Week of September 10, 2007 - Transportation Appropriations [H.R.3074]
On the 10th, confirm a few District Court judicial nominees, then take up transportation appropriations. A good deal of the week will be setting the stage for continued debate on Iraq, because the Senate will take up defense appropriations next week.
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008
PDF of H.R.3074 (but see S.Amdt.2790 for page number references)
House Report 110-238
White House Statement of Policy - veto threat due to spending level and volume of earmarks
See also ...
Senators Reid and McConnell start right up Iraq, with MoveOn.Org running a full page advertisement in the New York Times that aims to personally discredit General Petraeus.
Michael Chertoff; DNI, Mike McConnell; John Scott Redd and Robert S. Mueller are before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Hearing: Confronting the Terrorist Threat to the Homeland: Six Years After 9/11. Prepared statements are not currently linked from the hearing page.
Senator Craig has moved to have his plea bargain set aside.
UPDATE @ 12:35
Senator Murray introduces the transportation/HUD bill, and defends the spending being in excess of President Bush's budget, referring to the president's proposed "cuts" as "punitive," "reckless," and "misguided."
Murray S.Amdt.2791 on power of Secretary of Transportation to sue for damages, and S.Amdt.2792 second degree amendment on funding highway bridge reconstruction.
UPDATE @ 18:50
The Senate adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. Not much action on the transportation/HUD appropriations, although the "Mexican Truck" access to US highways issue is the subject of a Dorgan amendment, to be debated and voted alongside a Republican counter-proposal. Tomorrow will be a long day in the Senate.
UPDATE @ Sept 11
Six years later, I fully retain the odd mixture of incredibly strong sadness and anger caused by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. God bless the victims and their families, the rescue and reconstruction workers, and all who were and are "touched" by the attacks.
Following a lead from Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy, I ran into a series of posts by State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger, a long but very informative and illuminating read on law of war, detention, etc. The McGinnis and Bellinger pieces make for good point/counterpoint.
and various other sources, for speculation on the degree of contention and fight that the Bush White House is willing to engage in. The contrast in comments on righty and lefty blogs illustrates how mindlessly polarized politics in America has become.
(quick sideline - note the timing)
[White House Chief of Staff] Bolten contacted [Ted] Olson the weekend before Gonzales' resignation to see if he would be considered for the post
- Dorgan S.Amdt.2797 to prohibit the establishment of a program that allows Mexican truck drivers to operate beyond the commercial zones near the Mexican border [passed 75-23]
- Inhofe S.Amdt.2796 to prohibit the use of funds to implement the proposed Air Traffic Control Optimum Training Solution of the Federal Aviation Administration [passed]
Further amendments are to substitute amendment S.Amdt.2790, agreed to yesterday. That agreement causes what was a substitute amendment to be referred to as the underlying bill, but pagination references will NOT be to the bill as passed by the House, but will be to the pagination in S.Amdt.2790.
On the procedural options for next week ...
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I would ask one question of my good friend, the majority leader. I didn't hear him indicate whether--and maybe he doesn't know yet--the Iraq debate will occur in the context of the DOD authorization bill or separate from that.
Mr. REID. I am going to try to work with the minority leader to see what we can work out as to whether we want to have the Iraq votes intertwined with Defense authorization or whether we do not. I have Members telling me on the Defense authorization bill that they are going to offer an amendment to close Guantanamo and offer habeas corpus, so it is going to be a contested piece of legislation. We have to complete that.
There are some who believe we would be better off having the Iraq matters separate and apart from Defense authorization. I have to work that out first with Senators Levin and McCain. My initial report from them is that they would rather have them separate, but I will work with the minority leader and we will try to finish deciding what we are going to do by Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
UPDATE @ 10:10
The exact order of business for the transportation appropriations bill is unsettled: there not being a Republican counter-proposal to Dorgan's Mexican truck amendment; and a series of amendments to be proposed by Senator Coburn is yet to be brought in. Senator Reid suggests that perhaps this bill could be completed tonight, rather than extend action to tomorrow.
