Eagle Forum
Eagle Forum Capitol Alert
December 2002

What did Congress do in the 107th Congress, 2nd Session?

Because Republicans controlled the House and the White House but Democrats controlled the Senate, the best word to describe the 107th Congress, 2nd Session is gridlock. The House passed nearly 200 bills that the Senate failed to consider. Leftist language inserted by the Senate in some bills had to be negotiated out before sending them to the President's desk. Many bills, such as the energy bill permitting drilling in Alaska and the Patients Bill of Rights containing Medical Savings Accounts, were trapped and killed in conference committees. With Republicans taking the reigns of 108th Congress, Eagle Forum will be diligently working to push Congress to pass the many bills that were left unpassed by the 107th.

The War on Terrorism and Border Security 
On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005). Combining 22 different agencies, this bill represents the largest reorganization of government since World War II. The new Department will have 170,000 employees and a budget of nearly $40 billion. The restructuring will take at least a year.

Border Security 
Separate from the Homeland Security bill, the President called for legislation to extend a now-expired loophole known as Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. 245(i) allows an illegal alien to apply for a green card, stay permanently in the United States, and subsequently apply for citizenship. This is the proposal Sen. Robert Byrd called "sheer lunacy," and the reason why the July 4th Los Angeles Airport murderer was in our country. The open-borders crowd attached 245(i) extension to the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (H. Res. 365), which contained important border security measures.

On March 12, the House passed H. Res. 365 on suspension (no amendments and limited debate) 275 to 137 with 22 not voting (House Roll Call Vote 53). Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle planned to bring an amnesty bill to the Senate floor for debate and a vote, but it was never scheduled. The amnesty provision was excluded from the Border Security bill (H.R. 3525) that was signed by President Bush on May 14.

Saudi Arabia Visa Express Eliminated 
National Review contributor Joel Mowbray broke the story that visa applicants from Saudi Arabia could apply through third parties, such as travel agencies, to obtain visas. Because 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, Congress responded with outrage and disbelief that some Saudis are permitted to travel to the U.S. without ever being interviewed. Section 428 of the Homeland Security bill eliminates third-party visa screening programs in Saudi Arabia and requires Homeland Security personnel to review all such visa applications.

Immigration System Reformed 
The Homeland Security bill abolishes the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Section 471) and creates an Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security to essentially take over INS responsibilities. This Secretary will be responsible for preventing the entry of terrorists, securing the borders, carrying out immigration enforcement, setting enforcement priorities, establishing and administering rules for granting visas, administering some customs laws, and ensuring an efficient flow of lawful traffic and commerce. Under him, the traditional INS functions are divided between two new bureaus. The Bureau of Border Security will carry out the detention, removal, intelligence, investigations, inspections, and Border Patrol programs. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services will establish national immigration service policies and priorities.

While the immigration system will be entirely restructured in the Department of Homeland Security, the bill does not abolish the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, stop the issuance of visas in countries that sponsor terrorism, reduce the number of immigrants, or do anything about illegal aliens.

Privacy Implications for Law-Abiding Citizens 
Privacy Officer 
Recognizing the vast civil liberties implications, the Department of Homeland Security will have a Privacy Officer to monitor compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974. The Privacy Officer should ensure that technology sustains (not erodes) privacy, issue privacy impact assessments of proposed rules, and report annually to Congress all Department activities that affect privacy. (Section 222)

No National ID Card or System 
The Homeland Security bill states in Section 1514: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the development of a national identification system or card." This is an important inclusion, but great caution is still needed because a national ID system could appear under some other name. A national ID is created once government and/or private databases are linked together using unique identifiers, such as Social Security Numbers or thumbprints.

Total Information Awareness (TIA) 
Section 307 of H.R. 5005 creates the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), which will be modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is already developing a system called Total Information Awareness, which will collect and data-mine vast amounts of personal information from the public, including telephone records, bank records, magazine subscriptions, medical records, travel data, etc. TIA is not mentioned in the Homeland Security bill, but Section 307(b)(5) instructs the Director to "ensure that the activities of HSARPA are coordinated with those of other relevant research agencies, and may run projects jointly with other agencies" [such as DARPA]. Congress should revisit this section to ensure that Big Brother projects such as TIA are specifically prohibited.

