Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders were among seven lawmakers who voted against an amendment that would prevent ACORN from receiving federal funding. ACORN is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and has been around since 1970.
With 83 other senators, Democrats and Republicans, supporting the restriction, Vermont's two senators kind of stand out.
What were they thinking? Vermont Republican Party Chairman Rob Roper called the pair out of touch with common sense for objecting to the restriction on funds for an organization he described as riddled with fraud and abuse.
Leahy and Sanders argued that Congress shouldn't get involved in decisions about which organizations receive federal grants. There's a process for deciding that.
"Just as I would be against banning other specific organizations on the right or on the left from applying for competitive grants, I believe it is harmful, even though popular, to approve an amendment like this," Leahy said in defense of his vote.
Sanders noted ACORN's mixed history -- the recently released videos showing employees giving advice about illegal activities to people who had posed as prostitutes as well as the years of advocating for affordable housing, banking services in low-income neighborhoods and decent-paying jobs.
Like Leahy, Sanders argued it was a mistake for senators to spend time arguing about which organizations should receive funding -- when there was an established process.
ACORN and its problems have a long political history that won't be going away soon.
Expect to see and hear about the votes Sanders and Leahy made for months -- maybe years to come.
-- Nancy Remsen
Labels: ACORN, Rob Roper, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy