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Bill Sargent is one of the Three Musketeers who is writing about making assumptions
Assumptions Can
Be Dangerous!

December 18, 2014

There has been a lot of “talk” on social media about how the nine Texas Republican members of Congress voted in favor of a rule to allow consideration of the $1.1 trillion continuing resolution to fund the federal government.  The assumption was that these members didn’t want to block this bill from passing but they also wanted to have their cake and eat it too (e.g., by voting for the rule but against the bill itself they could come back to their constituents and say “I voted against the bill” when they could have actually  blocked its consideration by defeating the rule. -- The rule passed the House by a two vote margin.) 

But beware of making assumptions!

Not believing that things were as they seemed, I texted our Congressman (Randy Weber) asking what the strategy was and why these members, of which he was one, would vote for the rule but against the bill.  This week Randy called me back and we spent 10-15 minutes on the phone talking about what happened and why.  I’d like to share the reasoning behind the story:

The bill was not what these members wanted, hence their votes against it.  But if the vote on the rule failed, it was clear to them Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) would not have enough Republican votes to move forward and avert a government shutdown.  The fear was, with the inability to get enough support from his own party, Boehner would start looking for Democrat votes and the only way to do so would be to make additional concessions.  The concern was that the final bill could be worse than what was already on the table.  In an effort to keep this from happening, these members choose not to block consideration of the funding measure but expressed their displeasure by voting against it.

While I strongly oppose the $1.1 trillion funding bill and the pork it contains at least I now understand how this came to pass. Our representatives may have averted a far worse alternative.  Whether they actually did so, we may never know. Would I have voted for the rule in order to block consideration of this spending bill? Probably. Legislators need to make these judgment calls and we need to hold them accountable for their decisions.  But at the same time we always need to remember that there is often more to the story and not just assume the worst about those who represent us. 

Have a Merry Christmas!