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April 29, 2011

House Schedule - Debt Ceiling Considerations

Boehner not promising House vote to raise debt ceiling
House Speaker John Boehner said Monday he's not promising a House vote to raise the debt ceiling. "I believe it's responsible to increase the debt limit," he said. "But... it's time to cut up the credit cards. And that means that we've got to have real cuts in spending. And we're not gonna be talking about billions here. We're gonna be talking about trillions."

House GOP leaders to meet with rank and file Republicans on debt limit vote
With a showdown over raising the debt limit looming, House Republican leaders said Tuesday they will hold a series of "listening sessions" for rank-and-file GOP members when Congress returns from its break next week. The sessions are designed to get feedback on how to frame the controversial upcoming vote to raise the nation's debt limit, according to several GOP sources on a conference call for House Republicans.

House Republicans mull plan to hike debt ceiling every two months
Conservative activist Grover Norquist is pushing the proposal as a way to extract more concessions from Democrats.

House Schedule - Energy, Health Care, Syria

Committee Passed

H.R. 1213: To repeal mandatory funding provided to States in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges.

H.R. 1214: To repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction
House looks to cut another piece of 'ObamaCare' law next week
House Republicans next week will resume their quest to eliminate last year's healthcare law one piece at a time, this time by terminating a grant program that funds school-based health center construction.

H.R. 1215: To amend title V of the Social Security Act to convert funding for personal responsibility education programs from direct appropriations to an authorization of appropriations.

H.R. 1216: To amend the Public Health Service Act to convert funding for graduate medical education in qualified teaching health centers from direct appropriations to an authorization of appropriations.


Floor Outlook

House preparing to pass energy bills after Easter recess
Republicans will work on three bills they say would break a de facto ban on new energy exploration.

CBO says energy bill up next week in the House would increase federal revenues
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Friday released an estimate that said H.R. 1230, the "Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act," would bring in an estimated $40 million in revenues over the next decade, and would cost just $2 million to implement. The bill is expected to be on the floor next week, and would require the administration to conduct offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia. CBO said requiring lease sales would not affect revenues related to the Gulf, because the Department of the Interior already has an expectation of making these sales.


Hearings

Featured House hearings: GOP to focus on agriculture regulations, HHS priorities
House Republicans next week will continue to make the point that government regulations are impeding job growth, and are likely to be sharply critical of the increasing role that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is playing in the area of healthcare. On May 3, the House Agriculture and House Natural Resources Committees will hold a joint hearing to examine the costs of federal regulations on jobs and agriculture. Later in the week, on May 5, the House Education & the Workforce Committee will hear from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the priorities of her department.


Legislation Introduced

House ponders new sanctions against Iran, Syria
Republicans and Democrats in the House are mulling over the possibility of new sanctions against Iran and Syria, based on reports that Iran continues to enrich uranium and of violent protests that have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Syrians at the hands of government forces. Just before recessing, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 1655, which would impose tougher sanctions against Iran in reaction to that country's failure to give up its nuclear program.

Senate Schedule - Budget Votes

Key senator: Revenue increase from tax reform is OK
A leading Senate conservative said Sunday he can accept tax reform that increases overall tax revenue as part of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told the NBC program "Meet the Press" that if lowering tax rates and eliminating loopholes and deductions ended up bringing in more money to the U.S. government, "that would be fine with me."

Dems seek leverage by forcing GOP split on Ryan's budget plan
Senate Leader Harry Reid (D) hopes to drive wedge through the GOP caucus and leave vulnerable incumbents in a jam.

Kent Conrad pitches last chance budget deal
The Senate budget committee chairman seeks the middle between Ryan and Obama.

Senate Democrat backs bill to cap government spending
Ratcheting up the pressure on Democratic leaders to accept steep cuts in government spending, freshman Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Tuesday he would back a bill that places strict caps on spending enforced by automatic cuts if those caps were breached. The move by the moderate Democrat, who is up for re-election in a swing state, is evidence of the acute sensitivity many Democrats have about the politically charged issue of reducing government debt. Top Senate Democrats oppose spending caps as too inflexible. Manchin's announcement could weaken Democratic leaders in their negotiations with Republicans over the coming weeks about how to cut spending and curb the nation's debt.

Reid Says Senate Will Vote on Paul Ryan's Budget
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will hold a Senate vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal in a politically-charged move to force Republicans to go on the record on the controversial plan.

Congress: A Senate vote on the Ryan budget
Harry Reid says there will be a Senate vote on the Paul Ryan budget.

Mitch McConnell: Let's vote on Obama budget
The Senate minority leader pushes a dueling litmus-test vote on spending.

Sen. Sessions says Dem plan to split GOP with budget vote will backfire
GOP senator says it will remind voters that Senate Democrats don't have their own budget proposal.

Debt Ceiling Exposes Deepening Democratic Divide
Competing pressures for the 2012 election have put President Obama and moderate Senate Democrats on a collision course over Obama’s pending request to raise the federal debt limit.

Former US Solicitor General Stands Behind Federal Marriage Law

DOMA: law firm withdraws; Clement stays
The U.S. House of Representatives lost a law firm but retained a lawyer April 25 in its effort to defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. King and Spaulding, a Washington, D.C., law firm, announced it was withdrawing from an agreement announced only a week. But Paul Clement, the King and Spaulding partner chosen to defend DOMA on behalf of the House, resigned shortly after his firm announced its withdrawal. He said he would defend it as part of another firm.

Firm hired to defend DOMA in court calls it quits
The law firm hired by the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court has decided it will drop its defense of the federal statute, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The firm, King and Spalding, had faced protests from gay rights groups after its contract with the House Administration Committee and General Counsel - along with its attached price tag of up to $500,000 -- was reported. The Human Rights Campaign announced a national campaign last week to urge the group to withdraw from the agreement. The firm had agreed to work on behalf of the GOP-led House after the Obama administration announced earlier this year that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the law, which it says is unconstitutional. Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and the lead lawyer on the legal team hired to defend DOMA in court, has also resigned from King and Spalding.

After Law Firm Quits DOMA Case, Partner Resigns in Protest
The law firm hired by House Republicans to defend the Defense of Marriage Act has filed a motion to withdraw from the case. Simultaneously, the lawyer formerly assigned to carry out that case has resigned in protest. Many suspect that the law firm King & Spalding dropped the case after buckling under pressure from gay rights groups, which had been protesting at the firm's Atlanta offices. The resignation letter of partner Paul Clement, who was solicitor general under George W. Bush, seems to confirm that suspicion.

Law Firm Backs Out of Defending Marriage Act, Partner Resigns
The law firm hired by the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act has withdrawn amid pressure from gay rights activists.

Law Firm Bails on House Republicans’ DOMA Defense
A prestigious Atlanta law firm hired by Republicans in the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court has withdrawn from the case under pressure from homosexual activist groups, prompting the resignation of one of the firm’s prominent attorneys, who said he intends to go ahead with defending the law.

