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September 30, 2007

Not Moving On

House Condemnation of MoveOn.org: 341-79
Senate Condemnation of MoveOn.org: 72-25


Time to Move On?
The fact that we're all debating the MoveOn ad two weeks after it ran suggests that the organization more than got its money's worth--even though the price just jumped from $65,000 to $142,000.

MoveOn Unmoved By Furor Over Ad Targeting Petraeus
A few weeks before Army Gen. David H. Petraeus's much-anticipated testimony on Iraq, the leadership of MoveOn.org, the Internet-based liberal group that has rallied its 3 million members around the country to oppose the war, decided on a change in strategy.


Matthew 26:
Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him."

Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

And Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you have come for."

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.

The Week Ahead: Dwindling Iraq Options

This week is Congress' final week in session before its Columbus Day recess.

The Week at a Glance: Oct. 1-5
The Senate is expected to finish its work on the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill.

The House considers several bills under suspension of the rules, including a District of Columbia college assistance measure.

Senate:

Schedule

Sen. Harry Reid [D-NV]: I say to my friend, I wish to be able to complete, prior to a week from Friday, the Defense appropriations bill.

I would also like to have a run at Commerce-State-Justice, which deals with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

I would like to be able to do those two appropriations bills before we leave. We have a tremendous burden to do the rest of the appropriations bills.

Democrats' Chances to Alter Iraq Strategy Dwindling
Senate Democrats' failure to reach agreement with wavering Republicans on legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq forced party leaders to concede yesterday that they are running low on options for altering President Bush's war strategy this year.

House:

Legislative Program
We expect to consider H.R. 2470, legislation dealing with contractors who commit crimes overseas; H.R. 928, the Improving Government Accountability Act; and a bill to provide tax relief for mortgage debt forgiveness in the event of foreclosures.

House Leaders Plan Push on Iraq
The Iraq War debate is expected to resume as early as next week in the House, where the leadership is lining up measures intended to unify Democrats around an anti-war position and attract some Republican votes.

House moves on bipartisan Iraq resolution
Moderates hoped to be in thick of debate over war in Iraq this fall. But once again, are pleading for scraps.

Hoyer Says House Will Act Soon on Bill to Regulate Contractors in Iraq
The House will vote on a bill next week that would regulate conduct of government contractors overseas in response to mounting outrage over recent killings of Iraqi civilians by employees of Blackwater USA.

On the ground:

'The IED problem is getting out of control. We've got to stop the bleeding.'
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- By the late summer of 2002, as the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington approached, an American victory in Afghanistan appeared all but assured.

A pro-Western government had convened in Kabul. Reconstruction teams fanned out through the provinces. U.S. and coalition troops hunted Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants in the mountains along the Pakistani border.

Among the few shadows on this sunny Central Asian tableau -- besides the escape of Osama bin Laden -- was the first appearance of roadside bombs triggered by radio waves.

Senate Votes - H.R. 1585: Defense Authorization (September 27, 2007)

H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

S.Amdt. 2196 by Sen. Coburn [R-OK]
To eliminate wasteful spending and improve the management of counter-drug intelligence.
Rejected 26-69

S.Amdt. 2011 by Sen. Levin [D-MI]
In the nature of a substitute.
Cloture Motion Agreed to 89-6


Senate Nears Final Action on Defense Bill After Amendment Barrage
The Senate on Friday began wrapping up work on the fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill after adopting a slew of amendments that would establish new policies and allot billions more dollars for equipment to protect U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democrats' Chances to Alter Iraq Strategy Dwindling
Senate Democrats' failure to reach agreement with wavering Republicans on legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq forced party leaders to concede yesterday that they are running low on options for altering President Bush's war strategy this year.

Senate Voice Votes - Passed Both Chambers

The following passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent after already passing the House:


H.R. 3668: TMA, Abstinence Education, and QI Programs Extension Act of 2007
To provide for the extension of transitional medical assistance (TMA), the abstinence education program, and the qualifying individuals (QI) program, and for other purposes.

H.R. 327: Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act
To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans.

H.R. 3625: To make permanent the waiver authority of the Secretary of Education with respect to student financial assistance during a war or other military operation or national emergency.

Senate Voice Vote - S. 2085: Patient and Pharmacy Protection Act

S. 2085: Patient and Pharmacy Protection Act of 2007
A bill to delay for 6 months the requirement to use of tamper-resistant prescription pads under the Medicaid program.

House Voice Votes

The following bills passed the House by Voice Vote last week:


H.R. 3625: To make permanent the waiver authority of the Secretary of Education with respect to student financial assistance during a war or other military operation or national emergency.

H.R. 3375: To extend the trade adjustment assistance program under the Trade Act of 1974 for 3 months

H.R. 1943: Stop AIDS in Prison Act of 2007
To provide for an effective HIV/AIDS program in Federal prisons.

H.R. 1302: Global Poverty Act of 2007
To require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.

H.R. 3540: Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2007
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the funding and expenditure authority of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, and for other purposes.

H.R. 1389: Star-Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission Act
To establish the Star-Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, and for other purposes.

