Politics

Republicans Should Secure Civil Rights For Citizens and Legislators

The House Republican leadership has rolled over and played dead as the Bush administration has trampled on Congressional authority on a range of issues from domestic wiretapping to the President's so-called signing statements. It is interesting to see them claim certain Congressional prerogatives in the midst of alleged criminal wrongdoing when they have looked the other way as the rights of American citizens have been compromised.
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We Cannot Sacrifice Governance While Honoring The Law

As a Member of Congress and as the former Attorney General of California, I have devoted myself to the adoption and enforcement of criminal laws in order to protect law-abiding citizens. It is my view that public corruption constitutes the gravest possible violation of the public trust. I have prosecuted elected officials for having breached the confidence placed in them by the voters in our state.

It is therefore my clear desire to see the law enforced to the fullest extent in any public corruption case. However, those of us who have been given the power to prosecute have a commensurate responsibility to respect the very law we have been tasked to carry out. We must keep in mind that the execution of the warrant in this case entailed the search of a Congressional office. It is not the personal office of a criminal defendant, but rather a facility within the larger complex which comprises the House of Representatives. It is the violation of the integrity of a co-equal branch of government which is at issue.

There was absolutely no reason that notice could not have been given to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to ensure that a search could be conducted while the same time securing the protection of papers and effects unrelated to the criminal investigation. The presence of House officials would have allowed the search to be conducted while preventing the possible compromise of personal information concerning constituents and other materials beyond the scope of the investigation. It is in this respect that the lack of any deference for the institution of the House of Representatives was equally a violation of the people we are elected to serve.

The extraordinary nature of this action taken by United States Department of Justice is evidenced by the fact that in 218 years of the history of our nation, there has never been a breach of this kind. The vigorous prosecution of criminal conduct does not require an abuse of institutional respect for co-equal branches of government which is inherent to the structure of constitutional governance.
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Control Of The Internet Must Remain With Users

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 5417, the "Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006," which I introduced with Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member John Conyers and Rep. Rick Boucher. This is the first bill with real protections for net neutrality that has passed any committee in Congress and I am proud to be a part of it.

The bill requires broadband providers to operate their networks in a non-discriminatory manner and makes sure that the phone and cable companies cannot favor or block access to the Web sites or online services that they pick instead of the consumer. It will keep the Internet an open and free marketplace of ideas and services chosen by consumers instead of big corporations. It will also guard against "the pipes" gleaning profits by creating a virtual toll road.

H.R. 5417 was introduced by a bipartisan coalition from the Judiciary Committee and passed out of the Committee by a vote of 20-13-1. 14 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted in favor of it and 13 Republicans voted against it. 1 Democrat voted present.

The Internet has revolutionized the way Americans communicate with one another and do business. It's only right to keep that revolution where it belongs - in the hands of net users instead of the phone and cable companies.
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No U.S. Dollars Before Serious Commitment to Human Rights By U.N.

In 1946, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was created to monitor and prevent the abuse of human rights. It failed miserably. The Commission lost its credibility as an instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission instead allowed repressive regimes, like Cuba, Sudan, Libya, Belarus, China, and Zimbabwe, to shield themselves from criticism for their own human rights violations.

On March 15, 2006, the Commission was replaced with a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). But while making superficial structural changes, there has been no reform. Indeed, the new elected membership includes nine countries that the democracy watchdog Freedom House designates as not free include China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, and Azerbaijan.


The U.S. should not support the UNHRC until it upholds the ideals of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and its membership is made up of free and democratic nations.
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Congress Must Flex Its Purse-String Powers

We are borrowing record amounts of money from other countries to fund our own federal government, but there is little to no accounting for how that money is being spent. Inspectors General in each agency identify waste, inefficiency, fraud and abuse that could save taxpayers billions of dollars.

No private business in this country could operate the way Washington is operating. Congress takes money from citizens involuntarily and appropriates it to an Administration. This Congress has completely abdicated its constitutional responsibility and obligation to hold this Administration accountable.

Congress does not ask how money is being spent, and if they did, the Administration couldn't answer. The citizens of this country should expect someone to account for where their tax money is going. My bill mandates that Congress explore financial mismanagement.
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VA Data Theft Must Be Addressed With Reform

You have 26.5 million potential identify theft victims as a result of this, and Rep. Simmons and I want to do everything possible to assist these veterans. Rep. Simmons is a veteran himself and we both have significant numbers of veterans living in our districts, so this problem strikes very close to home for us. Our bill is bipartisan and it calls for both some short term solutions and long term reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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The Do-Less Than Nothing Congress Must Provide Answers

This Congress is the 'Do-Less than the Do-Nothing Congress.' While Americans deal with skyrocketing health care costs and gas prices, and ask for comprehensive immigration reform and an increase in the minimum wage, the Republican leadership has Congress on track to meet fewer days than the infamous Do-Nothing Congress under President Truman fifty years ago. During the Memorial Day recess, Republicans will face tough questions from their constituents. They will be asked why seniors who were unable to navigate the confusing drug plan enrollment procedures are facing a lifetime tax. They will be asked why the Republicans passed a budget that makes the record deficits they created worse. And, they will be asked why Republicans' only idea on how to make America energy independent is more drilling.

Democrats have innovative policies to address America's challenges, and we look forward to working with the American people to make this country stronger at home and abroad.
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An Aggressive Approach To Anti-Aircraft Missiles

The US program for helping eliminate and secure shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles around the world is the State Department’s Small Arms/Light Weapons Destruction Initiative. It is currently funded at $8.75 million for FY 2006, and the Bush Administration has requested about the same amount for 2007. I was honored to join Chairman Royce in requesting that the appropriators provide full funding for this program, but I know we can do much more.

Therefore, HR 5333 would authorize $15 million in 2007 and $20 million in 2008 for these efforts under a Global Program for the Elimination of MANPADS (man-portable shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles) and Conventional Weapons. Given the severity and urgency of this problem, I would hope that we will spend even more than these modest amounts to destroy or secure these weapons in future years.

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Looking Forward to Working With Kempthorne

As Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, I am pleased I will be able to work closely with my friend Dirk Kempthorne as Interior Secretary. We have important work to do at Interior and I’ve discussed with Dirk my commitment to major rehabilitation for the St. Mary diversion facilities in Montana and the full funding of the Secure Rural Schools program. I congratulate Dirk on his confirmation and look forward to working with him in the near term on the important issues facing us.

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I Voted Against General Hayden

I voted against General Hayden.

I respect General Hayden’s lifetime of public service, and his testimony included some encouraging signs that he learned important lessons from the way intelligence was used to defend the Iraq war.

However, I cannot support General Hayden’s nomination in light of the very serious questions about the scope and legality of the NSA domestic surveillance programs that he helped design, implement, and defend.

Until there is a full accounting of the surveillance program, I cannot in good conscience support a promotion for its chief architect.

We all want the Administration to have strong leaders and the necessary means to gather the best possible intelligence for our foreign policy and national security, especially the war on terrorism.

Those critical goals require a Director of Central Intelligence who will work with Congress – not against us – in our efforts to prevent terrorism and improve our national security laws. We must protect the country while preserving our constitutional freedoms.

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