Monday, June 28, 2010

Electing a Byrd Replacement

The Senate will have a new (old) president pro tempore soon. It makes little difference in the grand scheme of things, the position is fundamentally ceremonial.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Closed for Renovations

Find observations and opinions elsewhere. This place is gone mute.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Senator DeMint on the Bailout

I think he's right. I hope he's sincere. But in Congress, he's a pariah.

Congressional Record Oct 1, 2008 - Page S10232

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I have friends and colleagues whom I respect deeply who are on all sides of this bailout issue. One of them just spoke. We all to want do what is right for America, and I believe those who have crafted this plan had pure and noble motives. They want this country to succeed. They want prosperity. I just do not believe that this bill gets the job done. In fact, in the long term, I am convinced it will do more harm than good.

We are the Nation that has been called the bastion of freedom, and we are the Nation that has sacrificed blood and treasure to share that freedom with the world. We have fought communism, dictators, and tyranny. We have helped establish democracies and free-market economies across the globe. Because of America, millions of people are now electing their leaders, and millions have been taken out of poverty and enjoyed prosperity. Yet as the blood of our young men and women falls on foreign soil in the defense of freedom, our own Government appears to be leading our country into the pit of socialism.

We have seen this Government socialize our education system and make our schools among the worst in the world. We have seen this Government take over most of our health care system, making private insurance less and less affordable. We have seen this Government socialize our energy resources and bring our Nation to its knees by cutting the development of our own oil and natural gas supplies. And now we see this Congress yielding its constitutional obligations to a Federal bureaucracy, giving it the power to control virtually our entire financial system. Americans understand this and they are angry. They are our judge and our jury. They are watching what we are doing, and they will render their verdict based on our actions.

If we were honest with the American people and explained the failures that have led to this financial crisis, we might have the credibility to ask our citizens to allow us to borrow another $700 billion in their name to try to fix this problem. But we are not being honest. This problem was not created by our free enterprise system. It was created by us, the Congress and the Federal Government.

With good intentions, we made a mess of things. We wanted our economy to grow faster, so we allowed the Federal Reserve to create easy and cheap credit. But this allowed people to borrow and lend irresponsibly. We wanted to help the poor, so we forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford to pay them back. We wanted every American to own a home, so we created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to encourage and guarantee mortgages for more people who could not afford them. And all of these easy mortgages, many of which required no downpayment, inadvertently increased the prices of homes to unsustainable levels and created a massive oversupply of unsold homes. Now the value of homes has fallen, as has the value of the mortgages attached to them.

We allowed and even encouraged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to bundle up these risky subprime mortgages so they could be sold as securities to investors in America and all over the world. We guaranteed these institutions with the full faith and credit of the Government so their securities could be sold at above-market rates, allowing them to borrow huge amounts and fuel an explosion in subprime mortgage lending. We also allowed these mortgage giants to use their taxpayer-supported profits to spend over $200 million lobbying Congress to keep us quiet, even when we saw that our brainchild had become a financial Frankenstein.

All of our good intentions are now blowing up in our face, and we are asking the American people to bail us out. We must also plead guilty to other misguided policies that have made the situation even worse. Our foolish energy policies have created a huge financial burden on every American family and severely damaged our economy. By not opening our own energy supplies, we are now sending nearly $700 billion a year to other countries to buy oil. This has dried up capital at home and made us dependent on foreign countries for our credit.

We have also squandered and wasted hundreds of billions of hard-earned tax dollars on unnecessary and ineffective Federal programs and thousands of wasteful earmarks. Last week, we passed a bill with the highest rate of pork spending in history. While our talk of gloom and doom has heightened the financial panic here and around the world, and while we are asking Americans to bail us out, we are still spending money as if there is no tomorrow. Years of wasteful spending and bad policies have resulted in a huge national debt of nearly $10 trillion. Much of this debt is held by China and Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries that some now say are dictating our financial policies.

We know Americans are now the victim of our misguided good intentions, along with our free enterprise system that has been severely damaged and weakened. We know our bad policies have taken the accountability out of our markets by artificially insulating investors from normal risk. This has led to careless lending, careless investing, many bad decisions, and possible criminal activity on Wall Street. While many are blaming Americans and our free enterprise system for the crisis, we know the Government is the root cause of this crisis.

I believe this Congress should admit its guilt, prove we have learned from our mistakes, and correct the bad policies immediately that have caused these problems. We should insist the Federal Reserve end the easy money policy. We should repeal the laws that require our banks to make risky loans, and fix the accounting requirements that force banks to undervalue their assets. We should develop a plan to break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and sell them to private investors who will run them as private companies.

We should reduce corporate and capital gains taxes to encourage capital formation and boost asset values. We should also repeal the section of Sarbanes-Oxley that has driven billions of dollars of capital overseas. And we should do even more to grow our economy and lessen our dependence on foreign countries. We should immediately pass a law that expedites the development of our oil and natural gas reserves to help relieve the burden of high prices and gas shortages for our families.

We should immediately adopt a freeze on nonsecurity discretionary spending and pass a moratorium on earmarks until we fix this wasteful and corrupting system. We should sacrifice our political pork as we ask taxpayers to sacrifice for our mistakes.

We have caused a terrible financial mess, and we must honestly tell the American people that whether we pass this huge bailout or not, there will likely be suffering and pain for our great country. But Americans and our free market economy are resilient. And with fewer misguided laws and less onerous regulations, we will get through this crisis, as Americans have many times before. But we must tell Americans the truth.

Congress says it was deregulation and capitalist greed that has run wild and undermined our financial system. Instead of reducing our role in the economy, we are trying to use this crisis to expand our power to control and manage the free enterprise system. We are here saying that our banks and mortgage companies have stopped lending money, that people can't get loans to buy cars, homes, or to run a business, and that our economy of the United States is on the verge of collapse.

We are telling people not to worry because we are going to rescue them with their own money. Congress is going to allow the Treasury Secretary to take $700 billion from taxpayers to buy bad loans and investments from anyone he chooses anywhere in the world. This, we say, will free up capital, get the credit markets working again, and put our economy back on track.

But this Congress refuses to change our Nation's monetary policy that created the cheap money and inflated the housing bubble. We refuse to change the accounting laws and regulations, even though they are making the problem worse. We refuse to lower capital gains and other taxes to attract capital and promote growth. We refuse to repeal Sarbanes-Oxley, even though it hasn't worked and it has cost our economy billions. And we refuse to expedite the development of America's energy resources, even though it would help every American and grow our economy.

None of these things are even on the table for discussion. We are telling the American people to hand over $700 billion or the world economy is going to collapse. This is why people are so upset. It is because Congress is being dishonest and arrogant. We are not being honest with them about how we got into this mess, and we are not being honest with them about what we need to get out of it.

I strongly oppose this legislation. It takes our country in the wrong direction. It forces innocent taxpayers to bail out Government policies and Wall Street mistakes. It asks the American people to take a leap of faith and trust people who have consistently misled them.

I am deeply saddened by the tone of this debate. I am afraid many of the supporters of this bill have bullied people into supporting it, using fear. There may be good reason for fear, but I think most people will agree that some of the statements have been reckless and irresponsible. I hope I am wrong and this bill will truly solve the problem.

Let me say again that I know every one of my colleagues is doing what they believe is right for America. But based on what I know, I cannot in good conscience support it. I know the Senate is going to pass it tonight, and I can only hope the House will defeat it so we can pursue better alternatives.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Passed Without Debate - September 2008

Wednesday - September 17, 2008

Thursday - September 18, 2008

S.3001 appears to have been split into parts for some reason:

A bill (S. 3001) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 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. ...

The bill (S. 3001), as amended, was passed, as follows:

(The bill will be printed in a future edition of the Record.)


The bill (S. 3002) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes, was considered, ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, read the third time, and passed, as amended, as follows:

(The bill will be printed in a future edition of the RECORD.)


The bill (S. 3003) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for military construction, and for other purposes, was considered, ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, read the third time, and passed, as amended, as follows:

(The bill will be printed in a future edition of the RECORD.)


The bill (S. 3004) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for defense activities of the Department of Energy, and for other purposes, was considered, ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, read the third time, and passed, as amended, as follows:

(The bill will be printed in a future edition of the RECORD.)

Dirty Harry's schedule for the rest of the 110th Congress ...

  • I will file cloture on the Coburn package
  • We are going to move to the tax extenders
  • We have an economic recovery package
  • We have a CR [Continuing Resolution] that we have to complete to fund the Government
  • There are a lot of other things the CR may take care of that we have not finished, including MilCon, VA, and Homeland Security appropriations; and there are people out there who are concerned about things we should do before we leave here, such as LIHEAP. Hopefully, that could be included in either the stimulus package or the CR.
  • We hope to work something out on mental health parity, the Ledbetter issue. We could have another vote on that, if I decide that.

Cloture motions were filed on "the Coburn Package," S.3297 - Advancing America's Priorities Act (this is the second cloture motion on a motion to proceed, the first went down in flames in July); and on H.R.6049 - Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 (three cloture votes have already taken place, one of them being on reconsideration - this is the third cloture motion and it precedes what will be the fourth cloture vote on a motion to proceed ... this time most likely with the intention of substituting language that parallels the recently-passed House energy bill, H.R.6899, that includes the Democrats' phony and cynical "drill drill drill" provisions).

