Last week, as part of a bill that would fund the Department of Justice throughout the next year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) – who is on my shit list for endorsing former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) over former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) for the Republican presidential nomination, despite being the latter’s chief of staff (hello, opportunism!) – added an amendment. The Daily Caller, who seems to be doing the majority of its coverage, is angry because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) abstained from voting on it. I’m angry because it’s piddly.
The amendment would prevent Justice from using taxpayer funds to lie to Congress. This was crafted in the wake of the Fast and Furious scandal (which I last covered here), which Republicans and, apparently, some Democrats are convinced amounts to a lie by Attorney General Eric Holder. Pelosi was one of several House members of both parties who abstained from voting for this amendment. All Republicans voted for it; 41 Democrats voted against it.
That anyone would vote against such an amendment is silly enough, although I do have a problem with it, which I will get into below. The focus is on Pelosi because of her status in the House. As Minority Leader, it is her responsibility to set the tone for her party’s perspective, even if they are not compelled to vote with her. Her abstention sends the message that she a) is backing up Holder, which is likelier as she said as much in March, or b) doesn’t care.
Now here’s my problem. Is lying to Congress only a problem if it’s Justice who does it? Is it only a problem when they use taxpayer money to do it? This amendment suggests that there is no official ban on different branches of government lying to one another, at taxpayers’ expense or not. Why is Chaffetz limiting this to an amendment when it could easily be its own bill?
Of course, I could be completely wrong about this, and as I speak he’s preparing legislation to that effect while using this amendment as a trial balloon. If that’s the case and he’s just trying to sniff out potential no votes, well played, sir. Although I generally like it better when people just get to the point, especially in government.
Regardless of what he’s up to, there absolutely must be accountability when the White House lies to Congress, or when Congress lies to the Supreme Court, or when the Supreme Court lies to a state government, or whatever. I’d ask why the Founding Fathers didn’t write that in somewhere, but they probably never anticipated that anyone would be that desperate to save their own ass.