Operation TIPS 
In January 2002, the President created the Citizen Corps to engage everyday Americans in the war against terrorism. One of the five components of the Citizen Corps is Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System). TIPS was designed to be "a nationwide program to help thousands of American truck drivers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, and utility workers report potential terrorist activity." Operation TIPS called on Americans, in their daily course of work activities, to monitor and report "suspicious" activities to a central reporting center. The post office quickly announced that it would not participate in this federal system of informers. With the help of Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), the final Homeland Security bill includes Section 880 expressly prohibiting implementation of Operation TIPS.

Arming Pilots 
After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, many pilots started a grassroots effort to permit them to protect their aircraft with a personal firearm. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act (H.R. 4635), which directs the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security to authorize trained flight deck officers to carry firearms. Despite initial opposition by the Bush Administration, the bill passed the House on July 10 with a vote of 310 to 113 (House Roll Call Vote 292). Senators Bob Smith (R-NH) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) offered similar language as an amendment to the Homeland Security bill (H.R. 5005). The amendment passed 87 to 6 (Senate Roll Call Vote 210 ) and was included in the final Homeland Security bill.

Smallpox Mandate? 
Section 304 of the Homeland Security bill authorizes the Health and Human Services Secretary to make the determination "that an actual or potential bioterrorist incident or other actual or potential public health emergency makes advisable the administration of a covered countermeasure to a category or categories of individuals." The Secretary is authorized to specify what classifies as a "covered countermeasure" (i.e., vaccines and/or drugs), thereby forcing individuals to take HHS-mandated drugs and/or vaccines. Nothing in the bill recognizes an individual right to refuse medical treatment for reasons of conscience, religious belief, or medical necessity. Some describe Section 304 as a federal version of the Model Emergency Health Powers Act, which was rejected in whole or in major part by most of the 50 state legislatures in 2001.

Foreign Policy and Trade

International Criminal Court 
This United Nations treaty negotiated in 1998 is dangerous to American sovereignty and puts U.S. citizens at risk. The ICC entered into force on July 1, 2002, when 60 nations had ratified it. President Clinton signed the treaty on December 31, 2000, but never submitted it to the U.S. Senate for ratification. The ICC plans to exert its authority over all nations, regardless of ratification.

On May 6, 2002, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan informing the U.N. "that the United States does not intend to become a party to the [ICC]. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligation arising from its signature on December 31, 2000."

To further protect U. S. troops from ICC jurisdiction, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) pushed for adoption of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (S. 1610) to protect military personnel and diplomats from ICC jurisdiction. ASPA prohibits U.S. governmental cooperation with the ICC in arrests, searches and seizures, or taking of evidence. A slightly modified version of the ASPA was included in the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4775), which was signed into law by President Bush on August 2, 2002.

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 
CEDAW was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 but was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. The U.S. rejected the Equal Rights Amendment 20 years ago, so now the feminists are trying to implement their entire agenda through CEDAW.

One of the most offensive sections of CEDAW is Article 17, which creates a committee of 23 "experts" to monitor compliance. CEDAW's feminist experts are expected to try to change U.S. laws in the following ways: repeal all restrictions on abortion, decriminalize prostitution, abolish Mother's Day, enact affirmative action quotas, and establish government-paid daycare. So-called UN experts have already made such suggestions to the countries that were rash enough to ratify CEDAW.

On July 30, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12 to 7 in favor of CEDAW, but the treaty was never brought before the full Senate for ratification.

Fast Track  
Fast Track rushes executive-branch-negotiated trade agreements through Congress with mandatory deadlines, severely limited debate, and a rule against all amendments. Fast Track evades the two-thirds treaty requirement in the Senate; Members of Congress only have the chance to vote aye or nay. Fast Track basically transfers trade-negotiating powers from Congress to the President. In 1998, conservative Republicans joined Democrats in rejecting "Fast Track" for President Clinton.

President Bush made Fast Track a top priority in 107th Congress and personally appealed to conservative Republicans to switch their votes. The House initially approved Fast Track on December 6, 2001 (215 to 214). The Senate passed similar legislation on May 23 (66 to 30, Senate Roll Call Vote 130). Fast Track was conferenced with accompanying trade legislation (H.R. 3009) and was passed again by the House on July 27, 2002 by a vote of 215 to 212 (House Roll Call Vote 370). The Senate approved the trade bill 64 to 34 on August 1, 2002 (Senate Roll Call Vote 207), and the President subsequently signed it.

