CongressHouse FloorSenate Floor • U.S. Capitol: 202-224-3121

June 13, 2007

Internet Radio: 32 days of streaming left

Slashdot: The SoundExchange Billion Dollar Administrative Fee
On June 7th, Yahoo, RealNetworks, Pandora, and Live365 sent letters to US lawmakers emphasizing they owe SoundExchange 'administrative fees' of more than $1 billion dollars a year.

These fees would be paid for the 'privilege' of collecting the increased CRB royalties effective July 15th, unless the Internet Radio Equality Act passes Congress. SoundExchange, the non-profit music industry entity, admits the levied charge of $500 per 'channel' is supposed to only cover their administrative costs.

Last year, SoundExchange collected a total of $20 million dollars from the Internet radio industry. Under the new 'administrative fee' RealNetworks, which hosted 400,000 unique subscribed channels in 2006, would owe an annual administrative charge of 200 million dollars in addition to the retroactive 2006 rate hike per song played.

Internet Radio Equality Act (H.R. 2060, S. 1353)

Save Internet Radio Campaign

CNET News Blog: internet radio

Appropriations Watch - State, Foreign Operations - Life Status Update

Current Pro-life rider status on State/Foreign Operations bill riders:

Mexico City Policy: going down
Lowey Language: Provided Further, That of the funds appropriated under Title III and IV of this Act, not less than $441,000,000 shall be made available for family planning/reproductive health. In order to prevent unintended pregnancies, abortions, and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, no contract or grant which includes funding for the provision of contraceptives in developing countries, shall be denied to any nongovernmental organization solely on the basis of the policy contained in the President's March 28, 2001, Memorandum to the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development with respect to providing contraceptives in developing countries, or any comparable administration policy regarding the provision of contraceptives.

Kemp-Kasten: staying in place
Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) offered an amendment that inserted a clause stating "nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the President to deny funds to any organization by reason of the application of another provision of this Act or any other provision of law."

The amendment was accepted by voice vote.

Global HIV/AIDS, President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR):
Waives the 33% abstinence-until-marriage spending requirement that Congress included:

Provided Further, That funds made available under this heading and under the heading "Child Survival and Health Programs Fund" shall be made available notwithstanding the second sentence of section 403(a) of Public Law 108-25.

Expect amendments on the House floor to correct these two problems.

The State/Foreign Operations bill is scheduled to come to the floor Wednesday, June 20.

House Votes - H.R. 2638: Homeland Security Appropriations

H.Res. 473: Providing for consideration of H.R. 2638

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 222-194

On agreeing to the resolution
Agreed to by voice vote.

H.R. 2638: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas, 45 Proposed)

Crowley of New York Amendment
to increase funding, by transfer, the appropriation for state and local programs under Protection, Preparedness, Response and Recovery by $50,000,000.
Passed 244-174

Campbell of California Amendment
to reduce the appropriation for the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management by $9,961,000.
Failed 201-221

Reichert of Washington Amendment
to reduce appropriation for the Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security by $1,000,000 and reduce appropriation for the Office of the Under Secretary for Management by $11,000,000.
Passed 218-205

King of Iowa Amendment
to reduce appropriation for the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management by $79,000.
Passed 379-45

Lamborn of Colorado Amendment
to reduce appropriation for the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management by $300,000.
Passed 381-41

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 190-221
[Tue, 12 Jun 2007 22:34:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 189-218
[Tue, 12 Jun 2007 22:59:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 187-220
[Tue, 12 Jun 2007 23:27:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 188-216
[Tue, 12 Jun 2007 23:56:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 188-216
[Wed, 13 Jun 2007 00:30:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 187-213
[Wed, 13 Jun 2007 01:00:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Failed 189-214
[Wed, 13 Jun 2007 01:38:00 -0400]

On Motion that the Committee Rise
Passed 312-82
[Wed, 13 Jun 2007 02:07:00 -0400]

GOP Protests Earmark Rules With Amendment Blitz
Minority House Republicans are aiming a full arsenal of floor weapons at a Democratic-written Homeland Security appropriations bill to protest the majority’s rules for earmarking and its decision to add member-requested projects at the final stages of the legislative process.

Earmark Dispute Bogs Down Homeland Security Bill
The congressional spending season began with a blowup over earmarks in the House yesterday, as the first bill to reach a vote prompted a White House veto threat and scores of amendments from Republicans furious with Democrats' handling of pet-project spending in the measures.

Common Enemy Ends GOP Feud Over Earmarks
There was a time when Republican leaders cringed at the thought of a conservative faction of their party holding spending bills hostage on the House floor.

