10.31.2010 0

House Republicans’ First Big Test

  • On: 11/12/2010 10:08:20
  • In: Republican in Name Only (RINO)
  • By Rebekah Rast

    Not all Republicans are the same.

    Some Republicans in the House of Representatives favor a more moderate approach when voting on big-ticket items like health care, cap-and-trade and stimulus bills. Others stick to fiscally conservative values and shrink away from voting “yea” on anything that would add additional debt to the nation or grow government power.

    With 60-plus new House Republican Members joining the forces in January, Republican leadership is tasked with finding the right kind of Republicans to Chair and lead the new House of Representatives.

    Since many of the new Members can attribute their win to the tea party movement, Republicans have announced efforts to stick to the values that got them elected, a desire to limit government, shrink the national debt and slash federal spending.

    Therefore, those Republicans who vote moderate and maybe lean a little to left, might not stand a chance of any leadership posts in this new Congress — no matter what their seniority status or how deserving they might feel they are of gaining the post.

    That includes the naming of the next Chairman for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

    One who is hopeful for the post is current ranking member Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). But Rep. Barton faces the hurdle of term limits set by the GOP, and likely will not serve as the committee’s chairman.

    The next contender in the ring is Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Though a Republican by name, Upton’s voting record would indicate that he just might be even further to the left than Democratic icon and fellow Michigander John Dingell on global warming and other energy-related issues.

    It is no secret that he is a more moderate-leaning Republican. He has many times parted ways with his Republican comrades to vote with the left. Those decisions may now be haunting him in his bid to be the next Chairman for the Energy and Commerce Committee.

    As a sitting Member on the committee, Rep. Upton co-authored the framework for the 2007 incandescent light bulb ban, which takes effect in 2012. Taking it a step further, he partnered again with Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) in 2009 to decide on outdoor lighting efficiency standards.

    Rep. Upton also voted to increase taxes on domestic energy companies. In 2008, he was one of only 35 Republicans to vote for Rep. Charlie Rangel’s Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, which raised taxes on domestic energy companies and other businesses to pay for tax credits for renewable energy producers and other interests.

    Furthermore, Rep. Upton voted against offshore drilling off the coast of Florida, voted to ban offshore drilling in the Great Lakes, voted to enable more federal land acquisition, under the guise of preventing oil spills and voted to increase federal control of lands and impede development.

    Rep. Upton energy policies alarm many on the Republican side, but some find more alarming his friendships from two years ago. During Obama’s election in 2008, it became news that Rep. Upton had frequent dinner parties with other Members of Congress. What made this newsworthy was that a couple of these other members were reported as being Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s recently retired chief of staff, and Ray LaHood, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    An article that ran in the Kalamazoo Gazette in Michigan in 2008 stated, “In fact, he [Rep. Upton] sounds enthusiastic about the prospect of an Obama presidency that promotes bipartisanship—something that hasn’t happened during the current Bush administration, Upton said. ‘I’m encouraged that Obama is going to follow the path of bipartisanship, and that’s my MO,’ said Upton, who has long had a reputation for being a centrist politician.”

    The article went onto state, “Upton also predicts that his relationships with various members of the Obama administration mean he’ll have the ear and respect of the White House. He says LaHood, R-Ill., is one of his closest friends in Congress; he’s gone to Cubs games with Emanuel; and he’s worked closely with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, nominated as commerce secretary.”

    Upton’s strong partnership with these fellows, along with his voting record, might cost him his coveted Chairmanship position.

    “At a time when Americans are rejecting the Obama anti-energy agenda, Rep. Fred Upton has spent his career in Congress embracing radical environmentalism,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “Fred Upton has repeatedly voted against expanding energy production in the U.S. as the nation’s dependence on foreign sources of fuel has only grown.”

    Wilson praises House Republican Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor for “reaching out to conservatives and making good opening moves. But Fred Upton has not earned a promotion. He has consistently voted against conservative, pro-growth positions. His elevation would send the exact wrong signal to tea party members, conservatives and the tens of thousands of people who worked themselves to the bone to elect the GOP majority.”

    Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee is not a promotion to be taken lightly. Not only is it one of the most powerful committees of the House, its jurisdictions reach far and wide covering all national energy policies, interstate and foreign commerce, consumer affairs and consumer protection issues and will play a major role in any changes that are made to ObamaCare.

    Is Rep. Upton right for the job?

    ALG’s Wilson doesn’t thinks so and adds, “Fred Upton’s decidedly anti-energy voting record makes him decidedly unsuitable to be the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. America needs to increase its domestic energy supplies, and Upton has opposed it at every turn.”

    Congress meets next week to begin its lame-duck session and Republicans in the House will begin to elect its leadership team as well as committee chairs.

    Republicans expecting to get their prized Chairmanships might be up for a rude awakening. In this next session of Congress, Republicans are promising change, not more of the same.

    If this past election proved anything, it was that Americans are tired of the establishment. With a skeptical America looking on, elevating Rep. Upton to Chair one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives will be an interesting early test of the new Republican leadership.

    Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to the Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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