Virginia AG cancels King & Spalding work for state after "obsequious act of weakness" in DOMA case
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has terminated his office's relationship with King & Spalding, the Atlanta law firm that abrubtly dropped the U.S. House of Representatives as a client for purposes of defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

Virginia Drops Law Firm that Dropped Republicans in the DOMA Case
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has dropped the law firm that dropped the House of Representatives as a client after being tasks with defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. Cuccinelli write to King & Spalding, the Atlanta-based law firm, to admonish it for showing weakness in succumbing to pressure to not defend the law. Ending its relationship with the House "was such an obsequious act of weakness" that Virginia can no longer employ the firm, Cuccinelli wrote. Virginia prefers to work with companies that show "commitment, courage, strength and toughness, and unfortunately... your firm utterly lacks such qualities." He added that he wants to make sure "there is no chance that one of my legal clients will be put in the embarrassing and difficult situation like the client you walked away from, the House of Representatives," the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott reports. The letter ends the 19-month relationship with King & Spalding "effective immediately."

April 16, 2011

Congress Last Week

House
H.Con.Res. 43: Providing for a conditional adjournment of the House of Representatives and a conditional recess or adjournment of the Senate.
Passed by 65 votes: 243-178, 11 not voting

As Gas Prices Continue to Climb, House Turns Its Attention to Offshore Drilling
The House Natural Resources Committee spent Wednesday working on three new energy bills.
  • H.R. 1229: Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
  • H.R. 1230: Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
  • H.R. 1231: Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act
Speaker Boehner invites Netanyahu to address joint meeting of Congress next month

Senate

What was forecasted:
The Hill: A closer look at next week…
While there's always a chance the devil shows up in the details the two parties are hammering out, the federal government finally seems to be working in concert, and next week is expected to conclude all debate on a FY 2011 spending bill.

The Foundry: Cloakroom for April 11th-April 15th
Highlights from the past:
Mr. Obama on the debt limit in 2006

Analysis of the 2006 and 2007 debt limit votes

Expressing Appreciation of Members of Staff

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(Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, I simply want to thank all of our hardworking staff in our office and on the House Budget Committee, who put in long hours, dedicated years of expertise to making this budget possible, to making this budget passable--to making this moment happen.

I want to thank Budjon Burks, Eric Davis, Vanessa Day, Marsha Douglas, Tim Flynn, Nicole Foltz, Jose Guillen, Jim Herz, Matt Hoffmann, Charlotte Ivancic, Pat Knudsen, Jane Lee, Dick Magee, Ted McCann, Andy Morton, Courtney Reinhard, Paul Restuccia, Jon Romito, Austin Smythe--our staff director--Jenna Spealman, Stephen Spruiell, Conor Sweeney, Dennis Teti, Dana Wade. I call him ``John Z,'' but it's John Zakrajsek. That's an inside joke. Brad Butler, Jonathan Golster, Spencer Pepper, Alex Stoddard.

I also want to thank from our personal office:

Smythe Anderson, Laurie Krmpotich, Joyce Meyer, Sarah Peer, Mark Positano, Kevin Seifert, Martin Skold, Andy Speth--my chief of staff--Allison Steil; our interns: Brad Kirschbaum, Jane McEarney, David Pelsue, Greg Spevacek, and John Watts.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank all of the hardworking staff for making this possible.

(House of Representatives - April 15, 2011)

House Votes - H.Con.Res. 34: Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

H.Res. 223: Providing for consideration of H.Con.Res. 34

On Ordering the Previous Question
Passed by 55 votes: 238-183, 11 not voting

On Passage
Passed by 62 votes: 243-181, 8 not voting

On Motion to Adjourn
Failed by 402 votes: 11-412, 9 not voting
AyeMD-6Bartlett, Roscoe [R]
AyeMO-1Clay, William [D]
AyePA-12Critz, Mark [D]
AyeMN-5Ellison, Keith [D]
AyeCA-51Filner, Bob [D]
AyeCA-10Garamendi, John [D]
AyeAZ-7Grijalva, Raul [D]
AyeNM-1Heinrich, Martin [D]
AyeKS-1Huelskamp, Tim [R]
AyeOH-6Johnson, Bill [R]
AyeCA-12Speier, Jackie [D]

House votes against adjourning, takes up FY 2012 budget resolution

H.Con.Res. 34: Establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021.
Ryan takes shot against Obama in opening debate on FY 2012 budget

House finishes first stage of debate on FY 2012 budget bill

Amendments

H.Amdt. 256 by Rep. Cleaver [D-MO5]
A substitute amendment numbered 1 printed in Part B of House Report 112-62 to make significant investments in education, job training, transportation and infrastructure, and advanced research and development programs that will accelerate our economic recovery. Would also protect the social safety net without cutting Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. Would raise new revenue by making our tax system more fair. Would also close certain corporate tax loopholes and preferences, which will save trillions of dollars on the deficit over the next decade.
Failed by 201 votes: 103-303, 26 not voting
House rejects Black Caucus budget resolution for FY 2012
Every Republican voted against it, and even the Democrats were split on the CBC budget — 103 Dems supported it and 75 opposed it.

H.Amdt. 257 by Rep. Grijalva [D-AZ7]
An substitute amendment numbered 3 printed in House Report 112-62 to eliminate the deficit by 2021, while putting America back to work, restoring America's economic competitiveness, implementing a fair tax system, keeping Americans healthy and bringing our troops back home.
Failed by 271 votes: 77-347, 8 not voting

Friday: House wrapping up debate, votes on FY 2012 budget
Garrett's amendment will be of particular interest, as it has the chance to draw support from several dozen Republicans who want to cut more than the mainstream GOP bill from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). All of the other Democratic amendments anticipate several trillion dollars more in government outlays over the next decade.
H.Amdt. 258 by Rep. Garrett [R-NJ5]
An substitute amendment numbered 4 printed in House Report 112-62 to establish a Fiscal Year 2012 budget and set the appropriate budgetary levels for Fiscal Year 2011 through 2021.
Failed by 18 votes: 119-136, 177 not voting
Chaos on House floor as Democrats try to unsettle GOP budget
Shouts on the floor of "close it down" as Democrats vote present to try to take down GOP budget.

In the House, Liberal and Conservative Budget Plans Come to the Floor
Once in a while, the most meaningless votes in Congress are the most interesting ones.

House Democrats, in an effort to force Republicans to come tantalizingly close to passing this far-reaching alternative to the Ryan plan, decided to simply vote “present,” forcing Republicans to choose between passing the plan or voting against it and running afoul of conservative groups, including Club for Growth.