Additional Coverage

More Amendments Coming

Appropriations Watch - Bills Pass Committee

The following approprations bills have passed out of committee, and therefore now have bill numbers:

H.R. 2638: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008

H.R. 2641: Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

H.R. 2642: Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2643: Making appropriations for the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes.

Official Approprations Tracker

House Voice Votes

The House passed these bills by voice vote:

H.R. 1441: Stop Arming Iran Act
A bill to strengthen controls on the export of surplus parts for F-14 fighter aircraft.

H.Res. 431: Recognizing the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia legalizing interracial marriage within the United States

H.R. 2637: To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, with respect to civil penalties for child labor violations
House Votes to Stiffen Penalties for Child Labor Law Violations
The House passed a bill today that would increase fines for companies and individuals who violate child labor laws.

H.R. 251: Truth in Caller ID Act of 2007

Senate Vote - H.R. 6: Bayh Amendment to Reduce Oil Consumption

H.R. 6: Senate began debate

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


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Bayh Amdt. No. 1508; To provide for the publication and implementation of an action plan to reduce the quantity of oil used annually in the United States.
Passed 63-30

The Senate plans to spend this week and next week on H.R. 6.

June 12, 2007

House Majority Spending Restraint

Blue Dogs Take Aim At Record Deficits
In Ideological Divide, Conservative Democrats Seek Fiscal Discipline
Conservative Democrats in the House are challenging their own party to do more to balance the federal budget and restrain government spending, highlighting an ideological division among Democrats that could play a big role in the party's 2008 presidential campaign.

The Blue Dog Coalition, a band of more than 40 House Democrats committed to fiscal discipline, plans to introduce legislation today that would impose caps on some spending, enshrine pay-as-you-go rules in federal law and authorize automatic spending cuts to enforce them. The group also wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget and to create an array of budget provisions that would focus more attention on what it sees as pork-barrel spending.

The three bills would go beyond budget rules so far enacted by the new Democratic majority, which has adopted a blueprint for balancing the budget by 2012.

Neither the Washington Post article nor the Blue Dog Coalition Web site list any more specifics of the legislation such as bill numbers.

Senate Vote - H.R. 6: CLEAN Energy Act

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

Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to Consider H.R.6
Passed 91-0


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Senate Turns Focus to Energy Bill
With U.S. gasoline prices near record levels, the Senate is to take up an energy bill today that Democratic leaders hope will be a rallying point for voters concerned about national security and climate change as well as pump prices.

Senate Vote - S.J.Res. 14: Attorney General Confidence

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.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed
Failed 53-38

Senators Block Vote on Gonzales
The Senate yesterday rejected a bid to conduct a vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, as Republicans declined to defend the embattled presidential confidant but rejected the effort as a political stunt.

House Vote - H.R. 2356: Fly the Flag on Father's Day

H.R. 2356: To amend title 4, United States Code, to encourage the display of the flag of the United States on Father's Day

On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass
Passed 386-0

The interesting thing about this bill is it's not just a resolution, but statute. It officially amends "title 4, United States Code" by adding "Father's Day, third Sunday in June" as an "additional occassion for display of the flag of the United States."

June 11, 2007

Outlook for July, September

In the House: finishing appropriations, namely the defense appropriations bill. Then it's likely to take up global warming. They've been waiting since the coldest part of the year (February) for the hottest part of the year (July) to talk about the "climate crisis." July 7th is Al Gore's big worldwide, 7-continent event on global warming.

The Senate is going to have a lot on its plate with all the appropriations bills that the House sends its way in June. The target of Congress is to have all the bills signed into law by the new fiscal year: the end of September. With only July and September to get all that done, expect the Senate to have a similar target for July as the House has for June, and then to spend September working final details out in conference.

Also in the appropriations mix is potential vetoes on pro-life or budgetary grounds that could set the schedule back. September is also the agreed upon deadline on all sides for results in Iraq. It's also likely to be another supplemental fight. The last supplemental already pushed the House's schedule on the appropriations bills, and given the next expected fight, it's likely to do so again.

One other big bill that is expected to come up is the farm bill reauthorization. Given that summertime is harvest season, they work on this bill this summer. Or, that may be more of a Labor Day discussion after the August recess.

Of course, all this is subject to change , but that's the expected outlook on the big items right now.

June 10, 2007

A Month of Must-Pass Legislation

Legislative Update
  • House: Appropriations
  • Senate: Energy, Defense
  • S. 5 Veto Override
  • Conference Reports Possible
How long would it take you to spend $2 trillion? (That has 12 zeros after it.)

