This diary details every vote cast where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted differently so far during 2007 (it ignores votes where one of them was absent).
I'm not going to speculate on why they voted how they did, unless it's clear from the Congressional Record. That is what the comments section and many, many, many diaries are for.
I will just link to the vote, give as much detail as is necessary to explain what the vote was on, and say how each one voted, as well as how the rest of the Senate voted in terms of party (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders are counted as Democrats [there were 10 votes where Lieberman was the only member of the Democratic caucus not voting with the caucus, mostly on Iraq).
If the summary given on the page with the roll call vote seems too brief or confusing to me, I take statements from the Congressional Record to help explain them.
This diary is intended primarily as a reference. However, 3 of the explanations do also make fun of Vitter and Craig (it's disgraceful that they haven't resigned, after all).
There aren't likely to be any more votes where they differ this year because at this point, they're really only be showing up for crucial votes where they're highly unlikely to vote differently.
At the time of posting this diary, there were 378 roll call votes cast so far in the Senate. Clinton and Obama were both present for 261 of those roll call votes. Of those 261 they were present for, 34 were favored by every Senator voting, and on 117 of them the entire Democratic caucus (including Lieberman and Sanders) was on the same side [votes where Harry Reid voted NAY as a procedural move to allow him to bring it up again are counted].
|% of the time voting together|
|Divided Democratic caucus||93.1%|
I've modified the table this time to try to make the votes clearer to you guys.
The problem with the previous summaries is that Senate parliamentary procedure makes it unclear as to what a vote means.
Let's assume that Senator Sanders offers an amendment to a establish single-payer health care.
A "YEA" vote on parliamentary questions related to that amendment can be either good or bad.
The "YEA" vote would generally be the good on parliamentary questions related to it, including:
- Motion to waive the Congressional Budget Act
- Motion to invoke Cloture
- Motion to proceed
- Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed
- Is the Amendment Germane?
However, if, say, Senator Ensign made one of the following motions, the good vote would be "NAY"
- Sustain the point of order that the amendment violates ...
- Motion to table
So instead, I'm changing the table a little bit, as follows,
- Removing the "Specific Question" column since that doesn't seem to be clarifying things at all for people
- Putting more information in the "issue being voted on" column for those who don't have time to read through the whole thing.
- IMPORTANT: Instead of putting the way they voted (YEA or NAY), I am putting what the vote shows about the Senator's position on the issue, i.e whether they are for the issue (FOR) or against the issue (AGN)
Hopefully this will make things easier to understand for everybody.
As before, a ??? in the progressive position column means the progessive position is unclear.
|Issue being voted on||Progressive Position||Clinton||Obama|
|Prohibit Spouses and Immediate Family Members from being on Campaign Payroll||FOR||AGN-||FOR+|
|Strengthen Earmark Reform||???||AGN||FOR|
|Establish Senate Office of Public Integrity, an independent commission to enforce ethics rules in the Senate||FOR||AGN-||FOR+|
|Confirm General George Casey to be U.S. Army Chief of Staff||???||AGN||FOR|
|Sunset the Homeland Security Bill after 5 Years so it can be re-addressed||???||AGN||FOR|
|Require Regulations for the Transportation of High Hazard Materials||FOR||AGN-||FOR+|
|Pay for security at Party Nominating Conventions in Emergency Approprations Bill||???||FOR||AGN|
|Water Resources Commission to Prioritize Water Projects||FOR||FOR+||AGN-|
|Remove the requirement that "guest workers" leave the United States before they are able to renew their visa||FOR||AGN-||FOR+|
|Prevent Expansion of REAL ID||FOR||AGN-||FOR+|
|Total for 2007||+1||+5|
1. Vitter amendment to "prohibit authorized committees and leadership PACs from employing the spouse or immediate family members of any candidate or Federal office holder connected to the committee."
In retrospect, it looks like he just offered this amendment so he could keep his wife Wendy away from him and allow him the freedom to get spanked by prostitutes while on the campaign trail without fear of getting caught.
