In what could be a Capitol Hill first, a lawmaker last week attempted to cast a vote of “not present.”
The moment straight out of Lewis Carroll came during Wednesday’s markup of a U.N. reform bill in the House International Relations Committee. The bill calls on the administration to get tough over a multitude of misdeeds and scandals coming out of Turtle Bay, and members of both parties took politically popular potshots at the world body during the debate.
But then Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, principled libertarian and chronic skunk at congressional garden parties, offered an “American sovereignty restoration” amendment calling for the United States to pull out of the United Nations altogether. Mr. Paul noted, correctly, that the case for his amendment had just been made by all the negative comments his colleagues had been airing for the previous two hours.
Democrats, sensing the politically embarrassing nature of the amendment, immediately demanded a roll-call vote, requiring their Republican colleagues to go on record in support of U.S. membership in the blue helmet/black helicopter society.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, was absent when the clerk first called his name for the Paul amendment. But, perhaps mistiming his return to the committee room, Mr. Rohrabacher took his seat before the voting had officially closed.
His lips pressed firmly together, Mr. Rohrabacher only smiled and waved his hand when the clerk asked for his vote. “Present?” she helpfully asked, to which Mr. Rohrabacher simply shook his head, plainly hoping the clerk would just pass him by.
The performance elicited a few mocking chicken clucks from committee Democrats. In the end, the California Republican was recorded as voting “present” on the Paul amendment.
For the record, the amendment was rejected on a 39-3 (one present) vote, with just South Carolina Republican Reps. Joe Wilson and J. Gresham Barrett siding with the Texan.
Be careful what you promise.
Just ask Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, who last November in ousting Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle became the first challenger to defeat a Senate leader in more than a half-century.
Mr. Thune promised the voters of his state that if they helped him make history by ousting the Democrat, he would see to it that Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota remain open. Wouldn’t you know, Ellsworth is on the list of scheduled base closures.
Needless to say, Mr. Thune isn’t happy. And as Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) notes, he is now “doing everything short of writing to Santa Claus to derail the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.”
This includes introducing legislation to delay BRAC indefinitely, threatening litigation against the Pentagon, and maybe changing his position on unrelated votes to “punish” the Bush administration.View Entire Story
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