Beginning on Tuesday, June 12, and ending Friday, June 29, the House of Representatives intends to have passed 11 of the 12 appropriations bills that will spend about that much during fiscal year 2008. All of these bills are considered must-pass legislation.

The Senate has shelved the failed immigration bill. They are not spending significant time on any must-pass legislation. Nonetheless, the important matters for prayer are big items that could move quickly.

The next three weeks are a critical time for prayer.

June 9, 2007

Appropriations Watch - Commerce, Justice, Science

The following are provisions to watch and pray over in the Departments of Commerce and Justice bill:

Abortion Funding for Prisoners Ban—Protect life by banning abortion funding for federal prisoners, and giving conscience protection for prison employees (enacted since FY 1996).

Legal Services Corporation—Protect life by banning Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funds from going to organizations that engage in abortion-related litigation (enacted since FY 1996). This pro-life provision is maintained, by reference of Public Law 105-119 which references Section 504(a)14 of Public Law 104-134.

Patenting Human Organisms—Prohibits funds from being used "to issue patents on claims directed to or encompassing a human organism" (enacted since FY 2004).

Hate Crimes—Continues to remain silent

Pregnancy Resource Centers—does not harm

Expected timeline for this bill:

Appropriations Watch - Financial Services, Transportation/HUD

The following are provisions to watch and pray over in either or both the Financial Services and the Transportation/Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills:

Smith of New Jersey Amendment
—protect life by banning funding of abortions through the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program, except in the instances of rape, incest or life of the mother (enacted in FYs 1984-1994; 1996-2006)

Conscience Protections for health care personnel and providers that were expanded in FY 2000 and retained since.

DC Approprations
H. Rept. 109-495
  • Marijuanamaintain prohibition on legalization (Section 526)
  • Domestic Partner Benefits or as they are now referred to as permanent partners—Maintains the provision that prohibits federal funds, but NOT District funds from being used to provide employment, health, or governmental benefits to unmarried (whether heterosexual or homosexual) domestic partners. (Section 511)
  • Needle Exchange programsmaintain prohibition—the needles are used for illegal drugs (Section 516)
Abortion Funding Ban—Protect life in DC by banning the use of appropriated funds (Federal or D.C. revenues) for abortion in the District of Columbia. (enacted in FYs 1996-2005)

D.C. school choice—maintain funding.

Earmarks—No Multipurpose Gay & Lesbian facilities

Expected timeline for Financial Services:
Expected timeline for Transportation/HUD:

Appropriations Watch - Labor, HHS, Education

The following are provisions to watch and pray over in the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill. Many of these provisions can be found in House Report 109-515.

Embyonic Stem Cell ResearchRep. Diana DeGette has stated that if the President does not sign her bill to promote embryo destructive experimentation (H.R. 3/S. 5) into law, she will attempt to attach similar language to must pass legislation such as an appropriations bill.

Hyde Amendment—protects life by banning federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother. (enacted in various forms since FY 1976)

Dickey-Wicker Amendment—protects the tiniest of human life by banning federal funding of harmful human embryo research. (enacted since FY 1996) with report language saying it does not conflict with the President's embryo stem cell policy.

Umbilical Cord Blood Bank—promote ethical stem cell research by maintaining or increasing annual funding level.

Adolescent Family Life program—allocating all funds for prevention demonstrations to be available for abstinence education activities under section 510(b)(2) of the Social Security Act.

Human Organism Patent Ban—prohibits funds from being used to issue patents on human organisms. This is related to human cloning.

Hyde-Weldon Amendment—provides conscience protection for health care entities. By preventing local entities from discriminating against health care entities, including hospitals, insurance providers and individuals such as doctors and nurses, because they refuse to provide, pay for or refer for abortion. (Enacted FY 2005-06) similar to the Abortion Non-discrimination Act.

Medicare Advantage Conscienceconscience protection for health care entities under the Medicare ADVANTAGE program to ensure that they will not be discriminated against in state and federal programs if they refuse to provide abortions. BACKGROUND: Conscience protection was enacted with respect to medical education programs as part of FY 1996 bill, not as an annual rider but as an amendment to the US Code. The ADVANTAGE (Medicare+Choice) concern was addressed in FYs 1999-2005 bills as an annual rider.

Title X—a federal program to provide family planning services.
  • Planned Parenthood funding—a prime source for this and other abortion providers and advocates. Planned Parenthood advocacy alerts indicate that they will ask for a $100 million increase for Title X. “Pregnancy prevention” is code for abortion advocacy.
  • Rape Reporting—provision requiring grantees to comply with state reporting laws on child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape or incest.

