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A Questionable Burning Issue

Even our U.S. Senators are questioning their priorities. Tuesday's proposed amendment to ban flag burning failed to catch fire (but obviously created a great opportunity for puns).  Many Senators who supported the amendment admitted that it was not the most important issue facing the country.

It�s not a burning issue in the grand scheme of things,� said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). "Not even close," agreed Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who was among 57 senators co-sponsoring the amendment.  Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who was the lead sponsor of the amendment, stood alone in his unwavering insistence that flag burning was the most significant problem facing the legislators.  �This sends a message to the [Supreme] Court like it�s never been sent before!� he said.  �In my opinion, there�s nothing that would supersede this in importance.� 

Adding prestige to this debate, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) provided a poster of Kid Rock wearing the American flag (which was arguably disrespectful to Old Glory) and reminded the Senators that the musician performed for the Republican National Convention in 2004.  �They partied with him, they loved him!� said Lautenberg.  Many Democrats accused Republicans of prioritizing politics over legislative pertinence and bringing up the amendment to create a divisive issue for the 2006 congressional elections.  Perhaps.  Either way, the flag burning amendment has become an annual sideshow for members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

By: Mandy Smithberger
investigator, POGO

At the time of publication, Mandy Smithberger was an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight, focusing on Department of the Interior oversight, including oil and gas royalties. Mandy also covered national security.

Authors: Mandy Smithberger

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