Republican leadership stumbled this week with two bills going down in defeat on the House floor, a highly unusual occurrence in a chamber where the majority rules nearly absolutely and leadership rarely calls votes without knowing in advance they will win.
A key reason one bill went down – a reauthorization of the Patriot Act – was that GOP leaders allowed only 45 minutes of debate on the measure and scheduled the vote under suspension of the rules, usually reserved for non-controversial proposals.
Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, blasted his fellow party for how they brought up the bill. “Little debate, no committee hearings held, no amendments allowed, and no examination of whether our government had lived up to its responsibility to protect the liberty of the people,” is how he put it in a press release.
The Daily Caller spoke with freshman Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling of Illinois on his decision to vote no. Below is a transcript of how, with incomplete information given the limited debate, he “went with his gut” and sided with liberty:
TheDC: Why did you vote against the Patriot Act last night?
Rep. Bobby Schilling (BS): When I was running during the campaign, I even stated you know we need to increase national security, but not without a thorough and complete look at the Patriot Act. One of the things I look at is how much intrusion is enough.
But the big problem I have, is that we had 45 minutes of debate on that thing and I wasn’t comfortable going with just the party-line vote. The people of the 17th district that I represent – I get a lot of people that sent letters to me saying, “hey, do not vote for this, this an infringement of the Fourth Amendment.”
The bill was rushed to the floor with limited debate. I’m huge on national defense. I’ve got a large family. That is the number one thing we have to do here in Congress is to protect the citizens of the United States. I went with my gut. I didn’t have a lot of information on it and the problem I see with some parts of the Patriot Act is that the wrong person is able to access your information. That could be a problem.
TheDC: So what you’re saying here is that with 45 minutes of debate, with this bill rushed to the floor, you couldn’t make an informed decision?
BS: Exactly, I mean I knew it was coming up. I could have just said “I’m here” and not hit “yay” or “nay.” But I hit the “no.” The big thing that we have to do is make sure that anything we’re voting for we know darn sure what we’re voting for. The way I understood parts of it, there’s some things I have problems with in the Patriot Act.