Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thank You Connolly, Periello, Moran, and Scott

I spent most of last night watching the C-SPAN debate and the votes for the historic health care bill, which passed with the public option. Lowell, has up an excellent "Cheers and Jeers" post and I agree with his assessments.

Last night, some on Twitter expressed anger at Tom Perriello for voting yes on the Stupak Amendment, limiting access to funding for abortion (those in the health exchanges would not be able to use federal funds or subsidies to pay for insurance that covers abortions). But Perriello has taken fire in his district, including a bruising summer meeting with teabaggers and holding townhalls meetings throughout his district. I believe he actually has spent more time dealing with angry citizens than most of his counterparts. He's put himself in the line of fire. Here's what Lowell said.
Tom Perriello (5th CD): It wasn't easy, but in the end he did the right thing on the overall bill, voting "yes." More than that, Tom Perriello proved himself a courageous leader when he faced dozens of angry "town hall" meetings in August, presented his views firmly but respectfully, listened to his constituents, read the bill, thought long and hard about it, and then voted the way he thought was right. That's extremely admirable, and I just wanted to thank Tom Perriello for being a thoughtful public servant who takes his job extremely seriously.
I heartily concur with that assessment. Personally, I strongly oppose the Stupak Amendement and will do all I can to encourage Congress to remove it in conference. If that fails, I will continue to work behind the scenes to help create more understanding of why this is bad law and needs to be changed. But we couldn't let a good bill be shot down by one bad amendment. The old cliche that you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good applies here.

That said, a productive response is to move on, pass the bill, but know that our work is not over. There is nothing to prevent us from continuing to press for a change in law down the road.

Others who deserve our thanks include Gerry Connolly, my representative; Bobby Scott; and Jim Moran, all of whom voted for the health care bill and also voted no on the Stupak Amendment.

On the other hand, two Virginia Democrats voted against the health care reform bill, Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher. Again, I agree with Lowell, who writes:
Glenn Nye (2nd CD): Arguably, the biggest disappointment among any Democrat in the House of Representatives, Glenn Nye added a "no" vote on this historic legislation to his previous "no" vote on historic climate and clean energy legislation. Unfortunately for Glenn Nye, voting over and over against history could make him...well, "history" in 2010. Bad, bad mistake, both on substantive policy as well as political grounds by Nye. I'm already hearing serious rumblings of a potential primary challenge to Nye. Stay tuned... [Note: in fairness, I should mention that Nye voted "no" on the Stupak amendment, but that hardly makes up for his vote against the overall health reform bill]
And of Boucher
Rick Boucher (9th CD): For years, many of us progressive activists figured that Boucher was simply the best we could get from a tough district politically. And, indeed, Boucher votes about 98% of the time with his Democratic colleagues. Still, last night's vote by Boucher against health reform was not good. Not good at all. [Again, in fairness, Boucher voted no on the Stupak amendment.]
In cases like this, I would defer to the best judgment of local progressive grassroots and netroots activists on what they want to do about primarying local electeds based on votes. Based on last night, I've been hearing more anger at Nye, whom Lowell called "arguably the biggest disappointment..."

For now, we have more to be happy about because this long fought for bill passed one of its biggest hurdles - making it out of the House. Next, the Senate takes it up and then it goes to conference. So, our work isn't finished by a long shot, but let's take a moment to savor one victory down. And to thank our local congressmen who helped make it happen.


Anonymous said...

I said for the past several months that Deeds would lose and nobody thought i knew what i was talking. Well i guess i will start now saying that Tom Perriello WILL lose next year also you can take that one to the bank.

Connie said...

None of us will ever really know what went on behind closed doors. Lots of times deals are made, and politicians are allowed "off the record" to vote against bills they really support in their hearts in order to preserve their political viability. It is entirely possible that since the Dems had enough votes lined up, somewhere in a back room it was agreed that Nye and Boucher, who face tough races next year, could be sacrificed. Boucher represents relatively conservative SW VA and Nye is certainly in a district that is not a "slam dunk" for the Democrats, having previously been represented by Thelma Drake, and which went for Bush in 2000 and 2004. We've all learned that we can't take "Blue" status for granted in a historically purple state. For all anyone knows, this was sanctioned by the Democratic leadership in order to protect "the bigger picture" (i.e. Boucher's and Nye's seats) in 2010. No one ever admits these things happen, or course, but they happen all the time.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thank you both for coming by. I'll start by responding to Connie. You may be right. I've certainly heard of that type of backroom wrangling on both sides of the aisle. When the party leadership has the necessary votes, they will let members vote either their conscience or the way their district goes. In a vote this close, it's hard to say whether that is the case, but each party has some members that need to vote contrary to their party's position on any given issue. Even Tom DeLay made allowances for it.

On the other hand, Nye has voted against his party on numerous occasions. It's up to his constituents to decide if those votes represent them. Same for Boucher.

Anoymous, I won't say with certainty that Perriello will win. He certainly will have a tough fight in a conservative district. But he also has advantages that Deeds didn't have.

He is articulate. He is not running statewide, so the dynamics are different. Most important, he seems to pay attention to constituent services, isn't afraid to meet with voters even when they disagree with him, and he seems to be a good campaigner. All those go a long way, so don't count him out.

Anonymous said...

After the townhall meetings where Tom jumped around avoiding giving anyone a straight answer and telling me he would vote the way the majority of the people in the 5th wanted him to vote which he didn't. I will work hard to show him the door.Karen you are right this isn't a state wide race so take a look at how the 5th went in this past election and then tell me Tom isn't toast.I sure hope Tom will get Obama to come to the 5th to campaign for him that will be the icing on the cake.

Joshua's Dad said...

Nice post Karen. Generally agree with your assessments of the votes. I would like to hear why you are opposed to the Stupak Amendment, which I saw to be legally benign as compared to the status quo.

FYI: Looking like this week...

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Joshua's Dad, welcome back! I think we differ a bit on the abortion issue. I don't like abortions but I believe they should be legal. And I also believe that a woman who seeks one and who will pay with her own money should not be denied health coverage for it just because her private insurance company is part of the new insurance exchange.

This goes further than the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion. Here, we are talking about private money.

As long as it is legal, women should have access to it.

The best way to make abortion rare is to support sex education that talks honestly about contraception and to provide access to birth control. I want abortion to be rare, but also safe.

I want to change hearts and minds, but not endanger women's lives, which cutting off access to legal abortion would do. I am old enough to remember the devastation of back alley abortions. So, while I would like to see less abortion - or no abortion - I would like to see that goal achieved through better education and access to safe birth control.