Senator Norm Coleman today cast his vote in favor of the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 (S. 2349), which passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 90 – 8. This comprehensive legislation reforms the way Congress interacts with the lobbying community by providing a greater level of transparency and accountability. Included in this bill is an amendment, authored by Coleman and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), to create the Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress, which will provide an independent long-term review of the enacted reforms and recommend any additional reforms necessary to help restore public confidence in the legislative process. The bipartisan commission will create a roadmap for the Congress by examining issues such as disclosure, earmarks and travel.
"Today, we sent a strong message to the American people that demonstrates our commitment to working in an open and transparent environment; and the creation of a Commission will ensure we implement effective and rational reform for the long-term," said Coleman.
Edward Copeland points out that Smilin' Norm could've voted for more meaningful reform. Instead, he joined 66 other senators in voting against the Office of Public Integrity.
In addition to blowing his own horn, Smilin' Norm took the time to trumpet the dangers of dirty bombs:
"These issues must be addressed with sense of urgency," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., chairman of the Senate's Permanent Committee on Investigations. He called for tighter restrictions on the purchase of nuclear and radiological material.
"The reality is that it is easier to buy low-grade radioactive material for a dirty bomb than it is to buy cold medicine that has been restricted because of the meth epidemic," Coleman said, referring to over-the-counter remedies that are used in making the illegal drug methamphetamine.
I could stop by any pharmacy on the way home from work and buy pseudoephedrine. I might have to show identification and sign my name, but I can still buy it. Is Smilin' Norm an alarmist? The NRC seems to think so:
Past experience suggests there has not been a pattern of collecting such sources for the purpose of assembling a dirty bomb. Only one high-risk radioactive source has not been recovered in the last five years in the United States. However, this source (Iridium-192) would no longer be considered a high-risk source because much of the radioactivity has decayed away since it was reported stolen in 1999. In fact, the combined total of all unrecovered sources over a 5-year time span would barely reach the threshold for one high-risk radioactive source. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said world-wide. The U.S. Government is working to strengthen controls on high-risk radioactive sources both at home and abroad.
Yeah, you might have more luck buying Iridium abroad, but I bet Sudafed is pretty cheap in Mexico, too.
Via Proud Liberal and SUSA we find that Smilin' Norm is tied for the 61st most popular senator (Dayton is tied for 93rd, making him the least liked Democrat in the Senate. Six Republicans round out the list: Cornyn, Voinovich, Martinez, Santorum, Bunning, and Burns.) Coleman's approval rating among Republicans ties his 22 month low. His disapproval rating among Republicans is the highest SUSA has recorded.
Just for fun, you can check out Coleman's approval among Black Minnesotans. Over the last 9 months, Coleman has bounced between a +60 approval rating (73% approve, 13% disapprove) to a -40 rating (27% approve, 67% disapprove). Not much point in reporting a poll with a margin of error of 24%, but SUSA does it anyway.