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Keith Ellison on Homeland Security

Democrat


Voted NO on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps.

    Congressional Summary: To prohibit Federal funding of National Public Radio and the use of Federal funds to acquire radio content, including:
  1. broadcasting, transmitting, and programming over noncommercial educational radio broadcast stations
  2. cooperating with foreign broadcasting networks
  3. assisting and supporting noncommercial educational radio broadcasting
  4. paying dues to such organizations
  5. or acquiring radio programs for public broadcast.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Blackburn, R-TN]: This bill gets the Federal Government--and Federal taxpayers--out of the business of buying radio programming they do not agree with. This is a bill that is long overdue. Regardless of what you think of NPR, its programming or statements by its management, the time has come to cut the umbilical cord from the taxpayer support that has become as predictable as an entitlement program. Much has changed in the media landscape since the 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.

Reference: FISA Sunsets Extension Act; Bill H.514 ; vote number 11-HV066 on Feb 17, 2011

Voted YES on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Responsible Electronic Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007 or RESTORE Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to provide that a court order is not required for electronic surveillance directed at the acquisition of communication between non-US citizens outside the US, whether or not the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US; and provides procedures when one party is located inside the US or is a US citizen.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. CONYERS: Earlier this year, in the Protect America Act, PAA, amendments were made to FISA, giving the Government enhanced flexibility to collect foreign intelligence information. But the broad scope of the authority without up-front court approval raised grave concerns about the need for more safeguards of innocent Americans' communications. The RESTORE Act improves upon the PAA by providing a series of checks and balances while still allowing maximum flexibility. The RESTORE Act does not require individual warrants when persons are abroad, but it is firm that a FISA warrant is required to obtain communications of people in the US.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. KING of N.Y.: Electronic surveillance is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal. The real enemy is al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, not our own government working so hard to protect us. The PAA updated FISA and struck the appropriate balance between protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks and protecting our civil liberties. Today's bill, the RESTORE Act, marks an undeniable retreat in the war against Islamic terrorism. It limits the type of foreign intelligence information that may be acquired and actually gives foreign targets more protections than Americans get in criminal cases here at home.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed, 213-197.

Reference: RESTORE Act; Bill H.R.3773 ; vote number 08-HR3773 on Mar 14, 2008

Voted YES on Veto override: Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations.

PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE:This bill would impede efforts to protect [against] terrorist attacks because it imposes several unnecessary and unacceptable burdens on our Intelligence Community. [I reject] subjecting two additional vital positions to a more protracted process of Senate confirmation [and I reject] a new office of Inspector General for the Intelligence Community as duplicative. [Most sigficantly,] it is vitally important that the CIA be allowed to maintain a separate and classified interrogation program, [and not] use only the interrogation methods authorized in the Army Field Manual on Interrogations. My disagreement over section 327 is not over any particular interrogation technique such as waterboarding. Rather, my concern is the need to maintain a separate CIA program that will shield from disclosure to terrorists the interrogation techniques they may face upon capture.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. REYES: This legislation goes a long way towards strengthening oversight of the intelligence community, which the President seems to consistently want to fight. That's why the President vetoed it. He wants the authority to do whatever he wants, in secret, with no oversight or authorization or without any checks and balances. Well, I don't agree. The Constitution gives us a role in this process. We do have a say in what the intelligence community does. That's why we need to override this veto.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HOEKSTRA: This bill fails to give the intelligence community the tools that it needs to protect the American people from radical jihadists. The debate on this authorization bill is not about a single issue, [waterboarding], as some would have you believe. It is about the need to ensure that we give the right tools to our intelligence professionals in this time of enhanced threat.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Veto override failed, 225-188 (2/3rds required)

Bill Veto override on H.R. 2082 ; vote number 08-HR2082 on Mar 11, 2008

Voted NO on removing need for FISA warrant for wiretapping abroad.

Vote on passage of S.1927, the Protect America Act: Amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to state that the restrictions on "electronic surveillance" should not encompass surveillance directed at any person reasonably believed to be located outside the US.