Other language to watch:
  • Hate Crimes
  • Faith-Based Organizations Hiring Protections
  • Abstinence Funding, Title V Reauthorization
  • Needle Exchange Programs Funding
  • Morning After Pill Mandates/Minors/Advertising
Law to leave unharmed:
  • Marriage
  • Welfare Reform
  • Pregnancy Resource Centers
  • State Pro-Life Provisions

Expected timeline for this bill:

Appropriations Watch - State/Foreign Operations

The following are provisions to watch and pray over in the Department of State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill:

Helms Amendment—language to protect life by preventing foreign aid from being spent for abortion.

Mexico City Policy—must be silent on the President’s pro-life Mexico City Policy. (Federal Register: March 29, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 61) page 17301-17313)
  • In prior years, Rep. Smith has offered amendments to protect the Mexico City policy.
  • Language such as Rep. Lowey's H.R. 619 could be used to overturn the policy.
Kemp-Kasten—allows the President to discontinue funding to organizations that support or participate in the management of a coercive abortion program.
  • It has been included since FY 1985.
  • This is the provision that President Bush used to eliminate funding for UNFPA in FY 02, FY 03, FY 04 and FY05
UNFPA Funding—FY 06 kept UNFPA at $34 million. (UNFPA is the U.N. Population Fund.)
  • If Kemp-Kasten is invoked on the FY 06 contribution, the $25 million of this funding from International Organizations and Programs "shall be" transferred to the "Child Survival and Health Programs Fund" for "family planning, maternal, and reproductive health activities."
  • Also includes language to keep direct US funding out of China, keep the US contribution separate and not co-mingled and in addition, the US contribution to UNFPA would be decreased by the amount of money UNFPA spends in China.
Tiahrt Amendment—ensures that population control funds are only used in programs which are certified to be voluntary in every respect (enacted since FY 1999)
  • This provision became necessary after it was discovered that women were being forcibly sterilized against their will in Peru.
Notwithstanding Provision—allowed HIV/AIDS funds and other disease funds to be spent notwithstanding any other provision of law.
  • This provision was modified to reference the provisions that govern the AIDS law (HR 1298) so that the money would be governed by existing pro-life riders that govern foreign aid.
Peace Corp—language preventing Peace Corps money from being used to pay for abortion.

PEPFAR 1/3 Abstinence Funding

International Family Planning Funding—"family planning" is often a euphemism for abortion.

Expected timeline for this bill:

Reform: Improving or Distorting Reality?

A big issue this year has been the earmarking process. The "most honest, ethical and open Congress" has passed rules to "reform" earmarking. However, more rules and more laws are the antithesis of openness. Laws and rules simply drive unethical activity into deeper secrecy. We can see this even from this past week.

During the discussion of next week's schedule on Thursday, Minority Whip Roy Blunt pointed out "a bigger problem is this idea that we are at least starting with the first four bills, if it is appropriate for them to have these projects, that the project could not possibly occur until you go to conference."

In other words, because these new rules limit how earmarks are added during the normal legislative process, the addition of these provisions to bills is pushed to the conference committees. This is later than ever, and it severely limits the amount of time anyone--media or whoever--has to examine everything in these bills between when language is added and when it gets signed into law.

In actuality, most efforts at reform to create "transparency" in the legislative process tend to create more opportunities for political sideshows and less time for actual substantive legislating. Some are wisely beginning to see live video of floor proceedings as a further impediment to real research and debate.

In concluding the immigration debate last week, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) said, "Mr. President, I have a sense of wonderment as to what the American people are thinking about what has just transpired in the Senate, if there are any people watching on C-SPAN 2. This is reputed to be the world's greatest deliberative body. But to listen to the debate for the last several days, and to the speeches here this evening, I think people wonder just what is going on."

Maybe the reform that's needed it to turn off the cameras that just add opaqueness instead of transparency.

House Tuesday - Homeland Security Appropriations

The first FY2008 appropriations bill has a bill number:

H.R. 2638: Making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes

Immigration: Follow the Money

Congressional Record
United States Senate
June 7, 2007

Sen. Claire McCaskill [D-MO]: Mr. President, I rise to talk about the issue of illegal immigration in this country in a very simple way. As a prosecutor, it is about following the law. As an auditor, it is about following the money. I state for my colleagues today that so much of this problem is about following the money.

We have crimes we can deter in this country and we have crimes we cannot deter. Let me tell my colleagues a crime we can deter. We can stop the hiring of illegal immigrants in this country if we prosecute the people who are hiring them because other business owners will stop hiring illegal immigrants if they see businesses being held accountable. This administration has not been interested in enforcing the law against employers.

