|House Approves Conference Report on PATRIOT
Act Extension Bill
12/14. The House approved the conference report on
the "USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005", by a
vote of 251-174. See, Roll
Call No. 627. See,
full text of the conference report [219 pages in PDF]. The Senate has yet
to approve this conference report.
Much of the debate in the House focused on Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act,
which pertains to access to business records, including library records, under
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) (at right), the ranking
Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee (HJC),
was the Democratic floor manager. He said the the provisions in the conference report do
not meet the concerns of the American Library Association
(ALA). He said that the conference report is "a downward, backward movement in which
the PATRIOT Act becomes meaner, less democratic".
Rep. James Sensenbrenner
(R-WI), the Chairman of the HJC, and the Republican floor manager, responded, "I
wish the Library Association had read it." He added that "I don't think we
should make libraries off limits to an investigation" regarding terrorism.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a
senior member of the HJC, complained about the procedure being employed by the
Republican leadership to enact this legislation. He called it "blackmail". He
said that members could only vote for or against the bill. He said that
Republicans are essentially saying "we will blackmail you". If you do not vote
for the bill, the "there will be blood on your hands". He called for a three
month extension, and a revision of the language regarding Sections 215 and 505
(national security letters).
While the voting correlated strongly with party affiliation, due in part to
pressure from the Bush administration and Republican leaders, some members
crossed party lines. Rep. Dana
Rohrabacher (R-CA) voted against the conference report, and spoke against it
on the floor. Rep. Sensenbrenner did not yield time to him. Rep. Conyers did.
Rep. Rohrabacher argued that "we have opened the door to abuse". He said that
expanded police powers will be use against the pro life movement.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the
ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security
Committee, also spoke of abuse of police powers. He said that he was spied on by
the government when he was involved in the civil rights movement.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) spoke in
support of the conference report. He is a member of the HJC and its Crime
Subcommittee. He was also active in the Crime Subcommittee long series of
hearings on the PATRIOT Act earlier this year. He said that following these
hearings, numerous amendments were added to HR 3199, including a relaxation of
the national security letter (NSL) provision's gag rule, more reporting on use
of NSLs, and a fixed time limit on delayed notice of search warrants.
Voting on approval of the conference report correlated with party
affiliation. Republicans voted 207-18. Democrats voted 44-155.
The eighteen Republicans who voted against the bill (and the President and House
Republican leadership) were Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Bob Bishop (R-UT), John Duncan
(R-TN), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Timothy Johnson (R-IL), Walter
Jones (R-NC), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Connie Mack (R-FL), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Bob Ney (R-OH),
Butch Otter (R-ID), Ron Paul (R-TX), Tom Price (R-GA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), John
Sweeney (R-NY), Charlie Taylor (R-NC), and Don Young
Many Democrats, and a few Republicans, first argued that the bill should be returned
to the conference committee for further consideration. The House held a roll call vote
on a motion to recommit the conference report. This failed on a vote of 202-224. See,
Roll Call No. 626.
Republicans voted 5-221. Democrats voted 196-3.
The Republicans who voted to recommit were Butch Otter (R-ID), Ron Paul
(R-TX), Jim Leach (R-IA), Timothy Johnson (R-IL), and Christopher Shays (R-CT). The
Democrats who voted against recommittal were Jerry Costello (D-IL), Chet Edwards
(D-TX), and Jose Serrano (D-NY)
The Bush administration is actively and publicly advocating quick passage of
the conference report. President Bush issued a
statement after House approval of the conference report. He wrote that "The
Patriot Act is essential to fighting the war on terror and preventing our
enemies from striking America again. I commend the House for voting today on a
bipartisan basis to reauthorize the Patriot Act."
He continued that "The legislation reauthorizes the 16 sunsetting provisions and
makes all but two permanent. It bolsters the law's significant protection of privacy and
civil liberties. The legislation includes important provisions regarding seaport security,
mass transportation security, and terrorist financing. It creates a new National Security
Division at the Department of Justice, which was an important recommendation of the WMD
Commission that I support. It includes important provisions to strengthen Federal efforts
to combat the dangerous proliferation of methamphetamine, which has affected communities
across the Nation."
Bush concluded that "The Patriot Act is scheduled to expire at the end of the month,
but the terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. In the war on terror, we
cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment. I urge the Senate to
pass this legislation promptly and reauthorize the Patriot Act."