H.Con.Res. 140: Financial Services Diversity Initiative
Recognizing the low presence of minorities in the financial services industry and minorities and women in upper level positions of management, and expressing the sense of the Congress that active measures should be taken to increase the demographic diversity of the financial services industry.

House Votes - H.R. 3567: Small Business Investment Expansion Act

On Motion to Adjourn
Failed 175-229

H.Res. 682: Providing for consideration of H.R. 3567

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 222-190

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 222-181


H.R. 3567: Small Business Investment Expansion Act of 2007
To amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to expand opportunities for investments in small businesses, and for other purposes.

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
(consideration: CR H11006-11007; text: CR H11006)
Failed 183-213

On Passage
Passed 325-72

House Votes - H.R. 3121: Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act

H.Res. 683: Providing for consideration of H.R. 3121

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 220-193

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 220-188
Flood Insurance Debate Turns Heated
A Rules Committee decision to bar all GOP amendments to flood insurance legislation headed for the House floor Thursday provoked strong criticism, including a rebuke from the Democratic chairman of the committee that wrote the bill.

H.R. 3121: Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007
To restore the financial solvency of the national flood insurance program and to provide for such program to make available multiperil coverage for damage resulting from windstorms and floods, and for other purposes.

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes

H.Amdt. 821 by Rep. Taylor [D-MS]
An amendment numbered 7 printed in Part B of House Report 110-351 to allow multiple peril and flood insurance coverage of apartment buildings up to the total of the number of dwelling units times the maximum coverage limit per residential unit.
Agreed to 268-143

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
(consideration: CR H10991-10993; text: CR H10991-10992)
Failed 179-232

On Passage
Passed 263-146

House Votes - H.R. 2693: Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act

H.Res. 678: Providing for consideration of H.R. 2693

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 221-193

On agreeing to the resolution
Agreed to by voice vote.


H.R. 2693: Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act
To direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a standard regulating worker exposure to diacetyl

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes

H.Amdt. 813 by Rep. Wilson [R-SC]
An amendment numbered 2 printed in House Report 110-349 to require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to wait until the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concludes there is sufficient data to support a recommended exposure limit and establishes such recommended exposure limit before issuing a final standard.
Failed 189-233

On Passage
Passed 260-154


House Passes Bill to Compel OSHA to Issue Standards for Popcorn Additive
The House passed legislation Wednesday that would institute new safety regulations for employees who work with a chemical used in artificial butter flavoring.

September 29, 2007

Congress Passed - H.J.Res. 52: Continuing Resolution for FY 2008

H.J.Res. 52: Making continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 2008, and for other purposes.
The Democrats' continuing resolution would fund federal departments and agencies at their existing levels for seven weeks, through Nov. 16. That is the date by which Democratic leaders have indicated they would like to complete all their work for the year.

The temporary spending measure is needed because Congress has failed to finish any of its 12 regular spending bills for fiscal 2008, which begins on Oct. 1.

Debate, Amendments

As promised...


House Action

Rule:

H.Res. 677: Providing for consideration of H.J.Res. 52

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 220-192

Bill:

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
(consideration: CR H10918-10919; text: CR H10918)
Passed 341-79

On Passage
Passed 404-14
House Passes Stopgap Spending Bill After Condemning Moveon.Org Ad
The House passed legislation Wednesday that would fund the federal government through Nov. 16, after adopting an amendment condemning a controversial antiwar advertisement by the liberal group Moveon.org.

The Senate adopted a similar sense of the Senate resolution, 72-25, on Sept. 20.

Continuing Resolution Passes House
With the current fiscal year ending on September 30, the House today approved H.J.Res. 52, a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through November 16th of this year.

The CR would provide funding at the same level as the regular appropriations bills from last year (this compares to the lower of the House, Senate, and previous year enacted formula that was used by Republicans in the 109th Congress) with some notable modifications.

In order to provide continued funding for the war, the $70 billion of emergency war spending from last year’s DOD Appropriations bill would be included in the formula for the CR.

In addition, $1.8 billion of emergency spending on border security would be included in the base for homeland security.

H.J.Res. 52 also includes an appropriation of $5.2 billion for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle Fund (MRAPs).

The vote in favor of this legislation was 404 to 14.

In addition to a CR, H.J.Res. 52, also extends a number of provisions in current law that are set to expire, including the Delta Regional Authority, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The legislation also provides an extension for S-CHIP based on the previous year’s funding level of $5 billion.

Senate Action

On the Joint Resolution
Passed 94-1


Budget procrastinators blame politics
Just like in previous years, Congress delays paying the bills until the last minute.

Democrats Plan To Test Bush Veto Threat on Spending Bills
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday that Democrats hope to send the president three fiscal 2008 spending bills within weeks to "see what he does with them."