September 19, 2008

Mr. REID. Mr. President, for the information of Senators, we are trying to work things out here. It has been very difficult. At this stage, it appears that the vote on cloture on the Coburn package will be vitiated. We will not have that vote tonight or in the morning.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that on Tuesday, September 23, following a period of morning business, the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 767, H.R. 6049, the energy extenders, that the bill be considered under the following limitations: [3 amendments with one hour debate each and 60-vote thresholds for adoption, one additional hour of debate, one budget point of order, vote on final passage]


President Bush communicated the Congress that the nation is still formally in a state of emergency flowing from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The crisis constituted by the grave acts of terrorism and threats of terrorism committed by foreign terrorists, including the terrorist attacks in New York, in Pennsylvania, and against the Pentagon committed on September 11, 2001, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on United States nationals or the United States that led to the declaration of a national emergency on September 23, 2001, has not been resolved. These actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.


Senator REID yesterday: "I would further say, one reason we are not going to be in session tomorrow is we are waiting to get a response from the administration as to what they think should be done as the next step in the financial problems we have facing this country. We need to hear from them."

President Bush and the administration are in fact preparing legislation. President Bush just wrapped up a "have confidence" speech - not a good sign, to me, when the president feels an urge to give a "have confidence" speech to the nation. And whatever the Secretary of Treasury has up his sleeve is dramatic. "I am convinced that this bold approach will cost the American people far less than the alternative," Paulson said ...

President Bush Discusses Economy - Sept 18

[Presidential] Memorandum for the Secretary of the Treasury - Sept 19

Pursuant to section 10(b) of the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, as amended, 31 U.S.C. 5302(b), I approve the use of funds from the Exchange Stabilization Fund to provide up to $50 billion as a guaranty facility for certain money market mutual funds, consistent with your recommendation to me and the terms and conditions set out in your memorandum to me dated September 18, 2008.

President Bush Discusses Economy - Sept 19

Secretary Paulson, Chairman Bernanke, and Chairman Cox have briefed leaders on Capitol Hill on the urgent need for Congress to pass legislation approving the federal government's purchase of illiquid assets, such as troubled mortgages, from banks and other financial institutions.

Monday - September 22, 2008

Hey, how 'bout that bailout! Print money (or promise to) and viola, the price of commodities goes up as though by magic. This 700 billion (or maybe double or triple that) housing thing that Congress enabled (and that the Democrats encouraged) is small potatoes, compared with the angst that will emerge when Social Security goes belly up.

To say that the House and the Senate are worthless is to give them too much credit. They are damaging, and the entire lot of them ought to be run out of office so they can share in the joy their wisdom has bestowed on the people who made the error of electing them in the first place.

Tuesday - September 23, 2008

Here's Senator McConnell, yesterday describing the Senate's total and complete abdication of responsibility to legislate money policy:

Over the weekend, Congress received a straightforward four-page Main Street rescue plan ... Republicans have many serious questions about this plan, but this is the only concrete plan we have seen so far that aims to protect Americans on Main Street ... There will be many more questions about this plan. I have many myself. But we owe it to the American people to do our due diligence quickly and act swiftly ... The American people are counting on us. Let's not disappoint them.

I'm gobsmakcked at the hubris (American people are counting on Congress), particularly where it is attached to the role of playing follower in a game of follow the leader. Also, does he not see the tension inherent between "due diligence" and "act swiftly?" What the old saw? You can have it quickly, correct, or cheap, pick two.

I'd pick on the Democratic plan if I cared. If the public can only kick out half of Congress, please, God, let your plan be that the Democrats are first to be returned to private life.


Senator Reid complaining about Senator Coburn and his objection to passing S.3297, the [so-called] Advancing America's Priorities Act. Another pathetic act and tantrum by that little weasel, Senator Reid. At least he seems willing to pass the bill components that are not objected to, and reserve the fight for the others, but please, spare us the faux drama.

Just before the Senate closed last night, Senator Reid made a motion to proceed to this bill, S.3297. That Motion to Proceed is the pending business of the Senate.


Today will be Tax Extenders Day, H.R.6049 under a controlled period of debate with a handful of 60-vote threshold amendments.


10:31: Senator Coburn starts to explain his objections to some of the bills in the [so-called] Advancing America's Priorities Act (S.3297), and Senator Reid interrupts.


Baucus amendment 5633 [in the nature of a complete substitute for the bill] was PASSED on a 93 - 2 vote (Crapo and Kyl voted NAY)

Conrad amendment 5634 was REJECTED on a 53 - 42 vote (Party line except Coleman, Collins, Smith, and Snowe)

The Motion to Waive the Budget point of order PASSED on a 84 - 11 vote (Brown, Byrd, Carper, Conrad, Corker, Feingold, Kerry, McCaskill, Sanders, Voinovich, Whitehouse)

H.R.6049 - Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 was PASSED on a 93 - 2 vote (Carper and Conrad voted NAY)

Wednesday - September 24, 2008

The Motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3297 "The Coburn Package" is still pending.

I have no idea what Senator Reid plans for today (I quit watching the blowhard spendthrift liars in the Senate), and won't be around to watch today even if I wanted to.


President Bush's Address to the Nation

It will help American consumers and businesses get credit to meet their daily needs and create jobs.

So, we are a credit economy. ALL credit economies eventually collapse of their own weight.

Thursday - September 25, 2008

The Motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3297 "The Coburn Package" is still pending. (But parts of it have been passed under UC)

H.R.1199 - Drug Endangered Children Act
H.R.923 - Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act (was passed twice, for emphasis perhaps)


09:37: Reid's plan for action for the day week:

  • Morning Business until the Consolidated Appropriations Bill [I think this is just another term of art for the Continuing Resolution] is delivered from the House
  • S.3001 - DOD Authorization
  • Continuing Resolution (embodied in H.R.2638), already passed by the House, will be available shortly. Reid will file a cloture motion for a Saturday cloture vote, but cloture can be vitiated with agreement to vote on the CR.
  • H.R.2095 - Amtrak & train safety
  • Watch for legislation to inflate currency for the purposes of bailing out irresponsible lenders, encouraging more lending and postponing the inevitable economic meltdown


Mr. NELSON of Florida. Is the Senator considering one of the things I talked about earlier, that we would not do the whole $700 million in one swat, but we take a part and say that is good for the next 3 or 4 months and come back and evaluate it?

Mr. DODD. I don't want to negotiate with you on the floor of the Senate. There are a lot of ideas kicking around. I know that is one that has received some consideration.

September 26, 2008

The Motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3297 "The Coburn Package" is still pending. (But parts of it have been passed under UC)


Mr. SCHUMER: So, again, to reiterate my three points: No. 1, we will work until we have a product. The perilous state of our financial markets and our national economy, the danger to average Americans, now unforeseen but real and lurking behind the shadows, says we can do nothing else. No. 2, we will continue to work for a better plan than the one the President proposed, with protection for taxpayers, homeowners, and real oversight. No. 3, the President must get his Republican House in order by getting the House Republicans in line and asking Senator McCain, respectfully, to leave town. Because without Republican cooperation, we cannot pass this bill.

The Democrats can most certainly pass a bill without much Republican cooperation. All they need is a few to invoke cloture, in the Senate. And that will be a cakewalk.


Mr. SPECTER: Mr. President, at the outset, I wish to thank my distinguished colleague, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for the committee's action in considering the judicial nominees and for moving ahead with their confirmations today. Senator Leahy is used to being generous and statesmanlike, but to confirm all these judges at this time, on September 26, considering the background of the controversies in the Senate, is an act of statesmanship. If they wrote a book "Profiles in Statesmanship," as well as the book "Profiles in Courage," Senator Leahy would be at the top of the list.


Mr. REID: We are going to complete, before we leave here, the Defense Department authorization bill. ... Rail safety, Amtrak--we will complete that before we leave. I have had a number of conversations with the White House. We are going to complete the India nuclear agreement before we leave.

Saturday - September 27, 2008

The Motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3297 "The Coburn Package" is still pending. (But parts of it have been passed under UC)


Cloture was invoked on H.R.2638 - the Continuing Resolution and whatnot bill.

Mr. COCHRAN: We have adopted, strictly speaking, an amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2638, an act making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2008. But most Members are aware that what this bill actually contains is the fiscal year 2009 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. It also contains a continuing resolution to fund the rest of the Government through March 6, and a substantial disaster supplemental in response to floods, wildfires, and hurricanes.

I highlight the title of the bill because it is indicative of the sometimes opaque and convoluted process by which the bill was drafted. Its contents were determined almost exclusively by staff members and a small handful of Members of the Senate. There was no opportunity for most Senators to advocate for a specific request. There was no forum in which to offer amendments. There were no meetings in which to argue policy or discuss grievances that Members may have had with the provisions of these bills. There was no meeting of the conference committee. Only a few elements of the bill have been previously considered on the floor of the Senate. Only the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs chapter was debated on the floor of the other body. Yet we have only a few days remaining in the fiscal year, and we have been compelled to either concur in the House amendment or risk the shutdown of the Government. ...

This year, we have thrown regular order completely out the window. In the process, we have failed both the Senate and, in my opinion, the people we represent. Not any of the 12 fiscal year 2009 appropriations bills have been brought to the Senate floor. Only one appropriations bill was brought to the floor of the House.


Speaking of gross absence of transparency (and accountability) ...

Lawmakers Reach Accord on Huge Financial Rescue - WaPo

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, who has refused to participate in the talks, said a "critical mass" was forming behind the measure because of fears that Congress's failure to act would cripple financial markets and devastate the economy.


... at 12:30 p.m. Monday, the Senate will proceed to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R.2095 - the Federal Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2007.

