Via Atrios, the Senate may vote on a Constitutional Amendment against flag desecration just weeks before the election. The House has already passed such a measure.
For some Republicans it is the perfect political storm: a Senate vote on a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag that would put Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, running mate John Edwards and Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle on the spot just a few weeks before the Nov. 2 elections.They couldn't renew the assault weapons ban, but they feel flag burning is an important issue. It's SO nice to see Congress is focusing on serious business right now, as opposed to creating election issues that might tip the elections in the GOP's favor.
The Senate GOP leadership has not scheduled a vote on the proposed amendment, but Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) noted last week that it is a high priority for veterans groups. Other Republicans say a vote is likely before the Senate's Oct. 8 target date for adjournment.
As senators, Kerry (Mass.), Edwards (N.C.) and Daschle (S.D.) have voted against the amendment and are described by colleagues as still opposed to it. But Kerry and Edwards, who rarely leave the campaign trail for Senate votes, are not expected to show up for the flag debate unless it appears their votes would be decisive.
As it appears now, the vote could be close enough to focus attention on Kerry and Edwards if they do not suspend campaigning to return for the roll call or if they do return and their votes turn out to be critical in defeating the amendment. Similarly, if Daschle turns out to cast the make-or-break vote, Republicans will almost certainly use it against him in his close race for reelection in South Dakota.
Some Republicans believe the three Democrats' votes against the proposal -- or absence when the roll is called -- can be used against them effectively at a time of war, terrorism threats and heightened patriotism. If Kerry and Edwards vote against the amendment or fail to show up for the vote, "they're going to have to explain why," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a key backer of the proposal.