Arlen Specter on Homeland Security
Republican Sr Senator (PA)
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 But in 1946, the Congress rescinded the 1941 act.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 NO 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 YES 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;
; vote number 2007-309
on Aug 3, 2007
Voted NO 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:
- I: Improving Intelligence and Information Sharing within the Federal Government and with State, Local, and Tribal Governments
- II: Homeland Security Grants
- III: Communications Operability and Interoperability
- IV: Emergency Management Performance Grants Program
- V: Enhancing Security of International Travel
- VI: Privacy and Civil Liberties Matters
- VII: Enhanced Defenses Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
- VIII: Private Sector Preparedness
- IX: Transportation Security Planning and Information Sharing
- X: Incident Command System
- XI: Critical Infrastructure Protection
- XII: Congressional Oversight of Intelligence
- XIII: International Cooperation on Antiterrorism Technologies
- XIV: Transportation and Interoperable Communication
XV: Public Transportation Terrorism Prevention
- XVII: 911 Modernization
- XIX: Advancement of Democratic Values
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
Voted YES on preserving habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees.
Sen. Specter's amendment would strike the provision regarding habeas review. The underlying bill authorizes trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. Excerpts from the Senate floor debate:
Sen. GRAHAM [recommending NO]: The fundamental question for the Senate to answer when it comes to determining enemy combatant status is, Who should make that determination? Should that be a military decision or should it be a judicial decision? That is something our military should do.
Sen. SPECTER [recommending YES]: My amendment would retain the constitutional right of habeas corpus for people detained at Guantanamo. The right of habeas corpus was established in the Magna Carta in 1215 when, in England, there was action taken against King John to establish a procedure to prevent illegal detention. What the bill seeks to do is to set back basic rights by some 900 years. This amendment would strike that provision and make certain that the constitutional right of
habeas corpus is maintained.
GRAHAM: Do we really want enemy prisoners to bring every lawsuit known to man against the people fighting the war and protecting us? No enemy prisoner should have access to Federal courts--a noncitizen, enemy combatant terrorist--to bring a lawsuit against those fighting on our behalf. No judge should have the ability to make a decision that has been historically reserved to the military. That does not make us safer.
SPECTER: The US Constitution states that "Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." We do not have either rebellion or invasion, so it is a little hard for me to see, as a basic principle of constitutional law, how the Congress can suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
GRAHAM: If the Supreme Court does say in the next round of legal appeals there is a constitutional right to habeas corpus by those detained at Guantanamo Bay, then Sen. Specter is absolutely right.
Reference: Specter Amendment;
Bill S.AMDT.5087 to S.3930
; vote number 2006-255
on Sep 28, 2006
Voted NO on requiring CIA reports on detainees & interrogation methods.
Amendment to provide for congressional oversight of certain Central Intelligence Agency programs. The underlying bill S. 3930 authorizes trial by military commission for violations of the law of war. The amendment requires quarterly reports describing all CIA detention facilities; the name of each detainee; their suspected activities; & each interrogation technique authorized for use and guidelines on the use of each such technique.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
I question the need for a very lengthy, detailed report every 3 months. We will probably see those reports leaked to the press.
This amendment would spread out for the world--and especially for al-Qaida and its related organizations--precisely what interrogation techniques are going to be used.
If we lay out, in an unclassified version, a description of the techniques by the Attorney General, that description will be in al-Qaida and Hezbollah and all of the other terrorist organizations' playbook. They will train their assets that: This is what you must be expected to do, and Allah wants you to resist these techniques.
We are passing this bill so that we can detain people. If we catch someone like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, we have no way to hold him, no way to ask him the questions and get the information we need, because the uncertainty has brought the program to a close. It is vitally important to our security, and unfortunately this amendment would imperil it.
Reference: Rockefeller Amendment;
Bill S.AMDT.5095 to S.3930
; vote number 2006-256
on Sep 28, 2006
Voted YES on reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act.
This vote reauthorizes the PATRIOT Act with some modifications (amendments). Voting YEA extends the PATRIOT Act, and voting NAY would phase it out. The official summary of the bill is:
A bill to clarify that individuals who receive FISA orders can challenge nondisclosure requirements, that individuals who receive national security letters are not required to disclose the name of their attorney, that libraries are not wire or electronic communication service providers unless they provide specific services, and for other purposes.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
- Some may see the vote we are about to have as relatively trivial. They are mistaken. While the bill we are voting on makes only minor cosmetic changes to the PATRIOT Act, it will allow supporting the PATRIOT Act conference report that was blocked in December. Cosmetic changes simply don't cut it when we are talking about protecting the rights and freedoms of
Americans from unnecessarily intrusive Government powers.
