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Craig Crawford

Craig Crawford

Posted: March 22, 2010 04:48 PM

'Baby Killer' Heckler Outed

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CNN reported that Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) is the culprit, the voice in the chamber on Sunday night who seemed to call pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) a "baby killer."

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Neugebauer has fessed up with this statement:  "In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase 'it's a baby killer' in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership. ... While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself. ...The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate."

Reporters and others in the room insist that Neugebauer did not say "it's a baby killer" but merely "baby killer," which suggests the remark was directed at Stupak. The distinction is that hurling such a remark at a colleague would provoke a more serious rebuke.

Regardless of the intricacies of House decorum rules, this episode looms as a major threat to Republican efforts to maintain high ground. Combined with vulgarities and epithets shouted by GOP-sympathizing protesters outside the Capitol over the weekend, Republicans are in grave danger of being associated with hate speech - a prospect that could seriously undermine their appeal to independent voters.

More about Neugebauer from CQ Politics in America:

"Neugebauer has experience bouncing up and down; he was a trampolinist in his youth who became so skilled at back flips, twists and other moves that in college he joined a touring trampoline group called The Flying Matadors. But as a lawmaker representing a GOP stronghold, his position on issues shows no similar flexibility -- he always follows a rigid conservative line.

Neugebauer (NAW-geh-bow-er) is a member of the Republican Study Committee, the influential core of the House's most conservative members, and an unwavering advocate of lower taxes, less federal spending and smaller government. He most often makes his views known as a member of the Financial Services Committee, where he tries -- usually without success -- to thwart Democratic legislation he considers misguided and unnecessary.

Neugebauer gets along with liberal Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, but he strongly opposed the $700 billion financial sector rescue bill that Frank helped steer into law in fall 2008. "I do not believe that the people of the 19th District, who made conservative lending and investment decisions, should have to pay for the mistakes made on Wall Street, nor do I believe that ultimately our children and grandchildren should have to pay for these mistakes either," he said in explaining his vote.

Neugebauer also opposed an expansive housing package earlier in the year, even though he had managed to win a few changes during committee consideration. He said he opposed the final version because it created an affordable-housing trust fund to be financed through future revenues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored mortgage giants. The House defeated his efforts to amend that "Robin Hood" provision.

He was an active participant in the committee's subsequent hearings on what went wrong as Financial Services continued to explore ways to assist the ailing industry. "Certainly we need to consider some regulatory improvements," he said. But he cautioned, "This debate isn't simply about having more regulation or less regulation. It's about having effective regulation."

And as the committee approved a series of bills in the early months of President Obama's administration, Neugebauer regularly sided with financial industry groups that expressed concerns about Frank acting hastily. "I would hope that as we move down this road to regulatory reform, we would be extremely careful," he said in March 2009. "It's not going to be the speed in which we do our work, but the quality of that work."

One of his pet peeves is the frequent use of "emergency" spending to get around the limits on discretionary spending set by each year's budget resolution. (Emergency spending does not count against the annual caps, even though the money does add to the deficit.) "We need to stop spending money we don't have, and the emergency spending process needs to cease," he said in 2008. When the House passed a 2006 Iraq War emergency spending bill that also provided $19.2 billion in hurricane relief on top of the $51.8 billion in emergency spending appropriated soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Neugebauer tried but failed to split off the hurricane money and require that it be offset.

On the Agriculture Committee, Neugebauer spent much of the 110th Congress (2007-08) working to protect his district's many cotton, wheat and peanut producers, along with its cattle ranchers, as the panel put together a five-year reauthorization of agriculture and nutrition programs. In one of his rare splits with the administration, he supported a successful override of President George W. Bush's veto of the final legislation.

He supports greater domestic oil and gas production, including drilling offshore. In the 110th, he cosponsored legislation to expedite judicial reviews of legal challenges to drilling on public lands. A member of the Science and Technology Committee, he also backs the development of alternative energy sources, including wind power. His district is home to the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, the nation's largest wind farm. But he is adamantly opposed to any attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions that he believes would unduly burden businesses.

Neugebauer was born in St. Louis, where his parents met in college, but he was raised in his mother's hometown of Lubbock. His father sold insurance, and his mother worked as a real estate agent and interior designer. They divorced when Neugebauer was 9, and his father died soon thereafter.

He graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in accounting and became a commercial real estate developer and homebuilder. He was elected to the Lubbock City Council in 1992 and served until 1998. A deacon in his Baptist church, he is married to his high school sweetheart.

Neugebauer arrived in the House in June 2003 after winning a special election to replace Republican Larry Combest, who resigned that year. He faced 13 Republicans and two Democrats in the special election. In an initial round of balloting, he and accountant K. Michael Conaway, who had close ties to Bush, finished first and second, respectively.

Conaway hailed from Midland, the district's second-largest city and Bush's former home. Neugebauer's home and political base was in Lubbock, the district's largest city, which helped him considerably in the runoff. He won by just 587 votes. (Conaway got a second chance in 2004, winning a seat of his own in the 11th District, after a Texas redistricting engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other state Republicans took effect.)

When Neugebauer ran for re-election in 2004, the redistricting had matched him against 26-year Democratic Rep. Charles W. Stenholm, the most conservative of congressional Democrats. Neugebauer campaigned vigorously, pumping hands at Friday night high school football games. He defeated Stenholm by 18 percentage points after spending $3 million. In 2006, he romped to re-election with more than two-thirds of the vote; two years later, he won with 72 percent -- the same percentage that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain received in carrying the district over Obama.

Neugebauer drew some publicity in 2009 when he asked the Federal Election Commission for permission to raise campaign funds in a family-owned recreational boat, possibly bringing a captain and staff for events aboard it."

 
 
 

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