Capital Briefs: Nov. 13-17

Pence for Minority Leader:

When the now-defeated Republican majority in the House of Representatives was led astray on key issues by President Bush, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, it was Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana who rallied backbenchers to fight back in defense of conservative principles.

That is why Pence should be elected minority leader for the next Congress.  Under Pence’s leadership over the next two years, HUMAN EVENTS believes, House Republicans can put themselves in position to retake the majority in 2008.  More importantly, they can be counted on to fight for what’s right.  Pence, after all, opposed President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, which the President is now hoping to re-authorize with the help of the Democratic majority.  Pence also led the gang of conservatives who stood up against the bullying of Republican leaders who tried to make them vote for Bush’s $8-trillion Medicare prescription drug entitlement.  He also led the conservatives who forced Congress to make spending cuts to offset at least some of the profligate spending President Bush suggested in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Many conservatives rightly criticized Pence when, in the midst of the battle over immigration reform this year, he offered a compromise plan that would have made illegal aliens return to their home countries before they could qualify to come back as guest workers (and would have required the President to certify that the border had been secured before a guest-worker program was initiated). Still, Pence did support the tough border-security and immigration-enforcement bill that passed the House last December and counts now among his supporters for the minority leader post top GOP immigration hawks Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Steve King of Iowa.

Sore Loser:

Hours after the White House resubmitted UN Ambassador John Bolton’s nomination to the Senate last week, defeated Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) played sore loser, announcing he still opposed Bolton. “To confirm Mr. Bolton to the position of UN ambassador would fly in the face of the clear consensus of the country that a new direction is called for,” said Chafee, who in September derailed Bolton’s confirmation by thwarting a Foreign Relations Committee vote. Bolton’s recess appointment runs out when this Congress adjourns. Thankfully, Chafee’s political career terminates at the same moment.

Seven for Eight:

Seven of the eight states that considered ballot initiatives banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions that give same-sex couples identical privileges to married couples approved those initiatives last week. The measure narrowly lost in Arizona, 51% to 49%. But in Tennessee it won 81%; in South Carolina, 78%; in Idaho, 63%; in Wisconsin, 59%; in Virginia, 57%; in Colorado, 56%; and in South Dakota, 52%.

Official English:

Although they turned down the marriage amendment, Arizonans voted 74% to 26% to approve making English the official state language.

Color-Blind in Michigan:

Michiganders voted 58% to 42% for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which prohibits state government entities, including colleges and universities, from “discriminating against or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.” Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos opposed the initiative. He lost 56% to 42% to incumbent Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who had once been considered vulnerable.

Church of Stem Cells:

The deceptively worded Missouri Amendment 2, which said it outlawed human cloning while in fact creating a state constitutional right to clone human embryos as long as those embryos are killed for their stem cells, seemed on its way to a very narrow victory last week. With 98% of precincts reporting, the tally was 1,059,202 in favor and 1,013,850 against. According to an exit poll, 69% of those who attend church once a week voted against it, while 79% of those who never attend church voted for it. Fifty-five percent of Catholics and 54% of Protestants voted against it. Eighty-two percent of people with no religion voted for it.

Slick is Sick:

Impeached former President Bill Clinton, AKA “Slick Willie,” barnstormed the country in the final weeks of the midterm campaign, making his typical calls for class war against the Republicans. “Republicans are driven by a desire to concentrate wealth and power, to be as unaccountable as possible, to govern for the benefit of special interests and to hew to a very narrow ideological line,” he said in Pennsylvania. In Iowa, he said he was “sick of partisanship.”

Dean Stumped:

At a post-election press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean said the “culture of corruption” issue was key to his party’s success and that Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi would be much tougher on wrong-doing Democratic members than House Republican leaders were on wrong-doing Republican members. HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi then asked Dean how Pelosi should deal with Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-La.), who was caught on tape taking $100,000 that was later found in his freezer. Dean replied: “He hasn’t been indicted yet.” Gizzi then asked whether Dean would repudiate Jefferson (who placed first in Louisiana’s multi-party “jungle congressional primary” last week), if the lawmaker was indicted before the December run-off. “I don’t know,” said Dean.

A Reckoning to Come:

HUMAN EVENTS asked Rep. John Shadegg (R.-Ariz.), who is running for minority whip, whether he thinks the GOP can peel off the votes of a group of newly elected House Democrats from the South and Midwest who ran as conservatives in the midterm election. “When they get here, they either are going to have to break faith with the people who they campaigned to with those conservative values,” said Shadegg, “or they are going to be available, or amenable to, an approach by us to say, ‘Look, you may be a Democrat, but you are not a Nancy Pelosi Democrat, and therefore you need to stand with us on critical issues, like, for example, not allowing all the tax relief that has been enacted during the past three years to simply go away.’”   


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