H.Amdt. 259 by Rep. Van Hollen [D-MD8]
A substitute amendment numbered 5 printed in Part B of House Report 112-62 to reduce deficits gradually to avoid disrupting the recovery and reaches primary balance by 2018 while protecting guarantees to seniors and investments that are essential for the well-being of our citizens. Would also make strategic investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure, while restraining the growth in overall discretionary spending. Would extend middle-income tax relief and streamlines the tax code to remove special interest tax breaks that distort economic activity.
Failed by 94 votes: 166-259, 7 not voting


On Passage
Passed by 42 votes: 235-193, 4 not voting


Protesters interrupt House eight times in closing budget debate
The protesters targeted members of both parties, with 12 individuals arrested in demonstrations.

House passes Ryan's '12 budget; conservatives want more cuts
The vote came after a clear sign that at least half the Republican Caucus supports even tougher spending cuts.

Ryan budget plan passes House; only 4 GOP reps vote no
The House has passed a FY2012 budget plan that would cut trillions in spending over the next decade and fundamentally transform the current Medicare system.

House passes Ryan budget
Republicans embrace his ambitious fiscal plan.

House GOP passes controversial $3.5 trillion budget plan
Paul Ryan proposal would cut $6 trillion over ten years, includes changes to Medicare and Medicaid and tax cuts for wealthy

House Republicans turn from dissent to unity in budget votes
A day after 59 members broke with leadership on the 2011 spending bill, all but four backed the 2012 measure.

Anniversary of Armenian Genocide

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(Mr. COSTA asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I too rise to thank Father Coughlin, Father Dan, for his spiritual sustenance and guidance that he has given all the Members of the House during his service to our country.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide, which was the first genocide in the 20th century and, sadly, the template for a cycle of genocide that continues to this day around the world.

Next week, in Fresno and around the country, there will be thousands of Armenian Americans, many who are sons and daughters and grandchildren of the survivors of the Armenian genocide. As a young man, I grew up listening to my friends the Kezirians, the Kolligians, the Bakers, the Abrahams, the Karabians and the Kashians, and many others who told the story of their parents and grandparents.

We are quickly approaching the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide. I am hopeful we don't have to wait until then to bring justice to the Armenian nation and our friends and neighbors who sadly recognize that event.

There is never a right time to recognize genocide. More than 90 years have passed since the start of these events, and we cannot wait for a convenient moment to recognize this truly catastrophic historical event. I will continue to stand for us to properly recognize this tragic event.

(House of Representatives - April 15, 2011)

Putting Our Country on the Path to Prosperity

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(Mr. WITTMAN asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. WITTMAN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing Father Coughlin and his service and sacrifice to our Nation.

As we look at this Nation today, we are at a tipping point, and we have two paths that we can choose. We can choose to talk in a meaningful and thoughtful way about the deficits we have before us in this national debt, or we can continue to demagogue issues and ideas that will get us to long-term prosperity for this country. I know the American people prefer us to have that thoughtful, meaningful conversation about how we get this Nation on the right path, how we rein in spending, and how we control the growth of government.

Folks, today the issues are about growing our economy, not about growing government. We have seen that past efforts to grow government have not resulted in prosperity for this Nation. The time is now for us to have a meaningful, thoughtful discussion about all aspects of the budget. Let's not demagogue the issue. Let's prove to the American people that we can make the tough decisions to move this Nation in the right direction, to get this spending under control, to reduce our debt, and make sure the long-term care of this country is put first and foremost, that we are on the path to prosperity.

(House of Representatives - April 15, 2011)

Consumer Privacy Protection Act

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(Mr. STEARNS asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, Jim Matheson and I introduced H.R. 1528, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act. Our legislation attempts to strike the proper balance between consumer privacy and innovation by requiring entities to provide consumers, in clear and easy to understand language, what information is being collected and how the information is being used. By giving the consumer more notice and choice, we can encourage strong Internet commerce while protecting consumer privacy.

Overreaching privacy regulations could have a significant, negative economic impact at a time when many small businesses are struggling today. Only the consumer knows how he or she feels about the information being collected, the parties doing the collecting, and the purpose for which the information is collected. Congress cannot and should not make that decision for them. We need to place the control

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over consumer information with the actual consumer, and our legislation does this.

Bankruptcy or Prosperity

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(Mr. McCOTTER asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. McCOTTER. I too would like to join in the chorus we've heard today to thank Father Coughlin for bearing the cross that is Congress.

Mr. Speaker, as we hear the debates that will continue on into today on the budget, we will hear much hue and cry; but when we look at the reality, the Ryan House Republican proposal is really a very modest attempt to sustain the welfare state, and I believe it is an important one.

When history looks back after the momentous changes in which we find ourselves, it will view the Ryan House Republican budget as but a baby step in escaping Big Government's implosion. It is a responsible course; it is a responsible choice because it is between bankruptcy or prosperity; and I and the American people will choose prosperity.

(House of Representatives - April 15, 2011)

Calling on the United Nations to Rescind the Goldstone Report

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Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Foreign Relations Committee be discharged from further consideration of S. Res. 138 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The clerk will report the resolution by title.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A resolution (S. Res. 138) calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report, and for other purposes.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate, and any statements be printed in the Record.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The resolution (S. Res. 138) was agreed to.

The preamble was agreed to.

The resolution, with its preamble, reads as follows:

S. Res. 138

Whereas, on January 12, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution S-9/1, authorizing a ``fact-finding mission'' regarding the conduct of the Government of Israel during Operation Cast Lead between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009;

Whereas that resolution prejudged the outcome of the fact finding mission by mandating that it investigate ``violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people'';

Whereas, on September 15, 2009, the ``United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict'' released its report, now known as the ``Goldstone report'', named for its chair, South African Jurist Richard Goldstone;

Whereas the report made numerous unsubstantiated assertions against Israel, in particular accusing the Government of Israel of committing war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians during its operations in Gaza;

Whereas the report downplayed the overwhelming evidence that Hamas deliberately used Palestinian civilians and civilian institutions as human shields against Israel and deliberately targeted Israeli civilians with rocket fire for over eight years prior to the operation;

Whereas the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to welcome the report, to endorse its recommendations, and to condemn Israel without mentioning Hamas;

Whereas, as a result of the report, the United Nations General Assembly has passed two resolutions endorsing the report's findings, the United Nations Secretary-General has been requested to submit several reports on implementation of its recommendations, and the Human Rights Council is scheduled to follow up on implementation of the report during future sessions;

Whereas the findings of the Goldstone report and the subsequent and continued United Nations member state actions following up on those findings have caused and continue to cause extensive harm to Israel's standing in the world and could potentially create legal problems for Israel and its leaders;

Whereas Justice Richard Goldstone publicly retracted the central claims of the report he authored in an op-ed in The Washington Post on April 2, 2011;

Whereas Justice Goldstone wrote in that article that if he ``had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document'';

Whereas Justice Goldstone concluded that, contrary to his report's findings, the Government of Israel did not intentionally target civilians in the Gaza Strip as a matter of policy;

Whereas, in contrast, Justice Goldstone states that the crimes committed by Hamas were clearly intentional, were targeted at civilians, and constitute a violation of international law;