Senator Cornyn introduced an amendment (2808) that is a "Sense of the Senate" regarding General Petraeus and to condemn and repudiate yesterday's MoveOn.Org advertisement in the New York Times.
UPDATE @ 13:30
UPDATE @ 14:16
Senator Murray announces that the bill will be completed "tonight." I suppose that could be after midnight, but don't expect any legislative activity tomorrow.
Senator Bunning is speaking, and it sounds as though Senator Cornyn's "anti-MoveOn.Org" sense of the Senate amendment will not be subjected to a vote. The amendment was ruled "not germane" on a point of order raised by the bill's Democrat manager, Senator Murray.
Senator Murray objected to taking up the same subject as a Senate Resolution (S.Res.315), instead of as an amendment, and used the intention to get the transportation appropriations bill complete by tonight (limited time) as the reason for objecting. So what follows? Senator Carper takes time to debate Iraq instead of transportation -- then a quorum call.
UPDATE @ 14:57
Senator Murray just brought up and had passed, on voice vote, a couple of non-contentious amendments. Then she said a time agreement for completing action on the bill would be ready for presentation in an hour or so.
The pending amendment is a Klobuchar amendment appropriating 190 million dollars for the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota. H.R.3311 was an authorizing device (to the tune of $250 million), and this will be the appropriation.
UPDATE @ 15:57
Twenty years ago tonight, Jaco Pastorius was beaten by a bouncer. He died of the injuries 10 days later.
UPDATE @ 16:40
As though wakening from a slumber, the Senate tables Coburn's S.Amdt.2810 (to prohibit transportation earmarks until structurally deficient bridges (and highways) are in order) on a 82-14 vote, and agrees to an hour of debate on the Mexican truck issue with Cornyn's S.Amdt.2815 pairing off against Dorgan's S.Amdt.2797.
Senator Coburn proposes S.Amdt.2811 to prohibit use of transportation funds for bicycle paths until structurally deficient bridges (and highways) are in order. Senator Coburn then sets aside 2811, and calls up 2812, 2813 and 2814 to be considered en bloc, at a future time.
Senator Murray indicates voting to start at 7:00 p.m., on the Cornyn/Dorgan pair, then Coburn's "bicycle path" 2811, then (probably) Coburn's 2812-14. Listening to this debate, I am struck by the realization that "community planning" is driven by the feds via funding, not by the locals.
UPDATE @ 17:30
A good post by Michael Stokes Paulsen, Jack Goldsmith, Legal Ethics, and "the Cover-Your-Ass Syndrome", covering the ethics of disclosure by a lawyer, of information not generally known. In other words, Jack Goldsmith's book arguably represents an ethical violation.
Interesting parliamentary inquiry and resolution. Obtaining Senate agreement to conduct a roll call vote on passage (which Coburn's amendment 2811 was under) does not preclude Senate agreement to a motion to table.
The plan for final votes, including whether they will be conducted tonight or if some will be conducted tomorrow morning, will be announce at the conclusion of the vote on S.Amdt.2811.
@ 20:05: Senator Reid says the concluding votes will occur tomorrow morning. He lists several amendments: Coburn (2812-13-14), DeMint, two by Menendez (2826 and 2834), and then vote on final passage. The only debate tomorrow morning would be 20 minutes equally divided on the DeMint amendment -- the rest of the debate will "occur" tonight. Scare quotes around "occur" as the "debate" can be entered into the record without being spoken.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Senator Dorgan's "Mexican truck amendment" survives conference committee.
UPDATE @ Sept 12
The Senate is scheduled to resume at 9:00 a.m.
The unanimous consent agreement in the legislative calendar makes no mention of the Menendez amendments (2826 and 2834). Perhaps those were passed last night on voice votes or unanimous consent. I was incredulously watching the RedSox go from behind 1-8 at the middle of the third, to ahead 16-9 by the end of the seventh.
