The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the pending business.
The bill clerk read as follows:
A bill (S. 735) to prevent and punish acts of terrorism, and for other purposes.
The Senate resumed consideration of the bill.
Hatch Amendment No. 1199, in the nature of a substitute.
Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, let me say to my colleagues that we hope to complete action on this bill very quickly, and I am asking my colleagues on each side--I think there are 67 amendments on the Democratic side, 30-some on the Republican side--to see if we cannot limit the number of amendments. We will also file cloture today and try to get consent to vote on that cloture motion tomorrow in an effort to expedite this bill.
Immediately after the tragic events in Oklahoma City, I wrote to President Clinton expressing my hope that we could put aside partisanship and develop an antiterrorism plan all Americans could support. Just as partisan politics stopped at the water's edge during World War II, it has always been my view that partisan politics should stop at `evil's edge' in our war against terrorism.
During the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to discuss this issue directly with the President. Our staffs have shared ideas. We have introduced our own legislative plans. And Senator Hatch, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has had several important hearings. The proposal now before the Senate is a culmination of all these efforts: Democrats, Republicans, the President, staff input. This is a bipartisan plan. It reflects many Republican ideas, and it contains many of the initiatives endorsed and sought by President Clinton himself--prohibitions on fundraising for foreign terrorist organizations; the Alien Terrorist Removal Act, which is designed to deport alien terrorists in a prompt manner without disclosing vital national security information; and increased funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies.
Now, last week we brought this up before the recess first, I think, for the record. So we had this almost filibuster on the budget with tons of amendments that took, I do not know how many, 10, 20 hours to vote on the amendments. That lost us 24 hours in the process. By design? I do not know, but it happened and we wasted a lot of time.
I told the President I wanted to pass this bill on the Senate side before the Memorial Day recess, and we did bring it up. And then we were flooded with amendments, again maybe by design and maybe not. But the President is the leader of the Democratic Party. He said last week, `There are too many amendments (to the Senate bill) that threaten too much delay.'
I happen to agree with the President on that, but I have not seen any evidence of any active engagement by the White House in the legislative process on the other side of the aisle. The last count was, as I said, 67, 69.
The bottom line is that words of complaint will not be enough. Complaining about delay may make for good politics, but what we need from the President is not words but leadership.
I want to fulfill the President's request. I want to pass the antiterrorism bill promptly, without delay. But if we are going to accomplish this goal, the President will have to move off the sidelines and get into the game, as we need his help. It is not enough to make the speeches, not enough to make the radio addresses, not enough to say whatever. We ought to pass it. But particularly in the U.S. Senate, where any group of Senators can slow things down--and we have had almost a record performance this year by my colleagues on the other side--this happens to be a bill that is not partisan. It is bipartisan. It is something that the President claims credit for. It seems to me it would be in his interest to have somebody up here trying to make certain that we pass the bill.
If we do not complete action by the close of business tomorrow, I will have no other choice but to withdraw the antiterrorism bill and move on to other legislative business. If we can get consent to vote on cloture tomorrow, we will find out how many people really want this bill, or whether this bill will become a Christmas tree where everybody has a political agenda and they want to put it on the antiterrorism bill. I believe that would be a grave mistake. We have a full plate here in the Senate. We have telecommunications, and I promised both Senators Pressler and Hollings for the last 2 or 3 weeks that we would like to finish that this week. We have welfare reform and regulatory reform, just to name a few. All of these will take some time.
We do not have time to get bogged down for 3 weeks on a very important bill with amendments that are not important at all, for the most part, and just making statements or having votes when the amendments could be accepted. I have heard that many of the amendments will be accepted. Let us not waste 20 or 30 minutes on rollcall votes on 15 or 20 amendments that can be accepted. It seems to me that if our colleagues want to pass this bill, accepting it is just as good as having a vote, and we can save a lot of time.
We will be in late tonight, and votes will start at 5 o'clock. It is not in the interests of the American people to delay. We can always return to the antiterrorism bill, and this might be something to do during the August recess if we cannot get it done now. We are going to be here for part of August, no doubt about it. Maybe this will be a priority during the first 2 or 3 weeks during what might have been the August recess.
Mr. President, of all the antiterrorist proposals under consideration, habeas corpus bears perhaps most directly on the tragic events in Oklahoma City. If we really want justice that is `swift, certain, and severe,' as President Clinton urged, then we must stop the endless appeals and endless delays that have done so much to weaken public confidence of our system of criminal justice.
According to Princeton Prof. John Diiulio, more than 330,000 Americans were murdered during the 16 years between 1977 and 1993. Yet, during the same period, only 2,716 people were placed on death row and only 226 convicted killers have actually been executed. In America, today there is clearly a big disconnect between crime and punish.
Our habeas corpus reform proposal seeks to bridge this gap by imposing a 1-year filing deadline on all death row inmates, State or Federal. It limits convicted killers in State or Federal court to one habeas petition. That is one bite at the apple. In contrast, under current law, there is virtually no limit to the number of petitions a convicted killer may file. It requires the Federal courts, once a petition is filed, to complete judicial action within a specified period of time.
