Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Matheson isn't lying about his vote

So there has been an interesting debate going on today on a Facebook page of a Claudia Wright supporter, where he claims that Congressman Matheson lied about his voting record regarding defense spending in the 2011 defense budget.

I have been at this all day long so that I can clearly understand the nuance. I'm posting it here to give clarity to the issue.

I am going to say, unequivocally, that the Congressman did not lie about his vote. He may have become confused (like all of us were) on which bill was being discussed, but I don't think he lied.

I've taken the time to listen to this portion of the debate, over and over again, and encourage any readers to do so by visiting and clicking on the Radio West link. I've typed some actual quotes from the KUER debate, as closely as possible, just so that I'm not accused of putting words into anybody's mouth.

The analysis of what happened is my own. But I believe we are talking about two distinct and separate things here, and for Wright's supporters to call Jim a liar is just a little bit much.

It went like this.

Doug Fabrizio asked the congressman about a proposal that would trim $160 billion in war funds from the defense appropriations bill. The Congressman has indicated that he would not support this proposal (sponsored by Rep. Grayson of Florida).

Jim went on to explain that he didn't support Representative Grayson's proposal, because "we need to look at this in a responsible way. We have got men and women on the ground... today, right now, putting their lives on the line. And to suggest that we would take funding out, just pull the funding away... I think that is irresponsible."

What was not explained here is that in late May, Matheson voted in favor of Obama's funding proposal, HR 5136. This proposal included an additional $160 billion in funding to support the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is in addition to the $574 billion that is already being considered for the Pentagon/Military budget. Representative Matheson AND Representative Grayson both voted in favor of this funding plan. Recently, however, Rep. Grayson has presented his new proposal to remove the $160 billion in funding from the funding plan.

Evidentally, Ms. Wright supports Rep. Grayson's plan to remove the additional funding from the appropriations plan. Representative Matheson clearly does not.

The congressman went on to explain his support of President Obama's plan to end the war by enacting a drawdown, and also the President's plan for Afghanistan, reminding us that the Republicans were extremely critical of the president for taking his time and coming up with a thoughtful way to achieve these goals. The congressman said he was prepared to support the president, and to just pull funding out from under our troops would be extremely irresponsible.

And so when Claudia Wright was asked to respond to the Congressman's remarks, she explained that she would not have supported the additional funding... or she would have supported the original Pentagon funding and then would have supported Grayson's proposal to not appropriate the $160 billion additional funding for the war on the ground... or something like that.

To the expenditure, she said: "... I kind of think that the military can kind of scrape by on $574 billion. This was an additional one, and it was hidden from the public's view because it was attached to the don't ask don't tell repeal..."

She then inferred that the additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were tied to support of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, in order to make the bill more palatable to Republicans (war spending) and Democrats (repealing the bad policy) alike. She also said that the bills should have been dealt with separately and not in the same "package."

The big nuance on the vote is that the Congressman *did* vote for Obama's war funding plan. It's on the record and he voted yes, and supported the additional funds for the two wars "on the ground," and that he voted in favor of the amendment to include the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal. So, why are Wright's supporters claiming that he lied? I heard him say it.. that the bill had not been voted on yet... Was he purposely lying? Why is everyone confused about what he said?

The turning point came, I believe, when Matheson's support of HR5136 became convoluted with his position to not support Representative Grayson's proposal. When I listened to the debate again today, it very simply crossed from Jim not supporting Grayson's proposal to Jim's support of the funding plan. I won't say that Claudia Wright purposely confused voters on the issue... I don't think she realized that she even did it, and I'm going to give her credit and assume that she knew exactly what the process is. Yes, Jim voted to authorize the money in House Resolution 5136. However, no vote has been taken to appropriate the money.

I'm not sure where Jim became confused either, but I don't believe that he was lying. When he said that no vote had been taken and that his opponent was "mistaken," he was referring to a final, appropriations bill for war funding, which may or may not include Representative Grayson's proposal, which he says he will not support. He was just pointing out that there is a difference between authorizing the money and appropriating the money. Congress had done one, but not the other.


Anonymous said...

This story in response to my piece "Matheson Votes to Spend Your Money and then Forgets" which dealt with a single exchange that occurred between Rep. Jim Matheson and Claudia Wright in their debate on KUER's RadioWest program with Doug Frabrizio on Tuesday, June 15. While Emily has made a sincere good faith attempt to set the record straight and offer explanatory apologies for Jim Matheson, I'd like to respond with a different interpretation:

Anonymous said...


Was the comment that I posted here last evening received?