Republican's bill killed last week, exact same bill passes unanimously today with Democrat sponsor 

How partisan can Congress get? Here's an instructive example from today: The Idaho Wilderness Water Facilities Act.

You've surely never heard of it. It's an extremely obscure and non-controversial piece of legislation regarding certain water uses in two areas of Idaho wilderness. It has the support of both Idaho Congressmen -- Mike Simpson, R, and Walter Minnick, D.

The bill passed the House today, 415-0. But just one week ago the House voted down a nearly identical bill by the same name, despite the fact that no one went to floor to make any arguments against it.

What happened?

The first time, the bill's lead sponsor was Simpson, the Republican, whose district is home to both of the wilderness areas in question. The second time, today, it was sponsored by Minnick, the Democrat, who faces a very difficult re-election and stands to benefit from the bill passing under his own name.

When the Republican sponsored the Idaho Wilderness Water Facilities Act, 187 Democrats voted against it, preventing it from getting the 2/3rds majority needed in the House to pass a bill on an expedited basis. Then the Democrat became the lead sponsor of the bill, and all of Democrats voted for it, allowing it to pass.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., complained about this today on the House floor and offered details that are missing from the Congressional Record. When Simpson brought up the bill last week, Democrats killed it in retaliation for the failure of a completely unrelated bill that spent $50 million to give landmark status to a beachfront plot on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. And so for this bill to pass, Minnick had to be given the credit.

In congressional terms, this is just about as partisan as it gets.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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