Posts belonging to Category 110th Congress



Requesting one ‘Rob Wittman translator’ please.

These are Representative Rob Wittman’s comments — as quoted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch — regarding Israel’s response to Hamas’s rocket attacks:

Rep. Robert J. Wittman, R-1st, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the attacks give Obama a new opportunity to talk directly with Israel.

“We need to be in a position to have candid conversations about strategic actions in the Middle East,” said Wittman, who recently returned from an eight-day trip to Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain and Afghanistan.

Wittman called for the world community to “bring more political and diplomatic solutions” to the region.

Seriously, someone tell me what the heck he just said.

At least Eric Cantor (who’s a Jew, as the RT-D so diligently pointed out) had the guts to say that Israel had the right to defend itself; Wittman couldn’t even be bothered to say that.

What “strategic actions in the Middle East” does Wittman want to have “candid conversations” about?

Withdrawing from Iraq or Afghanistan?

Screwing over Israel?

Or is just empty platitudes that sound like something a ninth grader would write for an English paper?

And if Wittman is relying on the world community to “‘bring more political and diplomatic solutions’ to the region”, then Israel is really screwed. When you have the majority of the coward Europeans condemning Israel for defending its citizens, there’s something seriously wrong in this world.

Amazing, both the Palestinian Authority (via Mahmoud Abbas) and the Egyptian government condemned Hamas. But that has more to do with realpolitik, than with any support for the state of Israel: the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt — which Hamas is an offshoot of — is constantly fighting with the Egyptian government and Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party is the rival of Hamas for the control of the Palestinian territories.

Bailouts for All: Developers want a piece.

From the Wall Street Journal:

With a record amount of commercial real-estate debt coming due, some of the country’s biggest property developers have become the latest to go hat-in-hand to the government for assistance.

They’re warning policymakers that thousands of office complexes, hotels, shopping centers and other commercial buildings are headed into defaults, foreclosures and bankruptcies. The reason: according to research firm Foresight Analytics LCC, $530 billion of commercial mortgages will be coming due for refinancing in the next three years — with about $160 billion maturing in the next year. Credit, meanwhile, is practically nonexistent and cash flows from commercial property are siphoning off.

And Hot Air’s take (they also get a hat tip):

Had Paulson and the White House stuck with the original TARP plan — the one authorized by Congress — they would have bought back the mortgage-backed securities that the government mandated from the bad loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The credit markets would have eventually stabilized and the credit would have been forthcoming. Instead, Paulson and Bush decided to convert TARP into a political support system, picking winners and losers among ailing entities for no better purpose than to shore up voter support.

Read their whole take!

Pay raises aren’t just for the Caroline BOS: Congress gives them a pay raise.

Love the headline: With economy in shambles, Congress gets a raise:

A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.

“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”

H/t: Little Green Footballs

Why you shouldn’t vote for Republicans anymore: House Republicans strip earmark moratorium from caucus rules.

CQ Politics:

Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Eric Cantor of Virginia had unveiled late Wednesday a moratorium on GOP earmark requests through Feb. 16 while a new panel of Republicans comes up with proposals for permanent restrictions and disclosure requirements for earmarks.

But Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, an appropriator, offered an amendment to strip the requirement for an earmark moratorium. And Tiahrt’s moratorium-killing proposal was approved by the full caucus, said several GOP aides. The amended rules package was then adopted.

H/t: Hot Air

Rob Wittman (R) to give Americans’ jobs to unskilled aliens at the behest of businesses.

From a press release:

Congressman Robert J. Wittman (VA-01) today announced that the Department of Labor recently issued new rules and regulations to reform the current process that applies to temporary worker visas.

The rules will improve the current system and make it easier for business to hire the employees they need. The action comes as businesses across the county are struggling to find enough workers.

Meanwhile, 144,200 Virginians and 7,626,000 Americans are struggling to find jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 3 & Table A-1).

The Administration’s efforts may prove helpful but Congress must still take action to address limitations placed on H-2B visas. “Without prompt action by Congress to extend the existing H-2B cap, employers who rely on temporary and seasonal employees face severe worker shortages and the looming possibility of business closures in 2008,” said Wittman.

How about this amazing idea?: Hire Americans!

Workers with H-2B visas provide necessary labor for the seafood, tourism, hospitality, and landscape industries, as well as many other temporary and non-agricultural jobs in this country.

As opposed to hiring the American citizens in this country.

“As a cosponsor of H.R. 1843, the Save our Small and Seasonal Business Act, I urge Congress to take action to quickly pass legislation that would address this important issue impacting many businesses in my district and across the country.”

Instead of addressing issues impacting people seeking employment in your district and this country.

H.R. 1843 would increase the number of unskilled aliens in the country by up to 300% instead of effectively forcing businesses to hire American workers. Hooray.

Why is he supporting this bill?

I’m absolutely, positively, sure that it has nothing with Wittman receiving $5,600 from people affiliated with agribusinesses and $12,000 from agribusiness PACs for a total of $17,600 in campaign contributions from agribusinesses (OpenSecrets.org).

