Not only did Congressman John Kline vote to adjourn right before the bill was considered, but he then voted against a resolution to suspend the rules so the emergency aid could be considered.
Let me repeat that. Kline voted against letting the emergency aid bill for Minnesota come to the House floor.
The author of the rules suspension resolution, Rep Hastings of Florida, made it very clear about what was at stake:
"I do wish to put my colleagues on notice that, following the conclusion of debate on this rule, I intend to offer an amendment to the rule. My amendment will permit the House to consider emergency legislation today appropriating $250 million to begin the reconstruction of the I-35 bridge, which collapsed this week in Minnesota. We have properly given our condolences and continue those to those who have lost loved ones and those who are awaiting word regarding those who are still missing and those who have been injured. All of us grieve with all of them.
"Without this amendment and this rule, this legislation will not be permitted to proceed; and these emergency funds would be delayed. Realize a vote against this rule and my amendment to the rule will be a vote against providing this emergency assistance to the people of Minnesota, specifically Minneapolis, Minnesota."
Editors note: you can find the citation for this quote in the comments.
Pretty clear, right? If we don't suspend the rules to consider this bill, then emergency aid to Minnesota is going to be delayed. So why would Kline and his fellow Minnesota Republican Representative Michele Bachmann vote against it? The answer is simple, but disturbing. The resolution to suspend the rules included discussing two items Kline is opposed to.
This tells you volumes about Rep. Kline's priorities. Supporting what President Bush and the Republican Party wants is more important than the emergency help that Minnesota needs.
(1) The bill (H.R. 3087) to require the President, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders, to develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.
(2) A bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain electronic surveillance.
Now some of our Republican readers may argue that Kline was not voting against the Minnesota bridge aid, and they'd be correct since he and every other Representative voted for the aid. And you'll also note that's NOT what I've said here. Motions, even "procedural" ones as Kline likes to characterize them,involve a choice between priorities. Kline showed conclusively that he ranks loyalty to the Republican Party and President Bush higher than the ranks his loyalty to the needs of Minnesota. If you check the record, you'll find he's made similar choices when it comes to the needs of veterans.
What makes this even stand out more is Kline knew the votes were there to suspend the rules and bring the other two items up for debate. He could have avoided any possibility of upsetting his constituents over the bridge aid by just voting with the majority (like Minnesota Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad did). But then he would have gone on record voting against something the Bush administration wanted. Apparently Kline fears the consequences of defying the Bush administration more than he does the consequences of defying his constituents.