Indy Fact Check: Attacks on Rep. Jacky Rosen over veterans, Pelosi missing crucial context
Labor Day used to mark the beginning of campaign season, but no more.
Two major national groups — the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic National Committee — are putting up billboard ads this week attacking Republican Sen. Dean Heller and his Democratic challenger, freshman Congresswoman Jacky Rosen. The ads repeat already familiar attacks about the two candidates, that Heller voted to take health care away for upwards of 300,000 Nevadans and that Rosen has voted against veterans bills and stands with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The Rosen ad — which is being displayed on two billboards in Reno near Veterans of Foreign Wars posts — shows a picture of Rosen next to Pelosi and says: “Jacky Rosen’s record: Voted against Nevada Veterans. Stands with Nancy Pelosi. Our veterans deserve better.”
(For a fact check of the Heller ad, click here.)
After reaching out to the NRSC and Rosen’s campaign, it appears that the statement — which echoes previous statements made by the NRSC — has kernels of truth but is missing sorely needed context.
The NRSC provided an updated Congressional Quarterly vote comparison screenshot from August 14 showing that Rosen has voted with Pelosi on 338 votes out of 372 total, or 90.9 percent — already down from the 92.2 percent overlap the two had in June. By comparison, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus has voted with Pelosi 95 percent of the time and Rep. Ruben Kihuen has voted with her 97 percent of the time.
As noted in the previous fact check, Rosen also joined 188 House Democrats in a losing bid to support Pelosi as Speaker of the House in January.
But Rosen’s campaign did point to a number of bills in the initial fact check where the two women ended up on opposite sides, from objecting to a United Nations security council resolution as an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace to the “Thin Blue Line Act,” which amends federal code to include killing or targeting a police officer, firefighter or first responder as an aggravating factor when considering the death penalty. (For a list of other votes they have diverged on, click here.)
On veterans, the NRSC has previously pointed to Rosen’s vote against H.R. 1259 or the “VA Accountability First Act of 2017,” which would give the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary more flexibility to fire, demote or suspend employees for performance or misconduct, while giving additional abilities to take away certain employee benefits over criminal convictions and other unethical behavior. The measure passed in March on a 237-178 vote with only 10 Democrats in support.
National labor organizations including the AFL-CIO and American Federation of Government Employees opposed the House bill, saying it would gut basic worker rights.
The legislation stalled in the Senate but was later revived in a bipartisan Senate compromise bill containing similar provisions as the House bill but extending an appeals process for workers on administrative leave. Rosen broke with Democratic leadership, including Pelosi, along with 136 other Democrats to vote in favor of S. 1094.
Now, the NRSC is also highlighting Rosen’s more recent vote against S.114, the “VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017,” sponsored by Heller. The legislation, which was signed into law over the weekend by the president, authorizes and appropriates $2 billion in additional funding toward a program that offers veterans private medical care paid for by the government.
The initial vote on the bill on the House floor, which Rosen voted against, failed 219-186 because the emergency funding bill needed a two-thirds majority vote required by the rules that brought it to the floor. The original version of the bill would have shifted $2 billion from other VA programs to continue funding the so-called Veterans Choice Program, which eight major veterans groups opposed on the grounds that it would encourage privatization of the VA system.
The House passed the bill unanimously on the second try, after addressing Democrats’ concerns about the privatization of the VA system and allocating $2.1 billion to continue funding the Veterans Choice program while putting an additional $1.8 billion toward core VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities.
"When veterans groups like the American Legion, the VFW, and AMVETS opposed the first partisan version of this funding proposal, Jacky Rosen stood with our veterans to get a better deal. The Congresswoman has been hard at work on smart solutions for Nevada, and every vote she's taken has been about what's best for her district and the families and communities she represents,” said Rosen spokeswoman Ivana Brancaccio in a statement.
The NRSC claims that Rosen voted with Pelosi 91 percent of the time and has “voted against Nevada veterans.”
Rosen has voted with Pelosi 91 percent of the time and did initially vote against two veterans bills. But the ad is missing significant context about where Rosen has broken with Pelosi on certain issues and why she voted "no" on the first version of the two bills, along with the fact that she later voted to support a second version of each piece of legislation.
The text of the ad, short as it is, fails to give the necessary nuance.
Rosen has voted with Pelosi 91 percent of the time, a generally accurate statement that is still missing some context about the votes on which the two lawmakers have diverged and how Rosen stacks up against her other Democratic colleagues. We rate that claim Honest as Abe.
But saying that Rosen has "voted against Nevada veterans" misses the mark by ignoring Rosen's later votes in favor of each piece of legislation. We rate that claim as Hardly Abe.
Between the two, we rate this ad Almost Abe.