Janet Hook from the LA Times has an article in today's edition headlined "Lame-duck lawmakers leave tokens of their tenure: Exiting politicians link their names to varied projects." Guess whose name is conspicuously absent from the article.
Janet Hook from the LA Times has an article in today's edition headlined "Lame-duck lawmakers leave tokens of their tenure: Exiting politicians link their names to varied projects." Guess whose name is conspicuously absent from the article.
"There is a huge difference between majority leader and minority leader in Washington. If we lose the majority leader's position, we lose 50 percent of my ability to help South Dakota because I will no longer be in the driver's seat on issues in the United States Senate that are important to the state." - Senator Tom Daschle, quoted in the November 11, 2002 edition of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
At the Dakotafest debate in Mitchell on Aug. 18, Senator Daschle made the following comment about why he has been unable to deliver enough votes to pass the energy bill, with its important ethanol provisions:
"Unfortunately you have Republican leadership on the other side who say that their price for ensuring that we pass energy this year is to exempt the oil companies and the manufacturers of methyl tertiary butyl ether [MTBE] from any liability for the damage created in now 43 states costing more than $200 billion. So we have a problem. The Republican leadership continues to insist that that be done. I said 'You take that out, we will pass an energy bill, I will get the other votes.'”
In an unsuccessful bid to win support for his proposal, [Senator Pete] Domenici had stripped out a disputed provision from last year's stalled energy bill that would have granted legal protections to makers of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, more commonly known as MTBE....
MTBE makers pointed to Thursday's vote to argue that the controversial provision cannot be blamed for the legislation's failure last year.
"It proves the point that the MTBE safe harbor is not the factor that stands in the way of comprehensive energy legislation," argued Frank Maisano, a spokesman for the MTBE manufacturers.
UPDATE: To view the Senate Roll Call vote on the energy bill without the MTBE safe harbor provision, click HERE.
DVT notes Daschle's claim that he could have gotten the necessary votes to pass the energy bill if the provisions protecting MTBE manufacturers had been removed is bogus. When the MTBE provision was taken out of the bill this spring, the energy bill actually got fewer votes to invoke cloture than it did last fall.
The Aberdeen American News has an interesting guest editorial today by the South Dakota Cattlemen Association headlined "Daschle should allow vote on judge" urging Senator Daschle to support the nomination of William G. Myers III to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Excerpt from the editorial:
We hope Sen. Daschle will hear our call and allow the Myers nomination to come to a full vote in the Senate. We are constantly reminded how powerful the minority leader position is. The senator should use his power to help South Dakota producers in this important matter.
Last November, Tom Daschle said on the Senate floor that he "reluctantly" supported the energy bill, and would "understand and respect my colleagues who oppose this bill." This bill would have more than doubled ethanol production. You can read the relevant portion of Daschle's floor statement contained in the Congressional Record HERE. Excerpt from the CQ piece:
I understand and respect my colleagues who oppose this bill. There is much in this conference report that is objectionable.
Despite secrecy, the partisanship and the shortcomings in this bill, I will vote to invoke cloture—reluctantly— because America needs to improve its energy situation, and I think this proposal takes a few small steps forward.
The cloture vote was a major victory for New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer, whose filibuster threat over MTBE was dismissed by Republicans earlier in November as insignificant.
The vote was a challenge for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who was forced to cast a vote on a Republican bill that most of his Democratic colleagues opposed but that included provisions on ethanol--the fuel additive made from corn--that most of his constituents support.
Daschle, who is up for re-election in 2004, handled the issue gingerly, saying he "reluctantly" supported the bill and quietly voting to end debate even as a majority of Democrats voted to sustain a filibuster.
Despite the final total, GOP leaders were actually just two votes shy of the 60 needed to end the filibuster....
To secure the 60 votes needed to win Senate passage, Republican leaders included generous provisions for ethanol to win votes from Daschle and other Midwestern Democrats.
The bill would require a more than doubling of ethanol production by 2012, providing a major economic boost farm states....
Schumer's victory on the cloture vote certainly strengthened Daschle's hand on Capitol Hill, dealing Republicans in the White House and in Congress a stinging rebuke. But the victory in Washington could weaken Daschle in his home state if the bill and its ethanol provisions are sunk.
"The ethanol provisions [in the bill] are the best thing for American farmers that we will ever see," Domenici warned....
Agricultural lobbyists--who represent South Dakota's leading industry--said Daschle could suffer from political backlash if Republicans do not succeed in passing the energy bill. That would especially be true among corn farmers, who would see their profits soar under the bill as the price per bushel increased.
