Voted NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad.
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007 or RESTORE Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to provide that a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of communication between non-US citizens outside the US, whether or not the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US; and provides procedures when one party is located inside the US or is a US citizen.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. CONYERS: Earlier this year, in the Protect America Act, PAA, amendments were made to FISA, giving the Government enhanced flexibility to collect foreign intelligence information. But the broad scope of the authority without up-front court approval raised grave concerns about the need for more safeguards of innocent Americans' communications. The RESTORE Act improves upon the
PAA by providing a series of checks and balances while still allowing maximum flexibility. The RESTORE Act does not require individual warrants when persons are abroad, but it is firm that a FISA warrant is required to obtain communications of people in the US.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. KING of N.Y.: Electronic surveillance is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal. The real enemy is al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, not our own government working so hard to protect us. The PAA updated FISA and struck the appropriate balance between protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks and protecting our civil liberties. Today's bill, the RESTORE Act, marks an undeniable retreat in the war against Islamic terrorism. It limits the type of foreign intelligence information that may be acquired and actually gives foreign targets more protections than Americans get in criminal cases here at home.
Voted NO on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations.
PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE:This bill would impede efforts to protect [against] terrorist attacks because it imposes several unnecessary and unacceptable burdens on our Intelligence Community. [I reject] subjecting two additional vital positions to a more protracted process of Senate confirmation [and I reject] a new office of Inspector General for the Intelligence Community as duplicative. [Most sigficantly,] it is vitally important that the CIA be allowed to maintain a separate and classified interrogation program, [and not] use only the interrogation methods authorized in the Army Field Manual on Interrogations. My disagreement over section 327 is not over any particular interrogation technique such as waterboarding. Rather, my concern is the need to maintain a separate CIA program that will shield from disclosure to terrorists the interrogation techniques they may face upon capture.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. REYES: This legislation goes
a long way towards strengthening oversight of the intelligence community, which the President seems to consistently want to fight. That's why the President vetoed it. He wants the authority to do whatever he wants, in secret, with no oversight or authorization or without any checks and balances. Well, I don't agree. The Constitution gives us a role in this process. We do have a say in what the intelligence community does. That's why we need to override this veto.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HOEKSTRA: This bill fails to give the intelligence community the tools that it needs to protect the American people from radical jihadists. The debate on this authorization bill is not about a single issue, [waterboarding], as some would have you believe. It is about the need to ensure that we give the right tools to our intelligence professionals in this time of enhanced threat.
Voted YES on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad.
Vote on passage of S.1927, the Protect America Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to state that the restrictions on "electronic surveillance" should not encompass surveillance directed at any person reasonably believed to be located outside the US.
A modified version, S.2011, failed in the Senate; it called for amending FISA to provide that a court order is not required for the electronic surveillance of communication between foreign persons who are not located within the US for collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. LEVIN: Both bills cure the problem that exists: Our intelligence agencies must obtain a court order to monitor the communications of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities who are physically located in foreign countries. Now, what are the major differences?
Our bill (S2011) is limited to foreign targets limited overseas, unlike the Bond bill (S1927), which does not have that key limitation and which very clearly applies to US citizens overseas. Our bill does not. Now, if there is an incidental access to US citizens, we obviously will permit that. But the Bond bill goes beyond that, citing "any person." It does not say a "foreign person." We avoid getting to the communications of Americans. There you have to go for a warrant.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LIEBERMAN: I will vote for the Bond proposal (S1927) because we are at war, & there is increased terrorist activity. We have a crisis. This proposal will allow us to gather intelligence information on that enemy we otherwise would not gather. This is not the time for striving for legislative perfection. Let us not strive for perfection. Let us put national security first. We are going to have 6 months to reason together to find something better.
Reference: Protect America Act;
; vote number 2007-0836
on Aug 4, 2007
Voted YES on restricting no-bid defense contracts.
Improving the Quality of Contracts--to restrict the contract period of noncompetitive contracts to the minimum period necessary to meet urgent requirements; and not more than one year unless the the government would be seriously injured.
Increasing Contract Oversight--to make publicly available (on websites) justification documents for using noncompetitive contract procedures.
Promoting Integrity in Contracting--to prohibit former federal officials from accepting compensation from contractors as lawyers or lobbyists.
Proponents support voting YES because:
In Iraq, we were told we needed Halliburton to get a contract without any competition because they were the only ones who know how to put out oil well fires. So they got a contract on a cost-plus basis even though they had a history of overcharging the taxpayers. And then later we found out that they didn't do anything about putting out oil well fires in the first Gulf war; it was Bechtel, not
Halliburton. Contractors were given special treatment by not having healthy competition.
