# House Of Representatives

Progressives target House "Bush dogs," including Boswell

The rabble-rousers over at Open Left (Chris Bowers, Matt Stoller, and Mike Lux) have launched a campaign against “Bush dogs”, defined as Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who have in 2007 both capitulated on the Iraq funding bill and voted to allow Alberto Gonzales warrantless wiretapping powers.

You will probably not be surprised to learn that IA-03's own Leonard Boswell makes this list. Like many in the group, he is in the “Blue Dog” faction in the House. (Other “Bush dogs” are in the “New Democrats” group in the House, but Boswell does not belong to that club.) 

Boswell's disappointing vote on these issues is only the latest in a long string of disappointments for me, from voting for all of Bush's horrible energy bills to supporting permanent repeal of the estate tax to voting for the “torture” bill in the fall of 2006.

Does Boswell really represent such a conservative district that he “has” to vote with Republicans on these issues? No, he does not. His district actually has a partisan index of D+1.4, whereas many of the Bush dogs are in districts that lean Republican, or deep-South districts where rank and file Democrats tend to be more conservative. 

Chris Bowers specifically criticized Boswell in this post, in which he made the case that Boswell is NOT “voting his district” when he casts his lot with the Bush White House.

Paul Rosenberg provides some interesting data on the “Bush dogs” and how vulnerable they might be to a strong challenge: click here for more

Some in the blogosphere have criticized this effort to target in possibly hit Bush dogs with primary challengers, saying it could endanger our majority in the House and is bad form to “meddle” in other states' politics. Chris Bowers responded to the criticism here, and Mike Lux weighed in on the dispute, and his desire to promote progressive voting in Congress without harming Democrats in truly vulnerable positions, here.

What do you think? I support letting Boswell know when we are upset about his voting, but I don't see a primary challenge as having much chance here. Anyway, Iowa is going to lose a district after the 2010 census, and Boswell will likely retire at that point.

Primary challenges against other “Bush dogs” may be well worth the effort, on the other hand. Even if we don't beat these people in the primary, we can push them to vote better, as Jane Harman and Ellen Tauscher (both California Democrats) have been doing since netroots progressives targeted them for primary challenges. 

U.S. House passes energy bill with Renewable Electricity Standard

The liberal blogosphere has been disappointed that the U.S. Senate (including 16 Democrats) capitulated to President Bush on warrantless wiretapping this week.

However, we had some great news out of the U.S. House on Saturday. The chamber passed an energy bill that would take away $16 billion in tax breaks for oil and put more resources toward renewable energy.

Even better, I heard from Rich Dana (former president of I-Renew) on the I-Renew e-mail list that the House approved an amendment calling for a 15 percent Renewable Electricity Standard. That would require the U.S. to have 15 percent of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.

The vote on the RES amendment was 220-190.

Rich has the details on that crucial vote:



No Vote28

Iowa – Loebsack, Braley, Boswell Aye  King, Latham No


Fortunately, the Democrats in the Iowa delegation all voted yes. (I was worried about Boswell and sent an e-mail to his office on Thursday about this issue.)

But it's worth noting that 38 Democrats voted against the RES, which would not have passed without the 32 Republicans who voted for it.

We've got a Democratic majority in the House, but clearly we've still got a lot of work to do if we want a reliable progressive majority. 

The next big battle will be in the conference committee that will reconcile the House and Senate versions of the energy bill. But it looks like we've got a decent chance at keeping the RES provision in there, since it was included in the Senate version. 

PS: At Daily Kos yesterday, user apsmith posted a helpful analysis and comparison of the energy plans proposed by Edwards, Obama, Clinton and Richardson.

Click the link and read through the chart–it will be worth your time, and you'll see why Daily Kos readers who took the poll attached to this diary vastly preferred the Edwards and Richardson plans to the Obama and Clinton plans.

My only criticism is that apsmith didn't include Dodd in his analysis. Dodd's got a good energy policy as well. 

UPDATE: Lee Honeycutt posted this helpful information on the I-Renew e-mail list:

Anyone wanting to read the RES bill can find it online at:

http://thomas. loc.gov/cgi- bin/query/ z?c110:H. R.3221:

You can also download a PDF version of the 786-page bill:

http://frwebgate. access.gpo. gov/cgi-bin/ getdoc.cgi? dbname=110_ cong_bills& docid=f:h3221ih. txt.pdf

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Sigh. Can't we do better than Boswell?

