Senate Vote on Iraq Resolution

The vote was 56-34 (60 needed to invoke cloture, 10 not voting).  All Democrats voted yes (Johnson not voting).  Seven Republicans voted yes:

Norm Coleman (MN)
Susan Collins (MA)
Chuck Hagel (NE)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
Gordon Smith (OR)
Arlen Specter (PA)
John Warner (VA)

Of those, only Snowe and Specter are *not* up for reelection in 2008.

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Iraq Resolution Vote (House)

The vote on the resolution was 246-182 (57%-42%).  That's significantly narrower than the margin by which the American people oppose this escalation (60-70% oppose it).  Two Democrats, Gene Taylor (MS-4) and Jim Marshall (GA-8) again, voted no.  Seventeen Republicans--fewer than had been speculated and certainly than I'd hoped--voted yes.  Two Democrats and four Republicans didn't vote.

The 17 Republicans who voted yes were:
Mike Castle (DE-AL)
Howard Coble (NC-6)
Tom Davis (VA-11)
John Duncan (TN-2)
Phil English (PA-3)
Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1)
Bob Inglis (SC-4)
Timothy Johnson (IL-15)
Walter Jones (NC-3)
Ric Keller (FL-8)
Mark Kirk (IL-10)
Steve LaTourette (OH-14)
Ron Paul (TX-14)
Tom Petri (WI-6)
Jim Ramstad (MN-3)
Fred Upton (MI-6)
Jim Walsh (NY-25)

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Congress Looks to Rein in Deceptive Robo-Calls

In 2006, roughly three in five voters received a telephone call with a prerecorded message related to a political campaign, making so-called robo-calls the second most popular form of voter contact used during the election cycle. These highly impersonal calls aren't terribly effective individually, but their extremely low cost (as low as just a few pennies a call) makes it such that they can be used in bulk much more cheaply then, say, direct mail or paid canvassers. What's more, robo-calls allow a significantly higher level of anonymity than other forms of voter contact. As such, it should come as little surprise that the tactic was deceptively used to suppress the vote -- predominantly, last fall, as Republicans tried to keep Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning Independents at home.

A number of states have begun to look at legislation reining in robo-calls largely because of their susceptibility to being used nefariously -- in Connecticut, according to The Hartford Courant, "robo-call companies are using robo calls to urge state legislators not to ban robo calls". Senate Democrats are on the ball on the matter as well; Barack Obama is working on legislation related to deceptive campaign techniques with Chuck Schumer, as the presidential contender noted in his recent interview with this site. And over in the House, a coalition is coming together to place new restrictions on these automated calls. Jean Chemnick has the story for The Politico.

The 2002 law that makes federal candidates take responsibility for TV and radio ads could extend to the Internet and pre-recorded telephone calls, if Rep. David E. Price, D-N.C., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., have their way.

They recently introduced a bill that would extend the requirements set in "Stand By Your Ad" for candidates and groups that launch ads on the Internet or over e-mail. It's their second attempt; a similar bill they introduced two years ago went nowhere after it went to the House Administration Committee under former Rep. Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio.

The Responsible Campaign Communications Act would also require anyone using pre-recorded telephone calls ("robo-calls") to state upfront who they are. Currently robo-calling candidates who do identify themselves can do so late in the call usually after the person they've called has hung up.

[...]

Former Federal Election Commissioner Bradley A. Smith disagreed [eith Castle on the need for such a regulation]. He also disagreed with the premise of Stand By Your Ad in general. Reformers, he explained, want to make it harder to run ads or to dictate what form they could take. The verbal tagline is redundant, he argued, when ads also have to disclose the sponsor's name in writing. Furthermore, the tagline takes up precious time better spent on the candidate's message; as an example, he cited Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" as the perfect fit for a four-second slot.

There are a number of things wrong with the campaign finance legislation that was signed into law in 2002, but requiring campaigns to clearly identify who is paying for advertisements is not one of them. True, the regulations did not stop someone like Republican Vernon Robinson from raising more than a million dollars to pay for insane ads attacking his Democratic opponent, incumbent Brad Miller. (Miller, incidentally, still won by close to a 2-to-1 margin.) That said, in most even moderately competitive campaigns these regulations keep candidates from running ads that are too over-the-top for fear of backlash, and extending the rules requiring clear identification of sponsorship to robo-calls could go a long way towards discouraging candidates and, perhaps more importantly, party committees from using this tactic to deceive voters and drive down the vote.

Update [2007-2-15 12:17:45 by Jonathan Singer]:Adam B clarifies a few points in the comments.

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What Is Your Representative Going to Do?

I know what my representative is going to do this week, tell the president that she is against the escalation.  Do you feel as confident in your representative?  Has your representative, or a member of his/her staff told you the same thing?  How comfortable to do you feel about this?

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House GOP Extremely Wary About Iraq Debate

Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, the fifth-ranking official in the House Republican leadership, and Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member on the House intelligence panel, have penned a dear colleague letter to their fellow members of the GOP caucus on the issue of the Iraq War debate currently raging in the chamber. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer got a copy of the letter, which he has posted in .pdf form on his website. Among other things, the letter states:

We are writing to urge you not to debate the Democratic Iraq resolution on their terms, but rather on ours.

Democrats want to force us to focus on defending the surge, making the case that it will work and explaining why the President's new Iraq policy is different from prior efforts and therefore justified.

We urge you to instead broaden the debate to the threat posed to Americans, the world, and all "unbelievers" by radical Islamists. We would further urge you to join us in educating the American people about the views of radical Islamists and the consequences of not defeating radical Islam in Iraq.

The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be abou the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose. [emphasis added]

If the non-binding resolution in the House is a means of getting closer to bringing American troops home rather than being an end in an of itself, as Rep. Jerry Nadler has indicated and as I would tend to suspect, then I think it has a very good chance of being successful. Already, even before the chamber has voted -- and Republicans are already warning that at least 10 to 20 members of their caucus could vote with the Democrats on this measure -- it has already backed Republicans into a corner in which they cannot and are unwiling to defend the President's Iraq strategy.

To reiterate, if the ultimate goal of the Democrats is just to pass a non-binding resolution, Americans will see this move as a cynical ploy to score political points without actually achieve that which it should set out to. But if the goal is to end the war in Iraq, this debate will help move the ball down the field and, to an extent, already has by forcing Republicans to move away from their President's plan for Iraq.

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