On Wednesday, Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) doubled-down on a brazen attack on his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), slamming Cotton for voting against “preparing America for pandemics like Ebola,” despite Cotton having voted for the final version of the bill in question.
In fact, in March Cotton voted for the final version of HR 307, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013, which he notes was the “exact same bill that Mark Pryor voted for.”
The genesis of Pryor’s attack is that Cotton had voted against an earlier iteration of the bill that passed the House in January. At the time, Cotton explained his opposition was rooted in a single provision to the bill he says “would have allowed President [Barack] Obama to authorize the mandatory assignment of Arkansas health officials to an outbreak zone against their wishes.”
The Senate version of the legislation included a key change addressing the concern, giving states the authority to opt-out of the “outbreak zone” designation.
In effect, the Senate as a body deemed Cotton’s reservation worthy enough to alter the bill text to fix it. When the bill came back to the House with the fix in it, Cotton switched his vote, and it passed by a large margin as the first version had.
Pryor is hanging his hyperbolic attack on the initial vote, saying at a news conference Wednesday, “when Congressman Cotton voted no on this, he had no idea that months and months later he might get a second bite at this apple.”
Cotton pushed back against Pryor’s claim on Wednesday. “Ebola is a very serious matter,” Cotton said, “but Mark Pryor’s ad is not. His ad has already been called bizarre, desperate, scare tactic and preying on fear. Here’s the simple fact: I voted for the exact same bill that Mark Pryor voted for.”
Pryor, one of the most embattled Senate Democrats this cycle, has worked to use any possible weapon at hand to keep Cotton, 37, on the defensive throughout the campaign.
Image source: John Lyon Arkansas News