Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Senate’

Senate Passes $106 Billion War Funding Bill

June 19, 2009

Despite Predictions, Opposition Never Materialized

by Jason Ditz,, June 18, 2009

Despite predictions that the “emergency” war funding bill would face a battle in the Senate similar to the one it saw in the House of Representatives, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill with no new alterations, at a vote of 91-5.

Sen. Gregg with President Obama

Earlier in the week the House of Representative passed the bill 226-202, and that was only after weeks of haranguing Democratic Congressmen who opposed the bill to change their vote in the name of loyalty to President Obama. Even then, many expressed dissatisfaction with the bill.

Not so in the Senate, where there was considerable complaining that the bill contained a lot of superfluous funding for things that had nothing to do with the war but the only serious challenge came when Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) tried to strip a $1 billion provision. When that failed, what remained of the opposition seemed to dry up entirely. The five no votes included 3 Republicans, Sens. DeMint, Enzi and Coburn, Independent Sen. Sanders, and Democratic Sen. Feingold.

That $1 billion was set aside for a “cash for clunkers” program to subsidize the purchase of new cars. The measure was unsurprisingly praised by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. Other complaints, including the massive loan guarantee to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been expected to be a major issue, as it was in the House of Representatives, but at the end of the day it doesn’t appear to have cost the bill any votes.

Obama dealt Guantanamo setback

May 21, 2009
Al  Jazeera, May 21, 2009

Obama is expected to outline his plan for the 240 Guantanamo detainees on Thursday [EPA]

The US senate has denied funding for Barack Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre by January, voting instead to keep it running indefinitely.

The senate voted on Wednesday to block any transfer of prisoners to facilities on the US mainland, saying they wanted to first see a detailed plan from the president on what would happen to the men.

The crushing 90-6 bipartisan vote comes a day before Obama is scheduled to outline his plan for the 240 detainees still being held at the much-criticised detention centre.

Obama had requested for $80m to transfer the remaining detainees before shutting down the facility at the US naval base in Cuba by January 2010.

The vote comes on the heels of a similar move last week in the House of Representatives.

The Republicans in recent weeks have also called for keeping the Guantanamo prison open.

Plan outline

The White House said after the vote that Obama would reveal details of his plans for the prisoners in a speech on national security on Thursday.

There are concerns over the security risks of bringing the detainees into the US [EPA]

“The president understands that his most important job is to keep the American people safe and that he is not going to make any decision or any judgment that imperils the safety of the American people,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said.Gibbs said Obama had not decided where some of the detainees would be sent but added that the president “understands that there aren’t any easy decisions in this” but was determined to work with congress to fulfil his pledge to shut the place down.

Wednesday’s vote drew criticism from the Pentagon which said legislators were making it “exceedingly difficult” to meet the president’s January deadline.

The senate’s vote, however, is not the final word on the matter.

The congress is expected to complete work on the legislation next month, giving the White House time pursue a compromise that would allow Obama to fulfil his pledge.

Earlier the head of the FBI told a congressional panel about the risks involved in bringing Guantanamo detainees into the US.

Security risks

“The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing to terrorists, radicalising others with regard to violent extremism, the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States,” Robert Mueller, the FBI’s director, said.

“Guantanamo is used by al-Qaeda as a symbol of American abuse of Muslims and is fanning the flames of anti-Americanism around the world”

Dianne Feinstein, Democratic senator

Mueller said the threat of Guantanamo detainees radicalising others would apply even if they were held in supermaximum-security prisons on the US mainland.Also this week, John Bates, a US district judge, ruled that some of the prisoners could be held indefinitely at Guantanamo without being charged, increasing the pressure on the Obama administration to develop a plan.

The overwhelming senate vote against Obama’s plan was a victory for the Republicans, but Obama’s Democratic allies, even in voting to deny the funds to close the detention facility, insisted the president was fundamentally correct.

“Guantanamo is used by al-Qaeda as a symbol of American abuse of Muslims and is fanning the flames of anti-Americanism around the world,” Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator, said.

Paul Craig Roberts: America’s Shame

January 12, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts | Information Clearing House, January 8, 2009

Why does Israel have a right to exist, but Palestine doesn’t?

