Harry Reid's Energy Fiasco

GRAHAM STRIKES AGAIN:  After embracing climate control and statist campaign finance legislation and later coming out for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R.-S.C.) last week found a new way of infuriating conservatives by becoming the lone Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote for confirmation of Elena Kagan to the high court.  Graham’s “thumbs up” to Kagan also means there will be no united front among Senate Republicans for a filibuster against the controversial nominee and thus guarantees a vote and near-certain confirmation by the full Senate.  As Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) told reporters after his panel voted 13-to-6 to send the nomination to the Senate floor, “Elena Kagan will be confirmed.”  President Obama hailed Graham’s decision as a “bipartisan affirmation” of his nominee to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.  One Southern Republican who served with Graham during their House days (1994-2002) and requested anonymity told HUMAN EVENTS:  “Lindsay is a graduate of the John McCain School of Publicity and knows that every time he tweaks his party, it gets him on the national news and gets him favorable editorials in the New York Times.”  Hours after the South Carolinian’s statement favoring Kagan, conservative bloggers, including “Powerline” and “Hot Air” went on the attack and called for a conservative primary challenge to Graham when he next faces the voters in 2014.

RALLYING BEHIND ARIZONA: That’s what the Washington Legal Foundation is doing. Weeks after the Obama Administration launched its lawsuit challenging the Arizona law that increases enforcement of federal laws against illegal immigration, WLF President Dan Popeo announced his group had filed a brief on behalf of one of the law’s co-sponsors, Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh. The WLF brief, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks denial of the U.S. Justice Department’s request for a preliminary injunction against the law, which permits police to ask for proof of citizenship from people they stop for possible lawbreaking. Joining the WLF in its brief are Republican Representatives Lynn Jenkins (Ga.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Gary Miller (Calif.), and Lamar Smith (Tex.).

Republican Senators Jim DeMint (S.C.) and David Vitter (La.) last week made an attempt to block tax dollars for the Justice Department suit against the Arizona immigration law. Their effort, which came in the form of an amendment to the bill extending unemployment benefits, was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 43-55, with 38 Republicans and 5 Democrats voting for it and 54 Democrats and one Republican (Voinovich) in opposition. Hinting strongly that this was not the last attempt at thwarting the funding of the lawsuit, DeMint told reporters after the vote: “This is something we know the American people—if they could vote here today—would vote in favor of. The question is, will the majority of the Senate vote to support the people of Arizona or to support this political move that we’re now seeing from the White House?”
GOP vs. IMF: As House Republicans stepped up efforts to limit U.S. tax dollars going to the International Monetary Fund, the fund’s managing director last week called for member nations to increase the IMF’s lending resources from $750 billion to $1 trillion. The increased resources, Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the Financial Times, “is something that can help prevent crises. Just because the financing role decreases doesn’t mean we don’t need huge firepower … a $1 trillion fund is a correct forecast.” Earlier this year, Republican Representatives Mike Pence (Ind.) and Cathy McMorris Rogers (Wash.) offered the European Bailout Protection Act (H.R. 5299) to require nations cut spending and get their financial houses in order before any U.S. tax dollars go to the IMF. So far, the measure has 43 co-sponsors (all of them Republicans) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

HUNTER, HOLDER, AND SANCTUARY CITIES: With conservatives acting in court and in the Senate against the Justice Department lawsuit challenging the Arizona immigration law, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.) was leading the charge in the House. Last week, Hunter introduced legislation to deny the Department of Justice any funding to continue the legal fight against the Arizona law until action is taken against sanctuary cities that provide safe haven to illegal immigrants. Hunter’s Sanctuary City Prevention Act comes in the wake of recent reports that the Department of Justice is not forcing these cities into compliance with federal immigration law—the same basis Justice claims for the lawsuit it is now bringing against Arizona.

Last Thursday, in recognition of significant opposition from members in his own caucus, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) decided to strike the cap-and-trade energy tax from legislation designed to address the BP oil spill. “They didn’t have anywhere close to 60 votes for Obama’s cap-and-trade tax,” said a Senate Republican aide. “But they are still saying they want to debate it in September. We can’t wait for that debate.” In a news conference with White House Climate Czar Carol Browner and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Reid said the Senate will consider a “scaled-down” bill this week. Though details had not been released at press-time, Reid said the bill would “hold BP accountable” and “prevent future spills,” and include provisions supporting expansion of natural gas vehicles and funding increases for “conservation.” The bill will almost certainly include legislation sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.) to eliminate the economic liability cap for offshore energy producers. Reid apparently doesn’t care that insurance industry experts testified on Capitol Hill recently that the Menendez bill would shut down the vast majority of domestic oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Once a hero to free-market conservatives for keeping interest rates low in the 1990s, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan continues to disappoint. Last week, Greenspan injected himself into the current debate in Congress over the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and ’03 and said that lawmakers “should follow the law and let them lapse.” A decade ago, the then-Fed chairman helped persuade Congress to pass the tax cuts of ’01. Calling Greenspan’s latest remarks “a disgrace,” Rep. Thad McCotter (R.-Mich.) told HUMAN EVENTS “this is the same guy who told Michigan factory workers that ‘creative destruction’—his words—will take your job but something else will come along. It hasn’t so far. I hope Greenspan is enjoying his retirement.”

For all the liberal media reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) is rebounding and Republican opponent Sharron Angle is falling down in their Senate race, it all depends on what polling one is reading. Although the latest Mason-Dixon poll showed Reid pulling ahead of Angle among likely voters by 44% to 37%, the PPP poll showed him leading by a narrower margin (48% to 46%), the just-completed Rasmussen poll showed Angle in the lead by 46% to 43%. Little noticed by the national press is how Reid’s son Rory, who will be on the Nevada ballot as the Democratic nominee for governor, is doing very poorly. The same PPP poll that showed Harry Reid slightly ahead of Angle also showed Republican Brian Sandoval leading Rory Reid for governor by a healthy 52% to 38% statewide.