Judicial Nominations 
Throughout 2002, Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) used obstructionist tactics to prevent confirmation of judges who believe in the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution. Democrats criticized and character-assassinated nominees Charles Pickering and Priscilla Owen.

November 5, 2002 was a new day for the President, Senate, and all judicial nominees. Once the Democrats lost control of the majority, confirmation finally came for 20 nominees, including Circuit Court nominees Michael McConnell and Dennis Shedd. Both McConnell and Shedd had been waiting since May 9, 2001. At the end of the session, 31 nominees remained before the Senate for confirmation.

The Borking of Charles Pickering 
On May 25, 2001, President Bush nominated U.S. District Judge Charles Pickering to fill a judicial emergency slot on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Pickering, a district judge since 1990 and the father of Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS), suffered through two hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee where Senators took up the smear tactics of the leftwing People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice, National Abortion Rights Action League, and Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. Despite a "well-qualified" rating from the liberal American Bar Association (ABA) as well as support from Mississippi Democrats and Republicans, the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee voted him down 10 to 9 on February 14, thus denying Pickering a vote by the full Senate. The incoming Republican-controlled Senate is expected to reverse that motion and confirm him.

The Borking of Priscilla Owen 
On May 9, 2001, President Bush nominated Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen to fill a judicial emergency slot on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The National Organization for Women and the Texas Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League accused Owen of being "out of the mainstream" because of her opinion favoring the Texas parental notification law. Her qualifications included a "well-qualified" rating by the ABA, the endorsement of every major Texas newspaper, reelection to her current post in 2000 with 83% of the popular vote, the highest score on the Texas Bar exam in her graduating class, and practicing law for 17 years with a leading firm. However, the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Owen 10 to 9 on July 23, preventing expected confirmation by the full Senate. Owen's confirmation will come up again in the 108th Congress.

Pro-life Legislation

Born-Alive Infants Protection Act  
When nurse Jill Stanek testified before Congress detailing the infanticide occurring at Illinois' Christ Hospital, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (H.R. 2175) was introduced to clarify the definition of a "person" to include "every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development." In 2001, the Born-Alive language was included in the Bipartisan Patient Protection Act (H.R. 2563/S. 1052), but the larger bill was killed in a conference committee.

On March 12, 2002, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (H.R. 2175) was approved by voice vote in the House as a stand-alone bill. On July 18, 2002, the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent. President Bush signed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act into law on August 5.

United Nations Fund for Population Assistance (UNFPA) 
In July, the Bush Administration decided to withhold U.S. contributions to UNFPA, pursuant to the 1985 Kemp-Kasten amendment prohibiting U.S. funds from going to groups that support forced abortion and non-voluntary sterilization. The 2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill permitted the President to provide up to $34 million to UNFPA. Interviews with Chinese women in 2001 revealed new evidence of coercion and involuntary abortions and sterilizations are still prevalent in China. Therefore, UNFPA was denied U.S. funding in 2002 because of its operation and connection to the Chinese family planning programs. The $34 million is being reallocated to other international population control accounts, thanks to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Bankruptcy Reform  
Congress has debated major bankruptcy reform for the past five years. During Senate committee consideration, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attached malicious pro-abortion language to the bill (H.R. 333). The Schumer provision targeted peaceful pro-life protesters, penalized under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, by preventing them from filing for bankruptcy. If enacted, this provision would force pro-lifers convicted under FACE to spend a lifetime paying so-called damages to abortion clinics. During the conference committee, the Schumer language was slightly modified but not deleted. When the rules of debate on the conference report were brought to the House floor on November 14, 2002, pro-lifers won the day by defeating the no-amendment rule 243 to 172 (House Roll Call Vote 478). Business and banking interests were bitterly disappointed, but the fault is theirs for failing to get Schumer to remove his amendment.

Human Cloning  
In July 2001, the House of Representatives voted 265 to 162 to pass the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (H.R. 2505). President Bush stated that he would sign the House-passed cloning ban bill as soon as the Senate approved it. Despite an agreement between Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to debate cloning in the spring of 2002, Sen. Daschle never allowed the Senate to vote on it.