Senate Vote - H.J.Res. 43: National Debt Limit Increase

H.J.Res. 43: Increasing the statutory limit on the public debt.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $9,815,000,000,000. ($9.815 trillion)

Debate

As promised:
On the Joint Resolution
Passed 53-42
  • Aye - 25 Ds, 27 Rs, 1 I
  • Nay - 21 Ds, 20 Rs, 1 I
  • No Vote - 3 Ds, 2 Rs, 0 Is

2006 Vote:

109th Congress, H.J.Res. 47
Passed 52-48
  • Aye - 0 Ds, 52 Rs, 0Is
  • Nay - 43 Ds, 3 Rs, 2 Is

Very interesting to compare the two votes.
  • Last time around it was a near party-line vote.
  • This time around, with majority control flipped, both parties nearly evenly split.


Senate Votes to Increase Debt Limit by $850 Billion
Yesterday, the Senate voted to increase the federal debt limit by $850 billion—an increase from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion.

Due to the Gephardt Rule, the House automatically passed a debt limit increase when it passed the FY 2008 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 21).

The bill now goes to the President’s desk.

Secretary Paulson has previously warned that the federal government will reach its borrowing limit on October 1st.

Congress Passed - H.R. 976: SCHIP Reauthorization

H.R. 976: Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007
An act to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes.

Debate, Problems Explained

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes - House Version, Senate Version


House Final Activity

Rule:

H.Res. 675: Providing for consideration of the Senate amendments to H.R. 976

Table Appeal of the Ruling of the Chair
Passed 224-190

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 218-197

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 215-199

Bill:

Agree to Senate Amendments with Amendments
Passed 265-159
House Passes Children's Health Bill
A broad House majority gave final approval last night to a $35 billion expansion of the popular children's health insurance program, with members from both parties brushing aside a stern veto threat from President Bush to vote their support, 265 to 159.

Senate Final Activity

Motion to Concur with House Amendments to the Senate Amendments
Motion to Invoke Cloture Agreed to 69-30
Senate Moves Toward Final Action on Children's Health Bill
The Senate voted to limit debate Thursday on legislation to expand children’s health insurance, paving the way for a final vote to clear the bill and send it to President Bush.

Motion to Concur in the Amendments of the House to the Amendments of the Senate
Motion Agreed to 67-29
Showdown Looms as Child Health Bill Passes
The Senate, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote yesterday, sent President Bush a $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, setting up the biggest domestic policy clash of his presidency and launching a fight that will reverberate into the 2008 elections.


Sec. 2112 clarifies that the new pregnancy coverage option does not overturn the current state option to provide coverage for unborn children and their mothers.
    `(f) States Providing Assistance Through Other Options-
      `(1) CONTINUATION OF OTHER OPTIONS FOR PROVIDING ASSISTANCE- The option to provide assistance in accordance with the preceding subsections of this section shall not limit any other option for a State to provide--
        `(A) child health assistance through the application of sections 457.10, 457.350(b)(2), 457.622(c)(5), and 457.626(a)(3) of title 42, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect after the final rule adopted by the Secretary and set forth at 67 Fed. Reg. 61956-61974 (October 2, 2002)), or
        `(B) pregnancy-related services through the application of any waiver authority (as in effect on June 1, 2007).

This language neither protects nor attacks the HHS regulations giving states the option of covering unborn children. The Allard Amendment language would have protected this option for the states. This amendment failed 49-50 with Senators Kennedy and Kerry voting in favor. Massachusetts is one of 11 states that has exercised this option to provide coverage for unborn children.


Republicans Help Whip Votes for SCHIP Bill
House Democrats fell short of winning enough votes to override a veto of children’s health legislation, but Democrats said they plan to bring up the issue repeatedly ­— and to continue to enlist the help of moderate Republicans such as Sen. Charles E. Grassley to help their cause.

Pelosi Calls on Bush to Sign Children's Health Expansion
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., personally appealed to President Bush Friday to sign a $35 billion expansion of a children’s health insurance program, rather than carrying through on his veto threat.

Supporters of SCHIP Expansion Acknowledge Override a Long-Shot
Nineteen votes. Four percent of the current membership of the House. That’s how close Democrats came Sept. 25 to showing President Bush they could override his promised veto of a children’s health insurance bill.

Senate Votes - H.R. 1585: Thought Crimes

H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

As promised:
S.Amdt. 3035 by Sen. Kennedy [D-MA]
To provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, and for other purposes.
Cloture Motion Agreed to 60-39
108th Congress - Last Senate Hate Crimes Vote:

S.Amdt. 3183 by Sen. Gordon Smith [R-OR]
To provide Federal assistance to States and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.
Agreed to 65-33

S.Amdt. 3047 by Sen. Hatch [R-UT]
To require comprehensive study and support for criminal investigations and prosecutions by State and local law enforcement officials.
Agreed to 96-3


Senate Attaches Hate Crimes Measure to Defense Bill
The Senate adopted an amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill Thursday that would create federal penalties for an array of hate crimes, defying warnings that the move would draw a presidential veto.

Senate Votes to Extend Hate-Crimes Law to Gays
The Senate yesterday approved an expansion of federal hate-crimes law to include protections for gay men and lesbians, defying a presidential veto threat by attaching the measure to a high-priority defense bill.

