Thursday, July 28, 2005

Senate Rejects Lautenberg Amendment

The senate rejected an amendment offered by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to the Defense Appropriations Bill on Tuesday.

According to Democrats, legislation was geared to close a loophole that allowed subsidiaries of American corporations to conduct business with governments that sponsor terrorism. Current law prohibits American based companies from dealing with governments such as Libya, Iran, and Syria, but the businesses can always open foreign based operations that are not held accountable for the favorable relations.

What the amendment would specifically outlaw, as described in the text, are foreign entities that are "controlled in fact" by Americans, meaning that Americans hold at least 50% of the capital structure, or are in control of the day-to-day activities of the business, from dealing with governments that sponsor terrorism, as decided by the state department.

The vote was 51-47, with a strong indication of partisan divide on the issue. The Democrats were united in favor, along with three curiously conservative Republicans in John Kyl (AZ), James Inhofe (OK), and John Ensign (NV).

Officials at the Lautenberg office in Newark were disappointed with the vote and further expressed suprise at the fact that Mel Martinez (R-FL) dissented after allegedly promising to vote in favor.

What was this legislation about? Why was the GOP so united in opposition and why were the three mavericks also three of the most conservative and partisan voices in Congress? Did the Democrats mean as well as the title ("To Stop the Financing of Terrorism") makes it sound.


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