On June 18, 2002, Sen. Brownback tried to offer an amendment to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (S. 2600) banning human cloning patents, but a push by business interests and even the White House prevented a debate and vote on the Brownback amendment. The Senate voted 65 to 31 (Senate Roll Call Vote 156) to proceed on S. 2600, thereby killing the Brownback cloning amendment.

Administration Action on Prenatal Care and Treatment of Embryos as Research Subjects 
On September 27, 2002, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson issued a final regulation allowing states to use the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to provide health coverage for prenatal care and delivery to mothers and their unborn children. This rule change will help to ensure that low-income mothers have healthy pregnancies and that their babies are born healthy and strong. (Rule published in the Federal Register on October 2, 2002.)

In October while revising the charter of the federal advisory committee that addresses the safety of research volunteers, the Bush administration inserted language to recognize embryos in experiments as "human subjects" whose welfare should be considered along with that of children and adults. While the move does not mandate the same protections for embryos, it does provide the committee a platform to offer recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Unborn Victims of Violence Act  
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 503), sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), would punish criminals who hurt or kill an unborn child during the commission of a federal crime against a pregnant woman. The House approved the bill 252 to 172 (House Roll Call Vote 89) on April 26, 2001. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) never brought the bill to the floor.

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban  
H.R. 4965, sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), would prohibit the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion. On July 24, 2002, the House of Representatives approved the bill 274 to 151 with 1 voting present and 8 not voting (House Roll Call Vote 343). Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) refused to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) 
The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4691), sponsored by Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), clarifies existing law to make sure that health care entities, such as hospitals and insurance companies, are not required to offer, pay for, or perform abortions. On September 25, 2002, the House passed ANDA 229 to 189 (House Roll Call Vote 412). The bill died in the Senate.

Tax Cuts 
In 2001, the President signed a significant tax cut bill that, over 10 years, reduces the marginal rates, eases the marriage tax penalty with equity between two-earner and single-earner couples, increases the adoption tax credit, reduces the death tax, doubles the per child tax credit, and increases retirement contribution limits.

On April 18, 2002, the House voted 229 to 189 to make the adoption tax credit permanent (House Roll Call Vote 103). On June 13, the House approved H.R. 4019 to make marriage-tax penalty relief permanent (271 to 142, House Roll Call Vote 229). On June 6, the House voted 256 to 171 to make the death-tax repeal permanent (H.R. 2143, House Roll Call Vote 219). However, these bills were not considered in the Senate.

Where Are Your Tax Dollars Going? 
Because Congress failed to pass 11 of the 13 annual appropriations bill, Congress voted to continue funding for non-defense and non-military construction programs at 2002 levels through January 11, 2003. At that time, Members will likely vote on an omnibus fiscal year 2003 appropriations package.

National Endowment for the Arts 
On July 17, 2002, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) offered an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill (H.R 5093) to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities by $5 million and increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts by $10 million. The amendment passed 234 to 192 (House Roll Call Vote 310). Shortly thereafter, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) offered an amendment to transfer $50 million from the National Endowment for the Arts to the National Forest Service for firefighting. The Tancredo amendment failed 123 to 300 (House Roll Call Vote 314). Differences between the House and Senate Interior appropriations bills were never resolved. Funding for the NEA continues at level funding until the FY2003 bill is formally adopted.

Welfare Reform 
In 1996, Congress dramatically changed the welfare system by emphasizing work and marriage. These successful reforms are credited with cutting the welfare rolls in half, doubling employment among single mothers, and reducing child poverty to historic lows. Congress was supposed to reauthorize the expiring program by September 30, 2002.

The Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002 (H.R. 4737) built on the 1996 reforms by increasing the required work hours, setting aside $300 million specifically for marriage promotion, and preserving the abstinence education program with its seven-point definition.

Unfortunately, this massive bill called for increased funding for federal-subsidized daycare, a pet cause of liberal Republicans and Democrats, and for expanded access to sensitive information in the National Directory of New Hires (the so-called "Deadbeat Dads" database.)

