Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 21, 2010

IN DEFENSE OF EXTRANEOUS AMENDMENTS.... When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) explains why he's trying to kill the bill that funds the military, he says it's necessary to prevent measures that aren't germane to defense spending.

Noting, for example, that the bill includes a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and may ultimately include the Dream Act, McCain says the problem has nothing to do with his animosity towards gays and immigrants. Rather, McCain says it's "reprehensible" to "use the defense bill ... to pursue a social agenda."

At first blush, this might seem half-way reasonable. Putting aside the fact that troop eligibility has quite a bit to do with the Pentagon, it does seem awkward to add extraneous provisions to spending bills that deal with unrelated subjects. Last year, for example, Democrats added the Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the defense authorization bill, though hate crimes and military spending don't seem related.

But here's the detail McCain and his cohorts hope you won't notice: this is actually pretty common, and just the way the Senate operates. More to the point, this is the way McCain and other Republicans have operated for years.

[F]or all the griping about what amendments have or haven't been added to the DoD Authorization, the fact remains that these appropriations measures have long been vehicles for unrelated legislation. McCain himself would know that. As Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich) noted right after he spoke on the floor, the Senate had previously considered hate crimes legislation in 2001, 2005, and 2008. McCain himself "offered a non-relevant amendment to the defense authorization bill," Levin added, proposing "to acquire campaign finance disclosure by the so-called 527 organizations as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization."

Meanwhile, as a Democratic source following the debate on the Hill noted, back in 2005, then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) managed to attach a provision granting immunity for companies manufacturing vaccines to protect against biological agents to an FY2006 DoD appropriations bill.

What do campaign-finance disclosures and immunity for vaccine companies have to do with funding the military? Not a thing, and therein lies the point. Republicans are whining incessantly about a legislative maneuver they've used many times.

McCain told Fox News the other day, "Interestingly, for many, many years, we never put any extraneous items on the bill because it was so important to defense and we just didn't allow it." He was either lying blatantly or he's completely forgotten his own recent history in the Senate.

Indeed, the closer we look , the more examples we find. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has tried to add a concealed-weapons proposal to a previous defense authorization bill. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) used military funding to push a measure on indecency standards. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), interestingly enough, even tried to add the Dream Act to the 2007 defense authorization bill.

"When Senator McCain repeatedly says that extraneous items were never offered or put on the defense authorization bill, he's just clearly wrong," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said yesterday.

He usually is.

Update: TPM finds even more examples of using the defense spending bill for extraneous amendments, including GOP efforts to ban Internet gambling and opening ANWR to oil drilling.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Posted by: IOKIYAR! on September 21, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

McSoccerball was for telling the truth before he was against it.

Lying beady-eyed S.O.B.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on September 21, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

You can have terrible dreams which keep you from sleeping properly , or you can become a member of a political vibe that merely wants to keep a certain small percentage of the population from voting . This can mean keeping access and influence from portions of the "People" , or to keep that itty bitty fraction of people from dreaming .
In all exceptions amongst the amusing activities is finding a case where the heart of McCain and his unwavering and deeply committed philosophy maintains the same language from the beginning of a sentence to its conclusion .

Posted by: FRP on September 21, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

And to think, this lying hypocrite wanted to be our Latex Salesman.

tsk tsk tsk.

Posted by: Rochester on September 21, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"When Senator McCain repeatedly says that extraneous items were never offered or put on the defense authorization bill, he's just clearly wrong," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

And that in a nutshell is what is wrong with the democrats. Why can't they just come out and say: "McCain is LYING, this is what the GOP does, the lie and obfuscate. I will gladly have a debate in any format at any time anywhere to discuss this topic. But let's call a duck a duck and a lie a lie.

Posted by: citizen_pain on September 21, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that when House Democrats brought the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to the floor, they did so as a "suspension bill" so the GOP couldn't do exactly what they accuse Democrats of doing here.

Posted by: Michael on September 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Repubs often put a "poison pill" in a defense bill? That way a Democrat either had to vote for something they didn't want or be accused of voting against the troops? I thought it was a common tactic for them.

Posted by: Homer Abernathy on September 21, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

You are correct Mr. Abernathy.

Posted by: tanstaafl on September 21, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

citizen Pain: Exactly. Ridicule would be an effective approach, I think. McCain might as well be objecting based on the color of your tie. Thugs are resorting to childish, destructive tantrums in order to exert control where the last election said they should not have it.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on September 21, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

citizen_pain: You beat me to it, and you're exactly right. Anyone can be wrong. We forgive those whose judgement is wrong, even when they're often wrong. Lying, however, requires intent to decieve, is gererally considered evidence of bad character, and is really what is happening here.

Posted by: BrendanInBoston on September 21, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

When McCain speaks is there anyone that can not smell bullchit?

Posted by: Silver Owl on September 21, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Why can't they just come out and say: "McCain is LYING,"

In the British parliamentary system, and I expect in the US also, it is against the rules to call a fellow member a liar, or accuse them of lying. Strangely, lying isn't against the rules, or at least there is no direct sanction for doing so.

Sen. Levin was speaking on the floor of the Senate, and therefore bound by the rules.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on September 21, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hey you Gays ! Get off my military!

Posted by: john R on September 21, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain is a shameless hypocrite. Film at 11.

Posted by: Gregory on September 21, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

One of our many problems is that many reporters and voters don't remember what happened last year, let alone back in the Clinton Presidency.

Posted by: Jamie on September 21, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm proud of my sons, but let me tell you, the day that Senator Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body," she said, drawing a chorus of boos.

"Let me tell you: I would suggest that Senator Obama change shoes with me for just one day, and see what it means, and see what it means to have a loved one serving in the armed forces, and more importantly, serving in harm's way."

McCain, who said Tuesday that Obama has "waged the dirtiest campaign in American history," is referring to a vote that Obama cast last year against a defense funding bill because it did not include a timeline for pulling out of Iraq. He subsequently voted for a version that included a timetable. -2008

Posted by: Jeff on September 21, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Above quotes - first 2 paragraphs are Cindy McCain. third is from John. It wasn't clear before I realized.

Posted by: Jeff on September 21, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

John McSame is the only reprehensible item mentioned here..
It is reprehensible that he is still alive, screwing up policy.
Please die you miserable old bag of shit..

Posted by: Trollop on September 21, 2010 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that McCain is a 'miserable old bag of shit' but it is still inappropriate to ask him to die.

Posted by: tanstaafl on September 21, 2010 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK



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