Progressive Action Score: 77
1. A score of 77 means that Rep. Towns has acted to support 77% of a slate of progressive policies in the 109th Congress.
Progressive, forward-looking actions Rep. Towns has taken to merit a PAS of 77: Section 102 of H.R. 418 authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to nullify any law she or he deems necessary to build roads and fences in the vicinity of a national border. Furthermore, Section 102 of H.R. 418 makes it legally impossible for any court or agency of the government to review the Secretary of Homeland Security’s decision to nullify any law. In short, Section 102 places the Bush Administration untouchably above the law.
The Farr Amendment would have stricken this language, and only this language, from H.R. 418, making a vote for the Farr Amendment a vote for the rule of law. Thank you, Representative Towns, for voting “yes” on the Farr Amendment and supporting the rule of law.
By voting “yes” on the Scott Amendment, Rep. Towns tried to remove language in H.R. 27 that allows organizations to engage in government-funded religious discrimination in hiring. Unfortunately, the Scott Amendment failed. Still, with this vote, Rep. Towns made an important stand, protecting traditional constitutional bulwarks and making it clear that at least for some Americans, discrimination is simply unacceptable.H.R. 40 proposes that the House of Representatives do two things: 1) “Acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865”; 2) “Establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans.” Given the historical and continuing impact of racial discrimination in America, the proclamation of such an acknowledgment and establishment of such a commission seems long overdue. Representative Towns is to be commended for supporting these efforts by co-sponsoring H.R. 40.
If you believe that making it easier to vote in elections is a good thing, you will be happy to hear about the introduction of H.R. 63, which would make each November’s Election Day a federally recognized holiday. With the passage of H.R. 63, people who are faced with extraordinarily long lines at their polling places would not have to decide between their voting rights and their job. We applaud Representative Towns for co-sponsoring H.R. 63 and lending support to the continued expansion of institutional respect for democracy in the United States.The Climate Stewardship Act is the most significant American legislation yet to address the threat of global climate change. The CSA proposes market-based methods of promoting clean alternatives to America’s current Industrial Age systems for transportation and energy. Under the CSA, emissions of greenhouse gases would be reduced over a five-year period back to the levels produced in the year 2000. Although the CSA offers only minor controls, it is an important first step in keeping the problem of preventing the emissions of gases related to global climate change from growing worse than they already are. It is supported by environmental activists and strongly opposed by pollution industries and the Bush Administration.
The House of Representatives last voted on the CSA in March 2004, unfortunately failing to pass the bill. Fortunately, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland has reintroduced the act in the 109th Congress as H.R. 759. For lending support to the CSA by co-sponsoring H.R. 759, Rep. Towns has taken an important progressive stand.
By voting against the Hostettler Amendment to H.R. 2862, Rep. Towns stood for the rule of law and the rights of minorities from government-funded religious proselytization in public spaces. Rep. Hostettler of Indiana and an unfortunate majority of the House of Representatives voted to keep a ruling of a federal court from being enforced. Why? Because a judge decided that a religious monument on the grounds of the Gibson County Courthouse was an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion over others. This has apparently decided that any personally distasteful court ruling can be overturned, just because. That’s not the rule of law. That’s an arbitrary violation of the separation of powers. And, in this case, it allows pushy and vocal religious groups to shove their beliefs down everybody else’s throats. That’s not just wrong, it is downright un-American. Although the Hostettler Amendment unfortunately passed, Rep. Towns had the courage to stand against it, and so deserves our thanks.
Any reasonable person who believes that trust in America’s democratic institutions is important can see the value in being able to determine with assurance how a person has voted. It should be a matter of common sense, for instance, that when an electronic voting machine malfunctions and loses votes (as has happened in the past), a backup paper record of the actions of the machine would help election officials set things right and make sure that every person’s vote has been counted. Yet today, despite a history of malfunctioning electronic voting machines, there is no requirement for a backup paper trail. It’s as easy as attaching a printer to a voting machine. Thanks to Congressperson Towns for supporting H.R. 550, a bill which would require the establishment of such a paper trail.
Rep. Towns has taken the principled step of formally lending support to H.R. 952, which would put an end to the practice of “extraordinary rendition.” This is a practice in which Bush Administration officials send people into the custody of certain nations, knowing full well (some would say intending) that they will be tortured there. Extraordinary rendition is another stain on the moral clarity of the United States. It is a horrible irony that in a “War on Terror,” the United States Government would allow the use of terror as a tool. Rep. Towns deserves our gratitude for standing for a return to sanity and against American complicity in the use of torture. Edolphus Towns has formally supported H.R. 1157, which would keep government agents from riffling through your bookstore receipts and library records without your permission or knowledge. Unlike others, Rep. Towns has shown true backbone, standing for privacy, for individual liberty and against the Big Brother mentality that seems to be all the rage in Washington these days.
We may think we live in modern times, but the U.S. Constitution still does not guarantee that individual rights shall apply equally to men and women. Without such a constitutional guarantee, all it could take is a rogue judge or an emboldened conservative Congress to take women’s rights away by a simple majority vote. On the other hand, this nation is still encumbered with unfair legal notions that, all other things being equal, give mothers custody advantages over fathers. The current state of unequal protection is unfair to both women and men, and devalues our common underlying humanity. Edolphus Towns has formally supported H.J. Res 37, which would amend the United States Constitution to simply state the following: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.” It’s simple, it’s obvious, and it’s about time something was done to enshrine this principle in the Constitution for men and women alike. Thank you, Rep. Towns, for pushing the too-long-lingering ERA forward.
Progressive political actions that Rep. Towns could have taken but unfortunately chose not to take:
Rep. Towns has not yet co-sponsored H.R. 2412, which would provide more information to the public about contacts between lobbyists and politicians, and which would slow down the revolving door of politics in which politicians move into cushy corporate jobs after they retire in exchange for favors. What is Representative Towns’s problem with ethics?
Edolphus Towns has not yet co-sponsored H.R. 1440, which would keep members of the Federal Communications Commission from using their appointed positions to censor cable, satellite or Internet programs they consider to be indecent. These “narrowcast” programs are accessed only by those who specifically request them, so why should the government make it their business to keep people from seeing what they want to see? Why has Rep. Towns not yet lent support to this sensible, freedom-defending bill?
Rep. Towns has not yet co-sponsored H.R. 567, which would preserve and protect the pristine coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from shortsighted, unnecessary development.
Contact Rep. Towns by e-mail, phone (at 202-225-5936) or fax (at 202-225-1018) to ask why they have chosen not to take the progressive path in these matters.
Regressive Conservative Score: 0
A score of 0 means that Rep. Towns has acted to support 0% of a slate of conservative, wrongheaded policies in the 109th Congress.