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated in a
"The USA PATRIOT Act is an essential part of our Nation's efforts in the war against
terrorism, and I commend the House of Representatives for deciding to renew these critical
sections. Our number-one priority is protecting the American people from another terrorist
attack, and today's bipartisan vote is an important step toward ensuring that the men and
women of law enforcement continue to have the tools they need keep us safe. I strongly urge
the Senate to act now."
Robert Kimmitt, Deputy Treasury Secretary, stated in a
release on December
14 that "The USA PATRIOT Act is crucial to protecting our homeland and keeping
Americans safe from the terrorists and criminals whose mission is to destroy the
freedoms we hold dear. Not only has the Act better equipped our law-enforcement officials to
investigate and take legal action against terrorists, but the Act has also
strengthened our defenses against those who seek to abuse the U.S. financial
system to bankroll terrorists' deadly agendas."
See also, December 14
release of the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
|GAO Reports on Trade with PR
12/12. The Government Accountability Office
(GAO) released a
report [75 pages in PDF] titled "China Trade: U.S. Exports, Investment, Affiliate
Sales Rising, but Export Share Falling".
The report states that "While U.S.-China commercial relations have expanded
in recent years, disagreements have also emerged over a wide variety of issues,
including the size and growth of the U.S. trade deficit with China, China’s
enforcement of intellectual property protection, and concerns over China’s
implementation of its WTO obligations. Despite these challenges, China’s vast
consumer and labor markets present considerable opportunities for U.S. exporters
and investors." (Footnote omitted.)
The report finds that "China is a rapidly growing market for U.S. goods and
services. Although still small, accounting for only 4 percent of U.S. goods
exports in 2004, U.S. goods exports to China tripled, from $11 billion to $33
billion, and increased across virtually all major categories from 1995 to 2004."
However, it adds that "Despite rapid growth, U.S. goods exports to China have
not kept pace with those of other countries, particularly exports from Asia. The
U.S. share of world goods exports to China declined from 12 percent to 9
percent, from 1995 to 2004".
|USTR Releases Annual Report on PR China's
Violations of its WTO Obligations
12/12. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) released its
report [101 pages in PDF] titled "2005 Report to Congress on China's WTO
The report finds that "China has taken important steps in implementing the
numerous commitments that it undertook upon its WTO accession on December 11, 2001",
but that "China's implementation work is still incomplete".
The report states that "Many of the shortfalls in China’s WTO compliance efforts
seem to stem from China’s incomplete transition from being a state-planned economy."
That is, "it continued to use an array of industrial policy tools in 2005 to promote
or protect favored sectors and industries, and these tools at times collide with China’s
The report elaborates that examples of these industrial policies include "the
telecommunications regulator’s interference in commercial negotiations over royalty payments
to intellectual property rights holders in the area of 3G standards, the pursuit of unique
national standards in many areas of high technology that could lead to the extraction of
technology or intellectual property from foreign rights-holders, draft government procurement
regulations mandating purchases of Chinese-produced software, ..."
Intellectual Property Rights. The report finds that "China has undertaken
substantial efforts to implement its commitment to overhaul its legal regime to ensure the
protection of intellectual property rights in accordance with the WTO’s Agreement on
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). While the United
States continues to work with China in some problem areas, China has done a relatively good
job of overhauling its legal regime. However, China has been much less successful in enforcing
its laws and regulations and ensuring the effective IPR enforcement required by the TRIPS
Agreement. With most in U.S. industry reporting no significant reduction in IPR infringement
levels in 2005, IPR enforcement remains problematic. Counterfeiting and piracy in China
remain at epidemic levels and cause serious economic harm to U.S. businesses in virtually
every sector of the economy."
The report also states that "In 2005, nearly four years after
China’s accession to the WTO, U.S. rights-holders uniformly report that IPR
infringement in China remains rampant. Indeed, some trade associations report
that the situation confronting U.S. rights-holders in 2005 remains unchanged
from 2004. Other trade associations report that the situation has actually
worsened. U.S. rights-holders uniformly urge the Chinese government to
accelerate its reforms in order to significantly reduce IPR infringement levels."
