Friday, December 17, 2010

Flake, Franks, and Shadegg: Protectors of child marriage, not protectors of children

Lost in the hubbub surrounding the culmination of the 2nd Session of the 111th Congress (DREAM Act, DADT, tax cut "compromise", omnibus spending bill, etc.) is the realization that a certain group in D.C. (hereafter referred to by the Randomly chosen mathematical variable "Rs" :) ) is still doing everything that they can to block even the least controversial legislation.

On Thursday, the party of "No" donned its costume for the D.C. Christmas pageant, going with the "Ebenezer" look.  (Call it a "truth in advertising moment").

They spent most of the week voting against nearly *everything.*

In itself, that isn't noteworthy anymore - they've spent the last two years voting against every piece of significant legislation.  The measures that they haven't killed outright, they've blocked as much as possible (except for the infamous tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans).

However, as the calendar has turned toward the Christmas holiday, and toward the end of the 111th Congress, their partisan obstructionism has turned into petty meanness.

This trend was highlighted Thursday, when the House Republicans killed S. 987, the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010.

This bill would have made the ending of child marriage in developing countries a goal of U.S. foreign policy.

The bill should have passed easily, and would have, if House leadership had been able to bring it to the floor under normal procedures.  However, due to the backlog caused by Republican obstruction of everything and the impending end of the 111th Congress, S. 987 was brought up for consideration under "suspension of the rules," meaning that a 2/3 majority vote was required for passage.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Dick Durbin and had a bipartisan list of 42 cosponsors, and was approved by the Senate unanimously.  The related House versions of the bill, H.R. 2103 and H.R. 6521 boast more than 120 cosponsors drawn from both sides of the aisle.

With that kind of broad bipartisan support, it should have passed easily (not even Rs have the chutzpah/arrogance to publicly support the practice of forcing young girls to marry men who are two, three, or more times their own age).

Then certain "pro-life" groups started whispering that this bill would cause an increase in abortions, even though abortion, "family planning" or even "reproductive rights" are never even mentioned in it.

The final House vote on the bill was 241 in favor, 166 against.  A clear majority, but not the requisite 2/3 needed for passage.

157 Republicans, including Arizona's Three Amigos, Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, and John Shadegg, expressed their support of child marriage by voting against the bill, but only one of the 157, Dan Burton of Indiana was honest enough to stand and speak to his vote.  And even he only professed financial reservations about the bill (estimated: $87 million over 10 years, *if* money was appropriated in a later bill).

In an interesting non-development, none of the Three Amigos seems to have put out a press release touting their victorious defense of the institution of child marriage. 

Why is that?

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