Robert Novak, in his column Favor Factory Shutdown, reports that the tin-eared Congress apparently did not hear the voters on November 7 and tried, like a dying fish writhing on the hook, to pass several pork-filled spending bills. Thanks to some responsible legislators, including our own Jim Demint, the latest grab for our tax dollars was stymied……for the moment.
The bipartisan dismay the dissenters have caused cannot be exaggerated.
Hard-working staffers are beside themselves that their lame-duck feast
of pork is being thwarted. K-Street lobbyists are frustrated that they
are being deprived of a vehicle for their special interest amendments.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran
wanted President Bush, currently in Asia on a trade mission, to phone
DeMint and ask him to stop blocking the agriculture appropriations
bill. It did not happen, and the Republican leaders mournfully agreed
to the cost-cutting resolution. An irate House Appropriations Chairman
Jerry Lewis, who has taken pride in passing his committee’s bills on
schedule and filled with earmarks, called the outcome an "absolute
disaster and catastrophe."
Among senators wailing that their pet projects are
being derailed, none has been louder than Democrat Kent Conrad, who
will be Budget Committee chairman in the new Congress. A self-described
fiscal conservative (because he wants tax increases), Conrad in 2005
alone submitted 41 proposals busting the Bush budget. He was so
distraught last week that the ag money bill blocked by DeMint contained
$4.9 billion in additional emergency relief that he threatened to stop
any money bills from passing in the lame-duck session. He did not
follow through with this program of actually closing the government…..
the Senate’s archaic rules can frustrate the will of the majority in
passing legislation and confirming presidential nominations, they also
can enable a few strong-minded senators to fight excess spending. These
senators may well temporarily close what Tom Coburn calls the "favor
factory" maintained by Republicans. Will the Democrats try to reopen it
Working behind the scenes, reading the fine print, holding true to the principles for which he was elected, our junior senator is demonstrating, again, that results matter, that promises are meant to be honored, that principle can be more important that compromise. Would that more of our representatives in Washington were cut from the same cloth.