Senate Votes - H.R. 1585: Iraq, Iran (September 26, 2007)

H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

S.Amdt. 2997 by Sen. Biden [D-DE]
To express the sense of Congress on federalism in Iraq.
Agreed to 75-23
Senate Endorses Plan to Divide Iraq
Showing rare bipartisan consensus over war policy, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a political settlement for Iraq that would divide the country into three semi-autonomous regions.

An Unlikely Vote Forces No Change
On Wednesday morning, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) walked onto the Senate floor and committed an act that for him is highly unusual: He voted with the Democrats on Iraq.

S.Amdt. 3017 by Sen. Kyl [R-AZ]
To express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran.
Agreed to 76-22
10/26/2007 Update:
Iran Becomes an Issue In Democratic Contest
In the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, Iran has become the new Iraq.

Obama's critics, including some of his rivals, contend that the Illinois senator is on shaky ground because, earlier, he joined Clinton in support of a pending measure that would also label the IRGC a terrorist organization.


Senate Recommends Partition of Iraq, Challenge to Iran
The Senate adopted a pair of nonbinding amendments Wednesday recommending a partition of Iraq and declaring that U.S. policy is to “combat, contain and roll back” Iran and its surrogates in Iraq.

Senate Vote - H.R. 1495: Water Resources Development Act

H.R. 1495: Water Resources Development Act of 2007
To provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States, and for other purposes.

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes, Previous Votes:
Conference Report Agreed to 81-12

House Suspension Votes - Drugs, Iran, Israel, U.N.

H.R. 1199: Drug Endangered Children Act of 2007
To extend the grant program for drug-endangered children.
Passed 389-4

H.R. 1400: Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007
To enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by imposing additional economic sanctions against Iran, and for other purposes.
Passed 397-16
House Passes Tougher Iran Sanctions Measure
The House on Tuesday passed a measure to impose tough new sanctions on Iran, including a ban on all imports and an expansion of curbs on exports to that country.

H.Res. 557: Strongly condemning the United Nations Human Rights Council for ignoring severe human rights abuses in various countries, while choosing to unfairly target Israel by including it as the only country permanently placed on the Council's agenda.
Passed 416-2

September 25, 2007

Senate Amendment - S.Amdt. 3035: Hate Crimes

Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) just filed a hate crimes amendment (S.Amdt. 3035, GovTrack link), similar to Senator Kennedy’s earlier amendment, to the DoD Authorization Bill.

The Majority Leader then proceeded to file for a cloture vote on this amendment.

This means the Senate could vote on hate crimes as soon as Thursday morning.


Previous posts on hate crimes:
Senate Amendment 2067 to H.R. 1585: Hate Crimes
House Votes - H.R. 1592: Hate Crimes

September 24, 2007

Prayer vs. Shame

Legislative Update
  • FY 2007-2008 Continuing Resolution
  • Debt Limit Increase
  • $80,000 Families in "Poverty"
  • Our Greatest Threats
With fiscal year 2007 wrapping up for the federal government, there are several financial matters before Congress this week that need our prayers.

Bottom line: there is no future for a country that sells its next generation to foreign debt holders.

A few are awake and see the direction we are headed; they are trying to fix things through shame. However, we know that the Lord will help the nation that calls on him.

The greatest threats to America this very day are not physical weapons, but financial resources. If we don't tear down our own financial high places, they will be painfully taken from us.

September 23, 2007

Closing in on $10 Trillion in Debt

Senate Likely to Vote Soon to Raise Debt Limit
The Senate is expected to vote before its Columbus Day recess on legislation to raise the ceiling on the national debt to almost $10 trillion.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said Thursday he will force a roll-call vote on raising the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., told congressional leaders in a letter dated Sept. 19 that the statutory limit of $8.965 trillion would be reached Oct. 1. In a July letter, he had estimated that would occur in "early October."

On Sept. 12 the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation (H J Res 43) to boost the debt limit by $850 billion, to $9.815 trillion. The House passed that measure automatically, without a roll call vote, when Congress adopted the fiscal 2008 budget resolution (S Con Res 21) earlier this year. But the Senate has no similar rule for automatic action.

Congressional Record: Debt Limit
Sen. Thomas Coburn [R-OK]: Mr. President, I want to spend a few minutes talking about something that will come up in the next week or 10 days.

That is an extension and expansion of the debt limit. An attempt will be made to do this by unanimous consent. That is wrong.

Every Member of the Senate ought to be on record on whether we ought to expand again the amount of borrowing we are going to place on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

The current statutory debt limit is $8.965 trillion. It was last raised March 20, 2006. This Senator voted against that.

We have been on notice since that time that we needed to make the effort to rein in wasteful Washington spending so that we do not have to, in fact, borrow more money against our children's future.

Only 10 years ago it was $5.95 billion. We have increased the debt in the last 10 years by 50 percent. ...

I am putting the Senate on notice that I will not agree to a UC on the debt limit extension without a debate and full vote by each Member of this body on that debt limit and a recommitment to do what is right for the future.

Fiscal Year 2008 holding at FY2007 levels

The Week Ahead: Congress Faces Time Crunch to Keep Government Operating in New Fiscal Year
In the final week of the 2007 fiscal year, the House and Senate face packed agendas in an effort to keep the government funded and extend authorizations for a host of programs beyond Sept. 30.

