Nancy Pelosi has shown little interest in holding George Bush to account, as evidenced by House Minority Leader's determination to distance herself from discussions of censuring – let alone impeaching – the president for the high crimes and misdemeanors that have characterized his tenure.
So it not all that surprising that Pelosi, despite her promise to "clean up" Congressional corruption, has been slow to demand genuine accountability from a member of the House Democratic Caucus. The minority leader has backed an ethics committee inquiry into charges against Congressman William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, the "star" of a Federal Bureau of Investigation tape in which what sounds like a bribe of $100,000 is accepted. But she so far has refrained from suggesting the obvious: that it is time for the severely scandal-plagued Jefferson to resign.
Let's be clear, if Tom DeLay needed to go, so does Bill Jefferson.
What makes Pelosi's refusal to cut Jefferson loose so disappointing is the fact that Democrats owes the congressan from New Orleans no loyalty. Indeed, if ever there was a member of Congress who merited abandonment by his party, official censure and a hasty exit from the legislative branch, it is William Jefferson.
Putting aside the bribery probe, Jefferson has a horrific record of breaking with his Democratic colleagues to sell out his constituents, his country and the poorest people in the world. He may be a Democrat, but on the issues that really matter Jefferson has served the Bush administration and Wall Street more diligently than a number of Republicans.
Jefferson's has been one of the steadiest Democratic votes for the president's foreign policy agenda. The Louisianan voted to authorize Bush to use force against Iraq, consistently supports emergency "supplemental" spending to maintain the occupation of that country, and favors deployment of the "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative. He voted for the USA Patriot Act when it was rushed through Congress in 2001, and was a big backer of Vice President Cheney's national energy policy. And, though his record on social issues is mixed, Jefferson has on a number of occasions cast his lot with the White House and its social-conservative allies to help enact restrictions on abortion, school prayer initiatives and a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
But Jefferson's deepest loyalty is not to the Bush administration. Rather, it is to big business. In a Congress where there are plenty of Democrats who are friendly to the legislative agenda of corporate America, Jefferson is devoted to it. This Democrat puts more than a few responsible Republicans to shame when it comes to doing the bidding of Wall Street.
After a key export tax break for U.S. manufacturers was identified as an illegal trade subsidy by the World Trade Organization, Jefferson and most -- though not all -- House Republicans voted to provide $140 billion in new corporate tax cuts for impacted businesses. He has voted again and again for bankruptcy law "reforms" that favor the interests of banks and credit card companies over those of working families. And he is the king of the dwindling circle of free-trade Democrats.
Jefferson was not just one of "The CAFTA 15" – the group of Democrats who cast critical votes to save the Central American Free Trade Agreement after the administration was abandoned by 27 Republicans when the agreement came up for House approval in July, 2005 -- he was the chief Democratic cheerleader for that bad deal. When the corporate-funded Democratic Leadership Council sponsored a pro-CAFTA teleconference before the vote, there was Jefferson proclaiming: "I'm supporting CAFTA because I believe it's in the best interests of our country."
The Louisiana Democrat, who is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee's powerful subcommittee on Trade, did similar service during debates over trade deals with Chile, Singapore and Australia. And he was an essential Democratic supporter of normalizing trade relations with China in 2000, arguably the most devastating trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of six years earlier, which Jefferson also backed.
But Jefferson's most unsettling advocacy on behalf of corporate-friendly trade agreements that have undermined job security and wages, environmental protection and human rights in the U.S. and abroad came in 1998, when the congressman was an outspoken advocate for the African Growth and Opportunity Act. AGOA, as that deal was known, was dubbed "NAFTA for Africa" by the business press. Condemned by South African President Nelson Mandela and Africa trade unions that saw it as a move to make it even easier for multinational corporations to exploit the continent's workers and resources, AGOA was described by a leading foe, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Illinois, as the "Africa Recolonization Act."
