What Happened in the 109th Congress, 2nd Session?
The 109th Congress wrapped up in mid-December, bringing the recent period of a Republican majority to an end. The results of the 2006 mid-term elections brought into focus what many conservatives have seen for several years—a departure from conservative principles in the Republican party. The 2006 Republican defeat was a rejection of the Republican party, not the conservative movement.
Though the majority changes, our commitment to protecting and promoting pro-family policies does not change. We continue to look forward to working with conservative leaders in Congress, including Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Values Action Team, and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), chairman of the House Values Action Team, along with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), newly elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee. Please encourage your conservative Members to join these caucuses and increase the conservative voice in Congress!
The 110th Congress will be challenging, but Eagle Forum is ready to lead the pro-family movement on the many issues important to Eagle Forum members: pro-life, judicial supremacy, immigration, marriage, jobs, religious freedom, national sovereignty, and many others! We need your help to protect the gains we have made and promote the victories we hope to achieve in the future.
Protecting Traditional Marriage
Protecting traditional marriage from supremacist judges remains one of the top political issues facing our country. Eagle Forum advocates a multi-faceted strategy to protect marriage. While a constitutional amendment is ultimately necessary to protect marriage from activist judges, it remains a long process requiring a super-majority in Congress and then ratification by 38 states. Removing jurisdiction from federal courts over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provides immediate protection for marriage, as it only requires a majority of Congress, while we work for a significant constitutional amendment.
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) introduced the Marriage Protection Amendment (H.J. Res. 88), which failed the House by a vote of 236-187 (House Roll Call 378), 47 votes less than the required two-thirds. This joint resolution would have amended the U.S. Constitution to declare that marriage in the U.S. shall consist only of the union between a man and a woman, and that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the constitution of any state shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon any other union. In early 2005, Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) proposed an identical resolution, S.J. Res. 1, but in June 2006, the motion to invoke cloture failed by a vote of 49-48 (Senate Roll Call 163), 11 votes less than the required 60 votes.
In the 2006 mid-term congressional elections, seven states passed marriage amendments defining marriage as existing between one man and one woman only. These states included Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Building a Culture of Life
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) first introduced the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 748) in the House in 2005, where it passed by a vote of 270-157 (House Roll Call 144). This bill would have made it a federal crime to transport a minor girl across state lines to evade a parental notification law in her home state. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) introduced the Senate version of the bill, the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403), which passed in July 2006 by a vote of 65-34 (Senate Roll Call 216). However, the legislation fell victim to Democrat obstructionism. They prevented it from being signed into law by refusing to go to conference with the House to resolve the differences between the two versions of the bill. House Republicans tried to outmaneuver the Senate Democrats by passing CIANA for a second time in the House in September 2006. The bill was finally defeated in the Senate, however, when it failed to garner the 60 votes required to invoke cloture (Senate Roll Call 263).
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the Fetal Farming Prohibition Act (S. 3504) in June 2006 and it passed unanimously in the Senate by a vote of 100-0 (Senate Roll Call 204), as well as in the House (H.R. 5719) by a vote of 425-0 (House Roll Call 379). This legislation prohibits “farming” of human fetuses for research purposes and imposes fines and imprisonment for violations. It was successfully signed into law on July 19, 2006.
A bill that was previously introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress in light of compelling testimony offered during the Partial Birth Abortion trials was proposed once again in the House in November 2006. Sponsored by Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, H.R. 6099, would require abortion providers to notify women who want to have an abortion 20 weeks after fertilization that their unborn child feels pain and that they may request anesthesia for their unborn child in order to reduce or eliminate that pain. Despite overwhelming public support for such legislation, the bill failed in the House by a vote of 250-162 (House Roll Call 526), 25 votes less than the required two-thirds majority since it had been placed on the suspension calendar.
Over the last six years, President Bush has called for more money for abstinence education. During the waning hours of the 109th, Congress reauthorized Title V abstinence education grants by incorporating them into the Tax Relief and Health Care Act, H.R. 6111 (House Roll Call 533). The bill passed by a vote of 367-45. These grants provide $50 million to states each year to fund programs that help teenagers avoid STDs and unwed pregnancies, but they were reauthorized for only six months rather than several years as originally hoped. Authorization for these grants was created in the Welfare reform bill in 1996 and it was set to expire on December 31, 2006. Reauthorization was a crucial step in preserving the statutory definition of abstinence education. Extending authorization past 6 months will be a priority at Eagle Forum in the 110th Congress.
In 2001, President Bush announced a policy limiting the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) which requires killing a human embryo to harvest its stem cells to embryos killed before August 9, 2001. Since that time, federally funded ESCR has been permitted on dozens of stem cell lines provided by the National Institutes of Health, and privately funded ESCR research continues without restriction.
