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

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Truth Behind Reichert's Voting Record - Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of postings that seek to look more closely at Dave Reichert's voting record. You can read the first three postings here:
  • Part 1 - H.R. 1, Implementing the 9/11Commission Recommendations Act, and H.R. 2, Fair Minimum Wage Act
  • Part 2 - H.R. 6, Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act
  • Part 3 - H.J.Res 20, Further Continuing Appropriations for FY 2007
Additionally, I recently wrote again about why this all matters, following the release of another ranking of congressmen and congresswomen based on their voting record. Manipulating just a few of these votes are enough to change the outcome in such rankings, and rankings are used by candidates and the media alike to paint a picture for the public.

The problem is, Dave Reichert's propensity to flip his votes distorts that picture.

Today I look at a series of votes taken on April 18, 2007 related to H.R. 1361, dubbed the "Relief for Entrepreneurs: Coordination of Objectives and Values for Effective Recovery Act". This bill was created to overhaul the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) disaster loan program, largely criticized for its ineffectiveness and delays after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

For this bill we're focusing on roll calls 222 through 225 from last year.

The bill was approved for consideration by voice vote and survived two Republican amendments that strove to make adjustments to it. The first amendment failed 178-246, and the second failed 174-252. Reichert joined a large majority of Republicans voting for the amendments, although 17 Republicans did oppose the first and 23 Republicans opposed the second. According to OpenCongress, the first amendment tried to strike section 211 of the bill, thereby requiring anyone receiving both a grant and a disaster loan to use the grant to repay the disaster loan thereby preventing the government from compensating the same person twice for the same disaster. Congressional Quarterly tells us that:
Democrats countered that the provision was designed to address a unique problem with federal assistance to the Gulf Coast. They said the federal government funneled additional assistance to victims through state-run programs such as Louisiana’s Road Home grants only to take it away via the SBA program, which requires loan recipients to repay disaster loans when they receive other benefits.

Nydia M. Velázquez of New York, committee chairwoman and the bill’s sponsor, said the bill would give the administrator the flexibility to determine when a victim deserves the additional funds.
The second amendment tried to strike section 210, thereby eliminating the authority of the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to offer grants to certain small businesses that were severely affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, or Wilma but that were denied disaster loans.

Republicans made one last effort to block the bill, as they've done for the entire 110th Congress:
Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., tried to block passage of the bill by offering a motion to recommit it to the Small Business Committee with orders that it be amended to bar felons from receiving disaster loans.

House Republicans have made frequent use of the procedural tactic this year, offering politically appealing motions to recommit that have drawn a significant number of Democratic votes, but McHenry’s move was rejected, 204-218.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., noting that the SBA already prohibits felons from receiving funds, said McHenry was trying "to kill this bill indirectly."
Reichert voted with his Republicans colleagues in trying to kill the bill.

Finally, with passage of the bill a foregone conclusion, Reichert flipped his support and voted for the bill, just 8 minutes after trying to kill it, and the bill passed 267-158 with full Democratic support.

In Part 5 I'll look in detail at the voting on H.R. 1592, a bill to provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes. You guessed it, Reichert opposed the bill before voting for it.

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