During the House debate on the issue, Jackson pointed out that, "The AGOA extends short-lived trade "benefits" for the nations of sub-Sahara Africa. In exchange for these crumbs from globalization's table, the African nations must pay a huge price: adherence to economic policies that serve the interests of foreign creditors, multinational corporations and financial speculators at the expense of the majority of Africans."
The Illinois Democrat asked, "Whose interests will the AGOA advance? Look at the coalition promoting it -- a corporate who's who of oil giants, banking and insurance interests, as well as apparel firms seeking one more place to locate their low-paying sweatshops. Some of these corporations are already infamous in Africa for their disregard for the environment and human rights."
The coalition promoting African Growth and Opportunity Act was able to counter the criticisms from Mandela, Jackson and others by highlighting the enthusiastic support for the deal by a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus. That member, William Jefferson, gleefully declared that, "Africa is a reservoir of opportunities for American businesses."
(Among the bribes Jefferson is alleged to have accepted are more than $400,000 in payments to help telecommunications firms do business in Nigeria and other West African nations.)
The split in the black caucus back in 1998 helped secure passage of AGOA in a form that was much worse than might have been the case if Jefferson and others had echoed the honest concerns expressed by Jackson.
No wonder that, in his latest campaign finance filing, Jefferson reported that almost 79 percent of the political action committee contributions to his reelection campaign -- $340,912 -- came from business interests, while just 19 percent came from organized labor.
Even in his campaign coffers, William Jefferson has the profile of a Republican – and an unsavory Republican at that.
You Heard It Here First
This morning on WNYC, host Brian Lehrer and guest Charles Fishman, author of The Wal-Mart Effect, were chatting about Wal-Mart's entry into the organic food market (stay tuned for a Nation feature on this subject in our upcoming special Food Issue). As people often do when discussing Wal-Mart, Lehrer and Fishman segued into the subject of the company's crummy health insurance, and the burden it places on taxpayers, who end up footing the bill when Wal-Mart workers have to turn to the public dole for health care. (According to the retailer's own statistics, 46% of the children of Wal-Mart workers are on Medicaid, or uninsured.) Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart, the national groups now attempting to reform the company, are working in states and towns all over to pass Fair Share Health Care laws, to compel Wal-Mart to insure its employees more generously. But, Lehrer suggested, and Fishman concurred, wouldn't it be great if Wal-Mart used its immense lobbying muscle to agitate for national health care?
According to an excellent article, in the June Atlantic Monthly, Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, which funds Wal-Mart Watch, is hoping to force Wal-Mart to do just that. The company could neutralize a lot of progressive criticism this way, and if we did get a single-payer plan out of the ensuing fracas, we'd all be better off. I have made this very point on this very website, as well as, more than a year ago, in the aforementioned Nation/Economist debate on Wal-Mart, which was moderated by Brian Lehrer. But the point is not just to toot our own horn (well, perhaps a passing, staccato toot); rather, that it's delightful that this idea is catching on.
After all, let's be realistic: the Fair Share for Health Care campaign is a fine way to make the point that health benefits ought to be taken out of competition, but it isn't going to solve the dire problem of spiraling health care costs in America. Given that Wal-Mart has no intention of complying with the new laws, and will mount legal challenges to each and every one, Fair Share makes more sense when viewed as a means to an end, and that end should be national health insurance. In recent speeches, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott has said that the cost of health care in America is a larger problem demanding more leadership from "government." Let's see how far he's willing to go.
Let's see, too, how far labor will go. In his new book, Solidarity for Sale, Robert Fitch argues that unions haven't made serious efforts to organize for national health insurance; indeed, they have often opposed it, for a combination of self-interested and ideological reasons. (This goes way back: Samuel Gompers argued that national health insurance had sapped the "virility" of British workers.) If we are to have meaningful health care reform, that attitude needs to change. Pressuring Wal-Mart is a good place to start.
