Amendments and Possible Veto
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1996 (Senate - August 04, 1995)
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
Mr. DOLE. I wonder if the managers might be in the position to indicate now if they have any opportunity to find out how many amendments are remaining and if we can reach some agreement on the number of amendments.
As I understand, there are no amendments on this side. Well, I think two exceptions--one, I think, may be part of the managers' amendment; one may be offered by the Senator from Colorado. He has been negotiating with the other side. So, I would say at mos t there are maybe two or three amendments on this side of the aisle.
I do want to commend the managers. We wasted 5 hours yesterday on this bill. Then we had 7 hours--was that yesterday?--so long ago, the day before, I guess. We had 7 hours on one amendment. So I think if you take out those 12 hours, we made a lot of progr ess on this bill. But I get the strange feeling that there are a number of people on the other side who do not want the bill to ever pass. If that is the case, they might as well be up front about it, and we can take the next step.
So we are down to about at least two or three amendments on this side.
Mr. DASCHLE addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I do not know, I guess I would have to go back and look and see how many amendments are offered every year on this bill normally. I would guess it is somewhere between 80 and 100.
I have been able to poll most of our colleagues. Two or three are not here and had specifically listed a number of amendments. But we have been able to tabulate the number. It is at least 41. And to my knowledge, except for Senator Bingaman, there are no Senators on our side who are prepared tonight to enter into a time agreement.
So, this bill will be debated for some time to come, if each of these Senators can be accommodated. But that is where we are right now.
Mr. DOLE. I would say, as far as absent Senators, if we are going to start accommodating absent Senators, we will never get anything done around here. We accommodated Senator Bumpers because of the special circumstance. I understand Senator Pryo r has an amendment on the bill tomorrow. We are trying to accommodate him because of an illness in the family. I am not suggesting that.
But if absent Senators are going to determine what the rest of us do who stay here, then we will never finish any bill. But it is pretty clear from the leader there is no intention to let us pass this bill. That follows the pattern we have had all year lo ng, to slow down every time you get close. `Wait a minute. Let's don't pass this. We don't like the ABM vote. We don't like some of the other votes.' It makes it very difficult for the majority leader, whether it happens to be a Democrat or Republ ican, when there is no cooperation.
And we do not have much leverage except for nominations and other things that we can hold up. And we will do that. We will do that. But I would rather work something out where we do precisely--can we get a list of the 41 amendments? That would be fewer th an the 105 amendments we had earlier. Can you identify the 41 amendments?
Mr. DASCHLE. I think we would be prepared to list them. In fact, they are listed.
Mr. DOLE. It says `relevant.'
Mr. DASCHLE. That is as good as we can do. We cannot list the specific issues in some cases because the Senators have not been prepared to list them tonight. No one told them tonight they had to list exactly what the topic is or the time agreement of whic h they would have to debate the amendment. All they were required to do is list the fact that they were relevant. They have done that. We are prepared to give that list to the majority leader and go from there.
Mr. DOLE. Will somebody hand it to me? Who has it?
Mr. DASCHLE. We are going to have to work through the longer list that we had. We have been able to get to the point where I think we have a list of 41.
Mr. DOLE. We ought to vote tonight. Are there any amendments on this side that we can get a time agreement on?
Does the Senator from Arizona have an amendment? We will work on this side of the aisle, if they do not want to work on that side of the aisle.
The Senator can offer his amendment.
Mr. NUNN. I can say to the majority leader one little note of at least slight encouragement. There has been a crosswalk between the ones that we have both been working on to clear and the 41 listed. We have 16 that we know we cleared on both sides. We can handle those tonight. And we have 10 more that we are working on to clear. That is 26 total amendments. The last 10 have not all been cleared. Some of them--we think that most of them will be cleared. So that is 26 amendments. We have a correlation betwe en that list and the 41 amendments listed here. That can be done. When it is done you can have a different picture. You can have, instead of 41 amendments, you could conceivably have half that number.
And that gets within reach.
Mr. DOLE. There were about 18 cleared last night. It is not that we have not taken care of a lot of amendments for, I guess, Members on both sides of the aisle. I think the managers are prepared to look at others, if they can be negotiated; is that correc t?
Mr. NUNN. Right.
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1996 (Senate - August 04, 1995)
Is the Senator from Iowa a supporter of the amendment?
Mr. HARKIN. This Senator is supportive of the Brown amendment. I would like to speak on it. I feel very strongly about it.
Mr. SARBANES. Will the majority leader yield so I can put one quote in the Record, because I think it is very important to get the context of this correct.