"Late night action" (defined as "I stopped watching") disposed of Menendez amendment 2826 by withdrawing it, and 2834 with passage. The "managers amendment" was also passed.
... the following be the only amendments in order, other than a managers' amendment which has been cleared by the managers and leaders ... voted on in the following order:I predict Senator DeMint's amendment will be rejected in a close vote, along party line, and Coburn will either withdraw his amendments, or they will be defeated by an overwhelming margin, with fewer than 20 supporters. Senator Coburn's three amendments are to defund three specific earmarks: International Peace Garden (a US/Canadian facility in North Dakota); America's Wetland Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Cobb Field in Billings, Montana (if we build it, they will come). All worthwhile federal projects? You be the judge. The Senate will say "yes indeed."
Ordered further, That when the Senate resumes consideration of the bill on Wednesday, September 12, there be 20 minutes of debate with respect to the DeMint amendment ... that upon disposition of the listed amendments, the bill be read a third time and the Senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill.
- DeMint Amendment relating to Davis-Bacon;
- Coburn amendments 2812-2814, en bloc.
President Putin has dissolved the Russian government. I wonder what he used for a solvent?
Initial report from a FoxNews correspondent is that this move is designed merely to grease the skids for election of a pre-selected Putin successor (Zubkov), next year. As though, for example, Vice President Cheney would resign and Rudy Giuliani would be appointed the role, thereby making him a more formidable opponent in primary and general elections.
In other news/blog-watch:
- Who will be nominated as Attorney General?
- Will the DC Circuit extend the deadline for government production in Paracha? (also see Intelligence Chiefs Back A Guantanamo Reversal)
- Will the FBI and CIA talk to each other?
H/T HowAppealing, A good article by Michael C. Dorf at FindLaw, A Federal District Judge Holds the Amended Patriot Act Unconstitutional probes the weakness in using a first amendment argument to protect fourth amendment "rights."
UPDATE @ 9:10
Little news in Senator Reid's opening remarks. The most noteworthy, to me, was that a consent agreement may be forthcoming as to handing Iraq "amendments" and Defense Appropriations. There are two issues tied up there, one being whether to conduct the Iraq debate "inside" appropriations (as amendments) or "outside" (as resolutions); the other being the vote threshold for passage. The Republicans have so far been 100% successful in maintaining minority rights via threat of filibuster (withholding of consent to vote), resulting in 60 vote margins being required to take up, vote on, and/or pass any contentious Iraq measure.
Senator DeMint objected to a routine "conference with the House" request. Then, with the Senate "full," Senator Murry noted the absence of a quorum. A false restart after a minute or so as she attempted to renew the request, and Senator Lott "sort of" objected.
As of 10:18, the reason for Senator DeMint's objection is unknown, at least as a matter of public record. As of 10:19, whatever objection existed has been resolved out of sight. Vote on final passage began at 10:20.
Now for the usual rounds of effusive self-congratulations. Effectively bier-time for the Senate. Weekend!!
Conferees: Murray, Byrd, Mikulski, Cole, Durbin, Dorgan, Leahy, Harkin, Feinstein, Johnson, Lautenberg, Inouye, Bond, Shelby, Specter, Bennett, Hutchison, Brownback, Stevens, Domenici, Alexander, Allard, and Cochran.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations is having a hearing at 11:00 a.m., on toy safety, focused a bit on "lead," as in "lead paint." Not so many years ago, little boys played with toy soldiers, made entirely of lead and sometime cast by those same little boys. Those little boys grew up to be our real soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in WWII.
While I'm not advocating a return to lead soldiers as playthings, zero tolerance on certain elements makes as much sense as zero tolerance for certain "conduct" on public school grounds. That is, ZERO.
The same committee is also doing its full markup of Defense Appropriations, which will be the primary subject of the Senate next week.
UPDATE @ 12:05
Senator Murray criticized General Petraeus's report for omitting mention of the effect of the surge on our fighting men (and women) in terms of wear and tear on them and their families; the ability of the VA to care for veterans, and so forth. She then went to name Director Nichols as being responsible for the VA reports anyway.
