Friday, June 19, 2009

HR 2868 Markup Hearings

I almost did not write this blog this afternoon, it is late Friday afternoon and few people will see this. Besides most of the information was posted on Twitter (PJCoyle) more or less as it happened. But here it is any way since this blog is more ‘permanent’ than Twitter. The hearing started yesterday morning but was effectively stopped by a long series of procedural votes on the House Floor that were beyond the control of the Chairman. Even today’s hearing was interrupted twice buy more reasonable voting requirements on the Floor. Then the hearing was cut a little short so that people could catch flights home. To allow for a full discussion of the amendments being considered, Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member King agreed to hold roll call votes until next week (5:30 pm, Tuesday, June 23rd). The Amendments Here is a quick summary of the amendments and their outcomes. Thompson – An amendment in the nature of a substitute. Actually this was a combination of a number of amendments from various committee members (mostly Democrats) that the Chairman and Ranking member agreed were relatively uncontroversial, so they were all rolled into one amendment and the resulting re-worded bill is now the ‘original’ bill. Passed on voice vote. Lungren – Add IST appeals process before Administrative Law Judge. Approved on voice vote. Dent – Modify IST provision to require the Secretary to consider affects on employment levels when making implementation decision. Passed on voice vote. Broun – Remove IST assessment requirements for Tiers 3 and 4. Remove IST mandatory implementation requirement. Failed on recorded vote 11-15. Souder – Modify definition of ‘measures to reduce consequence of terrorist attack’ to include some security measures. Failed on recorded vote 11-16. Austria – Exempt ‘small business’ from IST requirements. Mr. Pascrell offered ‘perfecting amendment’ that would have removed exemption but would require DHS Secretary to report on IST affects on small business. Perfecting amendment passed on recorded vote 18-11. Amended Austria amendment passed on recorded vote 29-0. Jackson-Lee – Two amendments considered en bloc. Change DHS citizen suit action time from 60 to 120 days. Removed language requiring community notification from §2103. Passed on voice vote. Dent – Strike §2111 (IST). Failed on recorded vote 11-14. Cao – Require DHS to hire 100 additional CFATS inspectors in FY 2010 and FY2011. Passed on voice vote. Cao – Modifies definition of ‘employee representative’ to only include people working at that facility. Failed on voice vote. Braun – Require termination of any employee found to have disqualifying factor on background check. Failed on voice vote. Bilirakis – Provide DHS with direct hire authority for DHS inspectors for the next two years. Failed on recorded vote 11-17. McCaul – Strikes civil suits language and replace with requirement for DHS IG to investigate complaints. Failed on voice vote; recorded vote on Tuesday. Broun – Strike §2116 (Civil Suits). Failed on voice vote; recorded vote on Tuesday. Austria – Require DHS to establish tip line to receive reports of security issues. Passed on voice vote. Souder – No explanation was given for this amendment which everyone supported. Passed on voice vote. Broun – Requires termination of employees that are found to be illegal aliens during background check. Passed on voice vote. My Comments Chairman Thompson and Mr. King are working hard together to run a collegial committee and strive for a bipartisan effort in developing the legislation. There are still some serious philosophical differences on IST and Civil suits. I doubt that the minor changes that have been made will be sufficient to provide the Chairman with a Republican co-sponsor on the legislation. Having said that, there will not be bitter opposition to the bill in committee, so he might get a pro forma vote or two from the Republicans. The Committee votes on Tuesday evening will mean that the document of ‘Committee Actions’ will not be on the Committee web site until some time Wednesday. I doubt that the report will be out until the week of the 29th. The bill still has to go through the wringer in the Energy and Commerce Committee, so I doubt that this will come to the floor before the 4th of July recess.

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