Sunday, July 16, 2006
What exactly does Tim Johnson do?
The current United States House of Representatives seems to be one of the laziest on record. By the end of the 2005-2006 term, the House is scheduled to have met 241 times. No House has served fewer days since the 1955-56 session. Even the infamous 1947-48 "Do-Nothing Congress" met for 254 days.

This is particularly strange considering the country is supposed to be in a state of war. I reckon there are plenty of soldiers serving in Iraq who would love to only work 140 days a year, as the House managed to pull off in 2005.

Our particular representative, the wiry Timothy Johnson, seems to fit right into to this culture of lethargy. Good ole Tim has only given one speech on the floor of the House since 2003. In fact, Johnson has only proposed 32 bills during his three terms as representative for the 15th district. While an average of around five bills per year may seem like a lot, Tim is in a tie for last place among all-time bill losers. He has never had a sponsored bill enacted.

To be fair, Johnson has co-sponsored some 483 bills during his three terms. Of course co-sponsoring a bill is about as hard as saying "uh-huh" when asked. This seems to be easy for Johnson, who has voted "ney" only five times this year (though I should mention that three of those votes were to protect the environment and one was against the USA Patriot Act). Tim is also Vice-Chair of the Committee on Science's Subcommittee on Research. I assume it is an honor to be Vice-Chairman of a subcommittee of a committee.

What is striking about Johnson is his seeming vulnerability on a host of issues. He votes against giving bonuses to soldiers, accepted $25K from Tom Delay's ARMPAC, and is strongly opposed to stem-cell research. Moreover, he seems genuinely disengaged from the process of governing. His personal life seems a bit checkered, to put it mildly.

But most important is his inability to bring the rewards of majority rule to the 15th District. Are republicans content with having Johnson as their rep just because he is a republican? Shouldn't we see some benefit to having a republican representative in Congress during the heyday of republicanism? In short, what has Tim Johnson done for us lately?

Like the U.S. House, the answer seems clear: not much.


Blogger Red State Wannabe said...

Tim is a steady vote for low(er) taxes and against abortion and embyronic stem cell research. That seems to be about all we get, but that isn't too bad.

7/17/2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Glock21 said...

Congressman Johnson is still a relatively new player in the US House, granted he's not a first termer any more, but the committee comments are a bit of a cheap shot. If repubs would have booted him out in the primary to get a different first termer, it wouldn't help in this regard, nor would a first termer dem likely have much better odds.

Also considering that repubs currently have control of the House, and fairly strong control over what bills will be put up for a vote or not, it is not shocking that a repub wouldn't be voting nay too often.

The number of days scheduled isn't too surprising either since the party in control of the House is also in control of the Senate and White House at the moment... which often requires far less interparty negotiations and debate.

The number of speeches in the last 2-3 years or so seems low... but I don't know what the average is for the 435 members... and I'd imagine that the party leadership in the house and the more senior members get priority in speech time. But personally I'd worry more about a candidate's vote over his yammering.

"He votes against giving bonuses to soldiers, accepted $25K from Tom Delay's ARMPAC, and is strongly opposed to stem-cell research."

On the soldier bonus issue... I've heard this one used against all sorts of candidates... often unfairly. Where they voted to boost regular pay but didn't vote to increase some other bonus... or some other accusation that leaves out the full picture for a cheapshot. Without seeing which pay increases they did or did not vote for... and any actual decrease they did or did not vote for, I am skeptical on such accusations anymore.

Similar to the accusations of "so and so cut [blank]" when the reality was that they did not vote to increase the funding as much as some group recommended. It's disingenous but both sides use that type of spin from time to time.

On accepting money related to Delay, only dems really care about that, not repubs. He's not demonized in republican circles, even among republicans who think he screwed up.

On stem cell research most repubs would rather the federal gov't stay out of funding it... leave it to private or State entities, if it all.

Given the complaints about the deficit it would be silly to throw more money at something that others are already throwing money at anyways as far as most conservatives are concerned. And if private interests aren't throwing much money at it, then it probably isn't as great of an investment as others make out... at least if their capitalist leanings affect their logic.

Also sad is that so many people, dem and repub alike, try to judge their reps based on pork. I wouldn't consider this a good measure... but hey, some dems, repubs, and even the NG like to use that in arguments for or against politicians... even if it is often hypocritical.

Just my two cents... but I think your questions on why repubs would support him ignores the mainmost issue... they support the things he votes for more often than not. The things you list aren't things they are too concerned about or sound like spin.

7/18/2006 5:58 PM  
Blogger foleyma said...

Yeah - I'm not particularly bothered by Johnson's record of votes (though he did recently vote for H.Res 895 - the one condemning the NY Times story - very stupid waste of time). In fact, I like some of his votes.

My problem (and the point of the post) is that he just seems to be coasting. I could be missing something here, but I've looked into his record fairly thoroughly and I find very little initiative.

Compare Johnson to our Senators. Love him or hate him, Durbin has done a nice job solidifying his position in the Democratic party (current minority whip). If the Dems take control of the Senate in '06 (not likely) one of our Senators will be the second-most powerful Democrat in Washington. Not bad. And Obama got some nice seats on great committees, is a rising star, and will definitely be moving up in the years to come.

All of this is good for Illinois - Dems or Rep., just as having Hastert as Speaker is great for the state. He has brought tons of pork home, and has helped set an agenda that is favorable to Illinois.

In comparison, Johnson seems like a do-little. If we had someone with some ambition, maybe the ability to land some important committees - heck someone who has at least had ONE bill pass in six years - then I think our district would be much better off, no?

7/18/2006 11:15 PM  
Blogger Glock21 said...

I just don't see how a freshman congressman would be able to do more... seniority gets you more power in Congress... and a different repub won't help repubs in that department. Right now the best thing a fairly new congressman can do for his like-minded constituents is vote the way they want him to.

Pretty much my point.

7/19/2006 1:46 AM  
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