In dealing with Hurricane Katrina, and we have seen the same mistakes again: No-competition contracts; cost-plus contracts. We have seen what the result has been: Wasted taxpayer dollars. This bill requires that if there is an emergency to give a contract, give it. But then have bidding within a year.
Opponents support voting NO because:
We support transparency and accountability in decision-making, but this bill asks for audit reports that are only advisory. To provide those to Congress not only gives you too much information, a lot of it can be misleading and can increase the number of contract disputes.
When you are fighting a war, you need to move quickly. You don't give a 6-month appeal to the folks that lose the competition. You don't give small business set-asides because there is one thing you don't have, you don't have time.
Reference: Accountability in Contracting Act;
Bill H R 1362
; vote number 2007-156
on Mar 15, 2007
Voted YES on allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant.
Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to allow the President & Attorney General to authorize electronic surveillance without a court order to acquire foreign intelligence information, after certifying that the surveillance is directed at the acquisition of communications of foreign agents.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Intelligence is the first line of defense in the war on terrorism. That means we have to have intelligence agencies and capabilities that are agile, that are responsive to changes in technology, and that also protect the civil liberties of Americans. Let me make an analogy. With modernization, we replaced Route 66 with Interstate 40. We no longer have the stoplights and the intersections. We created on ramps and off ramps and concrete barriers to protect the citizens where traffic was moving very quickly. That is like what we are trying to do here--FISA needs modernization.
Opponents support voting NO because:
We are legislating in the dark. We do not even know what the President is doing now because he will not tell us. The New York Times exposed that the administration had authorized secret surveillance of domestic conversations. When exposed, the President claimed he was operating under inherent powers, but court decisions have found that the President cannot simply declare administration actions constitutional and lawful, whether or not they are.
Yet rather than finding out what is going on, this legislation retroactively legalizes whatever has been going on. The President already has broad latitude to conduct domestic surveillance, including surveillance of American citizens, so long as it is overseen by the FISA court.
This bill does not enhance security, but it does allow surveillance without the traditional checks and balances that have served our Nation well.
Reference: Update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978;
; vote number 2006-502
on Sep 28, 2006
Voted YES on continuing intelligence gathering without civil oversight.
A resolution providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 5020) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2007 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities. Voting YES indicates support of the current methods for intelligence-gathering used by the CIA and other agencies. The resolution's opponents say:
This bill could have and should have required a dedicated funding line for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The 9/11 Commission recommended this board to serve as a civil liberties watchdog on the potential erosion of the basic constitutional rights. Now, 15 months later, we find our concerns about basic civil rights to have been well founded, but the oversight board is barely up and running [and is not funded].
Many of us believe that when the President authorized the NSA surveillance of Americans, he broke the law, plain and simple.
We are talking about the most basic fundamental civil liberties that protect the American people, and the Republican leadership will
not even let us debate it. What are they afraid of?
If you believe that this President should have the ability to spy on Americans without a warrant and without going to the FISA court, then they should write that bill and bring it to the floor, then have a debate and a vote.
The resolution's proponents say:
We have had the good fortune in this country for the last 4 1/2 years to have not had another terrorist attack on our soil, and it is not because they haven't tried. The reason for that success boils down to two things: the courage of our soldiers and the quality of our intelligence. Exceptional intelligence is the first line of defense for America in the long war on terrorism.
I think as a responsible body we have to start out by getting the facts. That means hard work that is done largely in secret. Oversight is under way, and, for the most part, the National Security Agency has been very forthcoming.
Voted YES on federalizing rules for driver licenses to hinder terrorists.
REAL ID Act of 2005: To establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driver's license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence.
Title I: Amendments to Federal Laws to Protect Against Terrorist Entry - defining more factors relevant to credibility determinations in asylum cases.
Title II: Improved Security for Driver's Licenses and Personal Identification Cards - setting minimum security requirements, including the incorporation of specified data, a common machine-readable technology, and certain anti-fraud security features. Title III: Border Infrastructure and Technology Integration - studying ground surveillance technologies.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner [R, WI-5];
; vote number 2005-031
on Feb 10, 2005
Voted YES on continuing military recruitment on college campuses.
Expresses the continued support of Congress for, and encourages the executive branch to continue challenging any judicial decision against, specified provisions of Federal law prohibiting making certain Federal contracts with or grants to institutions of higher education that prevent military recruiters from having access to their campuses and to certain information about their students.
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Rep Mike Rogers [R, AL-3];
; vote number 2005-016
on Feb 2, 2005
Extend reserve retirement pay parity back to 9/11.
Kuhl co-sponsored extending reserve retirement pay parity back to 9/11
Congress makes the following findings:
Since September 11, 2001, members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces have been sent into harm's way and fought alongside members of the regular components of the Armed Forces.