Monday - September 29, 2008

The Motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3297 "The Coburn Package" is still pending. (But parts of it have been passed under UC)


Republicans object to Senator Reid's request for a UC agreement to pass an Energy bill, and Senator Reid notes that if he were in the House, his majority status would permit this bill to be passed. Business as usual in the Senate, while the House is going through some motions incidental to a 2/3 trillion dollar "emergency" "off budget" infusion of credit to the US and world economies, backed by the ability of the US government to extract wealth from US citizens at the point of a gun.


The House is handling the 700 thousand million dollar "bailout" under an old bill number, H.R.3997 - Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2007. No senator has the right to object to taking up a bill in this procedural posture - that is, Senator Reid just calls it up, and there is no possibility of a need to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed. Not determined at this point is whether or not any Senator will object to a time certain for voting on final passage, thereby provoking a cloture motion and cloture vote on final passage.


14:06: Roll Call Vote No. 674, I'll be dipped. The House rejected the 700 billion rescue plan ordered by the Masters of the Universe.


OIG/OPR Report on U.S. Attorney Firings

In sum, we believe that the process used to remove the nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 was fundamentally flawed. While Presidential appointees can be removed for any reason or for no reason, as long as it is not an illegal or improper reason, Department officials publicly justified the removals as the result of an evaluation that sought to replace underperforming U.S. Attorneys. ...

I'm sure the Department of Justice is happy to have that issue off their hands. "Mistakes were made." Kyle Sampson is fingered as the culprit who selected the US Attorneys who were to be replaced.

... we determined that the process implemented largely by Kyle Sampson, Chief of Staff to the Attorney General, was unsystematic and arbitrary, with little oversight by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, or any other senior Department official. In choosing which U.S. Attorneys to remove, Sampson did not adequately consult with the Department officials most knowledgeable about their performance, or even examine formal evaluations of each U.S. Attorney’s Office, despite his representations to the contrary.

More at Balkinize: The DOJ IG/OPR Report on the U.S. Attorney Firings


Most of the Republican Senators will follow President Bush's orders without question. Senators Alexander and Domenici spoke in favor of passing whatever the House passes:

Mr. DOMENICI. ... Fix [the financial system by passing the Paulson bill] or be charged with letting it break down. Vote for this and fix it. Do the rescue plan or walk out of here as a Senator who can claim no victory, can claim they didn't see fit to lend their vote to a rescue plan of this type. And I believe, no matter how much guff you are getting from your constituents, no matter how much they are talking to you on the phone and in letters and other ways, you have to explain it to them right and then you have to vote what is right for the United States. That is why we are here.

Tuesday - September 30, 2008

The Motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3297 "The Coburn Package" is still pending. (But parts of it have been passed under UC)


House Debate of Monday, for the rhetoric pertaining to the latest installment in the series, "Never-ending Bailout/Rescue Plan."

  • 25 billion FORD GMC .. wasn't enough, need more
  • 30 billion BEAR ...... wasn't enough, need more
  • 85 billion AIG ....... wasn't enough, need more
  • 138 billion LEHMAN .... wasn't enough, need more
  • 200 billion FANNIES ... wasn't enough, need more
  • 300 billion House RESCUE PLAN (kicks in on Oct 1)
  • 700 billion ... pending Congressional kabuki


08:50: President Bush, Senator McCain, and the other "Masters of the Universe" are putting on the hard sell, convincing the public that the government must take over troubled assets (non-performing loans) and associated property used for security.

10:12: Senators Reid and McConnell promise passing the bailout bill. Senator McConnell cites Senator McCain, as well as the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average "speaking loud and clear" that Congressional action (taxing and transferring the proceeds to banks) is necessary.

Senator Domenici saying the proposed bill isn't a bailout, it's a purchase. The government, says he, is buying "toxic" paper. And if the government doesn't do this, then Americans won't have the luxury of buying things, because nobody buys on cash, everybody buys on credit.

Senator Kyl is his usual dysfunctional self - arguing that the public needs more financial credit because the public runs its households with too much debt. At any rate, it is perfectly fitting that the Republicans be take the lead in adding another government program to the heap.

Now Senator Kyl is reading a letter that describes the real world consequences, and man, is it ever an eye opener. The writer says due to loss of appraised value in his house (his collateral), his credit line has been reduced. I ask, what is Senator Kyl going to do to maintain the value of the writer's collateral? Or does he propose to relax lending rules so that one can borrow more than the collateral is worth? I wonder how many people will fall for the dumb-ass argument that Kyl is trying to make.

12:28: Senator Bond is saying he doesn't want to be voting AYE for the bailout / rescue, but it'll be good for the people if he does support it. His argument is as disconnected as Kyl's, expressing reluctance for supporting something he sees as good for the public.

The parade of Republican support continues with Senators McConnell and Bennett.

14:14: A Democrat speaking! Senator Dorgan noting the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act, right after saying that it's not time to cast blame. He names names, Senator Gramm. Then he takes credit for predicting a need for massive taxpayer funded bailouts. Dorgan was one of 8 Senators to vote against the repeal, McCain was the sole "not voting" Senator.

November 4, 1999 ...

... I do not know if many know it, but we have something like $33 trillion in value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks in this country.

Federally-insured banks in this country are trading in derivatives out of their own proprietary accounts. You could just as well put a roulette wheel in the bank lobby. That is what it is. I offered amendments on the floor of the Senate when this bill was originally here to stop bank speculation in derivatives in their own proprietary accounts and also to take a look at some sensible regulation of risky hedge funds, but those amendments were rejected. You think there is not risk here? There is dramatic risk, and it is increasing. ...

Let me describe the ultimate perversion, the hood ornament on stupidity. The U.S. Government owned nonperforming junk bonds in the Taj Mahal Casino. Let me say that again. The U.S. Government ended up owning nonperforming junk bonds in the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City. How did that happen? The savings and loans were able to buy junk bonds. The savings and loans went belly up. The junk bonds were not performing. And the U.S. Government ended up with those junk bonds.

"Too big to fail, so we make them bigger. Doesn't makes sense to me," says Senator Dorgan, again today.

Senator Dorgan advocates legislation that regulates hedge funds and derivatives.

Recovery, Reform, and Regulation. He won't vote for Recovery without Reform and/or Regulation.

14:50: Senator Domenici challenges Senator Dorgan, asking whether the purchase of toxic securities isn't in fact a good deal for the buyer (the taxpayer). Senator Dorgan uses the sausage analogy, "we don't even know what's inside those securities." Ultimately, he advocates relief to the "deadbeat" borrower in bankruptcy court, as it provides stability in housing value (compared with housing vacancies).

16:26: Senator Dodd says that the order of business (where the bailout bill will originate) is being discussed between party leaders; and that those who voted NAY yesterday are having second thoughts about their NAY votes. He expects a "positive result in the next 24 to 48 hours." Senator Warner indicates that he would have endorsed the language that Dodd circulated yesterday.

19:14: Senator Reid propounds a UC request to take up the bailout bill, with times certain for debate and voting on final passage. I missed the details - check the Legislative Calendar at about midnight for full details of UC agreements - but I think the roll out is set up for Thursday. Senator Reid thanks Dodd and Gregg for their work. Senator McConnell said this represents one of the finest moments of the Senate (obviously, no objection). All's been cleared with House leadership as well.

Wednesday - October 1, 2008

There is a pair of UC agreements that intertwine passage of the US-India Nuclear Power Agreement (H.R.7081) and "the bailout." Debate India-nuclear-power; debate bailout; vote India-nuclear-power; vote bailout.

The bailout language is being negotiated, and probably will be until "the last minute." It's to be an amalgamation of the recently Senate-passed energy-tax extenders (H.R.6049) with modifications to make it acceptable to House Democrats, and House-rejected "bailout" language with decorative tweaks like increasing the FDIC insurance limit. This amalgamation is in the form of a substitute amendment, the "Dodd" amendment.

Besides the Dodd substitute amendment, a Sanders amendment re: tax on high income individuals to be debated and voted under bailout. Passage of the Sanders amendment to be on simple majority, and passage of the bailout ("Dodd amendment" and final passage) to be on a 60 vote supermajority basis.

I think the people who are calling Congress to complain about passage of this bill are wasting their time. Congress is utterly indifferent as to public sentiment, and holds the public in disdain.

14:38: Debate on the bailout begins, with dickering over order of speeches. Senator Clinton goes first, in favor of the plan. Senators Dodd and Gregg are managing the debate (both of them are in favor). Total time for debate is on the order of two and a half hours, with an hour of that on the Sanders amendment.

Other talkers (in order): Gregg (for), Baucus (for), Isakson (for), Mikulski (for) ...

Democrats are blaming Wall Street greed and lax GOP oversight. Lying sacks of shit. Congress is responsible, both parties, but more DEM than GOP. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest Mikulski's brassiere.

Senator Dodd extended debate time about an hour, with voting to start at 7:00 pm.

More talkers: Corker (for), Dodd (enthusiastically, but reluctantly for), Coburn (for) ...

Coburn asserts that the power to be exercised by Congress (being in the mortgage business) is outside the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8. He says Amtrak is a similar violation.

Senator Coburn says the unfunded liabilities for Medicaid (Medicare? I can't keep them straight) alone is 100 trillion dollars. He's railing against Congressional spending. Quite the lead in for justifying approval of a 700 billion dollar government purchase of toxic paper. I agree with him, Congress will reap what it sows. It's just a matter of timing.

More talkers: Conrad (for), Collins (for), ...