He has also received $3,500 from fishing related PACs as well, and that’s just doing a coarsely look through of his FEC reports. Another $1,000 from the President of the National Fisheries Institute. $500 from someone at Casey’s Seafood Inc. Another $500 from the owner of Shore Seafood Inc. $3,000 from the President and Vice President at Maritime Trading Co. (a seafood company). $1,500 from someone at Graham & Rollins (a seafood company). $500 from Little River Seafood Inc. $1,000 from an Executive at Mason Seafood Inc. $2,300 from someone at Five Seas Inc. (seafood company). $2,000 from the Vice President of Motivatit Seafoods (FEC).

Notice a pattern? Didn’t he just say that this bill would help seafood companies?

Surely, I’m just being cynical.

Republicans support $290,000,000,000 corporate welfare bill.

The WaPo:

The House yesterday passed a final version of a new five-year farm bill by a vote of 318 to 106, a margin large enough to override President Bush’s promised veto of the nearly $300 billion measure.

[…]

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer released a statement saying the vote “sends the wrong message to the rest of the country who are not experiencing the boom of the agriculture sector,” and, “This bill is loaded with taxpayer funded pet projects at a time when Americans are struggling to buy groceries and afford gas to get to work.”

Bush has charged that the bill allows payments to wealthy individuals. He has also criticized restrictions on the use of food aid dollars in the midst of food shortages abroad, and he said that protectionist provisions, including “an egregious new sugar subsidy program,” could worsen trade relations.

The United Nations and the World Trade Organization have increasingly gotten annoyed at the massive subsidies provided by the United States Government (The WaPo, different link).

Vote round-up provided by James Atticus Bowden at his blog:

Democrats — Boucher, Y; Moran, Y; Scott, Y.

Republicans — Drake, Y; Forbes, Y; Goodlatte, Y; Wittman, Y;

Fiscal Conservative Republicans – Goode, N;Cantor, N; Davis, Tom, N; Wolf, N.

Wolf, Goode and Cantor have farmers in their districts, yet they voted “No”. Good job, guys.

And the corporate welfare aspect:

Continues to subsidize millionaires. Cur­rently, all full-time farmers may be eligible for farm subsidies regardless of income (part-time farmers must earn less than $2.5 million annu­ally). President Bush reasonably proposed lim­iting farm subsidies to those who earn less than $200,000 a year.

Rather than follow that commonsense approach, the conference agreement reportedly rejects all farmer income tests for the countercyclical and marketing loan subsidy programs and includes only a weak net farm income cap for direct pay­ments ($750,000 for single farmers and $1.5 million for married farmers after all business de­ductions). Direct payments would also be re­stricted to singles with non-farm incomes under $500,000 ($1 million for married couples).

That is not reform. Farmers with incomes in the millions of dollars would still be eligible for permanent subsidies. Farm subsidies would remain America’s largest corporate welfare pro­gram: Most subsidies would continue to go to large agribusinesses. President Bush is right to insist that farmers earning more than $200,000 per year no longer be eligible for subsidies.

What hypocrisy: Wittman condemns Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “rejecting” earmark moratorium while requesting $132,500,000.00 in earmarks.

File under: Chutzpah.

He also has yet to publish his requested earmarks on his website as he has promised.

First, one of Wittman’s press releases dated February 7, 2008:

Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) released the following statement after today’s procedural motion to force a vote on an immediate earmark moratorium.

“I am disappointed that Speaker Pelosi has rejected a Republican invitation to place an immediate moratorium on all government funded earmarks. I believe this is an issue that we must find common ground on, and that we must do so immediately. Unfortunately, congressional Democrats do not feel the same way.

Wittman’s views on “Wasteful Spending”:

I am committed to fight against wasteful spending and expose the fraud and abuse in Washington. We need to get back to the conservative principles of controlling spending, particularly when it comes to federal earmarks, commonly referred to as “pork barrel” projects.

From The Daily Press via the “VA GOP Network”:

About 65 people crammed into 40 seats and stood along the walls of a meeting room at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites in Newport News for about two hours. What they heard was U.S. Representative Rob Wittman and state Delegates G. Glenn Oder and Brenda Pogge discuss their legislative agendas while railing against excessive governmental spending and, frequently, the Democratic Party.

[…]

Wittman spoke of reforming the tax code and legislative earmarking, extending tax cuts and curtailing entitlement programs — particularly Medicaid, Medicare and defense spending, that he said would in five years account for 96 percent of federal government discretionary spending.

“If we don’t get our arms around these particular issues we’re going to have trouble, Wittman said. “We have to find ways of doing things without spending ourselves into oblivion.”

Uh…he wants to cut defense spending in the middle of two wars? Aren’t there five military bases in his Congressional District, as he is so happy to point out?

Comforting…

And from a document distributed by the Stafford County Republican Committee (.DOC file) touting Wittman’s “conservative record” (snort):

Rep. Wittman has joined the members of the Republican Conference to demand reform of earmarks by calling for a Joint Select Committee on Earmark Reform and an earmark moratorium until additional guidelines are recommended.