Between September 11, 2001, and December 7, 2007, more than 600,000 members of the reserve components have been mobilized in support of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other contingency operations.
More than 142,000 members of the reserve components have been mobilized more than once during this same period.
On December 7, 2007, the conference report for H. R. 1585 offered an earlier retirement benefit for members of the reserve components who are mobilized in support of contingency operations.
The House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to the conference report on December 14, 2007.
However, the conference report only considers service performed after the date of the enactment, and this effective date fails to recognize the service and sacrifice made by members of the reserve components since September 11, 2001.
Source: Reservists Parity for Patriots Act (S.2836/H.R.4930) 07-S2836 on Dec 19, 2007
Improve mental health care benefits for returning veterans.
Kuhl co-sponsored improving mental health care benefits for returning veterans
Honoring Our Nation's Obligation to Returning Warriors Act (HONOR Warriors Act): House version is H.R.6268; Senate versions are S.2963 and S.3008. Legislative Summary:
To improve and enhance the mental health care benefits available to members of the Armed Forces and veterans, to enhance counseling and other benefits available to survivors of members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.
Scholarship program for education and training of behavioral health care specialists for vet centers.
Eligibility of members of the armed forces who serve in operation Iraqi freedom or operation enduring freedom for counseling and services through vets centers.
Restoration of authority of vets centers to provide referral and other assistance upon request to former members of the armed forces not authorized counseling.
Treatment of suicides of certain former members of the armed forces as deaths in line of duty for purposes of eligibility of survivors for certain benefits.
Grants for non-profit organizations for the provision of emotional support services to survivors of members of the armed forces and veterans.
Pilot programs on awareness enhancement for members of the army regarding post traumatic stress disorder.
Source: HONOR Warriors Act (H.R.6268) 08-H6268 on Jun 12, 2008
Improve educational assistance for veterans.
Kuhl co-sponsored improving educational assistance for veterans
A bill to improve educational assistance for members of the Armed Forces and veterans in order to enhance recruitment and retention for the Armed Forces.
Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention, and Readjustment Through Education Act of 2008: to develop additional programs to enable members of the Armed Forces to attain a bachelor's degree while pursuing a military career.
Increases rates of educational assistance: (1) under the Montgomery GI Bill; (2) for members of the Selected Reserve.
Provides an annual stipend for individuals receiving basic educational assistance and pursuing a program of education at an approved institution of higher education.
Allows a member who has completed six years of service to transfer to one or more dependents any unused portion of the member's educational assistance entitlement.
Authorizes a member on active duty & entitled to basic educational assistance to use all or a portion thereof to repay any outstanding federal student loan.
Makes eligible for enrollment under the Montgomery GI Bill certain retired personnel originally enrolled in the veterans' educational assistance program.
Congress makes the following findings:
The World War II-era GI Bill assisted almost 8,000,000 members of the Armed Forces in readjusting to civilian life after completing their service to the nation.
The establishment of the All Volunteer Force in 1973 has produced highly professional Armed Forces.
The Sonny Montgomery GI Bill was enacted in 1984 to sustain the All Volunteer Force by providing educational benefits to aid in the recruitment and retention of highly qualified personnel.
The All Volunteer Force depends for its effectiveness and vitality on successful recruiting of highly capable men and women.
The achievement of educational goals, including obtaining the means to a college degree, has traditionally been a key reason for volunteering for service in the Armed Forces.
Source: Enhancement of Recruitment ThrU Education Act (S2938/HR5944) 08-S2938 on Apr 29, 2008
Set minimum spending on defense at 4% of GDP.
Kuhl co-sponsored setting minimum spending on defense at 4% of GDP
The resolution supports a base Defense Budget that at the very minimum matches 4% of gross domestic product:
Whereas the defense of the US is contingent unconditional moral and monetary support from the Congress;
Whereas the US is engaged in a long war with those who employ terror;
Whereas current equipment is being worn out and damaged and must be rebuilt or replaced;
Whereas there is a broad consensus that there must be significant personnel increases of 94,000 soldiers within the next 5 years;
Whereas the defense budget is scheduled to drop in the coming years, to just 3.2% of GDP by 2012;
Whereas a defense budget of 4% of GDP is far lower than during the Cold War and almost a full percentage point lower than the 'hollow force' era following the Vietnam War;
Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House, That it is the policy of the United States to commit a minimum of 4% of the Nation's gross domestic product to the base defense budget in order to meet the fundamental National security requirements of the United States.
Source: Resolution for Minimum Defense Budget (HJ.Res.67/SJ.Res.26) 2007-HJR67 on Dec 6, 2007