Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Did You Know The House Has A Pro-Pandemic Caucus?


When I first met Earl Blumenauer, he was proudly displaying an oversized bicycle shaped badge on his lapel. That's because he's the founder and chairman of the House Bike Caucus, which encourages municipalities to build bicycle lanes and otherwise support the idea of making it convenient for citizens to get around on bikes. There were over 180 members when I met him. Buck McKeon also founded and chairs a caucus, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus (AKA, the Drone Caucus). It encourages drone manufacturers to bribe Members of Congress. McKeon doesn't wear anything on his lapel. But he has a bulging wallet to show he's, by far, the biggest recipient of bribes from arms manufacturers and war contractors. Congress has dozens and dozens of caucuses-- from an Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, an Animal Protection Caucus and an Armenian Caucus to a U.S.-Mongolia Friendship Caucus, a Victory in Iraq Caucus and a Zero Capital Gains Caucus. They're registered with the House Administration Committee and are all supposed to abide by certain rules, although encouraging bribery isn't one of them.

One caucus that isn't registered and doesn't abide by any rules we can call the House Pro-Pandemic Caucus. Unlike the Bike Caucus or the Animal Protection Caucus, it isn't bipartisan. All 28 Members are Republicans. Monday they were out in full force, doing their best to prove that not even Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus can hold a candle to them when it comes to sheer stupidity. What brought them together this week was a roll call vote on Mike Rogers' Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 307), which seeks to strengthen national preparedness and response for public health emergencies. Rogers, a very conservative Michigan Republican had 5 co-sponsors: Michael Burgess (R-TX), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Henry Waxman (D-CA). No very controversial, right? It passed 370-28. All 178 Democrats in attendance voted yes and so did 192 Republicans, including their whole leadership. So who would vote against this?

Many of the names are familiar to anyone who watches with amazement-- or horror-- at the sad parade of Republican Know Nothings who vote against anything that might remotely benefit the American people, crackpots like the John Birch Society Pit of Hell lunatic from Georgia, Paul Broun (see video up top), Jeff Duncan, the South Carolina secessionist who, in a deranged rant, accused Hillary Clinton of letting the Benghazi "consulate become a death trap," domestic terrorist Steve Stockman, Hate Talk Radio host Trey Radel, and the always amusing-- in the way a 20 car pile-up on the interstate is amusing-- Virginia Foxx and Louie Gohmert. Interestingly, though, one of Boehner's main cronies in the House, increasingly unstable Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, voted with the freakshow. So did his #2 on the Judiciary Committee, Jim Sensenbrenner.

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