A couple weeks ago I challenged Rep. Dave Reichert to prove me wrong about my cynicism over his self-proclaimed moderation, by taking the lead on climate change legislation:
Indeed, not only does Reichert have the chance to cast one of the only Republican votes for this legislation, he has the unparalleled opportunity to be the lone Republican getting out in front of this bill and leading the way. He and his handlers must know that climate change legislation has overwhelming support in his district—a pro-environment, hydro-powered district less economically dependent on fossil fuels than nearly any in the nation—so if he really wants to prove his moderation and independence (not to mention his legislative competence), now’s the time to show a little leadership and help shepherd this important piece of legislation through Congress.
But I’m not holding my breath.
Well, Reichert never took the lead on this legislation, but he was one of only 8 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for it, so credit where credit is due, I guess. Still, he followed his usual pattern of voting with his party on procedural votes (here, here and here) before flipping sides on final passage, and as CQ points out, this vote on its on own doesn’t much qualify as a profile in courage:
Most of the 52 House members who didn’t side with their party on Friday’s climate change vote represent congressional districts that backed the presidential nominee of the opposite party in last year’s election.
A lot of these members will face competitive races in 2010, and no doubt they will be brandishing this against-the-grain vote as evidence of their political independence.
He certainly will. But whether Reichert’s independence is driven by conscience or expedience remains to be seen.