Amy Klobuchar has been one of the two U.S. Senators representing Minnesota for more than two years now, which is long enough for her to decide what kind of senator she’d like to be. Will she be the sort of senator who reads and understands legislation before she votes on it? Or will she be the sort of senator who follows orders and doesn’t bother to think for herself?
Klobuchar seems to have chosen the latter.
In yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Klobuchar spoke up to declare her opposition to an amendment offered by her colleague, Richard Durbin:
Yeah, thank you, um, Mr. Chairman, and I, I agree with you Mr. Chairman, and, uh, Senator Sessions, in opposing the amendment. And I would just point to the actual language in here, which is, uh it’s not like this is some pie in the sky standard here. I mean, it specifically says that there has to be, for this letter to issue, “reasonable grounds to believe that the information sought is relevant to an authorized national security investigation provided that such an investigation of the United States person is not conducted solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and pertain to a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power, is relevant to the activities of a suspected agent of a foreign power who is subject of such authorized investigation, or pertains to an individual in contact with, or known to, a suspected agent of a foreign power.”
So I just, for anyone listening to this, it is not like there is no standard! There is a standard in place here.
In the exchange that followed, Senator Jeff Sessions asked her to clarify: “That’s the standard that is in the bill now?” Amy Klobuchar smiled and nodded. Senator Klobuchar clearly felt that she had just read the current text of the bill, unamended, and had spoken in praise of its not-pie-in-the-sky standard as her reason for voting against the Durbin amendment.
At this point, Senator Dick Durbin interjected with distress: “Senator, that’s the standard of the amendment. It’s not in the bill now…. I would say to Senator Klobuchar, you just read my amendment, and I think it’s critically important that you understand what we’re establishing here.”
Senator Durbin was right: if you read the bill being considered that day, then read the Durbin Amendment, you’ll notice that the language uttered by Senator Klobuchar is only found in the Durbin Amendment. She was mistaken.
Now, if Amy Klobuchar were following a senatorial model in which her votes were based on her capacities of understanding and reason, and if Klobuchar were being diligent in her reading, she wouldn’t have made such a mistake. But even if she had failed to be diligent, a Senator relying on reason and understanding would have noted her mistake and changed her position accordingly. Senator Klobuchar spoke in praise of bill language when she thought it was part of the original bill. If she really believed what had just said, if she really liked the standard she’d referred to, then she would have shifted her position from against the Durbin Amendment to for the Durbin Amendment.
But that was not the senatorial model Amy Klobuchar followed. Instead, Klobuchar started with a position and ended with the same position, even when the reason she provided for her position was clearly, indisputably turned on its head. No, Senator Klobuchar had her position and was going to keep it, no matter what anybody said, indeed, no matter what even she herself said. Klobuchar had inadvertently spoken in clear favor of the Durbin Amendment; nevertheless, she cast her vote against the Durbin Amendment.
Senator Amy Klobuchar’s dazed and confused performance and her subsequent voting behavior aren’t compatible with reason and understanding. They reflect the behavior of someone who has been supplied a voting position and who sees it as her job to keep to that position, come what may.
Is compliance the senatorial model you support?