Will The House Honor Their Oath To Office, Or Follow The Senate’s Lead And Cave To Fear?

Some of us, okay, I am referring to myself, thought that FISA was cooked yesterday (really, I have thought this from the second they announced the unanimous consent agreement and bi-partisan extension baloney) and that the fork might as well be stuck in. As I said in the last thread,

…the House is putting on what appears to be a better showing than the Senate, but I have no doubt that it is all kabuki and the deal is done. I am pretty much positive that Pelosi, Hoyer and Boehner have their skids all greased and did so in conjunction with Hanoi Harry and the Senate Stumblebums. It is good to keep in mind that ALL of the representatives are up for election (only a third, give or take a few, of the Senate), so they have a vested interest in putting on a show. When the curtain closes, the final act will have been the same though.

Remember, we thought there was at least a fighting chance in the Senate, and then all those eloquent and moving words by Chris Dodd, all followed by a whopping 29 Senators having the one ethical bone in their bodies to protect the constitution. Depressing. There is no way the House is going to squelch this after the Senate did that.

I still believe that analysis, but I will have to say that the House has put on a better show today than I expected, even after seeing the John Conyers letter issued evidencing that a little fight might be left in the old boys after all.

Cboldt had this to say last Saturday about the interplay between the Senate and House:

This latest push by the progressives, plus the fact that they have another extension ready, give me a little hope; but not much

The number of signatories, and their general “place” in the hierarchy of power, inclines me to think they are being “humored.” Their objection and voice can’t be blocked, and while it’s good to let them express their point of view, I’m not sure there is enough weight of objection in the House as a whole.

Yes, the right things are being said. But not by many.

The procedural details are in accord with the substantive material (e.g., contents of amendments, UC agreement) and a vote breakdown that heavily favors capitulation to the DNI demands. I wouldn’t be shocked if there was another extension, as a token political concession to the objectors, but I don’t expect Congress to send another extension to the WH.

I don’t follow the House that closely and don’t understand House procedure very well. So I’m stuck with mixed messages in that venue. On the one hand, RESTORE passed with a majority (no immunity); on the other hand, the number of vocal opposers to immunity is about the same fraction in the House as it is in the Senate; well under 20%. They can object and put on a good fight, but from what I can see, the numbers aren’t there.

I am interested in where all of you think we stand in relation to the House efforts today and moving forward. Is there any life in the good fight or are we just running out the clock? Please feel free to discuss any other relevant topics you have as well.

40 replies
  1. ezdidit says:

    It will be awful to watch, but there is a feeling in me that they have gone too far with their impeachment off the table rope-a-dope.

    To wit: they never expected that their lack of leadership against the administration would help an insurgent candidate like Obama as much as it has, and in such short order. But it has worked all too well to drive the Democrats to the polls and in record numbers. If I were them, I’d be worried.

    Rahm? Any word from Rahm yet? He should have nothing to worry about except the company he threatens to keep.

    I would hate to see what happens if any Democratic congressmen come to feel that they have nothing to lose and maybe something to gain.

  2. JimWhite says:

    If (and I realize cboldt will weigh in on the likelihood here) there is a conference committee assigned, I think that will tip the hand of whatever is up. If Harry includes Dodd, Feingold and Leahy while excluding Rockefeller and Bond, we might actually have some hope. Then we finally get to turn the tables on the R’s and force them to hold their noses and vote for a bill they hate because time is running out the tur’rists are gonna get us if the bill doesn’t get passed.
    I’m not aware of any other action pending in either body right now, so I’m guessing a conference may be the only remaining route, even if that was not expected to be the case earlier.

  3. BayStateLibrul says:

    After a White Zin and review of our previous attempts to win one
    for the home team, I have unscientifically concluded that this will fail and a massive cave-in (avalanche) will result…

    • ticktock says:

      Be so kind as to pass that bottle….

      It’s amazing how a bit of wine will give you searing clarity regarding a situation…

      Perhaps if I just adjusted my perspective and any illusions I may have regarding a rule of law or silly words written all over the constitution that all of this would be an amusing bit of theater to placate us unwashed masses waiting patiently for some kind of justice.

  4. oregondave says:

    This isn’t on FISA, but Rep. Wechsler is fighting, and indicates that Pelosi may be moving as well. From an email I received today:

    The House of Representatives must immediately hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to respond to congressional subpoenas.