With none of the 12 fiscal 2008 appropriations bills enacted, both the House and Senate will take up continuing resolutions to extend federal government funding at current levels.

House Democratic leaders said they are mulling over a funding resolution that lasts at least five weeks.

Spending Fight With Bush Delayed
Democrats do not intend to use the stop-gap funding legislation Congress must pass this week as a vehicle for challenging President Bush on spending — putting off that fight until later in the year.

Putting $83,000 Families Into Poverty

Previous House Votes
Previous Senate Votes

Senate and House Reach Accord on Health Insurance for Children
Senate and House negotiators from both parties reached a final deal yesterday on an expansion of a health insurance program for the children of the working poor, just a day after President Bush vowed to veto it.
The House is expected to vote on Tuesday, with a Senate vote by Thursday, congressional aides said.

Children's Health Bill Ready for Floor Action
House and Senate leaders have concluded negotiations on a children’s health insurance bill, clearing the way for its passage next week — and a threatened veto by President Bush.

President Bush S-CHIP Press Conference: "Their proposal would result in taking a program meant to help poor children and turning it into one that covers children in households with incomes of up to $83,000 a year."

President's Weekly Radio Address
In just eight days, the State Children's Health Insurance Program--or "SCHIP"--is set to expire.

Veto Threat Angers Republicans
Republicans reacted angrily yesterday to President Bush's promise to veto a bill that would renew and expand the popular State Children's Health Insurance Program, raising the likelihood of significant GOP defections when the package comes to a vote next week.

House Republicans Confident They Can Sustain Veto of SCHIP Expansion
Now that congressional Democrats have a deal on children’s health insurance comes the hard part: turning it into law, despite a president who says he will veto the measure.

Senate Voice Vote - S. 456: Gang Abatement and Prevention Act

S. 456: Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007
A bill to increase and enhance law enforcement resources committed to investigation and prosecution of violent gangs, to deter and punish violent gang crime, to protect law-abiding citizens and communities from violent criminals, to revise and enhance criminal penalties for violent crimes, to expand and improve gang prevention programs, and for other purposes.

S.Amdt. 3022 by Sen. Feinstein [D-CA]
Of a perfecting nature.

Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.


Senate Passes Bill to Deter Gang Violence
The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Friday by voice vote that is aimed at combating gang violence.

September 22, 2007

Senate Vote - H.R. 1585: Defense Authorization (September 21, 2007)

H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

S.Amdt. 2898 by Sen. Levin [D-MI]
To provide for a reduction and transition of United States forces in Iraq.
Rejected 47-47


Nine-Month Iraq Timetable Is Voted Down by Senate
The Senate yesterday rejected a nine-month timetable for bringing most troops home from Iraq, yet another legislative defeat for Democrats in what is shaping up as a losing battle to force President Bush to end the war.

Senate Again Rebuffs Democratic Bid to Force Iraq War Withdrawal
The Senate on Friday shot down the latest Democratic attempt to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, leaving the administration’s strategy unscathed.

September 21, 2007

The Naked Congress

This morning, CNET blogger Caroline McCarthy posted the following article:


The first half of the article might be less interesting what with her going into lifecasting, social networking, and all the things one would expect from a blog called "the social."

But then she gets a bit more interesting and begins to delve into the principles behind what's driving some of the trends we see today.

Transparency, like the candid blog put forth by billionaire Mark Cuban, isn't new to the marketing buzzword scene. But pure "corporate transparency" is often a strategy to put a new spin on a culture that wore a particularly negative mantle in the earlier part of this decade (hello, Enron).

She then clarifies:

The Naked Generation doesn't get naked to save face. It's a way to create face.

In terms of consequences, she writes;

Every generation has its embarrassments (Hair bands? Shoulder pads?) but I'm wondering if my generation's embarrassment will be its lack thereof. Or maybe I shouldn't be talking about "embarrassment," because it's an antiquated concept by now.

This is because:

With the sorts of outlandish things that turn up on TMZ.com and YouTube, the Naked Generation flippantly believes it has nothing to lose. So, the common wisdom now goes, go ahead and post that camera phone clip of you falling into the swimming pool. You should be proud of it. Putting yourself out there takes confidence.


So here's the question for those working on transparency-in-government: Is transparency going to get us what we want? Is it really possible to shame people into being better legislators?

John McCain is well known for his distaste for earmarks. While campaigning for 2008, he recently said something like, I'll find out who those earmarking porkers are, and "I'll make their names famous."

But he didn't finish the thought. What happens when you make them famous? Will they be shamed out of office or into better practices, or will they just become famous? Aren't politicians some of the most shameless people among us? Will they just be cheered on as winning one for the home team?

What if making porkers famous just creates face for them?

As Paul says at the end of Romans 1, "as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind," and they then "not only do the same but also approve of those who practice" such things despite "knowing the righteous judgment of God."

I like a transparent Congress, but I'm not counting on it to change the human nature of its members.