However, be that as it may, this was a very good amendment. John Doolittle(CA-4) is the primary offender (although there are plenty of others) who made this amendment necessary. His leadership PAC has paid his wife Julie, as a "commission," 15% of all the funds it has raised Essentially, this has allowed Rep. Doolittle to take nearly $140,000 in bribe money between 2003 and 2006 in a manner that was (and still is, since the Vitter amendment was defeated) 100% legal. Sadly, although many Republicans supported the amendment (although many of the ones up for re-election next year, including Alexander, Coleman, Collins, Sessions and Sununu) only the four most hard-core reform Democrats (Feingold, Harkin, Kerry, Obama) as well as Bayh, Cantwell, Landrieu, Mikulski, Tester and Wyden voted against tabling, so the motion to table carried 54-41.
On the motion to table the Vitter amendment;
- Clinton voted YEA along with 36 other Dems and 17 Republicans
- Obama voted NAY along with 10 other Dems and 30 Republicans
- Boxer voted PRESENT
- Brownback, Crapo, Inouye and Johnson did not vote
2.DeMint amendment to strengthen earmark reform
This amendment replaced the earmarks section (Section 103) of the Reid-McConnell bill with a new earmarks section.
It seems that the definitions of "earmark" and "targeted tax benefit" in the DeMint amendment are more comprehensive, so that more earmarks and targeted tax benefits would have to be disclosed under the rules specified by the DeMint amendment than by the Dem caucus bill. However, it's not clear-cut, so it's ranked as an unsure progressive position (unlike #1, where despite most Democrats voting against it, closing a bribery loophole is still progressive).
``(a) the term `congressional earmark' means a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process;
``(b) the term `limited tax benefit' means--
``(1) any revenue-losing provision that--
``(A) provides a Federal tax deduction, credit, exclusion, or preference to 10 or fewer beneficiaries under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; and
``(B) contains eligibility criteria that are not uniform in application with respect to potential beneficiaries of such provision; or
``(2) any Federal tax provision which provides one beneficiary temporary or permanent transition relief from a change to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
``(1) the term `earmark' means a provision that specifies the identity of a non-Federal entity (by naming the entity or by describing the entity in such a manner that only one entity matches the description) to receive assistance and the amount of the assistance;
``(2) the term `assistance' means budget authority, contract authority, loan authority, and other expenditures;
``(3) the term `targeted tax benefit' means--
``(A) any revenue provision that has the practical effect of providing more favorable tax treatment to a particular taxpayer or limited group of taxpayers when compared with other similarly situated taxpayers; or
``(B) any Federal tax provision which provides one beneficiary temporary or permanent transition relief from a change to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
Again, most Democrats (and some Republicans, although oddly not Ted Stevens) stuck with the Dem leadership while the 4 most-reform oriented Democrats (Feingold, Harkin, Kerry, Obama) and 6 others went with the stronger, more transparent version.
- Clinton voted YEA
- Obama voted NAY
- Brownback, Inouye and Johnson did not vote.
3. Lieberman amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity
This was the same amendment that was introduced in 2006 and covered here in the 2006 diary.
I'll just repost Senator Obama's statement from then (since neither he nor Feingold nor Kerry [all of whom co-sponsored this amendment] made any statements on this year).
Last month I introduced legislation to create an outside congressional ethics enforcement commission that would be staffed by former judges and former Members of Congress from both parties. Under my proposal, any citizen could report a possible ethics violation by lawmakers, staff, or lobbyists. My commission would have had the authority to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas, gather records, call witnesses, and provide its full public report to the Department of Justice or the House-Senate ethics committees.
I knew this proposal would not be the most popular one that I introduced in Congress, but I didn't anticipate the deafening silence that greeted it. Change is difficult and Members of Congress are understandably concerned about delegating investigations of their own conduct to an outside body, but I hope, when my colleagues learn a little more about the amendment I am offering with Senators COLLINS, LIEBERMAN, and MCCAIN, that they will understand an independent ethics factfinding body is not only a good idea but a necessary idea.
