Three weeks ago, Rep. Elise Stefanik made some news at a town hall meeting in Moreau.
She became one of three Republican members of the House of Representatives to call for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign.
It was a bold declaration that flew in the face of party politics and the position of the current president, while taking a firm stand for what was best for the Adirondacks.
“I fundamentally disagree with how Pruitt handles his position as director of the EPA. I’m opposed to his slashing the EPA budgets,” Stefanik said. “I have been concerned about the ongoing ethics issues and he should resign, and that is what I think about Scott Pruitt.”
It was something to cheer.
Last week, Democratic lawmakers sponsored a resolution that mirrored Rep. Stefanik’s stand against Pruitt at the Moreau Town Hall.
- They had no confidence in the administrator and were calling for his immediate resignation.
- They accused him of misusing taxpayer money on excessive personal conveniences and unnecessary office enhancements, while dramatically cutting budgets and staff.
- They said he had allowed staff members to work for private companies while being employed by the EPA, creating significant conflicts of interest while ignoring the concerns of staff scientists.
Thirty-nine senators and 131 members of the House of Representatives – all Democrats – signed the resolution.
Rep. Elise Stefanik did not.
Its content was exactly what she said two weeks earlier.
This is emblematic of what is wrong with Washington and what we find frustrating with Rep. Stefanik.
After taking a bold take-no-prisoners stand against Pruitt and his actions at the EPA, Stefanik did not sign the resolution.
She did not follow up her bold pronouncement at the town hall with action.
She chose to play it safe.
She chose her party.
That is not unusual these days in Washington.
When asked why by reporters at two Adirondack newspapers, she said it was a one-sided measure that will not be brought to a vote in the House.
We understand that this was the Democrats grandstanding to further pressure a cabinet secretary to resign. But Rep. Stefanik – and we suspect many of her Republican colleagues – agree with them.
Let that marinate a second.
She decided not to sign on to a resolution for something she believes in strongly – if her statements at the town hall are to be believed – because there was no chance of a real vote being taken.
This from a congresswoman who repeatedly voted with her Republican colleagues to repeal Obamacare even though the repeal also had no chance of being made law.
That happened 54 times between January 2011 and March 2014.
This is Washington-speak at its worst.
We get it. That is how the game is played in Washington. If you want to get re-elected with the help of your party, you often have to do things that might go against your core beliefs, but we as citizens don’t have to accept that.
We believe it is OK to ask for more from our elected officials.
Rep. Stefanik said a better way to address Pruitt’s tenure is for her and her Republican colleagues – two others – to send a joint letter to the Trump administration calling for Pruitt’s resignation.
We wonder if “tweeting” might work better.
Ultimately, it is not whether Rep. Stefanik is for or against Scott Pruitt that has us upset, it is whether she even believes what she is telling us.
It is concern about where her loyalties lie when it comes time to cast a vote.
At a time when we need bold actions from our representatives, they ultimately back down. That’s what Rep. Stefanik did here.