Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pete Domenici, Terror-Fighting Patriotic American

Wow, I missed this one. Too bad we have a president who wants to save his veto power for stem cell research bills.

Despite widespread opposition - from the Bush administration, a majority of the Senate, leaders of the House Energy Committee, and nuclear regulators from the five preceding presidential administrations - Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico and chairman of the Energy Committee, included an amendment that guts restrictions on the export of highly enriched uranium, the same material used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb.


The new law increases the likelihood of that nightmare scenario by allowing exports of bomb-grade uranium to foreign companies to rise to more than 100 pounds annually, thereby multiplying the odds that terrorists could steal enough for a bomb while the uranium is in transit to, or in storage at, foreign facilities.


The ill-advised amendment actually failed the only vote ever
held specifically on it by either house of Congress, in the Senate on June 23, 2005, by 52-46. The House of Representatives had slipped the provision into the energy bill without a vote, but once its ramifications became clear, both the House Energy Committee's chairman, Republican Joe Barton from Texas, and its ranking Democrat, John Dingell from Michigan, came to oppose it. They offered Senator Domenici a compromise to neuter the provision in deference to the Senate's vote against it.

This is where Mr. Domenici abused his power as Senate committee chair. He successfully pushed all of the Republicans he appointed to the House-Senate conference on the bill to vote for his provision - against the expressed will of the Senate. He then rejected the House's offer to eliminate the provision, thereby strong-arming the provision into law over the bipartisan opposition of executive and legislative branch officials.

So let us all take a moment to recognize Senator Domeneci's heroic efforts in the Global War On Terror - it's just too bad he's not on our side of it.

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