Earlier this year, I was asked by the Minority Leader to take a lead role in crafting ethics legislation. I was glad to assume that role because I believe that the foundation of our democracy is the credibility that the American people have in the legitimacy of their Government. Unfortunately, over the past few years, that legitimacy has been questioned because of the scandals we have here in Washington.
But one of the greatest travesties of these scandals is not what Congress did, but what it didn't do.
Time and time again over the past few years, the House Ethics Committee has looked the other way in the face of seemingly obvious wrongdoing, which has the effect of encouraging more wrongdoing. In those few instances when the committee has taken action, its leadership was punished, and it ceased to become an effective body. Coupled with a Federal Election Commission that was deliberately structured to produce deadlock, this has produced a dangerous outcome
And so, we can pass all the ethics reforms we want--gift bans, travel bans, lobbying restrictions--but none of them will make a difference if there isn't a nonpartisan, independent body that will help us enforce those laws.
That's why I come to the floor today to support this amendment for an Office of Public Integrity. The office is the next critical step in the evolution of ethics enforcement in the Senate and vital to restoring the American people's faith in Congress.
This amendment doesn't have quite the same level of independence as the outside commission that I proposed setting up. But it does have much more independence than the current system, and for that reason I wholeheartedly endorse it and am proud to be a cosponsor.
The Office of Public Integrity established in this amendment would provide a voice that cannot be silenced by political pressures. It would have the power to initiate independent investigations and bring its findings to the Ethics Committees in a transparent manner. Final authority to act on these findings would remain with the members of the Ethics Committees, which would satisfy constitutional concerns.
On adoption of the Lieberman amendment
- Obama voted YEA, along with 21 Democrats, Collins, Graham, Grassley, McCain and Snowe
- Clinton voted NAY, along with 43 Republicans and 27 Democrats
- Brownback and Johnson did not vote.
4. Confirmation of General George Casey to be Army Chief of Staff
General Casey had actually been pissing off President Bush with a fixation too greatly on withdrawal (i.e. not 100% toeing the Bush line), so Bush decided to replace him as Iraq commander with Dave Petraeus, and instead keep him here as Iraq Army Chief of Staff. The issue at hand was whether General Casey bore enough fault for the quagmire to preclude his being confirmed to this position. Bayh, Clinton, Feinstein and Harkin chose to vote NAY (along with 10 Republicans). Everyone else voted to confirm him. Granted, Bayh, Clinton, and Harkin have been some of the least willing to confirm Bush appointees [although all four of them did vote for the war], but given the statements by other Dems in the Congressional record, I have to rate it as questionable.
Feinstein explains here how she did feel Casey's service precluded him from doing so [although she was careful to note that her vote was mostly a vote for accountability of the Bush adminisgtration]. I found no statements in the record on General Casey's confirmation by Bayh, Clinton or Harkin.
On confirmation of George Casey:
- Obama voted YEA, along with 82 other Senators
- Clinton voted NAY along with Bayh, Feinstein, Harkin, Bond, Bunning, Chambliss, Coburn, DeMint, Ensign, Graham, McCain, Smith and Sununu
- Johnson, Martinez and Voinovich did not vote
5.Coburn amendment "To provide that the provisions of the Act shall cease to have any force or effect on and after December, 31, 2012, to ensure congressional review and oversight of the Act."
On this particular act, forcing reauthorization and congressional oversight by sunsetting the bill in 5 years can't really be categorized as either progressive or non-progressive. Although on some national security acts (like the Military Commissions, Protect America and Patriot Acts), a sunset provision would clearly be progressive, this act didn't have any serious civil liberties questions to warrant it, but then again, oversight can't really be considered non-progressive.
Coburn's reason for offering it was part of his crusade to rein in what he considers unnecessary federal spending, but this amendment doesn't do anything to actually reduce any spending unless it had been approved and in 2012, Congress decided to reduce spending as part of their reauthorization (which is highly unlikely).
Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the amendment offered by my good friend from Oklahoma that would sunset the provisions of this bill after 5 years.
