Pre-election session wrap-up
Pray for Congress
October 4, 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
Last week was a whirlwind of activity on Capitol Hill--probably one of the busiest and most productive in years. The Washington Post reports the House of Representatives alone passed 165 bills. The dust is still settling on all the legislation pushed through the system, and we hope to unpack some of that for you here.
Congress has officially adjourned to go home and get itself re-elected in 34 days (33 Senate races, House races) and plans a lame duck session for the week following the election, and for two weeks in December.
Update on September Priorities
If you've ever hammered that pump at a carnival trying to ring the bell at the top, you'll understand how last week was for Congress. Congress didn't ring the bell at the top, but several heavy lifts finally made it through.
We begin with the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5122). Of particular concern in this bill was the provision to protect the rights of conscious for military chaplains to be able to pray as they see fit--whether that be "in Jesus name" or otherwise. This language was not included in the final bill. However, the need for it has been removed. Therefore, this is a net positive, and Congressman Akin plans to address this further in the next Congress. (According to the Washington Post, the bill also included "$70 billion in emergency funds to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through early next year.")
Next up was the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act (H.R. 4954). Among the "various other bills and provisions attached" was language from Mr. Leach's Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (H.R. 4411). After passing one chamber of Congress or the other eight times before, yet never making it into law, this language is finally on its way into law. Even before the President signs this needed enforcement tool into law, this legislation is already having an effect on the $12 billion industry. (As for the other provisions included "think of it as a large magnet moving through a pile of paper clips"!)
Speaking of enforcement, and moving to legislation that is not yet on its way to the President, the Senate passed the Secure Fence Act (H.R. 6061) by a vote of 80-19. This legislation authorizes "the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border" the Washington Post reports. "If fully constructed, the fence would span a distance equivalent to the distance between Washington (DC) and Jacksonville, Fla."
Much has been made of the willingness, or lack thereof, on the part of those wishing to be in America legally to become Americans and fully embrace American culture. But what about Americans themselves? How willing are Americans to embrace American culture?
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute released the Civic Literacy Report (4.12 MB PDF). The study finds that college seniors "failed the civic literacy exam with an average score of 53%" and that students at several schools actually exhibited "negative learning." If this bothers you, they have information for parents and policymakers--which is useful as tips for writing your state elected officials.
Finally, we come to the legislation that did not create the sounds of a ringing victory: The Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403). Technically, the bill has "passed" but it is not being sent to the President at this time. A close look at the votes explains why.
The bill is still stuck in the Senate which is refusing to move it forward. Two votes were taken with very different results: (1) the vote on passage of the bill was on language to which the House had not agreed. Thus, success there meant it would not go directly to the President. (2) The second vote was on cloture. That's a parliamentary term in the Senate for moving forward with debate--and terminating a filibuster. Invoking cloture requires 60 votes. That's where this bill fell short.
- Vote on Passage: 65-34 = it passed
- YEA - 51 Republicans, 14 Democrats
- NAY - 29 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 1 Independent
- Not Voting - 1 Democrat (Feinstein, D-CA, who voted against cloture)
- Vote on Cloture 57-42 = it failed
- YEA - 51 Republicans, 6 Democrats
- NAY - 37 Democrats, 4 Republicans, 1 Independent
- Not Voting - 1 Democrat (Kennedy, D-MA, who voted against passage)
The following Senators changed from voting Yea on passage to voting Nay on cloture: Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ken Salazar (D-CO). The four whose names are in bold are up for re-election next month. The other four are up for re-election in 2010.
- Please pray for these Senators (as we should for all our leaders), and their opponents.
There are two helpful conclusions to draw from these votes: (1) apparently, these eight Senators wish to have the appearance of voting pro-life, but actually do not want the bill to become law. So far, they are succeeding on both counts. (2) Those 42 Senators do not believe there is a price to be paid for this vote.
Compare the vote on cloture to other recent votes in the Senate. In debating the Military Commissions bill (S. 3090), Sen. Patrick Leahy said, while reserving his right to object, "Mr. President, even though I believe we have made a terrible and tragic mistake in the Senate, including major changes in our constitutional rights willy-nilly to get out to campaign, I realize they have locked this in and there is not much one can do about it. I think it is a farce in the Senate." However, he did not exercise his right to object, and the bill passed.
It's one thing to believe legislation is bad.
It's quite another to believe your opposition will or will not have political consequences.
Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:37).
Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned (James 5:12).
FY 2007 Appropriations
- H.R. 5631 (Young) - Defense Department Appropriations - House Passed 394-22, Senate Passed 100-0; Sent to the President (including earmarks). According to CQ Today, "The Defense bill's total spending is $4.1 billion less than Bush's request but $19.1 billion more than last year's funding. It matches the House bill's total, providing $5 billion more than the Senate's version. The White House repeatedly threatened a veto if the spending total dropped below the House-passed level" (9/29/2006).