The report adds that "IPR infringement in China in 2005 continued to affect
products, brands and technologies from a wide range of industries, including
films, music, publishing, software, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information
technology, consumer goods, industrial goods, food products, medical devices,
electrical equipment, automotive parts and clothing, among many others. This
situation not only has had an enormous economic impact, but also presents a
direct challenge to China’s ability to regulate many products that have health
and safety implications for China’s population and, as an increasing amount of
counterfeit and pirated products are being exported from China, for others
around the world."
The report goes on to report on the ineffectiveness of
administrative, criminal, and civil regimes in China for enforcement of
intellectual property rights.
Telecommunications Services. The report states that "In the Services
Schedule accompanying its WTO accession
agreement, China committed to permit foreign suppliers to provide a broad range
of telecommunications services through joint ventures with Chinese companies,
including domestic and international wired services, mobile voice and data
services, value-added services (such as electronic mail, voice mail and on-line
information and database retrieval) and paging services." Also, it "accepted key
principles from the WTO Reference Paper on regulatory principles. As a result,
China became obligated to separate the regulatory and operating functions of MII
(which had been both the telecommunications regulatory agency in China and the
operator of China Telecom) upon its accession. China also became obligated to
adopt pro competitive regulatory principles, such as cost-based pricing and the
right of interconnection, which are necessary for foreign-invested joint
ventures to compete with incumbent suppliers ..." (Parentheses in original.)
The report finds that "four years after its accession to the WTO, China has
not yet established a truly independent regulator in the telecommunications
sector. The current regulator, MII, while nominally separate from the current
telecommunications operators, maintains extensive influence and control over
their operations and continues to use its regulatory authority to disadvantage
The report also reviews problems associated with the MII's
Catalogue of Telecommunications Services. The report states that "MII
reclassified several telecommunications services from the value-added category
to the basic category" and "placed restrictions on what new services could be
classified under the value-added category."
The report finds that "These moves have limited the ability of
U.S. firms to access China’s telecommunications market because, under China’s
Services Schedule, basic services are on a slower liberalization schedule, and
MII subjects them to higher capitalization requirements. Indeed, MII requires
suppliers of basic services to satisfy an excessive registered capital
requirement of RMB 2 billion ($241 million). A review of capital requirements
around the world shows essentially no capital requirements in many WTO member
markets, including, for example, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, the member
States of the European Union, Japan and the United States. Where capital-related
requirements do exist, they typically take the form of guarantees."
Moreover, the report finds, "MII continues to process
applications very slowly for the few foreign-invested telecommunications
enterprises that have attempted to satisfy MII’s licensing requirements."
|Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
|Thursday, December 15
The House will meet a 10:00 AM for legislative business. See,
The Senate will meet at 9:00 AM. It
will begin consideration of the conference report on
HR 3010, the
Labor, HHS Appropriations Act of 2006. It will also resume consideration of the conference
report on HR 3199,
the PATRIOT Act extension bill. See,
full text of
the conference report [219 pages in PDF].
10:00 AM. The Senate Commerce
Committee will hold a business meeting. The agenda includes consideration of
the "Undertaking Spam, Spyware, and Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers Beyond
Borders Act of of 2005 (U.S. SAFE WEB Act). See,
contact: Melanie Alvord (Stevens) at 202 224-8456, Aaron Saunders (Stevens) at 202 224-3991,
or Andy Davis (Inouye) at 202 224-4546. Location: Room 106, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM. The Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) will hold a public hearing on its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM)
regarding the source of income derived from international communications activity. See,
notice in the Federal Register, September 19, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 180, at
Pages 54859 - 54878. Location: Auditorium, Internal Revenue Building, 1111
Constitution Ave., NW.
10:30 AM. The
House Commerce Committee (HCC)
will meet to mark up three bills, including
the "Data Accountability and Trust Act (DATA)". The meeting wil be
webcast by the HCC. Press contact: Larry Neal (Barton) at 202 225-5735, Terry
Lane (Barton) at 202 225-5735. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
Day two of a two day conference hosted by
Comptel titled "COMPTEL Executive
Business & Policy Summit". See,
Location: Washington Capital Hilton.
|Friday, December 16
The House may meet for legislative business at 9:00 AM. See,
Republican Whip Notice.
