Update: 2-12-11: To see the actual speech West gave today, view this. Rep. Allen West (R-Fl) will deliver the much coveted CPAC closing speech at CPAC 2011. You’ll remember last year Glenn Beck brought the House down on many levels but most effectively on holding Republicans responsible for their big spending ways, and urging them to admit their addiction to pork-barrel politics. West is also in the news for voting to extend the Patriot Act, which ultimately failed with help of some GOP House freshmen. The Act expires on February 18th, but a congressional vaca is coming up fast and the question is, what will GOP leadership do now?
Giving West the spot is just one of the many bows to the relatively new Tea Party movement at CPAC, arguably the most important annual gathering of conservative lawmakers and activists. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, will deliver the conference’s opening address.
The closing speech is also notable for who isn’t delivering it, namely former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R). She declined the plum speaking slot and the conference overall, citing scheduling problems, despite the cattle call for 2012 contenders at this weekend’s conference, and the important straw poll of conference attendees.
The Hill article, curiously, indicates that West may be risking his re-election by delivering what is expected to be a rousing call for conservatism. From what we know of West, he has never hesitated to speak for all faces of liberty, either in his political or private life. My opinion is, the people of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, who are one the front lines of national security, will return West to Congress after the next election.
At this moment, West is receiving a lot of heat for voting for a temporary extension the Patriot Act. West, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army has served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraq. The fact is, the extension is temporary, and the next decision is to permanently extend the three provisions or extend them through 2013. Oh, but that vacation is on the horizon. Can it get done in time for the extensions to take effect?
The Patriot Act measure would have extended through the end of the year three provisions that are set to expire Feb. 28. One authorizes the FBI to use roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access “any tangible items,” such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.
The vote to approve the Patriot Act extension for another 8 months fell seven votes shy of approval, with 227 voting for the extension and 148 voting against. Nine did not vote, 5 of which were Republicans, 2 of them House freshmen. The House said the measure will be back for a quick vote later this month without requiring the super-majority needed for passage.
New GOP freshman not voting:’ Rick Crawford and (AR) Richard Hanna (NY). Freshman ‘no’ votes were Raul Labrador (UT), Justin Amash (Mich), Randy Hultgren (IL), Chris Gibson (NY), Tom Graves (GA), Bobby Schilling (IL), David Schweikert (AZ), Rob Woodall (GA) Mike Fitzpatrick (PA) was elected in 2006, and elected again in 2010. If you consider him a freshman, then he is the ninth vote.
GOP leadership said many of the ‘no’ votes were due to inadequate briefings. A pertinent question is, why did leadership bring the vote to the floor needing a super majority. “Vacation” might have something to do with it, as recess rolls in the week of February 21st for the “President’s Day” Holiday – a week for President’s Day! The day they return to the House, February 28th, the Patriot Act expires. The Senate must also pass the legislation, or their own version. Those pesky holidays! Around the blogosphere on this subject, Stacy McCain says Rep. West buying is buying him beers at CPAC. A BareNakedIslam fan gets a photo with West. The SayAnythingBlog explains more about how the Patriot Act legislation landed on the floor for a vote. Commentary Magazine points out Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) voted for the extension.