    I have been aggressively lobbying Members of Congress to support a vote on contempt, and I am thrilled to report that Speaker Pelosi told me directly that she agrees it is well past time to vote on contempt. I am anticipating that the House will shortly vote on resolutions of both civil and criminal contempt for both Miers and Bolten.

    (Bold mine)

    • Helen says:

      It’s extremely easy for Nancy to call for a vote now. Mukasey has said that he will do absolutely nothing about contempt charges when Executive Privilege is claimed. Unless Nancy invokes Inherent contempt she is bullshitting us.

      • bmaz says:

        Bingo. Exactly what i said on the last thread.

        As to Wexler, he is fighting and i appreciate that. Here is an email that just came in from his office (Jeebus give a guy a few bucks as a thank you for his efforts and you get emails. In this case, i accept the gladly):

        Today, in hearings on Capitol Hill, I confronted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her role in the lies, exaggerations, and misdirection that led us into the Iraq war.

        During my questioning, Secretary Rice falsely stated that she never saw intelligence casting doubt on the Bush Administration claims that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This unbelievable statement is flatly contradicted by numerous government reports and CIA testimonials. (To watch the video of my exchange with Secretary Rice, click here.)

        Secretary Rice’s responses demonstrate once and for all that we need aggressive oversight over this out of control Administration. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has ignored the constitutional right of Congress to provide such oversight.

        It is time Congress took aggressive action to assert our rights on behalf of the American people.

        The House of Representatives must immediately hold former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to respond to congressional subpoenas.

        I have been aggressively lobbying Members of Congress to support a vote on contempt, and I am thrilled to report that Speaker Pelosi told me directly that she agrees it is well past time to vote on contempt. I am anticipating that the House will shortly vote on resolutions of both civil and criminal contempt for both Miers and Bolten.

        No one should be immune from accountability and the rule of law.

        Not Harriet Miers or Josh Bolten.

        And especially not Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush or Dick Cheney.

        It is time to defend the Constitution and our rights as a co-equal branch of government.

        I will continue to take on the Bush Administration for their outrageous abuses just as I confronted Condoleezza Rice today and Attorney General Mukasey last week. (Click here to see my questioning of Mukasey.)

        With your help we will hold these top Bush officials in contempt and continue our efforts to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney.

        Thank you, as always, for your great support.

        Yours truly,
        Congressman Robert Wexler

        Gotta love the effort.

      • oregondave says:

        “Statutory contempt” “Civil contempt” “Criminal contempt” “Contempt of Congress”

        All terms used by Conyers and Wexler. How does “Inherent contempt” differ? Anyone with a short summary to enlighten those of us with fading memories?

          • oregondave says:

            Thanks. Now I remember reading some about this back when.

            So, it seems, all the contempt citations that Wexler and Conyers are pursuing are not Inherent contempt; and thus, not enforceable by Congress. Yet, I find this an interesting prospect (from Kagro X’s post):

            At the very least, it’s going to pay to be prepared sooner rather than later. Once those subpoenas are issued, it won’t be long before we know precisely what the White House plans to do when the chips are down. And if we’re sitting around looking at one another when the White House signals its final defiance, we’re likely to lose a lot of momentum.

            Lose momentum, yes, but imagine the media possibilities of (as Kagro X writes)

            the scene of having the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police physically barred from entering the White House to arrest those who’ve defied subpoenas.

  5. prostratedragon says:

    On npr this afternoon I thought I heard Mukasey quoted as saying he “didn’t want to leave a mark” at the end of his short tenure in office next year.

  6. CTuttle says:

    Pete Pierce posted Pelosi’s response on FDL, here’s a snippet from the Gavel…

    On Friday, a surveillance law insisted upon by the President last August will expire. Today, an overwhelming majority of House Democrats voted to extend that law for three weeks so that agreement could be reached with the Senate on a better version of that law. The President and House Republicans refused to support the extension and therefore will bear the responsibility should any adverse national consequences result.

    However, even if the Protect America Act expires later this week, the American people can be confident that our country remains safe and strong. Every order entered under the law can remain in effect for 12 months from the date it was issued.

  7. oregondave says:

    Pelosi’s site has this on Rep. Conyer’s call for contempt citations:

    Today, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers testified before the Committee on Rules in support of statutory contempt and civil litigating authority resolutions against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten.


