Even In Matters of Life or Death, Partisan Politics Rule the Day

The Terry Schiavo matter took yet another turn today, with congress performing acrobatic maneuvers to prolong her life. Both sides of the aisle took advantage of the moment while public opinion rides a roller coaster of emotion.

The Senate passed a bill that could prolong Terri Schiavo’s life while a federal court considers her case while House Republicans, stymied by Democrats, scrambled to bring enough lawmakers back to the Capitol for an emergency vote early Monday.

GOP leaders planned a House vote just past midnight, hours after the Senate approved the bill by voice vote. President Bush rushed back from Texas for a chance to sign the measure.

The plan had been for the House to act first and then the Senate to pass the House version. But with Democrats forcing a delay in the House, the Senate went ahead and passed its own, identical, version by unrecorded voice vote.

That means the House will be acting on the Senate-passed bill, still enabling the legislation to be hurried to Bush for signature into law. 

I have no doubt that some in congress are taking this personally and their legislation is really about what’s good for Terri. But, if you think this is all about saving one woman’s life, think again. As I feared, it’s mostly politics as usual.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the federal district court in Florida, which is open 24 hours a day, had already been informed that a petition would be filed as soon as the president signs the measure – with the presumption the judge will order that the tube be replaced.

“Time is not on Terri Schiavo’s side,” DeLay said. “The few remaining objecting House Democrats have so far cost Mrs.Schiavo two meals already today.”

I like Tom, and I think that he’s had to waste a lot of valuable time lately fighting ethics violation charges, but this comment is a bit over the top for my tastes.

Don’t think for a moment that the Democrats were white as snow either…

Democrats expressed sympathy for the severely brain-damaged Florida woman and for the plight of her family. But they also accused Republicans of ramming through constitutionally questionable legislation to satisfy the agenda of their conservative allies.

In a special session Sunday afternoon, Democrats refused to allow the bill to be passed without a roll call vote.

Petty, self centered politics.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., spoke of “the manifestation of a constitutional crisis” where Congress, for ideological reasons, was ignoring the separations of power written into the Constitution.

Republicans distanced themselves from a memo suggesting GOP lawmakers could use the case to appeal to Christian conservative voters and to force Democrats into a difficult vote.

“I hope we’re not … making this human tragedy a political issue,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC’s “This Week.” “We’ve got plenty of other issues that are political in nature for us to fight about.”

Yes you do. Too bad many of your colleagues don’t see it like you do.

The House reconvenes 7 minutes from now (3/20 – 5:53 PM PST). Bush cut short a trip so he could be ready to sign any legislation.

The end of this story is still a long way off.


  1. The Nose On Your Face says:

    Update: Outlook Bleak For Bunny

    As TNOYF reported yesterday, the Easter Bunny was viciously attacked at a rally to protest the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Initial reports stated that he was on the road to recovery.

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