Tim
11,065 days


9/24 Update:

NY Times: With New Rules, Congress Boasts of Pet Projects
If the idea was to shame lawmakers into restraint, it did not work.

Eight months after Democrats vowed to shine light on the dark art of “earmarking” money for pet projects, many lawmakers say the new visibility has only intensified the competition for projects by letting each member see exactly how many everyone else is receiving.

Senate Votes - H.R. 1585: Defense Authorization (September 20, 2007)

H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

S.Amdt. 2947 by Sen. Boxer [D-CA]
To reaffirm strong support for all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and to strongly condemn attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization.
Rejected 51-46

S.Amdt. 2934 by Sen. Cornyn [R-TX]
To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces.
Agreed to 72-25

S.Amdt. 2924 by Sen. Feingold [D-WI]
To safely redeploy United States troops from Iraq.
Rejected 28-70


Gates Seeks to Shore Up Backing for Iraq Policy as Senate Debate Bogs Down
As the Senate’s debate of a $648.3 billion Defense authorization bill bogged down in a partisan squabble over newspaper ads, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with about 23 House Republicans Thursday to solidify support for the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

House Votes - H.R. 2881: FAA Reauthorization Act

On Motion to Adjourn
Failed 137-265

H.Res. 664: Providing for consideration of H.R. 2881

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 223-189

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 218-196


H.R. 2881: FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007
To amend title 49, United States Code, to authorize appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2008 through 2011, to improve aviation safety and capacity, to provide stable funding for the national aviation system, and for other purposes.

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes

H.Amdt. 810 by Rep. Neugebauer [R-TX]
An amendment numbered 8 printed in Part C of House Report 110-335 to require the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to carry out a study on the feasibility of developing a publicly searchable, Internet Web-based resource that provides information regarding the acceptable height and distance that wind turbines may be installed in relation to aviation sites and the level of obstruction such turbines may present to such sites.
Agreed to 418-0

On Passage
Passed 267-151


House Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill; Senate Markup to Continue Friday
A bill that would reauthorize the FAA at $68 billion over four years and tighten protections for passengers stranded on airport tarmacs was passed Thursday by the House.

White House Threatens Veto of FAA Reauthorization Bill
The White House, upset that Congress is refusing to drastically alter the current system of aviation fees and taxes to pay for modernization of the air traffic control system, threatened Wednesday to veto a House reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

September 20, 2007

Senate Voice Vote - S. 558: Mental Health Parity Act

S. 558: Mental Health Parity Act of 2007
A bill to provide parity between health insurance coverage of mental health benefits and benefits for medical and surgical services.

Passed Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Senate Votes - H.R. 1585: Defense Authorization (September 19, 2007)

H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

S.Amdt. 2022 by Sen. Specter [R-PA]
To restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States.
Motion to Invoke Cloture Rejected 56-43
GOP Blocks Bid on Rights Of Detainees
A Republican filibuster in the Senate yesterday shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest in federal courts their detention and treatment, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues.

Senate Blocks Effort to Give Detainees Access to Federal Courts
Supporters of legislation to grant habeas corpus rights to foreigners held by the U.S. military failed Wednesday to muster enough votes to limit debate on the measure, offered as an amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill.

S.Amdt. 2909 by Sen. Webb [D-VA]
To specify minimum periods between deployment of units and members of the Armed Forces deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Rejected 56-44
Longer Leaves for Troops Blocked
Senate Republicans yesterday rejected a bipartisan proposal to lengthen the home leaves of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, derailing a measure that war opponents viewed as one of the best chances to force President Bush to accelerate a redeployment of forces.

S.Amdt. 2918 by Sen. McCain [R-AZ]
To express the sense of Congress on Department of Defense policy regarding dwell time.
Rejected 55-45


Senate sees no way out on Iraq
Senate Republicans once again block Dem attempts to change U.S. course in Iraq.

House Vote - H.R. 3580: Food and Drug Administration Amendments

H.R. 3580: Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007
To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to revise and extend the user-fee programs for prescription drugs and for medical devices, to enhance the postmarket authorities of the Food and Drug Administration with respect to the safety of drugs, and for other purposes.
Passed 405-7

9/21 Update: Passed Senate by Unanimous Consent.


FDA Set to Get Broad New Powers
Congress is on the verge of sending President Bush the largest expansion of Food and Drug Administration regulatory powers in a decade, seeking to bolster the monitoring of prescription drugs and medical devices.

House Votes - H.R. 2761: Terrorism Risk Insurance

H.Res. 660: Providing for the consideration of H.R. 2761

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 224-197

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 223-195


H.R. 2761: Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act of 2007
To extend the Terrorism Insurance Program of the Department of the Treasury, and for other purposes.

