It’s been at least a month since we last visited Lee Terry’s activities – we’ve spent quite a bit of time on Chuck Hagel and Jon Bruning here since then – so this post from the New Nebraska Network prompted me to take another look. Apparently, Terry is having a bit of a problem understanding these “confusing” earmark rules. (You know, the ones he said that he was in favor of, but voted against anyway?)
Terry announced earlier this month that he was adopting a “Sunshine Policy” for all earmark requests he submitted in Congress. This way, his constituents can see all of the federal dollars he failed to bring to this district. In all seriousness, transparency can’t help but be a good thing, which is why the disingenuousness shown here by Terry is so troubling. He’s treating much-needed reforms as a nuisance. He’s claiming that “financial interest” can somehow apply to the much-needed federal money to overhaul our sewer systems in Omaha (something Mayor Fahey talked about in detail on Monday). This was never the intent, nor is it the meaning, of such a provision.
Terry decided against filing his requests for federal dollars for this district because he thought the rules were too confusing. We can argue a lot about the merits of “earmarks,” but there is a need for federal money, especially in the case of unfunded mandates like the Omaha sewer project. Fahey has been upfront about how much this is going to cost the people of this city if we don’t get some help from the federal government. Terry can’t possibly believe that he has any more of a “financial interest” in seeing this federal money come in than anyone else in the district. He can’t possibly think that anyone is buying this argument. And he can’t possibly think that being a partisan hack and complaining about ethics rules is going to buy him anything from his constituents after a campaign where he very nearly lost to someone who ran an open, independent, free of special interests campaign centered around reform.
Other news from Terry in the last month, since he voted against the measure disapproving of the “surge” in Iraq:
Terry voted against H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act, which allowed for “card checks” in union elections, and helped protect union members from intimidation by employers. The measure passed the House 241-185. All of Nebraska’s House delegation voted against the bill.
He voted against H.R. 1309, to amend the Freedom of Information Act. It passed 308-117. Terry was the only member of Nebraska’s House delegation to vote against the bill.
In both of these cases, Terry voted in lockstep with the Republican leadership. This shouldn’t be any surprise, of course. Terry’s grown even more partisan since his reelection, and has received quite a bit of money in campaign contributions from the Republican leadership. He may think that being a lock-step partisan soldier will win him a Republican primary for U.S. Senate – he may be right. But the voters of this district didn’t elect him to look out for John Boehner’s best interests. They elected him to look out for our best interests. If he wants to spend the remainder of his final term in the House of Representatives running for Senate or building a strong case for his defeat in November of 2008, that’s his business. But we’ll make damn sure that it’s our business, too. That’s the vested interest we have – to get the representatives we deserve.