Democrats and their allies in the media who thought they could use those pre-Sept. 11 intelligence reports and FBI memos to diminish President Bush’s standing with the American people were in full retreat this week, as a slew of polls gave Bush continued high marks, both for his overall job performance and his handling of the war on terror.
What the Monitor found most abhorrent about the transparently political endeavor was that the president’s loudest critics tended to be the very Democrats who year after year had voted not just against any increase, but in many cases for significant cuts, in intelligence funding.
Political researcher Terry Cooper, who undertook an examination of Congressional voting patterns in the areas of intelligence and counter-terrorism, paints a damning picture of Democratic apathy and obstructionism.
“From 1993 through 1999,” writes Cooper, “there were ten recorded House floor votes on amendments to reduce authorized funding for intelligence.” Although the amendments were all defeated, a majority of House Democrats voted “yes” on five of them.
Dick Gephardt, the House Democratic leader, voted to cut intelligence funding on five of those occasions.Other senior Democrats followed suit: David Bonior, for example, who as party Whip was the House’s number-two Democrat, voted for each of the ten fund-cutting amendments.
“Many of the Democrats whose committee positions give them immense say over our national security,” Cooper notes, “likewise voted for most or all of the cut-funding amendments.” In stark contrast, “no member of the House Republican leadership ever voted for any of the cut-funding amendments and only one Republican in a key committee post ever did.”
The Monitor was particularly interested in the voting record of Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat whose district includes what used to be the World Trade Center and whose non-stop criticism of President Bush and Republicans runs the gamut from the silly to the shrill.
Cooper describes the 1994 House debate on the Fiscal 1995 Authorization Bill, during which an amendment was offered calling for deep cuts to the intelligence budget. Congress overwhelmingly rejected the proposed cuts, but one of the few representatives who did vote for them was none other than Jerrold Nadler.
“The fact is,” Nadler argued on the floor of the House, “that with the Soviet Union gone, and with the cold war over, if we cannot reduce our intelligence budget by 10 or 20 percent, then we are wasting a heck of a lot of money.”
As Cooper archly observes, “The World Trade Center had already been bombed once, and not by Soviet agents, but [Nadler] was proposing to shrink America’s intelligence capability even more.”
Sufficiently intrigued, the Monitor paid a visit to the invaluable website vote-smart.org and looked at some of Nadler’s other votes. Just a few of the many fascinating tidbits we found: Nadler voted “no” on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal years 2000 and 2001, which called for $288.8 billion for military matters, including a 4.8 percent pay raise for the nation’s armed forces and tightened security at U.S. nuclear labs. (The act was passed by the lopsided margin of 365 to 38.)
On Oct. 24, 2001, Nadler voted against legislation calling for expanded powers for law enforcement officials investigating suspected terrorists. (The bill passed, 357-66.)
On May 2, 2002, the House easily passed the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2003, which incorporated President Bush’s request for $7.3 billion for counter-terrorism programs and $7.8 billion for missile defense systems. Nadler was one of only 58 representatives to vote against it.
On May 7, 2002, the House voted on a border security bill that, among other measures, called for passenger ships and planes traveling from other countries to provide U.S. officials lists of crew members and passengers before their arrival. The important legislation passed by a margin of 411-0 (212 Republicans, 198 Democrats, 1 Independent). Jerrold Nadler? He didn’t vote.