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes

H.Amdt. 801 by Rep. Frank [D-MA]
An amendment numbered 1 printed in Part B of House Report 110-333 to clarify the certification process for acts of NBCR (nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological) terrorism; apply the reset mechanism to the NBCR deductible, and provide that the Consumer Price Index will be used to adjust for inflation the dollar amounts used in TRIA. The amendment also makes technical and conforming changes.
Agreed to 426-1

H.Amdt. 802 by Rep. Pearce [R-NM]
An amendment numbered 2 printed in Part B of House Report 110-333 to raise the deductible set at 5% above $1,000,000,000 by 1% each program year, rather than by .5% as the bill is written.
Failed 194-230

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
(consideration: CR H10549-10551; text: CR H10551)
Failed 196-228

On Passage
Passed 312-110


Leaders Quell Budget Concerns to Pass Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension
The House easily passed a 15-year extension of the federal terrorism insurance backstop Wednesday, but such a long time frame is likely to meet resistance in the Senate.

September 19, 2007

House Votes - H.R. 1852: Expanding American Homeownership Act

H.Res. 650: Providing for consideration of H.R. 1852

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed 226-191

On Agreeing to the Resolution
Passed 227-190


H.R. 1852: Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007
To modernize and update the National Housing Act and enable the Federal Housing Administration to use risk-based pricing to more effectively reach underserved borrowers, and for other purposes.

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Votes

H.Amdt. 798 by Rep. Hensarling [R-TX]
An amendment numbered 5 printed in House Report 110-330 to strike the allowable use of FHA savings for an affordable housing fund.
Failed 148-280

H.Amdt. 800 by Rep. Biggert [R-IL]
An amendment in the nature of a substitute numbered 7 printed in House Report 110-330 to reform the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) single-family mortgage insurance activities and would allow FHA to base each borrower's mortgage insurance premiums on the risk that the borrower poses to the FHA Mortgage Insurance Fund, with slight variations. Under this proposal, mortgage insurance premiums will be based on the borrower's credit history, loan-to-value ratio, debt-to-income ratio, and on FHA's historical experience with similar borrowers. This amendment maintains FHA reserves within the insurance fund to preserve the future solvency of the FHA program.
Failed 175-252

On Motion to Recommit with Instructions
(consideration: CR H10478-10480; text: CR H10478)
Failed 209-216

On Passage
Passed 348-72

House Suspension Votes - September 17-18, 2007

H.R. 3246: Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act of 2007.
Failed 225-152

H.R. 1657: To establish a Science and Technology Scholarship Program to award scholarships to recruit and prepart students for careers in the National Weather Service and in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration marine research, atmospheric research, and satellite programs.
Passed 360-16

H.R. 3527: To extend for two months the authorities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
Passed 347-30

H.R. 3096: To promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam
Passed 414-3

Senate Vote - S. 1257: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act

H.R. 1257: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007
A bill to provide the District of Columbia a voting seat and the State of Utah an additional seat in the House of Representatives.

Debate

Votes

On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed
Rejected 57-42

Senate Votes - H.R. 1124: District of Columbia College Access Act extension

H.R. 1124: To extend the District of Columbia College Access Act of 1999

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

House Activity, Votes

S.Amdt. 2887 by Sen. Coburn [R-OK]
To exempt millionaires from receiving educational scholarship funds intended for needy families.

S.Amdt. 2888 by Sen. Coburn [R-OK]
To prohibit the Federal Government from favoring public colleges and universities over private colleges and universities under the District of Columbia College Access Act of 1999.
Rejected 38-59

On Passage of the Bill
Passed 96-0


Senate Passes Five-Year Extension of D.C. Tuition Assistance Program
The Senate voted 96-0 on Tuesday to extend for five years a program giving District of Columbia high school graduates tuition assistance to attend colleges nationwide.

September 15, 2007

Senate Committees - 4 Bills Passed

S. 1256: Small Business Lending Reauthorization and Improvements Act of 2007
A bill to amend the Small Business Act to reauthorize loan programs under that Act, and for other purposes.

S. 1687: Global Pathogen Surveillance Act of 2007
A bill to provide for global pathogen surveillance and response.

S. 1138: Nuclear Safeguards and Supply Act of 2007
A bill to enhance nuclear safeguards and to provide assurances of nuclear fuel supply to countries that forgo certain fuel cycle activities.

S. 1027: PACT Act
A bill to prevent tobacco smuggling, to ensure the collection of all tobacco taxes, and for other purposes.

September 14, 2007

Senate Votes - H.R. 3074: Transportation, HUD Appropriations (Passage)

H.R. 3074: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Previous Senate Votes, All Votes

S.Amdt. 2844 by Sen. DeMint [R-SC]
To provide a system for better construction and maintenance of America's aging bridge infrastructure by spending American tax dollars more effectively and efficiently.
Motion to Table Agreed to 56-37

S.Amdt. 2812 by Sen. Coburn [R-OK]
To remove an unnecessary earmark for the International Peace Garden in Dunseith, North Dakota.
Motion to Table Agreed to 63-32

On Passage of the Bill
Passed 88-7


Transportation-HUD Bill Passes as Senate Ignores Veto Threat
The Senate passed its fiscal 2008 Transportation-Housing spending bill by a wide margin Wednesday, after killing an attempt to waive Davis-Bacon wage rules for maintenance and replacement of aging bridges.

Resolutions - General David H. Petraeus

H.Res. 644: Reaffirming the commitment of the House of Representatives to respecting the independent and professional reputation of General David H. Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces serving in good standing in the defense of the United States.