The Senator from Colorado suggested that the purpose of the aid was not to dissuade them from acquiring a nuclear explosive device. I simply want to quote from letters to the Congress from President Reagan and President Bush who said:
The proposed United States assistance program for Pakistan remains extremely important in reducing the risk that Pakistan will develop and possess such a device. I am convinced that our security relationship and assistance program are the most effective m eans available for us to dissuade Pakistan from acquiring nuclear explosive devices. Our assistance program is designed to help Pakistan address its substantial legitimate security needs, thereby both reducing incentives and creating disincentives for Pak istani acquisition of nuclear explosives.
So that was clearly the rationale. The nonproliferation laws would have banned any aid to Pakistan. The Pressler amendment provided an exception to that. The rationale for doing that was to try to dissuade Pakistan from going nuclear, and they took almost $3.5 billion as part of that deal and went nuclear anyhow.
So, finally, in 1990, President Bush says, `I cannot do this waiver anymore. I cannot make this certification.' And that is when the assistance stopped.
I have a number of other quotes from high officials in both the Reagan and the Bush Administrations during this period making exactly this point in terms of the rationale for this.
I thank the majority leader.
Several Senators addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
Mr. DOLE. I wonder if I might suggest that we set aside this amendment, and the discussion that was going on beforehand might be continued either tonight or tomorrow. There apparently is some progress being made with all the people involved. If that is sa tisfactory with the principal sponsor of the amendment, I would suggest we set this amendment aside and that perhaps there could be a further discussion. If they cannot agree, it would be back before us.
Would that be satisfactory?
Mr. BROWN. Yes.
Mr. DOLE. I ask unanimous consent that amendment be set aside.
Mr. HARKIN. Will the majority leader tell us when we are going to get back to this? I have not had the chance to talk about this amendment. I feel very strongly about it. It seems like the other side wants to bash Pakistan. They have had their chance.
Mr. DOLE. There are a number of people who support the amendment. But I think just in the interest of trying to move along here, it is 11:30 p.m., and we need to decide what to do with the other 61 amendments that are directly related to the Defense Depar tment authorization bill. This is not directly related, and I assume the others here, for the most part, are.
So I would have no objection if we are going to be here for some time--the Senator, even if it is set aside, could still speak to the amendment.
So if there is no objection, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be temporarily laid aside.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. THURMOND addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina.
Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, I am glad it is going to be set aside. I question whether this amendment is appropriate on this bill. This bill is a defense authorization bill. This amendment appears to be one that would be pertinent to the foreign operation s bill; in other words, the foreign affairs bill. It seems to me that, if we are going to bring up all kinds of amendments that do not concern this defense bill, we could be here days and days. I think the amendment ought to be withdrawn and brought up la ter on an appropriate bill, and that would be a foreign affairs bill.
Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, I thank the chairman. I think probably it is more appropriate, in the long run, on the State Department authorization bill. But if we are unable to get that, it will be on the foreign operations bill later on.
But I think that Senator Brown has agreed to set it aside, and have further discussion with those who are directly involved. And I know it is very, very controversial and very, very complicated. I have learned a lot just listening to the debate on the floor.
I hope we can maybe have an opportunity to discuss that tomorrow and see whether it will be resolved.
Mr. President, I have been handed by the Democratic leader a revised list of the amendments on that side. As I understand, the total number is 61, and I think 5 of the 61 have already been cleared, others are in the clearance process as I understand it. I do not know how many more might be in the process, but maybe another 5 or 10.
Mr. NUNN. My guess is of the 61 there are probably around 15 or more that have been cleared or are in the process of being cleared. And I also would say that there are a number of those 61 that I do not believe will require a vote. I think a number of tho se will disappear. So I really think we are talking about a list that is much shorter than 61.
Mr. DOLE. I think what I need to determine, because we have to decide what course of action to follow--if it is the intent not to let us pass the bill, then there is not much reason in trying to even take up the 61 or any of the 61 amendments.
But it would seem to me, if we are serious about this bill, if we intend to pass this bill and we come back to it tomorrow after disposition of the Postal, Treasury bill, then I would be prepared to recess and take up Postal, Treasury, come in at 8:30 and have opening statements. Then at 9 o'clock we will have the first amendment offered under a 3-hour time agreement.
But I might ask the distinguished Democratic leader, is there a possibility we can finish this bill tomorrow?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Democratic leader.
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I can say in all sincerity, it is not my wish to make the job, which is extremely difficult for the majority leader, any more difficult than it already is. He has been fair, and I respect his desire to want to finish this bill.
