After over a week of parliamentary procedures stalled House Bill 1160 (HB1160) in Virginia, today – finally – the bill passed its final hurdle and will head to the Governor’s desk for a signature. The bill is a state-level response to the newly-claimed “indefinite detention” powers of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). HB1160 is a bill “to prevent any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, the Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”
Virginia residents are encouraged to take action on this right now – today. Those living in Virginia are encouraged to contact their Senators with words of thanks for passing HB1160 (at this link) AND the Governor’s office (at this link) in support of this legislation now.
“Sign it, or let it pass!” That’s the message to send to Bob McDonnell.
WHAT HAPPENED TODAY
Senator Peterson (D) moved to “recede” from the Senate position and agree to the House passed language
Senator Newman (D) asked it go by temporarily
Senator Peterson (D) motion to recede back on floor
Senator Peterson (D) spoke for it — asked a question — Lt. Gov. Bolling said if the Senate receded, the bill would be passed and forwarded to the Governor.
Senator Black (R) spoke for it
no one spoke against it
The vote was 37-1 in favor to recede and agree to the House bill
Senator Stanley (R) moved to reconsider
Lt. Gov. Bolling said that would have required unanimous consent since it was already reconsidered yesterday,
Senator Stanley withdrew his motion (with Dick Black on his feet to object)
So now we will see what the Governor will do. (h/t Bill Olson for the reporting)
Insiders tell us that the Governor’s office is opposed to the bill both philosophically and politically. A bill that passed 96-4 in the House, 37-1 today in the Senate, and has had wide-spread support from people across the political spectrum in Virginia and around the country – is a serious liability for a man possibly being considered for a VP spot in the Republican nomination process. A veto would likely anger many constituents, and signing it could hamper higher political aspirations. This is a difficult place for any politician to be, and a place where Constitution-lovers want those politicians to be!
The bill, authored by Delegate Bob Marshall, originally passed the House by a vote of 96-4. In the Senate, there were attempts to delay the bill – basically killing it for the legislative year. That vote came down to a 20-20 tie, and ended up losing. Then, after an outpouring of support across the political spectrum, the bill received an amendment in the Senate, and passed 39-1 – sending it back to the house.
At that point, we believe that Governor Bob McDonnell – whom insiders tell us actually opposes the bill and sees it as a potential liability in a bid for a VP spot in the 2012 election – was working behind the scenes to get the bill killed in the House, which needed to approve the Senate amendment quickly to pass.
A number of procedural moves were used, and the amended bill was held up from coming to a vote. Delegate Barbara Comstock – one of only four delegates to oppose the bill the first time around – was the most outspoken against the bill. In essence, she was working as the establishment tool to try to stop what the People of Virginia, and in fact the entire country, are calling for – resistance to Sections 1021 and 1022 of the 2012 NDAA.
In a speech on the House floor, Comstock recycled the old fear tactics of 9-11 and terrorist attacks, implying that passage of the bill would be dangerous to public safety. “On 9-11, 2001, the Commonwealth was a war zone, a terror site, and I am concerned about what this bill and what this Senate amendment actually intends to do or would do to our national defense and counterterrorism efforts,” she said.
Comstock also stated that she worked with Congressman Frank Wolf (a supporter of NDAA), the Governor’s office and the National Guard to express opposition and to put the bill “in conference” – which would have effectively killed it for the legislative session.
Far from being dangerous to public safety, efforts to stand up for the Constitution do just what the Founding Fathers told us they would when they wrote the Preamble, including “insure domestic Tranquility” and “provide for the common defence.” Following the Constitution to the letter gives us more peace and a stronger national defense!
While the bill doesn’t, on its own, actually nullify or directly block federal agents from carrying out their new NDAA powers, this is part and parcel of a larger NDAA resistance campaign around the country. Currently 8 local governments have passed resolutions ranging from a denouncement of the federal act in three Colorado counties to requiring noncompliance with it in places like Fairfax, CA and Northampton, MA. And, 10 states are currently considering legislation like Virginia’s – all similar to the model legislation provided by the Tenth Amendment Center, the Liberty Preservation Act.
Here at the Tenth Amendment Center, we define nullification as “any act or set of acts which has as its end result a particular law being rendered null, void, or unenforceable in a specific area.” With that definition in mind, we see nullification of the new “kidnapping powers” of the NDAA as a multi-step process, including resolutions denouncing the act, bills refusing compliance with it on a state or local level, and beyond. This is why the bill has been dubbed by many to be the “NDAA Nullification Bill” – as it is part of a national effort to render those new unconstitutional powers null, void or unenforceable.
Barb Comstock was not happy with such language gaining traction around the country, and spoke of it on the floor in the hopes of derailing the effort –
“HB1160 is being heralded around the country as the NDAA Nullification Bill,” she said. “Even if you don’t agree with the Federal Defense Authorization Bill…the Commonwealth should not be nullifying a national defense bill.” She continued, “This is not at all like health care. I can assure you when I served in the government in the days after 9-11, I never was in the White House Situation Room about health care. But I was in that room over national defense and national security issues.”
Is it any surprise that someone who was in the White House Situation room with George Bush, Dick Cheney and others – would oppose a bill refusing compliance with new extra-constitutional federal powers? Certainly not.
Eventually, the house rejected the Senate version of the bill, and sent the original back to the Senate for consideration. The options at that point were to vote on the House version or send it to conference, where Comstock wanted it – killing the bill for the 2012 legislative session. After some parliamentary procedures, a motion was made to “recede” from the Senate amendment, which passed 28-10. (tally here) That vote basically said that the Senate was withdrawing their amendment and were willing to have an up or down vote on the House version. After a 39-0 Senate vote to reconsider receding from the Amendment, the bill was “passed by” for the day and put on the schedule for March 8, 2012.
Speaking in favor of the bill today were Senators Petersen (D) of Fairfax City, and Black (R) from Loudoun. “There is a long history – the posse comitatus act – that was designed to create a barrier between military force and law enforcement in this country. This is the first breach…since that period around 1870,” said Senator Black.
The final vote to recede from the Senate amendment, and effectively approve of the original House version was 37-1. (vote tally here)
Delegate Marshall released a statement on the vote today (full statement here) in which he said the following:
“The writ of Habeas Corpus in our Constitution (Article 1, Section 9) is what separates America from dictatorships around the world. Giving anyone the unfettered power to “detain” American citizens without trial, counsel, specific charges, or a public record of such proceedings is unwise, imprudent and at fundamental odds with the assumptions of our government and legal traditions.”
“The next order of business is for Governor McDonnell to sign this bill, and I respectfully call on him to do so, joining the General Assembly in protecting Virginians against unbridled exercise of federal power to detain American citizens.”
CLICK HERE – to view 4 versions of the model bill, the Liberty Preservation Act, for introduction in your state, city, county or town
CLICK HERE – to track the status of the Liberty Preservation Act around the country.