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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lincoln, Webb, Supporting Cutting of 9/11 Trial Funding

There are two concurrent stories that show the fascinating manner in which our system exposes the weakness of the Obama administration. The first has two Democrats, Jim Webb and Blanche Lincoln, joining with nearly every Republican in an attempt to not fund 9/11 trials in civil courts.

Trying the 9/11 co-conspirators, including Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed, in federal, civilian court just got a bit harder. Support for trying these men in New York City has been dwindling, and some reports indicate the site has been scrapped, though the Administration contends NYC is still a viable option.

Now legislation has resurfaced that would shut off funding for civilian trials
altogether, only this time it has Democratic support. Sens. Jim Webb, D-VA, and Blanche Lincoln, D-AR, have joined the fight to deny the funds, making it harder
for such trials to continue.

On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, an Army Reserves JAG officer, will be joined by Lincoln (Webb could attend, says a spokeswoman, but he might be stuck in hearings) and his usual group of colleagues on national security matters, Sens. Joe Lieberman, a self-styled 'Independent Democrat", and John McCain, R-AZ, to unveil their bill. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, a co-sponsor, will also attend.

Back in 2007, there was a legislative game of chicken between the President and Congress. The president refused to sign any funding bill with a timeline. The Congress, lead by Nancy Pelosi, refused to fund any Iraq war operations without one. The Democrats eventually blinked. The surge worked and the rest is history.

The President is the one and only Commander in Chief. Congress, however, has the exclusive power of the proverbial purse. Lately, they've used that power for a variety of spending measures. Congress rarely withholds funds for the military. This is of cours unique. After all, no military person will be put into harm's way if these funds are withheld. Furthermore, last year Congress refused to fund the closure of GITMO without a plan. That effectively slowed down its closure by years.

Now, with support for trying KSM et al anywhere but GITMO fading, Congress is exerting its power in a bi partisan manner. This effectively ends any options for the President to try KSM et al anywhere but in GITMO. It also means that GITMO will remain open indefinitely.

On a separate track, the State of Virginia has voted to make it illegal for any of its residents to be mandated to buy health care insurance.

The Democratic-led Virginia Senate sent a strong message about health care reform efforts in Washington, D.C., on Monday (Feb. 1), passing a bill that makes it illegal for Virginians to be required to buy health insurance.

With Republicans in control of the state’s House of Delegates and governor’s mansion, the bill could become law, The Washington Post reported. The effort would throw another wrench into congressional Democrats’ plans to revamp the nation’s health care system in the wake of a special election in Massachusetts that stripped the party of its 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

An “individual mandate” that requires Americans to buy health insurance is a centerpiece of federal health care legislation. Virginia’s move could suggest that President Obama — who reiterated his support for reform during his State of the Union address last week — “is failing to reassure members of his own party that current reform efforts remain worthwhile,” The Post said.

This would set up a Constitutional battle over the tenth amendment if health care reform would pass. Virginia is one of about 30 plus states thinking about voting in such a measure. That would create constitutional chaos if health care reform with a mandate passed. Without a mandate, the Democrats would lose the support of the insurance companies. It would change the profile of health care reform dramatically.

As such, the states are now exerting their will to challenge a politically weak president. In this case, they've made passing health care reform, already next to impossible, even more difficult.

1 comment:

AG said...

I don't anticipate this 10th Amendment push having any significance. Assuming it even gets that far, not even a court with Roberts and Alito would mess with well established precedent on economic federalism.