Each of them says something like, "None of us is happy," or "I share the anger of my constituents." None of them expresses shame, or anger at THEMSELVES. Well, Coburn chewed Congress a new ass, but he's a pariah in their midst. Collins is telling us what a GREAT job she's done. I live in Maine, and she'll never have my support. The reason the State of Maine couldn't get a 50 million dollar bond is that it's not reliably going to obtain enough revenue to repay per the terms of the bond.

More talkers: Reed (for), McConnell (emphatically for) ...

Senator McConnell's "every dime we get back will be used to pay down the national debt" is an empty sound bite. When spending exceeds income, as it does in the US, the notion of "paying down debt" is meaningless. The rest of his "comforting" words are likewise horse shit. "Close supervision by the government," "businesses will be allowed to fail," etc.

Krauthammer, George Will, Kudlow, National Review, WSJ, Newt Gingrich, and Heritage Foundation support the package, therefore it has the support of conservatives, concludes Senator McConnell.

More talkers: Casey (for), Vitter (NO) ...

Vitter thinks the proposed bureaucracy will invite corruption - Wall Streeters turned bureaucrat, later to return to Wall Street. First one to express "appalling lack of political leadership." He believes this bailout invites a repeat, or similar, financial collapse, at some indefinite future time.

More talkers: Obama (for) ...

17:12: Quorum call after a 15 minute Obama speech put Senator Sanders to sleep.

17:15: More talkers: DeMint (NO) ...

DeMint thinks the proposed bill will cause more harm than good. Whoa - he's accusing the Federal government of socializing, then wrecking: finance, education, and energy. He says Americans understand this. Well, I do, but I think I'm in a splinter minority. DeMint admits that the financial problem was caused by Congress, operating beyond its wisdom with good intentions. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were lobbying us to turn a blind eye while our brain child turned into a Frankenstein. He is really pissed off.

He thinks Congress should admit its guilt and fix the flawed financial legislation. Government is at the root of this problem. He thinks telling people they are going to be rescued with their own money is flawed. This Congress refuses to change its policy, even though the policy caused the housing bubble. Refuse to pass tax laws that would attract capital investment and jobs. Repeal Sarbanes/Oxley. Pass a law to expedite the development of our energy resources, freeze non-discretionary spending. None of that is on the table for discussion. Congress is being dishonest and arrogant. He strongly opposes this legislation.

Hip Hip Hooray!

Listen to DeMint's Speech

Now there are two pariahs in the Senate, but DeMint ends up being a bigger one than Coburn.

Sanders is up with his amendment. That gets an hour of debate, then the string of votes starts.

17:45: More talkers: Sessions (NO), Schumer (for), Domenici (for), Menendez (ANGRY and for), Shelby (NO) ...

18:32: Senator Dodd obtains unanimous consent to add an additional half-hour for debate. More talkers: Nelson (FL) (NO), Graham (for), Kerry (for), Martinez (for), Boxer (for - she is going to lay blame tonight - it's all Republicans fault), Gregg (for), Cantwell (NO - against turning the keys to the treasury over to the private sector), Durbin (for - reckless deregulation of financial industry, reckless behavior of Wall Street, and Republicans are to blame), Feinstein (for), Hutchison (for) ...

Senator Graham sounds like Arlo Guthrie singing Alice's Restaurant.

Feinstein reports her constituents are overwhelmingly against the bailout, but that they were looking at the wrong bill by looking at the original Paulson bill. Constituents in California run their businesses on credit.

Hutchison is shilling on the bailout bill, in part on account of the "goodness" inherent in the energy tax credits, disaster assistance, etc. - and neglects to mention that all those provisions were passed by the Senate last week under H.R.6049.


19:32: Shift to Amtrak, H.R.2095, for half an hour of debate, then voting starts.

20:08: Voting starts on the Amtrak bill. Passed 74-24 at 20:26.

20:33: Voting starts on the India nuclear-power bill. Passed 86-13 at 20:48. This was a really contentious bill when it came up last year. Funny how things change.


20:50: Sanders amendment on deck. Failed on a voice vote, no roll call. Senator Reid asks to speak before voting on the Dodd substitute amendment (this is really the only important vote for this bill), and uses the time to thank Senate staff for their hard work.

My prediction for passage of the Dodd substitute amendment is 79-19.

20:59: Senator Reid starts his closing remarks, prior to the vote.

21:07: Voting starts. Senators are ordered to vote from their chairs, all formal like the rules require.

21:18: Dodd substitute amendment (bailout plus energy tax extenders) was PASSED, on a 74-25 vote (predicted 79-19) (NAY votes: Allard, Barrasso, Brownback, Bunning, Cantwell, Cochran, Crapo, DeMint, Dole, Dorgan, Enzi, Feingold, Inhofe, Johnson, Landrieu, Nelson (FL), Roberts, Sanders, Sessions, Shelby, Stabenow, Tester, Vitter, Wicker, Wyden)

The Senate is conducting a roll call vote on final passage. I'd expect exactly the same or higher number of AYE votes.

21:41: Final passage of H.R.1424 (bailout plus energy tax extenders) PASSED, on a 74-25 vote (NAY votes: Allard, Barrasso, Brownback, Bunning, Cantwell, Cochran, Crapo, DeMint, Dole, Dorgan, Enzi, Feingold, Inhofe, Johnson, Landrieu, Nelson (FL), Roberts, Sanders, Sessions, Shelby, Stabenow, Tester, Vitter, Wicker, Wyden)


21:53: Senator Durbin closing the Senate. A big raft of bills to be passed, no doubt, as the Senate is done until after the election, and then only for lame-duck stuff. I'm gonna watch baseball. Maybe never to return. It's been fun!

Thursday - October 2, 2008

Life is good. The Boston RedSox won game 1 in the playoff series.

Link to Congressional Record for October 1 bailout speeches
Link to Congressional Record for some October 2 bailout speeches.


Faced with 7% unemployment in Nevada, and 9% unemployment in Michigan, the Democrats propose to extend federal taxpayer money to extend unemployment benefits. The Republicans object to Senator Reid's UC proposal to pass that legislation (S.3507) at this moment.

Mr. REID: In summary, if we could afford to authorize $700 billion last evening to assist financial forces to unclog credit markets, to begin to provide support for the economy, then we certainly can afford to help individuals who are looking for work and can't find it and are desperate.


H.RES. 1525 - Providing for the consideration of the Senate amendments to the bill H.R.1424

The House will consider the bailout/tax extenders bill with 3 total hours of debate, and no amendments to be considered. H.RES. 1526 provides that simple majority will determine the outcome, even though the vote is on the same day the rule is introduced.

Friday - October 3, 2008

The Senate stands in recess until Monday. The action is over in the House, on the bailout. I thought it would pass on Monday - and I think it will pass today.

Roll Call Vote No. 679 on ordering the question on voting passage of the Rule. Passes 235-190 at 10:30 am.

Roll Call Vote No. 680 on voting passage of the Rule. Passes 223-205 at 10:39 am.

Roll Call Vote No. 681 on voting passage of the Bill (H.R.1424). Passes 263-171 at 1:27 pm.

16:01: CNN reports the bailout bill has been signed into law. Two and a half hours from passage to being signed into law. Not bad!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Interdependence Month - 2008

Monday, July 7 is going to be used to set up passage of the Housing Bailout. The first of two cloture votes to limit debate on final passage of H.R.3221 is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today.


Tuesday, July 8 will be dedicated to debating and passing FISA [A stack of five votes: amendments, cloture, and final passage; has been pushed into Wednesday, July 9th]. The penciled-in vote counts are quick guesses, mostly to illustrate what I see as a wide gap between passing and blocking the bill.

For comparison - Feb 7 and 12, 2008: S.2248 Amendment and Vote Summary.

Comprehensive FISA Links Page - Congressional Debate and Amendments

  1. One amendment to pass or be tabled on a majority vote
    • Dodd/Feingold/Leahy #5064 (2 hours) Eliminates Title III (strips retroactive immunity)
      REJECTED July 9, 2008 at 12:16, on a 32-66 vote (guessed 27-67)
      DEM NAY votes: Bayh, Carper, Conrad, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman (I know), Lincoln, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, and Webb
  2. Two amendments that require 60 votes to pass
    • Specter #5059 (2 hours) directs the District Court to dismiss the cases if it finds either that the surveillance was within statutory bounds, or was constitutional
      REJECTED July 9, 2008 at 12:34, on a 37-61 vote (guessed 41-53)
      DEM NAY votes: Bayh, Carper, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor, Rockefeller, and Salazar
      GOP AYE vote: Specter
    • Bingaman #5066 (1 hour) to stay District Court proceedings pending the outcome of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General
      REJECTED July 9, 2008 at 12:54, on a 42-56 vote (guessed 41-53)
      DEM NAY votes: Bayh, Carper, Conrad, Inouye, Landrieu, Lieberman, Nelson (NE), and Rockefeller
      GOP AYE vote: Specter
  3. Cloture vote on passage of H.R.6304, as amended (cloture motion filed Thursday, June 26) (60 minutes of debate)
    PASSED July 9, 2008 at 14:44, on a 72-26 vote (guessed 69-22)
    DEM AYE votes: Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Carper, Casey, Conrad, Dorgan, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Obama, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Webb and Whitehouse
  4. H.R.6304, as amended (if amended)
    PASSED July 9, 2008 at 15:06, on a 69-28 vote (guessed 68-22)
    DEM AYE votes: Baucus, Bayh, Carper, Casey, Conrad, Feinstein, Inouye, Johnson, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, McCaskill, Mikulski, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Obama, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Webb and Whitehouse

Not voting: Senators Kennedy and McCain. Senator Sessions was absent from the vote on final passage.


