PART I – THE HOUSE
The United States House of Representatives is comprised of 435 members who are chosen to do “the will of the people” in Washington, D.C. The 2010 elections resulted in 84 new Republican faces in The House. This brought the total to 241 Republican Members, which earned a majority over the Democratic members. The 2010 “Tea Party Revolution”, as some have dubbed it, was supposed to help restore individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, and protect the rights of Americans against the attacks being levied by ‘The Left’ and the Obama Administration.
Were “We The People” successful?
We are going to look at two of the biggest assaults by the 112th Congress against the liberty and freedom of Americans: CISPA and the NDAA.
As the Constitution outlines, all legislation must be approved by both chambers of Congress before it can arrive on the President’s desk. Without passing The House, legislation will never become law.
The internet has been the subject or target of various pieces of high-profile legislation. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) caused a great deal of grumbling and outrage among the American people. Where SOPA never made it out of committee for a full vote, CISPA did.
What was CISPA?
I will defer to Greg Nojeim of CDT.org, as he provided a fantastic breakdown and explanation of this legislation:
[CISPA] would authorize Internet service providers and other companies to share customer communications and other personally identifiable information with governmental agencies. The intent of the bill is to enhance information sharing forcybersecurity purposes, a goal that CDT strongly supports. However, we have four main concerns with the specifics of the Rogers-Ruppersberger bill:
- The bill has a very broad, almost unlimited definition of the information that can be shared with government agencies notwithstanding privacy and other laws;
- The bill is likely to lead to expansion of the government’s role in the monitoring of private communications as a result of this sharing;
- It is likely to shift control of government cybersecurity efforts from civilian agencies to the military;
- Once the information is shared with the government, it wouldn’t have to be used for cybersecurity, but could instead be used for any purpose that is not specifically prohibited.
Clearly, this bill was a threat to the personal privacy of every American using the internet. How did the Republicans fare when it came time to vote? Answering ”not good” would grossly mischaracterize it.
CISPA passed The House with 248 Yeas and 168 Nays, with 15 members not voting. Of those 248 ‘Yes’ votes, 206 were Republicans, where only 28 Republicans voted ‘No’. Of the 15 who did not vote, 7 were from the GOP. Many of the most prominent GOP members supported CISPA, including Allen West, Jason Chaffetz, Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, among others.
What about the NDAA – the National Defense Authorization Act? What is it about this bill that has so many Americans enraged? Once more, I will defer to an individual who explains it more plainly and eloquently than I can; Spencer Ackerman of Wired magazine:
…this looks like the basic shape of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Someone the government says is “a member of, or part of, al-Qaida or an associated force” can be held in military custody “without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.” Those hostilities are currently scheduled to end the Wednesday after never. The move would shut down criminal trials for terror suspects…
…But far more dramatically, the detention mandate to use indefinite military detention in terrorism cases isn’t limited to foreigners. It’s confusing, because two different sections of the bill seem to contradict each other, but in the judgment of the University of Texas’ Robert Chesney — a nonpartisan authority on military detention — “U.S. citizens are included in the grant of detention authority.”
The NDAA is an obvious assault on the rights of all Americans that are protected in the US Constitution. Surely a bill of this nature would be struck down faster than an American drone over Iran, right? Wrong.
The House passed the NDAA with 322 ‘Ayes’, 96 ‘Nays’, and 13 members not voting. As for the Republican votes, the GOP owned 227 ‘Yes’ votes, 6 of the ‘No’ votes, and 6 did not vote.
Just as with CISPA, most of the GOP Leadership supported this bill, as did other prominent members, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling, Majority Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, Mike Pence, Allen West, and most of the other high-profile names.
While I agree that President Obama has had a great many failures in the Oval Office, he does not deserve all of the blame for the enactment of the NDAA. Yes, he could have vetoed the bill and sent it back. However, House Republicans deserve more blame than anyone for supporting this bill and allowing it to pass The House and move on to The Senate.
Without the support of both the GOP Leadership in The House, as well as the rank-and-file; this bill would have been DOA when it reached the floor.
With the 2012 election looming just over 3 months away, Conservatives and Republicans are focusing on removing Barack Obama from office and recapturing a majority in The Senate. In the midst of the fervor, little attention has been paid to the races in The House. Little attention was given to The House races during the Primary Election season, as well.
Over the last 20 years, incumbents in The House of Representative are retained at an average of 92% each election cycle. With very little turn-over in members, we continue to allow these career politicians to skate along without punishment for their actions.
Is it any wonder that legislation such as CISPA, the NDAA, the Patriot Act, et. al. continue to assault the freedom and liberty of Americans over long periods of time?
With the primaries over, it is too late to clean the slate of Republicans who have infringed upon our liberty. Our only hope now is to survive the next two years, and, in 2014, rid The House of the parasites that continue to leech the lifeblood of liberty. Because right now, the State of The Right is in shambles in The House of Representatives.
“PART II – THE SENATE” — Coming July 27th, 2012
UPDATE: Due to medical reasons, I have had to change the date for Part II. It will now be released Friday, August 3rd, 2012.