Senator Hatch outright called MoveOn.Org "nuts," and said its members need to joint the reality-based community. He said the entire Congress should repudiate the MoveOn.Org organization, and that MoveOn.Org is an American embarrassment. "I have a hard time not calling them MoveOn 'DOG' Org."
On the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas, the opinion piece, What the Muslim Brotherhood means for the U.S. by Rod Dreher, is a bit of a yawner for some, but will be a shocker for many. Mr. Dreher has actually read some of the filings, and, well, read the piece for yourself. (h/t Andy McCarthy at NRO)
UPDATE @ 14:10
Senator McConnell talked about the Democrats investigations into the replacement of US Attorneys, with a focus on obtaining speedy confirmation of the Attorney General nomination. Since President Carter, the average time for a confirmation has been three weeks.
Preparing the ground for a nomination that the Democrats will object to.
UPDATE @ 15:15
Senator Reid filed a cloture motion on a motion to proceed to the consideration of S.1257 - District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007. Senators Bennett and Hatch are co-sponsors of this unconstitutional proposal -- because there is something unconstitutional in it for the state of Utah too. The cloture vote will be conducted at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, following 15 minutes of debate.
[Sept 13: John J. Miller at the NRO comments]
Regardless of the outcome of the DC Rep cloture vote, the Senate will proceed to the reconsideration of H.R.1585 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. This is apt to be a contentious measure, or least made so with Iraq debate occurring in the same timeframe, if not within the same legislative vehicle.
H.R.3218 passed. (To designate a portion of Interstate Route 395 located in Baltimore, Maryland, as "Cal Ripken Way".)
S.1692 passed. (A bill to grant a Federal charter to Korean War Veterans Association, Incorporated.)
S.Res.318 passed. (supporting the We Don't Serve Teens campaign)
Executive nominations Nos. 297-301 confirmed.
@ 15:20: Recess (both Reid and Sanders, Sanders occupying the chair, said "adjourned" and had to be corrected) until 9:45 Friday morning, for a pro forma session, which would conclude with adjournment until 2:00 p.m. Monday. On Monday, after 1 hour of morning business, the Senate will take up H.R.1585, Defense authorization.
On Tuesday, following morning business, the Senate will take up
H.R.1124 - To extend the District of Columbia College Access Act of 1999. The agreement provides
two amendments be in order: Coburn, on the topic of scholarship; and another by Coburn, on the topic
of colleges. There will be 65 minutes of debate (30 Coburn, 20 Voinovich, 15
[my problem hearing Senator 'Mumbles" Reid]), followed by a vote on the Coburn amendment, then a vote
on the bill with no intervening points of order.
A shorter time-ordered version of the above:
- 2:00 p.m. Monday will be debates on Iraq in the context of H.R.1585 - Defense Appropriations
- Tuesday morning will be on H.R.1124 - DC College Access Act (House Report 110-112)
- 2:30 p.m. Tuesday will be a cloture vote on considering S.1257 give DC a representative in the House (Senate Report 110-123)
- Start on H.R.1585 - Defense Appropriations, sometime after that (House Report 110-146 Pt.1 - House Report 110-146 Pt.2)
Democrat Reid: Iraq Plan Unacceptable - AP
Reid said the recommendation by Gen. David Petraeus, expected to be embraced by President Bush in a speech to the nation on Thursday, "is neither a drawdown or a change in mission that we need. His plan is just more of the same."
Reid said Democrats would offer amendments "to change the course of the war" when the Senate takes up a defense bill next week. He said they were reaching out to Republicans for help - especially Republicans who had been calling for a change in September. ...
Reid didn't specify which amendments Democrats would offer, or whether they had the 60 votes needed to overcome GOP stalling efforts. ... The Democrats, meanwhile, have rallied against the plan. But they find themselves in a box - lacking the votes to pass legislation ordering troops home by spring but tied to a support base that wants nothing less.
