Individual senators hold an enormous amount of power in Washington, which is exactly the way they like it. But when that power is abused, as two Republicans are now doing in trying to derail the nomination of a defense secretary, it has to be curtailed.
The two senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, say they will place “holds” on President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to run the Pentagon. A hold is a kind of minifilibuster, preventing unanimous consent to take up a bill or nomination, and preventing an up-or-down vote. Using this power for showboating, as Mr. Graham and Mr. Inhofe are doing, shows how easy it has become for senators to put petty personal demands ahead of the country’s needs.
The Navy’s ambitious renewable energy plans aren’t sunk quite yet. But they took a major hit Thursday, when the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to all-but-ban the military from buying alternative fuels.
Like their counterparts in the House, senators prohibited the Pentagon from buying renewable fuels that are more expensive than traditional ones — a standard that biofuels many never meet. In addition, the committee blocked the Defense Department from helping build biofuel refineries unless “specifically authorized by law” - just as the Navy was set to pour $170 million into an effort with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to do precisely that.
The measures — amendments to the Pentagon’s budget for next year — were pushed by two Republicans. Sen. James Inhofe has long been one of the Republican’s fiercest critics of renewable energy efforts; Sen. John McCain has in recent years turned away from long-held eco-friendly positions.
“Adopting a ‘green agenda’ for national defense of course is a terrible misplacement of priorities,” McCain told National Journal Daily on Tuesday, calling it “a clear indication that the president doesn’t understand national security.”
During his 17-year career, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has held many unorthodox views: the rich, contrary to all available evidence, are not getting richer; Ivory Coast dictator Laurent Gbagbo’s brutal military forces lack weapons; global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated;” the media invented WMDs as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq; and so on.
Inhofe’s latest theory — that President Obama’s 2009 decision to shift missile defense from land to sea is evidence that Obama is “going out of his way to embrace … the ones who want to kill us” — is equally ridiculous. Here’s the exchange from his interview yesterday with Hugh Hewitt:
[wingnut] JI: And that was just trying to embrace that group of people. And I think his, one of his major concerns is what’s happening in Iran. Netanyahu is very familiar with what they are willing to do, what they are going to do. And yet, this administration, if you remember, he was the one who brought down the ground-based Interceptor that would have protected the United States and Western Europe from something coming from Iran. So it’s not just the lines that are drawn. It’s going out of his way to embrace that whole element.
HH: That radical Islamist element is what I think you’re talking about that is…
JI: Oh yeah. They’re the ones who want to kill us. I mean, you know, to think that they would even embrace the idea that they would have that element, with Hamas tied in with the Palestinians, Hamas who are doing everything they can to destroy Israel.[wingnut]
For as long as there have been birthers, there have been politicians jumping on the birther bandwagon. And for as long as there have been politicians jumping on the birther bandwagon, there have been politicians who casually lean up against the birther bandwagon but run away before anyone sees them.
1. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
2. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ)
3. Ken Cuccinelli (R) AG Virginia
4. Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA)
5. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)
6. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)
7. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
8. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)