On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Reichert's Voting Record On The Wrong Track (Redux)

Back in May I wrote an extensive post about Dave Reichert's voting record. Up until that point in time Reichert had been telling everyone he had a moderate voting record, and as such, was an independent man in Congress. Up until that time the press had been giving him a pass, basically taking Reichert on his word and not actually looking at the voting record in question. So I looked and I found that things were not quite as Reichert and his supporters were painting them.

Since that time this blog has seen a significant increase in traffic, especially this month as we close in on Election Day, and I suspect I have a lot of new readers who may never have read that posting, so I am repeating here in the exact form as when I originally posted it May 8th. Yes, I could have just linked to it, but repeating it here gets it in your face. After all, they say you should always try to hold on to a captive audience, as opposed to give them reasons to go elsewhere.

Join me at the other end of this (i.e. the bottom of the post) for some additional comments...

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Reichert's Voting Record On The Wrong Track
Originally posted May 8, 2006

It has become a favorite past-time of some wingnuts to suggest, over and over, that Dave Reichert is a moderate, and as such he will appeal to independent and moderate voters in November.

Unfortunately for them, once again, the facts have a nasty habit of proving them wrong.

They argue that Reichert has voted 55% of the time on the same side as the majority Democratic position. Problem is that almost half of those votes (206) were undisputed procedural votes, and hence meaningless when determining voting tendencies. Furthermore, his overall voting record has him voting 94% of the time with the majority Republican position.

So how do we really gauge a legislator's voting record then? Well we do so by looking at the 389 votes where the parties took opposite positions, and we see where legislators stood on those votes.

As soon as we do that the first observation is that Reichert only voted 11.7% of the time on the same side as Democrats, but 88.3% of the time with his Republican colleagues.

However, the most important votes of all were generally the key votes on the passage of bills. 35 times since January 2005 the House has been at odds on these most important votes, and Reichert has only voted with the Democrats on two such occasions, which is just under 6% of the time. Those two bills were:

- Roll Call 282, Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act (H.R.2745) - States that it is incumbent upon the United Nations to enact significant reform measures in order to restore the public trust and confidence necessary to achieve the laudable goals set forth in its Charter. (Passed 221-184 - Reichert voted against the bill.)

- Roll Call 506, Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (H.R.3824) - Amends the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) to revise various provisions of that Act relating to determinations of endangered or threatened species, recovery plans for such species, and the role of states and private property owners in protecting such species. (Passed 229-193 - Reichert voted against the bill.)

As it turned out, in neither case did Reichert's vote cost the Republicans a win.

So what positions did Reichert take that the Democrats didn't on the key votes? Let's take a very detailed look at the voting record:

- Roll Call 31, the REAL ID Act (H.R.418) - To establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driver's license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence. (Passed 261-161 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Read about the implications of the REAL ID Act here. Can you say unfunded mandate?

- Roll Call 48, Job Training Improvement Act (H.R.27) - Amends the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) to revise requirements and reauthorize appropriations through FY 2011 for: (1) WIA title I, workforce investment systems for job training and employment services; and (2) WIA title II, adult education, basic skills, and family literacy education programs. (Passed 224-200 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Read about the ACLU's stand on this bill here. The Scott amendment that the ACLU refers to failed 186-239 and Reichert voted against it.

- Roll Call 102, Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act (H.R.8) - Declares that the sunset provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which terminate its application to estates of decedents dying, gifts made, or generation skipping transfers, after December 31, 2010, shall not in fact apply to title V of such Act, which repeals estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes. (Thus makes the repeal of such taxes permanent.) (Passed 272-162 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Business interests 1 - Middle class workers 0.

- Roll Call 108, Bankruptcy Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (S.256) - A bill to amend title 11 of the United States Code, and for other purposes. (Passed 302-126 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Want to know more about this, then read what Hunter at Daily Kos had to say about it. Credit card companies 1 - Consumers 0.

- Roll Call 144, Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) (H.R.748) - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit transporting a minor across a State line to obtain an abortion and thereby abridging the right of a parent under a law in force in the State where the minor resides requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision. Makes an exception if the abortion was necessary to save the life of the minor. (Passed 270-157 - Reichert voted for the bill.) For more regarding the consequence of this bill read what the Center for American Progress had to say. Government 1 - Child protection 0.

