate on the substitute amendment and the underlying bill. Moving the energy bill conclusion out that far would really cramp the time available for handling the immigration bill - well, it would cramp it relative to the artificial deadline imposed by Senator Reid.

But the immigration bill is, now, at this moment, formally the pending business of the Senate, so it is too late to object to taking the bill up for consideration. It's trivially easy for Senator Reid to again make it the subject of floor debate, regardless of objections.

UPDATE @ 11:20

Senator Dorgan is talking about immigration, and I think we'll see a mixture of immigration and energy debate for the next several days. I've continued to put links to immigration debate in last weeks immigration thread, mostly to ease future reference and research efforts.

The president spoke at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this morning, "I'm pleased that two Senators who have got corazones grandes -- (laughter) -- on the immigration bill are with us today -- Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Mel Martinez. Thank you all for coming." Big hearts indeed.

And that 4.4 billion dollar enforcement bill proposed by the White House ... some Senators characterize it as authorization (no money appropriated, see last year's fence act for this smoke and mirrors trick). There's no way to tell until the legislation is reduced to writing and is the business of Congress.

Preliminary White House characterization, talks on June 14, are at President Bush Discusses Comprehensive Immigration Reform with Associated Builders and Contractors and Press Briefing by Tony Snow, "What we're talking about is an immediate appropriation out of the general fund of $4.4 billion." Sounds like the White House is proposing appropriation.

UPDATE @ 11:35

Senator Dorgan shuts down the Senate, which stands in adjournment until 2 p.m. Monday - excepting the Record is open until 1 p.m. for the introduction of remarks, and except for Senator Collins speaking for the purpose of entering an amendment to the energy bill. Bier time.

The Senate stands adjourned at 11:57. after Senator Collins informs us that her proposed study, "Abrupt Climate Change," deals with climate change that can be sudden and dramatic.

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The judicial nomination battle that was supposedly settled by the Memorandum of Understanding by the Gang-of-14, well, the settlement is working against the power of the executive to have his nominees decided on an up-or-down vote in the Senate. See Judiciary Chairman Says Court Nominee Will Not Get Out of Committee for this fact, in the context of Southwick's nomination.

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The Iraq War is a UN war.

Text of a Letter from the President ...

... In U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723 of November 28, 2006, the Security Council extended the MNF mandate until December 31, 2007. Under Resolutions 1546, 1637, and 1723, the mission of the MNF is to contribute to security and stability in Iraq. These contributions have included assisting in building the capability of the Iraqi security forces and institutions as the Iraqi people drafted and approved a constitution and established a constitutionally elected government. The U.S. contribution to the MNF is approximately 153,553 military personnel.


UPDATE @ June 16

Pending:

  • Reid Amendment No. 1502, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Bingaman Amendment No. 1537, to provide for a renewable portfolio standard.
  • Bingaman Amendment No. 1573 (to Amendment No. 1537), to provide for a renewable portfolio standard.
  • Klobuchar Amendment No. 1557, to establish a national greenhouse gas registry.
  • Kohl Amendment No. 1519, to amend the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal.
  • DeMint Amendment No. 1546, to provide that legislation that would increase the national average fuel prices for automobiles is subject to a point of order in the Senate.
  • Corker Amendment No. 1608, to allow clean fuels to meet the renewable fuel standard.
  • Cardin Amendment No. 1520, to promote the energy independence of the United States.
  • Domenici (for Thune) Amendment No. 1609, to provide requirements for the designation of national interest electric transmission corridors.
  • Cardin Amendment No. 1610, to provide for the siting, construction, expansion, and operation of liquefied natural gas terminals.
  • Collins Amendment No. 1615, to provide for the development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated United States research program that assists the people of the United States and the world to understand, assess, and predict human-induced and natural processes of abrupt climate change.


UPDATE @ June 17

Text of a short e-mail to KLO of NRO, in response to a series of posts that describe a woolly procedure that Reid supposedly plans to use to get immigration back to the floor of the Senate, instead of just bringing the currently pending bill back for debate. Links to KLO's posts first:

06/16 02:32 PM
06/17 09:56 AM
06/17 02:11 PM

    That drawn out procedural scenario depends on Reid offering a new bill, which he basically did on this go-around, with S.Amdt.1150 being the new bill.

    An alternative scenario has Reid just taking up the CURRENTLY PENDING S.1348 (with S.Amdt.1150 also pending) Immigration bill. He doesn't need consent to take it up, he already obtained consent.

    See Senate legislative calendar ...

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=senate_calendar&docid=sc001

    I'd like your Senate insider to explain why a new bill, and not the currently pending one. Seems stupid to waste the weeks of debate and amendment that have already transpired, never-mind the hassle of obtaining agreement on a motion to proceed to the consideration of a new bill.

There seems to be a deep fundamental misunderstanding of the ramifications of a failed cloture motion. Failed cloture means the matter is still alive for debate, not that the matter has been decided.

Also generating further discussion, the Senate staffer predicted ...

[Senator Reid] will use an arcane Senate procedure that allows a single amendment to be divisible into many - in this case, into the 20-odd amendments the Grand Bargainers are trying to cobble together to keep 60 votes in support of the bill. Traditionally, that amendment [(sic) Rule XV (3)] has been used to protect minority rights - but in this case, it will be used to PREVENT the minority from getting additional amendments called up and from being able to fully debate the amendments in question. It is, to our knowledge, unprecedented.

Dividing amendments isn't common, and I have never seen a manager's amendment (almost always containing a mess of disjointed changes) divided. It will be interesting if an agreed package of amendments is presented as the senate staffer predicts. BUT I don't see any advantage, nor any difference in transparency, in adopting an "we agreed to consider one amendment, and now we will divide it into 20 parts" approach. The admitting of amendments is a unanimous consent deal in any event, and the horse trading as to which amendments will be permitted already takes place out of public scrutiny.

I also don't see this approach as being in any way, an incentive for Republicans against cloture to turn to be in favor of cloture.

I'm not saying the Senate won't use the Rule XV (3) approach to control the introduction of amendments, or that it doesn't have some advantage in terms of predictability - just that I don't see any advantage. At any rate, we'll know soon enough and if the Senate introduces a new immigration bill instead of returning to the currently pending one, and if the amendment process is via one big amendment, divided, or a negotiated series of separate amendments.

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I was researching the use of Rule XV (3) in history, and ran into a fascinating speech, accompanied by a statistical summary, on the practice of "filling the [amendment] tree." Mash here -> Senator Specter, Feb 8, 2007 to check it out for yourself. "Filling the tree" is an integral part of the debate-limiting tactic with the pending immigration bill. The procedure that admits "filling the tree" is an interesting debate in the long haul.

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