Nathan Stubbs

The U.S. Senate's Lone Wolf

by Nathan Stubbs

Call him obstructionist-in-chief. Headstrong U.S. Sen. David Vitter is off to a blazing start in the new congressional session. After filing a slew of bills from the social conservative playbook that stand little chance of passing in the new Congress (the bills take aim at illegal immigration, stem cell research, and his colleagues’ ethics, among other issues) Vitter continues to prove he’s not afraid to go against the grain, even if it means standing all alone. Today, he cast the sole vote opposing Sen. Hillary Clinton to be the next secretary of state. By most accounts, Clinton breezed through the confirmation hearings. But Vitter quizzed Clinton at length about potential conflicts of interest related to contributions from countries abroad to her husband’s William J. Clinton Foundation. Clinton has worked out an agreement, designed to avoid any conflict of interest, where all future contributions to the foundation will be reported on an annual basis. In addition, Clinton has isolated herself from the foundation so that she should not know who is and isn’t a contributor. Vitter insisted there should be full disclosure of all past contributions to the foundation as well as quarterly reports going forward. Vitter issued a statement after the vote calling Clinton “a smart, capable colleague, and I take no pleasure in voting against her confirmation. But I must do so for one compelling reason, I believe President Clinton’s business and foundation dealings are a multimillion dollar minefield of conflicts of interest. And this could produce explosions at any minute, particularly concerning the Middle East where we least need them.”

In other Vitter news, Louisiana’s junior senator is also leading the charge, this time with seven other Republicans, to oppose releasing any more of the $700 billion bailout funds for President-elect Obama’s administration. Given the Democratic majority in Congress right now, Vitter aknowledged “clearly, our effort is uphill. It’s a challenge.”