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Today in Washington – July 21, 2010

President Obama may be one of the most divisive presidents of our lifetime.  The President is set to sign a Financial Services Reform bill full of racial and gender preferences today.  Clearly the lack of racial and gender preferences (and quotas) in the financial sector had nothing to do with the financial meltdown of 2008, yet the legislation set up a huge bureaucratic mechanism to force racial and gender preferences on Wall Street nonetheless.  Four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights signed a letter complaining about these racial and gender preferences.  Will the President take his oath of office seriously and consider a veto?  I doubt it.

The House is voting on H.R. 4380, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, today, loaded with earmarks and 11 other suspension bills.  The Senate is scheduled to complete work on H.R. 4213, Unemployment Insurance Extension, then that bill will be sent to the House for expedited consideration.

Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter expressing his opposition to H.R. 4380, the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010.  This is extraordinary, because Brady is the only cosponsor of the bill.  For a cosponsor to come out and declare a no vote on his own legislation, that member should have a good reason to oppose his own legislation.

Brady wrote that the bill to “temporarily suspend duties on imports of certain products” is good because it would “reduces unnecessary costs for American businesses and consumers, and increases U.S. competitiveness.”  The problem with the legislation is that the legislation “violates the letter and spirit of the Republican earmark moratorium.” 

Brady further argued:

Democrats know our GOP conference voted earlier this year to support a moratorium on all forms of legislation covered by House earmark rules, because the process was broken and badly in need of reform.  We did so on a temporary basis so we could come together on a new way forward.   While many, including me, do not believe tariff reductions should be classified as limited tariff benefits and earmarks, the current House rules – carelessly written by Democrats – unnecessarily net the MTB. The Republican commitment to earmark reform is strong, as evidenced by our self-imposed moratorium.  While Democrats continue to sit on the sidelines, Republicans can take another step towards real reform by voting “no” on the MTB tomorrow.  A “no” vote will help us achieve our ultimate goal where the MTB process can truly be a model for openness and transparency, not a partisan weapon.

Three cheers for Congressman Brady for showing some courage in voting against a bill he supports, because it violates the letter and spirit of the earmark moratorium.  Somebody in Washington finally gets it and is taking a stand for the taxpayer.  Conservatives should pat Congressman Brady on the back for taking a principled stand against earmarks.

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