On June 22, I wrote to say that it would prove you wanted to be a bipartisan “problem solver” if you ever voted against your own party.
And you did it!
On July 13, you took a stand against your party on two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
You were one of 24 Republicans to vote against an amendment that would have prohibited the military from paying for gender-reassignment therapies (proposed by Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.). And you were one of 46 Republicans to vote against an amendment that would have prohibited the military from funding research into how climate change affects national security (proposed by Scott Perry, R-Pa.). In both cases, your vote helped the amendment to fail.
I don’t know what motivated these votes against your party since I haven’t heard or read any comments you’ve made about these votes. A Democratic stalwart in your district suggested that your motivation might have been merely strategic. But I’d rather not be that cynical.
One possible motive for opposing these amendments is that both sought to constrain the independence of the military to decide how to spend its own budget. Perhaps you think that the Defense Department should decide for itself whether paying for gender-reassignment therapies is beneficial or whether researching climate-change impacts is necessary. If that was your reasoning, it makes sense to me.
Whatever your motivation, I took this as a positive sign.
Voting against these amendments was not without political risk. Social conservatives were surprised and a little outraged that Republicans voted against the Hartzler amendment. And though you’ve come out publicly in support of working on climate-change solutions, it’s still a controversial issue among many Republicans. You voted against these two amendments anyway.
You are willing to vote against the majority of your party and with Democrats when you think it is necessary. This makes me hopeful that bipartisan cooperation can be more than mere rhetoric.
The next big test of your moderate, pro-bipartisan stance may come if the health care bill fails in the Senate and congress has to go back to the drawing board. I’m pretty excited about that possibility, Tom.
In the meantime, thanks for proving me wrong!