More debate today on the Dick Cheney Telecom Amnesty Bill. But first, another national security official questions the Bush Administration’s unilateral power grabs:
Jeffrey H. Smith, former CIA general counsel (“On Hill, Anger and Calls for Hearing Greet News of Stateside Surveillance,” Washington Post, 1/17/06)
“These programs always have a way of being abused, of expanding beyond the purpose for which they were created. If the president believed it, he could have gotten authority to do it in the Patriot Act. By avoiding that course, in so doing, he may ultimately wind up eroding the very power he seeks to assert.”
Now, on to proceedings.
SANDERS: During the SOTU, I had a hard time understanding what country and what reality the President was talking about — the President had almost nothing to say about the reality of most American lives that rang true. Last night’s speech showed how little understanding the President and his Administration have of the everyday lives. Somehow, the President failed to detail the impact of his many failures on the American people. Going through the list: nearly 5 million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and into poverty. Since Bush has been president, we have lost one out of every four manufacturing jobs — 25% of manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas, and Bush is demanding more outsourcing. More Americans are paying more for gas, and oil companies are enjoying huge profits — didn’t hear a word about that from the president. Talking about enormous CEO compensation packages.
Morning business being extended now to 12:30 pm ET, with time equally divided.
CRAIG: Talking about Inhofe’s S.2551, nuclear waste legislation. [CHS notes: word of the day, again reverts to somnolent…] Craig going on a "screw Nevada, force them to take Idaho’s nuclear waste" blah-bity-blah.
Tim Tigaris has an update at OpenLeft — thought everyone would want a peek before Larry Craig’s wide stance on Yucca Mountain puts all of us in a coma:
I suspect the Senate will pass an extension of some sort. Maybe 15 days. In regards to amendments, I am hearing that some kind of "compromise" in which a certain number of amendments will be heard — some that need to meet a 50 vote threshold, and some that meet a 60 vote threshold — is possible.
At that point, the important question becomes which amendments will need 50, and which will need 60? If we agree to a 60-vote threshold on amendments that would "force" a Presidential veto, then we are horrible negotiators. Because of the sensitivity to retroactive immunity, I see no way that isn’t one of the amendments included in the agreement. And since that probably doesn’t even have 50 votes, I am sure it won’t be required to meet the 60 vote barrier.
And if an agreement is reached that germane amendments with a chance of succeeding needs 60 votes to pass, what can a courageous Senator do to stop that? Well, much like Dodd did before the Christmas recess, a Senator could object to an unanimous consent request on any deal that capitulates on the 60 vote question.
So, there you have it — the latest as I’m hearing it as well at the moment. But, again, nothing definite…
GREGG: Talking stimulus package. OMG, they are trying to lull the nation into a long snooze…when will this torture end? I’m gonna need more coffee if they keep this up…he’s rambling about iPods made in Vietnam now.
Senate stands in recess until 2:15 pm ET.