Jim Bridenstine’s Votes: Principled, Constitutional vs UnFriendly, Symbolic

U.S. House Freshman from Oklahoma, Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R), was sworn into office on January 3, 2013. His first vote was the same day, for Speaker of the House. He cast his vote not to return the gavel to John Boehner. It takes some courage to raise your hand, swear your oath of office, and immediately vote against leadership. Bridenstine did that. After securing a seat on the House Armed Services Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee, the question is, will Bridenstine be allowed to keep his Committee seats? Opposing Boehner’s agenda has brought loss of committee seats for others over the last few weeks.

Jim Bridenstine

Jim Bridenstine

Reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan will lose their seats on the House Budget Committee chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan next year. And Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona are losing their seats on the House Financial Services Committee. Source: December 4, 2012

Note that no one within the House Republicans was officially opposing Boehner for Speaker, nevertheless, nine Republicans voted for other than Boehner.

Voting for Eric Cantor (R-VA): Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) along with Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM)

Voting for Jim Jordan (R-OH): Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)

Voting for Raul Labrador (R-ID): Justin Amash (R-MI)

Voting for Justin Amash (R-MI): Tom Massie (R-KY)

Voting for outgoing Allen West: (R-FL): Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Paul Broun (GA)

Voting for former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker: Walter Jones (R-NC)

Obviously, the votes for West and Walker were protest votes, as well as the others, but just think: what if the GOP had not redistricted West into a bluer district? What a fine House Speaker West would have been, and the nonsense from the West wing would have met some heavy armor. Just a dream…the GOP would have never allowed West to rise to the top or even close to it.

In November 2012, Bridenstine defeated incumbent Republican John Sullivan. He serves as a Lieutenant Commander and a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserves, after nine years of active duty.

Lieutenant Commander Jim Bridenstine is currently a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he flies the E-2C Hawkeye in Central and South America in support of America’s war on drugs. Early in his active duty career, Bridenstine flew E-2C Hawkeyes off the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. It was there that he flew combat missions and gathered most of his 1,900 flight hours and 333 carrier arrested landings. Bridenstine participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Southern Watch in Iraq, and Operation Shock and Awe in Iraq. While on active duty, Bridenstine transitioned to the F-18 Hornet and flew with the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, the parent command to TOPGUN. Source


According to Rep. Tim Heulskamp, who is one of four who recently lost a key committee assignment for casting votes opposing leadership positions, there was “arm twisting,” “very intense” and threats of lost committee assignments and campaign funding if the vote was not cast on behalf of Speaker Boehner. That’s how power in Washington, D.C. works, so standing on principle is close to a lost art, except for people like Jim Bridenstine.

I’m an Oklahoman, and I live in Tulsa, a very conservative city, which Bridenstine now represents. Our one-and-only daily newspaper, The Tulsa World, sees Bridenstine’s vote as an unfriendly one:

Rep. Jim Bridenstine must have left his copy of “How to Win Friends and Infuence People” behind when he went to Washington. Wayne Greene, World Senior Writer 

One thing Greene is right about in his article is that “symbolic votes are important…but they have unintended consequences.” As Greene says, if Bridenstine doesn’t lose his committee seat he could find his parking spot moved to…Virginia, but change “symbolic” to “constitutional” and I believe, in the end, Bridenstine will be rewarded by the people of Oklahoma’s House District 1.

My local newspaper makes it abundantly clear how blessed I am to have the internet. Apparently, our District 1 representatives are expected to go along to get along.

The vote against Boehner isn’t the only dustup over Congressman Bridenstine. He voted against the $9.7 Billion Sandy Relief bill for a good reason:

We recognize the need to honor the federal commitment to flood insurance holders,” said Bridenstine in a written statement. “The proper way to increase the cap on disaster relief spending is to cut spending elsewhere. While the Obama administration has argued that emergency spending should be exempt from offsets, we cannot continue to spend money that doesn’t exist. Tulsa World

On some of the Tulsa World forums I’ve read comments that people paid for their National Flood Insurance (insured by the U.S. government) and should receive their coverage. I have no argument with that, but Katrina cashed-out the NFIP and the NFIP premiums for areas at seal-level, in very desirable areas, are far too low, so Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer must pick-up the cost while we are residing in our land-locked homes. I live in tornado alley, but I am not surrounded by tornadoes on a moment-by-moment basis. Congress controls the guarantees and they have done a miserable job of doing so.

A report yesterday says Obama told Boehner he was tired of hearing we have a “spending problem,” and claimed we do not have a spending problem. Democrats are not planning to cut a penny, in fact they are planning more spending. Bridenstine made a promise that he would insist on cuts to offset spending, and that’s why he voted against the Sandy Relief Bill.

In a stunning admission, Obama reportedly told Boehner, “We don’t have a spending problem.” Source: Breitbart

There’s more: Bridenstine has said, had he had the opportunity, he would have voted against the Fiscal Cliff legislation. Had he been a member of the 112th Congress, a vote against the legislation would have been another  “constitutional” vote.

Eric Cantor, whom Bridenstine voted for, for Speaker, also voted against the legislation…this time. Cantor’s support was too little too late, as was the support of fellow-young gun, Kevin McCarthy. Boehner sacrificed conservative leverage with his previous fiscal/debt ceiling caves, beginning immediately after the 2010 elections when it was clear that The People demanded that spending stop and the deficit be reduced.