Standing his ground
Thank you to Sen. Norm Coleman for continuing to vote against budgets that include a provision for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The senator understands that the key to energy independence is to use less, not drill for more.
Once more into the breach, dear friends. Once more into ANWR, LIHEAP, filibusters and press releases. Then, perhaps, we'll put all this to rest.
December 21, 2005
Smilin' Norm issues a press release:
I came to the Senate to get things done. I have never supported a filibuster, no matter how controversial the issue. Our troops, the victims of the hurricanes, and the families who depend on LIHEAP assistance deserved an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor today. Yet the outcome of this vote reveals a deep dissatisfaction among my colleagues. I am angry about the process and at the direction we have forced on these very important issues that now remain unresolved. We will now have to start over from square one. My only hope is that we bring back to the table a bill that excludes ANWR and will offer real choices to our troops and families and sets politics aside to get necessary legislation passed.
By December 21, 2005, the 2006 defense appropriations bill needed to be passed. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has inserted a provision into the must-pass bill that would have allowed drilling in ANWR. Democrats opposed the measure, so when the Republicans tried to invoke cloture, Democrats voted for more debate. The Democrats carried the day, with 44 votes against cloture. Also voting against cloture were Republican senators Chafee, DeWine, and Frist. (No, really, Frist!)
Enter Coleman's press release, deploring the outcome of the vote. Sounds like Coleman really wanted to vote in favor of the bill, doesn't it? He wanted to vote in favor of funding the war. In favor of hurricane relief. In favor of LIHEAP.
What else was in the bill? ANWR. Coleman wanted to end debate on the bill. Coleman wanted to vote for the bill. Coleman, in other words, was clearly ready to vote in favor of drilling in ANWR.
Coleman was saved later that same day, by the filibuster he opposed. A compromise was reached and the defense appropriations bill was amended. The amendment passed 48 to 45, with Coleman voting "Yea". The vote removed the provisions allowing drilling in ANWR. The amendment also removed "Division D, the Distribution of Revenues and Disaster Assistance." Of particular interest to Minnesotans and all people opposed to hypocrisy, the amendment removed section 2 of division D which provided funding for LIHEAP.
So, on December 21, Smilin' Norm issued a press release saying how gung-ho he was to vote for LIHEAP without mentioning that he'd also be voting for ANWR. Then, THEN!, he issues a second press release trumpeting his vote against drilling in ANWR without mentioning that he was also voting against LIHEAP. There's spin. There's dishonesty. There's hypocrisy. You decide what you think of Coleman's dueling releases.
The next day, we get another press release from Coleman trumpeting the promise to vote on LIHEAP in the near future:
Late last night, Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) forged an agreement with the Senate Majority Bill Frist (R-TN) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for a Senate vote on a separate, emergency supplemental bill to provide $2 billion additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) after Senate consideration of the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito in January.
We know how that turned out, eh? The $2 billion in additional funding to be voted on in January turned into a $1 billion accounting shift voted on in March. Coleman, predictably, claimed this a success, as well.
Meanwhile, Smilin' Norm is still railing against tax cheats who drive fancy cars and get government contracts. Here's a suggestion: take a look at the good folks at MZM -- they were the ones providing Duke Cunningham with yachts and other fancy toys. The good news is that you can find MZM employees with contracts with the White House. At least it's nothing important, like weapons of mass destruction. Except that they are working for the Robb-Silberman WMD commission.
...Another dentist weighs in on Coleman's congratulatory statement to the genuinely good work some dentists have been doing.
...Shame on the Sierra Club for this:
On the other hand, Minnesota's Senator Norm Coleman broke ranks and stood up for the Arctic on this vote, for which he deserves kudos. This meant hat [sic] this year's tally look's [sic] a lot like last year's.
Jesus, Carl Pope (Sierra Club Executive Director)...spend a little more time looking at the Congressional Record and your blog posts.