By Ann Reichlin
When we left off in last month’s column, Republicans in the House were in the throes of dysfunction in their effort to choose a new Speaker. Local Congressman Marc Molinaro and the rest of the House GOP caucus settled on the mild-mannered, lesser-known, far-right Trump sycophant Mike Johnson. Since Molinaro voted for Johnson, it’s fair to ask if he shares Johnson’s election denialism, his opposition to funding for Ukraine, his anti-LBTQ rights views, his anti-abortion absolutism or his willingness to shut down the government. Molinaro claims that Johnson will consider the needs of NY-19 voters. (Translation: He thinks Johnson will consider Molinaro’s political future in our swing district.)
After the three-week GOP logjam that froze legislative activity, the House has begun to vote on bills and amendments. Molinaro’s votes give us a window into how he tries to appeal to right-wing voters in spite of his moderate veneer. For example, on the appropriations bill, Molinaro voted in favor of numerous ridiculous far-right initiatives, including voting yes on bills to reduce the salaries of the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Mine Safety, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and others to $1 per year. These amendments failed by wide margins. Then there were the terrible items that passed with Molinaro’s “yes” vote, such as an amendment to the appropriations bill that would “prohibit funding for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s firearm injury and mortality prevention research.”
Several other destructive amendments passed by voice vote, including ones that would prohibit funds for WHO (Amendment 787), reduce funding to the NIH (Amendment 742), reduce education aid for indigenous children (Amendment749) and prohibit funds from being used to enforce White House policies that crack down on junk fees in retirement investment advice (Amendment 759). Conveniently for Molinaro, a voice vote enables him to avoid going on record.
These votes are just a snapshot in time. But if Molinaro continues voting like this, he will continue to make it clear to the voters of NY-19 that he just doesn’t care what his more moderate and liberal constituents think: He will do as the most extreme right wing of the GOP wishes.