Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Monday, August 06, 2007

Democrats Cave on Surveillance Bill


Seemingly without rhyme nor reason, many in the Democratic congress voted to expand the government's power to conduct electronic surveillance without a court order in tracking foreign suspects. This link explains the possible far-reaching ramifications of this.

On August 4, the House of Representatives voted 227-183 for the measure. The previous day it won Senate approval, 60-28. Just for the record, I think that it is a good idea to actually look and see which members of congress decided to vote for the president's spy program.

These are the Democratic yes votes in the senate for the president's program:

Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Tom Carper (Delaware)
Bob Casey (Pennsylvania)
Kent Conrad (North Dakota)
Dianne Feinstein (California)
Daniel Inouye (Hawaii)
Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)
Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Ken Salazar (Colorado)
Jim Webb (Virginia)
Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)

These are the Democratic yes votes in the House of Representatives for the president's program:

Davis (AL)
Davis, Lincoln
Herseth Sandlin
Peterson (MN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Walz (MN)
Wilson (OH)

Two names I was surprised to see up there were Feinstein and Webb. Even Landrieu seemed to be on the right track lately. Feinstein is also pushing a bill that would ban electronic voting machines that lack paper trails, which is a good thing. She is willing to let it go until after 2008, which is ABSOLUTELY INSANE.

Of course the congress' vote to approve the president's program is garnering a lot of interest in the press and in the blogosphere, and well it it should.

Speaker Pelosi said that S. 1927, the bill passed by the House to temporally amend FISA for six-months contains many provisions that are "unacceptable" and she does not believe that the "American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken. In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, Speaker Pelosi requested that the Committees report to the House 'as soon as possible after Congress reconvenes,' legislation to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)."

It's unfortunate that the Democrats seem to have faltered on this one issue, because there is a lot of other congressional news that is largly being ignored. Before the recess there was a rush of Democratic domestic legislation, in the face of veto threats.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 Passed, providing tax incentives that will encourage the production of electricity from renewable energy and renewable fuels.

(I love this part!) To pay for these renewable energy and conservation incentives, "the bill repeals approximately $16 billion in tax breaks for oil and gas companies that were given during an era of record profits. To ensure that oil and gas companies are paying their fair share of taxes, it closes a tax loophole that allows big oil and gas companies to game the system by understating their foreign oil and gas extraction income. It also closes the 'Hummer' Tax Loophole, fixing a serious mistake that provides an extra tax incentive for businesses buying luxury SUVs, while exempting vehicles that are used for legitimate business purposes."

Also, by a vote of 220-190, the House has approved an amendment to HR 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, requiring electric suppliers to produce 15 percent of their electricity using renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, by the year 2020.

The House has just passed H.R. 3159, Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act by a vote of 229-194. The bill mandates troop rest times equal to their deployment times.

the House passed the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP), H.R. 3162, by a vote of 225-204. The bill provides health care to 11 million children, reverses the Republican drive to privatize Medicare, and strengthens our Medicare system.

In-house battles are brewing over September votes on Iraq funding, and spending bills for new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. In September Democrats have to reconcile several spending bills, most of which the president has threatened to veto.

Because of the negative effect that the war has on the president's poll numbers, the White House and the congresional Republicans are actually eager to have a confrontatation over the budget, because it will act as a distraction to public.

All eyes are on the report to Congress in September from the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus. The Democrats are reportedly going to once again attempt to gain support from the Republicans to try to bring the troops home. The White House long ago requested $141.7 billion to keep funding war operations after Oct. 1, and that price tag is rising. The Pentagon is assuming a $40 billion-plus increase in its core budget after Oct. 1.

Support from the Republicans on any issue has been non-existant up to this point, and Republicans have successfully obstucted many key measures. Recently though, Republicans joined with Speaker Pelosi on some of the key energy votes, and before going home, Senate Democrats won a bipartisan 68-31 vote for their children's health-insurance bill. This behavior on the part of the Republicans is a departure from their previous obstuctionist voting pattern.

Mr. Bush needs the support of little more than one third of Congress to sustain any vetoes, but the larger political fight will be determined on the broader question of who is seen by voters as trying to reach consensus and who is not.

Republicans were hurt in 1995, for example, when their speaker, Newt Gingrich, was seen as being too aggressive and bullying toward Mr. Clinton. Today, the Senate's sharp-tongued Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) is a target for Republicans, whose leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) casts himself as a gentler figure more willing to reason.

Ms. Pelosi is a harder target and avoids showing any personal animus toward the president. "We get along great, we really do," she says. [...]

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio has urged an aggressive veto strategy, but the sequence of floor votes last month on the labor, health and education funding bill is telling of where his fellow Republicans stand.

No Republican proposed to cut to the level Mr. Bush proposed, about $3.6 billion below this year. Instead the toughest Republican amendment was a freeze -- and that got just 136 votes, less than a third of the House. When Republicans seem most comfortable -- and consistently get a third of the House -- has been supporting amendments cutting 1% from the Democratic bills.


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At Mon Aug 06, 08:15:00 AM, Blogger Splotchy said...

A wonderful, informative post.

At Mon Aug 06, 09:10:00 AM, Anonymous mwb said...

You shouldn't refer to Lieberman as a Democrat. Since he lost the party nomination and ran as an Independent to win the seat.

But in general, one shouldn't refer to Lieberman at all - in my view.

I think the Dems should go for some HS teasing.

"What is someone speaking?" "I thought I heard someone, but I guess I was wrong."

At Mon Aug 06, 09:30:00 AM, Blogger BAC said...

Excellent post, and thanks for the link!


At Mon Aug 06, 10:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was also surprised by Klobuchar's name on the list. The only reason I can think of is that as a freshman Senator, she still has a learning curve.

At Mon Aug 06, 04:45:00 PM, Blogger Kelly the dog said...

Great roundup. Any idea what was going through Feinstein's head?

At Mon Aug 06, 07:35:00 PM, Anonymous Tengrain said...

Dr. Z - Californians are not surprised by DiFi's name on that list. She is all but an official GOPer and always has been, she just knows in this state she could not be elected to a Federal office without being a Democratic Party member.

At Mon Aug 06, 09:08:00 PM, Blogger FranIAm said...

This whole thing has left me angry, outraged, just beyond the beyond. Thanks for this great detailed and informative post Dr. Z.

At Tue Aug 07, 08:51:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Splotchy: Thank you, Splotchy!

MWB: I don't like Lieberman either, but his presence in the senate gives us a slim advantage. Right now, we are better off with him then without him. We are screwed if he officially changes parties.

Yes, "What, is someone speaking?" would be appropriate!

BAC: Thank you, BAC!

Morse: You know, I don't know anything about Klobuchar. McCaskill is a freshman too, though, as is Webb.

Kelly the dog: No idea. There might be some explanation that comes out later, but I have a feeling it will suck.

Tengrain: OK.

FranIAm: Yes, I think that we are all angered by it. I just hope there is better news when they come back after recess.

At Tue Aug 07, 02:45:00 PM, Blogger FranIAm said...

Well they have their six months, they better not screw it up when they return.

Thanks for the blogroll addition too.

At Wed Aug 08, 08:49:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Pelosi has promised to create Legislation to Amend FISA right after the recess. We will just have to wait and see.


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