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MAKING MAJORITY PARTY APPOINTMENTS, Senator Pat Roberts chastises the minority obstructionists
Thomas -- U.S. Congress on the Internet ^ | 01/14/2003

Posted on 01/15/2003 11:08:17 AM PST by syriacus

MAKING MAJORITY PARTY APPOINTMENTS--Continued -- (Senate - January 14, 2003) [Page: S281]

 Mr. [Pat] ROBERTS. (R-KS) Mr. President, I rise today with some degree of reluctance, I might say, to discuss the apparent disagreement and the difference of opinion within the Select Committee on Intelligence with regard to staffing. This is the kind of disagreement that is obviously taking place in many of the committees in the Senate. ...This is not only regrettable but, as this drags on, I think this really represents the kind of sandbox silliness--that is my term--that prompts folks outside the beltway to wonder if this body is the Senate or a partisan romper room.

Given the importance of our Select Committee on Intelligence and our obligations and our responsibilities during this time of vital national security threat--...we should not be having this dispute. The Select Committee on Intelligence ... should be spared this kind of public spat.

...what has been going on in the Senate for the last week or so. It is untoward. That is the nice way of saying it. In Dodge City, KS, we would say we should not be part of this hell-for-leather ride down a partisan trail of obstructionism like a herd of cattle milling about in confusion and delay in a box canyon....   

The larger issue is whether or not the duly elected majority will be able to run the Senate. We should not be laying down organizational demands, demands for more space--this space, that space; different rules on how this body will consider the confirmation of judges. The next thing you know, it is going to be majority and minority restrooms. ...

 But I believe the issue involving the organization of the Select Committee on Intelligence is important because ... what is at stake is our national security. ... We should preserve the committee's 26-year history of bipartisanship. We should preserve our Intelligence Committee staff as a single unified staff that works for the committee as a whole under the supervision of the chairman and the vice chairman. Let me repeat that, the chairman and the vice chairman.

The minority--or I guess we should call them the temporary majority, I hope it is temporary--apparently wishes to divide the committee staff for the first time in history into a majority/minority or partisan camps....The minority apparently wishes to increase the ranks of partisan staff...

As I said before, the Select Committee on Intelligence has been a unique institution in the Senate and was envisioned from the start to operate under different rules than any other committee. The Intelligence Committee was created by S. Res. 400 over 25 years ago....

In order to ensure the committee would act in this fully bipartisan manner, committee rules provide for a single unified staff that works for the committee as a whole under the supervision of the chairman and the vice chairman. No other committee is advised by a nonpartisan and also integrated staff.

Committee rules also provide the minority extraordinary powers ...

[Here he discusses the rules which give much power to the minority party on the Select Committee on Intelligence. ]...

These authorities and privileges enjoyed by the vice chairman illustrate clearly the unique nature of this committee and the importance of these authorities in maintaining its nonpartisan nature.

Some have argued this structure has not worked in the past. And I would argue that it has worked--and it has worked well--when the chairman and the vice chairman want it to work. It requires cooperation, and one cannot foster a spirit of cooperation by proposing to fire all of our current professional staff, split the committee's staff in two, and rehire on a partisan basis. ...

The legislative record reflects that the Senators who really created the Intelligence Committee believed--this is so important--that the less partisan nature of the committee would serve to make the intelligence community more willing to keep the Congress fully and currently informed of highly sensitive intelligence activity....

   The incoming vice chairman has argued that under our rules the vice chairman has access to only two staff, and the chairman, which would be myself, would control the rest. That is not true. That is absolutely incorrect. Under our rules, the entire staff works for the chairman and the vice chairman jointly.

I do not know how many times I have to say this. In fact, the vice chairman actually controls the committee's only truly partisan staff because everybody else works for the committee as a whole....

It is about the eighth time I have had to repeat that. I hope it finally sinks in.

My advice to my good and excellent friend from West Virginia [Rockefeller] is you should never take to ``sawin' '' on the branch that is ``supportin' '' you unless you are going to be hung from it. ...We are not hanging anybody. ...

I cannot understand how one can argue the minority is unsupported when the entire staff, excluding the designated minority staff, works for the vice chairman as well, and his designated staff works exclusively for him.

   The proposal, as I understand it, is to split the staff into a majority-minority camp...

I have faith. I am an optimist. I have faith that the incoming vice chairman, Senator Rockefeller, and I can continue a long tradition of cooperation personally .... Once we get past this tiff, this spat, these differences of opinion--what shouldn't be but is now a big piece in this hole, or whatever we are into here--I would call it obstructionism, and I think any proposal to split the committee or increase the numbers of strictly partisan staff would represent a break with tradition. I think it would not be in the best interests of the committee, of the Senate, or of our national security.

But when we hear statements that this Nation is no better prepared, intelligence-wise, than we were prior to 9/11, that is not borders on the politics of opportunism....

   But to my friends now in the minority and acting as if you are in the majority, that is the rub. ...And I know this: If this obstructionism keeps up--the space, the staffing, the ratios, the blue slips, the rules on judges, and Lord knows what is next--you will tear that special fabric that holds us together as the Senate of the United States.

   If we do not end this business and get to the business of the Nation, and understand there is a majority and a minority and that the majority rules, we will open up a wound further that will not heal without significant price and scar, not to mention public ridicule for our institution.

The sad thing is, I say to my colleagues, we did not have to go down this road.

Mr. President, I always figure it is a good thing to be a little bit nicer than is called for. I do not think too many Members would call me too nice. But in trying to be a little bit nicer than is called for, you shouldn't take too much guff.

My colleagues across the aisle, it is time to end the guff.


(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Government; US: Kansas
KEYWORDS: committee; intelligence; roberts; rockefeller; senate
Roberts clearly showed how the Democrats (Rockefeller) were trying to destroy the bipartisanship of the Select Committee on Intelligence. I take it, Rockefeller brought up the red herring that he only had two staff members, while the majority had more. In reality, Rockefeller has the only two partisan staffers. All the other staffers are shared by all the committee members, in order to try to foster bi-partisanship.

I think McConnell was right when he said this about Roberts' speech....

"[T]hat is one of the finest speeches I have ever heard. And I think it came at a particularly good time, as we remind ourselves, once again, what this body is supposed to be like. No matter how bitterly we contest these elections, at the end of the day we are here to do the people's business. And to fail to even take the elementary steps to make it possible for us to get started in doing that is an enormous disservice to this institution and to the country.

   Beyond that, I think it is important to remember what the Intelligence Committee is all about. I think the Senator, by laying out the history of the committee, and the tradition of the committee, and the way it has protected sensitive information, and the way it has, in effect, insisted upon bipartisan cooperation, has done a great service for the Senate. That was a speech we needed to hear, given at precisely the right time.


1 posted on 01/15/2003 11:08:18 AM PST by syriacus
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2 posted on 01/15/2003 11:09:23 AM PST by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: syriacus
Although this quote from Roberts was addressed to Rockefeller, it is especially memorable in light of the recent discussion of Sen Byrd's (D-WV) role as a member of the KKK.
My advice to my good and excellent friend from West Virginia is you should never take to ``sawin' '' on the branch that is ``supportin' '' you unless you are going to be hung from it. ...We are not hanging anybody. ..
3 posted on 01/15/2003 11:13:40 AM PST by syriacus (Global Warming could be Nature's way of saving the homeless in Winter.)
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To: syriacus
Excellent post. Thank you.
4 posted on 01/15/2003 11:17:25 AM PST by Quilla (God Bless America)
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To: syriacus
VERY proud of my senator right now! Thanks for posting this!
5 posted on 01/15/2003 11:51:08 AM PST by axel f
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