- The White House has tried to make life uncomfortable for Senators. It has suggested they are soft on terrorism, that they don't understand the pressing threat facing this country, that they are stuck in a pre-9/11 mindset. Those attacks should be rejected.
- We can fight terrorism aggressively without compromising our most fundamental freedoms against Government intrusion. The Government grabbed powers it should not have when it passed the original PATRIOT Act and we should not be ratifying that power grab today. The PATRIOT Act reauthorization conference report is flawed. S. 2271 pretends to fix it but I don't think anyone is fooled, least of all our constituents.
- Because the Republican leadership obstructed efforts to improve the bill, the "police state" provisions regarding gag orders remain uncorrected. The Senate should get down to the serious business of legislating real fixes to the PATRIOT Act.
Reference: USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments;
Bill S. 2271
; vote number 2006-025
on Mar 1, 2006
Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision.
Vote to invoke cloture on a conference report that extends the authority of the FBI to conduct "roving wiretaps" and access business records. Voting YES would recommend, in effect, that the PATRIOT Act be extended through December 31, 2009, and would makes the provisions of the PATRIOT Act permanent. Voting NO would extend debate further, which would have the effect of NOT extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision.
Reference: Motion for Cloture of PATRIOT Act;
Bill HR 3199
; vote number 2005-358
on Dec 16, 2005
Voted NO on restricting business with entities linked to terrorism.
Vote to adopt an amendment that makes US businesses and their subsidiaries liable to prosecution for dealing with foreign businesses which have links to terrorism or whose parent country supports terrorism. Voting YES would:
Reference: Stop Business with Terrorists Act of 2005;
Bill S AMDT 1351 to S 1042
; vote number 2005-203
on Jul 26, 2005
- Empower the President under the Trading with the Enemy Act to prohibit US businesses and their subsidiaries from transacting with foreign businesses identified as having links to terrorism.
- Forbid US businesses and their subsidiaries from engaging in transactions with any foreign business whose parent country has been identified as a supporter of international terrorism.
- Require the President to publish a list of foreign businesses identified as having links to terrorism, and bans US ownership or control of foreign businesses engaged in transactions with such businesses.
- Call for US businesses to disclose in their annual reports any ownership stake of at least 10% in a foreign business that is itself engaging in transactions with a proscribed foreign business.
Voted YES on restoring $565M for states' and ports' first responders.
Amendment intended to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by restoring $565 million in cuts to vital first-responder programs in the Department of Homeland Security, including the State Homeland Security Grant program, by providing $150 million for port security grants and by providing $140 million for 1,000 new border patrol agents.
Reference: State Homeland Security Grant Program Amendment;
Bill S AMDT 220 to S Con Res 18
; vote number 2005-64
on Mar 17, 2005
Voted YES on adopting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would ban nuclear weapons testing six months after ratification by the 44 nations that have nuclear power plants or nucelar research reactors.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Rejected Y)48; N)51; P)1
Reference: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
Bill Treaty Document #105-28
; vote number 1999-325
on Oct 13, 1999
Voted NO on allowing another round of military base closures.
Vote on an amendment to allow one round of military base closures beginning in 2001 as determined by an independent panel.
; vote number 1999-147
on May 26, 1999
Voted YES on cutting nuclear weapons below START levels.
The Kerrey (D-NE) amdt would strike bill language requiring that U.S. strategic nuclear forces remain at START I levels through the end of fiscal 2000 unless Russia ratified START II.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)56; N)44
Reference: Motion to table Kerrey Amdt #395;
Bill S. 1059
; vote number 1999-149
on May 26, 1999
Voted YES on deploying National Missile Defense ASAP.
Vote that the policy of the US is to deploy a National Missile Defense system capable of defending against limited ballistic missile attack as soon as it is technologically possible, and to seek continued negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces.
Bill S 257
; vote number 1999-51
on Mar 17, 1999
Voted YES on military pay raise of 4.8%.
Vote to pass a bill to authorize a military pay raise of 4.8% in 2000 and annual pay increases through 2006 of 0.5% above the inflation rate. The bill would also provide additional incentives to certain enlisted personnel who remain on active duty.
; vote number 1999-26
on Feb 24, 1999
Voted YES on favoring 36 vetoed military projects.
Overturning line-item vetoes of 36 military projects vetoed by President Clinton.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)30; NV)1
Reference: Line Item Veto Cancellation bill;
Bill S. 1292
; vote number 1997-287
on Oct 30, 1997
Voted YES on banning chemical weapons.
Approval of the chemical weapons ban.