In general, I think this is a very good bill. But I have serious reservations about the method by which this bill allocates State homeland security grants.
Last week, I came to the floor to offer an amendment to make this funding allocation more based on risk. My amendment was an attempt to meet the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that ``[h]omeland security assistance should be based strictly on an assessment of risks and vulnerabilities [and] federal homeland security assistance should not remain a program for general revenue sharing.''
That is why my amendment sought to send the most dollars to those areas at the greatest risk of an attack. As compared to the funding formula in the underlying bill, my amendment would have better protected our borders, our ports, our railroads, our subways, our chemical plants, our nuclear power plants, our food supply, and our firefighters, police officers and EMTs.
Unfortunately, my amendment was defeated, as was a similar amendment offered by Senators FEINSTEIN and CORNYN. I think this was an unfortunate mistake by the Senate, and I am hopeful that this mistake will be corrected in conference.
If the funding formula is not fixed, however, I believe it is perfectly appropriate for us to reexamine this issue 5 years from now to ensure that the allocation of homeland security funding provides the necessary resources to communities most at risk.
For this reason, I will support the amendment offered by my colleague from Oklahoma
Senator Obama had offered an amendment to change the homeland security grant allocation formula to be based more on actual risk to each state, by reducing the guaranteed percentage of the total appropriations of those grants to 0.25% percent for each state. He was worried that the Conference Report would fail to include something to fix the funding formula.
I'm not going into huge detail on that amendment since Clinton supported it [obviously as a New York Senator it couldn't hurt her state] (although Dodd and Biden chose to support guaranteed pork over actual risk-based allocation, which I consider despicable), but I will quote Dianne Feinstein.
Al-Qaida and its allies do not attack based on an obscure formula to spend money evenly
That's basically all that can be said about those allocation amendments.
On the motion to table the Coburn amendment,
- Clinton voted YEA, along with 46 other Democrats as well as Bennett, Bond, Bunning, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Lott, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens and Voinovich
- Obama voted NAY, along with 35 Republicans, Leahy and McCaskill
- Johnson and McCain did not vote
6. As bad as Joe Biden's been when it comes to favoring the profits of MBNA over the fiscal situation of his constituents, when it comes to the profits of DuPont over the safety of his constituents, he seems to favor his constituents.
This amendment would have allowed cities and states to reroute the transportation of hazardous materials to stop them from being transported through densely populated areas.
This is all about rail safety. The Federal Government currently has no say on where 90-ton rail tankers, filled with chlorine or other hazardous chemicals, are shipped around the Nation. The Naval Research Laboratory, at my request, some months ago, issued a report. The context of my inquiry with them was: What would happen if one of these 90-ton chlorine gas tanker cars exploded--for example, where a terrorist put C-2 underneath there in a populated area and blew it up?
What made me think of it was, you may remember almost 2 years ago now, out in North Dakota, one of these tankers leaked, and the end result was a number of adjoining towns, small towns, had to be evacuated because it was so deadly.
So I asked the question of the Naval Research Center. As you know, some of our best scientists in the world are there. I asked: What would happen? What would happen if a 90-ton tanker containing chlorine were to be blown up in a major metropolitan area?
The answer was ``over 100,000 people could be seriously harmed or even killed in the first half an hour.'' Let me say that again. One of these tankers filled with chlorine gas--and there are hundreds, up and down the road, going through major metropolitan areas, from Los Angeles to New York and everywhere in between--what would happen if a terrorist were to explode one of those in a major metropolitan area? The answer was: ``over 100,000 people could be seriously harmed or even killed in the first half an hour.''
Said another way: What happens if one of these is blown up in a freight yard in Philadelphia, PA, right along the Schuylkill River, 10 blocks, 15 blocks from City Hall, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University--a very populated area? Within one-half hour, 100,000 people could be seriously harmed or even killed.
How long would it take to evacuate that area? Imagine evacuating downtown New York City, Baltimore, Miami, Seattle--you name the city.
