In March, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert defied the vast majority of his GOP colleagues by voting against rescinding federal grants for National Public Radio. Then two days ago, the Auburn Republican was the lone member of his party to support a Democratic amendment declaring that Earth's climate is changing and is a cause for concern.
WASHINGTON — In March, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert defied the vast majority of his GOP colleagues by voting against rescinding federal grants for National Public Radio.
Then two days ago, the Auburn Republican was the lone member of his party to support a Democratic amendment declaring that Earth’s climate is changing and is a cause for concern.
On Thursday, however, Reichert returned to the GOP fold by voting with the majority to permanently strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases — legislation some Democrats contend would gut the Clean Air Act.
So it goes for Reichert, a fourth-term lawmaker from the Eastside’s 8th Congressional District who sometimes has deviated carefully — and with controversy — from the partisan playbook.
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Most notably, Reichert bucked his party in 2009 by voting with seven other Republicans to help House Democrats pass a cap-and-trade bill aimed at curbing carbon dioxide and other emissions blamed for global warming.
An anti-abortion stalwart, Reichert nonetheless has supported medical research using stem cells from embryos.
Reichert faces the possibility of losing conservative voters in Pierce County when his district is redrawn to make room for the state’s 10th congressional district.
Reichert is by far the most liberal among the four Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation (Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a freshman, has only a brief voting record thus far).
The League of Conservation Voters, for instance, gives Reichert a lifetime score of 67 out of 100 on pro-environmental issues. Republican Reps. Doc Hastings, of Pasco, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Spokane, each scores a 4.
Tiernan Sittenfeld, the group’s legislative director, lauded Reichert’s vote Wednesday in support of an amendment co-sponsored by Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, stating that “Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.”
That measure failed 184-240, with only Reichert and three Democrats defecting from their parties. Among the Democrats voting no was Rep. Nick Rahall, of West Virginia, a Democrat who chaired the House Natural Resources Committee before being replaced by Hastings after Republicans regained control of the chamber.
But Sittenfeld criticized Reichert for failing to follow through on his own scientific logic by rejecting the underlying bill that strips the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The Senate on Wednesday rejected by a 50-50 vote an identical rider that was attached to an unrelated small-business bill.
“While Congressman Reichert at least acknowledges that global warming is real, it’s deeply disappointing that he voted for a bill to block the EPA from protecting public health and holding polluters accountable under the Clean Air Act,” Sittenfeld said.
Reichert’s office declined to make the congressman available for an interview about his vote. In a statement, Reichert depicted the vote as a matter of Congress asserting its power to make laws.
“Failure to act in this case would have sent a troubling message to the American people that Congress is willing to abdicate its constitutional lawmaking responsibilities to federal regulatory agencies.”
Kyung Song: 202-662-7455 or firstname.lastname@example.org