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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

 
When Pressure Isn't Pressure

by dday

Hilarious, so the Republican Whiny Caucus (i.e. the entire Republican Party) tried to force a vote on the Senate telecom amnesty bill today, but were beaten back by a 212-198 vote. I don't know if this is out of some principled opposition to amnesty in the Democratic caucus (probably not) or a desire to use the recognized rules of order, but once again we see that the Democrats have yet to turn to their normal state of jelly.

There are ongoing negotiations on the future FISA bill:

Instead, Democrats have begun conferencing both House passed and Senate passed versions of the FISA update—although the House version does not contain retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies, a key sticking point.

Republicans have boycotted the talks, instead insisting the House vote on the Senate bill, which received 68 votes in the Senate and would likely have the blessing of the White House. House Democratic leaders have insisted they will not be bullied into accepting the Senate bill, despite the heated rhetoric coming from the White House and congressional Republicans on the issue.


The real question is why Republicans should be at any conference committee talks in the first place. They have no minds of their own, they simply follow the White House's directives, so why should they be burdened with showing up at the conference at all? In fact, about 150 or so of them might as well go home and direct the White House political director to vote by proxy for them, since they never deviate from that strategy anyway. Seriously, let's just get life-sized cut-outs and use marionette wires so they can depress the buttons on that little machine that tabulates their votes.

These Republicans have nothing to add to any serious debate. They take their marching orders and that's it. The Democrats ought to learn that a committee negotiation can proceed just fine without them, and in the future decline to invite them.

Meanwhile, the Spine Caucus is growing:

U.S. Rep. John Salazar’s office said he has been under no pressure in Colorado’s 3rd District to a vote on a measure that would update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

“Coloradans have been very supportive of Rep. Salazar for standing in favor of stronger civil liberty protections under FISA, and he believes they deserve their privacy rights to be protected by their member of Congress,” said his Washington, D.C., spokesman, Eric Wortman.

Salazar’s district includes most of the Western Slope and southern Colorado.


Salazar is a Bush Dog, one of those Democrats who voted against the party on the Protect America Act and on Iraq. And he's not feeling pressure. I know there are some attack ads out there from a right-wing group, but they don't appear to be having the intended effect. This is a background issue, and try as the Whiny Caucus might to scaremonger, it's not working. Of course it remains to be seen what comes out of the conference committee and whether or not it's something that's passable on the basis of civil liberties. There still exists the potential for a massive sellout. But it really looks like the man behind the curtain has been exposed.

... see too this op-ed from top Democrats denouncing White House scare tactics, signed by even Jello Jay Rockefeller!


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