Those affiliated with the state's burgeoning ethanol industry may also take their anger out on Daschle if an energy bill is not enacted this year, said Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. She ticked off a number of statistics to underscore her point.
The state currently has seven ethanol plants, and five more are in various stages of development, she said. More than 8,000 farm families have invested in ethanol production in the state. And the industry provides 400 direct jobs at plants and thousands of indirect jobs in rural areas of the state.
"It will be hard to come back to South Dakota without it," Richardson said. "As leader of that side, people expect" him to deliver his party's votes....
Jason Glo[d]t, executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party, said Republicans would "absolutely" use the issue against Daschle in his bid for a fourth term, especially in light of news reports that he did little to pressure his colleagues to support the bill.
"He's basically running his campaign on his ability to deliver for South Dakota," Glo[d]t said. "This energy bill goes directly to the issue of whether or not he can deliver for South Dakota, whether or not he has any clout."
Less than one year out from his next contest, [Daschle] is considered the clear front-runner. He has drawn no top-tier challengers, has a sizable treasury and is already airing campaign ads on television -- the first of which touted his longtime advocacy for ethanol.
But Daschle could falter if a certain Republican -- popular former Rep. John Thune (1997-2003) -- were to jump into the race....
Thune spokesman Ryan Nelson said Daschle's failure to enact ethanol legislation would factor into his boss's decision on whether to mount a Senate bid and also said Thune would "absolutely" make it an issue if he runs.
"If he can only convince less than a quarter of his caucus that ethanol is a good thing for America, I think that is a failure," Nelson said. "He's not lifting a finger to convince his caucus that this is the right thing for his country."
Daschle validated that claim to some extent the morning of the cloture vote, when he took to the floor to notify his colleagues that he would vote for cloture but that he understood their choice to mount a filibuster and respected them for it.
Mike Madden has a report in today's edition of the Argus Leader about Tom Daschle's desperate ploy yesterday to salvage his reputation as a champion of ethanol: "Ethanol measure discarded." Excerpt:
South Dakota politics loomed large over the Senate floor Thursday. Since last summer, Daschle has featured his support for ethanol in his television ad campaign. Republicans blasted him last fall, when the energy bill failed to pass, saying the Democratic leader hadn't done enough to bring members of his caucus on board.
Daschle has championed ethanol both in the Senate and in his close election battle against former House member John Thune (R) in corn-producing South Dakota. Although he lost the vote on his proposal, it enabled him to blame Republicans for its failure. And he was quick to do so, accusing GOP senators of squandering an opportunity to boost the rural American economy and "send a powerful message to the Persian Gulf oil producers who are intent on driving up American gasoline prices."
At the time, Senator Chuck Grassley, also a champion of ethanol, took Tom Daschle to the woodshed for not wielding his purported clout to pass the energy bill. It is interesting to note that Chuck Grassley did not support Tom Daschle's ethanol amendment yesterday, voting to reject the motion for cloture.
It is also interesting to note that Tom Daschle wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal last October, confidently predicting that the ethanol provision would pass on its own. That certainly didn't happen yesterday. It wasn't even close. It leads one to believe that Tom Daschle is better at empty political posturing than delivering for South Dakota.
DVT points to this Investor's Business Daily report headlined "Efforts to revive Senate energy legislation fall short." Excerpt:
In an odd twist earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., sought to add an amendment to an unrelated Internet tax moratorium bill that would enact popular ethanol provisions of the energy bill that stalled out in the Senate last fall.
The above photo was taken during a book signing in New York on November 10, 2003. By the way, Daschle is at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York tonight receiving an award for blocking tort reform.
It's worthwhile to flash back to a letter Tom Daschle wrote to the Wall Street Journal last October regarding ethanol. Excerpt from the letter:
You also suggest that I would abandon my opposition to drilling in the wildlife refuge in order to advance the energy bill's ethanol provision, which is supported by more than two-thirds of the Senate and President Bush. I never will make that trade, and I am confident that the ethanol provision will become law this Congress, either in the energy bill or on its own merit."
Isn't it interesting, too, that even though the ANWR provision was dropped from the energy bill, Daschle still didn't wholeheartedly lobby for its passage? Now, Tom Daschle is blaming the failure of the bill on the MBTE provisions, and those provisions have been taken out too. Still, we can't seem to get these ethanol provisions into law. It leads one to ask what kind of clout Tom Daschle supposedly has, when he can't or won't get ethanol passed into law.
The Argus Leader had a piece this past Sunday headlined "Kerry nabs Daschle's status as spokesman." Excerpt:
For Daschle, Kerry's emergence as the party's new face means a less prominent role nationally....
