Tim Johnson Watch

Representative Tim Johnson was elected to represent the residents of Illinois' 15th Congressional District in Central Illinois. His constituents should know what he's doing.

Location: 15th Congressional District, Illinois, United States

A concerned citizen of Central Illinois.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Decisions, decisions ... Jack Abramoff Edition

Should the Bush Administration release its documents reflecting its contacts with convicted Republican lobbyist (and close DeLay associate) Jack Abramoff? Several Republican members of Congress are starting to say, Yes.

What does Tim Johnson think? Josh Marshall reports that Johnson is ducking the issue.

Methinks there is a pattern here....

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Decisions, decisions....Part II

Over two weeks ago, TJW noted that Tim Johnson was staying on the sidelines in the race for House majority leader to replace the indicted Tom DeLay. Hardly a surprise, but Johnson's still uncommitted, even as almost 70% of the GOP caucus has taken sides....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Footprints in the Sand

As the House readies to reconvene in two weeks, this might be a good time to review Tim Johnson's legislative "accomplishments" for 2005:

Bills sponsored: Five. Well, one really. On September 22, Johnson introduced five companion bills (HR 3877-81) to "suspend temporarily the duty on certain parts of machinery for molding and forming certain articles". Each bill lists particular parts (e.g., barrel screws) that would be exempt from tariff for a period of time. Presumably, the bills would benefit some American manufacturers who use such parts (and, one hopes, some of those manufacturers are in our District), though they may harm American manufacturers who make such parts, since the bills encourage foreign sourcing. Whatever the merits of these bills, Johnson hardly acted like someone who believed in them. He never issued a press release explaining why these bills had merit or would benefit the nation or the Fifteenth District. Nor, apparently, did he make much effort to persuade his colleagues of the bills' merit, as they found no co-sponsors and were immediately referred to Committee, and no further action was taken.

Sponsored bills enacted: Zero. None even debated. See above.

Appearances in Congressional Record: Thirteen, according to Thomas (Library of Congress) search, although the actual number is twelve (as one instance actually refers to Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT)). Of those, seven relate to tributes and similar non-substantive matters (e.g., a tribute to postal employees), two are instances where Johnson asked to change his vote, two are instances where he was too late to vote and asked to make a statement as to how he would have voted, and one was a list of all Representatives and their committee appointments. In other words, Johnson did not make a single floor statement in support of or opposition to any bill before the House.

By any standard, this is an uninspiring legislative record. Especially for a member of the majority party. Especially for someone who is reneging on a term limit pledge because of the purported benefits of seniority for what he can accomplish.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Bitter Pill ... Or No Pill At All?

Remeber November 2003, when Tim Johnson provided a decisive vote in favor of the "Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act", which narrowly passed the House 220-215?

The bill was so irresponsible -- carrying a price tag of over half a trillion dollars despite its dubious benefits to Medicare recipients -- that twenty-five Republicans voted against it, despite unprecedented arm-twisting (including reports of outright bribery) by the GOP leadership. (The biggest benefits flow to major pharmaceutical companies, none of which is based in this District.)

Fast forward twenty-six months. The Act is now being phased in, and the results, so far, are as bad as critics predicted. As a result, Medicare recipients are being denied prescriptions, and a number of states, including Illinois, are being forced to pay for prescriptions to protect their citizens. (Illinois hopes it will be able eventually to obtain reimbursement from the federal government.)

Remind me, Mr. Johnson. Why was the Medicare Prescription Drug Act good for Illinois's seniors and its taxpayers?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Decisions, decisions....

A hallmark of Tim Johnson's "leadership" has been avoiding taking a position on controversial matters whenever possible -- Social Security being Exhibit A and avoiding the vote on House Ethics rules changes designed to protect Tom DeLay (while keeping more money from DeLay than any other Illinois representative) being Exhibit B.

No surprise then that Johnson (in fairness, along with a bit more than [UPDATE: almost] half of the GOP caucus) is still uncommitted on DeLay's replacement.

And we're still waiting for him to join the other Republican returning DeLay's money....