Sunday, July 27, 2014

AMPVG: Tim Huelskamp

In November of 2010, Kansas State Senator Tim Huelskamp was elected to represent the conservative 1st Congresssional district in Kansas, winning 73% of the vote.  He was unopposed in 2012. This year, he has a primary challenger but it seems unlikely that he would lose.  The former mayor of Manhattan, Kansas could potentially run against him.  But unless Bill Snyder, himself, announces that he is a Democrat and that he is running against Huelskamp in 2014, Huelskamp will win re-election this year.

His tenure and campaigns have been interesting, to say the least.  In a 2009 letter to the conservative blog RedState, he bragged that he was the only candidate in the field who opposed nominating Kathleen Sebelius's nomination to the Obama cabinet. His biggest problem with the former Governor and now-former Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary was her "extreme positions on abortion, as well as her close ties to a late-term abortion provider."  The final criticism was that Sebelius had not enacted any real healthcare reform but rather proposed expansion of government programs.  While running for insurance commissioner in 1994, Sebelius refused to take campaign contributions from insurance providers.  In 2001, she blocked the merger between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas with an Indiana based company.  According to a questionnaire sent to Huelskamp in 1996, he does not agree with the idea that health insurance is the priority of the government, the idea that the government should provide tax incentives to small businesses so that they can provide health insurance to their employees, or the idea that the state should fund and incentivize health care professionals to stay in rural areas. The only reform he agreed with was to limit the amount of damages a plaintiff could receive in medical malpractice lawsuits.

While Governor of Kansas, abortions declined 8.5% in Kansas.  She attributed the decline in abortions to a variety of factors including "adoption incentives, extended health services for pregnant women, and providing sex education."  She did, however, veto bills in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008 limiting abortions.  The line about Sebelius's close ties with abortion providers was taken from a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed about how Sebelius would be the pro-choice voter's dream as vice-president.  The medical director of an abortion clinic in Wichita, George Tiller, is the person who supposedly had close ties with Sebelius.  He was a campaign donor to her gubernatorial campaigns.  He was shot in April of 2009.  Sebelius also was endorsed by and received fundraising contributions from Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood had always been an issue to Huelskamp.  While running for Congress in 2010, he bragged about keeping state funds from supporting Planned Parenthood.  According to the same questionnaire in 1996, he disagreed with the notion that the Kansas government should fund clinics that provide abortions and abortion services.  Planned Parenthood says only 3% of its services are abortion-related.  Not surprisingly, he also disagreed with the expansion of government funding for pre-natal and infant care programs.  Huelskamp promised that he would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds if he was elected to Congress.  For a 2012 questionnaire on abortion, he quoted the Declaration of Independence (not a legally binding document) saying that since our founding fathers wrote that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, "if we do not protect life, all other rights are without meaning." On February 18, 2011, he voted Yes on House Amendment 95 which would prevent federal funds from covering abortion.  He was a co-sponsor to H.R. 3, No Taxpayer for Abortion Act which would codify the Hyde Amendment to all aspects of federal funding.

What Representative Huelskamp is probably best known, if he is known at all, has been his consistent stand for "traditional marriage."  While running for his first election, he bragged about his efforts in passing the Kansas Marriage Amendment that passed with the support of 70% of Kansans.  On February 24, 2011, he criticized the Obama administration for not defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  His argument was that a majority of states had passed constitutional amendments that banned same-sex marriage.  He stated, matter of factly, that the Obama administration was ignoring "the will of the people."  While it is true that a majority of states have passed laws and amendments banning same-sex marriage, it is simply not the will of the people, any longer.  In Kansas, 44% of Kansans now support same-sex marriage, according to a February Public Policy Polling poll. Perhaps, he is referring to the will of his constituents.  Huelskamp's district is significantly more conservative than the rest of the state, 70% of voters in the district voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 compared to 60% of voters in the state of Kansas.  Nearly 75% of Mitt Romney voters polled in the Public Policy Polling poll stated that same-sex marriage should not be allowed in Kansas.  It wouldn't be surprising if Huelskamp is insulated from the rest of the state or the country's views on the issue.
After the decision was handed down by the Supreme Court, ruling DOMA unconstitutional, Huelskamp introduced H.J. Res. 51 which would add a constitutional amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. There is a long process for an amendment to be added to the Constitution and it seems incredibly unlikely that such an amendment would pass through all of the stages. This has not stopped Congressman Huelskamp from authoring the bill.  He has introduced 7 bills this session of Congress.  One was H.J. Res. 51 and another was a bill to to protect military chaplains or military facilities for being used for same-sex marriages.  Two other bills were resolutions offered to congratulate universities in his district on their 150th anniversary.  It's tough to categorize Helskamp's authorship of bills as an obsession with social issues, it has remained his primary focus.  At any rate, he will be re-elected this year, even despite his low authorship of bills and the inability for his bills to pass Congress.

No comments:

Post a Comment