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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez usually has no problem knowing how to vote. She’s an ideologue. Ideologues vote based on ideologies. Plan agrees with worldview: Vote yea. Plan disagrees with worldview: Vote nay.
Occasionally, however, legislation arises that lies outside the garden of pure ideology, usually involving some sort of negotiated trade-off. In these circumstances, every politician must make a choice based not only on rote belief, but also the values and reason they are possessed of.
When faced with such a challenge, a report states the New York Democrat resolutely voted “yes.” And then “no.” And then present. And then “yes” again. “Profiles in Courage,” this was not.
So let me give a bit of backstory here: There’s a long-standing House of Representatives procedure called the Motion to Recommit. Without going into detail, it’s a method used — usually by the opposition party — to insert new language into a bill.
The MTR is almost always a giant waste of time and simply a way to slow the process, but that hasn’t uniformly been the case in the short history of the 116th Congress, which opened on Jan. 3.
As The Daily Caller points out, the Republicans have successfully managed to get two MTRs into bills so far this year. The first involved a bill prohibiting United States involvement in the Yemeni civil war. The GOP managed to get language that condemned anti-Semitism into the legislation.
Then, on a piece of gun control legislation mandating universal background checks on gun purchases, Republicans managed to successfully insert an MTR that would alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an illegal alien tried to purchase a firearm..
And that apparently threw the New York Democrat into confusion. Rep. Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican, said Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only one — but she certainly sounded like one of the most dithering members of the Democratic caucus when it came to voting for the background checks bill.
“I thought it was pretty amazing to watch the Democrats try to decide: ‘Do we want to protect illegal immigrants or do we want to confiscate guns more?’” Hudson told The Daily Caller. “It was kind of funny.”
“You had Ocasio-Cortez, who actually voted ‘yes’ then switched to ‘no’ then switched back to ‘present’ then switch back to ‘yes’ — so, watching them twist themselves in knots trying to decide what’s more important to them — protecting illegal immigrants or confiscating guns — was pretty funny.”
And while Ocasio-Cortez voted “yes” on the final bill, she opposed the ICE amendment according to the official roll call vote, just in case you had to ask.
And in the end, both she and Speaker Pelosi lambasted the Democrats who voted along with the Republicans to help pass the MTR.
“This is not a day at the beach. This is the Congress of the United States,” Pelosi said at a subsequent Democrat caucus meeting, according to Politico.
Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t happy with her colleagues who joined the GOP.
“(T)he superstar New York freshman lawmaker, suggested she would alert progressive activists when Democrats are voting with the GOP on these motions, said the sources,” Politico reported.
In other words, it’s a threat to have them primaried. Except not really, as Ocasio-Cortez explained on Twitter.
Even by putting pressure on these Democrats, it seems, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is still confused.
I noticed that one of the Democrats who ended up voting “yes” was Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who represents New Jersey’s 11th District. That’s where I grew up; she’s the first Democrat to represent that part of the world since time immemorial. The main reason she’s in power isn’t because of some sort of sea change in political viewpoints, it’s just that it’s one of those suburban districts where President Donald Trump’s style rankles some people.
The problem the Democrats don’t seem to get is that they can’t hold onto a majority in the House for long when the only thing the party has in common with the constituents in the seats they flipped is that some voters don’t like Trump’s Twitter feed. If that’s the only value their Democratic representatives share with them, I hope they have plans beyond 2020.
Most of them, for better or worse, are schooled in self-preservation, which is why we got the ICE MTR. Apparently, Ocasio-Cortez pretty much thinks these representatives from conservative districts would be better off embracing the liberal agenda or moving aside for an even more liberal candidate, which is a great idea if you love bad ideas.
So, what’s the solution to having to deal with Democrats backing motions to recommit? Freshman Democrats want to abolish the process entirely, of course.
“We are aware that, year after year, both parties have deployed the MTR in bad faith and with little transparency. During our first two months, we have personally seen it used to poison debate and undermine legislation, as well as to create fodder for partisan political attacks,” they wrote in a letter to Democrat leadership.
“Whatever our predecessors’ original vision for the MTR may have been, in this era, it is a weapon to vandalize the legislative process rather than enhance it.
“The MTR is inconsistent with our belief in transparent government,” the letter continued. “MTR text has been made available only minutes before a vote, concealing their contents from public view. This process denies our constituents the opportunity to make their views heard. Simply put, the MTR process fails to meet the standards of transparency that we have established for the 116th Congress.”
Translation: Once you start losing, change the rules. This worked out swimmingly for Harry Reid, after all. However, Politico notes that “Pelosi didn’t endorse the idea, which some lawmakers support, of changing House rules and nixing the procedural vote altogether some lawmakers support,” so the MTR is safe for now.
Whatever happens to the Motion to Recommit process, however, there is one thing we can be happy about if it passes on: We won’t have to worry about Rep. Ocasio-Cortez being confused when it comes to moral trade-offs.