For his part, Daschle said he doesn't mind the lower visibility.
"I don't miss the limelight," said the senator, who came within hours last year of making his own run for the presidential nomination that Kerry now has locked up.
The Black Hills Pioneer publishes a letter by Tom Daschle today under the headline "Removing Protections for Polluters in Energy Bill Will Boost Ethanol Production." Excerpt:
Some say that the energy bill would have become law if two more senators had voted to end debate, but that is not the case. One of the leaders of the opposition, Senator Gregg recently announced, "We actually had a lot more than six [Republican votes]...If they had won the cloture motion, we would have killed the bill on a point of order [CQ Today, 11/26/03, p. 12]."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who often is complimented by Sen. Daschle for bipartisan work on legislative measures, said the Senate vote "was plain and simple a Democrat filibuster. This bill could pass if Democrat leaders would help. The Democratic leadership has clout, and if he had tried, Sen. Daschle could have gotten a few more votes for ethanol. Only 13 Democrats voted to stop filibuster. That's hardly more than one-fourth. But almost 90 percent of Republicans voted to stop the filibuster."
“If a Democrat leader can deliver 46 out of 49 votes to keep the president’s good judges from being approved,” Grassley said, “he surely ought to be able to deliver 15 out of 49 votes for the energy bill when it’s so important to South Dakota.”
Senator Daschle's amendment to the FY2005 Budget Resolution, allowing an increase of $3.44 billion for Indian Health Service Clinical Services, died on the Senate floor yesterday, with 54 voting against the amendment, and 42 voting for the amendment. According to the Senate Republican Policy Committee, this amendment would increase spending for the Indian Health Service to $6.12 billion for FY2005. For FY2004, Congress appropriated $2.921 billion for the IHS. The President’s budget request for FY2005 is $2.967. The Daschle amendment would have represented a 1-year, 110-percent increase in IHS funding.
All of this leads one to ask where Tom Daschle's clout is, and how he can claim to have "delivered for South Dakota" when he couldn't round up the votes needed to get this amendment passed. Could it be that this amendment was purely empty political posturing in an election year, rather than an attempt at trying to accomplish something reasonable? Say it ain't so!
The Daschle v. Thune blog notes that political analyst Stuart Rothenberg had the following to say about Tom Daschle yesterday, during a "Live Online" segment at the Washington Post:
Arlington, Va.: Is there any incumbent Senator of either party who would be a good bet to be defeated this time around?
Stuart Rothenberg: Only two are really vulnerable at this point: Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who was appointed to her seat by her daddy, and Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) who has a terrific opponent in John Thune and has lost the "clout" issue that saved his SD Democratic colleague, Tim Johnson, in 2002.
Once again, Tom Daschle sends along a press release taking credit for a bill he voted against, which is reprinted verbatim in a local newspaper: "Senate approves $50,000 for Hand County Memorial Hospital." He blames the delay of country of origin labeling (COOL) as the reason he voted against the bill, which only leads one to ask what kind of clout Tom Daschle has when he is steamrolled by those opposed to COOL.
It's also relevant to know that Tom Daschle voted against the Medicare Reform bill, which appropriated millions of dollars to help rural hospitals.
Tom Daschle is risking the sacrifice of millions of dollars for South Dakota priorities in the omnibus spending bill in order to champion the priorities of the party he leads, as seen by a story in the Washington Post today headlined "GOP Senators Push To Pass Spending Bill." Excerpt:
Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) sent senators a letter last week listing home-state projects they would lose if the bill failed. And yesterday Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) warned colleagues in a letter that defeat would mean a loss of spending increases for many popular national programs.
"Attached you will find a list of projects that may be of particular interest to you," Stevens wrote in what a senior GOP aide described as an unusual but not unprecedented move to remind senators of their personal political stake in passage of a bill.
One Senate aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said his senator's list included more than 300 items spread over nine pages, including one as small as $25,000 for a youth center.
It would be very interesting to see the contents of the letter sent by Ted Stevens to Tom Daschle. For a list of the money earmarked for South Dakota in the omnibus spending bill, click HERE.
The New York Times has a very good article on Senator Daschle, headlined "The Senate: Daschle, Democrats' Leader, Faces Tough Race at Home," which will appear in tomorrow's edition. Excerpt:
Republicans intend to hit Mr. Daschle hard on the energy bill that failed in the Senate last year. Mr. Daschle backed the measure, and promoted a provision to expand the use of corn-based ethanol--an issue of extreme importance to South Dakota's farmers. But many Democrats voted against the bill, and their leader did not try to stop them.