In related news, Target has just announced that it intends "Wal-Mart-like" changes to its own health care plan, and may eliminate traditional health insurance for employees. This underscores the urgent need for single-payer healthcare, and the need for continued pressure on Wal-Mart, the industry leader that sets the standards for its fellow retailers.
Much ado was made of McCain's Light on the Road to Damascus moment regarding Jerry Falwell, formerly known as an agent of intolerance, last week. But the story of unlikely bedfellows that fell through the cracks was Rudy Giuliani's snuggle with Ralph Reed, the ex-leader of the Christian Coalition and current candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia.
Leaving aside that Giuliani is a pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-gun control, Italian-Catholic Yankee and Ralph Reed is not, the question remains: what was a tough-on-crime fighter doing promoting the candidacy of a man who was in business with Jack Abramoff? It was the indicted lobbyist, after all, who allegedly paid Reed $4.2 million in illegal contributions to "mobilize Christian voters against casinos that would compete with Abramoff's clients."
In his past life, Prosecutor Rudy would have paraded someone like Reed in handcuffs before a scrum of media cameras. In his current incarnation, Politician Rudy praised him "as a really effective leader" during a fundraiser for Reed's embattled campaign.
Perhaps Giuliani was referring to Reed's peerless effectiveness in duping evangelicals into voting for Republicans who do not share their values. If that was the case, Giuliani will need all the help from Reed he can get.
John McCain is renowned for his supposedly thick skin and deft handling of adversity. Who knew a 21-year-old student singer from Nutley, New Jersey, could pierce that veneer?
As the undergraduate keynote speaker at the New School's graduation ceremony, Jean Sara Rohe had planned to talk about her love of music and the need for "social responsibility in a time of war." But realizing she would be speaking right before McCain, she tore up her prepared remarks at 2 am the night before to directly address McCain's support for the Iraq war, visit to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and fidelity to George W. Bush. According to her diary at Huffington Post, she saved the new text as "mccain speech subversive.doc."
Meeting McCain in the green room before the ceremony "he didn't even make eye contact when we shook hands," Rohe recalls. "So I figured I didn't owe him anything."
As we chronicled on Friday, Rohe's speech was daring, eloquent and brave. She gave voice to students whose opinions, at their own graduation, were not consulted, and whose views are no longer represented by presidential candidate McCain.
"Had he been speaking at something other than our graduation, or had he spoken about almost anything other than his life and his position on the Iraq War and Darfur it might have been OK," Rohe later wrote. "But what did he expect? Campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination at the New School is like trying to catch fish in a swimming pool. It was just totally out of place."
After the address, McCain and his aides were at their most vindictive. "I feel sorry for people living in a dull world where they can't listen to the views of others," a pompous McCain told the New York Times. Later, in a comment on Huffington Post, his chief of staff Mark Salter called Rohe "an idiot."
"It took no courage to do what you did," Salter wrote. "It was an act of vanity and nothing more." The graduating class deserved a strong rebuke for its "comical self-importance."
George W. Bush smeared McCain in 2000. Now McCain is returning the favor to college students.
The so-called maverick Senator is so busy cozying up to the right, he can't even take a little heat from the left.
The Bush administration has censored photographs of the wounded, body bags, and flag-draped coffins. Imagine its fears over large numbers of Americans viewing Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill's new documentary, Baghdad ER.
Premiering Sunday on HBO, with an encore scheduled for Memorial Day, Baghdad ER examines the 86th Combat Support Hospital which the filmmakers chronicled for two months. One nurse, Specialist Saidet Lanier, describes life at the field hospital this way: "This is hard-core, raw, uncut trauma. Day after day, every day."
Initially, military officials were enthusiastic about the heroic portrayal of this medical staff which has – along with other trauma teams – somehow managed the highest survival rate for wounded soldiers during any war at a stunning 90 percent.
