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Sheldon Whitehouse on Homeland Security

Democratic Jr Senator, previously attorney general


Our presence in Iraq worsens situation in Israel

Q: If you were President of the United States right now, what would be your strategy in the Middle East?

CHAFEE: We have a lot of difficulties with our policy of unilateral pre-emption - where unilateral means one-sided. Our best policy now should be working with our allies and gaining more allies in the Mideast, instead of alienating some of the friends we’ve had. We need everybody on our side as we wrestle with the difficulties in the Middle East -- in Iraq in particular, and in those countries that surround Iraq - Turkey, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

WHITEHOUSE: There is a broader Middle East problem that has been made worse by our presence in Iraq. In those fronts, we need to strongly defend Israel. We need to do what we can to eliminate the terror capability of Hezbollah.

Source: 2006 RI Senate debate, by RIBA and WPRI-12 (X-ref Chafee) , Sep 13, 2006

No legitimate reason to bypass the FISA courts

Q: Do you think President Bush broke the law with his wiretapping program? Would you have voted yes or no for the recent renewal of the US Patriot Act?

A: I requested wiretaps as Attorney General I don’t believe the administration had legitimate reasons to bypass the FISA courts. I would have fought to remove Patriot Act provisions that undermine Americans civil liberties, including the national security letter and library search, and my vote would have depended on my success.

Source: RIfuture.org blog , Sep 12, 2006

Protect our rights AND protect our country

Lincoln Chafee stood with President Bush and Dick Cheney to support the reauthorization of the flawed Patriot Act. As a former Attorney General and US Attorney, I have experience with the important safeguards that are necessary when the government seeks to investigate its citizens. I believe that we can protect our country, while still protecting the rights and civil liberties of our people. This is another clear example of President Bush and the Republican leadership abusing their power and taking away the privacy rights of Americans. I believe we can protect our country against terrorism, while still protecting the civil rights and liberties of all Americans.

Sen. Chafee should not stand with President Bush and Vice President Cheney, but work to protect the civil rights of Americans. I encourage him to stand up for the people of Rhode Island and oppose President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s request to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Source: Press release, “Cloture on Patriot Act” , May 2, 2006

Don’t cut services for veterans

Sheldon Whitehouse today offered the following statement in recognition of US Servicemen and women who have and are making selfless sacrifices for their country. The campaign also noted Senator Chafee’s record of voting against measures to help our nation’s veterans as Whitehouse builds a strong grassroots organization within RI’s veterans community.

“Today, we pay tribute and our heartfelt respects to our servicemen and women. These men and women not only built the foundations of freedom and democracy, but also selflessly put country before themselves so that we may live in freedom. We owe it to our veterans to provide proper health care, proper retirement benefits and proper respect.

“Unfortunately, Senator Lincoln Chafee has chosen to side with President Bush and his Republican colleagues in cutting services to our veterans. That is wrong. Rhode Island and our veterans deserve a steady, reliable voice to represent their interests in the US Senate.”

Source: Campaign press release, “Veteran’s Day” , Nov 11, 2005

Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps.

Congressional Summary: A bill to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 relating to access to business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers, and roving wiretaps until December 8, 2011.

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

Reference: FISA Sunsets Extension Act; Bill H.514 ; vote number 11-SV019 on Feb 17, 2011

Voted NO on cutting $221M in benefits to Filipinos who served in WWII US Army.

Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. INOUYE. From the Spanish-American War in 1898, until the end of World War II, we exercised jurisdiction over the Philippines like a colonial power. In July 1941, we called upon the Filipinos to volunteer to serve the US under American command, and 470,000 Filipinos volunteered. An Executive Order in 1941 promised Filipinos if they fought for us, they could become citizens of the US and get all of the veterans' benefits. But in 1946, the Congress rescinded the 1941 act. Well, this veterans bill has a provision in it--a provision of honor--in which, finally, after six decades, we will restore our honor and tell the Filipinos: It is late, but please forgive us. Proponents argument for voting YEA:Sen. BURR. This bill is so much more than just a pension for Philippine veterans. It is $332 million in Philippine benefits, of which $221 million is devoted to a new special pension that does not exist [previously. Only that $221M would be cut]. Regardless of the outcome of my amendment, I support final passage of this bill. But we do have a difference as it relates to the pensions. I believe that there was not a promise made. We did not imply it. Those who made the decision on the 1946 Rescissions Act, they looked at the history very well.

Sen. CORNYN. The problem I have with this bill is that the US Treasury is not bottomless, and the funding that is being provided to create this new pension would literally be at the expense of US veterans. The $221 million that is addressed by Sen. Burr's amendment would actually go back in to supplement benefits for US veterans. And while we appreciate and honor all of our allies who fought alongside of us in WWII, certainly that doesn't mean we are going to grant pension benefits to all of our allies, [like] the British or the Australians. Vote for the Burr Amendment because certainly our American veterans should be our priority.

Reference: Burr Amendment; Bill S.Amdt. 4572 to S. 1315 ; vote number 2008-111 on Apr 24, 2008

Voted YES on requiring FISA court warrant to monitor US-to-foreign calls.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. FEINGOLD: The Protect America Act (PAA) we passed last year was sold repeatedly as a way to allow the Government to collect foreign-to-foreign communications without needing the approval of the FISA Court. Now, this is something all of us support, every one of us. But the PAA actually went much further. It authorized new sweeping intrusions into the privacy of countless Americans. The bill the Senate is considering to replace the PAA does not do nearly enough to safeguard against Government abuse. So this amendment would provide those safeguards.

[The PAA allows] acquiring all the calls and e-mails between employees of a US company and a foreign company, with no requirement to get a warrant and no requirement that there be some link to terrorism. So any American who works at a company that does business overseas should think about that.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. BOND: The purpose of this bill is, and always has been, to enable the intelligence community to act to target foreign terrorists and spies overseas.

The amendment, as it is drafted, will have a totally unexpected impact. It is difficult to explain, in an unclassified session, why this amendment is unworkable. There are only certain communications which the intelligence community is lawfully permitted to acquire, and which it has any desire to acquire, because to acquire all the communications from all foreigners is an absolutely impossible task.

I cannot describe in a public setting how they go about ascertaining which collections are important. But to say that if Osama bin Laden calls somebody in the US, we cannot listen in to that communication, unless we have an independent means of verifying it has some impact or a terrorist threat--That is the most important communication we need to intercept.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment Rejected, 38-57

Reference: Amendment to Protect America Act; Bill S.Amdt.3913 to S.2248 ; vote number 08-S012 on Feb 7, 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 nothing under its definition of "electronic surveillance" should encompass surveillance directed at any person reasonably believed to be located outside the US.

A modified version, S.2011, failed; 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 2007-309 on Aug 3, 2007

Voted YES on limiting soldiers' deployment to 12 months.

Vote on an amendment, SA2032, which amends HR1585, the Defense Authorization bill: To limit the deployment of a unit or individual of the Armed Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom to no more than 12 consecutive months; and to limit Marine Corps deployment to no more than 7 consecutive months; except in time of national emergency.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. HAGEL: The war in Iraq has pushed the US Army to the breaking point. When we deploy our military, we have an obligation to ensure that our troops are rested, ready, prepared, fully trained, and fully equipped. Today's Armed Forces are being deployed repeatedly for increasing periods of time. This is quickly wearing down the troops and their families, impacting the mental and physical health of our troops. Further, these deployments are affecting the recruiting and retention rates of the military. For example, the Army reached only a little over 80% of its recruiting goal for June. This is the second month in a row that the Army has failed to recruit the number of new soldiers needed to fill the ranks. And this is with $1 billion in large cash bonus incentives.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. KYL: Time in theater and dwell times should be a goal, rather than an absolute fixed requirement that becomes the policy of the US military determined by congressional action. By mandating a certain policy for deployment time or dwell time, the Congress is engaged in the most explicit micromanaging of what is obviously a function for the Commander in Chief and military commanders to perform. This is not something Members of Congress are knowledgeable about or would have the ability to dictate in any responsible fashion. It also would be unconstitutional. Clearly, the dwell times of troops or the amount of time in theater is an obligation of the Commander in Chief, not something for the Congress to determine.

Reference: Hagel Amendment to Defense Authorization Bill; Bill SA2032 to HR1585 ; vote number 2007-243 on Jul 11, 2007

Voted YES on implementing the 9/11 Commission report.

Vote on passage of a bill to implement unfinished recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) to fight the war on terror more effectively:

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

One of the authors of the 9/11 Commission report said, the President's announced strategy should be given a chance to succeed. That is what I think we should do, give this plan a chance to succeed. Our troops in theater, our commanders, and the Iraqi leaders all believe they can see early signs of success in this program, even though it has just begun, and they are cautiously optimistic that it can succeed. I think it would be unconscionable for the Congress, seeing the beginnings of success here, to then act in any way that would pull the rug out from under our troops and make it impossible for them to achieve their mission.

Reference: Improving America's Security Act; Bill S. 4 ; vote number 2007-073 on Mar 13, 2007

Extend reserve retirement pay parity back to 9/11.

Whitehouse 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

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

Whitehouse 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

Restore habeas corpus for detainees in the War on Terror.

Whitehouse co-sponsored restoring habeas corpus for detainees in the War on Terror

A bill to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Sen. SPECTER. "I introduce this legislation, denominated the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. Last year, in the Military Commissions Act, the constitutional right of habeas corpus was attempted to be abrogated. I say "attempted to be abrogated" because, in my legal judgment, that provision in the Act is unconstitutional.

"It is hard to see how there can be legislation to eliminate the constitutional right to habeas corpus when the Constitution is explicit that habeas corpus may not be suspended except in time of invasion or rebellion, and we do not have either of those circumstances present, as was conceded by the advocates of the legislation last year to take away the right of habeas corpus.

