Will Democrats Allow Release of Prisoner Photos?

Bubbling just under the surface today is the controversy over the war supplemental to fund military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Democrats have been making substantial changes to the bill in conference behind closed doors which may be enough to lose the Republican votes they need to pass the measure in the House.

Initially, Democrats reduced by $5 billion the amount of funding for the troops, yet added $108 billion for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) global bailout. Not content with borrowing this country into bankruptcy and spending the funds on 50 years’ worth of left-wing wish list projects, Democrats now want to borrow even more money from foreign countries to send to the IMF to loan to other foreign countries.

Republicans are refusing to support final passage of the conference report if the unrestricted IMF funding remains in the bill. Without Republican support, there are not enough Democrats who vote to support our troops.

On Tuesday, information surfaced that Democrats had also removed the Graham-Lieberman amendment that had passed the Senate by a unanimous vote. The amendment barred for three years the release by the government of Abu Ghraib-type photographs highly sought after by al Qaeda and the ACLU.

As HUMAN EVENTS reported yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) hit the media circuit threatening to do “whatever it takes,” including a Senate shutdown, if the House removes the amendment language from the supplemental conference report. Senate staff sources told HUMAN EVENTS yesterday that steps were already being put into place to slow about 25 of the President’s nominees. Republicans can make everything prohibitively time consuming and make things as painful as possible for Democrats.

Graham told Greta Van Susteren last night that the Senate Democrat leadership has been very supportive so far, but it’s not sure what that would look like or how supportive they’ll be if any Senate morass slows the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

On the House side, the best intel coming from staff sources at deadline is that Democrats are keeping the IMF $108 billion global bailout and dumping the Graham-Lieberman language that would protect our soldiers — and others — from attacks that will result if the photos are released.

The looming question is: do Democrats have enough votes from the ultra left-wing bloc to pass the supplemental if they pander by pulling the amendment language? That will be a real conundrum for the hard left Democrats. They would have to vote to fund the troops but their satisfaction would come from having done everything they could to get photos released that commanders on the ground throughout Iraq and Afghanistan have ensured everyone will incite terrorists and get American soldiers killed.

Conferees are doing a dog and pony show for CSPAN 3 cameras this afternoon but the supplemental will likely not see floor action until next week.

GOP Unveils American Energy Act

The House GOP American Energy Solutions Group yesterday unveiled their bill alternative to the cap and trade national energy tax bill proposed by Democrats. Headed by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the group constructed a full bill that expands on the “all of the above” solutions previously offered.

“The President said it best, that under his cap and tax plan, energy rates would ‘necessarily skyrocket,’” Pence said at the press conference. “Various estimates suggest up to $4,300 in extra energy costs for American households, and the loss of anywhere between 1.8 and 7 million American jobs.”

“Today, House Republicans are introducing the American Energy Act, an ‘all of the above’ plan that offers energy independence, more jobs, and a cleaner environment, without imposing a national energy tax,” Pence continued. “Our energy solution focuses on more domestic exploration for oil and natural gas, a renewed commitment to clean, emissions-free nuclear energy, investments in renewable and alternative energy technologies and creates incentives for conservation by individuals and businesses.”

Most notably, the new bill expands the use of clean, nuclear energy. The bill also authorizes a renewable and alternative energy trust fund for energy programs such as biomass, hydroelectric, clean coal, solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy. The fund would use receipts from new federal and oil gas leasing in the Arctic Coastal Plain and the Outer Continental Shelf.

The bill also expands oil shale production, according to its summary: “It is estimated that more than 70 percent of American oil shale lies on federal lands which contain an estimated 1.23 trillion barrels of oil, more than 50 times the nation’s proven conventional oil reserves. The bill codifies the oil shale lease program and restores leasing activities that were already underway prior to being halted in February 2009, by the current [a]dministration. The bill mandates that a lease sale be held within 180 days of enactment.”

There are other measures to streamline red tape and bar frivolous lawsuits designed to curtail energy production. The bill also “increases American supplies of gasoline and diesel by encouraging greater refinery capacity by streamlining and accelerating the refinery permitting process. The bill also requires the President to designate at least three closed military installations as potentially suitable for construction of a refinery, including at least one suitable for refining biomass to produce biofuel.”

Is Obama Counting Census Jobs?

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), ranking Republican on the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, raised a very intriguing question this week. Is the Obama administration erroneously counting census jobs in their claims that the stimulus package will “save or create” 600,000 jobs over the next 100 days?

“As hiring for the 2010 Census continues, the American people ought to know whether the Obama administration is attempting to include the thousands of temporary and part-time census workers in their count of 600,000 jobs ‘saved or created,’” McHenry said. “Including census workers would be disingenuous at best. I hope the administration will be forthcoming about whether these temporary positions, which would have been created regardless of stimulus spending, are included in their jobs count.”

The 2010 Decennial Census is expected to result in 200,000 hires in 2009, which the Office of Management and Budget scores as the equivalent of 17,197 full-time positions. In 2010, the Census Bureau will hire an estimated 700,000 workers, the equivalent of 105,391 full-time positions.