But the Pentagon's enthusiasm has soured. Many suspect it is for the simple reason that the truth will further erode the already radically diminished support for this war. Because despite the fact that Baghdad ER is widely hailed as a non-partisan tribute to both soldiers and medical personnel, as HBO president Sheila Evans told the New York Times, "Anything showing the grim realities of war is, in a sense, antiwar."
The Pentagon hasn't questioned the accuracy or authenticity of the film. Pentagon spokesman Paul Boyce told the Washington Post, "We believe [it] is a very thorough representation of the professionalism of the military medical community, and reflects the ethos of our soldiers." And yet, after initially saying 300 military officials would attend the premier in Washington, DC, only about 40 showed up and none were high-raking officers.
One mother of a soldier whose death is captured on film said of this project, "I am positive about this film. It needs to be shown. I want the world to know this is a reality. War is graphic, war is raw, war hurts."
And that is exactly the problem the current administration has with it. And too much of the media has been too compliant night after night. Where are the raw and real images of the wounded, the maimed, the dead that would appear on our TV screens if we were receiving the real news about the war?
Stephen Colbert recently got at the the truth about what our government really wants us to know: "Knowledge about the current war is bad for you. Watch all the World War II docs you want, but knowing the human toll of the Iraq War causes stress….Protect your health: only watch things that make you feel good about America."
There was a time when people turned to the classic TV show M*A*S*H* to--as John Leonard writes in his New York magazine review of the documentary--"go behind the rhetorical curtain." Baghdad ER takes a step towards accomplishing that for this generation. After all, as Leonard notes, "The more we see what war really looks like--the terror in the eyes that contradicts the bravado in the chatter--the harder the questions we ask about it."
And indeed it is hard and deeply disturbing to see the amputated and discarded limbs, the blood and body parts, the soldiers dying. But it should be. Because the reality is this: over 17,000 American soldiers wounded and over 2,300 killed. Over 400 amputees. And some estimate over 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.
In 2004, Nation Institute fellow Chris Hedges wrote for the New York Review of Books of the "empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief….The truth about war comes out, but usually too late."
It's already too late – but the sooner the truth comes out the better.
It's time to face the horrors of war. If we are to evolve to a point where war is truly a last resort, then this is the kind of work that will help us get there. Watch Baghdad ER.
Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen
Nobody at all, except for virtually the entire crowd at the New School's Madison Square Garden graduation ceremony in New York City. At the beginning of the event, New School President, and former Senator, Bob Kerrey predicted a raucous affair. "Our founding purpose is proudly liberal," he said. "We began as an act of protest."
The school's tradition of dissent carried on today. Scores of New School students held orange signs, and a few banners, reading "McCain Does Not Speak For Me," and "Our Commencement Is Not Your Platform." What began as mild rumblings of disapproval before McCain's speech soon exploded into boos, catcalls and turned backs.
The spark was provided by undergraduate keynote speaker Jean Sara Rohe, a composed, seemingly innocuous jazz musician and singer. After beginning with a short folk song (true to classic graduation speech form) Rohe quickly tossed aside her prepared remarks to directly address McCain.
"This ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering it was intended to be," Rohe said. "The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. This invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all." The crowd erupted.
"I consider this a time of crisis and I feel compelled to speak," Rohe continued, referencing McCain's speech at Falwell's Liberty University last Saturday.
She paraphrased McCain's words on the folly of youthful stubbornness and ignorance.
"I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost," said Rohe. "And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction." The vast majority of the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
"Well, we're having fun now, aren't we?" Kerrey cracked before introducing McCain.
The Senator spoke in a dull monotone, without his usual charisma or charm. He was noticeably deflated by the crowd's harsh reception towards him. Remarks such as "I supported the decision to go to war in Iraq," were met with loud boos.
"I stand that ground because I believed, rightly or wrongly, that my country's interests and values required it."
"Wrongly!" one student boomed from the back. Sitting directly behind us, Maureen Dowd and Adam Nagourney of the New York Times, chuckled.
As McCain droned on, students became increasingly restless. One cried, "This speech sucks!" Several students walked out early.
