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

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Truth Behind Reichert's Voting Record - Part 1

As we close in on the 2008 general elections, November 4th being just over six months out now, this is intended to be the first in a series of postings I will be writing that look to dispel an ongoing myth: that Dave Reichert is a moderate.

This is something that I've written about on numerous occasions previously, so what this series of postings intends to do is get specific, because obviously the facts seem to be hard for some in the media to follow.

As I've mentioned numerous times before, there is a pattern to Reichert's voting record that is not being reported where he opposes legislation from being considered or coming to a vote, seeks to amend and change it, tries to table or kill it, before flipping his vote and voting for it on final passage.

In the 110th Congress alone he has done this 25 times, 17 times casting a final passage vote that seemingly "broke" from party ranks.

I've gathered together the votes on these 25 bills in a single detailed voting table for easy reference, and I'm making it available publicly for the first time. I will be updating it as new votes emerge that follow the same pattern.

The table shows how Reichert voted as compared to a couple of Washington Democrats in Congress, Jim McDermott and Jay Inslee, and as compared to John Boehner, the Republican Minority Leader in the House. It also provides links to the full roll call and legislation details, as well as to the vote results.

In addition I maintain some statistics at the bottom of the page and highlight key votes (typically "On Passage" votes) where the majority positions of the two parties differed.

Now let me make a point clear here: the issue isn't that Reichert votes with his party. You would expect a Republican to vote with Republicans, just as we expect Democrats to vote with Democrats. At first blush that appears to be what is mostly happening. The point however is that Reichert is trying to portray himself as a moderate, someone who votes independently from his party, and the media has parroted that claim. Yet, when you look at these votes, that's not what we see. Instead, what we see is that many of the votes Reichert would like to use to bolster his claim as a moderate, have in fact been backed by his own opposition to the very bills he claims to support.

In effect just as John Kerry was accused by Republicans as having flip-flopped on the Iraq war, Reichert has flip-flopped multiple times on the same bill on the same day!

So what is going on?

Well, I think that's very clear, despite the difficulties of the media to report on this. Reichert is on record as saying that party leadership tells him "to vote a certain way". These votes are what he is talking about. As one of a number of endangered Republicans this election season, Reichert is clearly taking self-preservation votes on these bills because his vote won't decide the outcome and is therefore expendable. Party leadership has essentially given him the green light to break ranks for political expediency because the bill will be passing anyway, as all off these bills have.

Vote ratings like the ones by The National Journal are affected by these calculated flip-flops. For example, 7 of the 44 key votes on economic issues used in the National Journal's ratings were these calculated flip-flop votes. That's enough to seriously change his rating from a more conservative one and skew the results. As it is, his solid pro-Bush Iraq policy stance is already enough to make him the most conservative in the House on foreign policy issues according to the National Journal.

So why should we care?

Well it comes down to the fundamental question: what does Reichert really stand for, and what are his guiding principles? When he's opposing legislation through his voting, and then taking politically expedient self-preservation votes seemingly in favor of it, how is a constituent to know? The voting record may not tell the whole story, but it tells a good deal of the story regarding a congressman's positions, but without diving into the background votes, instead of just the "On Passage" votes, constituents are faced with a false sense of Reichert's positions.

We already know he voted against stem cell research before voting for it. That he voted for drilling in ANWR before voting against it. That he voted against raising the minimum wage before voting for it. These more obscure votes just add to the cloudy picture of who Dave Reichert really is, who he really represents, what he really supports.

This is all core to this race because of the nature of the district as a swing district that is trending Democratic. Reichert needs to convince people he is a moderate so that he remains appealing to voters in the 8th who have otherwise rejected colleagues in his party that they've deemed too conservative. So he's pushed the "moderate" characterization, and it has been repeated in the media unquestioned. Why that is, in the face of his actual voting record, I don't know, but it comes at a great disservice to voters.

To kick things off, in what I apologize in advance is likely to be a very boring series of postings to read, I'm going to revisit a couple of the first bills that were part of the new Democratic majority's First 100 Hours push last year (roll calls 14 through 18).

On January 9th, 2007, the House passed H.R.1, Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007. Republicans attempted to recommit the bill. That motion failed 198-230, with Reichert voting to recommit. However, the final passage of the bill was swift, passing 299-128, with 68 Republicans, including Reichert, joining all voting Democrats in favor of the bill.

The following day the Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R.2, came to the floor. The bill raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 by early 2009. As I wrote back then, the final passage of the vote came after Republican attempts to recommit the bill, and an appeal vote. Dave Reichert placed his vote with Republican opposition against a vote to table the motion to appeal, which passed 232-197, and then in favor of the motion to recommit, which failed 144-287. He finally voted with 82 other Republicans and all Democrats in favor of the bill which passed overwhelmingly 315-116.

Next up in the series the H.R.6 votes from January 18, 2007.

2 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous correctnotright

Thanks for this - it is a very detailed analysis of how Reichert is trying to "game" the system to appear moderate for his district, while actually being one of the most conservative congressman and totally out of touch with the 8th. A ver good job of summarizing the real voting record.

4/28/2008 7:40 PM PT  
Comment by: Anonymous Anonymous

Very interesting analysis. My question would be: how can we (particularly Darcy Burner) communicate this? To just say that his voting record is right wing would be easily refuted. The point is that Reichert is gaming the system (as, I believe, have many Republicans alongside Reichert) in a way that gives him a more moderate-seeming record.
How to get that across to the persuadable voters?

Joel Grant
(who will post as 'anonymous')

4/30/2008 5:10 PM PT  

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