Campaigning on the Floor of Congress

In mid-July the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Before the vote, Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “The intent of the president’s health care law was to lower costs and to help create jobs. … Instead, it is making our economy worse, driving up costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire.”

The Washington Examiner reports, “There was never any doubt that Republicans had the votes to pass the repeal in the House on Wednesday – or that it would die in the Senate, where Democrats possessed more than enough strength to block it.”

Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who was elected to fill the seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords, said the GOP-inspired repeal legislation was a charade and showed the House “cares more about political grandstanding than in getting things done.” This vote was criticized by some as “campaigning for Romney” on the floor of Congress. I agree this is campaigning on the floor of Congress, however I do not believe it is unprecedented.

Since this action by Republicans was criticized as campaigning; I’m curious whether the same people would accuse Harry Reid of “campaigning for Obama” every time he prevents certain bills from coming up for a vote? Was it campaigning when Nancy Pelosi brought forth a bill to enact “Cap and Trade?” Is it campaigning when any member of Congress requests earmarks that benefit their district?

I would say, “yes” and contend that every action by every member of Congress can be viewed as an act of campaigning on the floor of the Congress. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) said before joining other Republicans in Wednesday’s House vote: “Here’s the good news. The voters get the last word in November.” The truth is most members of Congress are in “safe districts” and do need not worry about getting re-elected, as over 90% of Representatives consistently retain their seats.