Ellison Defends Spending Votes

The 5th District representative criticized 'wasteful' Pentagon spending and continued war funding.

Federal spending

5th District Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) defended his vote against the Omnibus Appropriations Bill—a 1,200-page, nearly $1 trillion measure whose failure would have threatened to shut down the government.

Ellison criticized the bill for cutting heating assistance and jobs training programs while increasing what he called “wasteful” Pentagon spending and continuing to fund the war in Afghanistan, which he said has gone on too long.

“This bill continues down the Republican Congress’s wrongheaded path for our country,” he was quoted in a news release. “By enshrining the Budget Control Act of this summer, the latest appropriations package maintains handouts to special interests at the expense of the middle class.”

Meanwhile, Ellison is pushing a package of emergency jobs legislation called the “Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act” proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Provisions include the creation of direct-hire programs, grants for on-the-job training, $50 billion for transportation and infrastructure projects and unemployment insurance extensions.

It would also cut $280 billion in defense and weapons programs, in part by withdrawing forces from Afghanistan and halving the number of troops in Europe; increases the tax rate on those who make $1 million or more and add a .03 percent excise tax on the purchase of securities.

“Otherwise known as the Keith Ellison Writes Checks He Cant (sic) Cash Act,” quipped Chris Fields, a Republican challenger for the 5th District seat.

Ellison’s criticism of defense spending followed his vote against the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act for similar reasons. In a news release, he said he opposed the bill because it continued funding the war in Afghanistan and maintained post-9/11 security measures that he said threaten civil liberties.


Somali money

Lynne Torgerson, another Republican challenger for the 5th District seat, criticized Ellison’s efforts to help Somalis continuing wiring money to their home country.

Sunrise Banks, the last U.S. Bank to provide wire transfers to Somalia, announced that it would be ending the service because it couldn’t guarantee the money wouldn’t go to terrorists and because it wants to push the federal government to improve security.

Ellison said in a Dec. 17 NPR article that the government needs to find a long-term solution.

"Are there better ways to maintain safety and to facilitate transactions that really do need to be made in order to keep starving people alive?" he asked.

But Torgerson said Ellison needs to take a stronger stand.

“Ellison on the wrong side again: banks have stopped sending money because it has been aiding terrorism. Again, Ellison, like he does with CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), fails to ensure no money goes to terrorists,” she wrote on Facebook.


All-American Muslim ads

Torgerson, who praised Lowe’s for its decision to pull advertising from the new TLC’s reality show All-American Muslim—which aims to show Muslims in Dearborn, MI, going about their daily lives. Lowe’s deemed the show to controversial after the Florida Family Association started urging advertisers to withdraw their support.

Kayak.com also removed ads—saying it made the decision based on the quality of the show, not its content, although it had also received letters from the Florida Family Association.

Torgerson praised both companies on Facebook, writing, “Go Kayak. Go Lowe's.”

By contrast, Ellison was one of 30 representatives who sent a letter to Lowe’s urging it to reconsider.

“We are dismayed that your decision was influenced by an online petition from the Florida Family Association, a group that has advocated discrimination and bigotry in the past,” the letter stated. “Yes, we face threats from radical Islamic extremists, but the millions of patriotic, peace-loving Muslims living and working in America are our best defense against them, and only strengthen the fabric of our nation. We implore you to reconsider your decision and live up to your corporate ideals of diversity and inclusion and the values of tolerance and acceptance that create the foundation of our nation.”


Is Congress Corrupt?

Amid all the debate, public opinion of Congress remains low. Ellison visited the O’Reilly Factor on Dec. 13 to answer the question “Is Congress Corrupt?” with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)—a question that arose following a poll in which 64 percent of respondents rated the honesty and ethical standards of Congress as low or very low

“Well you know, Bill, there’s a lot of Republican voters who feel that they are locked out of the process, too,” Ellison said. “I mean, they have different solutions for the problems than I would propose, but they still feel outside the system. I mean, I think that’s part of what explains the whole Tea Party movement—that people kind of felt that they, the average American, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, weren’t given access to the system.”

Tweeted Fields: “Totally unimpressive! Once again he offers no solutions and doesnt (sic) even understand the depth of the problem.”

Lynne Torgerson for Congress December 27, 2011 at 02:11 AM
I have devoted my adult career to protecting the Constitutional rights of people of all races, nationalities, religions and walks of life. My whole life is evidenced by the opposite of racism. People who claim to the contrary are completely ignorant of the facts. Every assertion I had made is based in fact. As Newt Gingrich put it, the Palestinians are a fiction. Further, they elected a terrorist organization, namely Hamas, as their governing body. Things don't go well for people when their government is a terrorist organization. Further, the terrorist organization that they elected, Hamas, has written in its Constitution its goal of destroying Israel. That is not a legitimate goal. The Palestinians have an immense amount of land surrounding the tiny territory where they currently sit to which they can and should move. It also sounds like Mr. Haluska needs to get a job.
John Haluska December 27, 2011 at 03:05 AM
Ms. Torgerson, try your best to directly answer the question please. Israel in 2010 received $3.175 BILLION in aid from the USA. Easily twice the amount of the next largest recipient, Egypt (@$1.5 BILLION). http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/us-foreign-aid.htm This is about one third of all monies the USA spends on aid. The great majority of such money going to Israel goes to the Israeli military. And the $$$ to Egypt has the same earmark. Israel has one major enemy, the "non-existent" Palestinian people whose land the Israili's occupy. (Egypt had one major enemy, the Egyptian people.) But back to the question. Do you support continuing sending over $3 BILLION dollars to Israel, most destined for their military? Wouldn't that money be better spent here in the USA? Maybe to educate our children? Maybe to care for our elderly? Maybe to rebuild bridges and roads in our congressional district? Maybe for food and medical care in refugee camps? Maybe even to build football stadiums for our impoverished Vikings? Just what is your interest in sending our tax dollars to Israel based on, or are you willing to disavow sending $$$ to Israel, keeping in mind it is well developed, financial stable nation - actually economically much better off than we are today. (http://www.wisemoneyisrael.com/2010/09/19/why-israels-economy-is-strong/ ) By the way, I have been working full time for over 50 years.
Amy Paddock December 28, 2011 at 02:20 PM
this is a bit old, but you should now that Solyndra wasn't just under the Obama Admin, it started under the Bush Admin. And no, the Federal Gov wasn't just for Defense.
Amy Paddock December 28, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Kevin, your biggest problem is that you come off as if you think you are God. You think you have all the answers. You do not. Reading books on subjects that you choose and want to believe in is very different then looking objectively at problems.
Amy Paddock December 28, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Not all money that goes to the US Military or Pentagon is money for our troops. Read the bills Lynn. It takes patience. Go through the bills for our spending and NDAA. It doesn't all go to our troops. If you think people are not already taking less money, then you haven't figure it the problems yet. Economy 101 is a good place to start. Most of learned Economics in High School, but went through it again in College. It isn't that hard to understand. You just have to be willing to put down the political rhetoric. The monies that go overseas has been in place for some time. It has to do with things like "security" and aid that a lot of countries already commit to. Even that budget was cut a long time ago. The only place to send money home to families is through that one bank. You want no monies going home to people who have families here that send money home to help with things such as food. If that happens, what do you think those that are that desperate will do? Join some terrorist group that promises some control over that poverty? This is partly how its done. The last thing you want to do is to cut off families in that way. People do not need more radical statements Torgerson. Making them afraid of things that are not "there". You seem to think the whole idea is to make our country into some hyper police state - preventing everyone from living and being afraid of everything. That is the last thing we need.


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