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Spin Control

Another look at some statements from McMorris Rodgers’ town hall

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers offered remarks Monday night at an annual town hall covering topics ranging from federal spending to climate policy. Here's a closer look at some of those statements, and the information that supports or rebuts them:

Statement: “Last January I had the honor of giving the Republican address after the president’s State of the Union … If you listened, I didn’t mention President Obama once. The reason was because I think, for so many  me included week after week hearing the division between Republicans and Democrats just attacking each other isn’t getting us where we want to be, and it creates a lot of frustration.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did not mention Barack Obama by name in her 10-minute long rebuttal his State of the Union address in January. However, she did mention the office nine times, though whether many of those could be counted as attacks on his policies is debatable. A sampling of her mentions:

“Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won’t solve the problems actually facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The President wants that too.”

“The President talks a lot about income inequality. But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality… And with this Administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide. We see this gap growing every single day.”

“Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder.”

Watch the entirety of her address below (video provided by The New York Times):

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Statement: “I believe that the best way that we can address the money question related to politics is through transparency, so that there’s reporting as to who is actually funding different campaigns … The reality is, what I’ve seen, a lot of the funders, a lot of the money is now in these third-party organizations that we don’t know who funded it, who’s behind it, there’s no accountability – they’re not required to report or disclose.”

Like almost all members of Congress, McMorris Rodgers has accepted significant campaign contributions from political action committees since her first run in 2004, according to the Federal Election Commission’s records. In 2012, the American Hospital Association spent $112,000 on ads in support of her campaign against Democrat Rich Cowan under the new “independent expenditure” program created by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, according to the watch dog group Open Secrets. That amount was the least the group gave to nine members of Congress during the 2012 cycle, who are members of both parties. All were victorious in their election efforts.

So-called “super PACs” can get around campaign spending limits by making independent expenditures instead, though they must file at least quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. No campaign finance disclosure complaints against McMorris Rodgers have been reviewed by the FEC, according to its digital enforcement database.

There are a pair of bills that Democrats have introduced in the House, one of which would limit super PAC contributions from corporations, labor groups and banks; the other that would set up a system of public funding for campaigns. Both remain in committee without any bipartisan support.

Statement: “Ultimately, I did vote to open the government and get us back to work.”

On Sept. 20, 2013, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution funding the government that stipulated to the delay or cancellation of some measures of the Affordable Care Act. The joint resolution was passed on a party-line vote, with McMorris Rodgers joining 227 of her GOP colleagues in approving the bill. One Republican voted against it, two Democrats voted in favor. The funding bill then went to the Democratically controlled Senate, where lawmakers removed the provisions related to the health care law and passed it, 54-44. The bill returned to the House, where lawmakers once again instituted the provisions related to the Affordable Care Act and passed the joint resolution in a pair of largely party-line votes two days later. The Senate then refused to vote on the House amendments, creating a stalemate.

During this standoff, President Barack Obama vowed to veto any spending bill that delayed the health care law.

Because there were no funds laid aside by Congress to run the federal government, its operations ceased Oct. 1. During the ensuing shutdown, McMorris Rodgers and other Republican leaders in the House passed several measures setting aside money to reopen certain government services, among them veteran’s services, National Park services (including monuments to foreign wars in Washington, D.C.) and disaster relief. On Oct. 4, McMorris Rodgers told the Spokesman-Review the Republicans' position on the Affordable Care Act had to do with fairness and the perceived overreach of the president in deciding who the law should apply to.

Legislation calling for a bipartisan budget conference and funding the government through Jan. 15 was passed by the Senate on Oct. 16, fifteen days after the shutdown began. The bill made no changes to the health care law, as originally proposed by House Republicans, and it lifted the debt ceiling, another point of contention. The bill was passed in the House, 285-144, with 87 Republicans voting in favor of the legislation that was signed into the law the same day by the president.

McMorris Rodgers voted in favor of the bill reopening the government, along with House leadership Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy. Democrats supported the bill unanimously. McMorris Rodgers’ vote to reopen the government followed several votes that precipitated the shutdown.

Statement: “We had a big debate in Congress over cap-and-trade … and the whole goal was to reduce carbon emissions to 1992 levels through cap-and-trade … The impact that was going to have on our future was really dramatic, right? We reached that goal, do you realize that we have reached that goal without cap and trade?”

A bill that passed the House of Representatives in June 2009 would have established a so-called “carbon market” in the United States by limiting the total amount of allowable carbon dioxide emissions, then selling permits to companies and other entities to divvy up allowable levels of pollution. Companies would then be able to trade their permits among themselves in a secondary market.

McMorris Rodgers said the effects of this legislation on the economy and quality of life would have been dramatic. She voted against the legislation, which passed in a squeaker, 219-212. Republicans comprised the bulk of the opposition. The bill went to the Senate, where it did not receive a vote before the legislative term ended, effectively killing the bill.

The bill called for the U.S. to reduce its emission of greenhouse gasses by 3 percent from 2005 levels, which would have placed the total close to the 19.19 metric tons per capita reported by the World Bank spewing over America in 1992. According to the World Bank, the U.S. produced 17.56 metric tons per capita in 2010, a year after the legislation was proposed. That’s a reduction of 8.5 percent from the 2005 levels, according to the World Bank, without a cap-and-trade system. McMorris Rodgers is correct the reductions were achieved without the cap-and-trade system, but the reduction was already occurring by the time the legislation was proposed. A 2013 report by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, headquartered at the Hague, credited reduced dependence upon coal and increased natural gas production with the reduction in American emissions, even as the economy grew at a sluggish pace.

Statement: “Although it’s been very divisive, for Congress and for the country, we’ve launched a new initiative, that is the 21st Century Cures Initiative, it is a bipartisan effort in the house … It is leadership from Republicans and Democrats that have joined together in an effort to look at how do we make sure that we have a system in America, that is really focused on curing diseases, not just treating someone when they get sick.”

McMorris Rodgers mentioned the new initiative when answering a question about the major challenges facing the deeply partisan chambers of Congress. She said that health care continues to be one of the major issues, in addition to federal spending, that divides lawmakers. The initiative was announced in May of this year, and members have held a series of six roundtables in Washington to address issues lawmakers and government officials say are stifling health care innovations. These have taken place exclusively in Washington, D.C., but there are plans to hold discussions in other Congressional districts this fall.

No legislation has been proposed from these roundtables as of yet. The initiative was announced by Reps. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, and Diana Degette, D-Colorado. So far, discussed topics have included clinical trials, information sharing within the medical community and the potential for digital health care, according to the initiative’s website.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.