Aug 20, 2009

Election politics speeds Gitmo resolutions through the Senate

LANSING – Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, may have set a record for getting a piece of legislation through and approved Wednesday; showing what a strong motivation politics and an approaching election are.

Kuipers introduced a pair of Senate Resolutions on the Senate floor in the morning Senate session on Tuesday to ask the President and Congress to declassify intelligence information regarding the Gutantanamo Bay detainees. That afternoon the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Kuipers, took testimony on the resolutions and passed them to the Senate. The next day on Wednesday, the full Senate took them up and passed them.

He already had a receptive crowd of “tea baggers and “birthers” for the committee meeting because he was taking up a pair of resolutions on the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a favorite cause of extreme right-wingers for years.

Ironically, there was basically only one witness for the Gitmo resolutions; although a few “tea baggers” filled out cards and got a few minutes of mike time. But it was dominated by U.S. Rep. Pete “Twitter Pete” Hoekstra, R-Holland, a harsh critic of the President and for closing Gitmo.

But the really important thing to note is that Hoekstra is giving up his seat in Congress to run for the Republican nomination for Michigan Governor in 2010. Guess who is running for Hoekstra’s open seat and desperately wants his endorsement? If you guessed fellow Holland native Kuipers you get a gold star.

Kuipers announced his decision to run in December, along with fellow Republican State Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland. Clearly, the Gitmo detainees will be a campaign issue, both nationally and in the Gubernatorial race. Gitmo will join the budget and the Michigan State Police Headquarters as campaign issues in Michigan in 2010; for the Gubernatorial race, the entire Senate and the entire House.

You have to wonder if Kuipers’ decision to showcase Twitter Pete had anything to do with who he will endorsement for his old seat? I’m guessing heck yes.

As you know, the state is considering housing Guantanamo Bay prisoners at the soon-to-be-closed Standish Maximum Correctional Facility. Most Standish officials, many Standish residents and many state officials favor the move or at least exploring it to help the local economy.

There is a townhall meeting set to discuss the issue in Standish tonight, and it’s no coincidence that some of the GOP Gubernatorial candidates are falling over themselves to hold press conferences in Standish.

State Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, used the Senate floor to campaign for Michigan governor Wednesday, but he supports at least looking into housing the Gitmo detainees at Standish. I’m not sure that position will serve him well in the GOP primary.

“Some argue that incarcerating enemy combatants here will make Michigan a target, but we are already a target,” George said from the Senate floor Wednesday. “We have a federal center in Battle Creek, Fort Custer, and other National Guard bases. We have Selfridge Air National Guard Base, VA hospitals, federal courthouses and defense contractors. We are already a target.”

Now that the Senate has passed a couple of resolutions that do nothing so quickly in a mere 24 hours, they can now take up some legislation that will help Michigan residents and have an effect on their lives that has been staled for years and months in the Senate, like the budget, the workplace smoking ban the majority of people have been clamoring for, take up laws to make voting easier that has bipartisan support and were passed in the House, auto insurance redlining or take up the unemployment bills that will give Michigan families running out of unemployment access to $140 million in federal funds.

Now that those two resolutions have passed in the Senate, the next question is when will extremist Republican Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, introduce the Gitmo resolutions in the House?

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