Perhaps you recall the House’s narrow passage of the contentious Pharmaceutical Industry Handout bill – ahem, Medicare bill – a few weeks back, whereby a handful of Republican representatives switched their votes from “nay” to “yay” in the waning hours of a pre-dawn roll call debate, thereby allowing the bill to pass. Early reports after the vote mentioned instances of leading Republican lawmakers huddling in great numbers around those representatives who were on the fence, urging them to pass the bill and not join the majority of Democrats in voting “no.”
Well, we now know what some of those specific huddle discussions were about. The play they called? Merely threats, and most certainly not bribery.
U.S. Representative Nick Smith went into detail yesterday on the specifics of the “non-bribes” levied against him, saying that
some Republican House members threatened to oppose his son’s election campaign unless the Republican from Michigan voted for the bill — but did not offer his son any money.
…”I want to make it clear that no member of Congress made an offer of financial assistance for my son’s campaign in exchange for my vote,” Smith said in a statement Thursday. “Some members said they would work against Brad if I voted no.”
That clears things up, then. And this, even moreso:
Mark Glaze of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center said House members could have violated a federal law against bribing public officials, if money was offered.
The law allows people to verbally persuade lawmakers, Glaze said, but doesn’t allow them to offer something of value to change a vote.
For a party membership that seems to have little to no understanding of nuance, these lawmakers do seem to grasp the significance of semantics in politics.