by Frank Lewis
Alleged "deficit hawk" Senator George Voinovich loves to rail about spending, but never fails to pat himself on the back for bringing home the bacon. In his latest press release, he bragged about the $69.2 million coming to Ohio from the just-passed FY 2010 Defnese Appropriation bill, thanks to Voinovich's position on the Senate Appropriations Committee. That sum includes $2 million for Sherwin-Williams to develop "interior paint designed to intercept and destroy microbiological threats." Seriously — paint.
But that's just garden-variety hypocrisy, the kind that's as reflexive for Republicans as breathing. There was much more going on around this bill that Voinovich and his cravenly partisan colleagues would rather you didn't know about.
Voinovich's press release included some chest thumping about the process:
“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, which passed all the appropriations bills out of committee in a timely fashion, I am extremely disappointed with the handling of the Defense Appropriations Bill by leadership — just as I was with the handling of [a separate spending bill] passed by the Senate just last week,” Sen. Voinovich said. “I voted against that bill because it was not given the time and oversight necessary to ensure responsible spending. In 28 of the past 30 years, Congress has failed to enact all the appropriations bills by the start of the fiscal year. This irresponsible fiscal policy affects our economy, interferes with our ability to maintain and improve our infrastructure, hurts our ability to fight the War on Terror and impedes efforts to reform our health care system.
Got that? Voinovich wishes "the leadership" (Democrats) shared his passion for fighting wars and reforming health care. He must've just forgotten to mention the stunt his party pulled late last week that put both things in peril. From the Washington Post:
Senate Republicans said Thursday that they would try to filibuster a massive Pentagon bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unusual move that several acknowledged was an effort to delay President Obama's health-care legislation.
Go ahead, read that again. Unbelievable, right? As Democratic Senator Dick Durbin explained, "They are prepared to jeopardize funding for troops at war. If Democrats did that, there would be cries of treason."
How'd it work out? From the Post's followup:
On a 63 to 33 vote, Democrats cleared a key hurdle that should allow them to approve the must-pass military spending bill Saturday and return to the health-care debate. After years of criticizing Democrats for not supporting the troops, just three Republicans supported the military funding.
… [Senator Kay Bailey] Hutchison joined Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe as the only Republican votes for the defense bill. But their support came only after waiting for all 60 members of the Democratic caucus to cast their "aye" votes, hitting the 60-vote threshold and making the GOP votes moot.
Once the fillibuster hurdle was cleared, the bill passed by a vote of 88-10. That, coupled with the overwhelming support among House Republicans for the exact same bill, proves that Senate Republicans were using defense spending as a political football to further stall on healthcare reform.
And Senator George Voinovich was one of them. We used to think there was hope for Voinovich, but we were wrong. He is indistinguishable from the rest of the modern GOP, breathtakingly hypocritical and proudly belligerent. — Frank Lewis