UPDATE @ 16:35
If this news report is to be believed, President Bush probably won't be nominating Ted Olson for the job of AG. He has other options, and doesn't need this particular fight.
Senate Democrats Warn Against Olson Pick - AP
"Ted Olson will not be confirmed," Reid, D-Nev., said in a written statement. "I intend to do everything I can to prevent him from being confirmed as the next attorney general." ...
"It would be unfortunate to nominate someone who can't be confirmed," Sen. Jeff Sessions ...
"I have been warned by a number of Democrats that they're not going to let that happen," Hatch said of an Olson confirmation. ...
Hatch and Sessions predicted Olson would survive the confirmation process, however rocky.
There are some really pointed exchanges in the September 12 Press Briefing by Tony Snow. I hope he doesn't leave the public stage, he's a good egg.
UPDATE @ Sept 13
Big Senate events next week will be in the context of the a return to the Defense Appropriations bill. This bill was returned to the Senate's legislative calendar in July, after a failed cloture vote that followed a theatrical all-nighter. Re-reading the following to refresh my memory ...
Ex-Senator Bill Frist has been nominated to be member of the Board of Directors of the Millenium Challenge Corporation, to replace Christine Todd Whitman who has resigned.
Governor Mark Warner, of Virginia, will announce he is running for Senate next year.
A collection of articles on various subjects, without much commentary from me. I have a strong libertarian bent as to government action, and am pleased that others see social forces and institutions, other than politics and law, as having roles (I think more prominent roles than our "law driven" Western Civilization presently appreciates) in a durable and just society.
At the end of the political spectrum opposite "liberty," we have "The Borg." They may prevail, but that doesn't make them right, or just.
MoveOn marshals money against GOP - News World Communications, Inc.
MoveOn.org ranked third in the country among political action committees in total receipts from January 2005 to June 30, 2006, with $14.1 million. The group trailed only the pro-Democrat Emily's List, which took in $20 million, and the Service Employees International Union, which reported $14.4 million.
Every Terrorism Case Since 9/11 - ABA Journal
From Sept. 11, 2001, through March of this year, federal investigators have interviewed more than 15,000 "persons of interest" in connection with activities investigators associate with terrorism--including such diverse crimes as passport and marriage fraud, money laundering, drug smuggling and the purchase of weapons of mass destruction.
The Justice Department has been involved in 10,797 of those investigations--either because FBI agents and other federal investigators felt they should consider prosecuting the individuals or simply because those agencies needed the Justice Department's investigative tools to continue their probes.
All but 410 of the investigations have concluded, and 40 percent have resulted in cases being filed. Here is where those cases stand as of March 2007.Individuals Individuals Prosecuted Not Prosecuted 4,394 6,403 Prosecutions Prosecutions Completed Pending 3,984 410 Convictions Acquittals Dismissals* 2,972 57 955 Average Sentence 27 Months * Cases dismissed by a judge or dropped by prosecutors before a judgement about the underlying charges is made. Source: Analysis of Justice Department Data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University
Beldar does the legwork on Senator Craig's plea withdrawal (including a link to the full text of the letter that accompanied the plea offer from the Minnesota prosecutor)
Renz' [prosecutor] July 20th cover letter is a precise, entirely fair, and altogether professional piece of work ... [and] spells the absolute doom of Sen. Craig's efforts to withdraw his guilty plea. ...
But this letter ... destroys Sen. Craig's remaining tatters of credibility -- and frankly, that of his lawyers, too -- by exploding their claim that Sen. Craig had pleaded guilty based on some explicit or implicit understanding that this would all be hushed up if he'd only go along with the guilty plea.
@ 9:50: Capturing a substantial event in the realm of federal preemption of state law when it comes to automobile emissions, U.S. Court Backs States' Measures to Cut Emissions, a summary by Howard Bashman with links to the federal court's ruling and a number of news articles.