To date, not one single human patient has been successfully treated with embryonic stem cells. However, adult stem cells (bone marrow, cord blood, and other body cells with do not require killing human life) have been used to treat over 65 diseases in human patients!
In July 2006, the Senate voted on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, H.R. 810, which passed by a vote of 63-37 (Senate Roll Call 206). The bill, which would have amended the Public Health Service Act and provided federal funding for ESCR, was initially introduced in the House during the 1st session of the 109th Congress by Rep. Mike Castle (R-CO) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and it passed by a vote of 238-194 (House Roll Call 204). After passage in the Senate, President Bush vetoed the bill. The House then tried to override the President’s veto, but the attempt failed by a vote of 235-193 (House Roll Call 388), 51 votes less than the required two-thirds.
Abortions in Overseas Military Hospitals
Every year pro-abortion Members of Congress try to use our servicewomen as a means to further their extremist agenda. Thus far, they have failed each time, and this year was no different. On May 10, 2006, Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-NJ) offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5122) to make abortion available in overseas military hospitals. The amendment failed in the House by a vote of 191-233 (House Roll Call 136).
This year was one of the most monumental years in immigration reform. We ended 2005 with a major victory as the House of Representatives passed an enforcement-first bill (H.R. 4437), calling for mandatory employment verification, increased cooperation from local law enforcement, and a 700-mile border fence. The passage of this common sense border security legislation sparked massive protests by the illegal alien population. Millions of illegal aliens had no problem “coming out of the shadows” to flood the streets of over 100 American cities waving foreign flags and demanding that the United States government accommodate their lawbreaking.
We knew the Senate battle would be brutal and indeed we were correct, with the Senate passing one of the most expensive and expansive amnesty bills earlier this year. Many Americans made their outrage known throughout the summer as the House of Representatives held dozens of field hearings on how they should respond to the Senate’s amnesty bill. America spoke and the House listened, refusing to go to conference with the Senate bill.
Kennedy-McCain “Comprehensive” Immigration Reform Act (S. 2611)
The Senate began deliberation on immigration reform in the Judiciary Committee, where it marked up a version of the Kennedy-McCain amnesty legislation, altered by the chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). The Senate Committee passed out the Kennedy-McCain amnesty by a vote of 12-6 with four Republicans voting in favor of the bill: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). Included in the bill was an amnesty for millions of illegal aliens in the guise of some kind of tiered system, where those who have been here the longest and violated our laws most egregiously would be legalized. The bill also created a massive guest-worker program whereby even more cheap foreign labor would be imported and put on a path to citizenship.
Renamed the Hagel-Martinez Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (named after two Republican Senators) when brought to the floor, the Senate amnesty was soon revealed to be even more outrageous than initially thought. Thanks to a shocking analysis by the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, the original Hagel-Martinez amnesty would have cost $50 billion and imported at least 100 million new legal immigrants, most of them low-skilled, over the next 20 years. Those numbers were later revised due to amendments offered to the bill, but the number of new legal immigrants was still estimated to be at least 66 million over the next 20 years.
Several important amendments were voted on during the two weeks of floor debate on the Senate bill.
Isakson Amendment—to prohibit the implementation of any guest-worker/amnesty program until operational control of the border is secured. Failed 40-55 (Roll Call 121)
Salazar Amendment—weaker version of the Isakson Amendment, would allow only the President to declare the border secure. Passed 79-16 (Roll Call 122)
Bingaman Amendment—to reduce the number of new guest workers who can be imported from 400,000/yr to 200,000. Passed by voice vote. (This amendment was a likely direct result of the Robert Rector study, exposing the massive number of foreign workers imported in this bill).
Cornyn Amendment—to require guest workers to have their employer petition for their green card, proving they are employed. Passed 50-48 (Roll Call 128).
Vitter Amendment—to strike the guest-worker/amnesty provisions of the bill. Failed 33-66 (Roll Call 127)
Sessions Amendment—to order construction of 370 miles of border fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border. Passed 83-16 (Roll Call Vote 126)
Kennedy Amendment—to repeal the Cornyn amendment and allow guest workers to self-petition for green cards. Passed 56-43 (Roll Call 129).
Specter Amendment—to table (kill) the Ensign Amendment; Passed 50-49 (Roll Call 130)
Ensign Amendment—to remove provision allowing illegal aliens who receive amnesty to receive credit for Social Security benefits earned while working under illegal status. Tabled by Specter Amendment.