So what is the problem? Well, the problem is--and we have seen in recent reports--insurgents in Iraq are using chlorine in their attacks on civilians. There is little doubt terrorists who are targeting us here at home are paying attention. In these roadside bombs, they are--thank God they have not gotten it down very well yet--but they are injecting chlorine into that carnage they cause because they know the consequence of the dissemination of the highly toxic substance in a populated area.
the Chamber of Commerce is opposed because it costs more money. A lot of these things cost more money. Will it cost more money to be able to reroute up to one-third of 1 percent of the freight on rail? Yes. But I ask the rhetorical question: What will it cost if one of these tankers goes off in a populated area? What will the cost then be to the very businesses that are most concerned about it?
Are you going to put a different population at risk? Yes, about one-tenth, one-twentieth, one one-hundredth or one one-thousandth of the population, depending on where it is rerouted. So it is a little bit like saying: Why do we spend so much money worrying about the Sears Tower? It is there, it is big, and it is a target. Is it possible that a terrorist would go into a building that is two stories and blow it up? Yes. Can they fly an aircraft into a rural town grain elevator? Yes. But that is not what we are worried about. They are not likely to do that. They are likely to fly a plane, plant a bomb, do something devastating where the most people are.
So I find it to be a totally disingenuous argument. This is about the bottom line. I measure the bottom line--as I suspect all of us would if we thought about it--in human life.
The bottom line, in terms of the dollars, the impact that would occur in a catastrophic circumstance is if there is a town of 1,000 people and a town of 6 million people, there is a phenomenal difference whether that chlorine gas tanker car gets exploded.
Let me summarize. It is indicated by the Department of Homeland Security again that an explosion of a rail tanker carrying chlorine would kill 17,500 individuals, require the hospitalization of another 100,000--and only then if we evacuate within a half an hour. We can evacuate a city of 1,000 people in half an hour. We cannot evacuate a city of 4 million people in half an hour. So it matters.
If this rail tanker goes off in New York City, my friend from New York is going to be on the floor again pointing out the catastrophic impact. If it goes off in rural Delaware, it will be a tragedy for me and my constituency, but there will be a significant magnitude of difference.
- Clinton voted YEA along with 72 other Senators
- Obama voted NAY, along with Durbin, both Senators from CA, CT, DE, MA, NJ, PA, RI and WI, as well as Bayh, Brown, Byrd, Klobuchar, Levin, McCaskill and Reid
- Johnson and McCain did not vote
Tom Coburn offered an amendment to eliminate funding for security at the party nominating conventions in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul from the emergency supplemental approprations bill.
The first amendment I will talk about is $100 million that is an emergency to fund increased security at the conventions, both in Minneapolis-St. Paul and in Denver. We have known we were going to have conventions every 4 years for a long time. Never before have we funded the security required for these conventions out of an emergency bill. So in essence, what we are going to do is we are going to have two big parties and we are going to send the bill for those parties to our grandkids.
The first amendment I have actually eliminates that $100 million. We have plenty of time under the regular appropriations process with which to supply the money within the budget guidelines. Every billion we spend outside of the budget guidelines means that is another billion which is going to be spent inside, which means we are actually doubling the spending. Something that should have been inside, now we are going to spend outside of the budget. We are going to charge it to our children, and then we are going to spend more money.
This is another vote that can't really be categorized (and the only Democrats to speak on it were the two Senators representing the states where the conventions will be). I mean, you certainly can't say it's non-progressive, but can you really say that subsidzing party conventions is progressive? I don't think you can (although I do find it interesting that Obama voted for the amendment even though the convention might be nominating him).
At any rate, now we know Minneapolis-St. Paul doesn't lack in security forces, given that they have time to wait around in bathrooms to try to catch wayward Senators (I believes this calls for a posting of HayDuke865's awesome modification of the Republican convention logo
- Obama voted YEA, along with 37 Republicans, Bayh, Bingaman, Feingold, harkin, Lincoln, McCaskill and Tester
- Clinton voted NAY along with most Democrats, the two Republicans from the convention states, half the Republicans who'd been in the Senate since before 1992, and Bob Bennett
- Enzi, Johnson, McCain and Ben Nelson did not vote.
