Some time ago, I went searching for the early Senate record of John Edwards. My reason was simple, I wanted to find out what this man, who was elected to the Senate in 1998, stood for. Here in North Carolina, we have recently been treated to Senators that, when elected, fail to do the people's work because they know they have 6 years to make up for screwing the good folks of North Carolina. Even among Democrats, often the first couple years are spent making up favors to special interests. Don't believe me? Go check out the bills SPONSORED by your local Senators in their first couple years.
So, I did that. I wanted to see, who was it that John Edwards considered his "special interest". I'll admit that I, in particular, was shocked by what I found.
I should back up a step and introduce a few things about myself. I work in the DD (developmental delay) field, and I have friends and family that fall under the broad MRDD (Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability) umbrella. Because of this, at one time, I used to blog purely about Autism Spectrum Disorder, and I have tried and succeeded in getting more NC representatives to sponsor "Fully Funding the IDEA Act". So, imagine my surprise when I saw that one of John Edwards VERY FIRST bills was....
Title: A bill to promote research into, and the development of an ultimate cure for, the disease known as Fragile X.
Sponsor: Sen Edwards, John [NC] (introduced 5/26/1999)
Well, color me surprised. For those of you who follow this sort of thing, this was somewhat similar to the Combating Autism Bill that recently passed, only 7 years ahead of its time. and about $900,000,000 less in sticker price. The bill provided for:
1) Expand, intensify, and coordinate the Institute's activities respecting research on the disease known as Fragile X ($10,000,000 chuckles1)
2) Make grants to, and enter into contracts with, public or nonprofit private entities for the development and operation of at least three centers to conduct research for improving the diagnosis and treatment of, and finding the cure for, Fragile X.
3) Requires each such center assisted to conduct basic and clinical research, which may include clinical trials of new or improved diagnostic methods and drugs or other treatment approaches.
4) Allows such centers to use grant funds provided under this Act to provide fees to individuals serving as subjects in clinical trials.
5) Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a program under which the Federal Government enters into contracts with qualified health professionals who agree to conduct research on Fragile X in consideration of the Government's agreement to repay, for each year of such service, no more than $35,000 of the principal and interest of the educational loans owed by such health professionals.
Wow. You might be wondering what kind of support such a pie-in-the-sky bill would have in those heady days of the Clinton impeachment, when Republicans and Democrats were at each others throats.
Sen Bayh, Evan [IN]
Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA]
Sen Breaux, John B. [LA]
Sen Chafee, John H. [RI]
Sen Chafee, Lincoln [RI]
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA]
Sen Hagel, Chuck [NE]
Sen Helms, Jesse [NC]
Sen Hollings, Ernest F. [SC]
Sen Kerrey, J. Robert [NE]
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA]
Sen Landrieu, Mary L. [LA]
Sen Lugar, Richard G. [IN]
Sen Reed, Jack [RI]
Sen Robb, Charles S. [VA]
Sen Shelby, Richard C. [AL]
First, isn't it odd that two Chafee's were able to cosponsor this? Second, that is Helms, with an H. As in "Who needs a zoo, just put a fence around Chapel Hill" Jesse Helms. Although I am largely against "bipartisanship" in this day and age, this is the kind of bill that could have made a difference, the kind of bill that could draw together Dianne Feinstein and Jesse Helms. Indeed, a half decade later when the Combating Autism bill was passed, Rick Santorum was hand-in-hand with Chris Dodd as Sponsors.
So, John Edwards, upon entering the Senate set his sights on helping the developmentally disabled among us. That's nice and all that, but what about all his "other" bills?
S.975 : A bill to amend chapter 30 of title 39, United States Code, to provide for a uniform notification system under which individuals may elect not to receive mailings relating to skill contests or sweepstakes, and for other purposes.
S.1018 : A bill to provide for the appointment of additional Federal district judges in the State of North Carolina, and for other purposes.
S.1131 : A bill to promote research into, and the development of an ultimate cure for, the disease known as Fragile X.
S.1424 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide the same tax treatment for special pay as for combat pay.
S.1610 : A bill to authorize additional emergency disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Floyd.
S.1850 : A bill to amend section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934 to modify the requirements relating to the use and disclosure of customer proprietary network information, and for other purposes.
S.2064 : A bill to amend the Missing Children's Assistance Act, to expand the purpose of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to cover individuals who are at least 18 but have not yet attained the age of 22.
S.2065 : A bill to authorize the Attorney General to provide grants for organizations to find missing adults.
S.2100 : A bill to provide for fire sprinkler systems in public and private college and university housing and dormitories, including fraternity and sorority housing and dormitories.
S.3180 : A bill to provide for the disclosure of the collection of information through computer software, and for other purposes.
S.3221 : A bill to provide grants to law enforcement agencies that ensure that law enforcement officers employed by such agencies are afforded due process when involved in a case that may lead to dismissal, demotion, suspension, or tranfer.
S.3228 : A bill to promote the development of affordable, quality rental housing in rural areas for low-income households.
Take a look at those bills. Affordable housing, hurricane relief, Fragile X, "special pay" tax relief for soldiers, heck even junk mail protection, and spyware protection. All of them are aimed at helping people. There are other bills he Sponsored, you can go see them, most are import tariff exemptions for our FORMER textile mills, the ones that are now gone to foreign countries. Again, all his bills are aimed at helping people like us, workers, citizens, voters. They aren't aimed ONLY at the business community, they ARE handouts to his special interest group - people.
Caring about people. It isn't new, it isn't something he is doing for his Presidential race, it is something he has always done, even when the heat WASN'T on him. I like that.