Summing up the mood of the day, another shouted, "We're graduating, not voting."
Quotes have been properly updated and corrected.
The fast food industry is taking a few knocks lately. Eric Schlosser, author of the phenomenally successful Fast Food Nation, has just published a kid's book, Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food. A feature film version of Fast Food Nation -- slightly fictionalized, and directed by the splendid Richard Linklater -- will hit theaters this fall. Troubled that Schlosser's work is reaching a wider audience, the industry, joined by right-wing groups concerned about "anti-business" messages, is spending a lot of time and money trying to rebut his claims, according to an illuminating report in the Wall Street Journal.
Just as exciting, throughout this spring, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has been pressuring McDonald's to improve pay and conditions for the workers picking its tomatoes. The CIW represents the Florida farmworkers that organized the four-year Taco Bell boycott, which, through the organizing efforts of workers and consumers --especially students -- nationwide, compelled the Bell's parent company, Yum Brands to pay an additional penny per pound for tomatoes, the paltry amount needed to ensure the tomato pickers a living wage. The CIW is also trying targetting Chipotle, which has a "Food WIth Integrity" marketing shtick -- er, sorry, I meant "mission statement " -- to expand that definition of "integrity" beyond humane treatment of animals and healthy production of vegetables to fair conditions for the workers who harvest the produce. (You'd think they could commit to treating fellow humans at least as well as animals.) Chipotle is a personal favorite of mine; I love the food, so I hope the company will sit up and take notice. CIW has a polite-but-firm letter you can send to the very rich guys who run these fast-food chains. (This is the sort of action that can accomplish something, unlike, say, not shopping at Target because you heard that the company was just as bad as Wal-Mart, which is the sort of individualistic quest for moral purity in shopping that drives me crazy.) This farmworkers' group is one of the more effective labor organizations in the US today, winning victories despite representing some of the most marginalized workers in our economy. The CIW not only draws bad publicity to companies, but marshals consumer outrage to bring about change -- not easy to do.
The Republicans are waging a desperate campaign of Rovian proportions to maintain their one-party reign in Congress. Fear, as we have seen time and again, is their most powerful weapon and they have caricatured Rep. John Conyers as a worst possible outcome of a Democratic victory.
As they fill the airwaves with claims of Conyers run amok--conducting immediate impeachment hearings--their clear aim is to manipulate Americans so they will remain in a perpetual state of fear. "So terrified," New York Times columnist Bob Herbert recently and powerfully observed, "that they will not object to the steady erosion of their rights and liberties." But central to defense of this nation is defense of its constitutional values, not just its physical security.
With that in mind, it is clear that the real threat today comes from President Bush and his administration. In blatant violation of established law, and centuries-old precedent, they have wiretapped American citizens; imprisoned citizens without warrants,charges or means of redress; ignored clear Congressional legislative intent; disabled Congressional oversight of their actions; and suppressed dissent and public-minded disclosure within the executive branch itself. This abuse and overreach of Presidential power directly challenges the "checks and balances" at the core of our constitutional design.
Even true conservatives now get it. A new Cato Institute study details how the President has weakened the constitutional order, and documents a pattern of "a ceaseless push for power, unchecked by either the Courts or Congress" on issues ranging from war powers, habeas corpus, and federalism to free speech and unwarranted surveillance.
Maybe Rove and his wrecking crew need to blanket the airwaves denouncing true conservatives?
In the meantime, to understand the real John Conyers read his op-ed in the Washington Post from Thursday. Here you will find a responsible, powerful, and constitutionally grounded voice which is all too rare in our leaders today.
Among the chilling proposals in Bush's immigration speech was a plan for a "new identification card for every legal foreign worker" that would use "biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof." Tamper-proof, maybe, but would Bush's scheme be corruption-proof?
