House Democrats, Libertarian Republicans Form Alliance

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 06:31 AM

By Cathy Burke

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A fledgling alliance is being forged between liberal House Democrats and the libertarian wing of the Republican conference and it's having an impact on some legislation, The New York Times reported.

The uncommon bond for common interests is due in part to an increased distrust of government on the right, the Times reported — and a willingness of Democrats to defy the Obama administration, most recently on protections for children crossing the border, The Washington Post said.

"I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to get progressive amendments passed," Democratic New York Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, told The Times. "I wish we could do more."

The latest evidence of the alliance came Thursday, with House approval of an amendment from liberal Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro to ban federal contracts for companies setting up bogus headquarters in offshore tax havens like Bermuda, Bloomberg News reported. Thirty-four Republicans helped pass the measure, the Times reported.

Ticking off other left-libertarian action, the Times said on May 30, 49 Republicans approved language barring the federal government from raiding medical marijuana dispensaries.

And on May 29, 76 Republicans joined Democrats to add $19.5 million to the federal instant background check system for gun purchases.

The House Appropriations Committee has also approved an amendment to allow Peace Corps volunteers who become pregnant by rape to have a federally funded abortion and a measure limiting the federal government’s access to private email communications, the Times reported.

"By passing this amendment, the Appropriations Committee is taking a critical step towards ensuring all Americans are protected by the Fourth Amendment — their mail, documents on their desks at home, and now their private emails," Kansas Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder said of the privacy measure.

Other evidence of the alliance came in the House vote in June to prohibit the National Security Agency and CIA from putting "back door" surveillance technologies on commercial technology products, and to end warrantless collection of Americans’ online activities, the Times reported.

The amendment, passed over the White House’s objections, was written by Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, described by the Times as one of the House’s most outspoken libertarians, with Democrats Zoe Lofgren of California and Rush Holt of New Jersey.

Massie said the libertarian-liberal alliance is growing, with efforts in the pipeline including changes to laws on federal mandatory minimum sentencing.

"We are working very hard to forge these coalitions," Massie told The Times.

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