On May 16, 2002, H.R. 4737 passed the House 229 to 197 (House Roll Call Vote 170). On June 26, the Senate Finance Committee approved a companion bill drafted by Chairman Max Baucus, but it essentially gutted the House-passed bill by reducing work requirements, broadening "marriage promotion" to other uses, and adding a new $50 million teen pregnancy prevention ("safe-sex") program not limited to abstinence education. Because the Senate never brought the welfare reauthorization bill to the floor, Congress continued current law through January 11, 2003.

Election Reform 
After the close election of 2000, Congress was pressured to ensure that the era of hanging chads was over. The election reform debate raged on through most of the 107th Congress.

When the Senate debated election reform in the spring, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) brought to the floor pictures of Ritzy Meckler (a dog) who "signed" a mail-in registration card during Election 2000. He demanded that the reform bill include a photo identification requirement for first-time voters. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) countered with an amendment to permit the use of a signature or personal mark, instead of a photo ID, for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters. Republicans tried to table (defeat) his amendment but failed 46 to 51 (Senate Roll Call Vote 38).

After some backroom negotiating, the final bill (H.R. 3295) requires voters who register by mail to present a current and valid photo identification when voting in person, or if voting by mail, to enclose a copy of such identification or of a current utility bill, bank statement, or government document showing name and address.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) offered an amendment to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences, but it was defeated 31 to 63 (Senate Roll Call Vote 31).

In the final conference report of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, Congress appropriated $325 million to replace punch-card and lever voting machines, and $325 million for states to improve election administration. Each state is required to (1) provide voters an opportunity to check for and correct ballot errors, (2) have a voting system with a manual audit capacity, (3) provide accessibility for the disabled, (4) provide ballots in alternative languages pursuant to the Voting Rights Act, (5) define what constitutes a legal vote for each type of machine used, (6) provide provisional ballots, and (7) implement a centralized computerized statewide voter registration database to ensure accurate lists.

The bill also includes a requirement for individuals to provide a driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security Number when registering (if a person has neither, he will be assigned a unique identifier). With memories of some St. Louis polls staying open for additional hours during 2000, a provision was added to the bill to ensure that votes cast after the designated poll-closing time as a result of a court order be segregated and counted separately.

The House approved the Help America Vote Act conference report on October 10 by a vote of 357 to 48 (House Roll Call Vote 462). The Senate then voted 92 to 2 on October 16 (Senate Roll Call Vote 238), and the bill became law on October 29, 2002.

Other Legislation Impacting Families

Reaffirming "Under God"  
On June 26, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Michael Newdow, a father who claimed the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance harmed his daughter. Congress immediately reacted with near-unanimous votes to reaffirm the reference to "one Nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Senate voted 99 to 0 (S. 2690, Senate Roll Call Vote 166). The House approved a similar resolution 416 to 3 with 11 voting present (House Roll Call Vote 273). The House took up the Senate-passed measure in October, and the President signed it into law on November 13. As it turns out, the daughter and her mother believe in God.

Hate Crimes 
On June 11, the Senate voted 54 to 43 (Senate Roll Call Vote 147) on the motion to invoke cloture (to proceed) on the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001 (S. 625), sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA). The bill would have expanded federal hate crime laws to include sexual orientation, but the motion failed because 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture.

Privacy Protections for Home-Schoolers 
Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN) introduced H.R. 5331 to extend to families of home-schooled children the privacy protections and rights in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. On October 7, 2002, the House approved the bill by voice vote, but it was not considered in the Senate.

Campaign Finance Reform 
After debating for years about campaign finance reform, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT), and Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) finally garnered enough votes to pass a bill. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (H.R. 2356) bans soft money to national parties and federal candidates, increases individual contributions from $1,000 to $2,000 per election, and redefines coordination between candidates and citizen groups. The bill also prohibits incorporated groups and unions from purchasing TV or radio ads that refer to a specific member of Congress or other "candidate" for 30 days before a state's congressional primary, or anywhere during the 60 days before the general election.

The House approved H.R. 2356 on February 14 (240 to 189, House Roll Call Vote 34). On March 20, the Senate passed the measure 60 to 40 (Senate Roll Call Vote 54). Despite pressure to veto, President Bush signed the bill on March 27 while commenting that the bill has flaws and "certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns." The law took effect after the November 5 election, and lawsuits are now pending.


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