Rep. party failures of recent years (part 2)

Continuing from the previous post about failures of Republican party during recent years, here is a brief (and not exhaustive) account of “wrongs” done by Republicans in matters related to homeland security,  civil rights and environmental issues.

Homeland Security

  • Assault Weapons Ban (Clinton Gun Ban of 1994): Startng in 2004, Republicans refused to extend the ban on purchasing assault weapons (supposedly for reasons, including the fact that federal, state and local law enforcement agency studies showed that guns affected by the ban had been used in only a small percentage of crime, before and after the ban was imposed).  From 2005 on, Senate Democrats attempted to pass legislation that would have reauthorized the ban; however, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to allow the measure to come to the floor for a vote; only in June 2008, Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2008 was re-introduced and has since been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, pending further action;
  • COPS: Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) is allegedly one of the most successful law enforcement programs in American history.  However, since the Republicans assumed the majority, since 2006, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have opposed it, with Bush proposing cutting its funding to about $32 million in 2007 from the roughly $500 million in 2006. And yet another similar streak in community-oriented services came as Bush reduced Violence Against Women budget funding by $105 million for 2008;
  • Chemical Security:  Republicans failed to pass legislation on chemical security of America enhancing security against terrorist attacks on plants and factories dealing with and storing chemically hazardous materials.  There are mroe than 100 chemical plants in America that, if attacked, could cause death and injury of more than one million people;
  • Interoperable Communications: Republicans blocked attempts at making critical investments in interoperable communications for first responders, despite the fact that the 9/11 Commission identified communications interoperability as a key priority for homeland security, noting that “the inability to communicate was a critical element at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, crash sites, where multiple agencies and multiple jurisdictions responded.  The occurrence of this problem at three very different sites, is strong evidence that compatible and adequate communications among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels remains an important problem.”

Civil Rights

  • Hate Crimes: Republicans have consistently rejected addition of gender and sexual orientation to federally protected categories under hate crimes law. According to the survey conducted by the Department of Justice,  approximately 84% of hate crimes and only 23% of non-hate crimes were violent offenses. In 38% of hate crimes, victims were raped, robbed, injured, or threatened with a weapon. Only 12%  of crimes not based on hate of the victim reached this level of seriousness. ;
  • Immigration Reform: Republicans failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, despite widespread acknowledgement that American immigration system in broken. Reps had simply kept on putting away the immigration issue by pointing at border security problems.

Energy and Environment

  • Wildlife/Sensitive Areas: While failing to protect federal lands set aside as wildlife refuges, Republicans sell/lease increasingly wildlife or otherwise environmentally sensitive and protected areas for business initiatives or oil and natural gas exploration, like the recent proposal for Utah;
  • Climate Change: Republicans refused to act to reduce greenhouse emissions (one of major recent attempts being Lieberman-Warner bill).  Carbon dioxide emissions from energy use rose by 1.6% in 2007, according to preliminary estimates by  Energy Information Administration (EIA). Electricity generation increased by 2.5%, and carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector increased even more, at 3%, indicating that US utilities shifted towards energy sources that emitted more carbon. NASA’s analysis of global temperature records found that surface temperatures have been increasing by an average of 0.2 °C every decade for the past 30 years. “Further global warming of 1 °C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know,” said one of the authors of the analysis;
  • Sustainable and Secure Energy: Republicans have been opposing a renewable portfolio standard and any legislation to save substantial amounts of imported oil.  They also failed to ensure that energy speculators are not manipulating prices and that consumers are not being gouged at the pump.

Finally, I have to write another blog solely devoted to American foreign policy exploits under Republicans including Iraq and Afghanistan.