@ 11:30: Over at ConfirmThem.com, speculation on a nominee for the Fourth Circuit, US Attorney Rod Rosenstein of Maryland. Unlike commentator "Bobo" on that thread, I don't see this nominee as contentious, and therefore dismiss speculation that President Bush is tending to create a "confirmation issue" (by making contentious nominations) which might benefit the GOP in the 2008 elections.
In an unrelated matter that has an annual renewal requirement the Temporary Protected Status accorded to Liberians has been renewed. Check the number of annual extensions.
@ 14:30: Another withdrawal brewing, Senate Intelligence Panel Seeks CIA Nominee's Withdrawal. The name to watch for is "John Rizzo."
@ 18:00: Looking to President Bush's speech, he needs to negotiate and enter into a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the government of Iraq. This would endure past his presidency, and is the sort of agreement that binds future executives.
@ 20:02: Mark Krikorian at NRO noticed the Liberian "thing" too. The number of people directly affected is less than 4,000.
UPDATE @ Sept 14
Isn't it a bit early for Senate election predictions? Do you hear that? by David Freddoso notes possible GOP losses in New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Minnesota and Nebraska. I'm not happy with that, but also not surprised. I think Collins will have her hands full in Maine, too.
UPDATE @ Sept 15
I missed when Andy McCarthy suggested Judge Michael B. Mukasey for Attorney General. Associated Press floats that name, and more in Resigning attorney general praises crime fighting, truth ..., including (in addition to Ted Olson) George Terwilliger and William Wilkins.
A good summary story at Politico, Attorney general list stands at five - By Mike Allen
UPDATE @ Sept 16
Not much news, aside from the rumored Israeli airstrike against nuclear targets in Syria. A few noteworthy reads from the weekend:
Lying to Women Considering Getting an Abortion: A-OK
Concurring Opinions: Can the TB Patient Sue the CDC?
SCOTUSblog: ACLU renews plea for release of secret court records
Judge Gonzales may be a nice guy, but I think he was in way over his head. How did he get to be Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court?
Lots of details in this article. This is the case that the administration said illustrated the value of the FISA modifications. Perhaps, inasmuch as it shows those with European genetics (i.e., "whitemen") are possibly jihadists, as are those of Arabian/Persian/Asian descent. But not so much really, because the government searches in this case were done with plenty of cause for suspicion, and/or with a warrant.
How the CIA Helped Germany Foil Terror Plot - Spiegel Online
Operation Alberich began last October, when the US National Security Agency, the NSA, began intercepting suspicious emails between Germany and Pakistan. ...
... The BfV's observation team later noted that the car drove back and forth in front of the barracks several times. When German agents finally stopped the car, they discovered that the passengers were Fritz Gelowicz ... The presumed scouting expedition raised red flags with German intelligence. On Jan. 6, police officers in the state of Hesse searched Gelowicz's apartment ... found nothing.
The US intelligence agencies, the NSA and CIA, provided the most important information: copies of messages between German Islamists and their contacts in Pakistan. ... The third name that kept reappearing in the emails the NSA intercepted was "Abdul Malik," a.k.a. Fritz Gelowicz, who prosecutors believe was the ringleader ...
Gelowicz, a native of Munich, caught the attention of the authorities a few years ago when he was seen in the company of Yehia Yousif in Neu-Ulm in southern Germany. Yousif, a trim doctor with an ice-gray goatee, was long seen as a key figure in Germany's radical Islamist scene. ...
According to a CIA dossier, Gelowicz arrived at an IJU training camp in northern Pakistan in March 2006. ...
While at the Pakistani camp in the spring of 2006, Adem Y. and Gelowicz probably discussed ways to secretly deliver messages from Pakistan to Germany. They used a Yahoo mailbox, but instead of sending messages directly, they would store them in a draft folder through which their fellow Islamists could then access the messages. But it turned out that the method they hit upon had long been known as an al-Qaida ploy. The CIA, NSA and BKA had no trouble monitoring the group's communications.