- H.R. 5441 (Rogers) - Homeland Security Appropriations - House Passed 412-6, Senate Passed by Voice Vote; Sent to the President
- S. 403 (Ensign) - Child Custody Protection Act - House Passed 264-153
- H.R. 3248 (Ferguson) - Lifespan Respite Care Act - Reported favorably out of committee
Freedom of Worship
- H.R. 2679 (Hostettler) - The Public Expression of Religion Act, to prevent the use of the legal system in a manner that extorts money from State and local governments - Passed 244-173 - AgapePress recap
- H.R. 6166 (Hunter) - Military Trials for Enemy Combatants - Passed House 253-168
- S. 3930 (McConnell) - Military Trials for Enemy Combatants - Passed Senate 65-34 (Habeas Amendment, Concerns), House 250-170
- H.R. 5825 (Wilson) - Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act - CRS Report - Passed House 232-191
- S. 3421 (Craig) - Veterans Affairs Authorization - Passed by Unanimous Consent
- S. 2010 (Hatch) - Elder Justice Act, a.k.a. Social Security Enhancement - Reported favorably out of committee
- S. 1902 (Lieberman) - Children and Media Research Advancement Act, to study the role and impact of electronic media in the development of children - Passed by Unanimous Consent
- H.R. 4772 (Chabot) - Private Property Rights Implementation Act - i.e. eminent domain protection - House Failed 234-172 (2/3 required), Passed 231-181
- H.R. 5092 (Coble) - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Modernization and Reform Act - Passed 277-131 (2/3 required)
- S. 3850 (Shelby) - Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, to improve ratings quality by fostering accountability, transparency, and competition - Passed by Unanimous Consent
- H.R. 4766 (Wilson) - Native American Languages Preservation Act, to provide for the revitalization of Native American languages - Agreed to in the House by voice vote
- H.Res. 295 (Jones) - Supporting September as Campus Fire Safety Month - Agreed to by voice vote
- H.R. 383 (Hastings) - Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail Designation Act - Agreed to by voice vote
- S. 3728 (Frist) - North Korea Nonproliferation Act - Passed both House and Senate by unanimous consent
Sent to President
- H.R. 1036 (Smith) - Copyright Royalty Judges Program Technical Corrections Act, to make technical corrections relating to Copyright Royalty Judges
- H.R. 683 (Smith) - Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006, to amend the Trademark Act of 1946 with respect to dilution by blurring or tarnishment
- H.R. 3508 (Davis) - 2005 District of Columbia Omnibus Authorization Act
- H.R. 3127 (Hyde) - Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006, to impose sanctions against individuals responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, to support measures for the protection of civilians and humanitarian operations, and to support peace efforts in the Darfur region of Sudan
- H.R. 5187 (Oberstar) - Kennedy Center Authorization, to appropriate $39.1 million for Capital Projects, maintenance, repair and security
- H.R. 5631 (Young) - Defense Department Appropriations - Passed House 394-22, Senate 100-0
New Public Laws
- S. 2590 (Coburn) - Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act - Public Law No: 109-282
- S. 3525 (Grassley) - Child and Family Services Improvement Act, improving outcomes for children affected by meth - Public Law No: 109-288
- Congress sent a slew of legislation to the President just before leaving town. As the President is expected to sign them all, look for those to join the 288 Public Laws already passed by 109th Congress and signed by the President.
Then they gave it into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and the workmen who were working in the house of the LORD used it to restore and repair the house (2 Chronicles 34:10).
Possible--Not Necessarily Likely--Lame Duck Votes
- S. 658 (Brownback) - Human Cloning Ban - bans all human cloning
- S. 1520 (Feinstein) - Human Cloning Ban - does not ban all cloning, requires killing
Freedom of Worship
- H.R. 2679 (Hostettler) - The Public Expression of Religion Act - House Passed 244-173 - AgapePress recap - though not preferred, the Senate could also take up S. 3696 (Brownback)
- H.R. 2389 (Akin) - Pledge Protection Act - House Passed 260-167
- S. 4044 (Hatch) - Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Clarification Act - Senate passed by Unanimous Consent
- H.R. 5638 (Thomas) - Estate tax, permanently lower - House passed 269-156
- H.R. 293 (Hefley) - Marriage Penalty Tax Relief - Permanently extends the marriage penalty tax relief.
- H.R. 2965 (Hoekstra) - Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act - Passed 362-57
- S. 2453 (Specter) - National Security Surveillance Act, to establish procedures for the review of electronic surveillance programs - Passed Committee 10-8
- S. 2455 (DeWine) - Terrorist Surveillance Act - Passed Committee 10-8
- S. 3001 (Specter) - Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act - Passed Committee 10-8
- H.R. 4830 (Dreier) - Border Tunnel Prevention Act - House Passed 422-0
- H.R. 4844 (Hyde) - Federal Election Integrity Act, requiring photo identification to vote - House Passed 228-196 - RSC recap
- H.R. 6094 (Sensenbrenner) - Community Protection Act, restore to Homeland Security authority to detain and deport dangerous, criminal, illegal aliens, and combat alien gang crime - House Passed 328-95
- H.R. 6095 (Sensenbrenner) - Immigration Law Enforcement Act, to reaffirm State and local law enforcement assistance in the enforcement of immigration laws, prosecution of alien smugglers, and reform immigration litigation procedures - House Passed 277-140
- S. 3731 (Specter) - Regulate Presidential Signing Statements
- H.R. 4890 (Ryan) - Line-Item Veto - House passed 247-172
Pray the Senate would pass some of the legislation that the House has already passed.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
Pray that the House of Representatives would continue to hold the line on spending.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners (Isaiah 61:1).
- Legistorm documents "the salaries of the roughly 20,000 Capitol Hill employees," the Washington Post reported. "It's popular trivia that the president earns $400,000 per year and representatives and senators earn about $160,000 per year, but the information on staff salaries hasn't been so publicly available before."
Pray for Congress
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