Opinion: Republicans invent U.S. House votes to attack Democrats

This month marks 41 years since my first job on Capitol Hill, and I’ve been privileged to witness a lot of Congressional history. But now I’m watching something that I’m not sure I’ve seen before — one party attacking the other over imaginary House votes.

“House Republicans are pushing nonsense ads,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee, one of a dozen Democrats facing attacks from the ‘American Action Network,’ which criticizes Bourdeaux and others for voting against extra defense aid for Israel.

Except that vote never happened.

The ad cites a House vote on May 20 — wrongly claiming it would have funded more money for Israel’s Iron Dome defenses — and that Democrats like Bourdeaux showed their true colors by voting against it.

But that vote was on a procedural motion to send a $1.9 billion Capitol security bill back to a House committee – and not on any funding related to Israel.

Let me explain.

Earlier this year, U.S. House Democrats made a rules change to do away with a last-minute procedural vote known as the ‘motion to recommit with instructions,’ which had been used very effectively by the GOP to put Democrats on the spot over difficult issues.

Instead of forcing a vote on a very detailed amendment, the only option now left for GOP lawmakers is to send a bill back to committee — without any specifics on what to change.

When it was announced, Republicans bitterly denounced the rule change from Democrats.

“It’s evident they are afraid of losing absolute control of the House,” U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said back in December.

GOP lawmakers like Loudermilk were aggravated, because no longer would they be able to torture Democrats with a surprise tough vote on the House floor — like on money for Israel.

But now, Republicans have taken the novel approach of acting as if no House rule was ever changed, claiming Democrats voted against Iron Dome funding for Israel — even though there was no such vote.

“These lies are why Republicans lost in Georgia,” Bourdeaux said earlier this week.

Back on May 20, I noted on Twitter that GOP lawmakers were shading the truth about that vote — and it drew a sharp response.

“The Democrat’s biggest allies are members of the media who are ready and willing to cover for their anti-Israel sentiment,” U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., tweeted at me, with the accusatory hashtag of #FakeNews.

Except the Fake News arrow points back at the GOP in this case.

I have to hand it to House Republicans — they’ve come up with a unique way to hit Democrats — by attacking them over House votes which never happened.

And they’re banking on the fact that most voters — and reporters — won’t be digging into the parliamentary details.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com