Editor’s Note – The Senate has a unique responsibility mandated by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344) which created the Senate Committee on the Budget, whose sole focus is the federal budget process, and the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ budget “scorekeeper.”
The Senate has been controlled by the Democrat majority since 2007 and Senator Kent Conrad has chaired that committee since that change in majority status. Since the budget is their primary responsibility, why has there been no budget passed in the Senate in over 1,000 days?
Yet, the Senate is now prepared to pass a part of the budget, the Defense Department appropriation that may just get vetoed when it hits the Oval Office. Its no wonder the Congress has such low polling numbers on how it is doing its job, but that is disingenuous. Why? Because the Democrat Party has been in charge of the Senate for the entire term of Obama’s Presidency.
Now that the Republicans are in the majority in the House (11 months now), why is the moniker ‘do-nothing’ assigned by Obama to the Congress as a whole as if the Republicans have been in charge all the while?
The ‘do-nothings’ are the Democrats, and that has been the case since 2008. The country, especially the main stream media has a very short memory.
The true “Do-Nothing” entity is the Democrat Party, led by the Commander-‘Do-Nothing’-in-Chief, Barrack Obama. No wonder the world thinks we are paper tigers now.
Senate looks to wrap up work on defense bill
By DONNA CASSATA
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate moved methodically Thursday toward completing a massive defense bill that has drawn a presidential veto threat over increasing the role of the military in detaining terrorist suspects and indefinite detention of even American citizens linked to terrorism.
A final vote was expected late in the day on the $662 billion measure that would authorize funds for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and national security programs in the Energy Department. The bill is $27 billion less than what President Barack Obama requested for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 and $43 billion less than what Congress provided to the Pentagon this year.
The Senate version still must be reconciled with a House-passed measure in the remaining few weeks of the congressional session.
Pitting the Senate against Obama’s national security team, led by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and dividing Democrats are provisions in the bill on how to handle captured suspected terrorists. The escalating challenge reflects the ongoing political and constitutional fight over whether to treat terror suspects as prisoners of war or criminals, a tussle that has encompassed the nearly 3-old presidency of the Democratic commander in chief.
The White House has threatened a veto of the bill over the provisions, saying “this unnecessary, untested and legally controversial restriction of the president’s authority to defend the nation from terrorist threats would tie the hands of our intelligence and law enforcement professionals.” An administration that has killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is resisting congressional meddling in its prosecution of the war on terror.
The bill would require military custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al-Qaida or its affiliates and involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States. It also would allow the government to hold an individual suspected of terrorism indefinitely, with no exception for a U.S. citizen.
The Senate was poised to vote on two amendments by Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein to change those provisions. One would prohibit the indefinite detention for a U.S. citizen without charges or a trial; the other would limit the military custody to those captured outside the United States.
“Due process is a basic right of this democracy,” Feinstein said during a sometimes heated debate on the bill Wednesday. “It is given to us because we are citizens of the United States. And due process requires that we do not authorize indefinite detention of our citizens.”
The California Democrat said the last time the government held U.S. citizens indefinitely was when Japanese-Americans were interned in camps during World War II.
Calling the United States a battlefield in the war on terror, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., countered that American citizens can be held as enemy combatants to gather intelligence.
It was unclear whether Feinstein would prevail. Earlier this week, the Senate resoundingly rejected an effort to strip the detainee provisions from the defense bill as just two Republicans – Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Illinois’ Mark Kirk – voted with Democrats. Several Democrats, specifically those facing re-election next year, broke with the leadership and the administration and voted to leave the provisions intact.
The Senate also was expected to overwhelmingly approve crippling sanctions on Iran as fears about Tehran developing a nuclear weapon outweighed concerns about driving up oil prices that would hit economically strapped Americans at the gas pump.
Last week, the administration announced a new set of penalties against Iran, including identifying for the first time Iran’s entire banking sector as a “primary money laundering concern.” This requires increased monitoring by U.S. banks to ensure that they and their foreign affiliates avoid dealing with Iranian financial institutions.
But lawmakers pressed ahead with even tougher penalties despite reservations by the administration.
Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., offered an amendment to the defense bill that would target foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran, barring them from opening or maintaining correspondent operations in the United States. It would apply to foreign central banks only for transactions that involve the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products.
The sanctions on petroleum would only apply if the president determines there is a sufficient alternative supply and if the country with jurisdiction over the financial institution has not significantly reduced its purchases of Iranian oil.
Testifying before the Foreign Relations Committee, David Cohen, a senior Treasury Department official, cautioned against steps that would “threaten to fracture the international coalition of nations committed to the dual-track approach, does not inadvertently redound to Iran’s economic benefit, and brings real and meaningful pressure to bear on Iran.”