By: Brian Sikma
Remember what we were told at the beginning of the 110th Congress? Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer declared that with the Democrats in control Congress would be returning to a 5 day work week. Presumably this decision was made to show that now that the Democrats rule the Hill, the people’s business will be accomplished. This of course all being contingent on the people wisely agreeing with the Democrats’ ideas.
The work week that started Monday, January 28th wasn’t five days long. In fact it started on the 28th and went to the 29th. That’s a 2 day work week, not a 5 day work week. The reason the week was so short was because the Democrats had their annual party retreat starting on Wednesday.
A party retreat, or even short work week, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Members of Congress are human, inspite of the fact that some would have you think otherwise, and require breaks from their work just like the rest of us. The problem with this particular break though was that in hurrying out the door and off to their retreat, House Democrats failed to act responsibly on a very important issue that impacts the security of all of us.
Since assuming the majority in 2007, House Democrats have played kick-the-can with the Protect America Act. This legislation remedies a flawed FISA court ruling placing greater restrictions on the actions of U.S. intelligence agencies when those agencies seek to gather information from international phone calls that pass through the United States. Contrary to the popular interpretation, U.S. intelligence is not eavesdropping on phone calls between American citizens. The Protect America Act simply authorizes and codifies legal protections for intelligence agencies and private sector telecommunication companies that work or assist in the work of gathering intelligence from international suspects. The actions of the intelligence agencies do not violate any part of the Constitution.
Of course the facts can’t get in the way of politics and Democrats and their liberal friends such as MoveOn.org have publicly turned this issue into a campaign against the Bush administration’s waging of the War on Terror (better named the Islamic Terrorists’ War on Freedom). Privately, however, Democrats have faced the dilemma of governing as opposed to the campaigning that earns them big bucks from George Soros types.
With U.S. intelligence agencies facing a very severe limitation on their power to gather critical pieces of information, the President called on Congress in the summer of 2007 to pass legislation remedying the problem. In August the Democrat controlled House and Senate passed the Protect America Act. They set the law to expire in 6 months.
Six months later Congress, instead of passing a permanent solution solving this problem and allowing our intelligence forces to plan ahead and continue to protect us, has passed a 15 day extension. A fifteen day solution to a national security problem just so House Democrats can head out on their merry little retreat and deal with the problems later is conduct unbecoming for the majority party of the legislative body that deems itself “the people’s House.”
While this may be the kind of tactic that one should expect of some of the older Democratic lawmakers, it certainly isn’t what freshmen Democrats such as Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) promised voters when they ran for election in 2006. In both cases, the then candidates ran on a platform of changing the culture of Washington. Specifically, Joe Donnelly stated that “As your congressman, I am determined to make sure that our men and women serving both here and abroad have the tools, training, and leadership they need to protect us here at home and to pursue and defeat our adversaries abroad.”
Rep. Donnelly, those who protect America need more than a 15 day extension on a tool that is utterly critical for them to do their job and keep America safe. They deserve better, your constituents deserve better, and America deserves better.