- Roll Call 149, Conference Report: Congressional Budget for FY 2006 (H.CON.RES.95) - Establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2006, revising appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal year 2005, and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2007 through 2010. (Barely passed 214-211 - Reichert voted in favor. Not a single Democrat voted in favor.) The League of Conservation Voters opposed this budget which included cuts to environment and natural resource programs.

- Roll Call 204, Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R.810) - Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo, provided such embryos: (1) have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics; (2) were created for the purposes of fertility treatment; (3) were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment and would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded (as determined in consultation with the individuals seeking fertility treatment); and (4) were donated by such individuals with written informed consent and without any financial or other inducements. (Passed 238-194 - No thanks to Reichert who voted against the bill, although 50 of his Republican colleagues voted for it, helping it to pass.) Progressives 1 - Supporters of terminal illnesses 0.

- Roll Call 296, Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States (H.J.RES.10). (Passed 286-130 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Once again, the ACLU opposed this constitutional amendment. GOP run amok 1 - Bill of Rights 0.

- Roll Calls 369, 370, 371, and 372, the Occupation Safety and Health bills (H.R.739, H.R.740, H.R.741, H.R.742). (All bills passed by as little as 29 to as much as 92 votes - Reichert voted for them all.) The UAW opposed all four of these anti-worker bills. Business 2 - Workers 0.

- Roll Call 443, Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (CAFTA) (H.R.3045) (Barely passed 217-215 - Reichert's vote for the bill helped seal the deal on this flawed bill.)

- Roll Call 445, Conference Report: Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R.6) - To ensure jobs for our future with secure, affordable, and reliable energy. (Passed 275-156 - Reichert voted in favor.) The Washington Post discusses this issue here. Can you say perks for the energy industry?

- Roll Call 475, To Establish the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina (H.RES.437) - Establishes the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina to conduct a full investigation, study, and report to the House on: (1) the development, coordination, and execution by local, state, and federal authorities of emergency response plans and other activities in preparation for Hurricane Katrina; and (2) the actual local, state, and federal government response to the Hurricane. (Passed 224-188 - Reichert voted in favor.) Democrats wanted an independent, non-partisan investigation. Read more here.

- Roll Call 493, School Readiness Act (H.R.2123) - To reauthorize the Head Start Act to improve the school readiness of disadvantaged children, and for other purposes. (Passed 231-184 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Once again Republicans stripped a bill of civil right protections, and added provisions that allow for tax-payer funded religious discrimination. Read more about this bill and Head Start here.

- Roll Call 519, Gasoline for America's Security Act (H.R.3893) - Sets forth a statutory framework in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to: (1) increase refinery capacity for gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, and jet fuel; (2) reduce environmental and other regulations affecting refineries under the Clean Air Act; and (3) coordinate permitting requirements and other regulations affecting refineries at the federal, state, and local levels. (Barely passed 212-210 - Reichert's vote was a deciding vote. No Democrat voted for this bill.) The bill eliminates environmental safeguards in favor of oil companies and other polluting industries. Big Oil profits soar. Read more about this bill at Think Progress. Big Oil 1 - Environment 0.

- Roll Call 533, Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act (H.R.554) - To prevent legislative and regulatory functions from being usurped by civil liability actions brought or continued against food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers, sellers, and trade associations for claims of injury relating to a person's weight gain, obesity, or any health condition associated with weight gain or obesity. (Passed 306-120 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Also known as the Cheeseburger Bill, opposition came from those that rightfully saw this bill as pandering to lobbyists, as opposed to really addressing "personal responsibility".

- Roll Call 534, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S.397) - A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others. (Passed 283-144 - "The Sheriff" voted for the bill.) Score 1 for the NRA.

- Roll Call 553, Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R.420) - To amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to improve attorney accountability, and for other purposes. (Passed 228-184 - Reichert voted for the bill.) Hey, if the International Sign Association is urging passage of a bill, it must be necessary!