Russ Feingold has been crusading against what he feels are wasteful water projects for many years. This amendment would have established a Water Resources Commission to prioritize water projects. Since the League of Conservation Voters has often supported measures to eliminate water projects and Feingold said it won support of some conservation groups (although I couldn't find anything as to their stance on this amendment and of course they won't release a scorecard until after the primaries), I'm going to rate supporting this amendment as progressive. However, I'll also present statements by both Feingold and by Barbara Boxer (who in addition to being a progressive is Chairwoman of Environment & Public Works), and you can choose who you agree with.
Mr. President, last week I spoke at length on my prioritization amendment. I urge all my colleagues to support the Feingold-McCain-Coburn-Carper-Gregg-Sununu- DeMint amendment.
This important amendment would help jump-start a process for ensuring that limited taxpayer dollars go to the most worthy water resources projects.
Right now, Congress does not have any information about the relative priority of the nearly $60 billion authorized but unbuilt corps projects. What we do have is individual Members arguing for projects in their States or districts, but no information about which projects are most important to the country's economic development or transportation systems, or our ability to protect citizens and property from natural disasters.
This amendment would create a temporary group of water resources experts to do two things: (1) make recommendations on a process for prioritizing corps projects; and (2) analyze projects authorized in the last 10 years or that are under construction, and put similar types of projects into tiers that reflect their importance. This would be done with clear direction to seek balance between the needs of all States.
This information will be provided to Congress and the public in a nobinding report. That is--Congress and the public get information to help them make decisions involving millions, even billions, of dollars. We need to get ideas on the table, and I think my colleagues will agree that a report with recommendations to Congress is a good, commonsense first step.
The New Orleans Times Picayune certainly does. Just yesterday, the paper editorialized in favor of my amendment and stated:
Using objective criteria rather than political clout to decide what should be done is a smart, reform-minded step.
This amendment also has the support of a number of taxpayer and conservation groups.
I thank Senator Feingold for being a leader on Corps reform. I don't view this amendment as reform. My colleague says we have to take the politics out of the decisionmaking process. Well, the fact is, his commission is a political commission appointed by the President, appointed by the Speaker, the minority leader, and so on. So he is taking the decisions, in many ways, away from us. Therefore, I call this the ``we have met the enemy, and it is we'' amendment--taking the power away from us to decide what is important in priorities and adding another layer of bureaucracy in political appointees, who are now going to slow things down.
We do have problems. It has taken 7 years to get to this point with WRDA. There are checks and balances every step of the way. We have very tough criteria in this bill. I know the occupant of the chair knows that because he is on the committee.
Senator Inhofe and I have said the locals have to pay their share. The cost/benefit ratio has to be in place. Everything has to be thought through. The Corps has to make their report. They come to the committees, and they go through authorization and appropriation.
I hope we will vote no on this amendment.
On adoption of the Feingold amendment
- Clinton voted YEA, along with Allard, Bingaman, Burr, Carper, Casey, Coburn, Collins, Corker, Dodd, Feingold, Gregg, Kohl, Landrieu, Lieberman, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Sanders, Sununu, Voinovich and Webb
- Obama voted NAY along with 68 other Senators
- Brown, Brownback, DeMint, Dole, Domenici, Durbin, Johnson, McCain and Rockefeller did not vote.
Bingaman/Obama amendment to "To remove the requirement that Y-1 nonimmigrant visa holders leave the United States before they are able to renew their visa."
My amendment applies only to this new guest worker program we are creating under the bill, the so-called Y-1 program. It doesn't impact the Y-2 program, which is the seasonal and nonagricultural program that is based on the existing H-2B program, or the H-2A program, which is the agricultural temporary worker program.
