Monday, December 20, 2010
DREAM ACT GETS STALLED - DON'T ASK DON'T TELL IS REPEALED - JUDGES GET CONFIRMED - AND THE SENATE STARTS WORK ON PASSING THE NEW START TREATY
H.R. 5281, the Removal Clarification Act of 2010 became the vehicle for the DREAM Act when the House amended the bill on December 8th. Technically, that was on a motion to agree to two Senate amendments and that the House agree to the Senate amendment numbered 3 with an amendment, which was the DREAM Act.
Since leaving the House the bill has been the subject of debate in the Senate. Saturday the Senate rejected a Motion to Invoke Cloture on a Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment No. 3 to H.R. 5281- the DREAM Act.
South Carolina's Republican Senator Jim DeMint has proposed Senate Amendment 4844 to H.R. 5281. His response to the DREAM Act is to build the border fence. Specifically he wants a fence that works. His amendment says: "Fencing that does not effectively restrain pedestrian traffic (such as vehicle barriers and virtual fencing) may not be used to meet the 700-mile fence requirement under this subparagraph.''
Senator DeMint wants it done quickly. His amendment provides that: "not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of the DREAM Act of 2010, complete the construction of all the reinforced fencing and the installation of the related equipment described in subparagraph (A).''
Senator Reid introduced a series of "Second Degree" Amendments that do not affect the substance of the legislation. They renumber certain sections in the bill.
The Senate failed to invoke cloture on Record Vote number 278.
On the next Record Vote, number 279, the Senate did Invoke Cloture, cutting off debate on the Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2965; SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2009.
That was the amendment of the Small Business Bill making it the Don't Ask Don't Tell Bill. Seven amendments were submitted by the Senate. The first two, Senate Amendments 4827 and 4828 by Senator Reid, were withdrawn. The next three, Senate Amendments 4829, 4830, and 4831 by Senator Reid, fell when cloture was invoked on the motion to agree to the House amendment to Senate amendment. Senator McCain submitted Senate Amendments 4837 and 4838, which were not acted upon. The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell passed the Senate on Record Vote number 281 by a margin of 65 in favor to 31 opposed with 4 Senators not voting.
Among the not voting group was West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. All of the Senators opposed to the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the remaining three Senators who did not vote were Republicans. Eight Republican Senators voted with the Democrats to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Two Judicial Nominations were confirmed by the Senate on Saturday and Sunday. The Senate Confirmed Ellen Lipton Hollander, of Maryland, to be a United States District Judge and Raymond Joseph Lohier, Jr., of New York, to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Hollander was confirmed on Record Vote number 280 and Judge Lohier was confirmed on Record Vote number 284.
The Senate finally took up the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, signed in Prague on April 8, 2010, with Protocol.
Senator McCain and Senator Risch each had an amendment rejected by the Senate as deliberation of the New START Treaty began in earnest on Sunday. Senate Amendment 4814, by Senator McCain wanted to strike language from the preamble of the treaty. Specifically he wanted to strike: " Recognizing the existence of the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms, that this interrelationship will become more important as strategic nuclear arms are reduced, and that current strategic defensive arms do not undermine the viability and effectiveness of the strategic offensive arms of the Parties." Senate Amendment 4814 was rejected on Record Vote 282 by a margin of 37 in favor to 59 opposed with 4 Senators not voting.
Senator Risch also wanted to amend the preamble of the treaty. Senate Amendment 4839 proposed inserting this language: "Acknowledging there is an interrelationship between non-strategic and strategic offensive arms, that as the number of strategic offensive arms is reduced this relationship becomes more pronounced and requires an even greater need for transparency and accountability, and that the disparity between the Parties' arsenals could undermine predictability and stability." Rejection of Senate Amendment 4839 came on Record Vote 283 by a margin of 32 in favor to 60 opposed with 8 Senators not voting.