Question: What do California Republican Congressmen Brian Bilbray, Jeff Denham and Dan Lungren all have in common?
If you answer this question saying that they are all in tough re-elections this year in districts that are very competitive, you would be correct. But unfortunately, they all have something else in common. All three of them (along with California Republican David Dreier who is retiring after being “drawn out” of a district) were the only Republicans from California to vote last night against a floor amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to cut spending in the bill by 0.27% across the board. Yes, you read that correctly, while California GOPers Wally Herger, Tom McClintock, Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy, Elton Gallegly, Howard McKeon, Ed Royce, Jerry Lewis, Gary Miller, Ken Calvert, Mary Bono Mack, Dana Rohrabacher, John Campbell, Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter all voted with a significant majority of House Republicans (140 Republicans voted for the amendment), Bilbray, Denham and Lungren voted with every Democrat from California to oppose the cuts (in total 95 House Republicans voted no). [See the roll call vote here.]
The terrible vote cast by Bilbray, Denham and Lungren was highlighted this morning in a press release from the Club For Growth. In it, CfG President Chris Chocola criticized the 95 Republicans who killed the amendment, saying:
“Every Republican who voted no on the Flake amendment ought to be embarrassed by their vote. If House Republicans can’t cut less than one-third of one percent from an appropriations bill, then they have truly gone back on their promise to protect American taxpayers. Republicans should be cutting spending every chance they get so we can save America from continuing on a path to fiscal ruin.”
“Congressman Jeff Flake and every Republican who voted for this spending cut deserves praise. While some Republicans are working with the Democrats to grow the size of government, Jeff Flake and fiscal conservatives are fighting on behalf of the taxpayers. We will be watching the results of similar amendments to future appropriations bills and may include them on our Congressional Scorecard. Our members and the public are interested to know if members of Congress are keeping their promises to cut spending.”
Congressmen Bilbray, Denham and Lungren are all in tight November contests against liberal Democrats. We believe that votes like these undercut the credibility that these Repubicans are committed to reducing the size and scope of the federal government. Votes like these send a wrong message to GOP donors and activists at a time when we need to be rallying our team to keep those that would re-elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker from being elected to office.
How exactly would, say, Rep. Lungren respond to a press release from his opponent, liberal Ami Bera, calling Lungren a hypocrite for running on a platform of cutting government overspending while voting against this modest cut? I can imagine Lungren trying to articulate to voters about how “across the board cuts are bad public policy” or some other weak argument.
As a watchdog, besides highlighting the grotesque overspending pushed by President Obama and Senate Democrats, we will be exposing Republicans when they vote against common sense measures to reduce, however slightly, federal spending.
I would actually prefer to spend my megabytes of space praising conservatives in Washington, not offering critiques. But voting against .27% cuts in spending in one appropriations bill is just, well… lame.