Under this immigration bill as it now stands, Y-1 workers--guest workers, which is how we refer to them--would be able to work in the United States for three 2-year work periods. But before they could renew their visas for the second and the third of those 2-year work periods, they would have to leave the country for at least a year. This is the so-called 2-1-2-1-2 provision. Work for 2 years, leave for 1 year, work for 2 years, leave for 1 year, work for 2 years, and then leave for good. The total number of work years in the United States would be limited to 6 years, but the work pattern would be interrupted twice each time by a 1-year absence requirement.
The amendment I have offered, and that we will be voting on in a few minutes, simply removes the requirement these guest workers leave the country before they renew their visas. It would leave in place the term of the visa, which is 2 years, and it would not alter the 6-year total work limit that is provided for in the bill. In addition, it would modify the requirement that Y-1 workers meet all of the relevant requirements under the program each time they apply to renew their visas.
Over the last 2 days, I have come to the floor to discuss this provision a couple of times. I strongly believe it does not make any sense from a policy standpoint and, ultimately, we are going to be judged by how much sense this legislation makes. As I have pointed out, this provision is bad for employers; it harms American workers; it will be difficult and costly to implement; and it will likely encourage these workers, whom we are bringing here as so-called guest workers, to overstay their visas.
For these reasons, my amendment has the broad support of labor groups, such as the Service Employees International Union; business organizations, such as the National Association of Home Builders and the Associated Builders and Contractors; and immigration and religious groups, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American Association of Immigration Lawyers, and the National Immigration Forum. The coalition of organizations supporting this amendment is indicative of how harmful the 1-year absence requirement would be from a variety of different perspectives.
I ask unanimous consent that following my remarks, the following material be printed in the Record: the statement that was issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a letter by the Associated Builders and Contractors Organization, a letter by the National Association of Home Builders, and a statement by the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union.
Statement by the SEIU on the amendment:
SEIU strongly support the removal of the requirement that Y-1 temporary workers leave the U.S. for at least 1 year before renewing their visas. While we are willing to accept a temporary worker program in exchange for legalization of the 12 million undocumented living among us, we are very disappointed with the guest worker program contained in the ``Grand Bargain''. This is why the Bingaman/Obama amendment is critical and would improve workers ability to stay employed during the entire period of their Y visa. When temporary workers are working in year round jobs it is more difficult for all workers to raise their wages and improve their working conditions. The Y-1 visa program as it is currently drafted will ensure wage depression for all workers, because it will ensure workers leave their jobs every two years. Employers will be less likely to invest in worker training or offer benefits and wages to retain workers. Removing the 1 year return requirement will help all workers raise the wages, gain job experience and receive valuable training to improve the job skills. The 2-1-2-1-1 is a recipe for wage depression, job turnover and increased illegal workers, as history has demonstrated--guest workers will overstay their visas, when they have no legal channel to remain in the country.
We thank Senator Bingaman and Senator Obama for their continued leadership on comprehensive immigration reform. SEIU urges all Senators to vote for this improving amendment.
Alison Reardon, Director of Legislation, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Senator Obama co-sponsored the amendment, and had the following to say:
Mr. President, I come to the floor today to speak in favor of the Bingaman-Obama Y-1 guest worker amendment.
The Bingaman-Obama amendment removes the requirement that Y-1 visa holders under the new guest worker program leave the United States for at least 1 year before renewing their visas. Designing a worker program where people are supposed to come to the U.S. for 2 years, leave for a year, return for 2 years, leave for a year, and then return for 2 years is a recipe for creating a new undocumented population.
Our amendment does not modify the overall number of permissible work years, which would still be limited to a total of 6 years, and it doesn't change the term of the visa, which would still be 2 years. In order to renew their visa, applicants would still have to demonstrate that they are eligible to meet the requirements of the program. The amendment maintains the general structure of the program, but revises it in a manner that makes the program more workable.
We need to pass this amendment because the process in the underlying bill is costly and burdensome on employers, especially small businesses. Requiring employers to rehire and retrain workers every 2 years imposes unnecessary costs and creates instability in the workforce.
