109th Congress, Final Week
Inside the Mountain
December 5, 2006
Arise, cry aloud in the night At the beginning of the night watches;
Pour out your heart like water Before the presence of the Lord;
Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your little ones
This week concludes the 109th Congress. Normally December would be quieter, but with a new Congress and a new majority coming in January, it's once again a flurry of activity.
Tomorrow the House votes on the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (H.R. 6099), the Iraq Study Group releases its report, and the Republican Study Committee elects a new chairman.
"The 109th Congress returns for one last week. Its role in the debate that will dominate the week, what course the Bush Administration should pursue in Iraq, will be to confirm new Defense Secretary Robert Gates and react to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommendations coming on Wednesday. Republican lawmakers who are spending their last week in the majority, largely because of the unpopular war, may receive the report more warmly than President Bush."
Editorial note on calling this an "unpopular war": to view this war as "unpopular" only sees it through the eyes of the West--the United States of America, and Europe. A large percentage of the world population in the middle east do not find the war so unpopular. They will be all too happy to announce their victory if we leave or Iraq falls completely to the terrorist Islamic fundamentalists. They started this war, they are popularizing this war, and they intend to finish this war to complete their caliphate.
"By the end of this final week for the 109th Congress, we will likely have: a continuing resolution to fund the government until early next year, a new Defense Secretary, a nuclear pact with India, and some tax extenders."
Lame-Duck Congress May Run Out the Clock
- Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) wants legislation on President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.
- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) is sure the time has come for Congress to declare that aborted fetuses feel pain.
- Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) still insists that the District of Columbia should be granted a vote in the House while the Republicans control Congress.
Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Robert Gates has met with Senators (ABC News) and went before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. By noon, he made headlines by saying he does not believe America is winning in Iraq. This afternoon he added that he does not think we are losing either. The Senate could vote to confirm him as early as Wednesday, or as late as the week of December 11. The Washington Post, looking back at Gates' bumpy hearings for the top CIA post in 1991, says, "With bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for quickly putting the war under new command, Gates's controversial history is by all accounts highly unlikely to derail his confirmation after a single hearing" (NBC News). How soon after confirmation he would be sworn in is a little less clear.
- Pray for this new leader of our national defense, and strategic leader of our policy in the Middle East.
I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates (Nehemiah 6:1).
United Nations Ambassador
President Accepts Bolton Decision with Deep Regret
In a statement, the President says he accepts Bolton's decision "with deep regret" and is "deeply disappointed that a handful of United States Senators" prevented Bolton from receiving an up or down vote in the full Senate. "They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time," the President said in his statement, "This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country, and discourages men and women of talent from serving their Nation."
John Bolton had "a fairly productive 15 months" that "produced results: including a tougher-than-expected sanctions resolution against North Korea as well as resolutions against Iran and Sudan. None of those resolutions were as strong as Bolton would have liked. On each of those issues he faced opposition from China and Russia. UN reform was Bolton's passion and on the score he was less successful; undoubtedly he would have liked more time on the job to pursue that."
ABC News Reporter Jake Tapper reports from "A knowledgeable Republican official" with "more information about the tenure and exit of controversial outgoing United Nations Ambassador John Bolton" who said "'Democrats were opposing him, but very nervous about prospect of filibustering him. ... He is probably the most popular UN ambassador among pro-Israeli pro-Jewish interests.' The official says any filibuster would have caused big problems for New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton, 'since every prominent Jewish fundraiser loves John Bolton.' ... [A]nother recess appointment" would have been "without a salary." On his work, "Bolton's criticisms of the UN have been proven true as well. ... Much of the machinery of UN makes it so the body is an Israel-bashing apparatus. Americans fund 22% of the UN budget, much of which goes to attacking Israel."
Rep. Scott Garrett praised "his exemplary leadership" as shown in "his vote on November 17th against a United Nations General Assembly resolution which condemned Israel for defending itself in the Gaza Strip against the terrorist rocket launches into Israel. I applaud Ambassador Bolton for standing as a powerful force against biased and politically-motivated resolutions."
To replace him "one person under consideration is Kristen Silverberg, currently the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. Silverberg is a young, politically connected Republican who is generally liked by Democrats and widely respected at the State Department. She is one of the few people who would get high marks from Joe Biden and Dick Cheney."
- Praise the Lord for the faithful service of John Bolton.
- Pray for the Lord's hand of wisdom now on our next Ambassador to the United Nations.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth (Proverbs 3:19).
"The Senate is fast-tracking House Judiciary Committee legislation (HR 4709) that would crack down on 'pretexting,' the use of fraud or deception to obtain call logs and other confidential customer records from phone companies. The bill, which the House passed 409-0 in April, is practically identical to legislation (S 2178) approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in March" (CQ Today Midday Update, 12/4/2006).
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
"Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said today he still hopes to win enactment this year of a measure reauthorizing pipeline safety programs through 2010. Stevens, chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, noted that the measure has drawn support from industry groups, safety advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. "Everyone wants to see this in place," he said. Carolyn Weyforth, a spokeswoman for Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the only way the Senate would act on the bill would be if a unanimous consent agreement is reached to speed it through.