This is the question of our time.

For sixty years Israelis have been stealing Palestine from Palestinians. There are maps available on the Internet and in Israeli publications showing the shrinkage over time of what was once Palestine into what Palestine is today–a small number of unconnected ghettos or bantustans.

Palestine became “the occupied territory” from which Palestinians were ejected and Israeli settlements built for “settlers.” Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are full of refugee camps in which Palestinians driven off their lands by Israeli force have been living for decades.

Driving people off their land is strictly illegal under international law, but Israel has been getting away with it for decades.

Gaza is a concentration camp of 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages and collected in the Gaza Ghetto.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was created 60 years ago in
1949 to administer refugee camps for Palestinians driven from their lands by Israel. As of 2002, the registered Palestinian refugee population was 3.9 million.

Caterpillar Tractor makes a special bulldozer for Israel that is designed to knock down Palestinian homes and to uproot their orchards. In 2003 an American protester, Rachel Corrie, stood in front of one of these Caterpillars and was run over and crushed.

Nothing happened. The Israelis can kill whomever they want whenever they want.

They have been doing so for 60 years, and they show no sign of stopping.

Currently they are murdering women and children in the ghetto that they have created for Palestinians in Gaza. The entire world knows this. The Red Cross protests it. But the Israelis brazenly claim that they are killing “Hamas terrorists who are a threat to Israel’s existence.”

The American media knows that this is a lie, but does not say so.

Israel has been able to slowly exterminate a people for sixty years without provoking sufficient outrage to stop it.

The United States, “Christian America,” has been Israel’s greatest enabler in its long-term murder of the Palestinian people. Millions of “evangelical Christians” endorse Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The rest of the world condemns the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Ghetto. Last week the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli SS from Gaza.

The United States abstained.

While the rest of the world condemns Israel’s inhumanity, the US Congress–I should say the US Knesset–rushed to endorse the Israeli slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The US Senate endorsed Israel’s massacre of Palestinians with a vote of 100-0.

The US House of Representatives voted 430-5 to endorse Israel’s massacre of Palestinians.

The resolutions endorsed by 100% of the US Senate and 99% of the House were written by AIPAC, as were the speeches praising Israel for its inhumanity.

The US Congress was proud to show that it is Israel’s puppet even when it comes to murdering women and children.

The President of the United States was proud to block effective action by the UN Security Council by ordering the Secretary of State to abstain.

Be a Proud American. Swagger and strut. Pretend that you are not besmirched by the shame that your government has heaped upon you. Take refuge in your ignorance, fostered by 60 years of Israeli lies, that the murder of Palestinians and the theft of their lands is “Israel’s right of self-defense.”

US Senate supports Israel’s Gaza invasion

January 9, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voiced strong support on Thursday for Israel’s battle against Hamas militants in Gaza, while urging a ceasefire that would prevent Hamas from launching any more rockets into Israel.

The chamber agreed on a voice vote to the non-binding resolution co-sponsored by Democratic and Republican party leaders in the chamber.

“When we pass this resolution, the United States Senate will strengthen our historic bond with the state of Israel, by reaffirming Israel’s inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza, as well as our support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said before the vote.

Noting that Israel was bent on halting Hamas rocket fire into its southern towns, Reid said: “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

Co-sponsor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican said before the vote: “The Israelis … are responding exactly the same way we would.”

The House was expected to pass a similar resolution.

The Senate resolution encourages President George W. Bush “to work actively to support a durable, enforceable and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza as soon as possible that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets or mortars against Israel,” Reid said.

It also expresses an “unwavering” commitment to Israel’s welfare and recognizes its right to act in self defense to protect citizens against acts of terrorism, he said. “It allows for the long-term improvement of daily living conditions of the ordinary people of Gaza,” he said.

Palestinians faced even grimmer conditions in Gaza on Thursday after a U.N. aid agency halted work, saying its staff was at risk from Israeli forces after two drivers were killed.

The reported Palestinian death toll in the 13-day-old conflict topped 700. At least 11 Israelis have been killed, eight of them soldiers, including four hit by “friendly fire.”

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell, editing by Philip Barbara)

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