14:30: GOP obstruction. Energy prices, H.R.4040 - CPSC conference report [passed 7/31], LIHEAP, Press Shield, DOD authorization and appropriations. GOP obstruction.

15:10: Senator Specter on Judge Walker's opinion in the al Haramain case (holding that the courts ruling on a FISA-based claim can pierce state secret, but only if a plaintiff first shows, without resort to state secret, that he was under government surveillance). He has the opinion entered into the record. Senator Specter focuses on the "exclusive means" aspect of the opinion, but all of that is irrelevant if a plaintiff is unable to get in the door in the first place.

Judge Walker's opinion will also be useful to immunity proponents, and I expect the opinion to be deliberately misconstrued as "letting a plaintiff leak state secrets," and as so misconstrued, being a reason to get the cases out of court.

At any rate, Senator Specter says that it is unseemly to take the case out of court, just as the final result is about to be rendered. He reiterates his objections to retroactive immunity, offers some methods of probing the government's surveillance conduct without exposing the telecoms to financial loss (substitution), and otherwise pontificates on possibilities that will evaporate in the wake of tomorrow's votes. The FISA show is over folks, time to move on.

--- 16:46 ---

Senator Reid pushes the votes on FISA out to Wednesday. The debate on amendments will be conducted on Tuesday. Debate on final passage to start at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, with voting on amendments predicted to start around 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday. This is a reaction to Senators wanting to be at Senator Helms' funeral in North Carolina.

The 5:30 p.m. cloture vote tonight will be kept open, even though the vote won't be close, because some Senators may be delayed in return to Washington due to air traffic delays caused by storms in the midwestern United States.


18:39: The first of two motions to invoke cloture on final passage of H.R.3221 - Housing Bailout, was PASSED on a 76-10 vote [Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the Amendments of the House, Striking Title VI through XI]

Late voters: Salazar @18:29, Allard @18:38

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A curious notice in passing - this is the first time I have seen a cloture motion to limit debate on the subject being filed BEFORE the subject was taken up, although Riddick's Rules of Senate procedure indicate the event is not unprecedented.

As for timing, this UC agreement was entered into [about 2 seconds] before the cloture motion was filed ...

That it be in order to file the cloture motion on the bill at any time prior to the cloture vote

Thursday, June 26: We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, hereby move to bring to a close debate on H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. E. Benjamin Nelson, John D. Rockefeller, IV, Thomas R. Carper, Mark L. Pryor, Bill Nelson, Dianne Feinstein, Robert P. Casey, Jr., Barbara A. Mikulski, Claire McCaskill, Kent Conrad, Daniel K. Inouye, Mary L. Landrieu, Joseph I. Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse, Evan Bayh, Ken Salazar.

As of this morning, H.R.6034 (FISA) has not been taken up (the motion to proceed has not been adopted), but the cloture motion to limit debate on the bill if/after it has been taken was filed almost two weeks ago.

I believe today is a no-vote day. Votes on FISA will occur tomorrow, with passage of the bill to be completed by 1:00 p.m. or earlier.


10:04: Senator Reid describes debate and voting schedule on FISA, with 105 minutes of debate time to be left over for tomorrow. If voting on FISA isn't done by the time the GOP caucus time comes around, the last vote or two will be done "after lunch" tomorrow.

Portending some future action, H.R.6377 - Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008, is read the second time, and will be placed on the calendar.


10:06: Senator Coburn and Lieberman will read the Declaration of Independence into the record. That's the start of a quaint tradition. Interesting that the Declaration of Independence is ultimately a Declaration of a human right to conduct violent revolution against the government.


11:30: The motion to proceed to H.R.6304 is adopted.

Senator Cardin already spoke on the subject (he will vote against the bill if Title II remains in), and Senator Feingold follows. Senator Specter after that. Senator Rockefeller after that.

Senator Specter rebuts Senator Rockefeller's misrepresentation of the immunity provisions, as well as Senator Rockefeller's misrepresentation that "Congress has been informed all along."

Short speech by Senator Boxer, followed by Senator Bond, and into the party caucus luncheon at 12:30.

Judge Walker's al Haramain opinion and order of July 2 has been incorporated into the debates.

14:15: Back from lunch, Senator Dodd describes time management as to the remaining debate time, with he managing debate on the Specter amendment, and Senator Rockefeller managing time on the Feingold/Dodd and Bingaman amendments.

Senator Bond is going to explain why he believe Judge Walker's al Haramain decision won't be upheld. Heck, it won't be appealed - al Haramain will lose (the case will be dismissed with prejudice), so the government has no reason to litigate further. Disclosure of state secret is well protected because no plaintiff can get over the threshold of showing government surveillance, using non-state-secret evidence.

Senator Bond's objections to Judge Walker's dicta, that FISA represents the ultimate limit of the president's Article II authority, is, I think, based on a misunderstanding. Judge Walker's opinion refers to making a determination as to whether or not FISA has been violated - which is not the same as making a determination that the president has exceeded his Article II power to conduct surveillance for foreign intelligence (not criminal investigation) purposes.

The question is mooted in practice, anyway, because no plaintiff will be able to show, with non-state-secret evidence, that he was under government surveillance.

14:45: Senator Specter is being a busy beaver today. Now he is asking questions of Senator Bond, first complaining about the small number of Senators in the know, so they can be comfortable agreeing to retroactive immunity. Senator Bond says he wishes the government had briefed more Senators, but that even when Committee work is done in public, most Senators aren't well apprised (can't be, because there is too much legislative activity) and essentially vote "in the dark," and "on trust in the Committee."

Senator Specter comes back, that it's not just deliberate unawareness, but that in this case, few Senators are permitted to inquire - and not all of the Committee members had been briefed. He's used all of his time, but goes to his second question. Does Bond know of any case involving a constitutional right, which has been pending for years and is before an appeals court, that Congress has stepped in and taken the case out of the Court?

Senator Bond says the risk isn't financial liability - the risk is the disclosure of the most secretive methods and procedures used by the government, which would result in terrorists (read "the public") could avoid communication intercepts.

15:01: Senator Bingaman up. He will speak for 15, Casey for 5, Levin for 10. Senator Levin inquires if he is free to use those 10 minutes at any time, or if they must be used "in sequence." He may speak anytime this afternoon. Senator Bingaman's #5066 is called up.


Today's WH Fact Sheet on Retroactive Immunity contains nothing new in the way of arguments.

Senator Rockefeller points to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report accompanying S.2248 as containing sufficient explanation to facilitate concluding that telecoms should not be held to the terms of the FISA statute, for their compliance with orders from the government.

15:39: The quorum clock is running against the Bingaman amendment. Senator Levin is going to be upset if it eats his 10 minutes, after he was told he could talk "anytime this afternoon."

15:44: Senator Leahy - in opposition to the blanket grant of immunity as being an attempt to engineer an outcome in court. He says the public has a right to know who told the telecoms to "break the law." I think that's admitted ... President Bush, AG Ashcroft, WH Counsel Gonzalez.

16:02: Senator Specter calls up his #5059.

16:16: Senator Whitehouse against retroactive immunity.

16:29: Senator Rockefeller - noting that FISA represents a delicate balance, that the House passed it by a wide margin, and that the Senate will pass FISA with overwhelming support. Two out of three ain't bad.

Senator Rockefeller says companies can't be expected to evaluate the constitutionality of orders they are asked to follow. Well hells bells, one of the points of FISA was to give the companies a LAW that they could follow (or not), so they wouldn't have to judge "constitutionality." Now they don't even have to look at the law.

Senator Rockefeller says the al Haramain case is not against the telecoms (i.e., is not an action based on 50 USC 1810), but is rather against the government. That's really a technical call, because if al Haramain wins his case against the government (to determine whether or not FISA was respected or not), then al Haramain would "have a cause of action against any person who committed such violation."

17:19: Senator Warner advocates for telecom immunity. He's pretty much reading the provided script. He likens the telecoms to an all-volunteer military, where secret surveillance on unilateral executive order would not succeed but for the cooperation of the telecoms, and therefore the telecom actions should be applauded, rather than examined for conformity with statute.

Senator Warner switches gears and reminisces about the 55 MPH speed limit, and its impact on conservation. Just a rough estimate, the mileage peak is at about 40 MPH, if Congress is serious about minimizing consumption of energy, in exchange for an increase in consumption of time.

17:32: Senator Specter is unhappy that Senator Warner took time in morning business, and also that there is a UC agreement for 6 speakers who won't be on the subject of FISA, to which Senator Warner says, "Senator Rockefeller said it was okay." Senator Specter then says he thinks time for FISA debate should be allowed for tomorrow, to the extent the non-FISA UC agreement displaces FISA debate. Senator Carper chimes in that amendment debate MUST be used today, and cannot be carried over to tomorrow, and therefore objects to Senator Specter's suggestion.

Senator Carper supports H.R.6304, unamended.

Senator Carper gives a pledge, that he will work with Congress to make further improvements to this and other bills. Heh. Nice pledge. It's probably worth more than the FISA statute is.


Senator Cochran - his voice reminds me of Mr. Haney in Green Acres. At any rate, he's talking about the Medicare (doc fix) bill.

Senator Stabenow picks up the same (Medicare, not Mr. Haney) ball.


18:34: Senator Levin on FISA. Then Senator Chambliss, same subject. Then Senator Reid (who has a frog in his throat). I think Senator Reid writes 10 minute speeches to fit 5 minute slots. It's uncommon to hear somebody mumble so rapidly.