A modified version, S.2011, failed in the Senate; it called for amending FISA to provide that a court order is not required for the electronic surveillance of communication between foreign persons who are not located within the US for collecting foreign intelligence information, without respect to whether the communication passes through the US or the surveillance device is located within the US.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. LEVIN: Both bills cure the problem that exists: Our intelligence agencies must obtain a court order to monitor the communications of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities who are physically located in foreign countries. Now, what are the major differences? Our bill (S2011) is limited to foreign targets limited overseas, unlike the Bond bill (S1927), which does not have that key limitation and which very clearly applies to US citizens overseas. Our bill does not. Now, if there is an incidental access to US citizens, we obviously will permit that. But the Bond bill goes beyond that, citing "any person." It does not say a "foreign person." We avoid getting to the communications of Americans. There you have to go for a warrant.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: I will vote for the Bond proposal (S1927) because we are at war, & there is increased terrorist activity. We have a crisis. This proposal will allow us to gather intelligence information on that enemy we otherwise would not gather. This is not the time for striving for legislative perfection. Let us not strive for perfection. Let us put national security first. We are going to have 6 months to reason together to find something better.

Reference: Protect America Act; Bill S.1927 ; vote number 2007-0836 on Aug 4, 2007

Voted YES on restricting no-bid defense contracts.

  1. Improving the Quality of Contracts--to restrict the contract period of noncompetitive contracts to the minimum period necessary to meet urgent requirements; and not more than one year unless the the government would be seriously injured.
  2. Increasing Contract Oversight--to make publicly available (on websites) justification documents for using noncompetitive contract procedures.
  3. Promoting Integrity in Contracting--to prohibit former federal officials from accepting compensation from contractors as lawyers or lobbyists.

Proponents support voting YES because:

In Iraq, we were told we needed Halliburton to get a contract without any competition because they were the only ones who know how to put out oil well fires. So they got a contract on a cost-plus basis even though they had a history of overcharging the taxpayers. And then later we found out that they didn't do anything about putting out oil well fires in the first Gulf war; it was Bechtel, not Halliburton. Contractors were given special treatment by not having healthy competition.

In dealing with Hurricane Katrina, and we have seen the same mistakes again: No-competition contracts; cost-plus contracts. We have seen what the result has been: Wasted taxpayer dollars. This bill requires that if there is an emergency to give a contract, give it. But then have bidding within a year.

Opponents support voting NO because:

We support transparency and accountability in decision-making, but this bill asks for audit reports that are only advisory. To provide those to Congress not only gives you too much information, a lot of it can be misleading and can increase the number of contract disputes.

When you are fighting a war, you need to move quickly. You don't give a 6-month appeal to the folks that lose the competition. You don't give small business set-asides because there is one thing you don't have, you don't have time.

Reference: Accountability in Contracting Act; Bill H R 1362 ; vote number 2007-156 on Mar 15, 2007

Establish a Department of Peace and Nonviolence.

Ellison co-sponsored establishing a Department of Peace and Nonviolence

Establishes a Department of Peace and Nonviolence, which shall be headed by a Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Sets forth the mission of the Department, including to:

  1. hold peace as an organizing principle;
  2. endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights; and
  3. develop policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Rep. KUCINICH: HR808 gives the promise of transforming our country and the world. It is now supported by 52 Members of the House of Representatives, and it is supported by groups who yesterday came to Washington representing 45 States. Last night, nearly 1,000 people came to the George Washington University campus to hear about the Department of Peace and the hope that it brings for America.

If you were to look at the House Clerk's desk, just around the corner, you will see engraved right into the desk, the word "peace." Peace is a foundational principle of this Congress and of this country, and the bill gives it a chance to have an animating power in our civic life by addressing the issues of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the schools, racial violence, all of those concerns we have both domestically and internationally.

Source: Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act (H.R.808) 07-HR808 on Feb 5, 2007

Extend reserve retirement pay parity back to 9/11.