Not if current U.S. efforts at producing hi-tech ID cards are a sign of things to come. In a series of articles for the New York Times, Eric Lipton has documented the pork and corruption that's plauging Homeland Security's plans for a "tamperproof identification card for airport, rail and maritime workers." At the heart of the scandal is Kentucky Republican Congressman Harold Rogers, the chair of the subcommittee that determines DHS's budget, and a raft of security and technology companies that contributed lavishly to Rogers' campaign, paid for junkets to Hawaii, employed his son or are based in his home district.
The latest wrinkle in the saga involves Irish firm Daon, which bills itself as "a leading provider of biometric identity management software." According to Lipton, Daon paid for Rogers to attend a "July 2005 conference and golf outing" in Dublin. Consequently it, along with the American Association of Airport Executives, was awarded a no-bid contract to "manage what could turn into contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars for a new airport-security program and to issue tamperproof identification cards to millions of transportation workers." Oh yeah, and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge serves on the board of Daon which is backed by venture capitalist Dermot Desmond.
Last week, after protests from other companies in the security-technology complex, DHS scuttled the deal and opened the contract up to bidders. But Daon is still very much in the mix. And not just in the United States.
Daon recently landed a contract with Qatar to provide a "National Indentity Smartcard" using "finger, face and iris biometrics" for all citizens and residents. Daon CEO Tom Grissen said, "we have always believed that the Gulf region is of strategic importance to Daon and have built a team of technology and service experts who are focused on addressing our customer needs in the territory."
And according to the company's website, Daon has a contract with Ireland to create "an automated Visa application and tracking system for foreign nationals." Daon also provides "core biometric identity assurance software" to immigration officials in Australia which is currently debating a national ID card. With countries like Japan also considering biometric identification of foreigners, Daon's future in what it calls "advanced border control and immigration management systems" looks bright indeed.
It's an election year, so, quick, let's amend the Constitution.
Absurd as it sounds, that is the thinking of the Senate Republican leadership, which is rushing to draft, debate and endorse a whole new section of the Constitution by the week of June 5.
Why the hurry to tinker with the 219-year-old document?
Poll numbers for Congressional Republicans are in a bad place, so bad that there is serious talk about the prospect that the party could lose the House or Senate, or perhaps both chambers, in November. And the approval ratings for President Bush, the party's campaigner-in-chief, are trolling in Nixon-during-Watergate depths that suggest he may not be able to rally the conservative base as he did so effectively in 2002 and 2004.
Hence the hurry to dig up the next big-bang issue for the GOP.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, thinks he has struck political paydirt. He wants to amend the Constitution to declare that, along with freedom of speech, assembly and worship, Americans also have the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Frist wants the Constitution to declare not just that "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman" but that "Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
So much for state's rights. And you can forget about that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness business.
The Grand Old Party's in trouble, so someone is going to have to pay, and in this case it's same-sex couples who dare to fall in love and then seek the same basic protections for their relationships that everyone else expects.
The rush to amend the Constitution in time to bring the marriage debate front and center for the fall campaign – now that the immigration issue has blown up on the party – had Senate Republicans so preoccupied Thursday that they bent the rules to the breaking point.
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, scheduled the session where the committee voted 10-8 to approve the amendment in a room where access by the press and the general public was restricted. When Senator Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who ardently opposes the amendment, suggested that perhaps the work of amending the Constitution ought to be conducted in a more open manner, Specter growled, I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I."
For good measure, the chairman added, "If you want to leave, good riddance."
Feingold thanked the senior Republican for the lecture and departed, explaining that, "Today's markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum. I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader has set a politically motivated schedule for floor consideration of this measure that the Chairman felt compelled to follow, even though he says he opposes the amendment."
Feingold added, "Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. Open and deliberate debate on such an important matter cannot take place in a setting such as the one chosen by the Chairman of the Committee today.
"The Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. It has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference in their most basic human decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I will continue to fight this mean-spirited, divisive, poorly drafted, and misguided amendment when it comes to the Senate floor."