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November 1, 2005  

Capitol Hill report Card

A

To Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for insisting on an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act to ban cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees held by the U.S. military. The amendment is aimed at preventing incidents such as those at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. McCain had some powerful allies, including Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and retired Gens. Colin Powell and John Shalikashvili, both former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nevertheless, President Bush threatened to veto any bill that contained the amendment, claiming it would restrict his ability to conduct the war on terrorism effectively. McCain didn’t back down and the Senate voted 90-9 for his amendment

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F

To Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., for halting debate on the 2006 Defense Authorization Act to prevent McCain from attaching to that bill his amendment barring abuse of military detainees. Frist stopped progress on the bill in July after being confronted by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration’s enforcer in its opposition to McCain’s amendment. Thanks to Frist, the bill, which provides funding and sets policy for the military for fiscal 2006, was still dead in the water weeks after the new fiscal year began. The military was operating on a temporary resolution that continues funding at 2005 rates.

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B

To Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., for urging caution about assigning the U.S. military additional responsibility for responding to domestic disasters such as hurricanes. King said that rather than relying on the military, local governments should prepare themselves better to handle disasters. King’s reluctance reflects a general lack of enthusiasm for President Bush’s Sept. 15 call for “a broader role for the armed forces” in disaster response. As the newly named chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, King may be in a position to influence legislation that would assign the military disaster-response duties.

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