Although Cardin is one of the most liberal members of the Senate, he actually co-sponsored a good piece of legislation for the first time in his career. Several months ago, Cardin co-sponsored Senator Coburn's bill (S. 520) to repeal the ethanol subsidies and tariffs. After years of ethanol wreaking havoc on our economy and consumers, even Al Gore and Bill Clinton conceded that the ethanol revolution was a lousy idea. Accordingly, although I was quite befuddled over Cardin's newfound appreciation for the free market, opposition to ethanol had become almost universal.
Well, on Tuesday, Cardin had an opportunity to vouch for his unaccountable behavior by voting for Senator Tom Coburn's amendment to repeal ethanol subsidies and tariffs. Coburn's amendment (attached to a spending bill) was identical to the bill which Cardin co-sponsored last March. Yet, he voted against it!
Why the change of heart?
In the Senate, any member can offer an amendment to all non-budgetary bills even if it is not germane to the underlying bill. The catch is that if the Majority Leader doesn't agree to hold a vote, the member must call for a suspension vote, requiring 67 affirmative votes to pass the bill. Coburn used the Cloture process to bring up the amendment instead of asking King Harry Reid permission to schedule a vote. As such, he secured the requisite 16 signatures to petition a cloture vote; a procedure which requires only 60 votes to pass the bill. Democrat leadership was livid that Coburn circumvented them because they wanted the higher threshold so they could defeat the bill. Consequently, Ben Cardin voted down the amendment, even though he purported to support, and even co-sponsored, a similar bill.
Cardin put out the following statement after voting down the exact bill that he supported three months ago:
"We voted against the Coburn amendment today because of the manner this issue was brought to the Senate floor. We have been assured by the Democratic Leadership that the Senate will vote on this issue later this week, allowing us to consider and debate the substance of this important policy decision." (emphasis added)
This is yet another example that Cardin is an unprincipled shill for his party leadership. He will genuflect before his masters, even if that means opposing something that he intuitively views as the right thing to do.