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Fri March 18, 2011
Michigan Republican casts only "present" vote to defund NPR
The bill to "defund NPR" passed the House mostly along party lines. Most republicans voted "aye" and all Democrats voted "nay" (seven Democrats are listed as "not voting" on the bill).
Seven Republicans voted "nay" and one voted "present."
Michigan Republican Justin Amash was the lone member who voted "present" on the bill.
He explains why on his Facebook page:
I want to defund NPR. But I want to do it the right way, in accordance with the Rule of Law. I will continue to vote, as I already have, to defund CPB, the government entity that subsidizes NPR and similar radio producers. As I have stated repeatedly, I will vote "present" on legislation in three circumstances: (1) when I could otherwise support the legislation, but the legislation uses improper (e.g., unconstitutional) means to achieve its ends; (2) when Representatives have not been given a reasonable amount of time to consider the legislation; or (3) when I have a conflict of interest, such as a personal or financial interest in the legislation—a circumstance that hasn't happened yet and I don't anticipate happening. Unfortunately, due to the improper means H R 1076 uses to accomplish its laudable goal, I must vote "present."
Amash said the bill would be a violation of the Constitution because he believes it is a "bill of attainder." A bill of attainder is an action by a legislature that punishes a group or an individual without the benefit of a trial.
For more on the defunding debate, here's an article from Fox News.
*Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that ALL Republicans voted yes on the bill.