Looking into the Congressional Record

Not much in the way of headlines today about the Kansas Congressional delegation, so we’ll take another of our periodic peeks into the Congressional Record. Here are some highlights since the beginning of July…Sen. Sam Brownback (R) !On July 9, Brownback urged the Senate to deny a federal judgeship to Janet Neff of Michigan, who once presided over a same-sex commitment ceremony. Brownback said:_Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to vote against Judge Neff going onto the bench for a lifetime appointment. I have met directly with her. I have been present for two hearings where she has spoken on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, which we all agree should be decided by legislative bodies and by the people, not by the courts. She has an activist view on this issue. She participated in a ceremony herself. Then, when asked about her view toward same-sex unions, she said she considers it a continuing legal controversy. Her words: I really don’t have an understanding of it, concerning the Michigan law. In Michigan, the State has defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, both by the legislature and the people. She says it is not entirely settled. Here is an activist on a core issue, a difficult issue, one I think we all believe should be decided by legislative bodies and not by the courts. She would be one who would have a tendency to rule from the bench. I urge my colleagues to vote against Judge Neff. _Neff’s nomination passed, 83-4.On July 13, Brownback once again advocated partitioning Iraq into Shia, Sunni and Kurd districts._I think we have to recognize the situation in Iraq and that you have several different populations. The Kurdish population is separate and distinct and operating in its own area and doing a nice job. There is growth taking place there–not everyplace, but it is doing pretty well. You have a mixed Sunni and Shia population in the rest of the country–dominant Sunni in some areas and dominant Shia in others, and Baghdad is a mixed federal city. I think we have to look at that situation and recognize the mixture and the combustibility of that mixture and get to a more durable political solution.__You are seeing now an ongoing migration of Iraqis inside their own country, which I think suggests Iraq will eventually do what would be called a soft partition. That is the logical thing that would take place, and it is taking place today. There is an outcome of many historical precedents–most notably in Bosnia in the 1990s. Senator Biden and I introduced a resolution calling on Iraqis to reach an agreement that would formalize a federal system in Iraq consistent with their Constitution that would allow for Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia to manage their own affairs, with Baghdad remaining a federal capital city. _Sen. Pat Roberts (R)!On July 13, Roberts introduced a bill to revoke passports from parents more than $2,500 behind in child support:_The problem is this: noncustodial parents could potentially avoid paying their responsible share of child support by leaving the country. State child support enforcement agencies must certify cases to the State Department for passport denial if the child support debt is over $2,500. The loophole that emerges is for those deadbeat parents who already have a passport. Under current implementation of the law, the next opportunity for enforcement is at the renewal of the passport, which could be several years down the road. The legislation I offer today closes that loophole, and simply instructs the State Department to revoke, in addition to denying, a noncustodial parent’s passport once the individual’s child support debt exceeds $2,500. Studies show that the receipt of child support is a key factor that keeps a child and single parent family from living in or near poverty. Beyond the financial security that steady child support provides, there is a greater likelihood that noncustodial parents are personally involved in their child’s life. If a parent shows responsibility financially, there is a bigger chance that he or she is involved emotionally. The impact of a noncustodial parent’s involvement in his child’s life, in many cases, results in better grades and fewer behavioral problems.__ In Kansas alone, there are currently 131,000 child support cases open, including those receiving public assistance, and those above that income bracket. Last year, the Kansas Child Support Enforcement Program collected $156 million in child support. _Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) !On July 24, Boyda spoke out against an administration proposal allowing Mexican freight trucks on U.S. roads:_There are not systems or laboratories in place to test for drugs. There isn’t documentation in order to make sure that we have inspected our trucks, that we have the training, and that there is drug testing. It is just a complete farce to be told that these safety requirements are going to be met.__Mr. Chairman, I know that I, as well as the people of the Second District of Kansas, are strongly urging the President to stop this. I certainly support this bill, which will stop the funding and stop this pilot program. _Rep. Jerry Moran (R) !On July 11, Moran called for comprehensive energy reform:_ In fact, Mr. Speaker, tonight I call for a broad approach for what we do to reduce the price at the pump, and clearly conservation is a component of that. We need as a country to make certain that we have policies in place that encourage conservation, that we do not waste energy. And in fact this week I will cosponsor legislation that establishes CAFE standards to try to improve the efficiency of our automobile fleet done in a way, Mr. Speaker, that is satisfactory, provides common sense and good scientific basis for the direction we need to go, something that is not unreasonable but is workable for the automobile industry and for the consumer.__ Clearly, renewable fuels is an important component. We in Kansas have a lot to offer when it comes to renewable fuels, particularly as we have moved in the direction of ethanol and biodiesel. But I call for greater action, particularly in the area of cellulosic renewable fuels, cellulosic ethanol in which we can utilize the waste product of agriculture to meet our country’s energy needs and not compete with the food supply and the use of corn, for example, to feed livestock.__Mr. Speaker, I also propose that we encourage greater exploration and production. Too often in this country we have an attitude that says we cannot drill and explore in our backyard, and yet we complain about the price of fuel. The opportunity continues to exist in this country to explore and find greater oil and natural gas and utilize our reserves. It also is an opportunity for us to pursue other sources of energy such as clean coal technologies and nuclear power. Again, we take so many things off the table and then complain that we can’t afford the price.__ Finally, I ask that we pursue once again increasing our refining capacity. The last refinery in this country was built in 1976. In Kansas in the 1980s we had 14 refineries in our State. Today we have three, and one of those three was closed because of flood waters. The consequence was a 14-15 cent increase in the price of gasoline per gallon._Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) !Last week, Tiahrt spoke in favor of the “Protect America Act” to authorize the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program:_I have heard a lot of hate for Attorney General Gonzales and the President tonight, but legislation should not be written based on one individual or two individuals.__In 1995 the Republican majority didn’t pass legislation because Attorney General Janet Reno took credit for the fiasco in Waco when more than 20 children were burned to death. We didn’t write legislation because government agents shot to death a woman holding her child in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Instead, we went ahead and did the right thing. And tonight, Attorney General Gonzales shouldn’t have anything to do with the legislation we are going to pass because the leaks and the lawsuits that have occurred from liberal Democrats have placed this country in jeopardy.__Do you realize we don’t listen to the terrorist calls like we used to, we don’t listen to e-mails or follow e-mails like we used to, we don’t follow terrorist finances like we used to because of these leaks and lawsuits from liberal Democrats. But this legislation tonight will pass and it will fill the gap.__If you don’t pass this legislation, you will be responsible for any attacks that could occur on America. _You can track the Congressional Record every day online.