9:00 - 11:00 AM. The Federal Communications
Commission's (FCC) Network Reliability and
Interoperability Council (NRIC) will meet. The agenda includes discussion
of "E911 issues, final recommendations for next generation E911 architectures
and transition issues, new best practices for improving the reliability of E911
networks and services, target network architectures for communications with emergency
services personnel, and best practices for network security". See, FCC
[PDF]. Location: FCC, Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th Street, SW.
|Monday, December 19
Deadline to submit initial comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response
to its notice of proposed rulemaking regarding its rules affecting Wireless Radio
Services. This item is FCC 05-144 in WT Docket Nos. 03-264. The FCC adopted this
item on July 22, 2005. It released the
text [67 pages in PDF] on August 9, 2005. See,
notice in the Federal Register, October 19, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 201, at
Pages 60770 - 60781.
Deadline to submit comments to the Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding improving the
draft RFP [154 pages in PDF] for remaking the SEC's Electronic Data Gathering,
Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) Platform. See also, SEC
release, draft RFP
cover letter [PDF], and story titled "SEC Seeks Contractor to Remake EDGAR"
in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,259, November 23, 2005.
|Friday, December 23
Informal deadline to submit comments to
Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and/or
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) regarding their
discussion draft [31
pages in PDF] of a bill to be titled the "Universal Service Reform Act of
2005". See, story titled "Reps. Terry and Boucher Propose New Internet
Taxes" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,257, November 21, 2005.
|FTC Sues and Settles with Directv for
Violation of TSR
12/12. The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a
[PDF] in U.S. District Court (CDCal), on
behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), against
Directv, and others who telemarketed on its behalf, alleging violation of the Federal
Trade Commission Act (FTCA) and the FTC's telemarketing sales rule (TSR).
The DOJ and Directv simultaneously filed a joint
pleading [16 [pages in PDF] titled "Stipulated Judgment and Order for
Permanent Injunction Against Directv, Inc." Directv will pay $5,335,000.
The complaint alleges that the defendants "engaged in or caused others to engage
in initiating an outbound telephone call to a person’s telephone number on the National Do
Not Call Registry in violation of the TSR, 16 C.F.R. § 310.4(b)(1)(iii)".
It also alleges that Directv "abandoned or caused others to
abandon an outbound telephone call i.e., to fail to connect the call to a sales
representative within two (2) seconds of the completed greeting of the person
answering the call, in violation of the TSR, 16 C.F.R. § 310.4(b)(1)(iv) and §
Finally, it alleges that Directv provided substantial assistance and support to
others that it knew, or consciously avoided knowing, were engaged in violations of
§ 310.4 of the TSR.
This case is U.S.A. v. Directv, Inc., et al., U.S. District Court for the
Central District of California, Western Division, D.C. No. SACV 05 1211. See also, FTC
|People and Appointments
12/14. President Bush nominated Patrick Schiltz to be a Judge of the
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. See, White House
12/14. President Bush nominated Jack Zouhary to be a Judge of the U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. See, White House
12/15. Bruce Carnes was named SVP, Finance and Administration, for the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
(NCTA), effective January 1, 2006. He was previously CFO at the
Department Energy (DOE). See, NCTA
Kyle McSlarrow, the P/CEO of the NCTA, was Deputy Secretary of Energy and
Chief Operating Officer at the DOE until he was hired by the NCTA early this year.
12/12. Gail MacKinnon was named SVP, Government Relations, for the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
(NCTA), effective January 1, 2006. She is currently SVP, Washington, for CBS
Corporation. She will replace Steve Berry. See, NCTA
12/7. The Technology CEO Council
named Edward Zander to be its new Chairman. Zander is the Ch/CEO of
Motorola. He replaces Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel. See,
12/13. The House Judiciary Committee's (HJC)
Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law amended and approved, by voice vote,
HR 1956, the
"Business Activity Tax Simplification Act of 2005". See,
titled "House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on State Business Activity Taxes" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert
No. 1,223, September 28, 2005.
12/13. The Senate approved
the "United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act". The
House approved the bill on December 7, 2005. President Bush will sign it.
12/14. President Bush signed an
order regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is codified at
U.S.C. § 552. The order states that agencies shall respond to FOIA requests
"appropriately". It also states that "agencies shall process requests under
the FOIA in an efficient and appropriate manner and achieve tangible, measurable improvements
in FOIA processing." The order is 2,272 words long. However, it nowhere directs
agencies to comply with the language of the statute. For example, most agencies
routinely violate the time limits imposed by the FOIA. Bush's order does not
direct agencies to comply with these statutory requirements.
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