King's grandstanding sank Republican amendments to PATRIOT Act

Representative Steve King (IA-05) enjoyed Thursday’s “House call” rally against health care reform so much that he organized another rally at the Capitol today to “kill the bill.” Unfortunately for fellow Republicans, King and several other wingnuts blew off a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. In their absence, several Republican amendments to the PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill failed to pass:

Those votes took place, a committee staffer confirmed, between noon and two — the very time when Republican lawmakers were rallying the Tea Party troops on the Capitol steps.

One measure, offered by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, would have extended the “lone wolf” provisions of the Act, which would allow the FBI to surveil or search foreign nationals even if it can’t be shown that the person is an agent of a foreign power. Many believe that had this been in effect before 9/11, the FBI might have caught Zacarias Moussaoui. And Republicans had said that extending the lone wolf provision this time around was crucial to protecting national security. Even some Democrats supported the measure, giving it a good chance of passage. But it failed by a single vote, 15-15. Reps. King and Gohmert were absent.

Another measure, offered by Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-CA), failed by a vote of 11 to 8. Reps. King, Gohmert, Jordan, and Poe were all missing.

And a third, brought by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), which would have bolstered the ability of local law enforcement to use a device that records phone numbers from a particular phone, failed by 12 to 10, with King, Gohmert, Jordan, Poe, and Franks all absent. (A subsequent amendment that did essentially the same thing later passed, it’s worth noting.)

Several other members of both parties missed some of these votes as well, but there’s no evidence they were Tea Partying.

I guess King likes preaching to the converted more than doing his job.

UPDATE: In fairness to King, he is apparently missing his son’s wedding today in order to be in Washington for the health care debate.

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