STENY HOYER PLAYS SHAMEFUL GAMES FOR BUSH-- RESIGN! RESIGN! RESIGN!
Steny Hoyer is a slippery character and a shrewd player; he wouldn't be House Majority Leader of political party with whose views he often opposes if he weren't. In his wish to undermine the will of most Democratic House members-- the ones who oppose warrantless wiretaps on American citizens and who see through retroactive immunity for what it is-- he is bundling his support for Bush's war funding and support for Bush's FISA bill (both insupportable for many Democrats) with wildly popular bills, like extending unemployment benefits and passing the new GI Bill. If you want to vote for those bills, you have to rubber stamp retroactive immunity for Hoyer's campaign contributors and for criminals inside the Bush Regime. They will never be brought before a judge and jury because Steny Hoyer can get away with maneuvers like this.
This man-- a leader in Bush's rush to war against Iraq-- should never have been elected Majority Leader. It's absurd that he got that position. He should be removed immediately. With slimy political hacks like Steny Hoyer in power in the Democratic caucus the reasons to bother opposing the Republicans fade away... fast. He has plotted with Bush and his shills to circumvent the will of most Democrats. Here's how CongressDaily just framed Hoyer's "compromise:"
House Democratic and Republican leaders and the White House have reached a tentative agreement on a war supplemental spending bill, which includes an extension of up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and increased veterans' education benefits that will not be offset.
According to Democratic and Republican sources, the supplemental will provide all states with a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance.
The legislation would retain a requirement that beneficiaries work at least 20 weeks to be eligible for benefits, which was kept in at the behest of House Minority Leader Boehner.
Democrats had sought to remove the requirement. Another 13 weeks of unemployment insurance would be provided to states with high unemployment rates.
The supplemental deal will include an increase in veterans' education benefits that could be transferred to spouses and children...
The supplemental will include language to block implementation of six of seven White House-proposed regulations for Medicaid that were designed to curb fraud and abuse. For flood-stricken Midwest states, the package will include $2.65 billion.
"We have an indication that the White House will sign this," said House Majority Leader Hoyer, who appeared with Republican and Democratic lawmakers outside his office after a meeting on the agreement. He added that it was premature to disclose any details of the bill.
Boehner characterized the package as fair to both parties and President Bush.
"This is an agreement that has been worked out in a bipartisan way that I think is acceptable to most Democrats and Republicans and to the White House," Boehner said [slithering out from under his rock on the golf course].
Hoyer is rushing this bill onto the floor. Here at DWT we didn't agree with that Texas oilman supporter of McCain when told women being raped to lay back and enjoy it and we don't accept Hoyer's treachery either. And we're not alone. Many Democrats do not buy into the little plot against the Constitution hatched by Bush and Hoyer. Across the board, progressives and members of Congress who have records of being protective of the Constitution, like Rush Holt, Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Harry Reid are condemning Hoyer's grotesque sell-out. Here's what Senator Russ Feingold had to say:
“The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation. The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration.”
Congressman Tom Allen, currently running against Bush rubber stamp Susan Collins for the Maine Senate seat, is also opposed to Bush's tampering with the Constitution. "I strongly oppose retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies. Neither the government nor large corporations are above the law. Individuals and corporations that break the law must be held accountable."
Quite a few of the candidates we've spoken with today are outraged by this formulation as well. Andrea Miller is running against one of the most pathetic of the Bush rubber stamps in Virginia, Randy Forbes. Andrea's statement is what I want to hear from every Democrat who thinks he or she should be representing us in Congress:
Has anyone in Washington these days ever heard of (let alone read) the U.S. Constitution-- remember that document? We were guaranteed certain rights. It seems many Republican members of Congress lay awake at night, thinking what rights can we take away from our fellow Americans today.
Specifically my opponent J. Randy Forbes, VA (R) wanted to add language that would have ensured that nothing in the bill would be construed to prohibit surveillance of, or grant any rights to, a state sponsor of terrorism or agents of state sponsors of terrorism. In addition, the language would have permitted the intelligence community to conduct surveillance of any person concerning an imminent attack on the United States, any U.S. person, including members of the Armed Forces, or an ally of the United States, Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, members of the al-Queda Iranian Revolutionary Guard, or any terrorist or terrorist organization. This language failed to garner enough votes to be included in H.R. 3773.
