PEEK

Defunding the Dick

Adam Howard: Senate Democrats step up and refuse to fund Dick Cheney's office until he complies with the law.
Way to go Sen. Durbin (D-IL)!

I was afraid that after the bill to defund Dick Cheney's office failed in the House, that that'd be the end of this story and thankfully it isn't. With Dick Cheney even more unpopular than President Bush right now and the majority of the country behind impeaching him, Congress should not be timid about holding his feet to the fire.

This report comes from the AP:

Panel moves to cut off funds to Cheney

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer Tue Jul 10, 6:26 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to cut off funding for Vice President Dick Cheney's office in a continuing battle over whether he must comply with national security disclosure rules.

A Senate appropriations panel chaired by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., refused to fund $4.8 million in the vice president's budget until Cheney's office complies with parts of an executive order governing its handling of classified information.

At issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. That information is to be provided to the Information Security Oversight Office at The National Archives.

Cheney's office, with backing from the White House, argues that the offices of the president and vice president are exempt from the order because they are not executive branch "agencies."

The funding cut came as the appropriations panel approved 5-4 along party lines a measure funding White House operations, the Treasury Department and many smaller agencies.

Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said Cheney's office was flouting requirements that it comply with the reporting requirements on classified information.

"Neither Mr. Cheney or his staff is above the law or the Constitution," Durbin said. "For the vice president to believe that he has no responsibility to meet this requirement of the law is a dereliction of duty."

The tempest originally attracted widespread media attention after Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., charged that Cheney's office's had originally argued to the Archives that it did not have to comply with the order because it was not "an entity within the executive branch."

The vice president is also the president of the Senate, able to vote to break ties and preside over the chamber, though he is not eligible to sponsor legislation or participate in debates.

Cheney's office, Waxman said, also blocked the archives from doing an onsite inspection of his office to make sure classified information was being properly protected.
Adam Howard is the editor of PEEK.
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