Whereas Justice Goldstone also conceded that the number of civilian casualties in Gaza was far smaller than the report alleged;

Whereas Justice Goldstone admitted that Israel investigated the findings in the report, while expressing disappointment that Hamas has not taken any steps to look into the report's findings; and

Whereas Justice Goldstone concluded that ``Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens'': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council members to reflect the author's repudiation of the Goldstone report's central findings, rescind the report, and reconsider further Council actions with respect to the report's findings;

(2) urges United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to work with United Nations member states to reform the United Nations Human Rights Council so that it no longer unfairly, disproportionately, and falsely criticizes Israel on a regular basis;

(3) requests Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to do all in his power to redress the damage to Israel's reputation caused by the Goldstone report;

(4) asks the Secretary-General to do all he can to urge member states to prevent any further United Nations action on the report's findings; and

(5) urges the United States to take a leadership role in getting the United Nations and its bodies to prevent any further action on the report's findings and limit the damage that this libelous report has caused to our close ally Israel and to the reputation of the United Nations.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)


Senate asks UN to retract report that accused Israel's military of war crimes
The Israeli government and its defense forces have disputed the findings of that report since it was released in 2009.

Honoring and Supporting Women in North Africa and the Middle East

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Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 33, S. Res. 109.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution by title.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A resolution (S. Res. 109) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East whose bravery, compassion, and commitment to putting the wellbeing of others before their own have proven that courage can be contagious.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the amendments at the desk be agreed to, the resolution, as amended, be agreed to, the preamble, as amended, be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendments (Nos. 301 and 302) were agreed to, as follows:

AMENDMENT NO. 301

(Purpose: To amend the resolution)

On page 4, beginning on line 12, strike ``, and supports'' and all that follows through ``these rights'' on line 14.

AMENDMENT NO. 302

(Purpose: To amend the preamble)

In the ninth whereas clause of the preamble, strike ``the United Nations Security Council and''.

The resolution (S. Res. 109), as amended, was agreed to.

The preamble, as amended, was agreed to.

The resolution, as amended, with its preamble, as amended, reads as follows:

S. Res. 109

Whereas, in the course of peaceful protests in countries throughout North Africa and

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the Middle East, women have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men to advance their rights;

Whereas Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said, ``The rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st Century.'';

Whereas, in late December 2010 and January 2011, Tunisia underwent a political upheaval, dubbed the ``Jasmine Revolution,'' resulting in the fleeing of President of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from the country on January 14, 2011;

Whereas one of the first voices of the ``Jasmine Revolution'' was the sister of Mohammad Bouazizi, the young man whose death led to many of the peaceful protests in Tunisia;

Whereas, on January 25, 2011, demonstrations began across Egypt with thousands of protesters peacefully calling for a new government, free and fair elections, significant constitutional and political reforms, greater economic opportunity, and an end to government corruption;

Whereas women in Egypt have utilized social media to galvanize support among men and women for peaceful protest;

Whereas huge crowds came out to protest peacefully in Egypt, and women were among those that faced tear gas and who pitched their tents and slept in the cold in Tahrir Square;

Whereas hundreds of women took part in a rally in Cairo on March 8, 2011, the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day, to remind women in Egypt that they must have a voice in their nation's future;

Whereas, on February 25, 2011, the international community condemned the violence and use of force against civilians in Libya;

Whereas, according to press reports, women in Libya have been working behind the scenes making a profound difference to promote reform and keep the momentum of the uprising alive, listening to worried fathers whose sons are fighting on the frontlines, keeping up with the day-to-day clashes and casualty numbers, and holding meetings about health and education issues, as well as participating in the demonstrations themselves;

Whereas, according to press reports, women are among the leaders of demonstrations calling for reform in Yemen;

Whereas women's groups in countries such as Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iran have attempted to harness critical support regarding legislation affecting their rights;

Whereas women around the world continue to face significant obstacles in all aspects of their lives, including denial of basic human rights, discrimination, and gender-based violence;

Whereas women, young and old, have marched in the streets of countries from Tunisia to Iran demanding freedom from oppression; and

Whereas women across North Africa and the Middle East aspire for freedom, democracy, and rule of law: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) honors the women in North Africa and the Middle East who have worked to ensure that women are guaranteed equality and basic human rights;

(2) recognizes that the empowerment of women is inextricably linked to the potential of nations to generate economic growth and sustainable democracy;

(3) acknowledges that women in North Africa and the Middle East are demanding to be included in making choices that will affect their own lives and their families;

(4) reaffirms the commitment of the United States to the universal rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, including via the Internet;

(5) celebrates this year's centennial anniversary of International Women's Day, a global day to celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future, and a day to recognize the obstacles that women still face in the struggle for equal rights and opportunities;

(6) condemns any efforts to provoke or instigate violence against women, and calls upon all parties to refrain from all violent and criminal acts; and

(7) underscores the vital importance of women's rights and political participation as leaders in North Africa and the Middle East consider constitutional reforms and shape new governments.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

Senate Resolution 150--Religious Minority Rights and Freedoms in the Arab World

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Mr. INHOFE submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

S. Res. 150

Whereas, on January 25, 2011, in Tahrir Square, Egyptian protestors found their voice when they successfully ended the 30-plus year rule of President Mubarak and began the work of creating a true democratic government, a government that supports and protects inalienable rights and freedoms, including the freedom of religion;

Whereas the fervor and spirit of these revolutions have taken wing in other Arab nations such as Tunisia, Libya, and Syria;

Whereas, reminiscent of the 1968 ``Prague Spring'' in the former Czechoslovakia, many have called this revolutionary period an ``Arab Spring'', where ordinary citizens have taken to the streets demanding an end to corruption, political cronyism, and government repression;

Whereas, in the midst of newly acquired freedoms, including those of speech, press, and assembly, it is extremely important that religious minorities in these countries be protected from violence and guaranteed the freedom to practice their religion and to express religious thought;

Whereas Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that ``[e]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance'';

Whereas the freedom to worship by minority religious communities in Arab nations has come under repeated and deadly attack in recent months;

Whereas, on November 1, 2010, the deadliest ever recorded attack on Iraqi Christians occurred at the Sayidat al-Nejat Catholic Cathedral located in central Baghdad, where militants stormed the church and detonated 2 suicide vests filled with ball bearings, killing 58 and wounding 78 parishioners;

Whereas, on January 1, 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of the Saint George and Bishop Peter Church in Cairo, killing 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, a Christian minority group that accounts for 9 percent of Egypt's population of 80,000,000;

Whereas the freedom to proselytize by minority religious communities in Arab nations has also come under repeated and deadly attack in recent months through so-called blasphemy laws that are punishable by death;

Whereas, on January 4, 2011, Governor Salman Tasser, who courageously sought to release Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of 5 who was sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, was gunned down by his own security guard because of his support for reforming the blasphemy laws; and

