It seems every day in December is a big day for legislatures as they work to finish up business for the year. Here’s the significant news of the day from New Jersey’s Members of Congress.
A minority of Republican senators blocked the Defense Authorization Act. Senator Lautenberg tells it like it is:
“Senate Republicans refuse to even begin debating a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. The other side has run out of excuses. Eliminating ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the right thing to do and would ensure that our military policy reflects the values of our nation.
“The fact that Republican Senators are willing to hold up a bill that provides vital resources to our troops and ends discrimination in our military is deplorable. I will continue working to pass a Defense Authorization bill that provides our military with the equipment and services they need while also bringing an end to discrimination within the ranks.”
Of course, Democrats letting Republicans takes “hostages” will go on as long as our Senators and our President let them. Why did they add DADT to the bill if they give up anyway? What was the point?
More below on the Anthrax investigation, water supplies for the Delaware River Basin, 9/11 Responders, and Iran.
Rush Holt is concerned the FBI is sabotaging the National Academy of Sciences’ investigaton into their handling of anthrax case. TheFBI has suddenly found a huge number of additional documents to be reviewed:
My understanding is that this document dump, taking place after the FBI’s review of the NAS draft report, is intended to contest and challenge the independent NAS panel’s draft findings. If these new documents were relevant to the NAS’s review why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?
Despite the FBI’s original charge to the NAS to examine only the scientific data and conclusions in the case, it now appears that the FBI–which has consistently botched and bungled this case from the beginning–may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure the NAS panel to reach a conclusion desired by the Bureau.
The full letter is here (PDF)
Rush Holt also is concerned that the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is going to allow “fracking” (hydaulic fracturing to get gas) without waiting for the water imp[act study:
“It should seem obvious that it is impossible to construct a proper regulatory framework without the guidance of the science that these studies would provide. Nevertheless, the commission has moved forward with draft regulations governing natural gas drilling in the Basin without quantifying, examining or understanding the cumulative impacts that such regulations need to mitigate.
“We urge the Delaware River Basin Commission to suspend any further action to allow natural gas drilling to move forward until it completes a comprehensive study of the impacts of those activities. Failing to do so undermines the agency’s ability to effectively control and minimize the impacts of drilling on our water resources and protect the health of the 15 million people who rely on the Delaware River for clean drinking water and recreation.
For tax cuts, here is Austan Gollsbee making the case on youtube.
Republicans also blocked the 9/11 responder health care bill, a vote that would certainly surprise the ordinary citizens, Republicans or not, that I watched our July 4th Parade. The “Remember 9/11” float got by far the biggest emotional reponse. Here’s Senator Menendez:
“It is unbelievable that our Republican colleagues voted to oppose protecting the health of first responders who acted selflessly following the 9/11 attacks. It is unconscionable that they all decided to put a political play on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires ahead of the health of our 9/11 heroes. Apparently, that pledge meant more to them than the pledge we all took immediately after the attacks: ‘We Will Never Forget.’ A grateful nation owes no less to first responders for the dedicated, courageous service they provided and the lives they saved after the attacks than to protect them from the illnesses they developed as a result.”
Frank Pallone wrote to the Treasury Secretary, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and others to complain that financial sanctions on Iran are not being enforced:
“Iran poses a very real threat to Israel, to the region and to U. S. national security,” said Pallone. “The sanctions are needed to do more than send a message. We need to cut off all sources of money and material that can be used in support of weapons of mass destruction.” …
“All financial institutions that conduct significant international transactions should therefore undergo periodic reviews by the federal reserve to ensure thorough compliance review,” Pallone wrote to Bernanke. “A robust outreach campaign by the Federal Reserve to instruct banks on best practices for compliance is also imperative.”
He cited a number of specific problems with certain banks.