Let me be as candid and as frank as I can. We have had debate on some very consequential amendments in the last couple of days. On the basis of the outcome of those amendments, frankly, a lot of Members on this side believe there ought to be more discussion, more debate. We have been in consultation with the White House, and I have just received a letter from the assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Anthony Lake. I only read the last sentence:
Unless the unacceptable missile defense provisions are deleted or revised and other changes are made to the bill bringing it more in line with the administration policy, the President's advisers will recommend that he veto the bill.
I know that for a lot of Members who would like to see a conclusion to this bill, perhaps there are other ways and other opportunities to debate this issue but for many of our Members this is a very, very critical issue. There are other amendments. We are $7 billion over budget, and a lot of our Senators would like the opportunity to see if we can bring that cost down. They are concerned about the fact that this is $7 billion more than the administration requested. And while I am somewhat apologetic for the fact that we are having a debate here at 11:30 at night, just in the last 20 minutes I have asked my staff to share with me what has happened in past years.
In 1989, we spent 7 days and 105 amendments on this bill; in 1990, it was 105 amendments; in 1992, we spent 5 days with 87 amendments; in 1993, 5 days and 105 amendments; last year we spent 5 days on this bill with 123 amendments. We have been on this bill for a couple half days, and then yesterday virtually for the whole day, and today.
And so, Mr. President, again let me reiterate it is not my desire to complicate the life of the majority leader, but I must say in all honesty that we have some real serious problems with this bill. There are a lot of Senators who believe that we ought to debate it a lot longer--I am not suggesting necessarily a filibuster, but they believe there are some very significant issues that still have not been addressed to our satisfaction.
So we are not inclined at this point, frankly, to want to accommodate the majority leader, as much as I would like to personally, because of the concerns that people have for the legislation. And that is as frank an answer as I can give the majority leader.
Mr. DOLE. I appreciate that. I know that--at least I suspected there were a couple of amendments here that troubled the administration and troubled some Members on the other side. But, of course, the bill has to go to conference. Obviously, the President has great leverage in conference--the administration--because there are not enough votes to override a veto. The ABM vote was 51 to 48, 49. The other vote was five or six votes apart.
So it would seem to me what we ought to do is go through the process, go to conference, and then the President can decide when it comes out of conference to veto the bill. But to tell us at half the way, unless they get everything they want, they are going to veto the bill, in my view is not the wise course to follow.
There are a number of Members on both sides of the aisle who have spent weeks and weeks and months and months on this legislation, and they have been in good faith. We were going along at a pretty good pace, thought we would see the finish line, and then someone moved it. And I do not suggest that that has not happened before. We had 190-some amendments this morning. Now we are down to 61. So it would appear either they have disappeared or we have disposed of 130 of them, and many of these are in the process of being disposed of.
Even though all of these are disposed of, if we agreed right now that the two managers, which I would not object to, get up and say, `We accept all these amendments,' then could we go to third reading?
Mr. DASCHLE. We would not be prepared to go to third reading.
Mr. DOLE. I think that answers my question. There is no desire to pass this bill. And I do not fault the Democratic leader. I have probably stood on this floor in the same position, saying, `We do not want to pass this bill.' But I would like to pass some bill.
I know there are a lot of frustrations about August, and I put in the adjournment resolution as honestly as I could that we would like to be out of here by August 19. I would like to be out of here before August 19, like next weekend. But I do not believe that the majority leader has any choice, if we cannot complete our work by next Friday--and that would be this bill, the Treasury, Postal bill, DOD appropriations bill, and some disposition of welfare, and the Interior Appropriations bill--than to say we will be here the week after next. I may be the only one here, but we will be here, because it seems to me that this is very important business.
I hope the President will let us at least go through the legislative process, have the conference and then make a decision. But apparently that will not happen. So I think the only--this is sort of a finite list of 61 amendments? There will not be any, cannot be any additions, I guess.
Mr. DASCHLE. Under the unanimous consent agreement, as I understand it, there would not be any additional, but that is a finite list.
Mr. DOLE. So could I send this to the desk and say this is the new--do we have any amendments on this side? Are there any amendments to add to this?
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, if I could just clarify, that is as finite a list--I do not think we would be prepared to enter into a unanimous consent agreement because, frankly, we cannot even reach a couple Senators whose other amendments may or may not be added to that list. But I wanted to accommodate the majority leader as best as I could and to give him the most accurate information.
Having had the consultations I have had with virtually all of the Members of our caucus--there were some we could not talk to, could not reach--61 is my best estimate. But I would want to protect Members that I have not had the opportunity to talk with, s o I would not be prepared tonight to enter into any agreement that would preclude others from, who were originally protected from being protected after this list had been submitted. Mr. President, I made reference to the letter from Mr. Lake. I ask unanim ous consent to have it printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
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