Whereas, on March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's only Christian cabinet member and passionate supporter of interfaith tolerance and repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy law, was assassinated by multiple gunmen, leaving his body and vehicle riddled with 80 bullets and anti-Christian pamphlets strewn over his body: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) recognizes, in this spirit of Arab Spring revolution, that religious minority freedoms and rights must be protected; and

(2) urges in the strongest terms that the United States Government lead the international effort to repeal existing blasphemy laws.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

Senate Resolution 148--Policy Objectives in Libya

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Mr. CORNYN (for himself, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. LEE, Mr. ROBERTS, and Mr. INHOFE) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

S. Res. 148

Whereas, on February 15, 2011, protests against longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi began in Benghazi, Libya, following the arrest of human rights advocate Fathi Tarbel;

Whereas, on March 10, 2011, rebels in Libya, armed with outdated anti-aircraft guns and facing overwhelming firepower from Qaddafi forces, were forced to retreat from strongholds in eastern Libya, while doctors in Libya reported that civilian casualties had doubled, mostly as the result of airstrikes ordered by Qaddafi;

Whereas, on March 10, 2011, France became the first country to recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council, organized by the Libyan rebel leadership, as the legitimate government of Libya;

Whereas, on March 12, 2011, Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, announced, ``The Arab League has officially requested the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone against any military action against the Libyan people.'';

Whereas, on March 16, 2011, Muammar Qaddafi's forces neared the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, and Saif al-Islam, Qaddafi's son, vowed that ``everything will be over in 48 hours'';

Whereas, on March 16, 2011, following United Nations Security Council negotiations, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice announced United States support for a no-fly zone, stating, ``But the U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone.'';

Whereas, on March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council voted to approve a no-fly zone over Libya, passing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized ``all necessary measures'' to protect civilians;

Whereas, on March 19, 2011, President Barack Obama authorized United States military operations against Libya, and Operation Odyssey Dawn commenced;

Whereas, on March 19, 2011, the United States Armed Forces began air and sea strikes against targets along the coast of Libya against Libyan air defenses;

Whereas, on March 21, 2011, President Obama sent a letter notifying Congress that he had ordered strikes on Libya and outlining United States military actions in Libya during the preceding 48 hours;

Whereas, on March 23, 2011, Muammar Qaddafi's forces shelled the town of Misrata, held by Libyan rebels, killing dozens of civilians;

Whereas, on March 24, 2011, coalition forces hit military targets deep inside Libya, but failed to prevent Qaddafi's tanks from re-entering Misrata and besieging its main hospital;

Whereas, on March 24, 2011, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that NATO would take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya and was considering taking control of the full United Nations-backed military mission;

Whereas, on March 30, 2011, forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi pressed further east with an artillery offensive, pushing Libyan rebels back more than 95 miles towards Brega;

Whereas, on March 31, 2011, United States Africa Command, which had led the initial phases of military operations against Libya under Operation Odyssey Dawn, transferred command and control of international air operations over Libya to NATO;

Whereas, as of March 31, 2011, Operation Unified Protector, under sole command of NATO, is now responsible for the arms embargo, no-fly zone, and actions to protect civilians in Libya;

Whereas, as of April 4, 2011, in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn and Operation Unified Protector, the United States had flown approximately 1,600 military sorties and, as of April 7, 2011, had launched 228 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and spent approximately $632,000,000;

Whereas President Obama has repeatedly indicated that his policy on Libya is that Muammar Qaddafi should no longer serve as the leader of the Government of Libya;

Whereas, on February 26, 2011, 11 days after the protests began, President Obama discussed the situation in Libya with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and, according to a White House statement, said, ``When a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.'';

Whereas, on March 3, 2011, President Obama, at a joint press conference with President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, said, ``Muammar Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave..... [W]e will continue to send the clear message that it's time for Qaddafi to go.'';

Whereas, on March 18, 2011, President Obama, at a joint press conference with President of Chile Sebastian Pinera, said, ``I have also stated that it is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go. And we got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy.'';

Whereas, on March 28, 2011, President Obama, in an address to the Nation, began to draw a distinction between United States political and military objectives in Libya, saying, ``There is no question that Libya--and the world--would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means.'';

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Whereas, on March 29, 2011, President Obama, in an interview on NBC Nightly News, continued to draw this distinction, saying, ``Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Qaddafi to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.'';

Whereas, despite President Obama's policy that Muammar Qaddafi should no longer serve as the leader of the Government of Libya, President Obama has not presented Congress with a plan to achieve that policy objective;

Whereas President Obama has not sought from Congress any type of authorization for the use of military force against Libya;

Whereas passage of a non-binding, simple resolution by the Senate is not equivalent to an authorization for the use of military force, passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by the President; and

Whereas senior officials in the Obama Administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Harold Koh, the Department of State's Legal Adviser, have incorrectly pointed to the Senate passage of a non-binding resolution, Senate Resolution 85 (112th Congress), as an expression of congressional consent for the United States military intervention in Libya: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) the President should submit to Congress--

(A) a detailed description of United States policy objectives in Libya, both during and after Muammar Qaddafi's rule;

(B) a detailed plan to achieve those objectives;

(C) a detailed estimate of the full cost of the United States military operations in Libya and any other actions required to implement the plan; and

(D) a detailed description of the limitations the President has placed on the nature, duration, and scope of United States military operations in Libya, as referenced in his March 21, 2011, letter to Congress; and

(2) the President should seek a congressional authorization for the use of military force against Libya.

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, moments ago, I sent to the desk a resolution on my behalf, as well as that of Senator Collins, Senator Blunt, Senator Lee, Senator Roberts, and Senator Inhofe, relating to the military operations in Libya. I would like to speak for a few moments about that and about my concerns.

Like all of our colleagues, I respect our troops and honor them and, of course, their sense of duty, which obligates them to do whatever the Commander in Chief has directed them to do. And, of course, I respect the role of our President as Commander in Chief. But I have grown increasingly concerned that the role of Congress in consultation and in communication with the White House on matters of such grave import to our country and our men and women in uniform as intervening in a foreign country--that the powers of Congress have seemingly been ignored or certainly eroded.

We know this is not new. Since the end of World War II, to my recollection, the U.S. Congress has never exercised its authority under article I, section 8 of the Constitution to declare war. Instead, when our nation has been involved in military operations, we have had something other than a war declared by Congress, but most often with communication and consultation and even authorization by the Congress.

I believe it is imperative, particularly in light of the events subsequent to our intervention in Libya, that the President should submit a plan to Congress on Libya. I believe the President should also come to Congress and ask for a congressional authorization for our continued participation, even in a NATO mission of which the United States bears a disproportionate responsibility.

Like many Americans, I admire the Libyans who protested against Muammar Qaddafi beginning on February 15 of this year. And the timeline, I believe, is important. February 15. They showed they wanted the same things as people in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Iran, and so many other nations in the Middle East; that is, a chance to live in freedom and to have a voice in determining their own future.