19:00: Senator Dodd's turn in the barrel. He's on speed too.

19:50: Senator Reid calls up Housing Bailout (H.R. 3221) and files a cloture motion to limit debate on the last step that amounts to "passage" of Senate amendments to House amendments; then he "fills the amendment tree" to preclude any GOP modification or stall of voting on the House Message (the bill).

19:54: Senator Dodd closes the Senate until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. Senator Specter gets his "lost" 10 minutes of debate back, to be used tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Vote results will just be input in the list at the top of this post. At some point I'll fill in the names of cross-over voters.

I've been maintaining the Comprehensive FISA Links Page - Congressional Debate and Amendments, if anybody has an urge to look for inconsistencies in position.

Mr. BOND. Mr. President, before the recess I mentioned how the press picked up on the similarities between this bill and the Senate bill [S.2248] and how they kept asking me to help find out the big changes in the bill that no one could find. Well, they stopped asking me that question because they realized there is not much that is significantly different, save some cosmetic fixes that satisfied the House Democratic leadership. ...

... we [this is the administration, DNI McConnell, speaking through Senator Bond] agreed to replace our version of what we call a carve-out from the definition of electronic surveillance [the PAA excluded the interception of international communications from the definition of "electronic surveillance"] said that interception of any communication with their definition of a carve-out which they call construction. Operationally, there is no difference between the two approaches, but we think our approach is more forthright with the American people because we put our carve-out right up front instead of burying it several chapters later in title VII of FISA as they wanted to do.

Why did they do this? I am sure this is not of great moment to anybody here, but let me say that it was clear from negotiations the other side wanted to be able to come out of the negotiations and say: We wrestled the Republicans back to the original definition of "electronic surveillance" in the 1978 FISA Act, but they failed to mention they buried their carve-out deep in this legislation, and it has the same effect.

They also failed to remind folks it was the original language of the 1978 FISA Act that, due to technology changes, got us into this mess in the first place.

Last year, when the DNI first asked us to modernize FISA, he requested we create a technology-neutral definition of "electronic surveillance." I believed then and I still believe we should redefine "electronic surveillance." FISA is complicated enough, and we should be forthright with the American people.

But some other leaders prefer for political reasons to bury construction provisions deep within the bill instead of presenting an upfront, crystal-clear carve-out. One consequence of their approach is that the same acquisition activities the Government uses to target non-U.S. persons overseas will trigger both the definition of electronic surveillance in title I of FISA and the construction provision in section 7.

Essentially, we have agreed to build an unnecessary internal inconsistency in statute as a political compromise. I reluctantly agreed to do this because the DNI and the Attorney General assured us that going for the carve-out now would not create any operational problems for the intelligence community, but we should fix this in the future during less politically charged times.

I think Senator Bond's characterization is fair, as a general matter. H.R.6304 is "smoke and mirrors," and creates an internal inconsistency (when taken in full context, including 18 USC 2511) that the PAA avoided.

The message in Senator Bond's statement is clear and unequivocal. The government considers all international communications to be "fair game" without a warrant, and without any need (as a matter of practice) for prior suspicion. As a matter of law, any and all international communications can be suspected of containing foreign intelligence information.


09:35: Senator Reid says about 2 hours of debate, with voting to start at 11:15 to 11:30. All the votes are important, none of them will be very close (Senator Reid predicts). If the vote is close, Senator Reid will hold the vote open - but he urges the Senators to be in the chamber for timely votes.

Senator Reid sets the order of voting as Dodd, then Specter, then Bingaman. This sets up the ability of a Senator to vote against Dodd, on the rationale of favoring either the Specter or Bingaman amendment. I've noted that the order of votes that most favors Dodd is to conduct that vote last of the three amendments.


On disposition of FISA, he asks UC to move to the motion to proceed to 6331 [Medicare (doc fix)], with a 4:30 cloture vote, followed by an immediate vote on final passage.

... if cloture is invoked on the motion to proceed to H.R. 6331 ... to extend expiring provisions under the Medicare Program ... all post-cloture time be yielded back, the motion to proceed be agreed to, and the Senate proceed to the consideration of the bill, that the bill be read a third time, passed, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, without further intervening action or debate.

Ordered further, That if cloture is not invoked, then the motion to proceed be withdrawn and the bill returned to the calendar.

Short version: final passage of H.R.6331 will be determined this afternoon, with 60 votes being required in order to obtain final passage.


09:40: Senator McConnell argues that holding telecoms to follow the law will discourage cooperation. The only rational response to that is to eliminate the laws that facilitate holding the telecoms accountable. Where is the call for repeal of 50 USC 1809 and 1810? Oh, there is none? Heh. Smoke and mirrors.

10:11: Senators Rockefeller and Bond enter a colloquy into the record, on the definition of "electronic communication service provider." [The colloquy reinforces that the term is to be construed, by courts, very broadly, and "was intentionally drafted to encompass the full spectrum of entities being sued in a covered civil action"]

Also entered without being spoken, a statement of Senator Feinstein. [Explaining why she strongly supports this bill, in part because "This bill ends warrantless surveillance." Also recapitulating (and overstating the effect of) Judge Walker's opinion that FISA represents a Congressional attempt to define "exclusive means" of acquiring foreign intelligence from people in the US]

Also entered without being spoken, and without spoken notice of being entered, statements by:

Senator Biden [against the bill]; an incoherent section that refers to Rockefeller's bill sunsetting in 6 months and indicating disgust, but support (I think this was part of Biden's submittal to the clerk, for printing in the Record);

Senator Byrd [against the bill - "It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer [The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution] to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.]

Senator Clinton [against the bill because the FISC oversight of executive surveillance of Americans is not substantive, and because Senators are casting uninformed votes on immunity.]

Senator Reed [against the bill - "In good conscience, I could not simply trust with blind faith"]

11:54: Voting starts on the amendments. Voting will be in the order of Dodd, then Specter, then Bingaman. The Dodd amendment (strip immunity) was rejected at 12:16, on a 32-66 vote. Voting started on the Specter amendment at 12:20, and concluded at 12:34. The Specter amendment was rejected on a 37-61 vote.

12:38: Senator Reid announces that the cloture vote on final passage, and the vote on final passage, will start at about 2:15 this afternoon. Voting starts on the Bingaman amendment just before 12:39, and the amendment is rejected on a 42-56 vote at 12:54. Into recess until 14:15.

14:44: Cloture was invoked on passage of H.R.6304, on a 72-26 vote. The bill passed on a 69-28 vote, at 15:06. The Senate skipped the usual self-aggrandizing congratulatory activity.

I believe most of the Senators practiced "willful blindness" on this vote, and will claim "I was ignorant of the extent of snooping, and shouldn't be held accountable," if and when the public becomes outraged.

As a procedural matter, being "uniformed" or inadequately informed is the legitimate justification for casting a NO toward the limited debate that follows from invoking cloture. If a Senator isn't informed enough to cast a principled vote (either way), then that person has a DUTY to say "I'm not ready to vote yet." No off the hook for willful blindness, not when the procedural tools are available, and in this case, USED.

On the bright side, keep in mind that FISA law is worthless anyway. It isn't meant to be followed (wink wink). When it isn't followed (which happens in secret, and WILL happen against the H.R.6304 "broadened surveillance power granted by Congress" as the government perceives or imagines a domestically-located threat), Congress has shown that it is willing to adjust its statutory charade. Meanwhile, H.R.6304 can serve its purpose of fooling people into a false belief about the extent of "lawful surveillance."

The actual extent of warrantless surveillance will be whatever each executive finds to be an Article II power. If the secret warrantless surveillance is never used in court, then "the surveillance isn't happening," as a matter of law.


The Senate is now on to H.R.6331 - Medicare (doc fix), and I am on to baseball. The Senate can kiss my ass.

H.R.6304 has been presented to President Bush.

16:35: Cloture on passage of H.R.6331 - Medicare (doc fix ala DEM), was PASSED on a 69-30 vote.

The bill passed per UC (no separate vote required).

"That was a little drama," says Senator McCaskill, as presiding officer. Referring, I think, to the fact that Senator Kennedy was in the Senate chamber and cast a vote to invoke cloture and pass H.R.6331.

16:37: Senator Sessions is back (he missed the FISA vote - and announces he would have voted AYE)

16:41: Senator Hutchison remarks on the return of Senator Kennedy to the chamber (he was in the chamber to vote on the Medicare bill). Senator Hutchison then complains that the Senate was not given the opportunity to debate Medicare (but she voted for it anyway).

17:10: Senator Reid tried to obtain a UC agreement to debate and vote on S.2731 - Lantos/Hyde HIV/Aids Tuberculosis Malaria Act. Senator Kyl objected at the restrictive debate schedule. Senator Reid filed a cloture motion to overcome the objection, with the cloture vote to occur Friday, unless the GOP agrees to conduct it tomorrow.

18:20: Senator Reid closes down the Senate until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (in recess). The Senate will work on Housing Bailout tomorrow.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Comments have been added below "10:11" above, summarizing material entered into the record without being spoken. Editorial adjustments were made at "14:44."

09:45: Senator Reid says that if cloture is not invoked on H.R.3221 - Housing Bailout, the bill will be set aside. Senator DeMint is named as the GOP Senator who is objecting to the manager's package, which is part of taking up and passing the Housing Bailout bill.

S.3236 - More Medicare, put on the calendar.