What is hard to deter is families who are trying to feed their children. And the wall, yes, I support border enforcement. Of course. As a former law enforcement official, I support enforcing the law against anyone who breaks the law. But let's be realistic about this. As an auditor, I want to be efficient and effective.

Is it going to be efficient and effective to think we are going to solve this problem at the border? It is not the border that is going to stop the people coming into our country illegally. It is what is on the other side of the border. It is the promise of that job and the hungry mouths they are trying to feed.

So when I look at the raid that occurred in Springfield, MO, a few weeks ago when over 100 illegal immigrants were arrested, I kept watching the news for some word about that employer. Silence. With all the raids that have been occurring recently, I think, because of the administration's anxiousness to try to get this bill across the line, I have yet to hear one word about an employer going to jail for hiring illegal immigrants.

I know, I know, they are going to say the employer down near Springfield at the chicken processing plant--these people had fake IDs. They had fake Social Security numbers. If anyone believes that employer did not know they had illegal immigrants working there, I have a bridge I want to sell you. Of course, they knew. You give a good prosecutor a couple of investigators, you send some people in undercover, and you will gather the evidence in short order that dozens and hundreds and thousands of employers in this country are not playing by the rules.

Is that fair? No, it is not fair, and I will tell you to whom it is not fair. Many of my colleagues have said it is not fair to the American worker. I will tell you to whom it is not fair. It is unfair to the businesses that are playing by the rules. It is fundamentally unfair that many businesses in America are requiring the kind of documentation that assures them they are they are following OSHA standards, they are withholding for taxes, they are doing all the things they must do, while other employers are paying cash under the table to pad the bottom line. Follow the money, Mr. President.

Employers right now under the current law can serve up to 6 months in prison. If we would do some of those prosecutions in this country, it would do more to shut the flow of illegal immigrants, frankly, than all the legislation we could ever pass in this Chamber because it would send the message to American employers that they are not going to be rewarded with more profits by breaking the rules.

There are so many people behind this bill who have hearts that are full of compassion, and I certainly, Mr. President, think of you and your family as I make difficult decisions on this bill. But I have to tell you, there are lots of people behind this bill for whom it is all about the money. It is all about the profit.

If we want to stop illegal immigration in this country, we have to get serious about the magnet that is drawing it to our country, and that is we look the other way when people hire illegal immigrants. Until we stop looking the other way from those businesses that are not playing by the rules, we will never effectively deal with immigration in this country.

I have an amendment that would also bar for a minimum of five years any company that is found to hire illegal immigrants from participating in Federal contracts. I hope that will become part of this legislation.

Mr. President, I know there have been enforcement measures added to this bill that would increase the fines and jail time for employers who repeatedly, willfully hire illegal immigrants. But, frankly, 6 months is plenty if this Administration would only enforce current law. If you put an owner of a business in jail for 6 months in a Federal penitentiary for hiring illegal immigrants and let that word go out across America, you will do more to clean up this problem without spending another dime of the taxpayers' money than anything else we can do.

If this President is serious about illegal immigration in this country, I suggest he call his Attorney General and he say to his Attorney General--we know they have been given instructions; we have heard about it in the Judiciary Committee--tell this Attorney General that we want employers who are hiring illegal immigrants by the hundreds in this country to be prosecuted under the law and to spend some time in jail. That would get to the bottom of the problem.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Differing Perspectives on the Immigration Bill

Both of these are from
Senate tries to kick-start stalled immigration bill

Roger Simon: Immigration ain't broke. Don't fix it.

June 8, 2007

House Next Week - Appropriations, Week 1

The Schedule
Month of June 2007 (11 appropriations bills)

Week of June 11:
Four of 12 appropriations bills up:
  • Homeland Security
  • Military Construction/Veterans Affairs
  • Energy and Water
  • Interior

House Committee Passes Climate Change Legislation

H.R. 2420: To declare United States policy on international climate cooperation, to authorize assistance to promote clean and efficient energy technologies in foreign countries, and to establish the International Clean Energy Foundation.

This bill was reported out of the House Foreign Affairs committee on May 23.

This bill, or one like it, is expected on the House floor in July.

Election 2006 Almost Over

This week the House Administration Committee passed resolutions to bring four 2006 election contests to a close.

All four resolutions dismiss "the election contest relating to the office of Representative" from the respective districts.