The Argus Leader's editorial board has put out editorials twice in the last 12 days (12/15 and 12/27) promoting an early special election for the House seat that will be open due to Congressman Janklow's resignation. In the latest such editorial the AL posits the following:
Forget the cost of a special election. Without someone to represent us in the House, South Dakota could lose millions of dollars. Who would represent us on ethanol and the Lewis and Clark pipeline and who knows what else? No one.
I've done some research on what South Dakota earmarks are contained in the FY04 omnibus spending bill. As far as I'm aware, SDP is the only place where you'll find the detailed list of South Dakota projects funded by this bill. To my knowledge, the AP hasn't done a report, nor has the AL, nor has the Rapid City Journal. These local publications would be well advised to fashion a report like the report in the Salt Lake Tribune headlined "Omnibus breakdown in Utah."
Anyway, the FY04 omnibus bill is H.R. 2673, and you can read the text of conference report, printed in the 11/25/2003 Congressional Record, beginning at page H12323 and ending at page H12746. The South Dakota earmarks are as follows (SDP exclusive-must credit SDP):
- A north-central sun grant center at South Dakota State University for the region composed of the States of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. - $5 million, pg H12334
- $500,000 shall be available for Northeast South Dakota Tech-Based Skills Development- pg H12348
- $275,000 is available for Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Eagle Butte, South Dakota to establish a nursing home – pg H12388 and H12573
- The conferees are aware of current efforts to begin a study of the use of conservation cropping techniques in southeastern North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota and western Minnesota. The goal of this study would be to identify conservation rotations, cover crops, seeding techniques, and residue management practices that would make conservation tillage acceptable and profitable in these climate transition areas. The conferees encourage the Secretary to support efforts begin this study, as appropriate. – [seems to only be precatory language-ed.] – pg H12446
-The conference agreement provides $71,422,000 for the Risk Management Agency as proposed by the Senate instead of $71,509,000 as proposed by the House. The conferees are aware that certain additional states have been approved for participation in the Livestock Risk Protection Pilots for swine and other livestock categories, but that this expansion was limited to ten states. The conferees urge the Department to expand the program during fiscal year 2004 to the maximum extent possible, including the states of Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. – pg H12462
- Edward Byrne Grants to States.—The conference agreement includes $659,117,000 for the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program, of which $159,117,000 is for discretionary grants and $500,000,000 is for formula grants. Within the amount provided for Byrne formula grants, the conferees ask Governors and relevant State and local officials to review the following proposals and provide a grant if warranted: Oglala, South Dakota Youth Court/Court Systems – pg H12475
- $100,000 to the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners for law enforcement communications equipment – pg H12476
- $750,000 to Prairie View Prevention Services in Sioux Falls, SD, to continue methamphetamine use prevention programs in South Dakota, and to facilitate integration of prevention and treatment services for at risk youth – pg H12479
- $250,000 to the South Dakota Police Chiefs’Association and South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association for technology and equipment - H12480
- $250,000 to Our Home, Inc. in Huron South Dakota for programming and equipment at its Parkston, SD, juvenile group care facility – H12483
- $245,000 to South Dakota Coalition for Children – H12484
- The managers note that a proposal by the University of South Dakota to develop international mental health programs was inadvertently omitted from the list of university proposals on pages 20 to 23 of the Senate report. – H12534
- $100,000 to InterTribal Bison Cooperative in Rapid City, South Dakota for member training. – H12549
- $400,000 to Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board in Rapid City, South Dakota for Northern Plains Healthy Start. – H12553
- $250,000 to Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to integrate information systems of CHCs and FQHCs in the Dakotas. – H12554
- $200,000 to Delta Dental Plan of South Dakota in Pierre, SD for equipment for a dental care mobile van. - H12555
- $2,000,000 to Graduate Education and Applied Research Foundation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to construct the Center for Graduate Education and Applied Research - H12555
- $50,000 to Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller, South Dakota for renovation and equipment - H12556
- $250,000 to Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Rosebud, South Dakota for rural ambulance service operations – H12559
- $900,000 to the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in Vermillion, SD for construction. – H12561
- $200,000 to Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota for the West River Task Force on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Effect – H12566
- $60,000 to South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy in Brookings, SD to support pharmacist immunization training – H12568
