Democratic Reps. Michael Michaud
and Tom Allen
Vote 1: Military Commissions (S 3930): The House on Sept. 29 passed a bill that would allow for the indefinite detention of non-citizens suspected of crimes involving terrorism. The bill calls for trial by military tribunal and bars appeals under habeas corpus. Proponents said the bill allows for trials of those accused of terrorist acts without compromising intelligence sources. They argued that similar tribunals oversaw trials during World War II. Opponents said the bill sets up two court systems and that it allows no appeal except on procedural issues. They argued that in addition to denying basic rights in place since the Magna Carta, the bill was un-American in spirit and would be found unconstitutional. The vote was 250 yeas to 170 nays.
NAYS: Michaud, Allen
Vote 2: Conference Report – Homeland Security Appropriations for Fiscal 2007 (H.R. 5441): The House on Sept. 29 passed the House-Senate conference report on a bill that provides $34.8 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill includes $8.4 billion for the Coast Guard; $8 billion for customs and border protection; $6.4 billion for the Transportation Security Administration; $4 billion for immigration and customs’ enforcement; $2.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency; $1.3 billion for the U.S. Secret Service; and $1 billion for the management of the agency. The vote was 412 yeas to 6 nays.
YEAS: Michaud, Allen
Vote 3: Conference Report – Defense Authorization for Fiscal 2007 (H.R. 5122): The House on Sept. 29 passed the House-Senate conference report on a bill that authorizes $538.2 billion in defense programs. (Authorization bills approve the programs while appropriations bills set funding.) Included in the bill was $155.3 billion for military operations and maintenance; $110.1 billion for military personnel; $84.2 billion for military procurement; $73.6 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation; and $17.1 billion for military construction, including family housing. An additional $70 billion in supplemental funding in support of U.S. military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan was also included. The bill authorizes a 2.2 percent pay raise and increases Army active duty strength by 30,000 for an authorized end strength of 512,400. The end strength for the U.S. Marine Corps was set at 180,000, an increase of 5,000. It also eliminates proposed medical fee increases for veterans. The vote was 398 yeas to 23 nays.
Vote 4: Private Property Rights (H.R. 4772): The house on Sept. 29 passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, that would allow property-rights litigation to be heard in federal court before state appeals had been exhausted. The bill failed to pass on Sept. 26 under suspension of the rules where a two-thirds vote was required. Proponents said the bill was necessary to protect owners’ property rights in light of recent court rulings that allowed property to be taken for economic development purposes. Opponents argued that the bill had nothing to do with the eminent domain questions ruled on by the court. They said it would allow developers a fast track into the federal system and inhibit localities’ ability to restrict land use. The vote was 231 yeas to 181 nays.
NAYS: Michaud, Allen
Vote 5: Conference Report – Port Security (H.R. 4954): The House on Sept. 29 passed the House-Senate conference report on a bill that authorizes $400 million a year in grants for port security, establishes a Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and requires the screening of cargo at 22 major ports for nuclear devices. The bill includes a prohibition on the use of credit cards and checks for Internet gambling. While there was no substantive opposition to the bill, some noted the measures taken were not strong enough and little had been done to protect the passenger rail system. The vote was 409 yeas to 2 nays.
YEAS: Michaud, Allen
Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins
Vote 1: Secure Fence Act (H.R. 6061): The Senate on Sept. 29 passed a bill that provides for 700 miles of double layer fencing in the most densely populated areas along the U.S. border with Mexico. It also provides for cameras and other surveillance measures in more remote areas and a feasibility study for a fence on the U.S. border with Canada. Proponents said in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the bill is necessary to secure the borders of the country. Opponents said that the bipartisan immigration measure should not be abandoned and that the enforcement and detention powers given to the government are too broad. The vote was 80 yeas to 19 nays.
YEAS: Snowe, Collins
Vote 2: Considering the Child Custody Protection Act (S 403): The Senate failed to pass a cloture motion by the required three-fifths majority that would have limited debate and proceeded to consideration of a bill that would have made it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines to circumvent parental notification laws on abortion. The legislation would also have imposed fines and possible jail time for those providing abortions to those who did not obtain parental permission where required for out-of-state minors. Proponents argued the bill protects young women from being pressured into an abortion by predators and abusive boyfriends. Opponents argued the bill did not have sufficient safeguards for victims of rape and incest. Senators also objected to the bill being brought to the floor directly denying the opportunity for amendments. The vote was 57 yeas to 42 nays.
NAYS: Snowe, Collins
Compiled by Targeted News Service for the Bangor Daily News