09:50: Senator McConnell says the Senate should be working on the number one priority, energy prices; and that the Senate should take up GOP-prepared base legislation that gives states the option to explore the outer continental shelf, and otherwise encourages domestic exploration and production.

Senator Reid comes back, agrees that energy and gasoline prices are a big issue; and is happy that the GOP has dropped insistence on exploiting ANWR. Just the same, he does not think the US can become energy independent on minerals, and that oil companies should explore and develop existing leases, including in the Gulf of Mexico - and that it should be forbidden to export any oil found in the US. He thinks the oil futures/speculation activity needs closer regulation, and the DEMs are working on new legislation in that regard. He urges that the US would begin to tap the strategic petroleum reserve.

09:55: The Senate takes up one hour of debate preceding the cloture vote on passing Housing Bailout back to the House, as amended by the Senate.

10:18: Senator Sessions is wrapping up a speech that advocates expanding nuclear power. Senator Cornyn points to a need for action on the Colombian Free Trade Agreement, judicial nominees, and energy prices.

11:21: The second of two cloture votes to limit debate on final passage of H.R.3221 - Housing Bailout, was PASSED on a 84-12 vote. [Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Disagree to the Amdts. of the House, Adding a New Title and Inserting a New Section]

Senator Webb is heard saying, "Where's my little gavel here?"

The Senate shifts to executive session with 2:00 p.m. votes on the nominations of Petraeus and Odierno. With regard to S.2731 - Lantos/Hyde HIV/Aids Tuberculosis Malaria Act, Senator Reid says he's open to conducting the cloture vote on the motion to proceed either this afternoon (which is "early" under the rules), or tomorrow.

12:51: Senator Grassley says the AMT is a "stealth" tax, in that the law doesn't accurately summarize the marginal tax rate. That's BS. The law is the law - follow it, and the tax pops out the other end. If AMT applies, it applies. Congress passed it - it's the law, it's not stealth. Likewise for itemized deductions and personal exemptions, none of that is stealth, it is all transparent.

14:46: General Patraeus's new commission was confirmed on a 96-2 vote, and General Odierno's was confirmed on a 96-1 vote. Feinstein was a late voter. The Senate resumes legislative session, and goes into quorum call.

23:22: Senator Reid breaks the quorum call. He claims his slurring of words isn't due to imbibing of alcohol. One Senator is insisting on 30 hours of post-cloture time on Housing Bailout, which forces that vote to be taken no sooner than 5:21 p.m. tomorrow. Now THAT's how to force delay.

Senator Reid asks for a vote on the Hyde/Lantos "Global Aids" bill at 5:30 p.m. Monday - objection by Senator DeMint, voiced by Senator Kyl. Senator Kyl hopes the bill can be completed next week, including opportunities to offer, debate and vote on amendments.

Senator Reid propounds a UC request that has the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to Global AIDS taking place tomorrow, immediately after voting on Housing Bailout, and that all post cloture time be deemed expired, and the motion to proceed to Global Aids be adopted on Monday. There is no objection.

23:35: Senator Durbin closes the Senate until Friday 3:30 pm. Two votes tomorrow. First to pass Housing Bailout, then on limiting debate on a motion to proceed to Global Aids.

Friday, July 11, 2008

15:33: Senate opens. A cloture vote is scheduled for 5:21 to limit the last leg of debate on the Housing Bailout. After that, a cloture vote to limit debate on the motion to proceed to the Lantos/Hyde HIV/Aids Tuberculosis Malaria Act. Senator Reid looks for the velcro "Republican Filibuster" chart, and accuses the Republicans of stealing it. The number is up to 82.

16:18: Senator Levin on energy, and then on absence of an Iraq national hydrocarbon legislation and an absence of consistent US policy on facilitating hydrocarbon exploitation in Iraq. He enters a number of letters into the record (probably a good read).

17:41: H.R.3221 - Housing Bailout, was PASSED on a 63-5 vote. Back to the House.

Senator Reid propounds a UC request. Monday, all post cloture time (on HIV/AIDS) be expired, Biden/Lugar substitute amendment, a number of amendments at 60 vote thresholds. Senator Reid says "I'm reading as fast as I can" as he goes through 10 amendments with brief descriptions, and the steps leading to putting the bill into the vehicle of H.R.5501 to be sent to the House. There is no objection.

Senator Menendez makes an inquiry as to whether or not an objecting Senator has to be present in order to voice objection, and notes that the Senator who objected to shortening the 30 hours of post cloture time on the last Housing Bailout vote was not present to vote. The Senate erupted in boos. They do not like being held over on Fridays.

18:05: The cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.2731 - Lantos/Hyde HIV/Aids Tuberculosis Malaria Act, was PASSED on a 65-3 vote.

Into quorum call. Senators can start the weekend now. I'm recalling Senator Reid's comments in June, that Mondays in July would include voting.

18:33: S.1046 passed with Voinovich amendment.
H.R.4289 passed.
H.Con.Res.236 passed.
S.Res.610 passed.
S.Res.576 passed with an amendment.
S.3257 given a first reading.

18:38: Adjourned until 2:00 p.m. Monday. Then to HIV/AIDS (PEPFAR). He hopes this to be finished next week. He hopes that the past month, with Republicans and Democrats not getting along, is somewhat smoothed over with recent passage of Medicare, FISA.

No votes on Monday (LOL). Will be votes on Tuesday Morning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I checked to see if the DNC filed it's complaint against Senator McCain, on his public financing violation. It did, on June 24th. The complaint may be viewed at [DC District Court Case No. 1:08-cv-01083]

The suit asks the District Court to order the FEC to answer the DNC complaint within 30 days (of the Court order), and that if the FEC doesn't do so, that the DNC may ask the District Court to remedy the violations of the primary campaign public financing rules and statute.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

President Bush vetoed Medicare, H.R.6331, and the Senate conducted a veto override vote.

18:23: President Bush's veto of H.R.6331 - Medicare (doc fix ala DEM), was OVERIDDEN on a 70-26 vote. (Kennedy, McCain, Obama, and Warner did not vote)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

H.R.5501 - Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008 (PEPFAR),, was PASSED on a 80-16 vote. (Kennedy, McCain, Obama, and Warner did not vote)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An interesting foreign parallel with FISA is reported by JURIST: "Sweden legal group files challenge to wiretapping law with ECHR" (European Court of Human Rights)

The JURIST article includes a link to a July 1, 2008 decision by the European Court of Human Rights that struck down the use of non-public keywords to conduct communications surveillance, as an impermissible government invasion of personal privacy.

Paragraph 43 of the decision describes a surveillance regime comprising five steps.

  1. A broad warrant describing physical international communications links to be intercepted ("for example, 'all commercial submarine cables having one terminal in the UK and carrying external commercial communications to Europe'. All communications falling within the specified category would be physically intercepted.")
  2. A certificate generally describing categories of communications to be extracted from the intercepted communications ("for example, 'national security', 'preventing or detecting serious crime' or 'safeguarding the economic well-being of the United Kingdom'")
  3. Keyword searching, using keywords selected by the snooper without judicial oversight or publication
  4. Minimization rules
  5. Dissemination rules

45. ... [The UK plaintiffs] submitted that it would not compromise national security to describe the arrangements in place for filtering and disseminating intercepted material, and that detailed information about similar systems had been published by a number of other democratic countries, such as the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Germany. ...

There was no legal material in the public domain indicating how the [UK] authorities' powers to select, disclose, use or retain particular communications were regulated. The authorities' conduct was not "in accordance with the law" because it was unsupported by any predictable legal basis satisfying the accessibility principle.

69. In conclusion, the Court does not consider that the domestic law at the relevant time indicated with sufficient clarity, so as to provide adequate protection against abuse of power, the scope or manner of exercise of the very wide discretion conferred on the State to intercept and examine external communications. In particular, it did not, as required by the Court's case-law, set out in a form accessible to the public any indication of the procedure to be followed for selecting for examination, sharing, storing and destroying intercepted material. The interference with the applicants' rights under Article 8 was not, therefore, "in accordance with the law".

Saturday - July 19, 2008

[Wednesday, June 18] Mr. REID ... While we have a good attendance in the Chamber, during July, there are no Monday no-vote days. In July, we are going to work all the work period. We also have a weekend that we have scheduled that we are going to be in session, [Friday] July 25 we are going to be in session. Everyone has a lot of notice now to not plan anything for that weekend.

[Friday, June 27] Mr. REID ... There will be no rollcall votes today. The next vote will occur at 5:30 p.m., Monday, July 7. That vote will be on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to concur with respect to the housing reform legislation.

05:34 PM Monday, July 7: Roll Call Vote #163 [14 Not voting]

[Friday, July 11] Mr. REID ... We will have no votes on Monday [July 14]. We will have some votes Tuesday morning.

[Thursday, July 17] Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, there will be no rollcall votes on Monday [July 21]. The next vote will occur Tuesday morning. That vote will be on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the energy speculation bill.

[Monday, July 21] Mr. REID As Senators have known now for well more than a month, we are going to work this weekend. We have work to do this weekend. Exactly what we will be doing depends a lot on what happens during the week ...

Plans for the week: Energy speculation, LIHEAP ... [package of critical bills that have passed the House] Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes bill, Runaway and Homeless Youth bill, Combating Child Exploitation bill (establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force), Lou Gehrig registry, and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A do-nothing day, on the subject of the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3268 - Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008. A cloture vote to limit debate on the motion to proceed is set up for tomorrow morning.