So Leonard Boswell voted for the Iraq War supplemental funding bill today, just like we all knew he would. Sad as that is, it's not why I felt compelled to write this post. Pretty much every vote Boswell has ever cast related to Iraq has been the wrong vote, in my opinion.

What prompted this post was a press release from the Center for Food Safety, which came to my attention this evening. Leonard Boswell apparently inserted language into the 2007 Farm Bill that would preempt any state prohibitions against any foods or agricultural goods that have been approved by USDA. That would include genetically modified foods. The press release does not name Boswell as the author of the language in question, but advocates have learned that he was behind the move.

How disappointing that as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry (a subcommittee of the House Ag Committee), Boswell is using his influence to weaken consumer protection. Does he think the Farm Bureau will reward him for this? They're always going to endorse his opponent, no matter how much he delivers for big agribusiness in the Farm Bill.

As a resident of Iowa's 3rd district, I have long felt that we could do a lot better than Leonard Boswell. He is often not with us on environmental policy, energy policy, tax policy, or foreign policy. Even so, this move disappoints me.

If you live in the 3rd district, please contact Congressman Boswell and tell him that federal law should not prevent states from prohibiting certain types of food or agricultural goods.

You can send an e-mail directly to his office by clicking here.

Here is mail, phone and fax contact information:


DC Address:
The Honorable Leonard L. Boswell
United States House of Representatives
1427 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-1503
DC Phone: 202-225-3806
DC Fax: 202-225-5608
Email Address: http://boswell.house…
WWW Homepage: http://boswell.house…

District Office:
300 East Locust, Suite 320
Des Moines, IA 50309
Voice: 888-432-1984
FAX: 515-282-1785


The full text of the press release follows:


    /House Subcommittee Today Approves Language Slipped into/
    /Farm Bill that Prevents States from Protecting their Citizens/

*Center for Food Safety Recognizes that Proposal Ties States’ Hands,

*Food Safety Protections at a Time When they Need to be Strengthened*

*Washington** May 24, 2007* – Earlier today, the House Subcommittee
on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry approved new language slipped into the 2007 Farm Bill that pre-empts any state prohibitions against any foods or agricultural goods that have been deregulated by the USDA. The passage appears to be aimed at several recently enacted state laws that restrict the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, but could also prohibit states from taking action when food contamination cases occur.

“Given the recent spate of food scares, it’s shocking to see this attempt to derail safeguards for our food and farms,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food Safety. “We need a Farm Bill that will promote stronger food safety standards, not one that attacks these vital state-level protections.”

The passage approved by the House Subcommittee today states that “no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has inspected and passed; or determined to be of non-regulated status.”

State legislatures, local governments, and citizens of many states and localities have adopted prohibitions on the planting of certain genetically altered products. Some of the state-level laws that may be pre-empted or compromised if the proposed Farm Bill language were adopted include:

· *Legislation in California and Arkansas that gives these states the power to prohibit the introduction of GE rice.* The major rice growing states are particularly concerned after last fall’s revelations that several unapproved varieties of GE rice had contaminated natural rice, resulting in massive losses for US farmers when export customers in Asian and Europe closed their markets to US rice.

· *Legislation adopted this year in the state of Washington, which prohibits planting of GE canola in areas near the State’s large non-GE seed production*. Brassica (cabbage, broccoli, and other such crops) seed producers pushed for this legislation, since GE canola can cross-pollinate with and contaminate natural cabbage seed. The Skagit Valley area in Washington produces $20 million in vegetable seed annually and is home to half of the world’s cabbage seed production;

· *County bans on planting of GE crops in four California counties.* To protect their organic and natural food producers, four California counties have adopted bans or moratoriums on planting of GE crops;

An overview of these and other state- level regulations of GE crops and foods is available at:
http://www.centerfor… .

In addition, the vague language of the proposal raises concerns that states would be barred from taking action when food safety threats arise. For example, states could be barred from prohibiting the sale of e. coli-tainted ground beef if the meat has passed USDA inspection, as was the case in last week’s massive 15-state beef recall.

The biotechnology industry has sponsored language akin to the text approved this morning in the House subcommittee in dozens of state-level attempts to pre-empt state regulations on GE crops. They also joined the food and agribusiness industries last year in pushing for a federal “Food Uniformity” law, which would have gutted numerous state-level food safety laws.

* *

*/The Center for Food Safety/*/ is national, non-profit, membership
organization founded in 1997 that works to protect human health and the
environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies
and by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. On
the web at: http://www.centerfor…



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