Inhofe Amendment—to establish English as the national language of the United States, making English the primary language of U.S. government communication. Passed 62-35 (Roll Call 131)
Salazar Amendmen—to establish English as the “common language”, a very weak version of the Inhofe amendment; Passed 58-39 (Roll Call 132)
Kyl amendment—to strike the provision allowing guest workers to apply for permanent Residence; Tabled by McCain Amendment 58-37 (Roll Call 135).
Ensign Amendment—to authorizes the use of National Guard troops to secure the border; Passed 83-10 (Roll Call 137)
McConnell Amendment—to require presentation of valid photo ID for voting; Motion to Table failed 48-49 (Roll Call 143); Amendment ruled non-germane, no vote occurred.
Sessions Amendment—to prohibit illegal aliens granted amnesty from receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit; Failed 37-60 (Roll Call 154)
Bingaman Amendment—to limit the number of aliens, including spouses and children, granted employment-based legal permanent resident status to 650,000 during any fiscal year; Passed 51-47 (Roll Call 152).
Ensign Amendment—to prohibit an alien granted amnesty from collecting any tax refund for any taxable year before 2006, or from filing a tax credit - including the Earned Income Tax Credit - prior to the 2006 tax year. Passed 50-47 (Roll Call 155)
The Senate passed the Hagel-Martinez Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act as amended on May 25, 2006 by a vote of 62-36. The majority (58%) of Senate Republicans voted AGAINST the bill. The bill died when the House refused to go to conference.
In one of the biggest disappointments of the year, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN), the leader of House conservatives, proposed a compromise immigration policy. The Pence plan was never formally introduced, but draft bills were posted on his website and he gave many high profile speeches, press interviews, and even met with President Bush in the Oval Office to discuss his plan.
The Pence Plan (later endorsed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison) calls for an unlimited guest-worker plan for the first three years, offers roundtrip amnesty to illegal aliens when they jump across the border, register at “Ellis Island Centers” and are matched with a willing employer. After a period of 17 years they would be eligible for citizenship. The Pence Plan would have been open to all NAFTA and CAFTA countries, meaning anyone, anywhere in those countries could come to the United States and gain citizenship, as long as a willing employer offered Third World wages, thereby ensuring no American would take the job.
Secure Fence Border Act
With the success of the border fence amendments to the House and Senate immigration bills, a stand alone border fence bill was introduced to bypass the need for a conference on the immigration bills. Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Peter King (R-NY) introduced the Secure Border Fence Act (H.R. 6061), which passed the House on September 14, 2006 by a vote of 283-138 (Roll Call 446). The bill calls for 700 miles of double layer fencing on the southern border and requires the Department of Homeland Security to gain “operational control” of the southern border within 18 months of enactment. The Senate passed the Secure Fence Act on September 29, 2006 by a vote of 80-19 (Roll Call 262). President Bush was shown on television signing it into law October 26, 2006. (Funding for the fence remains in question.)
Foreign Language Ballots
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) (H.R. 9), originally passed in 1965 to eliminate racial discrimination in voting, was up for reauthorization in 2006. Over the years, this piece of legislation has become a favorite of special-interest groups, adding unnecessary provisions, such as the foreign language ballot mandate added in 1975. This provision requires state and local entities to print election ballots in multiple languages at a high cost to taxpayers. Because speaking English is a citizenship requirement and only citizens are allowed to vote, this provision is unnecessary. The argument that native-born citizens are not fluent in English is even more disturbing because it proves that assimilation is failing and that immigrants are keeping their native tongue into the second and third generation.
Members of the establishment of both parties expected this 25-year reauthorization to cruise through passage. However, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) led the fight to force a vote on his amendment repealing the foreign language ballot provisions by presenting House leadership with a letter signed by 80 Members of Congress supporting him. The VRA went to the floor without the King amendment and House offices were flooded with calls. Among other concerns, the VRA was pulled from the floor due to the uproar.
A vote on the King amendment was allowed two weeks later when the VRA was brought back to the floor. Although it failed 167-254, we gained almost 100 Members of Congress in support of ending foreign language ballots and brought the issue to national prominence.
Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S. 147)
Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka (D) tried to sneak his bill establishing a race-based government in Hawaii through the Senate earlier this year. Eagle Forum and other conservative groups worked hard to bring this dangerous bill into the light so we would be able to defeat it. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would have created a Hawaiian race-based government by establishing a Native Hawaiian "tribe" that can accept or reject any part of the Constitution it wishes. The Senate rejected the bill by defeating a cloture motion 56-41 (Roll Call 165). Sixty votes were needed for passage.
Child Medication Safety Act
The Child Medication Safety Act passed the House in 2005 and was introduced in the Senate on 9/29/06 by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). It is assumed that it will be reintroduced in the House and Senate.
