Shameful Delay in the House
No, not that DeLay (although he's also shameful and in the House). I'm talking this time about a ridiculous decision taken by the Republican leadership to push back a key vote. Democrats and many centrist Republicans are pushing for a House resolution that would instruct those House members sitting on the conference committee for the Defense Appropriations bill to accept the language in the Senate version that bans "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" treatment of any detainees held in American custody around the world. If you recall, that provision, sponsored by Senator McCain, was added in the Senate by a resounding vote of 90-9.
As the Times reports this morning, the resolution in the House, while non-binding, would be an important symbolic step highlighting the broad bipartisan support that the language has in both chambers of Congress.
So of course, Speaker Dennis Hastert has simply not named the conferees yet - and without conferees, no motion to instruct them can be made. On the Defense Appropriations bill. It's not like we're talking about the XYZ Post Office-Naming Act! Seems like the leadership would be making this their top priority, not shrugging it off until the end of the session (some aides are suggesting that the leadership will hold the bill until just before Congress is scheduled to leave town). I don't care why they're delaying this bill, it could be because Hastert's got a hangnail this week for all I know. But it needs to stop.
Importantly, the Times report notes the Republican support for acceptance of the McCain language: last week, fifteen Republicans (Castle, Shays, Johnson (CT), Simmons, Walsh, Boehlert, Kuhl, Schwartz, Ehlers, Dent, Gilchrest, Petri, Paul, Leach, and Bradley) wrote to the chairman of the Appropriations Committee expressing their strong support. "We believe the antitorture provisions are vital to protecting American service members in the field both now and in the future," they wrote.
It is time for the Republican leadership in the House to stop stalling and appoint conferees so that this important legislation can continue moving forward. With American troops in the field, this is no time for holding up military funding measures to protect the fragile ego of a floundering Vice President.