"We have had Supreme Court decisions which have made it plain that habeas corpus is available to non-citizens and that habeas corpus applies to territory controlled by the US, specifically, including Guantanamo. More recently, however, we had a decision in the US District Court applying the habeas corpus jurisdiction stripping provision of the Military Commissions Act, but I believe we will see the appellate courts strike down this legislative provision.

"The New York Times had an extensive article on this subject, starting on the front page, last Sunday, and continuing on a full page on the back page about what is happening at Guantanamo. It is hard to see how in America, or in a jurisdiction controlled by the United States, these proceedings could substitute for even rudimentary due process of law."

Source: Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S.185/H.R.2826) 2007-S185 on Jun 22, 2007

Establish global strategy to defeat al Qaeda.

Whitehouse co-sponsored establishing global strategy to defeat al Qaeda

A bill to require a report setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. Directs the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security to jointly submit to Congress a report setting forth U.S. global strategy to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Source: S.2634 2008-S2634 on Feb 13, 2008

Expand health services for women veterans.

Whitehouse signed Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act

    A bill to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to:
  1. report on barriers to the receipt of comprehensive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) encountered by women veterans, especially those of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom;
  2. provide for an independent study on health consequences for women veterans serving on active duty in deployments in such Operations; and
  3. report on the employment of full-time managers for women veterans programs at VA medical centers.
    Requires the Secretary to:
  1. develop a plan to improve the provision of VA health care services to women veterans;
  2. carry out a program of education, training, certification, and continuing medical education for mental health professionals providing care for veterans suffering from sexual trauma;
  3. carry out a pilot program of providing reintegration and readjustment services in group retreat settings to women veterans recently separated from service after a prolonged deployment; and
  4. carry out a pilot program on subsidies for child care for certain women veterans receiving health care from VA facilities.
Requires women veterans recently separated from service to be included on the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans.

Authorizes the Secretary to furnish care to a newborn child of a woman veteran receiving VA maternity care for up to seven days after the birth of the child.

Source: S.597 2009-S597 on Mar 16, 2009

Other candidates on Homeland Security: Sheldon Whitehouse on other issues:
RI Gubernatorial:
Donald Carcieri
Lincoln Chafee
RI Senatorial:
Jack Reed

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Retiring in 2014 election:
GA:Chambliss(R)
IA:Harkin(D)
MI:Levin(D)
MT:Baucus(D)
NE:Johanns(R)
SD:Johnson(D)
WV:Rockefeller(D)

Retired as of Jan. 2013:
AZ:Kyl(R)
CT:Lieberman(D)
HI:Akaka(D)
ME:Snowe(R)
ND:Conrad(D)
NE:Nelson(D)
NM:Bingaman(D)
TX:Hutchison(R)
VA:Webb(D)
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Senate Vacancies 2013:
HI:Inouye(D,Deceased)
HI:Schatz(D,Appointed)
MA:Kerry(D,Resigned)
MA:Cowan(D,Appointed)
MA:Markey(D,elected)
MA:Gomez(R,lost special election)
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SC:Scott(R,Appointed)

Senate races Nov. 2014:
AK:Begich(D) vs.Miller(R) vs.Treadwell(R) vs.Sullivan(R)
AL:Sessions(R) vs.Bright(D)
AR:Pryor(D) vs.Cotton(R)
CO:Udall(D) vs.Buck(R) vs.Hill(R) vs.Baumgardner(R) vs.Stephens(R)
DE:Coons(D) vs.O`Donnell(R)
GA:Gingrey(R) vs.Nunn(D) vs.Perdue(R) vs.Handel(R) vs.Broun(R) vs.Kingston(R)
HI:Schatz(D) vs.Hanabusa(D) vs.Cavasso(R)
IA:Braley(D) vs.Whitaker(R) vs.Ernst(R) vs.Clovis(R)
ID:Risch(R) vs.LaRocco(D)
IL:Durbin(D) vs.Truax(R) vs.Oberweis(R) vs.Hansen(L)
KS:Roberts(R) vs.Tiahrt(R)
KY:McConnell(R) vs.Bevin(R) vs.Grimes(D)
LA:Landrieu(D) vs.Cassidy(R) vs.Maness(R)
ME:Collins(R) vs.D`Amboise(R) vs.Bellows(D)
MI:Land(R) vs.Peters(D) vs.Wiedenhoeft(R)
MN:Franken(D) vs.Abeler(R)
MS:Cochran(R) vs.McDaniel(R) vs.Childers(D)
MT:Edmunds(R) vs.Daines(R) vs.Bohlinger(D) vs.Walsh(D)
NC:Hagan(D) vs.Tillis(R)
NE:Sasse(R) vs.Osborn(R) vs.Stenberg(R)
NH:Shaheen(D) vs.Martin(R) vs.Brown(R) vs.Smith(R) vs.Rubens(R) vs.Testerman(R)
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Page last updated: Dec 27, 2013