Status: Resolution of Ratification Agreed to Y)74; N)26
Reference: Resolution of ratification of the Chemical (Comprehensive) Weapons (Convention) Ban;
Bill S. Res. 75
; vote number 1997-51
on Apr 24, 1997
Voted YES on considering deploying NMD, and amending ABM Treaty.
Vote to consider establishing a policy requiring the deployment of a national missile defense system by the end of 2003. The bill would also urge discussions with Russia to amend the ABM Treaty to allow deployment of the system.
Bill S 1635
; vote number 1996-157
on Jun 4, 1996
Voted YES on 1996 Defense Appropriations.
Approval of the 1996 Defense Appropriations bill.
Status: Bill Passed Y)62; N)35; NV)3
Reference: Defense Approps Bill FY 96;
Bill S. 1087
; vote number 1995-397
on Sep 5, 1995
Rated 0% by SANE, indicating a pro-military voting record.
Specter scores 0% by SANE on peace issues
Peace Action, the merger of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and The Freeze, has effectively mobilized for peace and disarmament for over forty years. As the nation's largest grassroots peace group we get results: from the 1963 treaty to ban above ground nuclear testing, to the 1996 signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, from ending the war in Vietnam, to blocking weapons sales to human rights abusing countries. We are proof that ordinary people can change the world. At Peace Action we believe...
As the Pentagonís budget soars to $400 billion, 17% of American children live in poverty. For what the US will spend on Missile Defense in one year we could: put over a million children through Head Start OR provide healthcare for over 3.5 million children OR create over 100,000 units of affordable housing OR hire over 160,000 elementary school teachers. At Peace Action our priorities are clear.
- That every person has the right to live without the threat of nuclear weapons.
- That war is not a suitable response to conflict.
- That America has the resources to both protect and provide for its citizens.
The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: SANE website 03n-SANE on Dec 31, 2003
Improve mental health care benefits for returning veterans.
Specter co-sponsored improving mental health care benefits for returning veterans
Honoring Our Nation's Obligation to Returning Warriors Act (HONOR Warriors Act): House version is H.R.6268; Senate versions are S.2963 and S.3008. Legislative Summary:
Source: HONOR Warriors Act (H.R.6268) 08-H6268 on Jun 12, 2008
- To improve and enhance the mental health care benefits available to members of the Armed Forces and veterans, to enhance counseling and other benefits available to survivors of members of the Armed Forces and veterans, and for other purposes.
- Scholarship program for education and training of behavioral health care specialists for vet centers.
- Eligibility of members of the armed forces who serve in operation Iraqi freedom or operation enduring freedom for counseling and services through vets centers.
Restoration of authority of vets centers to provide referral and other assistance upon request to former members of the armed forces not authorized counseling.
- Treatment of suicides of certain former members of the armed forces as deaths in line of duty for purposes of eligibility of survivors for certain benefits.
- Grants for non-profit organizations for the provision of emotional support services to survivors of members of the armed forces and veterans.
- Pilot programs on awareness enhancement for members of the army regarding post traumatic stress disorder.
Repeal Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, and reinstate discharged gays.
Specter 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.
Specter 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
Military spouses don't lose voting residency while abroad.
Specter signed Military Spouses Residency Relief Act
A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency, and for other purposes.
Source: S.475&HR.1182 2009-S475 on Feb 25, 2009
- Prohibits, for purposes of voting for a federal, state, or local office, deeming a person to have lost a residence or domicile in a state, acquired a residence or domicile in any other state, or become a resident in or of any other state solely because the person is absent from a state because the person is accompanying the person's spouse who is absent from the state in compliance with military or naval orders.
Prohibits a servicemember's spouse from either losing or acquiring a residence or domicile for purposes of taxation because of being absent or present in any U.S. tax jurisdiction solely to be with the servicemember in compliance with the servicemember's military orders if the residence or domicile is the same for the servicemember and the spouse. Prohibits a spouse's income from being considered income earned in a tax jurisdiction if the spouse is not a resident or domiciliary of such jurisdiction when the spouse is in that jurisdiction solely to be with a servicemember serving under military orders.
- Suspends land rights residency requirements for spouses accompanying servicemembers serving under military orders.
School assistance to survivors of injured federal police.
Specter introduced the Federal Law Enforcement Dependents Assistance Act
A bill to provide educational assistance to the dependents of Federal law enforcement officials who are killed or disabled in the performance of their duties.
Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to provide educational assistance to the dependents of civilian Federal law enforcement officers who are killed or are permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty. Corresponding House bill is H.R.4111. Became Public Law No: 104-238.
Source: Bill sponsored by 12 Senators and 11 Reps 96-S2101 on Sep 20, 1996
Page last updated: Oct 28, 2010