H.Res. 459: Florida-21

H.Res. 461: Florida-24

H.Res. 462: Louisiana-4

H.Res. 463: Florida-5

Senate Immigration Votes - June 7, 2007 (Part 2)

Senate Immigration Votes - June 7, 2007 (Part 1)

S. 1348: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Motion to Instruct Sgt. at Arms
Passed 72-13

Upon Reconsideration, Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Kennedy Amdt. No. 1150, As Amended; In the nature of a substitute.
Failed 45-50

Immigration Overhaul Bill Stalls in Senate
A tenuous compromise to overhaul the nation's immigration laws collapsed last night when senators from both parties refused to cut off debate and move to a final vote, handing the unlikely alliance of Democratic leaders and President Bush a setback on a major domestic priority.

Careful Strategy Is Used to Derail Immigration Bill
Two weeks ago, when the immigration bill landed on the Senate floor, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) voted against an amendment that targeted one of its key provisions: a guest-worker program that President Bush and many U.S. companies have sought for years.

A Failure of Leadership in a Flawed Political Culture
The collapse of comprehensive immigration revision in the Senate last night represents a political defeat for President Bush, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the bill's most prominent sponsors. More significantly, it represents a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington.

Senate immigration compromise collapses
Victim of partisan bickering reflected a broader national divide over millions of illegal immigrants.

Immigration Bills Backers Vow to Continue Efforts
Sponsors of a comprehensive immigration overhaul that has stalled in the Senate today vowed to persevere in seeking passage of the legislation this summer.

June 7, 2007

Senate Immigration Votes - June 7, 2007 (Part 1)

Continued from previous voting:

S. 1348: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Coburn Amdt. No. 1311, As Modified; To require the enforcement of existing border security and immigration laws and Congressional approval before amnesty can be granted.
Failed 42-54

Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Kennedy Amdt. No. 1150, As Amended; In the nature of a substitute.
Failed 33-63

Cloture on S. 1348
Failed 34-61

Republicans Unite to Block Limit on Immigration Debate
A comprehensive immigration overhaul was hanging in the balance today, with Senate Republicans blocking an effort to cut off debate and the Democratic leader tossing blame at President Bush.

House Work Week: From 4 days a week to 6 days!

CQ: The House will work six days next week if that’s what it takes to pass the first four fiscal 2008 spending bills, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., announced today.

“That means members should expect a full day Friday and possibly Saturday” of the week beginning June 11, Obey said. “That’s a fact of life we’re going to have to live with.”

The Homeland Security measure will be considered first, followed by the Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Interior-Environment spending bills.

Appropriations Legislation for Fiscal Year 2008

House Passes Internet Database Tech Scholarships

Yesterday the House passed the National STEM Scholarship Database Act (H.R. 1051) by voice vote.

This bill directs the Secretary of Education to establish and maintain a public website through which individuals may find a complete database of available scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of financial assistance in the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

As with all good things in Washington, things must be reduced to an acronym.

The other, more recently developed trend is to create an Internet database for everything.

House Votes - H.R. 65: Lumbee Recognition Act

H.Res. 465: Providing for consideration of H.R. 65

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 217-192

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 214-193

H.R. 65: Lumbee Recognition Act


On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
Failed 152-237

On Passage
Passed 256-128

House Votes - S. 5: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Previous voting history.

H.Res. 464: Providing for consideration of S. 5

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 221-195

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 224-191

S. 5: Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007


On Motion to Commit with Instructions
Failed 180-242

On Passage
Passed 247-176

House Passes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill
For the third time, the House easily passed legislation today that would loosen President Bush's six-year-old restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

House Sends Stem Cell Bill to Bush for Certain Veto, With Little Override Hope
After a fiery reprise of arguments that have played out repeatedly over the years, the House cleared legislation Thursday that would expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Senate Immigration Votes - June 6, 2007

These votes follow previous votes on this bill.

S. 1348: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Kennedy Amdt. No. 1333, as Modified; To increase the immigration-related penalties associated with various criminal activities.
Passed 66-32

Cornyn Amdt. No. 1184, As Modified; To establish a permanent bar for gang members, terrorists, and other criminals.
Failed 46-51
Senate Rejects Effort to Bar Legalization of Many Immigrants
Supporters of a tenuous immigration overhaul today beat back an attempt to deny millions of illegal immigrants who have violated deportation orders the right to stay in the country.

