Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Congressman Sali: Congress Could Learn from Idaho

Posted by Adam Graham on April 22, 2007

From Congressman Bill Sali (R-Idaho)

Recently I wrote about the danger of mixing funding for national security with pork spending. I discussed the details of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill to establish a timetable for troop withdraw from Iraq – the passage of which was purchased with votes of members demanding $20 Billion in unrelated federal spending. The money covered a whole assortment of interests, including peanut storage, shrimp fishing subsidies, spinach research and even schools in Idaho. I noted that the point of adding this $20 billion in funding for local projects was to sway reluctant lawmakers to back the troop withdraw timetable and to embarrass lawmakers who refused to go along. I was proven right when on “Meet the Press” U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) was asked, “Why would the Democrats put that kind of money in such a serious bill?,” Rangel answered candidly, “Because they needed the votes.” How repulsive. How tragic.

I heard back from many constituents who share my concern and dismay over the Democrats’ tactics. I appreciated their words of encouragement.

But many also said this: While the Democrat leadership was wrong to lace such important legislation with pork, Republicans have been guilty of doing the same thing.

Sadly, the charges are true. Both parties have had a habit of stuffing funding for parochial items into controversial bills in order to garner support for contentious, and usually very partisan, legislation.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, in Idaho, our founding fathers provided a mechanism to defeat such a ploy. Our state Constitution requires a single subject for all legislation. In other words, in Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare budget cannot be used to impose some new gun control restriction on citizens of the state. And thank goodness it can’t!

Unfortunately, the federal process is not so restrictive. It is routine business for bad ideas to become law, simply because Members of Congress don’t want to vote against other provisions in the legislation that they and their constituents like.

Wrong is wrong. It makes no difference whether the wrong flows from Republicans or Democrats. We should oppose anything that damages the Republic, and we should be willing to do so even if the wrongdoers are members of our own party. For too many in Congress, what’s deemed good or bad has been determined solely by whether the idea was followed by an “R” or a “D.” That’s regrettable.

In 1774, Patrick Henry addressed the First Continental Congress. He said, “The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.” Today, we’re more comfortable in Washington, D.C., making decisions based on who is proposing something rather than what is being proposed. The notion that Republicans are the only ones with good ideas, or that Democrats are the only ones with bad ideas, is as simplistic as it is childish.

Of course, I am a Republican for a reason: We embrace principles that will naturally generate good ideas. Historic Republican principles of liberty, national security, equal justice under law, personal responsibility and economic opportunity are, in my judgment, those that represent the best hope for American’s future.

Yet when my party errs, I’m not hesitant to say so. Loading-up distasteful legislation with political “goodies,” however desirable they might be, is a form of political bribery we – Democrats and Republicans – have to stop.

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2 Responses to “Congressman Sali: Congress Could Learn from Idaho”

  1. Interesting how he didn’t say anything when then-Speaker Hastert was here campaigning for him.

  2. Adam Graham [Member] said

    I believe that would be called tact. He certainly said it plenty of times before, and the whole 1-issue thing was mentioned in the primary and the general election.

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