Freshman U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, who beat three-term Republican Marilyn Musgrave last fall, was one of only 20 members of her party to vote against the $3.6 trillion federal budget resolution last week.
The Fort Collins Democrat has established a pattern of bucking her party on key issues while at the same time siding with House leadership more often than most of her colleagues, the Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Bob Moore writes in a detailed assessment of Markey’s first three months in office.
In her most recent break with Democratic leaders, Markey was among a group of Democrats mostly elected from traditionally Republican districts which also voted for presidential nominee John McCain. Here’s Markey’s statement explaining her vote against the budget resolution, which passed 233-196:
I support the President’s long-term economic plan to rebuild our economy by cutting the federal deficit and making strategic investments in energy, education, health care. I grappled with this budget, but ultimately could not support it. I was elected to bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington, and I believe that Congress must be more aggressive in cutting our deficit. At a time when families all across the country are tightening their belts, we can do a better job of rooting out inefficiencies, and cutting out government waste.
The rest of Colorado’s congressional delegation split along party lines, with Republican U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman opposing the resolution and Democratic U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, John Salazar and Ed Perlmutter voting in favor. Both senators, Democrats Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, voted for a slightly different version of the budget, which passed the Senate 55-43.
“I look at every piece of legislation that comes through Congress and evaluate it on its merits,” Markey wrote in an opinion column published in newspapers throughout the 4th District last week.
With a 76-vote margin, House Democrats have the luxury to let lawmakers from swing districts break ranks, Moore noted.
Robert Duffy, chairman of the University of Colorado’s political science department, told the Coloradoan, “[It] is not unusual for the leadership to ‘allow’ members from iffy districts to break with the party on votes that could be problematic back home. This is especially so when the vote is not expected to be a nail-biter.”
Moore cited three other high-profile examples where Markey has voted against House leadership:
• She cast a largely symbolic vote to block release of the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout package approved by the previous Congress.
• She was among 24 Democrats who voted against a mortgage-relief package for homeowners facing foreclosure.
• And Markey was among 63 Democrats who supported an amendment that weakened proposed compensation limits for executives in companies receiving federal bailout money. The amendment removed the compensation limits for companies that entered into a repayment agreement with the government.
In other areas, Markey is solidly with the Democratic majority — voting with her party 97.9 percent of the time, Moore noted. She signed on as a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act and voting to pass the $800 billion federal stimulus bill, which President Barack Obama signed in Denver. Markey’s party loyalty scores higher than the 93.8 percent average for House Democrats and 89.9 percent average for House Republicans, Moore calculated. The vast majority of votes are on procedural and noncontroversial matters that often pass with near unanimity, he added.