But, like many Americans, I was also concerned that the people of Libya got so little encouragement from our own President. True, President Obama said on March 3 that Qaddafi had lost legitimacy and he ``must step down from power and leave'' immediately. That was on March 3. He indicated this was the policy of the U.S.--that regime change was our goal in Libya--regime change. But he obviously had no plan to accomplish that goal or to further assist the Libyan people in accomplishing it themselves, other than handing the responsibility off to NATO. Now, this is not like handing it off to some third party that is alien to us or not part of us. We--the United States--are a significant part of NATO's operations. For example, in Afghanistan, basically for every one coalition troop from other NATO countries, there are two American troops, and we bear the proportionate financial responsibility as well.

The President watched as Qaddafi forces regained the momentum against those who had taken up arms against the regime. France--France--became the first nation to recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya on March 10. And then the Arab League asked that a no-fly zone be imposed over Libya on March 12. Finally, on March 17--this was almost a month after the first protests against Qaddafi in Libya--the United Nations Security Council approved a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as necessary measures to protect civilians in that country.

U.N. Security Council resolutions take a lot of time to negotiate. There is obviously the need for a lot of consultation between the nations making up the U.N. Security Council. That is why I am only left to wonder why it was during this period of time that the President made so little effort to consult with Congress in a substantive way. I admit he appeared to act like he checked the box once or twice. He sent us a letter on March 21--2 days after Operation Odyssey Dawn began--letting us know what we could have learned from reading the newspaper and watching cable television, that he had ordered strikes on Libya. But the level of consultation with Congress about Libya was nothing like what we had in the years leading up to U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Congress issued an explicit authorization for use of military force at the request of the President of the United States.

This is not just a constitutional powers matter. I think this is also a matter of communicating with the American people about the reasons for our intervention in Libya and expressing to the American people what the plan is so they can do what they naturally want to do; that is, provide support for our men and women in uniform, particularly when they are in harm's way.

The President waited until 9 days after our planes and missiles were in the air to make his case to the American people in a speech at the National Defense University. During that speech, the President began to draw a very confusing distinction between our political and military objectives in Libya, saying:

There is no question that Libya--and the world--will be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means.

Or, as he put it in an interview the next day, he said:

Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Qaddafi to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.

I bet I am not the only person in the country who is confused by this dichotomy between our military goals and our strategic goals. I think they should be the same.

We know the American people still have many questions about what we are doing in Libya and why. As a matter of fact, I met this morning with some Texas Army National Guardsmen who were visiting the Capitol just today, who asked me a question on this very subject because they are confused. If our men and women in uniform are confused about the President's objective, and the American people do not understand what it is either, it means there has not been a good case made explaining the need for military intervention and the ongoing operations. But do not take my word for it. According to a Pew Research poll on April 3, only 30 percent of Americans believe the United States or our allies have a clear goal in Libya--30 percent. Our troops deserve more clarity.

The President told our troops that their involvement in Libya would last a matter of days, not weeks. These men

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and women, as we all acknowledge, are the finest fighting force in the world. They can accomplish any mission given to them. But they can also tell the difference between days and weeks. Our troops can tell that they are still responsible for about 25 percent of the NATO support missions in Libya. They hear the voices calling for NATO to expand its operations. And then they know that any expansion of NATO's mission, in scope or duration, puts more of them in harm's way. They simply deserve more clarity, as do the American people.

So I think the Congress, on behalf of the American people, consistent with our constitutional responsibilities and our shared power in matters as serious as this, deserve a plan from the President of the United States, so he can present it to us and we can have what we sorely need, which is a genuine debate about our role in the future--the way forward in Libya.

So what should that plan look like? I will make a few suggestions. I believe a credible plan should contain a detailed description of U.S. policy objectives in Libya both during and after Qaddafi's rule. It should include a detailed plan to achieve those objectives. And particularly in these times when we are struggling with enormous debt and deficits, it should include a detailed estimate of the costs of U.S. military operations in Libya and any other actions required to implement the plan.

Congress, of course, has the responsibility for the federal purse strings and would be asked to appropriate the money, so I think it is entirely appropriate that the President present to us a plan that we can debate and vote on in the form of an authorization.

I think a credible plan should also include a detailed description of the limitations the President has placed on the nature, duration, and scope of U.S. military operations in Libya--the limitations he referred to in his letter of March 21 to Congress.

A plan from the President would, of course, be a catalyst for a long-overdue debate right here in the Halls of what we call occasionally the world's greatest deliberative body. But we cannot deliberate without debate and without an honest appraisal of where we are and where we are going. In fact, it is clear, just by referring back to the debate we had on Iraq and Afghanistan, that the amount of time devoted in this body to Libya is dwarfed by the fulsome debates we had over a period of years relative to our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, what questions should a Senate debate over Libya hope to address? Well, I can think of a few.

Was the Secretary of Defense correct when he said Libya is not a vital interest for the United States?

Is the situation on the ground in Libya--as reported by the news--basically now a stalemate? Remember that the initial U.S. commander of coalition operations in Libya, General Carter Ham, testified before the Armed Services Committee just last week. He agreed with that assessment that it was essentially now a stalemate.

I think this is, to me, the simplest, the most direct question: If the President's goal was to stop Qaddafi from killing Libyans, civilians rebelling against him and protesting against his tyrannical rule, how in the world do we stop the killing without stopping the killer?

That would be Muammar Qaddafi. How can we stop the killing of civilians until we achieve the objective of removing him by any means necessary?

I think it is also appropriate to inquire as to whether the Pottery Barn rule applies in Libya. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, once observed that, Once you break it, you own it, the so-called Pottery Barn rule.

Has the administration's focus on Libya distracted it from our ongoing efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are both vital interests? We have committed huge amounts of blood and treasure to success in both of those countries, and I think Congress needs to know, and we need to have a fulsome debate, about whether this mission in Libya has distracted from those other two vital missions.

We also need to talk about whether NATO's performance in Libya has jeopardized its effectiveness and reputation. Is there a risk that the alliance is already splitting because of caveats or restrictions that some of the coalition members are placing on their participation in the ongoing intervention in Libya?

Finally, I think we need to know, because certainly everything that happens becomes precedent for some future action, whether there is something that one might call an ``Obama doctrine.'' Is it that the United States will use military force when requested by our allies such as France or, perhaps, international bodies such as the Arab League or the United Nations, but not otherwise? Is it something like the United States will protect civilians when they capture the world's media attention, but ignore their suffering otherwise? Is it something that explains why, for example, we are engaged in Libya but not engaged in Syria?

Remember that Syria is a nation that is slaughtering its own civilians--a humanitarian crisis, I would submit. It is a known state sponsor of terrorism, so designated by the U.S. Department of State, and it is a well-known and notorious conduit for arms from Iran to the Lebanese Hezbollah. Whatever the Obama doctrine is, why doesn't it apply to Syria? We need to ask those questions and I think we need and deserve--and the American people even more so deserve--answers.

