Ironic Johnny votes to delay troop funding (H/T – Helga)

john_thune_official_photo

“I pulled the flag pin out of my ass long enough to vote against troop funding”

I’m starting to think that Thune doesn’t vote right or left, he votes anti-Obama. If Obama proposed the official popsical of America be blueberry, Thune would vote against it. He is truly an obstructionist of the highest order. While I think we should GTFO of Iraq and Afghanistan, I just find it ironic that Mr. Flag waving, let’s kick camel jockey ass, would vote against troop funding.

Everybody knows the health care debate has become more and more contentious, and dominated by a Republican parliamentary effort to delay the debate. But an under-appreciated aspect of this whole controversy – exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented — is the fact that it’s even affected defense spending, with Senate Republicans having worked to hold that up, too!

Late on Thursday night, the Senate voted 63-33 to break a Republican filibuster of the defense appropriations bill. Only three Republicans voted against this delay of military spending: Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME). The filibuster was part of a Republican effort to further delay the health care bill.

So think for a second about what happened here. The Senate GOP sought to hold up military spending — and not because of an argument with the defense appropriations bill itself or something in it that might have been offensive to them, but in an attempt to block a domestic political debate. It was an especially interesting position for a party that repeatedly accused then-Senator Barack Obama, during the 2008 campaign, of trying to “defund the troops” when he voted against a military funding bill because it didn’t include a timeline to withdraw from Iraq.

Is there even a precedent for this sort of thing? We put that question to Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and also asked whether it would be accurate to look at this and say that funding for the military was being held hostage in a domestic political dispute.

“Let me put it this way. Strange things often happen at the end of congressional sessions, especially in the Senate,” Mann said. “Those seeking to block action are even better positioned than usual. But I have never seen a Senate minority act in so unified and extreme (though ultimately unsuccessful) a fashion to deny the president a vote on his highest domestic priority. It is entirely accurate to say that troop-funding was being held hostage to a domestic political dispute. They gambled that a successful filibuster on the defense bill would force the Democrats to defer health reform until next year. They lost.”

But what would have happened if there hadn’t been 60 votes to cut off debate on the defense bill? Would defense spending have been held up? Mann said that in that case, Republicans would have ended their filibuster — but only once it became clear that Democrats wouldn’t be able to keep their Christmas-eve schedule on the health care bill. Another possibility could have been the use of short-term funding bills.

We asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell whether it was appropriate to hold up passage of a defense bill as part of a domestic political battle. McConnell spokesperson Jennifer Morris directed us to this statement by McConnell at a Friday press conference: “Now, the defense bill will pass; it just won’t pass as quickly as he [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] would like for it to pass. But he’s in charge of the schedule. He’s got the debt ceiling hanging out there. He’s got the defense bill to pass. And he’s trying to jam the American people on this mysterious bill that no one has seen before Christmas.”

The Democratic National Committee has signaled that Dems could use this to political advantage in 2010, with a national cable TV ad: “Republicans are so desperate to block health reform and protect their special interest friends that they delayed funding for our men and women in uniform. Then they voted against it. Tell Republicans to stop playing politics with health care. And to stop playing politics with our troops.”

Let’s see whether this one sticks in 2010, and whether the Democrats keep it up as a political attack.




8 comments ↓

#1 Costner on 12.22.09 at 10:07 am

We know obstructionism happens from both sides on a regular basis, but I find the hypocrisy to be reaching new levels here considering Thune ran against Daschle upon that very specific issue.

He painted Daschle as an obstructionist (at rightfully so as Daschle did pretty much fight against everything Bush proposed) but now here we have Thune working from the same playbook.

So what is the difference? Why should we continue to allow Thune to do the very same things he found so upsetting with his predecessor?

I’m thinking the South Dakota voters just need to step in and start electing a new Senator every term. Clearly these guys have zero interest in actually helping our state and are only concerned with how high up the party ranks they can climb.

#2 John2 on 12.22.09 at 10:18 am

Agree. All the incumbents should be tossed out. They are working for lobbyists, campaign funding, K Street and C Street, and not for us.

#3 Ghost of Dude on 12.22.09 at 10:39 am

Thune has always been and will always be a party-line guy. It has helped him get where he is in the senate, and may get him a presidential nomination if Palin gets out of the way.
I don’t plan on voting for any of our incumbant congresscritters.

#4 John2 on 12.22.09 at 12:06 pm

On the other hand, voting against this defense budget may have been the right thing, (though that was not the republican motive). With allies like these, who needs friends?

80-85% of Afghan army dopes up:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/22/afghan-armys-hashish-smok_n_400441.html

Pakistan court orders ears and noses to be cut off:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/22/pakistan-court-orders-ear_n_400412.html

#5 anominous on 12.22.09 at 12:24 pm

They’re grooming him…

#6 Annie Mouse on 12.22.09 at 7:21 pm

Thune doesn’t need to be “groomed” — he already has Republican helmet hair!

#7 l3wis on 12.22.09 at 8:13 pm

Thune/Palin 2012 – Frankenstein and his bride

#8 anemone on 12.22.09 at 8:45 pm

Lurch & church.