DeMint Amdt. No. 1197; To require health care coverage for holders of Z nonimmigrant visas.
Failed 43-55

Bingaman Amdt. No. 1267 As Modified; To remove the requirement that Y-1 nonimmigrant visa holders leave the United States before they are able to renew their visa.
Failed 41-57

Cornyn Amdt. No. 1250; To address documentation of employment and to make an amendment with respect to mandatory disclosure of information.
Passed 57-39

Reid Amdt. No. 1331; To clarify the application of the earned income tax credit.
Passed 57-40

Sessions Amdt. No. 1234; To save American taxpayers up to $24 billion in the 10 years after passage of this Act, by preventing the earned income tax credit, which is, according to the Congressional Research Service, the largest anti-poverty entitlement program of the Federal Government, from being claimed by Y temporary workers or illegal aliens given status by this Act until they adjust to legal permanent resident status.
Passed 56-41

Motion to Waive CBA Re: Menendez Amdt. No 1194; To modify the deadline for the family backlog reduction.
Failed 53-44

Kyl Amdt. No. 1460; To modify the allocation of visas with respect to the backlog of family-based visa petitions.
Passed 51-45

Motion to Waive CBA Re: Clinton Amdt. No. 1183, As Further Modified; To reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives.
Failed 44-53

Ensign Amdt. No. 1374; To improve the criteria and weights of the merit-based evaluation system.
Failed 42-55

Salazar Amdt. No. 1384; To preserve and enhance the role of the English language.
Passed 58-39

Inhofe Amdt. No. 1151; To amend title 4, United States Code, to declare English as the national language of the Government of the United States, and for other purposes.
Passed 64-33

Vitter Amdt. No. 1339; To require that the U.S. VISIT system- the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 that is already well past its already postponed 2005 implementation due date- be finished as part of the enforcement trigger.
Failed 48-49

Obama Amdt. No. 1202, As Modified; To provide a date on which the authority of the section relating to the increasing of American competitiveness through a merit-based evaluation system for immigrants shall be terminated.
Failed 42-55

Dorgan Amdt. No. 1316; To sunset the Y-1 nonimmigrant visa program after a 5-yer period.
Passed 49-48

WP: Immigrant Measure Survives Challenges
Senate Vote Could Come Thursday

House Votes - H.R. 2446: Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act

H.Res. 453: Providing for consideration of H.R. 2446

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 220-195

H.R. 2446: Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act of 2007


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
(consideration: CR H6075-6076; text: CR H6075)
Passed 345-71

On Passage
Passed 406-10

House Suspension Votes - Human Embryo Death Sentence Defeated

H.R. 1716: Green Energy Education Act of 2007
Passed 416-0

H.R. 632: H-Prize Act of 2007
Passed 408-8
CQ Today: House Passes ‘H-Prize’ Bill for Energy Research

H.R. 964: Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act
Passed 368-48

H.R. 2560: Human Cloning Prohibition Act
Failed 204-213
House Debate: Rep. Weldon [R-FL]: "Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. This bill before us today entitled the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, is better entitled the 'Human Clone Implantation Prohibition Act.' Essentially what it does is make it a crime to implant a cloned human embryo in the uterus of a woman."

Clone-and-Kill: Democrats' Bill Forces Destruction of Human Embryos
...contrary to its name, this phony “ban” explicitly requires the killing of human embryos and permits a process that will inevitably lead to the cloning of human babies. ...

H.R. 2560 actually does ban only the following: allowing a human clone to live, by implanting her or him ‘into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus’

June 6, 2007

Influence Industry Blowback

Lobbyists United In Dismay Over Disclosure Rules
Professional Persuaders Vow to Fight
The lobbying disclosure bill passed by the House last week hadn't been voted on yet when Kenneth Gross stood at the head of a block-long conference room in New York, supplying 148 lobbyists and lawyers with the new congressional definition of a friend.

"Friendships have been breaking out all over Washington, because they bring the gift limit up from zero to $250," Gross, an ethics lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, said he told the group.

The House ethics committee, he said, defines a lawmaker-lobbyist friendship as a long-term relationship featuring mutual gift-giving. The lobbyist must select gifts specially for that lawmaker, and not claim them as an expense or tax deduction.

Senate Schedule for June 2007

CQ Today: Senate to Focus on Energy Legislation, Defense Authorization This Month
Energy legislation and the annual defense authorization bill — including an amendment to begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq — will dominate the Senate floor between now and the Fourth of July recess, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday.

Senators returned this week from their Memorial Day recess, during which they got an earful from constituents. Reid said, “There are two issues that are foremost in their minds: No. 1 is the Iraq War and No. 2 are gas prices. We’re going to deal with that as soon as we finish with this immigration legislation.” ...

Reid said that once the immigration debate ends, there will be an effort to proceed to a “no confidence” vote on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. ...

Not all the action between now and the July Fourth recess, which is scheduled to begin at the end of this month, will come on the floor.

Reid noted that Congress is close to clearing legislation (S 5) that would expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, and he said, “We expect to complete the conference in the next week or so on 9/11 commission recommendations.”

