BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Like Tony Soprano Leading His Own FBI Investigation?

The news is a bit old this morning, but I gotta jump in:

DeLay Lands Coveted Appropriations Spot

What?!

Does Tom have photos of top Repubs with young dudes?
WASHINGTON - Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.
The seat "made vacant" by Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
DeLay, R-Texas, also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers.
Wha-wha-WHAT?!

How is that possible?
The subcommittee also has responsibility over NASA — a top priority for DeLay, since the Johnson Space Center is located in his Houston-area district.

"Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA — Republicans in Congress just can't seem to resist standing by their man," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
My god.

You know, I really don't care about DeLay sitting on a "committee in charge of giving out money."

Let's be honest: The Hammer knows where all the money is "supposed" to go.

It's the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department-thing that I have a problem with.

I mean...WTF?

Are they really that arrogant?!

"YES. IF YOU AIN'T CHEATING, YOU AIN'T TRYING."

Thank you, Lord. Words to live by.

On a related note...

Hastert, Frist said to rig bill for drug firms

Well...duh.

Another modern CIVICS lesson, kiddos:
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert engineered a backroom legislative maneuver to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits, say witnesses to the pre-Christmas power play.

The language was tucked into a Defense Department appropriations bill at the last minute without the approval of members of a House-Senate conference committee, say several witnesses, including a top Republican staff member.
"Impressive."

"'The Hammer' has taught you well."
The new law providing vaccine makers with protection against lawsuits is called the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act.
Memo to the government: PLEASE contact me.

I want a job on the writing staff that comes up with these titles.

They're as good as The Onion staff!
Among its key provisions are:

- It allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a declaration that a "disease or other health condition or other threat to health constitutes a public health emergency."

- The secretary may also issue a declaration if there is a "credible risk" that there may be such a problem in the future.

- The protection against lawsuits then kicks in covering the "manufacture, testing, development, distribution, administration or use of one or more countermeasures," a term that includes vaccines and other drugs.

- Requires someone who is injured to prove "willful misconduct," and states that the standard will be "more stringent than a standard of negligence in any form or recklessness."
"But...my child is autistic."

"There's no 'willful misconduct' here, ma'am."

"But...my child is autistic!"

Here's how it went down --
At issue is what happened Dec. 18 as Congress scrambled to finish its business and head home for the Christmas holiday.

That day, a conference committee made up of 38 senators and House members met several times to work out differences on the 2006 Defense Department appropriations bill.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the ranking minority House member on the conference committee, said he asked Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the conference chairman, whether the vaccine liability language was in the massive bill or would be placed in it.

Obey and four others at the meeting said Stevens told him no.

Committee members signed off on the bill and the conference broke up.

*

But Keith Kennedy, who works for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., as staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, said at a seminar for reporters last month that the language was inserted by Frist and Hastert, R-Ill., AFTER the conference committee ended its work.

"There should be no dispute. That was an absolute travesty," Kennedy said at a videotaped Washington, D.C., forum sponsored by the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

"It was added after the conference had concluded. It was added at the specific direction of the speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate. The conferees did not vote on it. It's a true travesty of the process."

After the conference committee broke up, a meeting was called in Hastert's office, Kennedy said. Also at the meeting, according to a congressional staffer, were Frist, Stevens and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

"They (committee staff members) were given the language and then it was put in the document," Kennedy said.

About 10 or 10:30 p.m., Democratic staff members were handed the language and told it was now in the bill, Obey said.

He took to the House floor in a rage. He called Frist and Hastert "a couple of musclemen in Congress who think they have a right to tell everybody else that they have to do their bidding."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., also was critical of inserting the vaccine language after the conference committee had adjourned.

"It sucks," he told Congress Daily that night.
Yep.

Final note:
Frist has received $271,523 in campaign donations from the pharmaceutical and health products industry since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.

He is also a possible candidate for president in 2008.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I believe that the Republican definition of freedom is...the abiltity to conduct business without regulation or threat of litigation.

And that's it.

Always.

More later...

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