Child Medication Safety Act of 2006 - Requires states, as a condition of receiving funds under any program or activity administered by the Secretary of Education, to develop and implement policies and procedures prohibiting school personnel from requiring a child, as a condition of attending school or receiving services, to obtain a prescription for any specified controlled substances listed under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Provides that nothing in such requirement shall be construed to create a federal prohibition against teachers and other school personnel consulting or sharing classroom-based observations with parents or guardians regarding a student's academic performance or behavior in the classroom or school, or regarding the need for evaluation for special education or related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Directs the Comptroller General to review and report on: (1) variation among state definitions of psychotropic medication in state jurisdiction over public education; (2) prescription rates of medications used in public schools to treat children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other disorders or illnesses; and (3) which of such medications are CSA-listed and which are not, including properties and effects of the latter and whether they have been considered for CSA-listing.
Mental Health Screening
In August of 2005, the Administration released its Federal Mental Health Action Agenda (FMHAA) which is the follow up to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFCMH). The FMHAA does not contain some of the recommendations for problematic programs that the NFCMH did when it was released in 2003. Teen Screen and Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), both very controversial programs which were model programs under NFCMH, are not included as model programs in FMHAA.
TeenScreen, which is a mental health screening program used widely in the States, has been and continues to be a major focus of concern for parents and conservative activists. There has been a growing movement now being reported in the press in opposition to TeenScreen. The anti-TeenScreen movement voice has not reached the Federal level were in 2006, Congress continued to fund mental health programs including screening via SAMHA grants.
Parental Consent Act
The Parental Consent Act (H.R. 181) had 44 co-sponsors at the end of 2006. It is not know if it will be reintroduced in 2007. The bill would prohibit the use of Federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening program.
New Civics Education
Due to Conservative grassroots pressure the Center for Civic Education's (CCE) which produces and promotes "We The People" had to visit the Hill in 2006 looking to bolster support for their programs. Many conservative legislators are not aware of the truth about CCE and their book products and they continue to support them.
The Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act (S. 193)
Since the 2004 SuperBowl “wardrobe malfunction,” broadcast decency has become an important pro-family issue as media standards have continued to decline. Senator Sam Brownback took the lead in making sure this legislation was signed into law this session, after facing several previous setbacks. The Senate passed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act (S. 193) by unanimous consent on May 18, 2006. The House passed the same bill on June 7, 2006 by a vote of 379-35 (Roll Call 230). This bill raised Federal Communications Commission fines from $32,500 to $325,000 per violation—a tenfold increase. President Bush signed the bill into law on June 15.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (H.R. 4411)
This year was perhaps the most opportune time to pass legislation to curb the harms and close the loopholes of Internet gambling. The Senate and House each passed a version of this bill a total of five times in the last eight years, but it was never signed into law. The first attempt to pass Internet gambling legislation was thwarted in 1999 by Jack Abramoff, a hired lobbyist representing the gaming industry who laundered cash through various non-profit groups to defeat the bill. With Abramoff going to prison on fraud and corruption charges, the window for legislation protecting families from the harms of Internet gambling opened.
The House passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (H.R. 4411), sponsored by Rep. Jim Leach, by a vote of 317-93 (Roll Call 363) on July 11, 2006. The Senate included the same legislation in the SAFE Port Act Conference Report (109-711), which passed the Senate by unanimous consent and the House by 409-2 on September 30, 2006. This bill provides law enforcement and private parties with new enforcement tools that will prevent or interdict illegal Internet gambling transactions even when websites are operated outside the U.S.
Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross
Led by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Congress successfully protected the cross on the Mount Soledad War Memorial in San Diego from supremacist judges who had ordered its removal in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Rep. Hunter introduced a bill which directs the federal government to acquire the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial and to maintain the site as a national war memorial honoring veterans. The House passed H.R. 5683 on July 19, 2006 by a vote of 349-74 (Roll Call 386). The Senate passed the same legislation by unanimous consent on August 1, 2006.
In the past few years, Congress has approved billions of dollars in wasteful pork. However, in 2005, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced a bill that would help curb such wasteful federal spending. On June 21, 2006, the House passed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R. 5060) by a voice vote. The bill later passed the Senate (S. 2590) on September 7, 2006 by unanimous consent, after several “secret holds” were released. The bill, which requires the federal government to create a searchable public website listing the names of individual and group recipients of federal grants, garnered wide support from both sides of the political spectrum. President Bush signed the bill into law on September 26, 2006.
The success of the “Coburn Sunshine Bill” was a major victory for conservatives, as so much of the government’s wasteful pork is awarded to liberal groups. This website will surely be a valuable resource for American taxpayers because they deserve to know where their tax dollars are going!