- $225,000 to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Eagle Butte, South Dakota for mental health services - H12571
- $200,000 to Yankton Sioux Tribe in Marty, South Dakota for substance abuse treatment at Canku Teca – H12572
- $250,000 to Behavior Management Systems in Rapid City, South Dakota for substance abuse treatment – H12572
- $475,000 to the University of South Dakota School of Medicine Center for Disabilities in Sioux Falls, SD to continue the work of the Consortium of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome - H12573
- $200,000 to Children’s Village in Pine Ridge, South Dakota for foster care services – H12576
- $60,000 to Kids Voting South Dakota in Pierre, SD to expand programming in tribal schools – H12588
- $480,000 to Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, South Dakota for technology center equipment – H12599
- $150,000 to Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota for forensic science lab equipment – H12599
- $200,000 to Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah for workforce development in South Dakota via distance education - H12602
- $5,000,000 to construct Madison Street Interchange I–29 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota - H12671
- $5,100,000 to Reconstruct Exit 60—I–90 in Rapid City, South Dakota – H12674
- $3,000,000 to BIA Route 27 Reconstruction, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota – H12675
- $250,000 to Extend 4-Lane Highway from Maverick Junction to Nebraska in Fall River County, South Dakota – H12676
- $2,000,000 to Meridian Bridge Replacement, Yankton, South Dakota – H12678
- $1,000,000 to Replace Meridan Bridge at Yankton, South Dakota - H12679
- $2,000,000 to Reconstruct Allen Road, Bennett County, South Dakota – H12680
- $2,250,000 to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe public buses and bus facilities, South Dakota – H12688
- $2,000,000 to South Dakota Statewide buses and bus facilities – H12692
- $250,000 to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Public Bus System, South Dakota – H12694
- $2,000,000 for Wakpa Sica Historical Society in Fort Pierre, South Dakota for the Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Center- H12719
- $400,000 for the City of Parker, South Dakota for the development of a community center- H12719
- $400,000 for the City of Beresford, South Dakota for the Beresford Industrial Infrastructure Development project- H12719
- $200,000 for the Aberdeen Workforce Development Council, Aberdeen South Dakota for costs associated with the Workforce Development Center- H12719
- $50,000 for the Canton Economic Development Corporation, Canton, South Dakota for infrastructure development- H12719
- $1,000,000 for Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, South Dakota for facilities construction for the McGovern Library and Center for Public Service- H12719
- $350,000 for the City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the expansion and rehabilitation of the Orpheum Theatre- H12719
- $200,000 for the City of Vermillion, South Dakota for the expansion of the Center for Children and Families- H12719
- $100,000 for the City of Redfield, South Dakota for renovations and improvements to the Carnegie Library- H12719
- $1,000,000 for the City of Corsica, South Dakota for water infrastructure improvements- H12737
- $1,000,000 for the City of Lennox, South Dakota for water infrastructure improvements- H12737
- $200,000 for the City of Sisseton, South Dakota for water infrastructure improvements- H12737
- $1,000,000 for the City of Hartford, South Dakota for drinking water infrastructure
- $100,000 for the City of DeSmet, South Dakota for water infrastructure improvements- H12737
Tom Daschle blocked these provisions from becoming law, and hence South Dakota has lost the money. With this kind of representation, we might as well not have any. Yet there's no peep from the AL. This leads one to to the conclusion that the AL's "South Dakota will lose money" argument is a pretextual one, and the real reason the AL is pushing an early special election is because the AL believes that Stephanie Herseth will benefit from it.
A Senate cloture vote to end conference report debate is scheduled for January 20, 2004. It will be interesting to see if Tom Daschle votes against cloture.
The Washington Post has a story in today's edition headlined "Democrats Forced To Work on Margins" which leads one to ask what kind of clout Tom Daschle has when he is "forced to work on the margins" of the Senate. Excerpt:
On several of the issues, Democrats were divided, and some concede their responses were limp and late. As a result, they had little impact on most of the major legislation that dominated Congress's agenda at year's end, although they blocked passage of the energy and spending bills, at least until Congress reconvenes Jan. 20.
The New York Times has a report today headlined "Ease a Little Guilt, Provide Some Jobs; It's Pork on the Hill" discussing the FY 2004 omnibus spending bill. Excerpt:
Every state — indeed nearly every Congressional district, no matter Democratic or Republican — is the recipient of one pork project or another. The measure includes $200,000 for the University of Hawaii to produce a documentary on the Kalahari Bushmen, $220,000 to renovate a blueberry research center at the University of Maine and, in a provision Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, called "most ironic," $500,000 for the "Exercise in Hard Choices" program at the University of Akron, which examines how Congress makes budget decisions.
We need a senator who votes right on the issues, AND at the same time brings home the bacon. Tom Daschle certainly does not fit that description.