House of Representatives

House approves resolution barring ground forces

Congress has finally gotten around to taking action on Libya. After it was clear that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had no intention of taking on President Barack Obama on the issue, the House passed a resolution on Friday that forbid the use of ground troops in Libya:

The House on Thursday approved a resolution offered by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) barring the use of American ground forces in Libya and demanding the White House turn over internal documents related to President Barack Obama’s decision to order U.S. forces to take part in the NATO-led campaign.

The vote on the Boehner resolution was 268-145. The vote pulled 45 Democrats across the aisle, despite opposition from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other top Democrats.

Even though they had pulled a competing resolution sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) that would have required an end to our involvement in the campaign against Libya because it may have actually passed, Republican leaders allowed it to come up for a vote on Friday. Unfortunately, it failed; despite 87 Republicans voting for it.

Christopher Preble notes that Boehner offered his resolution only after it became clear that Kucinich’s resolution was a threat. He also notes that one of the arguments for our intervention in Libya is not because they represent a threat to our national security, but that because NATO has been an ally to us in Afghanistan.

Well, the earmark ban lasted five months…

So much for that earmark ban. According to CNN, the defense spending bill that cleared the House on Thursday contains a provision that will allow members to spend freely on projects back home:

The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing.

This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks — special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress’ pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks.

Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named “Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund,” Congress has been squirreling away money — like $9 million for “future undersea capabilities development,” $19 million for “Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies,” and more than $30 million for a “corrosion prevention program.”
Roughly $1 billion was quietly transferred from projects listed in the president’s defense budget and placed into the “transfer fund.” This fund, which wasn’t in previous year’s defense budgets (when earmarks were permitted), served as a piggy bank from which committee members were able to take money to cover the cost of programs introduced by their amendments.

And take they did.

Quote of the Day: Charlie Cook on NY-26

Via an excellent article by Jim Antle at The American Spectator, Charlie Cook, one of the best political analysts in the business, believes that drawing conclusions about next year based on a special election isn’t smart:

The NY-26 race featured a former Buchanan Republican turned Democrat turned Tea Party independent Jack Davis. Davis has spent millions in three recent congressional campaigns. Running on conservative themes, he took 9 percent of the vote this time around.

“If anyone can find a race next year with a similar configuration, be my guest and apply the ‘lessons learned’ from this race to that one,” warned political prognosticator Charlie Cook before the special election. “But implying that the outcome of this race portends anything about any conventional race next year amounts to cheap spin and drive-by ‘analysis’ of the most superficial kind, which is sadly becoming all too prevalent in Washington.”

But, as Antle notes, Republicans still have a Medicare problem; and it’s not going away anytime soon. They waited too long to try to fight against the incredibly false and dishonest picture that Democrats were able to create about Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan leading up to NY-26.

House passes the Path to Prosperity

On Friday, the House of Representatives approved the Path to Prosperity, budget plan offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), but not before drama erupted during the vote on the Republican Study Committee’s budget, which offered even more spending cuts:

Democrats unsettled Republicans by voting “present” in a vote on a more conservative budget than the official GOP proposal put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), almost enabling that bill to pass.

In the end, it failed in a 119-136 vote, with 172 Democrats voting present.

Several Republicans, including Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (Calif.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), a member of GOP leadership, switched their votes to ensure the more conservative budget backed by the Republican Study Committee did not win approval.
As the presiding officer tried to close down the vote, about a dozen more Democrats asked to switch their vote from “no” to “present,” which nearly allowed the RSC bill to pass.

“Democrats, vote ‘present!’ ” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) shouted at his colleagues, who tried, one by one, to switch their “no” votes to “present.” Ryan, the architect of the official GOP budget, shouted “Shut it down!” in an effort to close the vote and count the tally before Democrats could switch enough of their votes to advance the amendment.

At one point, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) stood on a chair and pointed at the presiding officer to keep the vote open.

The RSC’s alternative budget resolution would cut even more deeply into spending than Ryan’s bill, and was not expected to be approved by the House.

House votes to cut funding for NPR

National Public Radio, which has officials say some not nice things about a significant percentage of Americans, just watched the House of Representatives vote to eliminate funding for the network.  Many are applauding the act, saying this is a huge step or some such crap.  Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t have a shot in hell of passing in the Senate where NPR loving Democrats hold the majority.

