Some Ambitious House Democrats Shifting Right

The New York Times reports that a small group of Democrats, some entertaining a run for the Senate, have begun backing away from more progressive legislation. Instead they now say they suppor tax cuts and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. They’re also expressing eagerness to rein in “the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies study and approve regulations.”

In the end, the shift means they are voting with their own party only about 70 – 75 percent of the time.

A small group of House Democrats has begun moving to the right in the current Congress, breaking from a majority of colleagues on votes that pit lawmakers from liberal areas against those from more rural and conservative districts.

The lure of a Senate seat, which in many cases requires shifting from a narrower ideological focus to a broader one, and the threat of a well-funded challenger are among the reasons for this this shift.

The newspaper names names here:

A few members of this group, which numbers fewer than a dozen, are congressional veterans like Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who survived a tough challenge in 2014 and is voting with a majority of his fellow Democrats 64 percent of the time, down slightly from the previous Congress.

But most are new to the House and have known life only in the minority, with Republicans controlling the schedule and agenda. These Democratic lawmakers have voted against Democratic legislation such as the alternative budgets proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus.

Their ranks include John Delaney of Maryland, who was first elected in 2012 and narrowly defeated his Republican challenger last fall, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who won easily in 2014 but may be considering a run for the Senate (and, notably, did not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in January). Ms. Sinema’s party voting percentage has dropped to 73 percent from 80 percent this year, while Mr. Delaney’s score has fallen further, to 80 percent from 92 percent.

Patrick Murphy of Florida is another example; he’s already running for the Senate seat currently held by the Republican Marco Rubio, and his party voting score has dropped from 83 percent in the last Congress to 77 percent in this one.

Also in the group are four California Democrats who have voted less often with their party in the current Congress than in the previous one, including Julia Brownley, who has joined a majority of Democrats on 84 percent of votes in 2015 compared with 91 percent the previous two years.


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