- Roll Call 559, Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass: Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R.1606) - Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to exclude communications over the Internet from the meaning of public communication subject to the Act. (Failed 225-182 - Reichert voted for the bill, but it required a 2/3rds majority to pass.) One of the few contentious procedural votes. This is a complicated issue that has even divided progressives. To understand the majority Democratic position read Nancy Pelosi's entry at Daily Kos.

- Roll Call 601, Deficit Reduction Act (H.R.4241) - To provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 201(a) of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2006. (Barely passed 217-215 - Once again Reichert cast a deciding vote. No Democrats voted for this bill.) Dennis Kucinich took to the House floor to decry this bill which takes from "students and low-income and middle class families" and favors the "super rich". A modified version of this bill was passed in the Senate, yet not forwarded back to the House for a new vote before President Bush signed it into law which puts its constitutionality into question. GOP 1 - Constitution 0.

- Roll Call 621, Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act (H.R.4297) - To provide for reconciliation pursuant to section 201(b) of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2006. (Passed 234-197 - Reichert voted for the bill.) More tax breaks for the wealthiest. Of course if those people living on food stamps would just invest in mutual funds they too could reap the benefits! Read more here.

- Roll Call 627, Conference Report: USA PATRIOT Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act (H.R.3199) - To extend and modify authorities needed to combat terrorism, and for other purposes. (Passed 251-174 - Reichert voted in favor.) Another hit to civil liberties. Read why here. Police State 1 - Citizenry 0.

- Roll Call 628, Conference Report: Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (H.R.3010) - Making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes. (Barely passed 215-213 - Reichert voted in favor. His vote made the difference. All Democrats were in opposition.) Once again we can turn to Dennis Kucinich for the issues with the conference report.

- Roll Call 635, Pension Protection Act (H.R.2830) - To amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reform the pension funding rules, and for other purposes. (Passed 294-132. Reichert voted for the bill.) A contentious bill. Read a position statement from the AARP and a floor speech by Kucinich a few months later regarding the bill.

- Roll Call 661, Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R.4437) - To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to strengthen enforcement of the immigration laws, to enhance border security, and for other purposes. (Passed 239-182. Reichert voted for the bill.) Human rights organizations opposed this bill. Read why here and here. Michelle Malkin Bigots 1 - Human Rights 0.

- Roll Call 32 (2006), National Uniformity for Food Act (H.R.4167) - To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for uniform food safety warning notification requirements, and for other purposes. (Passed 283-139. Reichert voted for the bill.) Let's just call this a uniformly bad bill for consumers. Food Industry 1 - Consumers 0.

- Roll Call 81 (2006), College Access and Opportunity Act (H.R.609) - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to revise and reauthorize appropriations for HEA programs. (Passed 221-199. Reichert voted for the bill.) Who is being the most fiscally conservative here? Free Republic chimes in with their thoughts on the matter. Even Kucinich agrees that this bill doesn't help students, not that that's the main concern of Free Republic of course.

- Roll Call 88 (2006), 527 Reform Act (H.R.513) - To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to clarify when organizations described in section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 must register as political committees, and for other purposes. (Barely passed 218-209. Reichert voted for the bill.) Here is the AFSCME viewpoint against this bill.

- Roll Call 119 (2006), Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R.4975) - To provide greater transparency with respect to lobbying activities, and for other purposes. (Barely passed 217-213. Reichert voted for the bill.) The League of Women Voters explain why they believe this bill is a sham. GOP smoke and mirrors 1 - Real ethics reform 0.

Still with me?

With the exception of the Pension Protection Act (H.R.2830) Reichert took the opposite position to that of WA-01 District congressman Jay Inslee, who Reichert's congressional opponent, Darcy Burner's positions would compare very closely to. The Burner campaign site points out a number of additional differences between Burner and Reichert that you can read here.

These are distinct differences between Reichert and his Democratic opponent, and try as the state GOP party brass might to paint Reichert as an acceptable moderate that has a voting record that would make him immune to what they fear could be a sweeping trend to reject Republican legislators come November, the facts simply do not back up that picture.

About the only thing that Reichert can point to is his position during the Terri Schiavo debate, when he voted against Bill Frist's ill-conceived bill (S.686). Reichert called on his own personal experience to make his decision. So the question remains, if he hadn't personally been through such a situation with close family members would he have voted the same way? In any case, this one vote is hardly enough to establish moderate credentials, and people should look at his voting record on all the key issues, as I've painstakingly laid it out above, to see the true nature of the man.

