Committee Chairmanships are still being figured out for the incoming House Republican majority in the 112th Congress next year. While American voters are counting on the GOP to do the right thing by reining in spending, keeping taxes low, and loosening up government regulations among other issues, unfortunately it appears Republican leadership may be falling short in their possible choice of who could possibly head up the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Congressman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, currently the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is hoping Speaker-to-be John Boehner, Ohio Republican, will grant the Michigan Republican a waiver to run for Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Committee leadership positions are term limited and include ranking membership posts, so Mr. Upton would require such a waiver to qualify to head up the committee.
Nevertheless, Mr. Upton’s voting record on financial, energy, and social issues are liberal to say the least and conservative activists are concerned Mr. Boehner may very well give Rep. Upton a pass. Congressman Upton, in a last ditch attempt to appeal to conservatives, has already “pledged” (h/t The Daily Caller) a number of agenda items he would stick to if he became chair, but his past liberal legislative actions are too vast to ignore. Glossing over such decisions on the congressman made would be irresponsible and tantamount to business as usual on Capitol Hill.
Health care, abortion, and the environment are handled directly by the Energy and Commerce Committee. Connie Hair at Human Events shows that Rep. Upton’s voting record would be far better suited in the present 111th Democratic Congress as opposed to the new conservative majority soon to be sworn in next year:
In 2001, über-liberal Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D.–Calif.) sponsored an amendment to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, an Act that recognizes an unborn child as a legal victim of violence when his or her life is taken in the commission of a federal crime. The amendment would have given recognition only to the mother without recognizing the unborn child as a victim.
Upton voted in favor of the amendment.
But there’s more—much more on the life issue alone.
In 1998, 1999, and 2000 Upton voted against the FDA ban on using federal funds for the development, testing, and use of chemicals to induce abortion. Upton is consistent in his belief that federal funding should be used to develop abortion drugs.
Upton voted against requiring parental notification before an abortion could be performed on a minor and in 2007 voted in favor of cloning human embryos for embryonic stem cell research.
And in 2007, and 2009 Upton voted against amendments offered by Rep. Mike Pence (R.–Ind.) to bar Title X funding specifically for Planned Parenthood abortion mills.
Additionally, Mr. Upton co-authored a bill with liberal lawmaker Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat, which banned incandescent light bulbs. Thanks to Rep. Upton and Democratic company the last incandescent light bulb factory closed in the United States back in September costing American jobs. In 2007, he helped the Democratic majority pass an omnibus energy bill full of government regulations and controls towards the private sector.
Rep. Upton was also part of the “global warming is settled science” brigade. In 2009, during a hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, he said “I have said at nearly every climate change hearing that for me I don’t dispute the science. Right or wrong, the debate over the modeling and science appears to be over.”
Here is another kicker, though. While Congressman Upton has no problem imposing energy regulations on voters, he went out of his way to exempt his own district from EPA regulations in a 2005 energy bill. According to a 2005 National Public Radio report, Mr. Upton proudly shared how he exempted his district from EPA controls : (bolding is mine)
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
President Bush flies to New Mexico today to sign the energy bill that Congress just passed after more than four years of debate. Much of that bill reads like a wish list of projects for lawmakers to brag about back home, and that is just what it is, according to NPR’s Peter Overby.
PETER OVERBY reporting:
You can find one member’s provision on page 998. It tells the Environmental Protection Agency to study smog in western Michigan. While the study is going on, the bill stops the EPA from enforcing clean air standards there. Western Michigan does have an ozone problem. Pollution from big cities across Lake Michigan blows in and drags western Michigan below EPA standards, even though the area’s mostly rural.
Representative FRED UPTON (Republican, Michigan): Some of my counties barely have a four-lane road, don’t even have a two-story building, and—you know, for miles and miles.
OVERBY: That’s Republican Fred Upton, the local congressman. He wrote the language that appears on page 998. Environmentalists aren’t thrilled about any special exemptions from the Clean Air Act. But what’s really noteworthy about Upton’s provision is that it’s out there in plain sight. It’s titled Western Michigan Demonstration Project.
Rep. UPTON: I’m one for an open process, and that’s why we didn’t, quote, “slip it in.” And people knew that it was me. I’m proud of this amendment. I did a press release on it.
In the 2005 press release Mr. Upton defended his exemption saying:
“As a member of the conference committee, I have been working to ensure that our communities in southwestern Michigan are not unfairly punished for air pollution that blows across the lake from such cities as Chicago, Milwaukee and Gary.”
How convenient for Congressman Upton, but is this the kind of lawmaker Republicans really want leading the Energy and Commerce Committee? House Republican leadership can talk about how they heard the “message” voters sent to Washington on November 2nd, but if squishy leadership remains in key committee positions the GOP can count on their majority to be more than fleeting.