    Because the White House has refused to reconsider its confrontational position, I believe we have no choice but to bring this contempt resolution to the floor promptly and to ask that this Committee adopt a rule to facilitate doing so.


    I request that these two companion resolutions be considered together by the Committee and referred for action on the floor as soon as possible.

    Re previous comment: Rep. Wechsler Wexler. Sorry.

  8. CTuttle says:

    Rachel was just mentioning that numerous Repugs were violating ethics rules today, after the hearing, by asking for Rocket’s autograph afterwards…

  9. GeorgeSimian says:

    I heard a little blurb of Boxer putting Rice down on NPR, but how come I didn’t even know this was meeting was going to happen today? There wasn’t anything on it. And it wasn’t easy to find anything about it on the web. (Of course, I find you guys talking about it.)

  10. CTuttle says:

    Inherent Contempt is when the Sgt at Arms arrests them and places them in the bowels of the Capitol… Hasn’t been used since 1935, I believe…

    • pdaly says:

      Whose job would it be to feed them? I assume the food would come from Congress’s dining hall?

      I say make them eat French fries until they talk. No freedom fries until then.

      • CTuttle says:

        Ironically, they hold the keys to their own cells… That is, they testify, they walk out… Also, I believe they’d actually would be held at a local DC jail…

  11. Jim Clausen says:

    On a personal note,bmaz

    I hope all is well with your family medical emergency. You, sir are an inspiration! (((BMAZ etal)))

      • bmaz says:

        Hey guys, thanks much, but really I think the medical part will turn out okay, it is the insurance concerns that are driving me nuts; and the related realization of how totally exposed and helpless you really are when the potential of a huge problem is a little closer than the far off abstract.

  12. pdaly says:


    If Miers talks, she would only leave one cell for another (I hope).

    And she would potentially put Bush in a cell, too, if she talked.

    Congress would have to convince Miers that she and Bush would be guaranteed glimpses of one another in jail–but only if she starts cooperating now.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      You know, this is really weird, but I feel sorry for Meirs. I’ll bet that if for any reason she spilled, there would be psych reports on her indicating that she was ill. There are no limits, no laws, no scruples, no threats that will affect these sociopaths.

  13. bmaz says:

    Okay guys, for anyone that was interested, I put the update in the clemens post about the criminal process issues I see and how MacNamee could have come to name Clemens. I wrote it pretty quickly, and it is a tad rambling, but it at least will give an idea of why i am up in arms over the whole mess. Not to mention that I want Congress to freaking pay attention to our constitutional rights instead of grown men playing a game.

  14. sojourner says:

    I suspect that when it is all said and done, we will witness an outstanding dramatic act by which all of the players can claim that they did what they could do against overwhelming odds, but in the end… Oh, well! Sorry about what happened. That is life! Please vote for me, though.

    Something tells me that Pelosi is going to put on a show for the benefit of all incumbents so they can get reelected, but in the background they are all lining their pockets with telecom money. In the end, everything is staged in a way that they can claim whatever they want, and no one can really disprove it.

    Bush’s legacy: the dumbest president we ever had elected by the dumbest electorate ever…

  15. sysprog says:

    The Rules Committee met at 4pm today (2/13) and voted for special handling of FISA legislation tomorrow (2/14).

    COMMITTEE ACTION: REPORTED BY RECORD VOTE OF 9-4 on Wednesday February 13, 2008. […] It shall be in order at any time on the legislative day of Thursday, February 14, 2008, for the Speaker to entertain motions that the House suspend the rules relating to a bill addressing foreign intelligence surveillance.
    – – U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Rules

    (h/t PowWow)

    • Hmmm says:

      Huh. cboldt’s piece has a link to the House Clerk’s place, which says this happened today:

      6:21 P.M. –
      The Speaker laid before the House a message from the President transmitting a notification regarding an executive order with respect to the Government of Syria – referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and ordered to be printed (H. Doc. 110-95).

      There was one of those on PAA Day back in August too. (And just moments before the news that the bridge had come down hit, I might add.) That’s just weird. Anybody here speak dogwhistle?

  16. frahse says:

    I think it is just posturing.

    First once gives then the other.
    And on the next matter, it is reversed.

    Then when they speak to the voters, they say, look what I did here. (But I couldn’t stop it there.)

Comments are closed.