Patrick Kennedy Won’t Fight For You
Congressman Patrick Kennedy ends his first TV ad saying that he “will never stop fighting for you”. But here are two areas where he has already stopped, or perhaps never started, fighting for his constituents. They are both related to votes taken just yesterday…
- Congressman Kennedy will not fight for America’s border security. The Congressman voted against a House bill authorizing (but not funding) 700 miles of physical fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border. Border fencing is not controversial to reasonable people at this stage of the immigration debate. Earlier this year, Senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee, Senators with very liberal positions on immigration reform, both voted in favor of funding 370 miles of triple-layered fencing between the U.S. and Mexico. The House overwhelmingly favored building a border fence, 283-138, with Congressman James Langevin, as well as Congressman Kennedy, in the minority who opposed the bill.
- Congressman Kennedy will not fight to make information on Congressional spending public. He prefers that Congress’ spending pratices be kept shrouded in secrecy, away from the view of average citizens. The Congressman, along with a majority of his party, voted against a change in House rules that would require “earmarks” in appropriations legislation to include simple information like the identity of the Congressman that requested the earmark, the identity of the earmark recipient, and the amount of the earmark. Amazingly, just 1 of 29 Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee voted to make the earmark process transparent (though Republicans appropriators did only a little better, 12 of 35 voting in favor). When it came time to decide between making government open to public oversight, or protecting arcane privileges, Congressman Kennedy and his committee-mates chose to protect their privileges.
The earmark reform rules passed by a vote of 245-171. Congressman Langevin was one of just 45 Democrats who broke party ranks to vote in favor of earmark transparency.
Finally, there’s an interesting sidebar regarding the earmark reform vote. In June, Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia publicly promised a group of his constituents that he would “earmark the sh**” out of bills if the Democrats regain control of Congress and he becomes chair of an appropriations subcommittee. Yet Congressman Moran voted against the simple disclosure rules — rules that would help him take credit for the earmarks he so dearly craves. If Congressman Moran is so proud of the earmarked money that he spends, why doesn’t he want it to become an easily-accessed part of the public record? Could it be because the earmarks he requests don’t benefit as many of his constituents as he would have you believe?