The right-wing is operating in force in Congress and the typical corporate Republicrats are once again falling in line. We have a Democratic majority in the House and yet they seem to be as confused by the meaning of the Constitution as the Republicans. Apparently, since impeachment is off the table, so is the U.S. Constitution. When I look at this new bill I can't help wondering if this is the new Democratic thinking, "If we make all illegal actions legal, then the President and Vice President have done nothing wrong. Ergo there is no need to consider impeachment because no laws were broken."
Dennis Shulman is running for a northern New Jersey seat currently held by one of the most extremist lunatics in the entire Congress, Scott Garrett, someone who goes beyond rubber stamp in trying to be even further right than Bush and Cheney. Needless to say, Garrett is a major supporter of this junk legislation. This morning Dennis told us he has a different perspective: "It is unfortunate that it appears that the telecom industry has managed to falsely conflate its quest for retroactive immunity for lawbreaking with the issue of national security. The Founding Fathers understood that our safety as a nation depended on our being a nation of laws. Retroactive immunity undermines the rule of law, and therefore undermines our principles and security as a nation."
Michigan state Senator Mark Schauer is running against one of the few members of Congress as extreme as Garrett, lunatic fringe Republican, Tim Walberg. Schauer issued an appeal directly to members of Congress: "We all agree that the government has a responsibility to keep our citizens safe, but we cannot let these companies off the hook for violating our personal freedoms. Today I urge members of Congress to support stronger measures that both keep our country safe and protect our Constitution."
Jim Himes doesn't have a proud wingnut to run against. His opponent, Chris Shays, has learned from his mentor, Joe Lieberman, to feign moderation, speak as though he were an independently and then vote the same way as radicals like Walberg and Garrett most of the time. Himes is a progressive who needs to make sure Connecticut voters who were fooled by Lieberman don't get fooled again by Shays. Himes understands that protecting the American people means more than just shutting down constitutionally-mandated civil liberties. "In Congress, I will always stand up for the fundamental American belief that no man, and no corporation, is above the law. As always, this is a matter for the courts to decide-- not for Congress, and absolutely not for the same Bush Administration who may have violated the law in the first place. It is great to see so many American citizens of all backgrounds coming together to stand up for the rule of law and in opposition to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who may have illegally spied on American citizens at the Bush Administration's request. I am disappointed that Chris Shays and so many others continue to stand with President Bush by refusing to stand up for this most fundamental of American principles."
The other U.S. Senator-- the Democratic one-- seems to be very much in sync with Jim on this. Here's Chris Dodd's statement today:
“I cannot support the so-called ‘compromise’ legislation announced today. This bill would not hold the telecommunications companies that participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program accountable for their actions. Instead, it would simply offer retroactive immunity by another name.
“As I have said time and time again, the President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecommunications companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I remain strongly opposed to this deeply flawed bill, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to join me in supporting American’s civil liberties by rejecting this measure.”
One of the most respected legal minds in the U.S. Congress, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) just explained to his constituents why he isn't buying in to Hoyer's what Bush and Hoyer have cooked up: "I regret that I cannot vote for the FISA Amendments Act. While the wiretapping provisions of the bill are far superior to earlier versions, they are still insufficient to protect adequately the privacy of ordinary Americans. While the bill purports not to grant immunity to the telecommunications companies, it is in fact a mere fig leaf that effectively provides a complete legal shield to the companies for the invasions of privacy and illegal activities they may have committed. This violates the fundamental American principle that people are entitled to their day in court, and that the courts, not Congress, decide whether people were injured by the illegal acts of others. It is unacceptable for Congress to protect private companies from lawsuits filed by people they may have harmed through illegal actions."
I hope you've already been reading how the Blue America PAC and our coalition allies are taking some serious actions to hold treacherous Democrats like Hoyer, Chis Carney and John Barrow, as well as the rubber stamp Republicans, accountable for their willingness to join Bush in his deprecations against the Constitution. This is a non-partisan effort. You can help here as more than 3,600 already have (bringing in more than $200,000 so far).