The House passed its version of the bill (HR 1) by 299-128 on Jan. 9; the Senate passed its own measure (S 4) by 66-38 (correcting CQ) on March 13.

In addition, Reid said, “We also believe that we are very close to being able to complete the conference on the ethics and lobbying reform.”

The Senate passed its lobbying overhaul (S 1) by 96-2 on Jan. 18, while the House passed its version (HR 2316) on May 24 by 396-22.

House Schedule for June 2007

From RSC: Tentative Appropriations Schedule

According to various media reports, the Democrats want to finish 11 of the 12 appropriations bills in June. The exception is the Defense Appropriations bill, which they currently plan to do in July.

Their tentative schedule (subject to change):
  • Interior, Energy and Water, Military Construction/VA, and Homeland Security
    • were marked up at subcommittee prior to the recess,
    • will be considered at full committee this week, and
    • are slated to see floor action on the week of June 11th.
  • State/Foreign Operations, Financial Services, Legislative Branch, and Labor/HHS
    • will be marked up at subcommittee this week,
    • will be considered at full committee next week, and
    • are slated to see floor action on the week of June 18th.
  • THUD, Agriculture, and CJS
    • will be marked up at subcommittee next week,
    • will be considered at full committee the week after, and
    • are slated to see floor action on the week of June 25th.

More Senate Immigration Votes

The Senate resumed its unfinished work on the immigration bill.

S. 1348: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Allard Amdt. No. 1189; To eliminate the preference given to people who entered the United States illegally over people seeking to enter the country legally in the merit-based evaluation system for visas.
Failed 31-62

Durbin Amdt. No. 1231; To ensure that employers make efforts to recruit American workers.
Passed 71-22

McConnell Amdt. No. 1170; To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in person to present photo identification.
Failed 41-52

Feingold Amdt. No. 1176; To establish commissions to review the facts and circumstances surrounding injustices suffered by European Americans, European Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II.
Passed 67-26

Consideration of S. 1348 continues.

Rep. William Jefferson on his way to expulsion

In the House yesterday, Tuesday, June 5th:

Washington Post: House Moves Against Embattled Jefferson
Monday's indictment of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) touched off an ethics battle in the House yesterday, with leaders from both parties moving quickly against Jefferson even as they accused each other of having no real interest in tighter ethics rules.

In short order, the House last night approved a Democratic motion that would make an ethics investigation automatic upon the indictment of any House member and then approved a Republican motion that could lead to Jefferson's expulsion.

The GOP resolution, offered by Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio), referred Jefferson's case to the ethics committee, demanding that the panel report back on whether his expulsion is merited. The Democratic rule change, introduced by Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), would give the ethics committee 30 days after an indictment to initiate an investigation or explain why it declined to do so.

H.Res. 451 [Hoyer]: Directing the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to respond to the indictment of, or the filing of charges of criminal conduct in a court of the United States or any State against, any Member of the House of Representatives by empaneling an investigative subcommittee to review the allegations not later than 30 days after the date the Member is indicted or the charges are filed.

On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Agree
Passed 387-10

H.Res. 452 [Boehner]: Raising a question of the Privileges of the House.

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 373-26

Boehner Statement

Recent ethics violations vote on Rep. Jack Murtha: 219-189

House to Bush: Move Our Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

To follow up on the previous post on the matter, yesterday the House passed H.Con.Res. 152 by a voice vote. The resolution now goes to the Senate.

June 1, 2007

House Next Week - H.Con.Res. 152: Jerusalem, Israel

NY Sun: Congress Set To Vote on Jerusalem
Seeks To Press Bush on Site of Embassy
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote next week on a resolution calling for President Bush to move the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, strengthening Israel's position against recurring diplomatic efforts to take away its capital.

The resolution, which passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on May 23, commemorates the 40th anniversary of Israel's victory in the Six Day War that unified Jerusalem. It also calls on Mr. Bush to adhere to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which authorized the funds to begin moving the embassy and declared that it was American policy to recognize the city as the capital of the Jewish state.

The House resolution, scheduled for a floor vote on Tuesday, "reiterates its commitment to the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and calls upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions."

H.Con.Res. 152: Relating to the 40th anniversary of the reunification of the City of Jerusalem

Last Action: May 23, 2007: Committee Agreed to Seek Consideration Under Suspension of the Rules, by Unanimous Consent.

That means 2/3 will be required for passage.

NY Sun Editorial: It is "likely to be passed in the House and the Senate by overwhelming margins."

P.L. 104-45: Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995

Hat Tip: TJCI


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