The underlying language is also harmful to American workers. The 1-year absence requirement would ensure that guest workers are always at the lowest end of the pay scale, which would depress overall wages. And the system as now designed provides an additional incentive for guest workers to overstay the term of their visas. Rather than returning to their home countries after their 2-year visas expire, many workers will just remain in the United States and become undocumented immigrants.
In short, the temporary worker design in the bill is unworkable and difficult to enforce. It is unlikely that the government will be able to sufficiently track the entry and exit of these workers to ensure that they comply with the 1-year absence requirement. By removing the 1-year requirement to leave the country between renewals we would at least be making the program workable.
Our amendment has the support of a variety of labor, business, immigration, and religious groups. Specifically, the Service Employees Union International, SEIU, the National Association of Homebuilders, NAHB, the Associated Builders and Contractors, ABC, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the National Immigration Forum, NIF, have voiced their strong support of this amendment.
On adoption of the Bingaman/Obama amendment
- Obama voted YEA along with 37 Democrats, Coburn, Hagel and Shelby
- Clinton voted NAY along with 46 Republicans, Byrd, Dorgan, Feinstein, Kennedy, Klobuchar, Levin, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Rockefeller, Salazar, Stabenow, Webb
There wasn't much debate about this amendment. However, the American Civil Liberties Union chose to rate this amendment, which they strongly supported.
Here is the ACLU statement:
The Baucus/Tester Amendment would have removed Real ID compliance provisions from Title III of the legislation, as well as eliminated a proposal to demand that every worker in America have a Real ID-compliant driver's license by 2013 in order to get any new job. The ACLU supported the Baucus/Tester Amendment and opposed the motion to table it because of the grave risk that Real ID poses to Americans' right to privacy, as well as the massive, unfunded mandate it imposes on state governments.
You can read more on the problems with the REAL ID Act at the site the ACLU has created to oppose it, realnighmare.org
On the motion to table the Baucus/Tester amendment
- Clinton voted YEA, along with 29 Republicans, Boxer, Byrd, Carper, Dodd, Durbin, Feinstein, Inouye, Kennedy, Klobuchar, Kohl, Lieberman, Bill Nelson, Reid, Salazar and Schumer
- Obama voted NAY along with 32 Democrats and a hodgepodge of Republicans (needless to say, they included Larry Craig and David Vitter, who, of course, have/had a REAL good reason not to wanted to be ID'd
- Biden, Johnson and McCain did not vote.
Now, since I still have space left before I hit the character limit, let me explain why I'm doing Hollings vs. Edwards next. There were complaints that it was unfair to compare the record of a southern red-state Senator to a Senator from New York. I suppose those complaints have some merit. So, I decided to find a Southern red-state Senator to compare him to for 1999-2004. There are 13 states in the greater South, 11 in the former Confederacy as well as Kentucky and Oklahoma. Of those states, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas had no Democratic Senators during Edwards' time in the Senate.
Of the 7 remaining, we have to eliminate Arkansas, because when Edwards was elected, Arkansas was blue by a margin of 16.94, larger than Minnesota's blue margin of 16.14, and I know there'd be a ton of complaints of unfairness if I were to compare Edwards to Paul Wellstone. We also have to eliminate Louisiana, because when Edwards was elected, Louisiana was blue by a margin of 12.07, larger than Wisconsin's blue margin of 10.33, and I know there'd also be a ton of complaints of unfairness if I were to compare Edwards to Russ Feingold. Florida was blue by a margin of 5.7, and there'd probably be complaints there even if it wasn't. That leaves Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Now, we want someone who was there during the whole time period Edwards was in the Senate. Chuck Robb lost in 2000, so he's out. Cleland lost in 2002, so he's out. Zell Miller was appointed in 2000, so he's out. That leaves Fritz Hollings of South Carolina. When Edwards was elected, South Carolina was red by a margin of 6.04, larger than North Carolina's red margin of 4.69. Moreover, Hollings works very well because he and Edwards decided to leave the Senate in the same year, so for 2003-2004 they both no longer has to worry about their Southern constituency.