In fact, if the Federal Government prosecutes the Oklahoma City case and the death penalty is sought and imposed, the execution of the sentence could take as little as 1 year if these reforms are enacted into law. Otherwise, it might take 5, 10, 15 years. It seems to me it is a step that ought to be taken, a step the President talked about on `60 Minutes.' Somebody said he wanted habeas corpus reform. Habeas corpus reform is an essential component of any serious antiterrorism plan. The relatives of some of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have traveled all the way to Washington today to make this very point. In fact, I think there is a press conference going on as I speak. They want Congress to act on these reforms and act now. That is the view also shared by a bipartisan group of State attorneys general, including Drew Edmondson, the Democratic attorney general of Oklahoma.
In a recent letter to President Clinton, these attorneys general write:
Expedited consideration of [habeas corpus reform] legislation in the context of the antiterrorism bill is entirely appropriate. Unless habeas corpus reform is enacted, capital sentences for such acts of senseless violence will face endless legal obstacles. This will undermine the credibility of the sanctions and the expression of our level of opprobrium as a Nation for acts of terrorism.
Despite his positive comments about habeas reform in a `60 Minutes' interview, President Clinton has written me urging me to exclude habeas corpus reform. One day he is for it, and the next day he says exclude it. Do not bring it in now because it might upset some of the liberals on the other side of the aisle.
The President has publicly chided Members of the Senate for refusing to endorse his `emergency wiretap' proposal; yet, strangely enough, the President himself refuses to endorse the one proposal that will bear most directly on the Oklahoma City tragedy--and that is habeas corpus reform.
Finally, Mr. President, the American people deserve the straight story, and the straight story is that America is not an impregnable fortress. No legislation, no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how well-conceived, can guarantee absolute security. We can take every possible precaution. We can pass tough laws. But in a free society there will always be risks--a fact of life vividly demonstrated by the recent breaches of White House security.
I want to thank my distinguished colleague from Utah, Senator Hatch, for his leadership in developing an antiterrorism plan. During the past several weeks, he has provided the intellectual glue that has kept this effort together. I also thank my distinguished colleagues from Oklahoma,
Senators Nickles and Inhofe, for their input and for their role in developing this antiterrorism plan. We all know this has been a very difficult time for them and their constituents. So we are especially appreciative of their invaluable help.
I had a conversation with Senator Biden from Delaware before we went out for the recess. I believe he wants to complete action on this bill as quickly as possible. I think with his cooperation, and with some help from the White House and with help on this side on Republican amendments, we can wrap this bill up. There is no reason we could not finish it today, or certainly by tomorrow.
I ask unanimous consent that a letter I sent to President Clinton last Thursday be printed in the Record immediately after my remarks.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See exhibit 1.)
Mr. DOLE. The letter suggests that the President should help us out on this bill. He could call his Democratic colleagues, maybe have a White House meeting, and see if we cannot complete action on this bill. The House has not acted. But that does not mean we cannot act. We can act first for a change.
I say to my colleagues, let us expect a number of votes. I do not see the managers here, but I think they are in a press conference with some family members of the victims of the Oklahoma City tragedy. I say, again, if the amendments can be accepted and if there is no problem with the amendments, let us not have votes like that at 7, or 8, or 9 o'clock tonight.
With all the good will I can muster, I believe this is an important bill, important for the American people, important for the victims' families and those involved in Oklahoma City. Also, it is important that we get it done. I am certainly willing to work with the President in an effort to do that by the close of business tomorrow.
Office of the Republican Leader,
Washington, DC, June 1, 1995.
The White House,
Dear Mr. President: As you may know, the Senate is currently scheduled to resume consideration of the anti-terrorism bill when we return on Monday, June 5. Under a unanimous consent agreement adopted last Friday, a total of 99 amendments to the bill are in order (32 Republican amendments and 67 Democratic amendments).
I am now in the process of urging my Republican colleagues not to offer any unnecessary or unrelated amendments. Hopefully, these efforts will pay off and we will be able to reduce the number of Republican amendments to a manageable level. During the remainder of this week, it is my hope that you will exert similar pressure on the Democrats in the Senate, particularly in light of your complaint yesterday that `there are too many amendments that threaten too much delay.'
Mr. President, if you really want Congress to pass the anti-terrorism bill as promptly as possible, words will not be enough. Your active involvement in discouraging Democratic Senators from offering unnecessary and unrelated amendments is absolutely essential.
I hope you would also call upon Congress to pass meaningful habeas corpus reform as part of the anti-terrorism proposal now pending before the Senate. Of all the anti-terrorism initiatives under consideration, it is perhaps habeas corpus reform that bears most directly on the tragic events in Oklahoma City. In fact, if the federal government prosecutes the Oklahoma City case and the death penalty is sought and imposed, the execution of the sentence could take as little as one year if the reforms in the pending legislation are enacted into law.
Not surprisingly, a bipartisan group of State Attorneys General, including Drew Edmondson, the Democratic Attorney General of Oklahoma, has written that `expedited consideration of [habeas corpus reform] legislation in the context of the anti-terrorism bill is entirely appropriate. Unless habeas corpus reform is enacted, capital sentences for such acts of senseless violence will face endless legal obstacles. This will undermine the credibility of the sanctions, and the expression of our level of opprobrium as a nation for acts of terrorism.'
Finally, I was struck by how your radio address last Saturday characterized the anti-terrorism legislation now pending before the Senate. The address described the legislation in very personal terms, as `my proposal,' `my anti-terrorism bill,' `the legislation I proposed.' With all due respect, Mr. President, this legislation is a bipartisan product, incorporating many initiatives proposed by Republicans and Democrats alike. The simple fact is that the anti-terrorism plan now before the Senate does not belong to any one party or any one political figure. It belongs to the American people.