Americans overwhelmingly believe (see the chart on the left) that the nation is on the wrong track, that the GOP led Congress is doing a poor job and that they would rather see Democrats in control of Congress.

So here's the bottom line: does Dave Reichert and his 94% pro-GOP voting record represent Washington's 8th District on education, health care, transportation, taxes, stem cell research, veterans support, the Iraq war, the Iran situation, security, ethics, consumer protections, freedom of speech, woman's rights, civil rights, energy policies and the environment, or will Darcy Burner better represent a constituency that has voted recently for Patty Murray, John Kerry and Al Gore, Democratic candidates that have taken progressive stands on all these issues?

Measured against the issues, measured against his voting record, freshman legislator Dave Reichert just doesn't stack up. His voting record and the voting record of his party, the scandal ridden Republican party that has become a ghost of the Grand Ol' Party the Baby Boomer generation might have once known, should have constituents voting the bums out of office come November.

Don't think of Reichert as a mere casualty when that happens, because he is a real part of the problem that needs to be dealt with through sweeping changes in the nature of our congressional leadership. This nation is on the wrong track and we need to correct that with fresh new leadership that truly represents the values of America, and this district, like Darcy Burner will.

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In the past six months, there have been hundreds of additional votes, and in his two years in D.C. Reichert cast a total of 1,153 votes. 1,048 times he voted with the majority Republican position (90.9% of the time). Reichert supporters will counter with the fact that 634 times he voted with the majority Democratic position (55%), but that includes hundreds of procedural votes everyone agreed on. By that measure even Tom DeLay voted with Democrats hundreds of times.

However, when you look at his 601 two year total of votes where the majority positions of each party differed, Reichert voted 84.4% of the time on the Republican side, and only 15.6% of the time with the Democrats.

Furthermore, when you concentrate on the 77 key votes where the majority positions of each party differed, Reichert voted 88.3% of the time on the Republican side, and only 11.7% of the time with the Democrats.

Dave Reichert wants to redefine what a moderate is as being someone who votes 88.3% of the time on the key issues with Republicans, and 11.7% of the time with Democrats? He wants you to ignore his 68 most important votes (of 77), many of which I covered in my May 8th post, where he voted with a Republican congressional delegation that has run up massive debts through huge deficits, and backed the quagmire Iraq war to name just a couple of things?

To me a moderate is positioned near the center of the political spectrum. The only true "Independent" member of Congress, Bernie Sanders from Vermont, voted with Democrats 96.2% of the time on these same key votes. As a nation, with polls showing Bush's approval stuck in the mid-30's, polls showing the Republican Congress' approval even lower, polls showing the nation has lost faith in Republican handling of the Iraq war, and polls showing that two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied in the direction this country is heading, the political center of this country is not pegged to the Republican right, but clearly leaning to the Democratic left. Anyone who wants to call him or herself a moderate has to demonstrate a much more balanced voting record, or clearly demonstrate that they are in tune with their constituents and the nation, which Reichert, representing a district that went for Gore, Kerry and Patty Murray, clearly does not. We've even already heard Reichert, in his own words no less, blow away his self-made image of being an independent. Strip away these myths and you're left with just another Republican.

The choice before voters nationally and in the WA-08 race is clear. If you believe that this nation is on the right track, that Bush's Iraq war is going well and we should "stay the course", that the $28,000 every man, woman, boy, girl or baby shares in the multi-trillion dollar debt this Republican Congress has created isn't big enough a burden, that our nations' values and morals haven't been ripped to shreds enough, then vote Republican and vote for Dave Reichert. If, however, you believe we need new leadership in Congress, with checks and balances, new voices championing a plan in Iraq that offers a means to bring our troops home, fiscal responsibility, people that will protect our Constitution and values, then vote Democratic and vote for Darcy Burner, one of the shining lights of this year's election and someone who can be an inspiration to us all for years to come.

1 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous FranklySpeaking

Really nice job compiling all of this. Thanks!

10/27/2006 7:13 AM PT  

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