I believe our debate in the Senate should result in a vote on a congressional authorization for the President's plan, whatever that is, in Libya, but we ought to have a conversation, we ought to communicate, we ought to have a consultation, not allow the President to treat Congress like a potted plant when it comes to intervening in a foreign nation in a military fashion. I believe the President should ask Congress for an authorization, and I believe we should vote on one.

I certainly don't believe that what we have done so far, which is pass a simple resolution without much notice or debate, is sufficient. Frankly, I don't understand why some of my colleagues are so willing to acquiesce to the President, thereby conceding to the executive branch all authority in dealing with a matter of this gravity and seriousness.

I believe a robust debate about Libya would be good for the Senate, it would be good for the House of Representatives, I think it would be good for the American people, and I think it would be good for the President. If the President takes action knowing that the American people and the Congress are behind his plan, that is good for America, and that is what we need.

I am afraid, though, that the President is taking the support of the American people for granted. The American people instinctively want to support our Commander in Chief, but history shows our military operations are most successful when the people of the United States are behind them. When the American people are not--when they become disengaged or disillusioned--success becomes much more difficult, not just in Libya but for future missions as well. I hope the President will act in such a way that shows respect for Congress as a coequal branch of government, and for the American people, who expect that their representatives will debate questions of this gravity in the open and ask the questions they themselves would ask before their sons and daughters are put in danger. I hope the American people will have the benefit of a vigorous debate on Libya in the Senate.

It is with that objective in mind that my colleagues and I have submitted a resolution. I know there are other resolutions. I believe the Senator from Connecticut and the Senator from Massachusetts and the Senator from Arizona have another one. I am advised that Senator Ensign from Nevada and Senator Hutchison from Texas have another one. I think we need to consider all of those views and have a debate and vote on these issues.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

Citizenship Now!

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Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, for the past 8 years, Citizenship Now!, a project of the City University of New York and the New York Daily News, has conducted a citizenship and immigration call-in, which I have visited every time it has been held at the News headquarters in Manhattan, NY. On Monday, April 25, the ninth call-in begins, and it is anticipated that the volunteers who answer the telephone will handle the 100,000th call by Friday April 29. That means 100,000 families received information to help them get on the path to U.S. citizenship. Among the sponsors have been the NYS Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, CUNY Law School, Univision, and Radio WADO, with support from Verizon and Gristedes.

At the weeklong call-in, community paralegals, CUNY counselors, students, and other volunteers, supervised by experienced citizenship and immigration attorneys and Board of Immigration Appeals-accredited individuals, answer callers' questions. CUNY trains the volunteers at an all-day training conference that precedes the call-in, and all volunteers receive a comprehensive training manual. Whenever I visit the volunteers, I bring with me an expert staff person from my office who handles constituent inquiries from immigrants and their families. We fully appreciate the special and unique outreach effort this free public service provides.

The call-in provides an important safeguard weapon against scammers engaging in the unlawful practice of law. Callers who qualify for naturalization or another immigration benefit are referred to reputable non-for-profits. Many are referred to one of CUNY Citizenship Now!'s nine citizenship and immigration law service centers where they can get free application assistance and advice. The News features the photographs and biographies of the volunteers in print and on its Web site and runs stories about the people who are being served. When a caller wishes to contact a private attorney, she or he is referred to the New York City Bar Association referral panel and the American Immigration Lawyers Association referral service.

The CUNY/Daily News Citizenship Now! Project is by far the largest university-based immigration service program in the country assisting many thousands of individuals with citizenship and immigration law services each year, all at no cost to the applicants. This public service partnership deserves our recognition and appreciation for the superb efforts underway to help people in need. Thank you, CUNY, and thank you, New York Daily News.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

Armenian Genocide

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Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the 96th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide--a tragedy that has left a dark stain on the collective conscience of mankind.

What has made this tragedy even more painful--particularly for the Armenian people--is the failure of successive U.S. administrations to acknowledge the deliberate massacre of the Armenians by its rightful name--genocide.

So today, I also rise to reiterate my call to President Barack Obama to finally right this terrible wrong.

In 2008, then-Senator Obama said:

..... the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. The facts are undeniable.

I could not agree more. And every day that goes by without full acknowledgement of these undeniable facts by the United States prolongs the pain felt by descendants of the victims, as well as the entire Armenian community.

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Countless experts have documented the atrocities that occurred between 1915 and 1923, when more than 1.5 million Armenians were marched to their deaths in the deserts of the Middle East, murdered in concentration camps, drowned at sea, and forced to endure unimaginable acts of brutality at the hands of the Ottoman Empire--now modern-day Turkey.

Yet successive U.S. administrations continue only to refer to the genocide by such terms as ``annihilation,'' ``massacre,'' and ``murder.''

This is not only an affront to the memory of the victims and to their descendants, but it does a disservice to the United States as it seeks to stand up to those who are perpetrating violence today.

In a recent speech President Obama eloquently said:

Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.

The United States is not a nation that turns a blind eye to atrocities, and that is why it is so important that we finally acknowledge the Armenian genocide for what it was--genocide.

As I have said, genocide is only possible when people avert their eyes. Any effort to deal with genocide--in the past, present, or future, must begin with the truth.

So this April 24, as we pause to remember the victims and to honor the countless contributions Armenian Americans have made to our great country, I hope that the U.S. finally stands on the right side of history and calls the tragedy of 1915-1923 by its rightful name.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

Port of Charleston

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Mr. GRAHAM. I ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with my good friend, the majority leader.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, a lot of Members now understand the problem we have with the port of Charleston in 2011. There is no money in the President's budget to do a scoping study. Under the new rules concerning earmarking, it has been very difficult to find a way forward. With the help of the majority leader and his staff and the people on Appropriations--the staffs of Senators Feinstein and Lamar Alexander--we came up with

[Page: S2494]  GPO's PDF
language that would allow 12 different ports to have studies completed in fiscal year 2011, if the Corps chose to engage in those studies. It was not a requirement, and it had no sums required in terms of what the Corps had to spend. It was purely discretionary. Unfortunately, our House colleagues did not accept that language.

My problem is that in fiscal year 2011, there is no mechanism as of yet to allow a scoping study to be done for the potential deepening of the Charleston harbor to accept supercargo ships coming through the Panama Canal in 2014. This harbor, along with others, has to be deepened to accept these new ships. The amount of money is $40,000 on the Federal side to be matched by the State. People ask me: Why can't you come up with the money? Boeing, BMW, Michelin, the State of South Carolina?

I would do the $40,000, but I can't. You cannot have a private entity take over a Federal Government responsibility. So this is one of those situations that is a catch-22. It is an anomaly in the law. The Vice President's office and Congressman Clyburn, a lot of us, Congressman Scott, have been working diligently, with the assistance of the majority leader, to find a pathway forward within the current system. We are very close to finding a way to get this study done because it was a previously authorized program under current law.