"The Senate measure, like a bill approved in September by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would subject low-stress pipelines to the same standards and regulations as other hazardous-liquid pipelines. Calls for stricter regulation intensified after corrosion in low-stress lines forced a shutdown of some pipelines in August at a BP facility on Alaska's North Slope. Stevens said he anticipated House and Senate committee staffs would try over the Thanksgiving recess to resolve differences among the various bills" (CQ Today Midday Update, 11/16/2006).
Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days (James 5:3).
Fetal Pain Vote
"While they still can, House Republicans are looking at scheduling a vote next week on a fetal pain abortion bill in a parting shot at incoming majority Democrats and a last bid for loyalty from the GOP's base of social conservatives" (From the AP, via First Read). FRC Call to Action: The House of Representatives will vote early next week on the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act of 2006 (H.R. 6099). We strongly support this legislation and ask that you contact your Representative to urge that he or she vote for this important bill."
House to Consider Abortion Anesthesia Bill
In a parting gesture by social conservatives before Republicans relinquish control, House leaders plan to bring up a bill tomorrow that would declare that fetuses feel pain and require abortion providers to offer pregnant patients anesthesia for their unborn child.
This bill "may be the last on abortion-related legislation for years" because "Democratic leaders hope to avoid confrontations over hot-button social issues that divide their caucus."
Important Note: the "pro-choice" groups do not oppose this legislation. If this bill passes in the House, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Constitution, Civil Rights and Property subcommittee chairman, intends "to seek unanimous consent that the Senate take up and pass this critical piece of legislation."
- Pray that this bill would swiftly pass Congress and become law this month!
But I am afflicted and in pain; May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high (Psalm 69:29).
DC Voting Rights
The mid-term elections that swept the Democrats to power have left a lame-duck Congress, but DC's residents have a vested interest in what may be among its final acts. The District's lone representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democratic delegate, is not allowed to cast any votes on the House floor. But a bill to give the District full congressional voting rights could be passed in December. The bill (HR 5388) would also grant an additional congressional seat to Utah, a mostly Republican state (if state officials there can agree to the redistricting plan), so its overall effect would be politically neutral.
The new Democratic-led Congress could help both Washington, DC and Utah win House seats. "Monday, the Utah Legislature will set in motion a plan that would permanently increase the size of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 1911"--to 437 members (From USA Today, via First Read).
Rep. Tom Davis (R) plans to "make a run for" passage of his bill that would give the District of Columbia a voting representative in the House and balance out that safe Democratic seat by giving another seat to reliably Republican Utah. Legal scholars debate whether or not it's constitutional, but "most observers believe President Bush would sign it, even though he said earlier this month, 'It's the first I've heard of it.'"
Should the bill fail to pass, Nancy Pelosi, the incoming Democrat speaker of the House, has promised to deal with the matter during her first 100 hours in the new Congress. She has proposed altering House rules to allow Ms Norton to vote on changes in legislation, but not on the final passage of bills. This would be a quick fix--a bill offering full voting rights could return later. However, Republicans have good reason to pass the bill this year, because the extra seat for Utah may be excluded from the deal if the bill is reworked in a Democrat-controlled Congress (The Economist, Washington, DC Briefing, November 2006).
- Pray for voting representation for the residents of the District of Columbia
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).
Senate Gulf Drilling Bill
"House leaders pulled an offshore drilling measure off the (suspension) calendar today, an apparent signal that the bill did not have the two-thirds majority of votes needed for it to be adopted" reports the Washington Post. The bill would open up new acreage in the Gulf of Mexico. "Some GOP aides said leaders plan to attach the bill (S 3711) to a package of tax breaks Republicans hope to pass before adjournment, although one leadership aide said no final decision has been made" (CQ Today Midday Update, 12/5/2006).
He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth, The Lord is His name (Amos 5:8).
Looking back on 2006
Wesley J. Smith: Missouri's Amendment 2 permits embryos to be implanted, so long as the gestation does not enter the fetal stage of gestation (which begins at 8 weeks). New Jersey goes even further, permitting outright fetal farming up to and including the moment just prior to birth. Both of these measures could have easily prevented any implantation--but did not do so. Surely, this is not an accidental lapse. Meanwhile, the federal fetal farming ban (P.L. 109-242) only prohibits implantation of embryos for research purposes in women or animal uteruses. That's fine. But, I have always believed the fetal farming would be primarily conducted in artificial wombs, since such contraptions would permit easy access to the growing embryo/fetus for experimentation. P.S. Artificial wombs should be available for human use within ten years.
The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth (Psalm 58:3).
The Senate passed (85-12) the United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act (H.R. 5682) allowing the United States to export nuclear fuel, technology and reactors to India for the first time in three decades. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged passage of the bill, calling the deal with India "the most important strategic diplomatic initiative undertaken by President Bush." Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., who will succeed Lugar as chairman next year, also defended the pact against charges it would weaken global non-proliferation efforts (CQ Today Midday Update, 11/16/2006). However, "a last-minute request from the administration to amend sections of the Senate and House versions" is sending the bill to conference (CQ Today Midday Update, 12/5/2006).