And now, from the Media General News Service:

As his colleagues debated a moratorium on congressionally-directed budget earmarks this month, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., requested $132.5 million for local projects.

[…]

In his first budget cycle, Wittman sought funding for 52 projects. The largest is $17.5 million to replace a 40-year-old missile support facility at the Navy’s Dahlgren Division in King George Co.

Uh…didn’t he just say he was going to cut defense spending?

Did he vote for it before he voted against it?

[…]

Side-stepping the intra-party debate over new House earmark policies, Wittman said he made sure his requests were supported by local agencies, contained non-federal funding, and pledged to publish his requests on his Web site.

“What we try to do is step out in front and develop our own policy and be sure we are transparent,” Wittman said.

Funny, he hasn’t posted the information on either of his websites yet (Google search of his official website and his campaign website). I guess the media gets a list of his earmarks, but us lowly serfs in the First Congressional District don’t. And how exactly would a federal earmark not contain federal funding? Continued:

But critics said it would have been better for him to not participate in the earmark process at all.
“He’s not starting off very well,” said Paige. “If he’s already climbing on the runaway train that is the earmark culture in Congress, he’s going in the wrong direction.”

Critics also say the earmark process increases spending, because lawmakers support each other’s pet projects.

Wittman said he will suggest “spending reductions in other places to offset spending for (his) earmarks.”

Um, yeah, sure, I believe that. Apparently he’s going to reduce spending by increasing spending to pay for people’s health insurance in the tune of $5,000,000 in FY09 and 10, increasing to $10,000,000 in FY11 and 12, and hitting $20,000,000 in FY13 as a cosponsor of H.R.5405. (I must have missed the part of the United States Constitution that includes the provision to pay for people’s health insurance.) Continued:

[Eric] Cantor [R-7th CD] made no appropriation requests for the second year in a row and has called on lawmakers to follow suit while Congress considers reforms to the earmark process.

In closing, to quote P. J. O’Rourke: “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”

And: “The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.

Follow-up: Representative Rob Wittman wants to ban the sale of Playboy and Penthouse at military PX’s.

Wittman is a cosponsor. (For details on the original story, click here.)

Apparently, Wittman (who has no military experience whatsoever) believes that men (and women) that have volunteered to serve in the military are incapable of deciding what they want to read.

They can apparently volunteer to serve in the greatest armed forces in the world with the possibility that they will make the ultimate sacrifice, but are unable to decide what is appropriate for themselves to read.

Men (and women) who serve in combat zones and see death on a routine basis will apparently have their precious minds, their virgin eyes and ears, warped by the likes of Penthouse and Playboy.

Does Wittman think that because some soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines see the likes of Penthouse and Playboy that, to quote the bill’s sponsor, Paul Broun of Georgia, it will “escalat[e] the number of violent, sexual crimes, feeding a base addiction, eroding the family as the primary building block of society, and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad”? (see also: Straw man)

Is our military that out of control?

And as Wittman is so eager to point out, twenty percent (20%) of his district’s residents “are military or retired military personnel”, so how many of them support this stupidity?

Do the Marines at MCB (Marine Corp Base) Quantico think it’s a Congressional prerogative to control what they read? What about the soldiers (et al.) at Fort A.P. Hill? The sailors at NSWC (Naval Surface Warfare Center) Dahlgren? What about the airmen at Langley AFB (Air Force Base) which is right outside his district (and I’m sure some of the base personnel live inside his district)?

And how comforting that Wittman will be on the subcommittee that does the first hearing on the bill (that would be the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness).

Welcome to the Republican Nanny State.

FYI: Randy Forbes (R) of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District and Virgil Goode (R) of Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District are also cosponsors of this piece of stupidity legislation.

And Republicans say they support the troops.

Republican Representative wants to ban the sale of Playboy and Penthouse at PX’s.

H/t: Ace of Spades HQ (content warning)

Why isn’t he in jail?

From The Politico: Shays screams at Capitol Police officer, later apologies:

On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) got into a loud, angry dispute with a U.S. Capitol Police officer at the security checkpoint inside the entrance of the West Side of the Capitol. On Friday, Shays, a veteran lawmaker, offered a public apology for the incident and said that he wants to meet with the officer personally to reiterate how sorry he is.

Shays reportedly grabbed the officer during the dispute over whether the officer should allow a group of tourists to enter the building, said several sources. Tourists are not allowed to use the West Front entrance, but Shays was trying to bring the group through that entrance anyway. The officer refused to allow them in, and Shays then “yelled and screamed” at the officer, including using profanity, the sources said.

The officer had more tolerance than I would have.

Hat tip: Matt “threat to democracy” Drudge


Warning: Unknown: open(/home/content/36/5675336/tmp/sess_hjvf9dv2nujk2rnbcp65r9bdm1, O_RDWR) failed: No such file or directory (2) in Unknown on line 0

Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct () in Unknown on line 0