Friday, July 30, 2010

Farce on the Hill

A pox on both the House Democrats and Republicans.

The Republicans deserve scorn and derision for their abject failure to support a measure to provide assistance and compensation for Ground Zero workers who toiled on the pile and were sickened by their service to recover the remains of nearly 3,000 people who were pulverized by the collapsing Twin Towers.

The Democrats had put forth a measure that would have provided $7.4 billion to compensate sickened workers, expanded the Victim Compensation Fund, and provided medical care. The bill fell 255-159, largely along party lines. It required a 2/3 passage. 95% of Democrats voted for the bill and 98% of Republicans voted against it. The roll call tells the tale of this measure. And among those who voted no was NJ Rep Scott Garrett (R), who knows or should have known that this would directly affect some of his constituents adversely - because his district encompasses part of Northern New Jersey and whose citizens were affected by the attacks directly.

That's absolutely insane, especially when President Bush, in the days following the attacks, asked Sen. Chuck Schumer, the senior senator from New York, what was necessary, and the President promised everything that the state needed it would get.

The same courtesy should have been extended to the workers who toiled to recover the remains of nearly 3,000 people and the debris that showered down all over Lower Manhattan. Nearly nine years later and the country is still treating these workers little different than the Soviet Union did the liquidators who toiled to put out the fires and enclose the nuclear reactors at Chernobyl.

Meanwhile, Democrats and their leadership deserve to take all the scorn and derision for their continued support and protection of corrupt Democrats, the latest of which is Rep. Charles Rangel, the senior Democrat from New York. The findings by the ethics panel reflect the news reports for more than two years that show just how Rangel gamed the system to his advantage and steadfastly refused to abide by tax laws of the local, state, and federal levels (and where at the federal level he was in charge of setting tax policy as Chairman of House Ways and Means), didn't feel that he was subject to rent stabilization laws, ignored ethics rules and guidelines, and generally treated his position as an entitlement and in the process disrespected his constituents.

The leadership refused to move against him in 2008, fearing that it might anger the Congressional Black Caucus (which is essentially a subgroup of Democrats in Congress). Instead, they let him keep his chairmanship until earlier this year when the evidence became such that even the leadership could no longer ignore the festering problem. That it's taken more than two years to act on this ethics probe shows the unseriousness that Democrats had to cleaning up the swamp of corruption in Congress (which is just as bad as when the Republicans were in charge).

In fact, both instances show that neither party should be trusted with power. The party out of power thinks that they can act as irresponsibly as they want without repercussion to their actions while the party in power thinks that they can act with impunity and without regard to the will of the people or in disregard to the law.

A pox on both their houses.

Republicans claimed that their opposition was on procedural grounds.

Rep. Anthony Weiner was right in being outraged over the failure to pass this legislation. Rep. Peter King, one of the few Republicans to vote for the measure also castigated his fellow caucus.

Some are calling Weiner's righteous rant on the floor the wailings of a 4-year old whose video game was taken away claiming that this was a vote on the merits against watered down legislation. Nonsense. That's not what the legislation contained and anyone who paid attention to what was in the legislation would know that.

Gothamist has more on the contentious floor debate over the 9/11 workers bill.

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