Bills like this are symbolic, and a mild waste of time.  Personally, I like them because while they’re debating these things and then not actually passing them, it means they’re not screwing with my individual liberties.  Personally, I’m really OK with anything that keeps their hands off my freedom.  Hell, I like the idea of tax dollars funding an arcade that’s free for all members of Congress…so long as they play video games for 16 hours per day.

However, the truth is that cutting off NPR isn’t really going to do a thing.  Somehow, some way, it will keep going.  A better use of time would be to cut ObamaCare, restructure Social Security so people of my generation might actually see something, cut across the board for everything from defense to welfare and all points in between, and then maybe we can have a balanced budget.  NPR isn’t a top priority.  It’s just a public face to show what they’re doing.

In fact, they might as well be playing those video games for all the good they actually did.

Yes, call it “ObamaCare”

During the debate last week on spending cuts in the House of Representatives, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) frequently referred to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last year as “ObamaCare,” as it is frequently called by those of us that would like to see it repealed. This upset Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who claimed that calling the law “ObamaCare” was a violation of House rules because it is “disparaging reference to the President of the United States.”

It has been noted that the Obama Administration has effectively owned the word as they have launched a Google Ad Words campaign targeting “ObamaCare” to bring people into government websites that try to sell us on the law. So, yes, the term “ObamaCare” is appropriate to use on the House floor.

PATRIOT Act extension passes the Senate, heads to Obama’s desk

A day after the House passed a short-term extension of the USA PATRIOT act, the Senate followed suit, passing the controversial without much opposition:

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would extend through May three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire later this month. The move is designed to buy time for lawmakers to fully debate and hold hearings on the controversial counterterrorism surveillance law.

The bill passed on an 86-to-12-vote, with two senators not voting. Most lawmakers from both parties voted in favor of the measure, but the opposition was also bipartisan; among the dozen lawmakers voting against it were nine Democrats, two Republicans and one independent.
The Senate had been considering several different proposals that would have extended the Patriot Act provisions permanently or through 2013. But given the time constraints — both chambers are in recess next week — Senate leaders agreed to a short-term extension through May 27 to give Congress more time to work toward a longer-term reauthorization.

On the Senate floor Tuesday evening, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had already announced his opposition to extending the Patriot Act provisions, denounced the law as an infringement of civil liberties.

PATRIOT Act extension falls short on votes in the House

The House of Representatives failed this evening to pass extension of key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, a law that undermines the Bill of Rights and has led to abuse of civil liberties as federal authorities routinely violated provisions of the legislation::

An effort to quietly pass an extension of key provisions in the Patriot Act under the same rules the House uses to name Post Offices failed in a Tuesday night vote.

The vote, which required two-thirds of the House, fell short 277-148. It needed 288 to pass.

The lower chamber tried to pass the extension by suspending the rules, which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. A second attempt under different rules is expected before they expire on Feb. 28.

The provisions provide the federal government the power to conduct roving wiretaps, access public library check-out information, and the “lone wolf” provision that tracks citizens who may not be connected to larger terrorist groups.

You can view the vote info here.

Despite running on a platform of returning to constitutional principles, 210 Republicans voted for extension of these provisions. However, 26 Republicans stood firm in voting against the PATRIOT Act. It’s a rare victory, short-term, but we’ll take it.

Schoolhouse Rock Parody: How a Bill REALLY Becomes a Law

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Signs Of An ObamaCare Backlash In November

From the latest Rasmussen Reports poll:

Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say they are less likely to vote for their representative in Congress this November if he or she votes for the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Wednesday night finds that 34% are more likely to vote for their Congress member’s reelection if he or she supports the president’s health care plan. Eight percent (8%) say the health care vote will have no impact on how they vote this November, and another seven percent (7%) are not sure.

Thirty-three percent (33%) of all voters favor the creation of a single-payer health care system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone. Fifty-four percent (54%) oppose such a system. These findings are unchanged from the end of last year. Support for a single-payer system plays a huge role in whether someone will support a Representative who votes for the health care plan.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of those who favor a single-payer system are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes for the health care plan. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of those who oppose a single-payer system are less likely to vote for a health care plan supporter.

With every Republican in Congress opposed to the health care plan, it’s not surprising to find that 79% of GOP voters are less likely to vote for someone who supports it. Fifty-five percent (55%) of Democrats, on the other hand, are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes for the plan.

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