The U.S. House of Representatives took up H.R. 2647, the Department of Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010 today, and the otherwise predictable and procedurally thick process contained a couple of engaging elements. One moment came with the introduction of Franks Amendment No. 9 which would have cut the Department of Defense’s environmental clean up funding. The amendment failed on a 171 to 244 vote, with Nevada Representatives Berkley (D-NV1) and Titus (D-NV3) voting against the amendment, and Representative Dean Heller voting in favor of slashing the clean up funds. [roll call 455] The Republicans tried a second time to cut the DoD’s environmental clean up funds in their motion to recommit with instructions. They were reminded that there were states counting on this funding to complete clean up operations left over from a variety of Defense Department activities. No matter, they voted again on taking the environmental clean up funds out of the appropriations bill, this time losing 170 to 244. [roll call 459]
Another contentious amendment came from Representative Akin (R-MO) who wanted to add a provision requiring the Department of Defense to disclose to Congress all employees who had signed non-disclosure agreements. Akin’s amendment failed 186-226, with Congressman Heller voting in favor of it, and Representatives Berkley and Titus opposed. [roll call 456]
Congressman Rush Holt’s (D-NJ) amendment to require the military to video-tape all military interrogations with appropriate security clearances was attached to the bill on a 224-193 vote; Representatives Berkley and Titus voting in favor, and Congressman Heller opposed. [roll call 457] It isn’t too difficult to conclude that the Republicans who voted against the amendment might still be stinging from the ‘missing’ photo documentation of detainee interrogations under the Bush Administration, or that they believe what they see on scripted television shows. However, as of 2003 police departments in San Diego, CA; Denver, CO; New Haven, CT; Miami, FL; Sioux City, IA; Prince George County, MD; all departments in Minnesota; Las Cruces, NM; and Austin, TX, had or were implementing video documentation of interrogations in serious felony cases. [Nwlaw] By 2006, police in the state of Alaska, and the city of Detroit were videotaping interrogations, both to “keep the cops honest,” and to protect law enforcement officers from unwarranted charges of brutality. The Lawrence, KS police department installed videotaping equipment for about $12,000 in 2006 and discovered that the system was saving the department staff time and money in addition to helping prosecutors convict more criminals. [OJA] The latter conclusion from the Lawrence Police Department makes it difficult to understand Republican opposition to documented interrogations, especially if they yield higher conviction rates. The “law and order” battle cry must be fading.
The appropriations bill passed 389-22, presumably allowing most of the House members to state they had supported the military even though 170 of them voted in favor of the bill-killing motion to recommit. [roll call 460] All three members of the Nevada delegation voted in favor of final passage. There is one segment of the bill that will not sit well with the White House, the House voted to include more spending for the troubled Lockheed-Martin F-22 program even though Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had recommended that the project stop with 187 aircraft. Despite somewhat hyperbolic GOP rhetoric on the floor, the measure does support Secretary Gate’s decision to cut back funding for the missile defense program by $1.2 billion. [Reuters] The bill also includes a 3.4% raise for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. [GovExec]