House passes NDAA, White House backs off veto threats

[UPDATE - 7:23pm] The United States Senate passed the NDAA this evening by a vote of 86 to 13. It will now head to President Obama’s desk for approval.

As noted yesterday, House and Senate conferees were moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) forward to the final action in both chambers with compromise legislation that kept in controversial language that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens and legal residents of the United States.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives passed the NDAA overwhelmingly last night by a vote of 283 to 136. You can see how your representative and the members of your state’s delegation voted here. It now heads to the Senate for final passage.

For those of you that are just now catching up on this, the House basically voted last night to suspend the right to due process, the right to a trial by a jury of an accuser’s peers, and the right to habeas corpus. And now that the so-called “war on terror” has been expanded to include not only al-Qaeda but also the Taliban and other “associated forces.” Given the war on terrorism has become an open-ended war with civil liberties being offered by Congress on the alter of the “national security,” this provision will be no doubt be abused; if not by this administration than the next.

It was also noted that the White House asked for the language, at least according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). So it should come as no surprise that the White House has backed off veto threats of the NDAA:

NDAA: Cracking Freedom’s Foundation

This evening, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives against Section 1021 — the indefinite detention language — of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed this evening. You can read my comments on this provision below the video:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in opposition to Section 1021 of the underlying Conference Report (H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act).

This section specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” – whatever that means.

Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know. The question is, “do we really want to find out?”

We’re told not to worry – that the bill explicitly states that nothing in it shall alter existing law.

BREAKING: Debt deal clears the Senate

The deal agreed to over the weekend by the White House and leaders from both parties to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending, or so they say, has cleared the Senate in a 74 to 26 vote. It will now head to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

It cleared the House last night by a vote of 269 to 161.

Why Rand Paul’s Recent “Loss” Was an Epic Win

During Rand Paul’s campaign to become Senator from Kentucky, he held a few positions that gave some of his father’s supporters pause. Specifically, his disagreement with Ron over the issue of criminal trials versus military tribunals was a point of contention making it difficult for some to back his candidacy without trepidation. Rand thought we should keep the tribunals while Ron was vehemently opposed to any trial that didn’t give the accused the best protection of his rights.

After this past week, It probably isn’t far fetched to say that any trepidation one may have had about Rand Paul’s commitment to the principles of freedom has vanished.

Paul managed to single-handedly take control of the Senate chambers in a heroic attempt to move the Senate to consider and debate the Patriot Act - something shockingly absent since it’s first passage. In fact, in 2001, when the Patriot Act was first introduced, a single Senator read the bill before casting a vote. The vote cast was a resounding “NO” by Russ Feingold, coincidentally, the only vote recorded in opposition to the bill.

Rand’s efforts were unsuccessful if you deem passage of the Act’s extension the sole measure of success. However, Rand did far more than capture the imagination and attention of the country for a suspenseful 36 hours, 7 of which were spent on the Senate floor.

Porkulus III Passes Senate With Republican Help

The Senate passed Porkulus III by a vote of 70-28 with 13 Republicans demonstrating their party’s new found fiscal conservatism by crossing over to vote with every Democrat present for the bill. Like the first Porkulus signed by George W. Bush in 2008 and the Porkulus II passed last year, Porkulus III forks over billions of borrowed dollars to fund various special interest projects and tax gimmicks in the name of “creating jobs”.

The gimmicks funded in this lastest round of Porkulus include a tax holiday for the remainder of the year on Social Security payroll taxes, but only if the company hires someone out of work for more than 60 days. In addition, Porkulus commits to billions in in more mass transit spending and more highway projects (ie. more pork barrel spending).

The Senate’s version of Porkulus must be sent over to the House where it must be reconciled with the House’s much more expansive $154 billion Porkulus bill. However, the Senate plans to pass more items in the House’s bill one at a time so that Senate Majority Harry Reid and other Democrat leaders can find out how much the prices of the votes of “fiscally conservative” Republicans are.

Included are proposed Senate bills giving away corporate welfare to ethanol producers, which is expected to be supported by farm state Republicans. In addition, there is another planned Senate bill to keep Americans out of work longer by extending unemployment benefits and COBRA.

The RINOs who supported Porkulus III today are:

Podcast: Liberty Candidate - Marlin Stutzman (U.S. Senate - Indiana)

Continuing our “Liberty Candidate Series” of interviews, Jason and Brett talk with Marlin Stutzman, discussing the retirement of Evan Bayh (D-IN), Hoosier jobs, energy policy, and fiscal conservatism.  Stutzman is one of five Republican candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat this year.

This special edition podcast is the seventh in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide.

You can download the podcast here. The introduction music is “Silence is Violence” by the always lovely Aimee Allen.

You can subscribe to the RSS of JUST our podcasts here, or you can find our podcasts on iTunes here.

Bayh’s Retirement Not Hurting Democrats As Much As Most Think It Will

After absorbing the news from every outlet on earth yesterday, even our own editor’s take, on the “surprise” retirement of Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh, I have to say that analysts are not considering all the “good” that can come from his retirement from the U.S. Senate.  It seems that everyone predicts a Republican to pick up his seat in November.  Lately, I have been among the few to see some things that ebb against the accepted flow in analyzing races and situations.  This is another such ebb.

I think the reason that Bayh waited until Presidents’ Day to announce his retirement was to prevent someone relatively unknown, like Tamyra d’Ippolito, from garnering the nomination without a primary election AND without their seal of approval by collecting the requisite signatures necessary to get on the primary ballot.  The Democrats have an opportunity to select a candidate, since it seems that d’Ippolito did not achieve the 4500 signatures necessary to get on the ballot.  If she had, that is the WORST CASE SCENARIO for Democrats.  By waiting, Bayh almost assured that the state Democrat Party could spend time vetting, choosing and fundraising for someone “moderate” enough to win the state, but “progressive” enough to fully support the agenda of the party for the next six years.  While d’Ippolito likely fills out the latter, there is no chance she can accommodate the former.

Podcast: MA Senate Race, Airport Security, Council of Governors, Guest: Pete Eyre

Jason and Brett broke from the traditional news discussion this week, as they talked with Pete Eyre, former Crasher-In-Chief at Bureaucrash, and currently working with the Future of Freedom Foundation, discussing political philosophy while also touching on a few news stories from the week:

Podcast: TSA, Yemen, Filibuster, Ben Nelson, Guests: Jason Cecil, Jimmie Bise PART ONE

Jason and Brett jump into 2010 with a podcast, joined by two guests, Jason Cecil, current Southeast Director for Young Democrats of America and immediate past president of Young Democrats of Georgia, and Jimmie Bise, political and pop culture commentator at The Sundries Shack blog and The Delivery podcast.

The discussion went so well (and long), they split the podcast into two installments, with the second part publishing tomorrow available here.

In the first part, they discuss:

Choice for the GOP

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate with Al Gore and ardent John McCain supporter, is considering a move to the GOP. According to this story from Politico, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has approached Lieberman and discussions have taken place.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), is apparently upset at Lieberman’s support for McCain which was cemented with his speech at the Republican National Convention in September. Lieberman, who has served in the Senate since 1989, had to run as an independent in 2006 after losing in the Democratic primary. He has continued to caucus and align himself in the Senate with the Democrats.

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