H.Res. 647: Commending General David H. Petraeus for his exemplary service to the United States and for his leadership as Commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq and condemning in the strongest possible terms the reprehensible efforts of certain persons questioning the honesty, integrity, and service of General Petraeus.

S.Res. 315: A resolution to express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.

September 12, 2007

Senate Votes - H.R. 3074: Transportation, HUD Appropriations

H.R. 3074: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Debate

Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)

Previous House Votes, All Votes

S.Amdt. 2792 by Sen. Murray [D-WA]
To expand the extension of authority of the Secretary of Transportation and provide additional obligation authority for the highway bridge program.
Agreed to 60-33

S.Amdt. 2810 by Sen. Coburn [R-OK]
To prohibit funds appropriated under title I from being used for earmarks until all structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges have been repaired, with limited exceptions.
Motion to Table Agreed to 82-14

S.Amdt. 2797 by Sen. Dorgan [D-ND]
To prohibit the establishment of a program that allows Mexican truck drivers to operate beyond the commercial zones near the Mexican border.
Agreed to 75-23
Senate Amendment Would Bar Funds for Mexican Truck Pilot Program
The amendment to the $104.6 billion Transportation-HUD measure (HR 3074) would bar funds from being used for a controversial Transportation Department pilot program allowing up to 100 Mexican trucking companies to operate in the United States beyond a 25-mile radius of the border.

Squabble Over Amendment to Spending Bill Consumes Senate Debate
The Senate made its way Tuesday evening toward passage of the fiscal 2008 Transportation-HUD spending bill, after agreeing to prohibit Mexican commercial trucks from driving more than 25 miles into the United States.

S.Amdt. 2842 by Sen. Cornyn [R-TX]
To ensure that every motor carrier entering the United States through the cross-border motor carrier demonstration program is inspected and meets all applicable safety standards established for United States commercial motor vehicles.
Rejected 29-69

S.Amdt. 2811 by Sen. Coburn [R-OK]
To prohibit the use of funds made available under this Act for bicycle paths so that the funds can be used to improve bridge and road safety.
Motion to Table Agreed to 80-18

S.Amdt. 2808 by Sen. Cornyn [R-TX]
To express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.
Proposed: Sep 11, 2007.
It is the sense of the Senate--
  1. to reaffirm its support for all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, including General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq;
  2. to strongly condemn any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces; and
  3. to specifically repudiate the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group Moveon.org.


Between Iraq report and a hard place
Democrats face a touchy political problem — how do you attack what Petraeus and Crocker are saying without attacking them personally?

"No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV," noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. "The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us."

Senate Work on Transportation Spending Bill Slows
Work on the $104.6 billion fiscal 2008 Transportation-Housing spending bill bogged down Tuesday, as Senate Republicans sought to force a vote on an amendment supporting Gen. David H. Petraeus.

House Vote - H.Res. 643: Recognizing September 11

H.Res. 643: Recognizing September 11 as a day of rememberance, extending sympathies to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and their families, honoring the heroic actions of our nation's first responders and Armed Forces, and reaffirming the commitment to defending the people of the United States against any and all future challenges.
Passed 334-1

September 8, 2007

Perception or Reality?

Legislative Update
  • Last Week
  • Iraq
  • September - Appropriations
  • Fall Outlook
Congress returned this week from its August recess and passed the College Cost Reduction Act without discrimination against private education.

The Senate took a handful of votes on the life issue in its very first appropriations bill.

Next week is unexpectedly light with little to no substantive or controversial legislation as members of Congress will be traveling to the funeral for Rep. Paul E. Gillmor, and observing Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

This means the Iraq report by General Petraeus will dominate the headlines even more next week.

The Senate is taking up the Transportation Appropriations bill, which it expects to finish this coming week, and then continue work on the Defense Authorization bill. (Expect more Iraq votes there.)

The House, when it returns the week of the 17th, is expected to take up an election, voting reform bill, though with the divisions this has exposed within the majority's own caucus, this may not happen.

Read today's edition of Inside the Mountain for more.

House Committee - H.R. 2015: Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

H.R. 2015: Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007
To prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
This bill would prohibit employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

The bill text literally refers to "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity" 15 times, and explains, "The term 'gender identity' means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth."

By lifting the meaning of gender from the realities of biology or physiology, any differentiation between or identification of gender is hereby abolished by this legislation. This would mean the men's restroom or locker room can no longer be restricted to men, and vice versa for women.

ENDA would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on his or her sexual orientation or "gender identity." Such acts would be considered crimes subject to severe penalties.

Religious Freedom (or the lack thereof):

Section 6 of the bill claims to be an exemption for religious organizations. However, it only exempts "a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society which has as its primary purpose religious ritual or worship or the teaching or spreading of religious doctrine or belief" (emphases added).

In other words, any parachurch organization would not be exempted, unlike under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which exempts, "a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities" without any specification of purpose.

The "actual or perceived" language, and therefore the danger, of this bill is similar to the hate crimes bill we have described in the past that passed earlier this year.
  • Pray that this bill does not pass and does not become law.

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