While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Wesley J. Smith: "With little fanfare, President Bush signed into law the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (P.L. 109-374), making it easier to punish animal liberation thugs who engage in "tertiary targeting." Still, as I said in this recent blog entry, the real contest will be in the ideological sphere, particularly among the young. We should promote ever improving methods for treating animals humanely, but should not transform them into the moral equivalents of people."
God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28).
Looking back on 1806
Sen. Richard Santorum [R-PA] introduced S.Res. 613: A resolution honoring the life and work of William Wilberforce and commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery (Exodus 20:2).
We're only going to mention briefly the 110th Congress in this update. We want to follow up on our last update, and touch on an important matter for the very beginning of the next Congress. In one of our next updates, Lord willing, we will look at the planned First 100 Hours of the 110th Congress, and how things are beginning to play out in committees.
Leadership Election Results
- Speaker: Nancy Pelosi (CA)
- Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer (MD)
- Majority Whip: Jim Clyburn (SC)
- Minority Leader: John Boehner (OH)
- Minority Whip: Roy Blunt (MO)
- Majority Leader: Harry Reid (NV)
- Majority Whip: Richard Durbin (IL)
- Minority Leader: Mitch McConnell (KY)
- Minority Whip: Trent Lott (MS)
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
The conservative Republican Study Committee elects its new chairman tomorrow. Members have a choice between Todd Tiahrt (KS), more focused on social issues, and Jeb Hensarling (TX), more focused on fiscal issues.
New Member Profiles: CQ's staff has compiled profiles of all incoming members of the House and Senate freshman classes. CQ's new member profiles are the first and best place to learn about the new senators and representatives who are on their way to Washington.
Full Results: Need detailed results of every House, Senate and gubernatorial race this year? CQ has them in one PDF document.
The Democratic Takeover Up Close: The Senate
The meaning of the election results:
- for fiscal conservatives, liberation;
- for liberals, time to collect on gun control, abortion, national security and other issues.
Roll Call says "incoming Senate Republican leaders will hold an unusual two-day retreat this week to assess the Nov. 7 outcome and to begin crafting a battle plan for the newly minted minority... The White House also is expected to participate in some of the talks." "Business groups, encouraged by the narrowness of the Democrats' majority in the U.S. Senate for the next two years, are laying plans to block or limit efforts to increase taxes on oil-company profits and curb prescription-drug prices" (From Bloomberg, via First Read).
Oaths of Office, Islam
Rep.-elect Nick Lampson, D-Texas, is crediting his outreach to the Muslim community for helping him win the 22nd District seat of former GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay. In a speech on Saturday to a conference of Muslim organizations in Houston, Lampson said his efforts to actively court Muslim voters by visiting mosques, homes of religious leaders and neighborhood meetings had given him his highest-ever electoral base (Houston Chronicle, via CQ Today Midday Update, 11/30/2006).
Conservative commentator "Dennis Prager blasted incoming Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, for his decision to take the oath of office with his hand on a Koran. '"He should not be allowed to do so," Prager wrote [on Townhall.com], "not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American culture."' A spokesman to Ellison says the incoming congressman 'has received hundreds of "very bigoted and racist" e-mails and phone calls since Prager's column appeared'" (From USA Today, via First Read).
Some believers such as David Kuo surprisingly have no problem with someone swearing to uphold the Constitution while putting his hand on a book that says, "Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them and seize them, confine them, and lie in wait for them in every place of ambush."
Of course, most Christians taking the oath of office typically do so while place their hand on a book that says:
"Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.' But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the City of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes , yes ' or 'No, no '; anything beyond these is of evil" (Matthew 5:33-37).
"But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment" (James 5:12).
For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute (Hebrews 6:16).
- Pray that our leaders would see and recognize who is the One who is greater than all, the Name that is above all names.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:8-11).
Judicial NominationsWhere all three come together
NBC First Read reports, "Among the names the White House sent to the Senate yesterday were some of the most controversial nominees they've ever put forth, including Terrence Boyle, William Haynes II, and William Myers III. The White House also nominated former Rep. Jim Rogan, one of the Clinton impeachment managers, to become a US District Judge for California. Some Senate Democrats called it a 'slap in the face.'"
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel (Proverbs 12:15).
- Hot Supreme Court Battle Brewing: The Supreme Court wrestled today for the first time with the issue of global warming and whether 12 states can sue the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles (Nov. 29, 2006).
- EFF Asks Supreme Court to Tackle Secret Law: Americans Have the Right to See Laws They Must Follow
But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25).
Bush's choice for deputy assistant HHS secretary of population affairs, Eric Keroack, is an OBGYN who "worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as 'demeaning to women' (from First Read).
Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).
Finally, with 700 days to go until election day 2008 as of today, yesterday Senator Sam Brownback through his hat into the race for President after last weekend saying, "I think there is room on the Republican side, for someone that's a full-scale conservative, that's an economic and fiscal and social conservative," Brownback said, adding that he thinks the GOP is in need of "some new plays, particularly on the compassionate conservative agenda." There's room for a full-scale conservative on the Democratic side, too.
And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place (2 Chronicles 36:15).
Pray for Congress