Ellison co-sponsored extending reserve retirement pay parity back to 9/11

    Congress makes the following findings:
  1. Since September 11, 2001, members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces have been sent into harm's way and fought alongside members of the regular components of the Armed Forces.
  2. Between September 11, 2001, and December 7, 2007, more than 600,000 members of the reserve components have been mobilized in support of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other contingency operations.
  3. More than 142,000 members of the reserve components have been mobilized more than once during this same period.
  4. On December 7, 2007, the conference report for H. R. 1585 offered an earlier retirement benefit for members of the reserve components who are mobilized in support of contingency operations.
  5. The House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to the conference report on December 14, 2007.
  6. However, the conference report only considers service performed after the date of the enactment, and this effective date fails to recognize the service and sacrifice made by members of the reserve components since September 11, 2001.
Source: Reservists Parity for Patriots Act (S.2836/H.R.4930) 07-S2836 on Dec 19, 2007

Include post-traumatic stress disorder in vet's disability.

Ellison co-sponsored including post-traumatic stress disorder in vet's disability

Full Faith in Veterans Act of 2008 - To accept as sufficient proof of service-connection of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) alleged to have been incurred in or aggravated by active military service a diagnosis of PTSD by a mental health professional, together with a written determination that such disorder is related to the veteran's service, if consistent with the circumstances, conditions, or hardships of such service, notwithstanding that there is no official record of such incurrence or aggravation during such service. Requires the Secretary to resolve every reasonable doubt in favor of the veteran. Allows PTSD service-connection to be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to:

  1. conduct audits of examinations of veterans who submit claims for disability compensation for PTSD;
  2. update the schedule for rating disabilities with respect to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other mental disorders;
  3. implement new PTSD criteria;
  4. implement a holistic treatment approach for veterans with PTSD; and
  5. require VA employees responsible for adjudicating disability compensation ratings to take into consideration veterans' treatment records from readjustment counseling centers and written opinions of mental health professionals.
Source: Full Faith in Veterans Act (H.R.5448) 08-H5448 on Feb 14, 2008

Study & address suicides among veterans.

Ellison co-sponsored studying & addressing suicides among veterans

Veterans Suicide Study Act - Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs conduct a study to determine the number of veterans who have committed suicide between January 1, 1997, and the date of the enactment of this Act. Congress makes the following findings:

Source: Veterans Suicide Study Act (S.2899/H.R.4204) 08-S2899 on Apr 22, 2008

Repeal Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, and reinstate discharged gays.

Ellison signed HR1283&S3065

Repeals current Department of Defense policy [popularly known as "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell"] concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces. Prohibits the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation against any member of the Armed Forces or any person seeking to become a member. Authorizes the re-accession into the Armed Forces of otherwise qualified individuals previously separated for homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the furnishing of dependent benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of 'marriage' and 'spouse' and referred to as the 'Defense of Marriage Act').

Source: Military Readiness Enhancement Act 10-HR1283 on Mar 3, 2010

Sponsored defunding nuclear-armed aircraft and nuclear R&D or testing.

Ellison co-sponsored SANE Act

Congressional Summary:Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act: Prohibits using funds in 2014 or thereafter:

  1. to arm a B-2 or B-52 aircraft with a nuclear weapon;
  2. for the research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) or procurement of a long-range penetrating bomber aircraft;
  3. to make the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons; or
  4. for the B61 or W78 life extension program.

Opponent's argument against bill: (Twitchy blog, "Who said what?", twitchy.com): North Korea has evidently been conducting nuclear device tests, and the timing couldn't be better, of course, as President Obama is expected to call for a reduction in nuclear arms tonight in his State of the Union address. Mass. Rep. Ed Markey is totall

Source: H.R.1506 13-H1506 on Apr 11, 2013

End bulk data collection under USA PATRIOT Act.

Ellison co-sponsored USA FREEDOM Act

Congressional summary:: Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act or the USA FREEDOM Act: