The first item involves Congressional Republican’s efforts to sacrifice security to political gain. From NY Times:
Members of both parties, and independent analysts, said Sunday that they had no doubt Congress would have passed the measure had President Bush flexed his muscle…The intelligence bill had bipartisan support in the Senate.
In the House, the leadership probably could have cobbled together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans to muster the 218 votes necessary for passage.
“I am convinced that had the speaker brought the bill to the floor, it would have passed,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and chief author of the measure, said in an interview on Sunday. “That’s what’s so frustrating. Here we have a bill that’s been endorsed by the White House, by the 9/11 commission, by the 9/11 family groups, by the speaker of the House, and we can’t get a vote.”
But Mr. Hastert did not want to split his caucus and did not want the bill to pass with less than ”a majority of the majority,” said his spokesman, John Feehery. “What good is it to pass something,” Mr. Feehery said, “where most of our members don’t like it?”
This month, several senior Republicans balked at adopting compromise legislation aimed at revamping the nation’s intelligence system. President Bush and Hastert both backed the measure, but GOP leaders did not lobby very hard for it. Many members of Congress believed that Hastert and Bush had given it nominal support because it was an election year show and not out of genuine desire to win passage. Indeed, the bill could have easily passed because many House Democrats supported it, but Hastert and other GOP leaders refused to go forward if it meant reaching out to the other party for a winning majority while some of their own had qualms. The desire for party unity trumped leaders’ commitment to legislative change, even on a measure on national security. “We don’t bring bills to the floor that divide our conference,” said Stuart Roy, DeLay’s spokesman.
The second item comes under the heading, “So what’s your position on federalism, exactly?”. Seems Bush and Ashcroft oppose states’ rights when it means that some states assert the right to allow their citizens to use a rather harmless substance to ease unbearable pain or sustain an appetite that keeps one from wasting away.:
Today that federal-state clash continues at the Supreme Court, where the justices will hear oral arguments on whether the Constitution permits the federal government to take action against those who use homegrown marijuana for medicinal reasons within states where it is legal to do so.