The pity of it all. These northeastern <$NoAd$>moderates like Boehlert and McHugh and Gerlach gave the thumbs up to the DeLay Rule. But that didn’t stop them from getting thrown down under the tracks a couple days later by another one of Ernie Istook’s last-minute appropriations surprises.
We pick the story up in The Hill …
Deep in the transportation section of this yearâs omnibus spending bill, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) dispensed a little appropriatorâs justice, punishing 21 Republicans who wrote him a letter in support of $1.8 billion for Amtrak.
Istookâs anti-Amtrak retribution hit several of the Republican majorityâs most vulnerable members, including Reps. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), two Northeastern centrists who won tight races, in part, by convincing constituents of their ability to bring home road money.
The affected lawmakers did not learn of Istookâs drastic action until last Saturday, when the bill was passed. Several of them contacted Republican leaders to inquire if they knew of Istookâs punitive action and were told that party leaders were unaware that Istook was harming vulnerable members.
In addition to Gerlach and Simmons, Reps. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) were said to be particularly outraged at Istookâs actions, according several committee sources. Upon learning that his projects were cut, McHugh came close to physical blows with Istook, according to some accounts.
Simmons got hosed too, of course. But at least he kept his dignity intact on the DeLay Rule.