Asserting independence?

As of this writing, our newly-elected Congressman Frank Kratovil has voted 53 times in his elected capacity as our representative. During his campaign, he assured the voting public that he would be an independent voice in Washington.

Well, thus far Frank has voted with the majority of Democrats 86.8% of the time, or 46 votes out of 53. Certainly I know that my friends to my left will argue that not all votes are created equal, and they are right. Let’s see where Frank has shown his independence and where he’s toed the party line to the district’s detriment.

The seven votes where Frank broke with the majority of Democrats are as follows:

  • Roll Call #17, Providing for consideration of H.R. 384, to reform the Troubled Assets Relief Program of the Secretary of the Treasury and ensure accounability (sic) under such program
  • Roll Call #25, On Motion to Recommit with Instructions, TARP Reform and Accountability Act
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  • Roll Call #27, Relating to the disapproval of obligations under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
  • Roll Call #35, Rule providing for consideration of the bill H.R. 1
  • Roll Call #38, On Question of Consideration of Bill, Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009 (H.R. 1)
  • Roll Call #45, On Motion to Recommit with Instructions, Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009 (H.R. 1)
  • Roll Call #46, On Passage, Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year ending 2009 (H.R. 1)

So Frank can be considered somewhat of a maverick on the stimulus bill and TARP reform. But there were other opportunities Frank could have stood with other thoughtful Democrats on both of these bills.

  • He could have voted for the Camp Amendment, which stripped the appropriations from the stimulus package, leaving just tax relief (Roll Call #44).
  • Even though he voted to recommit in vote #25, Frank voted to pass the TARP reform bill on the very next vote (Roll Call #26). Was he for it before he was against it, or vice versa?

And there were other places where Kratovil could have voted in the better interests of the district.

For example, why should we subsidize Amtrak? Frank voted against stripping an appropriation for the railroad from the stimulus bill (Roll Call #43). He also voted against stripping appropriations from the stimulus bill on another roll call vote (#42).

He gave a gift to one of his largest contributor groups by voting for the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 – not just once (Roll Call #9), but twice (Roll Call #37). This eliminated the statute of limitations on pay discrimination lawsuits, which means look out for a slew of new lawsuits over alleged unfairness which happened years or even decades ago, after businesses have destroyed their records.

Finally, while this wasn’t a surprise given his early campaign rhetoric, Frank voted to reauthorize and expand the SCHIP program (Roll Call #16), ensuring the continued existence of that budget-busting entitlement.

Later this week I’ll look at our state’s two senators, who tend to vote like peas in a pod, and see just what they are voting for the government to do.

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