It was unnerving to me when I read the news alert on BuzzFlash.com that all four of the Democratic senators who chose to not vote on the recent unacceptable Mukasey confirmation to the post of Attorney General were all running for President of the United States of America. Even more unnerving was the fact that this is a trend that began immediately after each announced he or she would be running in the month of January this year.
All four made the news in January around the same two or three weeks as Democrats who would be running for president in the 2008 election. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on January 21st. Barack Obama began to organize his campaign formally on January 17th. Chris Dodd made his announcement that he would be running on January 11th. Joe Biden announced formally on January 31st.
It was at this time that these four Democratic senators began to abstain from voting on key measures that would have required them to take clear stances on certain issues. Look at these bills which I will highlight and see what was being voted on here. It is not hard for anyone to see that these men (and woman) were creating profiles in cowardice rather than courage at a time when Americans needed leaders to step up and still do.
The first vote where these senators begin to show up as “not voting” together is on a Kerry Amendment to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act on January 12th, 2007 and also on a Vitter Amendment to that same act which took place on the same day. All except Barack Obama chose to not vote. (Obama began to formally organize his campaign in January but did not announce he would be running officially until February.)
Four months later, after much ado had been made on getting out of the Iraq war like voters had hoped the 110th Congress would quickly do in their first months in office, the four chose to “not vote” on motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consider the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. Clinton, Obama, Dodd, and Biden did not vote. They later on June 14, 2007, chose to “not vote” on a Warner Amendment to the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 which would have allowed for the State of Virginia to petition for authorization to conduct natural gas exploration and drilling activities in the coastal zone of the State. Both “no votes” allowed them to not take a clear stance on immigration and to not take a clear stance on what to do for alternative energy sources in relation to our energy dependence.
The four senators on July 23, 2007, helped defeat Sherrod Brown’s Federal supplemental loan program amendment to the Higher Education Amendments of 2007 by “not voting.”
On Jul 25, 2007, before the situation erupted into massive chaos in Burma resulting in Americans all over noticing the repression in the region wanting to help out like Americans want to help with Darfur, the four chose to not vote on the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003.
While they may be upset that Bush vetoed children’s health care, they certainly were not there every step of the way during the battle because on July 30, 2007, the four Democratic senators chose to not vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007. This was one of the first votes on the measure before finally being vetoed by Bush later on this year. Yet even worse, later on in the heat of the struggle, they chose not to vote on November 1, 2007 too at a time when their voices and support were needed.
On September 5, 2007, the four senators who hope to be president could not be bothered to vote on an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2008. They also the next day on September 6, 2007, could not be bothered to vote on an amendment with a provision that would have struck the provision which increases the limit on the U.S.’s share for UN peacekeeping operations during 2008 from 25 to 27.1 percent. This was an amendment to the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2008. All four registered “no votes” for both amendment votes. The day after they chose to “not vote” on the Higher Education Access Act which would “increase grant amounts to students, improve access to student loans, cut interest rates on student loans, provide for the repayment of parts of the loans through employment or service in areas of national need, and reward colleges for lowering costs to students” thereby helping students pay for college. All of these senators chose to “not vote” for whatever reason.
The four chose in October to not vote on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 which “authorize[s] appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2008.” What was held in the act is the following:
· Expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States should support a political settlement in Iraq that would create a loose federal system (Sec. 1537).
· -Reaffirms support for all men and women of the United States Armed Forces, strongly condemns any attacks on General David Petraeus and all members of the US Armed Forces and specifically condemns Moveon.org’s advertisement about General David Petraeus (Sec. 1079).- Advertisement -
· -Establishes criteria to regulate private security contracts in areas of combat and require contractors to provide reports to the Department of Defense on operations and incidents (Sec. 871).
· -Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit to Congressional defense committees a report on the total requirement numbers, funding, transportation schedule, safety issues, and long term sustainment capabilities of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAP), and authorizes $23.60 billion for the procurement of 15,200 MRAP Vehicles (Secs. 1517, 1543).
· -Allows the U.S. Attorney General to assist law enforcement agencies in the criminal investigation or prosecution of crimes of violence that are “motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim” and sets a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a possible fine for hate crimes (Sec. 1023).