Politics

Freshmen to GOP leadership: We were serious about ‘read the bill’

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

Republican leadership stumbled this week with two bills going down in defeat on the House floor, a highly unusual occurrence in a chamber where the majority rules nearly absolutely and leadership rarely calls votes without knowing in advance they will win.

A key reason one bill went down – a reauthorization of the Patriot Act – was that GOP leaders allowed only 45 minutes of debate on the measure and scheduled the vote under suspension of the rules, usually reserved for non-controversial proposals.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, blasted his fellow party for how they brought up the bill. “Little debate, no committee hearings held, no amendments allowed, and no examination of whether our government had lived up to its responsibility to protect the liberty of the people,” is how he put it in a press release.

The Daily Caller spoke with freshman Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling of Illinois on his decision to vote no.  Below is a transcript of how, with incomplete information given the limited debate, he “went with his gut” and sided with liberty:

TheDC: Why did you vote against the Patriot Act last night?

Rep. Bobby Schilling (BS): When I was running during the campaign, I even stated you know we need to increase national security, but not without a thorough and complete look at the Patriot Act. One of the things I look at is how much intrusion is enough.

But the big problem I have, is that we had 45 minutes of debate on that thing and I wasn’t comfortable going with just the party-line vote. The people of the 17th district that I represent  – I get a lot of people that sent letters to me saying, “hey, do not vote for this, this an infringement of the Fourth Amendment.”

The bill was rushed to the floor with limited debate. I’m huge on national defense. I’ve got a large family. That is the number one thing we have to do here in Congress is to protect the citizens of the United States. I went with my gut. I didn’t have a lot of information on it and the problem I see with some parts of the Patriot Act is that the wrong person is able to access your information. That could be a problem.

TheDC: So what you’re saying here is that with 45 minutes of debate, with this bill rushed to the floor, you couldn’t make an informed decision?

BS: Exactly, I mean I knew it was coming up. I could have just said “I’m here” and not hit “yay” or “nay.” But I hit the “no.” The big thing that we have to do is make sure that anything we’re voting for we know darn sure what we’re voting for. The way I understood parts of it, there’s some things I have problems with in the Patriot Act.

  • kingfish

    It’s CLEAR the senior Republicans didn’t “GET” the message of the American people. They voted to re-enact the Patriot Act, an unconstitutional law which deprives Americans of protection under the law. In addition, Congress voted to fund a SECOND Kennedy library….WHAT????!!!! Their salaries should be cut to nothing so they can experience homelessness, joblessness, and hunger like their constituents.

  • nomore

    Much of the Patriot Act was already permanently enacted. However, they were voting on 3 important amendments; Roving Surveillance Authority, Business Record Order, and Lone Wolf Provision, that will sunset at the end of the month. From what I’ve read, I’m not sure if it’s too late to seek permanent authorization of these amendments.

  • kaj

    Honestly, 45 minutes is way to long to ‘debate’ any topic. I don’t know how many of you have ever watched some of these ‘debates’ on C-Span but they are nothing but a joke. A group of people of each side of the aisle get up and give their timed speech and then sit down. The problem is, there are 400+ Reps in the House of Reps. At one of these ‘debates’ you might have 10 people who speak. The other members of the House are attending to their campaign funds or being bought off by lobbyist or God only knows what. No one is there to listen or to make a decision because they gained anything from the ‘debate’. The decision has already been made and it goes to the highest bidder or to who has the most crap on someone else. I don’t for one second believe this guy from ILL who wanted more than 45 minutes for debate. Why, did he also want to get his ‘points’ recorded in the Journal and he wasn’t allowed to speak?? It’s nothing but theater. I’m just fed up with the whole bunch of them.

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  • thrashertm

    Glad to see Rand Paul and other true conservatives standing up for our Constitutionally protected rights. The 4th Amendment is as important as the 2nd Amendment IMO.

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  • jar59

    I’ve got a really good feeling about these freshmen, we sent one from my district , Anne Marie Buerkle, R-NY 25.
    It’s Boehner and the establishment types I’m starting to get nervous about.

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