I have put a hold on everything I could put a hold on.

Now I believe we are making progress. The majority leader has some needs, and I want to let him know I am willing to work with him and others to end the Senate well before we go out on Easter break. I thank him for the help he has given me to take care of a problem that no one could have anticipated. But it is a real problem for the people of South Carolina. I wish to let him know I appreciate the effort.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Begich). The majority leader.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I say to my friend the distinguished Senator from South Carolina, I am aware of the 12 ports that need help. But out of the 12, there is none more needed--and we as a country would get such a bang for our buck--to do what is necessary than the port of Charleston. I first compliment the Senator from South Carolina for his proposed solution to a challenge facing the State. He is dogged in representing the State of South Carolina. This is an issue that is important to the people of his State. His solution would not in any way violate any of the rules we have in the Senate. It is something that would not be part of congressionally directed spending in the true sense of the word that has been not approved by people in recent years. I have been part of the Appropriations Committee since I first came to the Senate.

I love that committee. I know the good things it can do for our country and has done for our country. This merit-based competitive port fund that has been suggested would not be limited to South Carolina, even though I think it is the most needy of the 12. This would not guarantee that the port study in Charleston would go forward but would provide the Corps the opportunity to move forward should they choose.

Mr. President, I not only have been a member of the Appropriations Committee, but for a long, long time--a long time--the Senator from New Mexico, Mr. Domenici, and I--that was our subcommittee, Energy and Water, and that is where this money comes from.

This is so necessary to be done. I understand the Corps' obligations. This is something we have to do. And even though my friend acknowledged this vote we just took care of the funding until the end of this year--but that is the end of this fiscal year. There are going to be other pieces of legislation to come to this floor. We could, at any time--any time--move forward on this. I thought we had a solution because of the anomaly we found ourselves in to work this out with the House of Representatives.

It is not often that I am a cheerleader for pieces of legislation that are suggested and moved forward by Republicans, but I was on this one. This is something that is merit-based and is fair. I am going to continue to do everything I can for my friend from South Carolina to see if before the end of this fiscal year we can get something done. It is important to him. It is important to our country because of the value that port has to our country.

Mr. GRAHAM. I thank the majority leader very much. It is appreciated on behalf of all of us in South Carolina. And I look forward to finding a solution for the country as a whole.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

Senate Votes - H.R. 1473: Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act

H.R. 1473: Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011
Making appropriations for the Department of Defense and the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes.

Bill Details


H.Con.Res. 35: Directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1473
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That, in the enrollment of the bill (H.R. 1473) making appropriations for the Department of Defense and the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes, the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall make the following correction: At the end of title VIII of division B, insert the following new section:

`Sec. 18XX. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available in this Act or any previous Act may be used to carry out the provisions of Public Law 111-148, or any amendment made by such Public Law, or title I or subtitle B of title II of Public Law 111-152, or any amendment made by such title or subtitle.'.
On the Concurrent Resolution
Passed by 13 votes: 47-53 (3/5 required)
All Senate Dems, including Manchin, vote to protect Obamacare funding
All Democrats in the U.S. Senate just voted to preserve funding for the national health care law, with the measure being rejected by a 47 to 53 vote straight party line vote. The Obamacare defunding vote could be particularly harmful to Sen. Joe Manchin who won a special election in West Virginia last year by convincing voters that he was a conservative Democrat who would buck party leadership.

Senate Defeats Effort to Cut Off Funds for Health Care Law
The vote Thursday was 53-47, strictly along party lines. Republicans had pressed for a vote on the resolution as part of the negotiated deal to cut spending struck by Obama and congressional leaders last week.

H.Con.Res. 36: Directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to make a correction in the enrollment of H.R. 1473
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That, in the enrollment of the bill (H.R. 1473) making appropriations for the Department of Defense and the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes, the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall make the following correction: At the end of title VIII of division B, insert the following new section:

`Sec. 1864. None of the funds made available by this Act may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. or any affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.'.
On the Concurrent Resolution
Passed by 18 votes: 42-58 (3/5 required)
On Eve of Tax Day, Planned Parenthood Funding Continues
Today, on the eve of Tax Day, the Senate voted to continue taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the nationοΎ’s largest abortion provider. While the House passed the Black/Roby Correction with bipartisan support, the Senate voted against it with no "pro-life" Senate Democrats voting to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Senate rejects measure to defund Planned Parenthood
As expected, the Senate has voted down a measure to defund Planned Parenthood, with five Republicans voting with Democrats to keep the funding in place. The vote was 42-58. Republicans voting against the stand-alone resolution to defund Planned Parenthood were: Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Now we know why defunding Planned Parenthood couldn't make it into budget deal
The Senate just voted down the bill to strip funding of Planned Parenthood by a 58 to 42 margin, with five Republicans joining all the Democrats to oppose defunding. The lack of support for defunding Planned Parenthood in the Senate demonstrates why it would have been so hard to get it inserted into any final budget deal, even if House Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., was willing to shut down the government over it.


In partisan votes, Senate defeats measures to defund healthcare and Planned Parenthood
The Senate on Thursday defeated two resolutions to amend the fiscal year 2011 spending bill that would have blocked funding for Planned Parenthood and all funds to implement last year's healthcare reform law.

On Passage of the Bill
Passed by 21 votes: 81-19 (3/5 required)


VOTE BREAKDOWN: Congress Passes Bipartisan Deal to Fund Govt, Senate Votes 81-19
ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports that the Senate Thursday evening passed the bipartisan budget deal, sending the measure on to the White House for President Obama’s signature. The vote tally was 81-19. The 19 senators voting against the budget deal consisted of 15 Republicans, three Democrats, and one Independent –
  • Republicans: Tom Coburn, Mike Crapo, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, James Risch, Marco Rubio, Richard Shelby, Pat Toomey, David Vitter
  • Democrats: Pat Leahy, Carl Levin, Ron Wyden
  • Independent: Bernie Sanders
Senate approves 2011 spending bill, sends to the president
Both the House and Senate have approved the centerpiece of the deal between congressional leaders and the White House.

BREAKING: Senate passes budget deal
The Senate on Thursday passed the budget deal worked out last week to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year while cutting $38.5 billion.

Senate approves funding bill, sends to Obama
By a vote of 81-19, the Senate has passed a bill to fund the government for the rest of year, officially averting a government shutdown with its approval of the budget deal struck late last week.

Budget deal sails through Senate
With token resistence from the right and left, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the budget deal to fund the government for the remainder of the year, 81 to 19. The measure was opposed by 15 Republicans, three Democrats and the technically independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Government-Funding Bill Heads to Obama
The Senate, acting shortly after the House, voted 81 to 19 to pass a continuing resolution funding the federal government through the end of September, effectively ending a months-long fight that nearly shut down the government this week.

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