17:58: Senator Coburn is winding up a barn-burner of a speech, railing against Congress and its spendthrift ways; Congress and it's habit of legislating in private (behind the public's back); and against the majority's practice of limiting debate via "the hotline process." But, notes Senator Coburn, a hold doesn't set what comes up in the Senate - the majority leader's priorities can overcome any hold.

18:42: After a period of half an hour or so of quorum call, Senator Coburn comes to the floor, announces that he is holding in his hands the Senator Reid bill that he previously described, and says "Madam President, I have in my hand the bill Senator Reid just filed. There is no CBO score with this, and I object to the introduction of this bill." This is different from objection to a motion to proceed. This is objection to the mere introduction of a bill.

Riddick's pages 235-237 describes the ramifications. Introduction is postponed for 1 legislative day, but the bill may be introduced as a matter of right during morning business on the next legislative day (See Senate Rule XIV and Rule VII).

18:50: Senator Durbin performs the usual ritual that accompanies passing a bill without notice, and voila, S.901 - Health Centers Renewal Act of 2007 is through the Senate and off to the House.

18:55: Senator Durbin announces that the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to S.3268 - Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008 is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. tomorrow; and then he adjourns the Senate for the night. Business is to resume at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday. Senator Reid will be steamed that Senator Coburn objected to the introduction of Reid's omnibus bill.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For anybody following the "Bill Gertz must testify" case (where the government interest appears to be the same as the reporter's interest, to shield the identity of the government leaker), plaintext of the government's sworn declaration, unsealed yesterday.

Government Declaration re: Bill Gertz's Reporter Privilege [Doc 757-2]


Some factoids and accusations from Senator Coburn's speech on July 21:

  • From 1912 to 1972, only five times in the U.S. Senate was cloture invoked. [There was no such thing as cloture before 1917 -- brief history of "the cloture rule" below.]
  • It is the Willie Sutton phenomenon. He robbed banks because that is where the money is. People drill where the oil is.
  • It would be surprising to most people where we get most of our oil drilling rigs today. Most people do not realize China produces most of them.
  • I have sent two letters to the prime author of [S.535 - the Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes] bill. He has not had the courtesy to answer me once. He held a press conference that impugned I was a racist because I would not let that bill go through. [Senator Dodd's Press Release of June 21, 2007]
  • we are going to get a debate this weekend on these 40 bills. We probably won't have done anything significant yet about energy.
Senate Rules from 1789 to 1806 permitted calling the question with a simple majority. See, Rule IX. This rule was removed in 1806, and in its place was a requirement to obtain unanimous consent to move to the vote. One objecting Senator could stifle the vote.

The cloture rule was implemented in 1917, on a bipartisan 76-3 vote. (p226). With the concurrence of 2/3rds of the Senators voting, debate would be limited and taking the vote would be set for a time certain.

In 1949, on a 63-23 vote, the threshold was modified to 2/3rds of the Senators duly chosen and sworn. (p229).

In 1959, a 77-22 vote made cloture possible with 2/3rds of the Senators present and voting. (p247). Also, cloture was broadened to include rules changes - this is where the "2/3rds are required to change the rules" rule comes from. The 1959 changes are referred to as the "Johnson (LBJ) Compromise."

In 1975, Senator Pearson introduced a proposal to change the threshold to 3/5ths of Senators present and voting. (p257). That proposal did not pass. In the same year, Senator Byrd's proposed revision to 3/5ths of all Senators passed on a 56-27 vote. (p259).


10:05: Nothing noteworthy in Senator Reid's opening. He asks that S.3297 - America's Priorities. I speculate that this is the omnibus bill that Senator Coburn has openly objected to.

10:07: Senator McConnell's remarks indicate that cloture is not apt to be obtained on the energy speculation bill. He goes through the Senate's history of open debate on recent energy bills, where the debate consumed weeks of time, and contrasts that with the Democratic plan to hustle the speculation bill through in a short time.

Senator Reid reiterates the "GOP as obstructionists" theme. 83 Republican Filibusters - and counting ...

Senator Reid states that he is willing to give the GOP a vote on a drilling bill (or amendment), provided there is agreement to proceed to the energy speculation bill. That ought to change the cloture vote on the motion to proceed from rejection to adoption.

11:27-11:50: The motion to limit debate on the motion to proceed to S.3268 - Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008, was ADOPTED on a 94-0 vote.

19:31: Senator Brown adjourned the Senate until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. The subject remains the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.3268 - Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

10:35: Senator McConnell's asserts that a "speculation only" bill won't reduce the price of a barrel of oil, and he cites various reports, analyses and experts for support. He advocates the GOP alternative, "Gas Price Reduction Act." He says the price of energy has to be fixed by legislation.

The DEM proposed legislative process has a paucity of opportunity for amendment. Senator Gregg indicates that the Senate should entertain an amendment to subsidize or otherwise encourage oil shale, rather than just lifting the Congressional moratorium on offshore drilling.

Senator Kyl delivers backhanded derision to the DEM proposal to pit two bills, each with 60 vote margins (each being a "party position") against each other, with the end result being neither bill passes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The motion to limit debate on S.3268 - Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008, was REJECTED on a 50-43 vote.
GOP AYE Votes: Collins and Snowe.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

H.R.3221 - Housing Bailout (back from the house), was PASSED on a 72-13 vote. Off to President Bush.

The motion to limit debate on the motion to proceed to S.3186 - Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act (LIHEAP), was REJECTED on a 50-35 vote.
GOP AYE Votes: Coleman, Collins, Smith, Snowe, and Sununu.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pro forma session today.

Still pending, S.3268 - Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008.

At 3:00 p.m. on Monday, July 28, 2008, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.3297 - a bill to advance America's priorities, and the time until 4:00 p.m. will be equally divided between the two Leaders or their designees. At 4:00 p.m., the Senate will vote on the cloture motion on the motion to proceed.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, pursuant to rule XLIV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief based upon information provided to me by the committees of jurisdiction, S. 3297 does not contain any congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit, as those terms are defined in rule XLIV.

There are no tax or tariff provisions in the bill whatsoever. Nor do I believe the bill contains any "congressionally directed spending items" which rule XLIV defines as "a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Senator providing, authorizing, or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process."

To clear up any misconceptions, the bill provides only authorizations--enactment of the bills would have no effect on the Federal budget deficit or debt. As the nonpartisan CBO stated in a letter regarding S.3297, "By themselves--that is, in the absence of subsequent legislation--those authorizations [in S.3297] do not cause changes in Federal spending or revenues."

Monday, July 28, 2008

15:05: Senator Reid propounds a UC agreement on the energy (speculation plus) legislation (S.3268), but with 60 vote thresholds and a limited number of amendments. Senator McConnell is pleased by the motion, but before he can object, Senator Reid withdraws the UC request.

Senator Reid offers a second UC agreement, to keep the energy bill pending, notwithstanding invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to what he calls "the Coburn package," which is S.3297 - a bill to advance America's priorities. Senator McConnell mistakes the request as one that will move OFF the subject of energy, and objects.

Two roll call votes are in the works, a live quorum (per the cloture rule) just before the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to "the Coburn package."

16:27: The live quorum passed 87-3. On to the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to "the Coburn package."

17:00: The motion to limit debate on the motion to proceed to S.3297 - a bill to advance America's priorities ("the Coburn package"), was REJECTED on a 52-40 vote.
GOP AYE Votes: Coleman, Smith and Warner

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Senator Stevens was finally indicted, on allegations of taking undisclosed bribes gifts (cough cough). The indictment was brought in the District Court of the District of Columbia. The charge is basically "false statements" (lying on Senate financial disclosure reports - not income tax evasion). I doubt Scooter Libby defenders will defend Stevens on the same grounds -- that until there is proof of the elements of an underlying crime, lying to authorities is "understandable defense against being framed."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The motion to limit debate on the motion to proceed to S.2035 - Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 [Press Shield/Privilege], was REJECTED on a 51-43 vote.
GOP AYE Votes: Collins, Lugar, Smith and Specter

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The motion to limit debate on the motion to proceed to S.3001 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, was REJECTED on a 51-39 vote.
GOP AYE Votes: Collins, Dole, Smith, Snowe, and Warner

Says the GOP, "the number one priority is the high price of gasoline."

Democratic leadership objected to passing the Emmett Till Unresolved Civil Rights Crime Act, S.3344, the Protecting Children from Pornography and Internet Exploitation Act of 2008 [Democrat sponsor Senator Dodd was in favor of passing this bill standing alone], S.3344, titles I and IV [the PROTECT Act and the SAFE Act - Democrat sponsor Senator Biden was in favor of passing this bill standing alone], and subtitle D of S.3297, the Effective Child Pornography Prosecution Act. The Democratic leadership insists on passing a package of 35 or so bills as a bundle, and rejects any offer to pass a popular/non-contentious measure unless the contentious measures are also passed.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Just another "do nothing Friday."

Senator Coburn added material to the Record, on the Emmett Till Unresolved Civil Rights Crime Act, and the desire of one of its determined advocates, Mr. Alvin Sykes, to have the bill passed as amended.

Pro forma sessions, all in recess continuing legislative day August 1st, were set-up as follows:

  • Tuesday, August 5, at 10 a.m.
  • Friday, August 8, at 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 12, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, August 15, at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 19, at 9 a.m.
  • Friday, August 22, at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 26, at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, August 29, at 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 2, at 12 p.m.
  • Friday, September 5, at 9:30 a.m.

When the Senate completes its pro forma session on Friday, September 5, the Senate will stand adjourned until 3 p.m. on Monday, September 8.


Text of Seven Count Indictment against Senator Stevens