Mike Lee on Homeland Security
That is why I worked diligently on a bipartisan and bicameral basis to produce the USA Freedom Act. As with any legislation, the USA Freedom Act is not perfect. It does end the bulk collection of phone records and other data by our nation's intelligence agencies, but it also represents compromises by the intelligence community and civil libertarians.
These programs are set to expire on June 1. I do understand that many of my colleagues, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, have very honest and substantive problems with the USA Freedom Act. Unfortunately, that debate may no longer be possible before these programs expire. The best way forward now is for the Senate to quickly pass the USA Freedom Act as-is and go back later to make any changes.
Lee opposes the passage of START and the CTBT; Granato supports passing both.
Lee opposes passing the CTBT because, he said, it's better for the U.S. to decide whether to test its nuclear weapons rather than signing on to a treaty that would tie its hands in the future. And after looking seriously at the issues, Lee said the treaty could limit the nation's ability to develop weapons it might need in the future. "No one that I'm aware of is calling for any kind of detonation testing right now, but it doesn't seem like it's a good option to take that off the table," Lee said. Lee also opposes ratification of START, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to mark up in September after the congressional recess.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Smith, R-TX]: America is safe today not because terrorists and spies have given up their goal to destroy our freedoms and our way of life. We are safe today because the men and women of our Armed Forces, our intelligence community, and our law enforcement agencies work every single day to protect us. And Congress must ensure that they are equipped with the resources they need to counteract continuing terrorist threats. On Feb. 28, three important provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire. These provisions give investigators in national security cases the authority to conduct "roving" wiretaps, to seek certain business records, and to gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group. The Patriot Act works. It has proved effective in preventing terrorist attacks and protecting Americans. To let these provisions expire would leave every American less safe.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Conyers, D-MI]: Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows a secret FISA court to authorize our government to collect business records or anything else, requiring that a person or business produce virtually any type record. We didn't think that that was right then. We don't think it's right now. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. And so I urge a "no" vote on the extension of these expiring provisions.
Status: Passed 86-12
Congressional Summary:Expressing the conditions for the US becoming a signatory to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Opponent's argument against bill:(United Nations press release, June 3, 2013):
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon str
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014 or the USA FREEDOM Act: Congressional Summary:
Opposing argument: (ACLU, "Surveillance Reform After the USA Freedom Act", June 3, 2015): The USA Freedom Act that passed by a 67-32 margin is not as strong as we wanted. It is markedly weaker than the original version of the USA Freedom Act that the ACLU first supported in 2013. We supported a sunset of the provisions in an effort to advance more comprehensive reform, including rejecting surveillance through cybersecurity information-sharing legislation. Notwithstanding this, however, it is very clear that the USA Freedom Act is a historic step forward.
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute , "Cato scholars differ on USA Freedom Act", Oct., 2015): The privacy community remained divided over the USA Freedom Act. The final version of the bill reauthorized several expiring Patriot Act provisions, but limited bulk collection. Some legislators argued that to pass new legislation would only provide the government convenient new legal justification for its spying--which it would interpret broadly. On the opposite side of the argument stood some pro-privacy groups who held that modest reforms were better than no reforms at all.
Congressional summary:: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act or the USA FREEDOM Act:
Opponent's argument against (Electronic Frontier Foundation): The bill only addresses a small portion of the problems created by NSA spying. It does not touch problems like NSA programs to sabotage encryption standards; it does not effectively tackle the issue of collecting information on people outside of the US; and it doesn't address the authority that the government is supposedly using to tap the data links between service provider data centers, such as those owned by Google and Yahoo. The bill also does not address excessive secrecy; it won't deal with the major over-classification issues or the state secrets privilege.
Opponent's argument against (J. Kirk Wiebe, former NSA Senior Intelligence Analyst interview with TheRealNews.com): It's window dressing. Stopping bulk collection is a good step, but the only thing that's going to fix this is direct access into NSA's databases by an independent group of hackers, techie types, people like Snowden who know how to get into a network and look at things and verify that the data they're collecting and what they're doing with it complies with the Constitution. The NSA has essentially operated illegally--unconstitutionally--for 60% of its existence.
Congressional Summary: To extend and enhance limitations on the transfer or release of individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay. No amounts appropriated for any agency of the US Government may be used, for two years, to construct or modify any facility in the US, to house an individual detained at Guantanamo.
Proponents reasons for voting YEA: Rep. WALORSKI: 21 terrorists have been released just in November alone to foreign countries. This measure would repeal current law that has allowed the administration to transfer prisoners to foreign countries and reduce the population at GTMO down to 127. Detainees at GTMO pose a real threat to our national security. HR 401 would prohibit any detainee transfers to Yemen. Yemen's branch of al Qaeda was founded by former GTMO detainees. We cannot risk trusting the world's most dangerous terrorists to its most dangerous places, nor should we simply cut them loose in rich, stable countries with no security safeguards in place.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (CloseGuantanamo.org article, Jan. 2015): The prison at Guantanamo Bay has been open for 13 years. In 2009, President Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year. Yet it remains open, undermining America's values and national security. Almost half of the remaining 122 prisoners--55 men in total--were cleared for release in 2010 through 2013. Some of these men were previously cleared by the Bush Administration--some as long ago as 2004. It is unacceptable that the U.S. government continues to hold men that its own national security experts have recommended for release or transfer, and that Congress has intervened to maintain this deplorable state of affairs. We call for the immediate closure of Guantanamo. Guantanamo harms our nation every day it stays open, and it continues to serve as a potent symbol for terrorist recruitment.
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Aimee Winder Newton
Senate races 2019-20:
AK: Sullivan(R,incumbent) vs.Gross(I)
AL: Jones(D,incumbent) vs.Sessions(R) vs.Moore(R) vs.Mooney(R) vs.
AR: Cotton(R,incumbent) vs.
AZ: McSally(R,incumbent) vs.Kelly(D)
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DE: Coons(D,incumbent) vs.Scarane(D)
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Senate Votes (analysis)