If I asked “what’s wrong with Congress?” we’d be here all summer. It’s easier to answer “what’s right with Congress?”! Alan Grayson!
As I told him on the show this morning, I’d be far less optimistic about the future of this nation if he weren’t in Congress fighting for us.
According to Dave Weigel at Slate, Grayson has gone from being the Congressman “formerly known as crazy” to “the most effective member of the House” and MSNBC agreed.
What happened? Grayson is working both sides of the aisle to get work done.
“We’ve passed 31 amendments in committee so far,” says Grayson. “Hardly any Democrats who put in amendments put in any effort to get to 218. They just think they’ve accomplished something when it’s ruled in order, and that’s the end of the story.”
The new strategy is simple. Grayson and his staff scan the bills that come out of the majority. They scan amendments that passed in previous Congresses but died at some point along the way. They resurrect or mold bills that can appeal to the libertarian streak in the GOP, and Grayson lobbies his colleagues personally. That’s how he attached a ban on funding for “unmanned aerial vehicles,” i.e. drones, to the homeland security bill.
This is how he brings members aboard on bills that either keep resources in Florida or enshrine some liberal or libertarian principle in the law. “They might come from the perspective that Barack Obama is a horrible president, and I come from the perspective of being critical of the military-industrial complex.” Grayson added one amendment to the last homeland security funding bill that prohibited “funds in the bill from being used in contravention of the First, Second, or Fourth Amendments.” That was surprisingly easy to do.
“We knew they couldn’t vote against it,” he says. “They wouldn’t want to roll call vote against the Constitution. They’re constantly trying to acquire the Constitution for their own purposes, and claim that they’re the guardians of it, so we knew that couldn’t fail.”
The real prize of passing that amendment was writing the legislative justification for it into the Congressional Record. “The intent of Congress with this legislation,” Grayson wrote, “is to place an absolute prohibition on any DHS involvement of any type or to any degree with any surveillance of Americans without specificity or without probable cause, such as the National Security Agency’s recently revealed surveillance program.” That, he says, was “the benefit of future courts, for the benefit of future administrations.”
Yes, Congressman Grayson has had more amendments passed than any other of his 434 colleagues in the House of Representatives. That’s a big deal! And you should see some of the other bills he’s sponsored.
This morning on the show, we spoke about his remarkable record. We also addressed Glenn Greenwald’s piece published yesterday by The Guardian that details how Congressman Grayson and Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith’s requests for information on the NSA and FISA court were denied. Wait until you hear his account of that story.
I asked about Aaron Swartz (who was an intern in Grayson’s office) and how the feds pursuit of legal action against him led to his suicide. Of course, we spoke about Edward Snowden, whom Grayson called “a classic whistleblower.”
We discussed a whole lot more, but you’ll hear for yourself by listening to the interview (just click the player at the top of the page)…
In hour two, Crooks and Liars‘ Nicole Belle joined in for “Fools on the Hill” — they watch the Sunday talking head shows so we don’t have to.
It’s time to take our weekly foray into Opposite World yet again.
It’s the world where Republicans think it’s perfectly appropriate to hold the country hostage by demanding that we cut funding for programs for the most vulnerable in the future in exchange for ending the sequester for funding they have already authorized. Eric Cantor actually sees this as a “compromise”. Of course, he also is still insisting that government doesn’t create jobs.
And while Jim DeMint claims he’d stop short of shutting down the government if he was still in office, he does think that if the Republicans give President Obama a bill that pays for everything BUT his “failed” Obamacare, then Obama should be willing to take the blame.
It’s also interesting to observe the logic twists that conservatives must bend themselves into to deal with the announced terror alert this weekend. According to the Fox News “Power Panel” (*cough, cough*) , the decision to close embassies in the Middle East in response was appeasing terrorists. It’s almost as if they were hoping for another Benghazi attack.
And if you weren’t already sure that the Sunday shows are operating on a completely different reality, Rick Santorum (who deserves no such notice or place at the table at Meet the Press) coyly lets David Gregory know that he’s “open” to a 2016 presidential run. Ugh.