Friday, December 19th, 2014

Political parties play games with votes during government shutdown

The National Republican Congressional Committee is attacking Democrats for voting against funding for certain federal agencies during the government shutdown. But we found the situation is a bit more complicated.

The U.S. House of Representatives might not have been able to hold a speedy vote to end the shutdown, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hold lots of votes. And where there are votes, there are opportunities to use those votes against your opponents.

Committees for both Republicans and Democrats have launched attacks while the government was in shutdown. We fact-checked three separate attacks and found several claims were major distortions.

Here’s the rundown of what we’ve fact-checked so far.

Robocalls from the Republican National Committee said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., "voted to cut off Florida’s veterans and their benefits." The RNC’s robocalls focused on one bill out of many that would have preserved ongoing funds for veterans programs. Wasserman Schultz could accurately claim she voted many more times to support such funding. Veterans groups didn’t have a problem with how she voted. Also, the robocall makes a muddle of a sequence of events, beginning with why veterans benefits might be at risk, and the fact that in the short run, most benefits have been flowing. We rated the claim False.

• A Web ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., voted "against funding for our nation’s veterans, low-income women and children, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health." Like many Democrats, Kuster voted against resolutions that would have temporarily provided funding for veterans, low-income women and children, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. But Democrats say they were pushing to fund all of government, not just a few pieces chosen by House Republicans. That’s critical context. We rated the claim Mostly False.

• A press release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., "opposes a vote on his own legislation that he proposed just a few months ago." Democrats are seeking House members to sign a discharge petition to bring legislation Daines introduced for a vote, and Daines won’t sign. But the Democrats’ move would take away all the relevant text of the original bill and replace it with new language. Independent experts said the measure would be substantially different after that. We rated the claim False.